My Second Favourite Ghost Town: Kolmanskop in Namibia

Kolmanskop is located just outside the seaside town of Luderitz, on the South Western coast of Namibia. It was built over 100 years ago to facilitate the German population who had moved to the area to mine diamonds.

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Diamonds equal big bucks. And due to the inhabitant’s new found wealth, they were able to emulate the architecture from Germany building really big, double story, thick walled houses – even in the middle of the desert!

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Sadly, the diamonds inevitably ran out and soon the town was abandoned. With no one home to maintain the properties, soon nature took its course and started wearing down the window panes, gnawing at the door frames, fraying the wall paper until glass and constructs gave in and eventually the sand made its way inside.

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Throughout my life, while growing up in Southern Namibia, I have been lucky enough to visit a number of times. It’s truly a most magical place and an experience like no other.

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I usually start off exploring Kolmanskop with a bath. One must be presentable for these occasions, even if it’s just for the ghosts!  Anyone who would choose to move here, 100 years ago, must have a good sense of humour…

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Vising Kolmanskop means exploring these incredible houses, imagining who inhabited these homes; foreigners in a foreign land. There are a number of houses to explore, including a bowling alley and town hall.

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The last time Mr John and I visited, we had a grand old time exploring the old mayor’s house.

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Kolmanskop Ghost Town is a beautiful fantasy, like a Dali painting come to life where dreams and failures are combined. Beautiful, but the truth is that it was abandoned, somewhat a failure or is it a failure just because people move on?

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The homes are so impressive, always sparking my curiosity about the men, women and children who used to live there. I love to explore the cool rooms, looking out across the sea of dunes on the northern side of Luderitz. Has the view changed over the last 100 years? I have a feeling the answer is no.

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To this day Namibia is a sparse land, what about way back when when the Germans moved to Namibia, colonised it and lived there with the sand, heat, dust, lack of transport, amenities, etc? Did they think the move was worth it? Did they send money back to Germany and buy homes there? Or was it all squandered on the cost of the town? And where did the people go once things had changed? Did they move back to Germany? Did they die in the desert?

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Kolmanskop is one of the most beautiful places in the world; wonderful, crazy, sad and, for me, inspires wonder about the people who lived there, moved there, worked there – in the middle of the desert, 100 years ago!

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Me taking a bath circa 2002

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New view from my bath circa 2013

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If you’re considering a Namibian road trip, try to get to Luderitz and Kolmanskop. You won’t regret it as there is nothing like this place on earth.

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