Ghost Town Kolmanskop, Namibia

by Damien du Toit, a view of Ghost Town Kolmanskop, Namibia

Kolmanskop (Afrikaans for Coleman’s hill, German: Kolmannskuppe) is a ghost town in the Namib desert in southern Namibia, a few kilometres inland from the port town of Lüderitz. It was named after a transport driver named Johnny Coleman, during a sand storm, abandoned his ox wagon on a small incline opposite the settlement. Once a small but very rich mining village, it is now a popular tourist destination run by the joint firm NamDeb (Namibia-De Beers).
In 1908 the black worker Zacharias Lewala found a diamond while working in this area and showed it to his supervisor, the German railroad inspector August Stauch. After realizing that the area was rich of diamonds, lots of German miners settled nearby and soon after the German government declared a large area as a “Sperrgebiet”, starting to exploit the diamond field.
Driven by the enormous wealth of the first diamond miners, the residents built the village in the architectural style of a German town, with amenities and institutions including a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, skittle-alley, theater and sport-hall, casino, ice factory and the first x-ray-station in the southern hemisphere, as well as the first tram in Africa, that had a railway link to Lüderitz.

The town declined after World War I, when the diamond-field slowly exhausted and was ultimately abandoned in 1954. The geological forces of the desert mean that tourists now walk through houses knee-deep in sand. Kolmanskop is popular with photographers for its settings of the desert sands’ reclaiming this once thriving town. Due to its location within the restricted area (Sperrgebiet) of the Namib desert, tourists need a permit to enter the town.

by Damien du Toit, a view of Ghost Town Kolmanskop, Namibia
by Damien du Toit, a view of Ghost Town Kolmanskop, Namibia


  • The town was used as one of the locations in the 1993 film Dust Devil.
  • The 2000 film The King Is Alive was filmed in Kolmanskop, with the town used as the film’s main setting.
  • The town was featured in a 2010 episode of Life After People: The Series. The episode focused on the effects of wind and sand upon the various run-down buildings and displayed rooms that were filled with sand.

Text from Wikipedia, Kolmanskop

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