If you are planning a trip to the south of Namibia, then the ghost town of Kolmanskop (Kolmanskuppe) is a must-visit.
The German town flourished in the early 1900s after diamonds were found in the area. German engineering was applied throughout the buildings which included a hospital, sports hall, casino, and even an ice factory. This town was also home to the first x-ray station in the southern hemisphere.
By the early 1950s, the diamond reserves were depleting, and miners started to relocate south to the Orange River where richer diamond deposits were discovered.
The town was ultimately abandoned in 1956.
Today, Kolmanskop is a ghost town that lies abandoned in the desert. Dilapidated buildings and houses are reclaimed by sand making it a very unique and spectacular photographic site for tourists. But if you take a guided tour and learn about the miners and their families you will come to realize that Kolmanskop is more than just a backdrop for another Instagram photoshoot, it’s an incredible landmark with a rich history.
How to get there
Kolmanskop is located just off the B4 highway about a 15-minute drive from the small coastal town of Lüderitz, which is the closest town to the attraction.
Kolmanskop is an easy morning or afternoon trip if you stay in Lüderitz, alternatively, you can stay at Klein Aus Vista which is about an hour’s drive from the ghost town.
A permit is required to enter Kolmanskop which you can purchase either at the gate or at the Lüderitz Safari and Tours offices in Lüderitz. We bought our tickets with cash at the gate when we arrived.
There are 4 types of permits available to buy:
Adult Permit: This ticket allows entrance to Kolmanskop from 9:00 to 13:00 and includes a guided tour that starts at 9.30 or 11:00 (Mon-Sat) or Sundays at 10:00. The tour is not mandatory, but it is really worthwhile learning about the boom and bust of the town. After the hour-long tour ends, you are welcome to explore the town on your own time. You are also allowed to take pictures with this permit.
This tickets costs *N100.
Child Permit: Kids under the age of 6 can enter Kolmanskop for free. Tickets for children aged 6-14 costs *N20.
Photo Permit: This permit is for those visitors who want to capture pictures during sunrise and sunset, the most optimal time for taking pictures in the town. A guided tour is also included and this ticket cost *N300.
Although most photographers opt for this ticket, we purchased the Adult permits and were very happy with the pictures we took during day time.
Special Permit: Prices are subject to request. Additional tour times are available for 8:00, 8:30, 14:00 and 15:00 and need to be arranged ahead of time.
*Prices subject to change
What to pack
We visited the ghost town in February which is mid-summer and it was very hot, the town is situated in the Namib desert after all.
Hat, Sunscreen & Sunglasses: You will spend the majority of your time outside, walking from building to building so it’s vital that you cover up and have sufficient sun protection. The reflection of sunlight from the sand also gives you indirect exposure to UV Rays. This reflection can also be very bright so I recommended taking a pair of sunglasses along.
Buff: The area is known for its notoriously strong winds, so a buff to cover your face from sand is recommended just in case.
Comfortable Shoes: It’s advisable to wear comfortable shoes as you will be doing a lot of walking, all of which will be on the sand. If you choose to wear flip flops just be cognizant that the sand can get burning hot during midday.
Camera: Take with you a fully charged camera with enough memory space. Kolmanskop is a photographer’s heaven, around every corner there is a unique photo opportunity.
Water: Stay hydrated. You can expect to spend at least 2-3 hours at the site so make sure you stay hydrated. There is a curio and coffee shop on site where you can purchase water and snacks.
Top Tips for visiting Kolmanskop
- Take the guided tour – it’s well worth hearing the full story of the town’s boom and bust. Tours are offered in English and in German and walk you through the butchery, entertainment hall and restored houses.
- Take your time exploring the town but be vigilant of your surroundings. These houses are abandoned and can be dangerous if not walking with care.
- Protect your camera gear from the sand and bring along a wide-angle lens if you have one available. A lot of the pictures will be taken in small rooms, a wide-angle will help capture the entire scene.
- If you arrive early, you might see tracks from the Brown Hyenas who wonder the Namib Desert.
For more Namibia inspiration and to view our full experience in the country check out my husband’s (Juba’s Journey) video below: