15 November 2012

Namibia: Kolmanskop now open to visitors without taking a guided tour

According to the official facebook page for the Namibia Tourism Board (15 Nov 2012), the ghost town of Kolmanskop, located a few kilometres inland from Lüderitz in Namibia's south, is now open to visitors without taking a guided tour. Instead travellers are welcome to pay the entrance fees on arrival, and take a self-guided tour through the abandoned mining town.

Back in 1908 railway worker Zacharias Lewala found a diamond in the area around what we know today as Kolmanskop and showed it to his German supervisor, who actually tried to keep the discovery of the diamond as a secret. After realising that this area is rich of diamonds, people rushed into the Namib Desert hoping to make an easy fortune.  A diamond protection zone was proclaimed shortly after and Kolmanskop was founded. The residents built the village in the architectural style of a German town and opened a hospital, a school and a powerstation, as well as a casino, a theather, an ice factory and the first x-ray-station in the southern hemisphere. Some 30 years after the first diamond was found in the area, even richer deposits were discovered at Oranjemund. It didn't take long and the transfer and redeployment of mining equipment and workers was under way. Finally, in 1956, the last inhabitants of Kolmanskop left the town. In 1980, a number of buildings were restored and guided tours through the town were introduced to the tourism market.

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