Abandoned buildings sink in the sand, in the blackness of the window openings you can see the houses of the ghost town covered with sand for a third of the room. It is hard to imagine that at the beginning of the last century, in the middle of the Namib Desert, the town of Kolmanskop grew up, protected by metal shields from sandstorms. Children rushed along its streets, a lemonade factory worked, at night cheerful music came from bars and casinos, and performances were constantly going on in the theater. The first X-ray station in the southern hemisphere was even built in Kolmanskop. Life was in full swing thanks to the diamonds found in the sands of Namibia.
Note: according to allcitypopulation, the population of Namibia is 2.587 million (2021).
The heyday of Kolmanskop lasted only 7 years, from 1908 to 1915, and then people began to leave the city.
In 1908, a diamond deposit was accidentally found in these places. The diamond rush quickly attracts those who want to get rich, but during the First World War, when jewelry prices plummeted and diamond supplies began to dry up, the inhabitants of the town began to leave the artificially created oasis. In 1954, Kolmanskop was completely depopulated. This time, the desert has not missed the piece of land once conquered by man, and the city is gradually covered with sand.
Only strings of curious tourists are now disturbing the deserted streets of the city, the echo of their voices echoes loudly through the theater hall with a well-preserved interior. Some well-known directors have chosen the city as a picturesque scenery for filming. For example, in 1993 the film “Sand Devil” was filmed here, in 2000 – “The King Lives”, and in 2009-2010 – the popular science series “Life after people”.
3 things to do in Kolmanskop:
- Spend most of your sightseeing time on a photo shoot.
- Buy a real diamond in a souvenir shop (no more than 1 carat).
- Visit the local museum dedicated to the history of the diamond rush in these places.
How to get there
The abandoned city of Kolmanskop is only 10 kilometers from Lüderitz, from where tours are organized regularly. It can also be reached from Walvis Bay or Windhoek.
Tours are organized from Monday to Saturday at 9:30 and 11:00. On Sundays, an hour of excursions is offered at 10:00. You can order individual tours, but on condition that a group of 10 people gathers. The entrance ticket will cost 85 NAD per person.
Kolmanskop is located in a closed area, so you need permission to enter there. You can get it at the tourist offices or at the checkpoint on the highway.
After wandering through the mysterious sandy labyrinths of Kolmanskop, it is worth rushing to the neighboring Twyfelfontein (which means “fountain of doubts” in translation), the main attraction of which is the largest concentration of rock paintings in Africa. Many inscriptions and drawings were made 6000 years ago by the ancient Bushmen. Famous drawings are located on the territory of the national park. The most curious example of ancient painting is the drawing of the “White Lady”, an archaeological mystery for many experts for many years.
The Namib Desert saw the extinction of dinosaurs – its age is estimated by scientists at 60-80 million years, so it is probably the oldest desert on the planet.
In the local dialect, the word “Namib” means “a place where there is nothing.” This is only partly true: living here is really almost impossible, but the desert is striking in the variety of its landscapes – weathered rocks, canyons of dried rivers, meandering dunes and vast rubble wastelands, which are interspersed with tiny oases.
The hostile climate has given rise to several unique species of plants and animals that have adapted to survive in these conditions. For example, the velvichia plant, which grows giant three-meter leaves and stores water in them in case of an even more terrible drought.
How to get there
There is no direct flight from Russia to Windhoek, you will have to fly with a transfer in Germany or South Africa. Then – by internal flight to Walvis Bay, this is a city next to the Namib-Naukluft National Park, where there is a small airfield. Travel time from the capital of Namibia is about an hour, planes depart daily.
Entertainment and attractions
In the heart of the Namib Desert is the Namib-Naukluft National Park, one of the largest nature reserves in the world. Here you can observe elephants, lions, rhinos and giraffes. Here you can see many unique landscapes – the plains of Welwitschia Plains, the Naukluft mountains, the “bird paradise” of the Sandwich Harbor lagoon, the Sesrim canyon up to 30 m deep and the dune area around the Sossuflei oasis. In the rainy season, many birds flock here, including flamingos sometimes.
The dunes of the Namib Desert are considered among the most beautiful in the world. The winds covered almost 20 km of dunes of red-orange color – due to the high content of iron in the soil. Their height in some places reaches 250 m. Almost all dunes here have their own name or at least a number. The highest dune number 7, it reaches almost 380 m in height, all the others are much lower, dune number 45 is considered the most picturesque, and the most famous is the “Big daddy” dune, it is located around the Dead Valley with the remains of dead trees.
All dunes in the Namib desert have their own names or at least a number.
One of the most curious places in the Namib Desert is the Dead City of Kolmanskop. In 1908, diamonds began to be found in the sands of Namibia. The diamond rush swept the entire local population, but after sowing all the sand of the desert, the townspeople were forced to be disappointed – they never found anything. After that, it became completely pointless to live in Kolmanskop: it would still be possible to endure the lack of drinking water, but without precious stones, such hardships turned out to be completely in vain. So the locals hastily left the city, and the city remained abandoned. Today, the Namibian authorities are trying to keep this museum city in good condition and accept tourists.