See pho­to­graphic mem­o­ries of a fa­mous ghost town

Kol­man­skop, 10 km east of Lüderitz, is one of Namibia’s top pho­to­graphic des­ti­na­tions. Charge your cam­era bat­tery and lose your­self in this sand-cov­ered slice of his­tory.

In 1908, a labourer named Zacharias Le­wala found a shiny stone near the Lüderitz rail­way. He showed it to his su­per­vi­sor, Au­gust Stauch, who knew a di­a­mond when he saw one. Stauch was soon a mil­lion­aire, and the new town of Kol­man­skop boomed dur­ing the en­su­ing di­a­mond rush.

Dur­ing its hey­day, Kol­man­skop had beau­ti­ful homes, a theatre, a school, a hos­pi­tal – and even a casino. It’s also where south­ern Africa’s very first X-ray ma­chine was used. Not to check for bro­ken bones, mind you. It was used to scan for smug­gled di­a­monds!

When a big­ger, much richer di­a­mond field was dis­cov­ered fur­ther south at Oran­je­mund, Kol­man­skop’s flame was snuffed out.

Th­ese days, the ghost town is an in­cred­i­ble pho­to­graphic des­ti­na­tion. Where else can you take pic­tures of grand old homes half-filled with sand? It’s a unique place full of light and shadow, where pho­tog­ra­phers can ex­press their cre­ativ­ity through end­less com­po­si­tions and tex­tures.

Kol­man­skop is a mon­u­ment to mankind’s mad­ness, but the empty door frames, quiet stair­ways, graf­fiti, cob­webs and peel­ing walls are also there to re­mind us of the real peo­ple who once called this place home.

It’s called a ghost town be­cause it’s de­serted, but it’s also a real ghost town. Don’t be­lieve me? Just wait for a chilly, misty desert wind to grip you by the chest as you peek around a cor­ner in one of the aban­doned houses… Guided tours take place daily at 9.30 am and 11 am (Sun­days 10 am). Cost: R60 per per­son for a per­mit, avail­able at Lüderitz Sa­faris & Tours in Bis­marck Street. If you’d like to pho­to­graph Kol­man­skop at sun­rise, you need a spe­cial pho­tog­ra­pher’s per­mit, which costs R220. GPS: S26.70172 E15.23209 Con­tact: 00 264 63 202 719; lud­saf@africaon­

Bring on the ghosts

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