Excursion to Kolmanskop

Lüderitz - trip to Kolmanskuppe

Among the preferred destinations in Lüderitz/Namibia are trips to the nearby ghost town of Kolmanskuppe. The settlement, called Kolmanskop in Afrikaans, is located in a diamond restricted area declared by the German colonial administration and still exists.

View of the restricted area

View of the restricted area

A look back

The first rough diamond was found by chance while shoveling sand next to the tracks of a narrow-gauge railway near Lüderitz in 1908. From then on, the contemplative calm in the sleepy harbor town was over. The find attracted numerous adventurers who tried their luck in the Namib Desert east of Lüderitz. The soldiers of fortune wanted to live in the vicinity of the discovery sites. They needed a roof over their heads, food, a hospital, places of entertainment and other things. Kolmanskuppe offered them what they wanted.

Within a short period of time, representative buildings based on the German model were erected about ten kilometers from Lüderitz in the middle of the desert landscape. The needs of the approximately 400 residents, mostly of German origin, were met with administration buildings, a hospital, an elementary school and shops. There was an electric power station and an ice factory. The water for processing the ice was brought in from Cape Town, which is almost 900 kilometers away as the crow flies. Each settler was entitled to 20 liters of (free) drinking water per day. In addition, each settler family was entitled to half a stick of ice cream a day.

Visitors in front of the ice factory

Visitors in front of the ice factory

The hospital had Africa's first X-ray machine. By the way: X-rays were not only used for broken bones or illnesses; was also x-rayed to find out if one of the miners might have tried to move a diamond by swallowing it.

For entertainment there was a bowling alley, a gymnasium, a swimming pool and a ballroom. A narrow-gauge railway transported goods and people from one end of the town to the other. At the time of the diamond finds, Kolmanskop had a reputation as one of the richest cities in Africa. So far so good: the benefits described benefited the Europeans. In contrast, several hundred Namibian miners lived in camps.

Remains of the narrow gauge railwayRemains of the narrow gauge railway

The end of the mining story

After the diamond deposits in Kolmanskuppe were exploited at the beginning of the 1930s and the search for the coveted minerals was stopped, diamond mining shifted to other regions of Namibia. The procession of diamond seekers left, and the desert took back what was temporarily taken from it. The last residents left Kolmanskuppe in 1956.

The new beginning

In 1983 the Namibian government decided to set up an open-air museum and to renovate part of the houses. Visit the old casino, ballroom, gymnasium, ice factory, colonial store and buildings that the desert is taking over. The fine-grained sand blows into the houses through broken windows and open doors. There is a café in Kolmanskuppe that provides visitors with drinks and snacks. A well-stocked souvenir shop provides guests with souvenirs. In addition, an informative photo gallery invites you to immerse yourself in the past of the place.


A massive fence separates the remains of the settlement from the surrounding restricted area. The facility is open in the morning hours. There is an entrance fee to enter the site. There are several guided tours lasting around 45 minutes every day. Only a few of the former buildings have been preserved or restored. On the site of Kolmanskuppe there are ruins and a few wagons of the narrow-gauge railway are still standing.

useful hints

Excursions to Kolmanskuppe are sold by the cruise companies on board the ships. At AIDA Cruises in 2023, the pleasure of a two-hour trip to the ghost town amounted to an immodest 99 euros per person.

However, it does not require a tour organized by the cruise ships to see Kolmanskuppe. Tours to the ghost town are offered at the jetty. Transport is by minibuses. The cost is 200 Namibian Dollars (N$) equivalent to 10 Euros. Admission (adults) to the ghost town is N$330 (EUR 16,50) including the cost of the English or German speaking tour. There is also a N$150 (EUR 7,50) fee for entry into Tsau/Khaeb National Park. All in all, the costs amount to 34 euros. Tickets can be booked in advance at the following organizer address: https://kolmanskuppe.com/.


The path leads to Kolmanskuppe
Kolmanskuppe - restored buildings
Kolmanskuppe - decaying buildings
Kolmanskuppe - tour buses in front of ruins
Kolmanskuppe - sports and events area
Kolmanskuppe - information center
Kolmanskuppe - bowling alley
Kolmanskuppe - the ice factory
Kolmanskuppe - Equipment of the ice factory
Kolmanskuppe - Merchant's office
Kolmanskuppe - merchant's living room
Kolmanskop - Merchant's bedroom
Kolmanskuppe - Quartermaster's house
Kolmanskuppe - House of the teacher
Kolmanskuppe - Gymnasium
Kolmanskop Cafe

May 2023



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