Tour An Eerie African Diamond Mining Town That's Slowly Filling With Sand


Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In the Namib desert in southern Namibia lies a ghost town known as Kolmanskop.The town was once home to approximately 1,000 miners and their children, but today only tourists with the proper permits may enter the perimeter of the “Sperrgebiet” or “Prohibited Area.”The story goes that in 1908, a worker named Zacharias Lewala found a shiny stone and showed it to his supervisor, August Stauch. Stauch saw the rock, and realised the area was rich in diamonds. The news spread quickly, sparking the migration of German miners and fortune-seekers to the area.

The diamond field was called “Sperrgebiet” by the German government, and the miners began to settle down and build the town with their families. Homes and establishments were erected in the German-style, and Kolmanskop became prosperous due to the enormous wealth of those first miners.

The town had a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, swimming pool, casino, and even a bowling alley, and it was also the first in the South African region to own an x-ray machine.

But by the end of the first World War, the diamond field was near-exhaustion. And by 1954, Kolmanskop was completely abandoned. The remaining homes today are slowly filling with sand and only visited by tourist groups who come to see the ghost town.

Kolmanskop is located in lower Africa, in The Republic of Namibia.

An aerial view of Kolmanskop shows how secluded it is in the middle of the Namib desert.

A lone sign welcomes visitors as it warns against diamond theft — a problem the barren desert region no longer faces.

A view of some of the remaining buildings that have not yet been destroyed by the sand.

The houses are extremely weathered like this one, both inside and out.

Some are completely buried in sand as the desert slowly swallows up the mining town.

In some homes, the sand is almost higher than the doorway.

And the walls have been completely stripped.

Entire rooms are filled with mountains of sand, a wonderful photo opportunity for the few tourists allowed to visit with proper permits.

Most of this home has been destroyed, from the door frames to the exposed, slated ceiling.

Here, sand pours out of a doorway. The tourists' footprints show how well-tread this passage is.

Sand is in every inch of most of the surviving homes.

But not everything has been worn down. Here, the pristine community theatre remains intact.

The creepy bowling alley is also untouched, from the pins to the turn-of-the-century ball return apparatus.

Some homes aren't being buried by sand, but stripped by wind. Here, the home of the former mining director has its foundation exposed.

Inside, the original furnishings and decor still remains. Much like the architecture, the interior designs are also in the German-style.

A small stove and delicate tablecloth remain intact in the kitchen.

Even a turn-of-the-century bed, armoire, and rug remain in this room. The wallpaper gives a glimpse into what some of the other home decorations might have once been.

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