- In the Giant’s Playground
- The Ghost Town of Kolmanskuppe
- On the road again – Luderitz to the NamibRand
- A few days in the NamibRand
- The incredible dunes of Sossusvlei
- Deadvlei – a place like no other
- Scenes from the road – Sossusvlei to Walvis Bay
- Walvis Bay – Flamingos and Dunes
- The Skeleton Coast & Spitzkoppe
- Etosha National Park
Today we headed west, towards the Atlantic Ocean and into the Namib Desert. This coastal desert is the oldest desert in the world and receives less than 10mm of rain annually; the fog from the ocean provides most of the moisture. Well, that’s what normally happens…
Thankfully the roads in Namibia are very good, especially the tar roads. They seem to go on forever under an endless sky.
We stopped in Aus for lunch at a lovely German restaurant. They had a nice veranda for dining, but unfortunately it was too cold to sit outside!
There are roughly 11 ethnic groups in Namibia, which are further subdivided by language groups. The Ovambo, Kavangos, Herero, Damara who speak Bantu languages, the Europeans (mainly German & Dutch in Namibia) and the Nama, Caprivian, San, Basrer and Tswana who speak Khoisan languages. The Khoisan languages are characterized by the inclusion of click consonants. Our waitress Natasha was Nama and she sang us a song from the steps of the restaurant as we were leaving. Here is a short clip – listen for the clicks…
Then it was on to Luderitz, our home for the next 2 nights. Even though we were in the desert, it was decidedly rainy, and whether it was actually rain or not was the subject of much debate!
It was time to visit the abandoned diamond mining town (ghost town) of Kolmanskuppe. Diamonds were found here in 1908, and the town was built around the mine. The town had a doctor, a hospital, the first x-ray in the southern hemisphere (reportedly used on the workers to detect stolen diamonds), a school, housing for single workers, housing for married workers, an ice factory, a bowling alley, and a music hall built to rival the finest opera houses in Europe. They had a trolley system that was used to deliver ice and water daily to the homes and the children to school. No expense was spared – the materials were all imported from Germany. Unfortunately, by 1920 the diamonds were running out. The residents starting moving on, following the discoveries of new diamond fields. By 1956 the town was completely abandoned and what was once an upscale town with all the creature comforts available at that time started being reclaimed by the unforgiving desert.
Today it is a tourist attraction. The old music hall is a museum while the hospital, school, houses and barracks are all slowly filling with sand and photographers.
Millionaire’s row, as it is called, consists of the finest houses. This is where the doctor, the teacher, the accountant, the architect and the quartermaster all lived. These houses were very well built so they are in remarkably good shape, with the exception of the teacher’s house.
The houses are full of sand and peeling wallpaper but in many of them the staircases are still intact and surprisingly solid!
The buildings that housed the living quarters for the single men are in much worse shape than the houses. I’m not sure if that is because they were abandoned sooner or if they were just built differently. In either case, these rooms were a fascinating study in textures and light…
My location for twilight was the so called “Blue Room”. As the sun gets lower in the sky, the 3rd room fills with this beautiful soft light. So I sat. And I waited. Was it a little creepy? Absolutely! But the wait was worth it…
And as the daylight fades, that light turns almost orange…
We woke the next morning to the sound of falling rain (again the subject of much debate) and set off to explore the ghost town in the early morning light. And what a better way to start the day than with a nice bath…
Followed up by a visit to the hospital…
Back on millionaire’s row, a visit to the accountant’s house was in order. There was very little sand in this house, but I did see a ghost…
This is the view from Millionaire’s row, specifically from the Accountant’s 2nd floor sun room
Before leaving, there was time for one last visit to the single quarters to catch the morning light and capture some of the textures…
That’s it for Kolmanskuppe – but remember – in the early part of the 1900’s there really was a pot of gold (in the form of diamonds) at the end of this rainbow!
3 thoughts on “The Ghost Town of Kolmanskuppe”
The Ghost Town photos are surreal ….these are my favourite so far ….well done
I’d forgotten about the “rain vs condensation” discussion. Hahaha. Thanks for the fun memories. Really enjoying this trip down memory lane with such wonderful images to accompany all the stories. 🙂