Kolmanskop is an almost otherworldly place located in southwestern Namibia. This ghost town was abandoned in the mid-20th century and is slowly being reclaimed by nature. Kolsmanskop has become somewhat of a tourist attraction, although it is by no means a conventional place to visit during your time in Namibia. If you enjoy urban exploring and unusual tours, this complete guide Kolmanskop, including where to get tickets and how much the entrance fee is, will be incredibly helpful.
Where Is Kolmanskop?
Kolmanskop sits close to the coast of southern Namibia in the Namib desert. It’s located 12 kilometers from the port town of Luderitz and is surrounded by desert. The landscape in this area is very dry and rocky, with little vegetation but beautiful sand dunes.
History Of Kolmanskop
Kolmanskop (Kohlmannskuppe in German) was originally built in 1908 when a railroad worker discovered diamonds in the area. Within just a short period of time, the town became home to more than 1,200 people, most of whom were very wealthy. In fact, mining in Kolmanskop was so prosperous that there are still legends to this day claiming that you can find diamonds sparkling in the sand by moonlight.
Kolmanskop soon had a casino, a bowling alley, a theatre, and a ballroom, and residents built a school and modern hospital. Considering the town was so small, this was more than impressive at the time. Due to colonial influences, a lot of the buildings in Kolmanskop were built with German architecture in mind, and most were lavishly furnished with expensive decorations and wallpapers that can still be seen today.
What Can You See At Kolmanskop?
The eerie ghost town of Kolmanskop has become a favorite among group tours and tourists exploring Namibia and not without reason. Some buildings have more or less been preserved and protected from the elements, while others are in various stages of decay, creating a mysterious atmosphere that feels almost surreal.
The town is being swallowed by the desert and is slowly being covered in sand. Some rooms are filled nearly to the top, and the sand dunes create a fantastic place for taking photos. Whether you’re interested in history or simply enjoy urban exploring and discovering lost places, Kolmanskop is well worth the entrance fee for tickets and should be at the top of your Namibia bucket list.
Why Did Kolmanskop Become A Ghost Town?
Today, there is little left of the once-successful mining industry in this part of southern Namibia. Even the plentiful diamond reserves of Kolmanskop had to come to an end at some point, and by the 1950s, there was almost nothing left of the rare resource. Approximately 1,000 kilograms of diamonds were extracted at Kolmanskop over time, but only 46 years after its construction, the town was completely abandoned. By 1954 all residents had left the desert, and the impressive buildings started being overtaken by nature.
How Can You Get To Kolmanskop?
There are several ways you can get to Kolmanskop today.
Luderitz, which is the closest town to Kolmanskop, has a small airport that is serviced by Air Namibia. Flights are not very frequent, but you can definitely go for this option if you want to get to the ghost town quickly and comfortably.
Another option is to drive, which might take a while but will be a great excuse to see some of the beautiful landscapes that Namibia is known for. The capital, Windhoek, is located around 670 kilometers north of Luderitz and the B1 highway conveniently connects the two places with each other. The drive takes over seven hours, though, so expect to spend an entire day on the road if you want to drive from Windhoek to Luderitz and Kolmanskop.
If you’re coming from the south, you can also cross the land border between South Africa and Namibia and reach the ghost town that way. Just make sure you’ve got a trusted driver and aren’t attempting the journey by yourself unless you have some sort of local contact or extensive experience traveling through Africa.
Finally, you could also book different types of all-inclusive tours to take you around Namibia. Most will have Kolmanskop in their itineraries, and prices will include entrance fees and booking tickets. This is a convenient option for those wanting to see a lot of Namibia without having to do any planning. You’ll get to spend more time enjoying this beautiful country and the chance to explore hidden places you might not have seen otherwise.
Just keep in mind that Namibia tours will usually be slightly more expensive than if you had booked the entire trip yourself, and not all of them include a budget for food, so that could be an additional expense. Always read the reviews of group tours before you book trips to places like Kolmanskop.
Do You Need Tickets For Kolmanskop?
Yes, visitors need tickets to access Kolmanskop, which means paying an entrance fee. They’re called permits, and you can either buy them at the gate on arrival or at one of the many tourist offices in Luderitz. Unless you’re joining a guided tour to Kolmanskop, it’s advisable to buy the tickets directly at the ghost town to avoid upcharges or scams.
Kolmanskop Entrance Fee
The entrance fee to Kolmanskop ghost town is approximately $6 per person and $3.50 for children (free under six years old).
Kolmanskop Ghost Town Photo Permits
If you’re a photographer coming to Kolmanskop to shoot unusual photos, then you should consider obtaining a so-called photography permit. For $17 per person, you’ll be able to visit the ghost town outside of regular hours, which allows you to take far better pictures without any other people in them.
A guided tour is also included in the price. Photo permits are valid from sunrise to sunset, so you can visit whenever you like. Just keep in mind that this permit is only suitable for amateur photographers who won’t use the pictures for commercial purposes. If you’re a commercial photographer, you will need to purchase a different permit for around $500 per day.
Make sure to buy your photography permit a day in advance, ideally in Luderitz or at the gate of Kolmanskop. There won’t be staff at the ghost town until around 8:00 am, so if you’re coming for sunrise, you might be unable to buy a permit that early in the morning. If you already have yours, just leave it on the dashboard of your car, so security can check it. Don’t come to Kolmanskop without a valid permit to avoid risking expensive fines.
Kolmanskop Ghost Town Tours In Namibia
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Kolmanskop and this part of Namibia, it’s highly recommended to join guided tours around the ghost town. This is included in the ticket price although a lot of visitors forget to take part.
Tours take place every day from 9:30 am to 11:00 am, so make sure you’re visiting at the right time. Tours of Kolmanskop will take you to all the important places around the ghost town and explain the historical significance. The experience is definitely worth it.
Kolmanskop is open from 9:00 am to 13:00 pm every day unless you have a photo permit, in which case you can visit outside of these times. There is a small restaurant and museum located in the ghost town, both of which are open only until noon.
What To Bring
Kolmanskop is located in the desert, so it’s unsurprising that you’ll have to deal with hot temperatures and relentless sun when visiting this abandoned ghost town during mid-day. Make sure to dress in light and airy clothing and wear lots of sunscreen to protect your skin. Bringing a hat is also highly recommended.
Although noon in Namibia can be hot and uncomfortable, the mornings are usually cool, even during the summer. If you’re visiting close to sunrise with a photo permit, you might want to bring a light jacket in case you get cold.
Despite the heat, you should avoid wearing flip-flops or any open-toed shoes. There is a lot of debris and sharp objects scattered around the town, and you might hurt yourself. Instead, wear sturdy sneakers that won’t take up too much sand when you’re walking.
Lastly, don’t forget to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. There is a small restaurant located in Kolmanskop but it’s always good to have your own.
Generally, visiting Kolmanskop in Namibia is considered to be safe. However, keep in mind that you’ll be exploring abandoned buildings that are more than 100 years old. Some have partly collapsed or are about to, and there is little regulation on which buildings tourists can enter and which ones are unsafe.
Have common sense and don’t walk on parts of the floor that may be close to collapsing. There are several instances where you need to crawl through small windows which might have broken glass or nails.
This area of the Namibian desert is also known for its snake population so keep that in mind when exploring dark corners. If you’re concerned about safety issues, consider taking a guided tour around Kolmanskop instead or simply avoid entering any buildings.