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An African Ghost Town in the Most Unexpected Place

In 1908 a railway worker found a loose diamond in the Namib Desert. This chance find would set in motion a diamond rush and the construction of a largely German town that eventually became Kolmanskop Namibia. A particularly rich diamond field was mined near to the town, leading to enormous wealth for its residents.

At one stage the town had its own modern hospital, a power station, schools, theaters and sports grounds. There was even a casino and one of the very first X-Ray facilities in the southern hemisphere. If you were to travel back in time, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in America’s Wild West, albeit with a particularly German flavor.
African ghost town

Today people know Kolmanskop as an eerie African ghost town in the desert of Namibia, devoid of life and activity, and largely reclaimed by the desert sand and wind. So what happened to this once thriving diamond town? After World War I, the town never recovered to full prosperity. The diamond field was mostly exhausted by the 1950s, and with no other industry to sustain this remote settlement it was eventually abandoned by its residents in 1954.

If you wanted to visit a stunning African ghost town in the most unexpected place, Kolmanskop is exactly your ticket. You will need a special permit to visit, but there are guided tours available for the adventurous type who literally want to travel off the beaten path. For what is left of the town, it’s a brilliant example of preserved early colonial architecture in Africa. There’s a distinctly German feel to the buildings, but the desert setting makes it something else completely.

Africa is the only country in the world where you can go from lush forests, to endless savannas, rich lakes and waterfalls, to deserts that make you feel as far away from civilization as you’ve ever been. Kolmanskop in Namibia is a stunning example of the diversity of attractions available to tourists in Africa. The town is a stark reminder of not only Africa’s mining history, but of how easily nature comes back to claim its own, even less than a century after the demise of a thriving human settlement.

You can plan your own African Ghost Town adventure by visiting the Namibian Tourism Board, or continue on to view more Pieces of Africa.

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