Ten kilometres inland from the port town of Lüderitz lies Kolmannskuppe, a ghost town in the Namib desert, once a small but very rich mining village, until no diamonds were found here any more.
In 1908, in what was then German South-West Africa, the worker Zacharias Lewala found a diamond while clearing the railway tracks from sand. Soon after, German miners began to exploit the diamond field which Lewala had discovered (he got a horse for the diamond he found).
Driven by the enormous wealth of the first diamond miners, Kolmannskuppe was built in the architectural style of a German town, with amenities and institutions including a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, bowling-alley, theatre and sport-hall, casino, ice factory and the first x-ray-station in the southern hemisphere, as well as the first tram in Africa. It had a railway link to Lüderitz, where all the goods from South Africa and Germany arrived.
Today, the town is long abandoned, but had been restored a little and guided tours show you all the amenities, the wealthy miners once enjoyed here.
Even as many houses are in bad condition, you are allowed to walk around and enter the desolate buildings. Even now the houses tell a story of past splendour. We were fascinated, that a tram circled the town, delivering ice and water every morning to all the houses. If you didn’t want to walk in the heat, you took the tram to the shop, or the casino to meet your friends.
It was fun, to explore this ghost town, especially as it was once such a luxurious enclave in the middle of the desert.
We are now on the way north and will soon explore more of the Namib desert. More on our next post!