Namibia – Keetmanshoop to Kolmanskop.

Our second destination was a three hour drive away and was the deserted mining town of Kolmanskop. When I volunteered in Namibia in 2013 I met Gemma, who worked there, and we stayed in touch afterwards via Facebook.  She took a road trip whilst there and when I saw her photos of Kolmanskop I knew I had to see it for myself.

The town was built in 1928 to accommodate diamond prospectors, and it included a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, skittle-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.  Unfortunately the diamonds started running out just 20 years later, and by 1958 the last inhabitants left, leaving the town to be reclaimed by the desert. Now the town is a tourist destination and runs morning tours, closing at 1300.  Gemma had mentioned however that it’s possible for non professional photographers to obtain permits to photograph there after the place closed to everyone else, and this is what we did. By 13.00 the place was deserted and it was absolutely amazing to be in this small town with nobody else there.  A couple of the houses are still beautiful and preserved with glass in the windows and some furniture on display, but the others are slowly falling apart and being reclaimed by the desert.    After the other people had gone I wanted to go back into the skittle alley and a couple of other well preserved rooms to photograph them with nobody else there, but when I went back they’d been locked up which was a shame.  I’d read that it’s always windy in Kolmanskop and it certainly picked up in the afternoon – it was hard to shield the cameras from the sand, and at times it was even hard to open our eyes. Closing our mouths meant that we were crunching sand, and we were still finding it in our ears a day later!

The houses were well spread out
The main street

The Quartermaster’s house
One room has been turned into a little museum. I have never seen lightbulbs so big.

The ice factory

The hospital

Miss Kolmanskop!
I loved the colours of these rooms

The missing roof meant that the sun made fantastic patterns of sunlight inside the room.

Such a beautiful staircase and handrail

Looking out of the window shows how high the sand has piled up outside.

The windows and doors are intact in this house, so the sand has not piled up.
Well preserved wallpaper inside one of the community rooms
The wallpaper in the Theatre

Having seen so many photos of Kolmanskop on the internet, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to capture the magic of it and be pleased with my results.  At the end of the afternoon though I was buzzing, had absolutely loved the place and was excited to see what I knew was in my camera 🙂

I’m running another tour of Namibia in September 2018.  If anyone is interested in joining me check out the details here.  You can come to learn how to take better photos as I’ll happily teach you how to use your SLR or mirrorless camera creatively, or just come with me and see all these great locations. 

“The trip that Julie arranged to Namibia hit all the right notes. Her attention to detail ensured that we had a perfect itinerary with lodging that at times was nothing short of decadent. One could not imagine a better guide and Julie’s preparation was meticulous. You will find no better or encouraging tutor if you are looking to improve your photography skills. Among her many gifts, Julie never forgets that taking photography should always be fun. If you want a once-in-a-lifetime trip to an amazing country with opportunities to visit breathtaking landscapes and see extraordinary wildlife, I whole-heartedly recommend a journey with Julie.”     Gary – Tennessee, US.