As unlikely as it may sound, the relics of a German colonial town can still be found amongst the swirling winds and severe sandstorms of the Namibian desert.
Kolmanskop was founded in 1908 after a railway worker named Zacharias Lewala stumbled across a diamond in the rough while clearing sand away from the train tracks. After the authenticity of the precious stone was confirmed, the news spread quickly and within a few years, hundreds of German prospectors had set up camp in the area, building a school, hospital, theatre, bowling alley, ice factory and the first ever X-ray station to be constructed in the southern hemisphere.
However, the 1920s saw diamond prices fall in the wake of WWI and the Great Depression, while the discovery of more diamond-rich territory further south signalled the beginning of Kolmanskop’s demise. By 1954, the town had become completely abandoned and left to the whim of the unforgiving elements.
More than 50 years on, it currently bears little resemblance to its former glory, with sandstorms having ravaged the majority of the buildings. However, the desolation and eeriness of the locale has made it a popular tourist attraction in recent years.
For those wishing to see authentic German colonial architecture half-buried under mountainous sand dunes in the middle of a scorching desert, Kolmanskop represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
See more photos on page 2.