Kolmanskop Ghost Town in Namibia

Kolmanskop Ghost Town. Spooky-creepy noises of the desert wind howling through the desolate buildings. The tumbleweed is rolling, in the far distance; a brown hyena is running in the dim light and the prickle of hair standing on end… (Picture the spooky old haunted ghost towns in the horror movies…)


That’s what we experienced in the last hours of the day at Kolmanskop Ghost Town in Namibia. Wow! What a feeling to be completely alone in a desolated Ghost town for the whole day. The last tourists had already left at 13:00, but we were fortunate enough to get a special photographer’s permit allowing us entry from dawn till dusk. At dusk, Kolmanskop became very creepy especially when the wind had started howling through the empty buildings.


Open window panes rattled against the walls, or slammed against their frames. It felt very awkward, as if the ghost town got alive when the darkness started settling in. To make this creepy feeling even stronger, a brown Hyena crossed the sand filled streets at the farthest end of the ghost town, running away into the darkness! (The adrenaline rush through one’s veins was at its highest in that point of time, and one could clearly feel that your blood has turned into ice cubes!)



Boomed in the early 1900 when diamonds were found, but sadly, about 40 years later, it turned into a ghost town swallowed by the desert sands. The town is just a few kilometres inland from the famous port town Lüderitz. After the First World War, the drop in diamond sales and the discovery of richer deposits further south at Oranjemund, was the beginning of the end for Kolmanskop.


The desert sands started to take back the town area and sand blows into every building. Kolmanskop had turned into a ghost town, being buried by sand and trapped in time.

Today it is a very big tourist attraction, and an excellent place for photography. In May 2011, Annette and I visited Kolmanskop Ghost Town in Namibia. You need to buy permits to get access to Kolmanskop Ghost Town at Lüderitz. There are two tours daily, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, Friday to Saturday. You may also apply for a special photographers’ permit, that gives you access to the Ghost town from 06:00 until 18:00.

We were very privileged that we could visit the Kolmanskop Ghost Town on a Namibian Public holiday. On that particular day, there was only one tour scheduled for tourists, from 10:00 until 13:00. The rest of the day, we had the ghost town all to ourselves to photograph. Most of the sand in the buildings was still relatively unspoiled of tourist footprints.

What an unforgettable experience. We would love to go back and do it all over again! This place should be on every photographer’s bucket list!

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Fanie Heymans

Fanie Heymans is a wildlife photographer and nature lover. Based in the West Coast at St Helena Bay, South Africa. Images of his wild life photography was featured in the local Wild Magazine, Wildcard blog, and internationally by Media Drum World, and Mail Online.

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