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Kolmanskop (Photo Diary)

We kept our eyes peeled for shining stones and glamorous ghosts as we explored the deserted diamond town of Kolmanskop in Namibia that is now almost lost to the dunes.

Abandoned house in Kolmanskop diamond mining ghost town, Namibia.

In its heyday, Kolmanskop was so rich in diamonds that men didn’t even need spades to find them, they just sifted through the dirt with their hands. “We discovered riches beyond our wildest expectations, it felt like being in a fairy tale. The precious stones were lying around as if sewn by hand. While returning from a scouting ride in the worst of sandstorms, we happened across a spot where I collected 209 diamonds off an area of 20m² in half an hour.” – One lucky fellow's account from 1909.

 

Abandoned house in Kolmanskop diamond mining ghost town, Namibia.

Diamond fever ensued after the first precious pebble was discovered in 1908. A lavish town appeared, as if from nothing, and flourished for half a century in the middle of the unforgiving desert.

 

Recreation Club hall, Kolmanskop diamond mining ghost town, Namibia.

The acoustically perfect Recreation Club’s central hall provided refuge from the harsh desert, holding sumptuous balls and showing operas, ballets and the first silent movies.

 

Abandoned house in Kolmanskop diamond mining ghost town, Namibia.

Luxurious items like caviare, Camembert cheese and champagne were imported from Europe by the town's glamorous occupants. In fact, because Kolmanskop was in the desert, EVERYTHING had to be imported, including fresh water from Cape Town which ended up being as expensive as champagne!

 

Lucie posing in front of antique wallpaper in Kolmanskop diamond mining ghost town, Namibia.

Their once lavish homes are now being lost to the dunes but it's easy to imagine the glitzy parties that took place here and how female guests' gems would have glinted in the moonlight.

 

Abandoned house in Kolmanskop diamond mining ghost town, Namibia.

Kolmanskop's hospital had the first X-ray machine in the southern hemisphere to check workers for stolen, swallowed diamonds.

 

Lucie standing on a pile of sand inside an abandoned house in Kolmanskop diamond mining ghost town, Namibia.

As the dunes forced us to duck under doorways, it felt as though we had bitten into Alice in Wonderland's 'EAT ME' cake and were out growing the buildings.

 

Piles of sand filling an abandoned house in Kolmanskop diamond mining ghost town, Namibia.

At one time, Kilmanskop was the wealthiest place in all of Africa but when the diamond mines became exhausted, there was simply no reason for anyone to stay and slowly the town has been reclaimed by the desert.

 

An antique staircase in abandoned house in Kolmanskop diamond mining ghost town, Namibia.

This staircase's creaks are just caused by the wind and sand whipping through...or perhaps not all of Kolmanskop's residents have left after all...


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