Namibia 2016 Day 9 Kolmanskop and Luderitz

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Africa » Namibia
August 11th 2016
Published: August 13th 2016
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When we were planning our first trip to Namibia in 2012 there were two places I wanted to see but we were unable to because of the time available, one was Fish River Canyon which we visited on day seven this time and the other was Kolmanskop which we ticked off today.

For those that don't know, Kolmanskop is the most famous ghost town in Namibia. It has featured numerous times on television and even Professor Brian Cox has used it to explain the laws of physics! But of course this doesn't help you. Kolmanskop is or perhaps was a diamond mining town. It was founded in 1906 when diamonds were discovered 10km outside Luderitz. When better yields were discovered further away it was slowly abandoned with the last building - the hospital - finally abandoned in 1958.

This being Namibia, you need a permit to go and you have to go on an official tour. We went in as soon as the gate opened in order to see as much as we could before the day got too hot.

It was fascinating to look round the houses that the desert and nature are slowly reclaiming. I can't help wondering at the lives that were lived out in them, if only the walls could talk. The general manager's house still had the remnants of boarding up on the windows as though when its occupants moved out they were planning to return. Kolmanskop's location is harsh though and as a result the mining company provided electricity and phones to each house. As there was no fresh water in the area this was all shipped up from Cape Town and transported overland to be distributed to the residents. Each house received 20 litres each day as well as unlimited salt water and fresh ice as each house had a refrigerator (a cupboard with a lead-lined compartment at the top where a chunk of ice was placed). The town had a hospital with the first X-ray machine in the Southern Hemisphere, although we were told the main reason for this was to check for swallowed diamonds. There was also a school, a swimming pool, a town hall with restaurant and bowling alley as well as shops that could order you anything you needed from Germany.

When we moved on the temperature had climbed from 19 when we arrived to 35 degrees Celsius and remember this is winter. We explored the other side of the bay today. There were lots of flamingoes and gulls as well as damara terns. From a distance we also saw African penguins and seals. The area is also a conservation area for brown hyena, but other than the footprints we saw no sign of any.

When we headed out to one of the rocky headlands we came across a grave of George Pond of London who had died of thirst and hunger in 1906. The main headland is Diaz Point with a lighthouse. On the highest point there is the Diaz Cross. A bridge had been built to help with access but only the two end sections remain. Despite this being extremely obvious there is still a sign advising people that the bridge is unsafe.

Finally we headed across town to agate beach, where we had a walk in the surf. We are moving on again tomorrow up to Sosous lie, another long drive across the desert.

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