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Kolmanskop

The ultimate ghost town, this German mining settlement was abandoned in the 1950s, and the desert has been reclaiming it ever since. Colorful painted walls juxtaposed against sweeping sand dunes engulfing entire rooms, combined with repeating architectural forms, lend an Escher-esque quality to your photographs.

Where: Kolmanskop is located near Luderitz, on the west coast of Namibia.


When: You can visit any time of year. Early morning and late afternoon are best.

Photography: You can purchase a special pass allowing you to self-tour the town and visit early or late outside the normal operating hours. Plan to arrive early for the first light entering the buildings (the afternoon near sunset can be good too). Footprints in the sand are typical; you might get lucky if you happen to visit Kolmanskop after a really windy day, which can scour the prints from the sand and sculpt the dunes into fantastic ripples and crests.

The light coming into the buildings in the early morning and late afternoon can be magically, with reflected light making the painted walls seem to glow, and shafts of direct sunlight breaking through (toss some sand into the air where the light is coming in to create sunbeams). A wide-angle can be especially useful, just be aware of wide-angle distortion effects when photographing architectural features.

Learn more: Visit Luderitz Safaris & Tours in town to get a permit to visit Kolmanskop on your own, or join a guided tour.

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