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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars


Namibia - 3 May, 2001



Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Klein Aus Vista (campsite) S26º39.374' E016º14.059' 1,384 m
Finish Klein Aus Vista (campsite) S26º39.374' E016º14.059' 1,384 m 307 km


39,546 km

18,726 km


Weather: Clear, sunny, and very hot with a breeze.  Cold and windy at night.



Daily Journal Entry:

The day starts off bright, sunny and cool.  The desert mornings are marvelous and it is great to lay in bed for a while taking in the sounds, smells and fresh air.  After breakfast, we pack up and get into the truck for our drive to Lüderitz.  It is all downhill to this quaint town on the ocean - it is a surreal colonial relic that has managed to survive despite being located on the barren Namib Desert coast.


It is once again strange to wander through a town that is so clearly German in origins, but just does not seem to belong here.  We wonder the streets while the drivers get our permits to visit the ghost town of Kolmanskop.  We will be back in the afternoon, when we will more thoroughly explore the town.


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We head back out of town the way we came towards Kolmanskop.  Kolmanskop is a ghost town that was a former diamond mining center.  The town is named after an early Afrikaner trekker, Jani Kolman, whose ox wagon got bogged in the sand in this spot.  The town boomed until the slump in diamond sales after World War I and the discovery of richer deposits at Oranjemund ended its heyday.  It was deserted by 1956.


We start off our tour with a briefing given by a lady with a very strong German accent.  The history was fascinating and they had lots of pictures and exhibits to show what went on here and why the town eventually failed.  It was fascinating to hear how they would go out at night under a full moon, in the early days, and, crawling on their hands and knees, pick up diamonds that were just laying on the surface (they would glitter in the moon light).


The facilities they had were worthy of the any major city back home in Germany - casino, bar, skittle alley, theater, large dining room, hospital, etc.  The residents had to be compensated for the barren existence in the middle of the desert.  We then went to look around the town (but we were warned not to wander too far and above all not to go beyond the fence into the Sperrgebiet (the Prohibited Area) where they mine the diamonds - we could be shot.  We are also told not too look for diamonds - anything we might find would belong to the company).


It was fascinating to walk around and through the town.  There was so much to explore.  We saw the shop where they made ice (each family got one block per day to put in their refrigerators - no electricity at that time), the butchery next door (whose cold room was next to the ice shop so that they could share the same cooling pipes), the bakery, and then onto the Recreation Hall and Kegelbahn.


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The Recreation Hall was most impressive.  It had been restored and is now used today to put on shows and have other functions.  It is huge and wandering through the kitchen gives you a feel for how many people it must have catered for and the lavish functions they must have had.


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From there we went to the two buildings that contained the family flats.  It was amazing to see how the sand from the desert has been encroaching on the buildings, penetrating through every crevice, crack or opening.  The sand would pile up in wind blown mini-dunes outside and inside the buildings.


After the family units, we went to the doctor's quarters and the hospital.  The hospital was huge - a rambling building that had many wards and rooms.  It seemed like it was quite a nice hospital with many private rooms.  We could even check out the toilet facilities. The second halve of the hospital was very dark and murky - very little light penetrated and the paint was peeling and there was sand every where.


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After a quick look at the Singles' Quarters, we headed up the hill to the sea water and fresh water tanks.  The fresh water tank was also used as a swimming pool and even had a diving board.  From there we walked along the back's of the Engineer's, Quartermaster's, Teacher's and Accountant's Houses.  These were all much nicer than the other houses.


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But they were nothing compared to the Mine Manager's House, which was set off to one side.  This was a multi-story house that was very well fitted out - even in its depilated state we could see how it must have been in its heyday.  The wall paper, peeling off the wall, was very opulent.  We went up to the second story, treading carefully so that we would not fall through holes in the stairs or floors. 


We then headed back to the truck, where lunch was awaiting us.  The drivers had thrown together a very nice meal.  It was strange sitting in this ghost town having lunch and chatting away.  After we finished eating, we headed back to Lüderitz.


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We now has some time to wander around the town.  Our first stop was the Goerke Haus, but it was closed for lunch, so we carried on to the Felsenkirche.  This prominent Evangelical Lutheran Church stands over Lüderitz from up high on Diamond Hill.  The church was completed in 1912 (with the brilliant stained glass window over the altar donated by Kaiser Wilhelm II).


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After a brief walk around, we headed back to the Goerke Haus.  Lieutenant Hans Goerke arrived in Swakopmund in 1904 with the Shutztruppe and was later posted to Lüderitz as the diamond mine manager.  The home he constructed was one of the most extravagant in the town.  He lived in it for two years and then went back to Germany.  Since then it has either been in the hands of the government or the mining company.  In 1981 the government tried to sell it for about $20,000, but was unable to find any buyers!!!!  Now that Lüderitz is doing better, it is worth quite a bit more, but it has been turned into a museum.


The interior of the house is lavish.  The house has been restored using photos supplied by Goerke's daughter, and they have done an excellent job.  It was fun to wander through the house after we were given a brief introduction to the history of the home.  From the Goerke Haus we wandered back done into town and around the streets.  While we waited for the drivers, we sat in a pub and had a few beers.  Jacqui also had a dozen fresh oysters - they were great and cheap!!


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We headed back to the campsite, where dinner was prepared while we took a shower.  Tonight was party night - to celebrate Ted's and Paolo's birthdays.  We all had to put on fake moustaches.  It turned out to be quite a fun night.  After dinner, the drinks started to flow and out came some vodka jelly that Jacqui had prepared.  That got things going!!!.


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After a while there were only a few of us left around the fire and, after all the vodka jelly, things got a bit crazy.  An aerosol can was thrown on the fire - it of course exploded, send sparks everywhere.  We ran around putting them out!!!  Then Playton and Paolo were persuaded to try on their respective presents - certain animal g-strings.  While my memory is a bit hazy, it involved Playton running around the campsite in his underwear (including scaring off some small children at the campsite next door).


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