Near the mining town of Luderitz you'll find a vast deserted area with ghostowns and deserted mining facilities.

The Sperrgebiet

The original German name is 'Sperrgebiet', and in Afrikaans it is called "Diamantgebied". Together, these names make clear that there are diamonds and that the area is not accessible. In this desert in the southwest of Namibia the first diamond was found in 1908 by a railroad worker. Found in this case would simply say picked from the ground.

He gave the diamond to his boss, who then gave his men the order to watch for glittering stones. A true diamond rush began and soon the government of the then German colony declared an area almost the size of Belgium inaccessible. And gave the "Deutsche Diamantengesellschaft" the exclusive mining rights. Initially, the diamonds were mined by a row of men crawling on the ground and just picking them up.

Later on sand was mechanically screened and further processed in machinery. Cities with German architecture arose in the desert with hotels, bowling alleys, police stations and hospitals. In 1913 twenty percent of world production of diamonds came from this area. During World War I, South African troops invaded the colony. After the war the South Africans became 'administrators' of the entire area now called Namibia. The mining rights were transferred to the 'De Beers' company. After the independence of Namibia the Namibian government claimed and received 50 % of the area. A cooperative with the Beers was formed called the Namdeb Diamond Corporation.

National park

Today, the mining towns are deserted and only small areas on the coast are still mined. The area is now a national park and, with a license, accessible to visitors. Dilapidated, partially sand-covered mining pits. photogenic ghost towns and stunning landscapes with an aura of rugged solitude are the main attractions.

Almost endless views, combined with void-like remains of human activity. And there is the Bogenfells, a 55 meter high rock arch with a spectacular seafront location. You can spend a day in the area without encountering someone or something. The Sperrgebiet is definitely not yet a mass attraction and frankly it should stay that way so the experience of emptiness and loneliness will be preserved.

More & Info

Namibia

Reisreportage over het Sperrgebiet. Verschenen op Reisbijbel.