Though it often seems to be forgotten in the shadow of its ghost town counterpart, Kolmanskop, Elizabeth Bay was another lucrative diamond mining town that is worth exploring. It feels closer to urban exploration, and its decrepit buildings and machinery tell of a dark, greedy history.
It was operational for only 20 years, but Elizabeth Bay still boasted an immense wealth of diamonds. As a result, German miners flooded the town, building their own miniature Germany along the coast of Namibia.
A large entertainment hall and casino were built overlooking the ocean. The town also housed monstrous machinery for desalinating ocean water, rows of housing for German miners, and large, overcrowded buildings for local workers.
While the German workers enjoyed proper housing, the Namibian miners were subjected to slave conditions. Their housing and washrooms were all shared. The buildings where they slept contained cot-size beds separated by a small wall divider. About 20 beds ran along each side of the buildings and in some, rows were stacked on top of each other forcing more men into the desolate conditions. The doors to these “houses” were locked at night and their windows were small and high off the ground to discourage any workers from escaping overnight.
After a quick flash of success, the town closed in 1948. Then, in 1991, a new Elizabeth Bay mine was opened and is still in operation today. The remains of the original still stand, weather-torn and beaten but still impressive as they capture the endeavors of when the town was at its peak.
Know Before You Go
The old town of Elizabeth Bay is part of the Namdeb restricted zone. Tours and required permits, however, can be arranged with companies like Namib Offroad Excursions.