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Sperrgebiet tour

Sperrgebiet tour

Overview: Sperrgebiet tour

Stop Press sadly the company that used to run these tours has been severely impacted by the covid-19 pandemic and has stopped all operations. We hope that they or someone else will start running tours into the Sperrgebiet in the future, but for the time being these tours are no longer possible. Please check with us for further information.

A day trip into the Sperrgebiet is a trip into the past. Since diamonds were discovered here in 1908, the area has been off limits, and even now – with the area declared a national park in 2004 – visitors to this remote corner of the Namib Desert are strictly limited.

The Sperrgebiet has a fascinating recent history. The first rough diamond in the area was discovered in April 1908 near Kolmanskop, in what was then German South-west Africa. Within weeks a diamond rush was in full swing, the diamonds so prolific that early prospectors were picking them up by the handful, even at night by the light of the moon – but not for long. In September of that year the German colonial government proclaimed the area a forbidden or restricted zone: Sperrgebiet.

With prospecting now curtailed, several mining towns sprung up between 1908 and the start of World War I, and the area became one of the wealthiest in the southern hemisphere. However, by the mid 1920s the northern diamond fields were depleting and when even richer diamond deposits were discovered near the Orange River, many residents rushed south, leaving their homes and possessions behind.

Today the Namdeb Diamond Corporation still mines for diamonds in the Sperrgebiet, also known as Diamond Area 1. The mining activity is generally concentrated on the richer deposits in the southern reaches of the park, around Oranjemund, although an area of 26,000km² remains off limits to the public. However, as the Namibian government has a 50% stake in the company, they have been granting a limited number of permits for guided day tours into the area since 2001.

There are several trips that take in many highlights of the northern section of the park - and the highlights that can be included are:
  • The ghost town and mines of Pomona, home to over 1,000 people in its heyday.
  • The water pumping station at Grillenthal, where an underground aquifer provided water for towns as far away as Kolmanskop, located just outside of Lüderitz
  • The spectacular 55m-limestone rock arch at Bogenfels
During the day your guide will also show you some of the Namib’s flora and fauna. Due to an almost complete lack of permanent water, animal life is limited, although you may spot the occasional springbok or oryx. By contrast, despite the arid environment there is a surprising proliferation of plant species. Some of the more interesting species include the Bushman’s candle (Sarcocaulon crassicaule), window plant (Fenestraria rhopalophylla) and the milk bush (Euphorbia damarana).

The other main tour into the park is the half day trip to the abandoned town at Elizabeth Bay, these days home to a large colony of cape fur seals and, for the time being, a functioning diamond mine which is viewed from a distance.

NB: the tours above don’t visit Kolmanskop, for which permits are easily acquired, so travellers usually visit under their own steam. The town is currently open 08:00 to 13:00 daily with group tours at 09:30 & 11:00 Monday to Saturday and at 10:00 on Sundays and public holidays. However we can arrange for private tours outside of these times or photographic permit granting longer access to the town. These are particularly good options for keen photographers without the time or budget for the longer tours above.

Please note: Expert Africa can only arrange this Sperrgebiet tour as part of a full, Expert Africa itinerary which stops in Aus or Lüderitz. See the Holiday ideas, below, for examples of such itineraries.
Start location
Your guide will collect you from your accommodation in Lüderitz at around 8.30am depending on the tour.
End location
At the end of your tour, your guide will drop you back either at your accommodation or your vehicle, the timing will depend on the tour you've enjoyed.
Meals included
Longer tours such as the one to Pomona and Bogenfels include a traditional German-style picnic with cold meats, bread, salads, fruit and yoghurt. Cold drinks and water are usually provided.
Full day, including lunch

Photo gallery

What to look forward to.

1 of 7
Explore the remote and desolate Sperrgebiet National Park...
2 of 7
...with an expert guide...
3 of 7'll see the remains of the area's diamond rush...
4 of 7 Pomona and Grillenthal...
5 of 7
...before reaching the impressive Bogenfels rock arch.
6 of 7
Or perhaps spend some time in Kolmanskop...
7 of 7
...once the richest town in the southern hemisphere but long since abandoned.

Explore the remote and desolate Sperrgebiet National Park...

...with an expert guide...'ll see the remains of the area's diamond rush... Pomona and Grillenthal...

...before reaching the impressive Bogenfels rock arch.

Or perhaps spend some time in Kolmanskop...

...once the richest town in the southern hemisphere but long since abandoned.

Sperrgebiet tour reviews

31 independent first-hand comments from our travellers.

9 reviews since August 2007
Flying DutchmenfromNL

20 Feb 2024

"Sperrgebiet tour review"

"We highly recommend this tour!..worth every penny. …" Read Flying Dutchmen’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr P.fromVienna

15 Aug 2022

"Sperrgebiet tour review"

"Superb! Bogenfels exceeded all expectations.. …" Read Mr P.’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr C & Ms BfromMacclesfi

12 Nov 2018

"Star Guide!"

"Can't recommend this tour enough - but ask for Eric! This was a great day, …" Read Mr C & Ms B’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr M & Ms HfromUK

15 Sep 2013

"Pomona & Bogenfels - amazing places"

"Pomona & Bogenfels - amazing places …" Read Mr M & Ms H’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Poor

Mr T.fromUnited Kingdom

7 Nov 2013


Overall rating: Excellent

Dr F & Mrs AfromUK

4 Feb 2013

"We didn't find diamonds!"

"We didn't find diamonds! …" Read Dr F & Mrs A’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Dr F & Mrs AfromUK

5 Feb 2013

"How could the women tolerate it?"

"How could the women tolerate it? …" Read Dr F & Mrs A’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr & Mrs BfromCeredigion

7 May 2010

"Atmospheric and spiritual experience."

"Atmospheric and spiritual experience. …" Read Mr & Mrs B’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr KfromChannel Islands

6 May 2008

"Stunning and emotional"

"Stunning and emotional …" Read Mr K’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

See all Sperrgebiet tour reviews

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Add this experience to these trip ideas or contact us to start planning your own tailor-made holiday to Namibia.

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