Although it’s been off limits to the public for most of the last century, in 2008 the Namibian government inaugurated the Sperrgebiet (Forbidden Area) as a national park. Geographically speaking, the park encompasses the northern tip of the Succulent Karoo Biorne, an area of 26,000 sq km of dunes and mountains that appear dramatically stark, but represent one of 25 outstanding global ‘hotspots’ of unique biodiversity.
The Sperrgebiet originally consisted of two private concessions: Diamond Area 1 and Diamond Area 2. The latter, home to the Kolmanskop ghost town and Elizabeth Bay, has been open to the public for some time now. Since 2004 parts of the former have also been opened up to specialist conservation groups, though given the diamond industry’s security concerns, access has been carefully controlled.