Places of Interest in Namibia
Windhoek and Surrounding Area
Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, is located in a basin between the Khomas Highland, Auas and Eros Mountains. It is 1,680m above sea level, 650km north of the Orange River and 360km from the Atlantic seaboard. Whether due to pure luck or a brilliant stroke of Germanic planning, the city is situated in almost the countries epicenter. This location has obvious benefits when it comes to governing a country the size of Namibia, and also makes it the ideal place to start and plan any Namibian travel. Windhoek is home to approximately three hundred thousand people, an extremely small capital by global standards. This number is growing rapidly at present mostly due to a lack of employment in rural areas. Despite the large increase in population over the last few years the city centre is extremely clean, and mostly trouble free. Most tourists comment on the cleanliness of the city, and often pronounce it to be a most un-African city (a somewhat back-handed compliment).
The city centre is characterized by a proliferation of German style buildings, a lasting reminder of Namibia's early colonial history. Early buildings such as the Alte Feste (old fort), Christuskirche and Tintenpalast (the parliament buildings) are of particular historical interest. In a wonderful display of irony, the Alte Feste Fort, once the bastion of German colonialism, now houses the National Museum which places particular emphasis on the freedom struggle and Namibian independence.
Windhoek has had several names, many inspired by the hot water springs found in the area, the earliest of which were the Damara /Ais //Gams (/ indicates a click in Nama spelling) which means firewater and the Herero Otjimuise or place of steam. The area was also called Queen Adelaide's Baths for a (mercifully) brief time. Several opinions are offered for the origin of the present name, the most popular of these is that sometime before 1840 Jonker Afrikaner, a Nama leader, named the area Winterhoek, after the farm in South Africa where he was born. Windhoek, or windy corner, is a corruption of this name.
During the day the city centre has a European cafe culture, German cuisine dominates, but Namibian influence can be found in the quantity and quality of meat on offer, (vegetarians be warned, Namibia is carnivorous country!) Saying that, the streets are choc-a-bloc with people of all ages and cultures, all bearing a wonderful sense of pride, hope and ambition.
Nightlife in the city centre has grown with the population, with a decent amount of restaurants, bars and night clubs. There is still a fair amount of nightlife happening outside of the city centre, in the suburbs and in township areas. During South African occupation the city was divided into three areas; the central suburbs for the whites, Khomasdal for the coloureds and Katutura for the blacks. Katutura and Khomasdal have a vibrant nightlife and over the weekends the partying is non-stop. For the uninitiated visiting one of these disadvantaged areas can be extremely daunting (and unsafe), but with a little local guidance you could be in for the time of your life.
Most importantly Windhoek is home to Namibia's brewing industry, and for the less active Windhoek is a great place to wile away the time while sipping (or gulping) a cold beer. There are also a number of private hospitals, a state run hospital, doctors surgeries, banks, (with 24hr ATM's) pharmacies, supermarkets, bakeries, and clothes shops. There is a large(ish) shopping mall at Maerua Mall, (complete with indoor swimming pool and gymnasium) and a smaller one on Post Street Mall, (Town Square) and at Wernhill Park, all worth a visit, especially if you've had enough of looking at curios. There are also 2 industrial area, Northern and Southern, handy for bulk buying or car parts and repairs.
Windhoek's (and Namibia's) sense of progress since Independence, is emphasized by the presence of new offices, combined with expanding and bustling building and commerce industries.
The German Lutheran Congregation in Windhoek was founded on 20 January 1896. At the beginning services were conducted in the church hall of the parsonage consecrated on 1 November 1896. Idea to build a church existed from the beginning. A site was allocated already in 1898 and plans were drawn in 1900 by Government architect Redecker but wars at the beginning of the century delayed the implementation of the project. The construction of the church commenced only in 1907. The site was chosen on the top of the hill visible from long distance and name (Church of Christ) was chosen to symbolize an idea of peace. The building was completed at cost of 360 000 German marks which was the double of what initially planned. The construction was supervised by Redecker who initially drew the plan. The only local material was sandstone mined in vicinity of present Avis dam and a small railway line was constructed to transport it to the construction site. The portico consists of Carrara marble was imported from Italy while roof details, clock and other materials were shipped from Germany. The tower (42 metres high) was topped by a Gothic spire although the church was built in a neo-Romanesque style. The three bronze bells bear the inscriptions ''Ehre sei Gott in der Hohe'' (''Glory to God in the highest''), ''Friede auf Erden'' (''And on earth peace'') and ''Den Menschen ein Wohlgefallen'' (''Goodwill towards men''). Three stained glass windows (recently renovated) were donated by German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm.
The church was consecrated on 16 October 1910. The original altarpiece, a copy of Ruben's famous ''Resurrection of Lazarus'', was in later years moved to the gallery. The copy was made by Berlin artist Clara Berkowski and donated by the wife of Governor Seitz shortly before World War 1. The original painting was destroyed in Berlin in 1945. The church was renovated from 1967 to 1972. At that time the corrugated iron roof was replaced by tiles. Inside on the church's wall there is a bronze plaque with the names of German soldiers, marines and civilians killed during Nama and Herero uprisings in 1903-1907. The services are conducted in German at 10.00 on Sundays.
The Alte Feste Fort was founded in 1890 by German commander Kurt Von Francois, who on 18 October laid the foundation stone for construction of the fort, it is therefore one of the oldest buildings in the city of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. The fort is located high on a hill overlooking the central area of Windhoek, originally the fort, rectangular, measuring 62 meters long and 35 meters wide, at the corners were built four towers, the two on the eastern wall were high 9 meters, the two on the western wall measured 6 meters in height. The fort during the German colonial era was used as a headquarters of the German colonial troops (Schutztruppe) (until 1915) and then as headquarters for the South African troops; in 1935 it became a hostel for the Windhoek High School; in 1957 it was declared a national monument; and starting from 1962 hosts the state historical museum, a multipurpose museum, which contains information on the history of Namibia from its origins (the san art (bushmen)) to the colonial period and independence; inside are exposed furniture, rock-graffiti, musical instruments, ceramics, objects of the colonial era and photographs of the struggle for the independence of Namibia.
The Equestrian Statue that used to stand where the new museum is situated now It is a large statue shows a mounted soldier, commemorating the German soldiers killed during the wars to subdue the Nama and Herero groups, around 1903–7. In 2013 the statue was moved next to the entrance of Alte Feste and eventually vanished completely over night and was banned into the courtyard of Alte Feste in 2014. Even the status of a monument was eliminated in this process.
As you continue north along Robert Mugabe Avenue, on the left is the president’s official residence. This was built as recently as 1958, on the site of the old German governor’s residence. Until 1990, this was used by South Africa’s administrator general.
Gibeon Meteorite Fountain
Mounted on steel columns and adding special interest to the Mall is the Gibeon Meteorite Fountain, where 31 of the original 77 Gibeon meteorites are displayed. The Gibeon meteorite shower occurred south-east of Gibeon in southern Namibia, and is the largest known shower of its kind in the world.
Clock tower at the junction of the Mall with Independence Avenue is a replica of the clock tower that was once on the old Deutsche-Afrikabank. The original was constructed in 1908.
Continuing into Zoo Park, on green lawns under its palm trees you will find two features of note: Elephant Column A sculptured column over a meter high marks the place where primitive tools and elephant remains, dated to about 5,000 years ago, were found. Scenes of an imagined elephant hunt kill are depicted in bas-relief (by Namibian sculptress Dörte Berner), and a elephant elephant skull tops the column.
War memorial On the south side of the elephant column is this memorial, about a century old, crowned by an eagle, and dedicated to German soldiers killed whilst fighting the Nama people led by Hendrik Witbooi. As yet there is no memorial for the Namas.
Kurt von Francoise Statue
Curt (Karl Bruno) von François (October 2, 1852 - December 28, 1931) was a military and political figure in the early days of German colonialism in Africa. He is remembered as one of the pioneers of German Southwest Africa.
In 1883, the German merchant Adolf Luederitz purchased Angra Penguena following negotiations with a local African chief. He called this coastal region of southwestern African “Luederitz”. Fearing that Great Britain was soon to declare the area a protectorate, Luederitz advised the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck to claim it, which he did at the Berlin Conference of 1884.
In order to provide security to the territory, in 1889 Germany sent Hauptmann von François to the British-held enclave of Walvis Bay. From there François and a handful of men trekked to the completely destroyed village of Windhoek in the interior of the territory, which was earlier founded by Jonker Afrikaner. At Windhoek, François set up headquarters of the German occupation (which he called Alte Feste). This location was chosen because the Germans felt it would serve as a buffer zone between the Nama and Herero tribes.
From March 1891 until March 1894, François was commissioner of German Southwest Africa. During this time (1892) he established the coastal town of Swakopmund as the main harbour of the colony. In 1893-94 he was involved in a series of battles with the Nama tribe led by Hendrik Witbooi. The original Schutztruppe headquarters built by François in 1890 at Windhoek was expanded in 1912, and has been a museum since 1962.
The Tintenpalast ( German for "Ink Palace") is the seat of both chambers of the Namibian legislature, the National Council and the National Assembly. It is located in the Namibian capital of Windhoek. The Tintenpalast, which is located just north of Robert Mugabe Avenue, was designed by German architect Gottlieb Redecker and built by the company Sander & Kock between 1912 and 1913 out of regional materials as an administration building for the German government, which colonized Namibia at the time. As an allusion to the large ink usage by the workers in the building, it was named "Tintenpalast" or "Ink Palace". The building is surrounded by the Parliament Gardens which is very popular among the inhabitants of Windhoek.
The National Botanic Garden of Namibia is situated in Windhoek and is the only botanic garden in the country. It is one of the four sections of the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Rural Development. The land where the garden is being developed was donated to the Government of Namibia by the city council of Windhoek in October 1969. It was proclaimed as a game reserve under Section 28 of the Nature Conservation Ordinance 31 of 1967, and earmarked to be developed as a Nature Garden. An interesting tourist attraction and centre for environmental education, the National Botanical Garden of Namibia (NBGN), which extends over an area of 11 hectares and is managed by the National Botanic Research Institute (NBRI), can be seen on the right (before the cutting) when driving from Klein Windhoek along Sam Nujoma Drive towards town.
Namibia Craft Centre
A must-see is the Namibian Craft Center in the Old Breweries Building in the Tal Street 40 (corner Sam Nujoma Drive). The claim "824,269 km2" is no understatement as you will find unique handiwork from Namibian-only manufacturers. And while your wife goes shopping, why not enjoy a refreshment at the "Craft Cafe" on the first floor?
The most controversial modern buildings of Namibia. Heroes' Acre, is a monstrous monument at the foot of the Auas Mountains, built by a company from communist North Korea and inaugurated in 2002 by former state president Sam Nujoma in a solemn celebration.
At the centre of the complex stands a 15 metre high marble obelisk carrying the 8 metre high bronze statue of a heavily armed soldier representing the Unknown Soldier, but strongly resembling Sam Nujoma himself. The actual centerpiece, though, are the tombs for 174 Namibian heroes, whose names and pictures are engraved in black marble. Some tombs are still vacant providing space for future heroes.
The memorial is laid out as a symmetrical polygon comprising extensive parade grounds and grandstands for an audience of 5000 people. At the bottom of the stairs that lead up to the obelisk, an "eternal flame" is burning.
As Sam Nujoma said in his inaugural speech, Heroes' Acre is supposed to foster a spirit of patriotism and nationalism and to remind the future Namibian generations of all ethnic backgrounds of the men and women who lost their lives in the liberation struggle.
Daan Viljoen Game Park
The 40 sqkm nature reserve lies 24km west of Windhoek in the Khomas Highland on a dam. There are many different antelope species, giraffes and zebras to be found in the game park. Ideal for hiking. The trails are well sign-posted, e.g. the 9km long Bushwillow Trail or the 3km long Buffalo Thorn Trail. The restcamp includes a restaurant, accommodation in bungalows and a campground.
Arnhem Cave is 4,5km in length - the longest in Namibia. It was officially declared a tourism attraction by the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism in 1995. Situated only 85km from the Hosea Kutako International Airport near Windhoek and 130km from the capital, making it the ideal first or last stop during your visit to Namibia. A guided tour through the cave at your request, will probably leave you with your most memorable experience of caving. The duration of the tour depends on how far you would like to explore the cave. No crawling is necessary and the tour could last up to three hours - if you desire. Arnhem Cave is sill in a completely natural state. It developed through the solution of limestone and dolomite from between thin layers of quartzite and shale. The insoluble rock layers eventually collapsed to form a large complex of narrow tunnels and enormous caverns.
Khomas Highland and Solitaire
En route from Windhoek into the heart of the oldest desert of the world you drive via the Spreetshoogte pass. From the viewpoint at the top of the pass you have a breathtaking view over the Namib plains. On a day of clear weather you might even see the coastal line of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Spitzkoppe between Usakos and Swakopmund is also described as the "Matterhorn of Namibia". Rising to a altitude of about 1800 meters, the Spitzkoppe is by no means Namibia's highest mountain, however, due to its striking outlines, it is regarded as the most well-known mountain in the country. Situated in an endless, dry plain, the island of mountains can be seen from far away. The difference in height between the peak of the mountain and the surrounding land is 700 meters. Next to the Spitzkoppe lie the "Little Spitzkoppe" with a height of 1584 meters above sea level and the Pontok mountains. Despite appearances, it is quite difficult to climb the Spitzkoppe, first conquered in 1946. Only experienced and well-prepared mountaineers with adequate equipment should take this mountain on. In summer, it is out of the question, because the rock gets so hot, you would burn your hands immediately. The granite massif, which is part of the Erongo Mountains, was created by the collapse of a gigantic volcano more than 100 million years ago and the subsequent erosion, which exposed the volcanic rock, granite. One can go for beautiful walks in this stunning landscape and climb about between the bizarre rock formations. For those interested in flora, there is a lot to look at, like the yellow Butter Trees and the Poison Tree (euphorbia virosa), which leaks an extremely poisonous white juice; the Bushmen use this to poison their arrows. San (Bushman) paintings can be found in various places, many in the "Bushman Paradise" under an overhanging rock wall.
Phillips Cave / Bull’s Party
Apart from the fantastic scenery and flora and fauna, rock paintings are also a lure for visitors to the area. The most notable rock painting is the 'White Elephant' frieze in Phillip's Cave on the southern edge of the mountain. Situated on the farm Ameib, 30km from Usakos and 240km from Windhoek, this cave lies 3km off the road, and is a 45min walk each-way to view the painting, but the scenery along the way makes the ramble worthwhile. Superimposed on the elephant is a large humped-backed antelope – possibly an eland – with frolicking ostrich and giraffe completing the sketch.
It was the celebrated French archaeologist, anthropologist, ethnologist and geologist, Abbé Breuil, who bought this part of the continent to the world's attention in his book Phillips Cave. He was noted for his worldwide studies of cave
art, especially in Southern Africa. Breuil, a competent draughtsman, painstakingly reproduced the cave paintings he came upon, and published many books on the subject.
Also an attraction here are the Elephant Head and the Bull's Party, a creation that resembles a circle of gossiping bovines. Another much-photographed formation resembles a Herero woman in traditional dress, standing with 2 children.
Omaruru is a city and constituency in the Erongo Region. Its official population is 6,792, although local estimates range between 6,000 and 12,000. The town is situated on the usually dry Omaruru River. The name in the local Otjiherero language means 'bitter milk', as the cattle used to browse on a local bush that turned their milk bitter. The town grew around a mission built in 1872 by Gottlieb Viehe, now a museum, and was attacked in 1904 during the Herero and Namaqua Genocide. Captaon Franke’s Tower was later erected to commemorate the relief by Hauptmann Franke's troops of the local garrison that was beleaguered by Hereo tribesmen who had risen against the German colonial presence.
The town is known for its annual festival where the Hereros commemorate their past local chiefs, its winery and for the dinosaur footprints at nearby Otjihenamaparero.
Paula’s Cave is situated in the Klipdas Mountains near Omaruru and host historic and irreplaceable rock paintings and engravings. The cave was proclaimed a national monument of 1st March 1951, only 1 year after a recommendation by the German archaeologist Dr. ER Scherz. The renowned palaeontologist Breuil was the first to describe in detail some large, red-haired humans with relatively long bodies, several animals amongst them elephant and rhinoceros. A further group of red-haired people appear, apparently under attack from a larger group of black men with arrows. In order to see these painting prior arrangement with Erongo Wilderness Lodge is essential.
Crocodile Farm Otjiwarongo
An unusual attraction is Namibia's first croc farm, The Crocodile Ranch, one of the few captive breeding programs for the Nile Crocodile, and is registered with CITES. The ranch exports the skins, but sells the meat locally.
Waterberg Plateau Park
Waterberg Plateau Park is a national park in central Namibia encompassing the Waterberg Plateau, 68 km east of the town of Otjiwarongo. The Waterberg Plateau is a particularly prominent feature, elevated high above the plains of the Kalahari of Eastern Namibia. The plateau and some 405 km² of surrounding land were declared a Nature Reserve in 1972. The plateau is largely inaccessible so in the early 1970s several of Namibia's endangered species were translocated there to protect them from predators and poaching to extinction. The programme was very successful and Waterberg now supplies other Namibian parks with rare species. In 1989, Black Rhino were reintroduced to the area from Damaraland, sparking a successful breeding programme of national and international significance for the species.
The Waterberg Plateau Park is ecologically diverse and rich and has over 200 different species of bird and some rare species of small antelope on the lower hills of the mountain.
Geologically, the oldest rock stratum is over 850 million years old and dinosaurs tracks were left there some 200 million years ago. The first human inhabitants were the San people, who left rock engravings believed to be several thousand years old. A small tribe of the San was still living their traditional lifestyle on the plateau until the late 1960s.
The site is also home to one of the major turning points in Namibia's History. It was at Waterberg, in the foothills, that the Herero people lost their last and greatest battle against German colonial forces at the beginning of the 20th century. The Herero were forced to retreat from the Waterberg and headed eastward to British Bechuanaland (now Botswana). Thousands were killed by the pursuing Germans and many lost their lives in the Kalahari Desert due to lack of food and water. Estimates are that nearly two thirds of the Herero population lost their lives during this period. The graves of German soldiers who lost their lives at Waterberg can still be viewed near the Waterberg rest camp at the base of the park
Cheetah Conservancy Foundation
22nd July 2000 marked an important time in CCF's history, as His Excellency Dr. Sam Nujoma, President of the Republic of Namibia and CCF's International Patron, dedicated the new Haas Family Cheetah Research Centre and the Carl and Cathryn Hilker Education Centre. This represented the culmination of two years of renovation. The Research Centre houses a veterinary clinic, laboratory and main offices. The Visitor's Centre includes a large meeting room, a small cafe and catering kitchen and gift shop. The Education Centre provides students and visitors the opportunity to learn more about the behaviour and biology of the cheetah and the Namibian ecosystem that supports Africa's most endangered cat species.
All areas focus on a landscaped courtyard with native gardens. The centre of the courtyard includes a beautiful wire frame cheetah sculpture donated by Amy Malouf, former Round River Conservation Studies student. The dedication of CCF's Research and Education Centre also marked CCF's 10 year anniversary of active in-situ cheetah conservation in Namibia. CCF has been actively changing humanity's understanding and learned negative behaviours towards predators since 1990. Namibia has the greatest potential of maintaining a habitat and prey base for the cheetah. With the assistance from 'cheetah friends' throughout the world, Namibia has become proud of being the 'Cheetah Capital of the World.'
Okahandja Woodcarvers Market
Okahandja is also an important trading point for woodcarvers from the northern regions like Owamboland or Caprivi. The carvers can be watched practising their ancient skills at the wood-and-thatch Mbangura Woodcarvers Market next to the main road. This is a good place to go shopping for souvenirs and pick your own individually crafted hippo or giraffe to take home for lasting memories of Namibia.
If you have an interest in history, Okahandja is an exciting place to embark on a little historical journey. The name ‘Okahandja’ springs from the Herero language and symbolically describes the place where the rivers meet. The town traditionally is the seat of the Herero nation, a tribe which comprises the second largest population group of Namibia.
Although the first missionaries arrived as early as 1844, the town finds its origins back in the late 1800’s when Okahandja became a colonial military base. In 1904 the Herero uprising broke out which led to many bloody battles with the German ‘Schutztruppe’ and cost the Herero tribe great loss to their people. On August 26, 1923, the great herero leader Samuel Maharero was laid to rest here.
As Okahandja has once been the seat of the famous chief Maharero, it remains to be of great cultural importance to Hereroes all over the country until today. Each year on August 26 - Hero’s Day- thousands of Herero in traditional attire gather in the small town to commomerate their ancestral chief. Visitors are welcomed to the ceremonious events. This occasion is definitely worth watching!
Von Bach Damm
The Von Bach Dam and accompanying Recreational Resort is a dam and vacation resort in Okahandja, Otjozondjupa Region, Namibia. Built in 1968 and commissioned in 1970, the dam provides Namibia's capital of Windhoek with much of the city's water.
Dinosaur foot prints
The tracks occur in sandstones of the 190 million years old Etjo Formation.
The sands formed these sandstones accumulated under increasingly arid conditions as windblown dunes similar to the Namib Desert today. Numerous reptiles lived in the interdune areas, but as the climate became drier, these animals were forced to concentrate near waterholes, small lakes and rivers fed by occasional rainfalls and thunderstorms. Inevitably, their feet left imprints in the wet sediment around the water.
Later these imprints were covered by other layers of windblown sand, and were preserved as trace fossils when the sand solidified into rock due to the pressure that built up as they were buried deeper and deeper. At Otjihaenamaparero, two crossing tracks consist of more than 30 imprints with a size of approximately 45 by 35 cm. The longer tracks can be followed for about 28 meters. There is a distance of some 70 to 90 cm between individual imprints as well as some tracks comprising smaller imprints of about 7 cm length and spaced about 28 to 33 cm apart (Gührich, 1926). Unfortunately, no body fossils of creatures that could be responsible for the tracks have been found in the area so far, and one can therefore only use comparison with other sites for identification. All tracks show the form of a three toed, clawed foot very well, and from their arrangement it can be deducted that they were made by the hind feet of a bipedal animal. Worldwide, about 900 dinosaur species are known through the finds of body fossils, however, only a few dozen footprint types have been discovered (Lockley, 1991). From these it can be concluded that the dinosaur who left the footprints at Otjihaenamaparero possibly belonged to the large order of > THERAPODA <, which comprises all the carnivores. The dimensions and the depth of the imprints suggest that the dinosaur had an appreciable size. Due to the unfavourable changes in climate described above, it can be assumed that the animals became extinct not long after they left their footprints.
Swakopmund and Skeleton Coast
Sandwich Harbour is a port on the Atlantic coast, lying south of Walvis Bay. Formerly a moderately-sized commercial port based around whaling and small-scale fishing, it declined as the harbour silted up, and is now best known for its birdlife. Although called Sandwich Harbour it was never a harbour or even a port. It is a shallow lagoon lying about 80 km South of Walvis Bay. The area was surveyed in the 1880's by the Royal Navy but it was considered very inferior to Walvis Bay and no development took place. Occasional sealing vessels used it as an anchorage, possibly to avoid the authorities at Walvis Bay, and there were some temporary settlements used by seasonal fishermen catching snoek (Thyrsites atun).
In the 1930's an ambitious project was started to build a guano island in the lagoon using sand pumps imported from Holland. Unfortunately jackals could cross to the island at low tides and chased the birds away. All that remains of the project is the manager's house.
The marine fauna was surveyed by the South African Museum and the State Museum of Namibia. It was found that the fauna was totally marine. Almost every journalist or documentary maker who has written or filmed the area has incorrectly stated that the lagoon is fresh water. There is some very poor quality brack water that seeps under the dunes and this allows large reed beds at the water's edge.
Bird Island was conceived and constructed by Adolf Winter, a German who emigrated to South west Africa) in 1912. Winter took a train from Swakopmund to nearby Walvis Bay and saw a natural offshore formation called Bird Rock, covered in guano from many birds. On the return trip he noticed the guano had been washed away by the sea, and saw a business opportunity. Bird Island began as a wooden platform measuring four meters square, three meters above the sea. Winter finished this initial construction in March 1930. One year later he had enlarged the platform to 16 meters square, and by August 1931 had extended it to 1600 square meters. By this point a considerable amount of guano was collected and sold annually, and expansion of the platform continued at a slower pace until 1937, when a large shipment of timber allowed building the platform out to its current size of 17,000 square meters.
As a seaside resort, the weather is cooler here in December to January (Namibia's summer months) so the territorial administration moves to Swakopmund for these months. Swakopmund's population as of 2007 is approximately 28,552.
Swakopmund is a beach resort and an example of German colonial architecture. It was founded in 1892 as the main harbor for German South West Africa. Buildings in the city include the prison designed by Heinrich Bause in 1909. The Woermannhaus, built in 1906 with a prominent tower, is now a public library.
This museum was founded by Dr. Alfons Weber in 1951. Ever since its inception its objectives have been to encourage informal education, to stimulate interest in the sciences and to preserve historically valuable items for future generations. The museum is located in rebuilt building of the Imperial Customs House (Kaiserliches Hauptzollampt) erected in the beginning of the century. In 1950 the Swakopmund Municipality initiated a competition to add an attraction to the coastal town and Dr. Weber won it with an idea to establish a museum.
There are following exhibits in the museum:
The contrasting life in the Namib Desert and the Atlantic Ocean are clearly depicted by means of various dioramas (three-dimensional models and scenes) displaying the seals at Cape Cross, bird life in the coastal region of the country and a desert scenes.
The Emil Jensen Herbarium exhibits the specimens of the Namib flora, while a large variety of zoological specimens are also on display. During 1990 the museum was able to acquire the famous Bachran collection which comprises a comprehensive archaeological and entomological (insect) collection, as well as the largest collection of birds' eggs in Namibia.
Ample space has been allocated to the excellent mineral display which contains some superb specimens especially from mine in Tsumeb.
There is a very interesting collection of relics of wooden ships that came ashore on the Skeleton Coast.
An original ox- wagon, which operated between Grootfontein and Angola some hundred years ago, is exhibited, emphasizing the importance of transport to pioneers. Also to be viewed here are the carriage of the last German governor of the colonial era, a beautiful model of a dual locomotive, marine equipment, and the old beaming system of the Swakopmund lighthouse.
The fascinating culture of Namibian indigenous people is shown by a collection of original musical instruments, wood carvings, weapons and domestic utensils.
Next, one finds Mr. Gerd Bohlke`s Adler Pharmacy, Dr. Alfons Weber`s former dental practice, and the Schmerenbeck room in the original ''Jugendstil''.
In the spacious Rossing room - also used as a lecture room - the process of mining uranium is impressively depicted. The Museum organizes regular sightseeing bus tours to Rossing Uranium Mine.
Special exhibitions are often on display and are a further attraction for local and foreign visitors. The museum is located on the beach front next to lighthouse and Strand hotel.
Strange monument at the roadside shortly before entering Swakopmund from inland attracts tourists of all religious denominations. ''Martin Luther'' the steam tractor was restored in 1973 from a rusted heap of scrap to its current state and proclaimed a National monument. It fell under the protection and jurisdiction of the National Monuments Council. Unfortunately it is quietly rusting away under a heavy coat of black paint. Imported in 1896 by Lt. Edmund Troost who intended easing inland trips for oxen used to haul freight treks i.e. Going halfway to Heigamgab. No rail and railway development yet. The machine was manufactured in Halberstadt Germany and shipped from Hamburg in early 1896. Lt. Troost accompanied. Lack of labor force in Swakopmund necessitated the 2.8 ton machine to be offloaded in Walvis Bay. Took 3 months to maneuver tractor through sand dunes to Swakopmund, first with help of an American and then a Boer. Problems were water and wheels that sank into and slipped on sand. Lt. Troost undertook a few trips to Nonidas, and two slow but successful trips to Heigamgab. Three trailers were constructed and used for freight, their fate is unknown. He was satisfied with the performance though servicing crew seemed to be a prime problem. Rinderpest broke put and Troost was requested by Maj. Leutwein to assist in establishing the railway line. The tractor was overhauled before he was ordered back to Germany but stood idle for some time as the Swakop River had flooded badly, making crossing over mud impossible.
It is not known for certain when the last journey was made and there is some speculation about what the cause of the permanent stop was. ''Drunken driving could have been the major cause for it is claimed that the kettle blew for lack of water. Whatever the reason, like the German reformer Martin Luther in 1521, its last hissed words were: ''Here I stand - may God help me. I cannot otherwise.''
Mr. Joachim Lange-Dehne, a grandson of the proprietor of the original engineering firm responsible for the construction of the tractor, recently visited Swakopmund and ''Martin Luther''. He intends reviving the factory which was situated in East Germany and offered to replace badly corroded parts in the future, if specifications were supplied.
National Marine Aquarium
The National Aquarium opens a window to the wonders of marine life found in the cold Benguela Current off the coast of Southern Africa. Seawater, drawn from the old jetty, is pumped through a series of filter systems before reaching the exhibition tanks. The main tanks has a holding capacity of 320 000 liters, is 12 m long and 8 m wide. An underwater walk-way allows the visitor to view sharks, rays and fishes from close range. The smaller exhibition tanks house organisms from the inshore waters, mainly found along sandy and rocky beaches.
Numerous information posters line the walls of the Aquarium. Scientific information, regarding the rich resources of Namibia, is simply, yet comprehensively displayed.
The functions of the National Marine Aquarium are to disseminate information about Namibian marine life, to enhance visitors about the sensitivity and complexity of the Benguela System and to serve as a place of recreation for those who merely want to put their feet up and relax. Feeding takes place each day at 15h00. Fishes in the main tank are fed 8-10 kg of filled hake. Specialized feeds are prepared for the filter-feeders (such as mussels and barnacles) and smaller creatures such as crabs, anemones, starfishes and sea snails.
Swakopmund was of major importance as a harbor during the German colonial era even though the water at the coast is actually too shallow and the bay is unprotected. But Lüderitz was too far away and the seaport of Walvis Bay was in British possession in those days. In August 1892, the gunship "Hyaene" under the command of Captain Curt von François, staked out a wharf north of the Swakop River mouth. A year later, 40 settlers from Germany and 120 members of the Schutztruppe were taken ashore on landing boats to embark upon an adventurous undertaking. The 325 meter long wooden jetty was only completed in 1905 and it was later replaced by a more solid iron construction. Swakopmund became the gate to South-West Africa and the entire supply for the colony was wound up through this little town. The narrow-rail train to Windhoek started operations in 1902.
Namibia’s desert holds a variety of crystals, diamonds and precious metals – most of it is also exported overseas. Along the coast from Swakopmund to the north of Namibia you might encounter individual traders offering you grand pieces of malachite, tourmaline or rose quartz. In the Swakopmund Crystal Gallery’s cabinet you will find these treasures as bracelets, rings or necklaces designed with gold or silver. The Gallery also displays the largest known Crystal Cluster in the world – 520 Millions years old and weighing 14.000 Kilogram. Agate stones and quartz sparkle on the walls of a replica mine at the Gallery. In a scratch pit you may also dig and find some smaller precious stones in the sand. Coming to Swakopmund a visit to the Crystal Gallery is almost a must.
This group of Damara Granites pushed upwards through the earth’s crust some 500 to 460 million years ago. This previously high mountain range has been eroded through time down to the foundations which over the past 2 million years have experienced further erosion through the actions of the Swakop River changing it into what is known as “Badlands”
The circular Welwitschia Plains Drive takes approximately 4 hours to complete and offers the traveler a closer look at the gravel plains of the Namib Desert and a number of key attractions, including the Welwitschia mirabilis. It combines scenic beauty, nature and history. The entire trip gives travellers an eye-opening insight into the sensitive ecology of the Namib Desert. As it is in close proximity to the town of Swakopmund, it is a good activity option for travellers spending a day or more in the town.
With good planning, it can also be combined with the route out of Swakopmund onwards to Sesriem or, if an early departure is possible, it can be used as a detour on the route between Swakopmund and Windhoek. The drive has a number of clearly visible beacons at which travellers can stop, leave the vehicle and see specific sights
The fields are situated in the Wlotzkasbaken area between Swakopmund and Henties Bay. Lichens consist of algae and fungus growing together in a symbiotic relationship. About 15 000 kinds of lichen have been discovered throughout the world and this number is apparently rising all the time. They are found not only in hot and sandy environments like this one, but also in harsh, cold and icy conditions.
The Namibian lichen fields have become well known and are popular with international tourists and researchers. Fortunately, restrictions to these areas are now in place to prevent irresponsible access and destruction of these important sites. Lichens are generally considered as being ‘pioneer plants’ and are able to live in conditions in which other plants cannot survive. They thrive in misty and humid conditions like these coastal areas, but can also withstand long periods of drought. Many of them have been estimated to have life spans of decades and even centuries. As hardy as they are, they are also vulnerable to pollution and changes in nature.
In 1486 Portuguese Diego Cáo landed here and erected a stone cross in honour of John II of Portugal. It is quite a desolate place unless you are a seal, in which case you would thrive on the abundant fish supply and undisturbed surroundings. Undisturbed until both the commercial fishermen and the tourists arrived. The fishermen want to cull the 100,000 strong breeding colony of Cape Fur Seals as they consume so many fish, and the tourists want to take their pictures. Oblivious to all this, the seals take absolutely no notice and carry on fighting, bleating, swimming and sleeping. Fur seals are different from other seals as they have cute little external ears that other species lack. Males can weigh from 187kg to 360kgs and are very territorial whilst looking after their harem of between 5 to 25 females. Any weak and dying are disposed of by scavenging black backed jackals who trot warily amongst the colony. Although fascinating to watch you will probably become overwhelmed by their guano like smell and need to move on.
Henties Bay does not have an impressive history of being discovered many centuries ago by some well-known seafarer sent on important explorations by his king to far-off countries, neither does it have the benefit of an age-old cross confirming its historical importance or a rich history of diamonds scattered on its beaches.
Although without pretence and true to the informal character of Henties Bay its "discovery" was remarkably similar in events than those of some of our historical neighbours - events that include hopeful diamond explorers and big-game hunters who challenged the Namib Desert and the Skeleton Coast in desperate attempts to find fortunes or merely to survive. "Explorers" whose lives were saved by the existence of a small freshwater fountain situated in an old tributary of the Omaruru River, literally on the beach.
Skeleton Coast Park
The Skeleton Coast National Park is situated in the Namib Desert. This Park is located between where the Ugab and Kunene Rivers open into the Atlantic Ocean. This area is renowned for its physical grandeur, solitude and colossal sand dunes. This barren coastal landscape consists of beaches, huge sand dunes, salt pans and gravel plains. Four major riverbeds, quicksand, deltas, and springs are also found. he dunes are alive with reptiles and insects including geckos, snakes, spiders, wasps, beetles, and termites. The animals have adapted to life in such an arid area but understandably in sparse populations.
Walvis Bay is a city in Namibia and the name of the bay on which it lies. The bay has been a haven for sea vessels because of its natural deepwater harbor, protected by the Pelican Point sand spit, being the only natural harbor of any size along the country's coast. Being rich in plankton and marine life, these waters also drew large numbers of whales attracting whalers and fishing vessels. The Dutch referred to it as Walvisch Baye and the English as Whale Bay, and in its eventual proclamation it came to be called Walfish Bay, and eventually Walvis Bay. It has also been referred to as Walwich Bay or Walwisch Bay.
A succession of colonists developed the location and resources of this strategic harbor settlement. The harbor’s value in relation to the sea route around the Cape of Good Hope had caught the attention of world powers since it was discovered. This explains the complicated political status of Walvis Bay down the years. The town is situated in the Kuiseb river delta and lies at the end of the TransNamib Railway to Windhoek, and on the B2 road.
Kolmanskop is a ghost town a few kilometres inland from the port town of Luederitz. It was a small mining village and is now a popular tourist destination.
It developed after the discovery of diamonds in the area in 1908, to provide shelter for workers from the harsh environment of the Namib Desert. The name originates from a transport driver named Johnny Coleman who during a sand storm abandoned his ox wagon on a small incline opposite the settlement. Driven by the enormous wealth of the first diamond miners the village was built like a German town, with facilities like a hospital,ballroom, power station, school, skittle-alley, theater and sport-hall, casino, ice factory and the first x-ray-station in the southern hemisphere as well as the first tram in Africa. It had a railway link to Luederitz.
The town declined after World War 1 as diamond prices crashed, and operations moved to Oranjemund. It was abandoned in 1956 but has since been partly restored. The geological forces of the desert mean that tourists can now walk through houses knee-deep in sand. Kolmanskop is popular with photographers for its scenic settings of the desert sands reclaiming this once thriving town. Due to its location within the restricted area of the Namib desert, a permit is necessary to enter the town.
Bogenfels is a location in the coastal Namib Desert noted for its natural rock formations (hence the name, which means " arch rock"). The main formation is a 55 meter high rock arch close to the coast. Due to its location within a restricted diamond-mining area it is only possible to reach this rock arch with a guided tour which needs to be booked well in advance. The operator has to obtain a police clearance for every participant of the tour.
They hold an irresistible fascination: the Wild Horses of the Namib in south-western Namibia. For centuries their origin was shrouded in mystery. Their habitat, the barren plains around Garub on the eastern fringe of the Namib Desert, is no paradise; nevertheless they have managed to adapt to the harsh conditions. Their forebears, once in the service of man, gained freedom for themselves: a life in the vastness of the Namib, away from human civilization, according to the rules of their own horse society. Perhaps this is the reason for the fascination of thousands of visitors every year. Plans for moving the herd to farms have been discarded by now: it has been decided that also in future the horses’ place is in Namib Naukluft Park.
Lüderitz is a slightly sleepy and maybe also bizarre place, which forms the basis of its appeal. The founding settlement of Namibia today consists of some 20 000 citizens. It was built on the bare granite rocks at the fringe of the Namib Desert and is openly exposed to the frequent Atlantic winds. Heavy sea fogs and sand storms contribute to the rough weather conditions of Lüderitz. Nostalgic Lüderitz presents itself to the visitor as a very colorful town, due to the numerous lovingly maintained buildings in the Wilhelmian Art Deco (the German equivalent to the Victorian style) from the times of German colonialism. Above the town towers the Lutheran "Felsenkirche" built in 1911. The people of Lüderitz make a living from tourism and diamond mining and, mainly, from fishing. The cold Benguela current brings in huge amounts of seaweed and so provides for an abundance of fish in the coastal waters. Because the water is very clean, even oysters are being bred here. So far, lobster catching was very lucrative. In the last years the waters were overfished, though, and the quota had to be reduced. Even in the hot summer months the water temperature in Lüderitz rarely exceeds 18 degrees Celsius. The rough coast of Lüderitz is thus not a desirable place for the swimming enthusiast, but it has quite a few other attractions. In the Eberlanz Museum in Diaz Street the history of the town and its diamond mining industry is well presented. On Shark Island, the monument of Adolf Lüderitz can be seen, and you will enjoy a stunning view of the town. The buzzing harbor is also quite interesting. Fishing boats are constantly docking and leaving while fish is unloaded and transported away. There are wonderful walks available at the beautiful Agate Beach, 8 kilometers north of town. If you are lucky, you can find an agate splinter in the sand or one of the numerous sand roses which consists of crystallized gypsum. Very rewarding is a drive across the Lüderitz Peninsula; a nature conservation area with many little bays and untouched beaches. The drive takes you around the lagoon, where flamingoes and many other birds can be seen. In the Lüderitz Bay Cannery one can watch rock lobsters being processed.
Sossusvlei and Naukluft
The sand dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert are often referred to as the highest dunes in the world. Various arguments are laid out to support this claim, but all miss the point, which is that Sossusvlei is surely one of the most spectacular sights in Namibia. Located in the Namib Naukluft Park, the largest conservation area in Africa, and fourth largest in the world - the sand dunes at Sossusvlei are just one excellent reason to visit Namibia. The best time to view Sossusvlei is close to sunrise and sunset; the colours are strong and constantly changing, allowing for wonderful photographic opportunities. The midday heat is intense and best spent in the shade while sunset also offers excellent photo opportunities at Sossusvlei.
'Vlei' is the Afrikaans word for a shallow depression filled with water (well, a depression that might sometimes be filled with water!), and the name 'Sossusvlei' should strictly only be applied to the pan that lies at the place where the dunes close in, preventing the waters of the Tsauchab river from flowing any further - that is, on the rare occasions that the river does flow as far as this. During exceptional rainy seasons, Sossusvlei may fill with water, causing Namibians to flock there to witness the grand sight, but normally it is bone dry. This particular 'vlei' is actually a more-or-less circular, hard-surfaced depression that is almost entirely surrounded by sharp-edged dunes, beyond which lies a formidable sea of rolling sand, stretching in unbroken immensity all the way to the coast. However, the name 'Sossusvlei' nowadays applies to the whole area - an area that encompasses the great plain of the Tsauchab River together with the red dunes that march along like giant sentinels to south and north of the plain.
The Tsauchab is a river (dry riverbed that fills in times of heavy rain) in Namibia, in the southern Naukluft Mountains. It is approximately 100 km (60 miles) long, and known especially for the portion in which it flows through Sesriem Canyon.
Since it is in the Namib Desert, the Tsauchab carries water only during the rare times when rain falls in the Naukluft Mountains and runs off, since it cannot seep into the soil fast enough. During these rains, the Tsauchab becomes a rapid-running, strong river within a matter of hours. As a result of the occasional rains, it has over the past two million years carved Sesriem Canyon, a kilometer (0.6 mile) long and up to 30-meter (100-foot) deep canyon in sedimentary rock. The name Sesriem is Afrikaans and means "six belts", since the early settlers had to attach together six belts (made of orxy hides), in order to reach buckets down into the canyon to scoop up water. The Sesriem Canyon is only two meters (6.5 ft) wide in some places, and has a portion that permanently contains water, which many animals use. Past the canyon, the Tsauchab flattens and grows broader, and is surrounded by a riparian forest as it slopes towards the Sossusvlei salt pan.
Dead Vlei is a white clay pan located near the more famous salt pan of Sossusvlei, inside the Namib Naukluft Park. Also written DeadVlei or Deadvlei, its name means "dead marsh" (from English dead, and Afrikaans vlei, a lake or marsh in a valley between the dunes).
Dead Vlei is surrounded by the highest sand dunes in the world, the highest reaching 300-400 meters (350m on average, named "Big Daddy" or "Crazy Dune"), which rest on a sandstone terrace. The clay pan was formed after rainfall, when the Tsauchab river flooded, creating temporary shallow pools where the abundance of water allowed camel thorn trees to grow. When the climate changed, drought hit the area, and sand dunes encroached on the pan, which blocked the river from the area. The trees died, as there no longer was enough water to survive. There are some species of plants remaining, such as salsola and clumps of Inara, adapted to surviving off of the morning mist and very rare rainfall. The remaining skeletons of the trees, which are believed to be about 900 years old, are now black because the intense sun has scorched them. Though not petrified, the wood does not decompose because it is so dry.
Namib Naukluft Park
Namib-Naukluft National Park is an ecological preserve in the Namib Desert in southwest Africa, thought to be Earth’s oldest desert. The park is the largest game park in Africa, and a surprising collection of creatures survives in the hyper-arid region. More moisture comes in as a fog off the Atlantic Ocean than falls as rain, with the average 106 millimeters of rainfall per year concentrated in the months of February and April.
The winds that bring in the fog are also responsible for creating the park’s towering sand dunes, whose burnt orange color is a sign of their age. The orange color develops over time a iron in the sand is oxidized, like rusty metal; the older the dune, the brighter the color.
These dunes are the tallest in the world, in places rising more than 300 meters (almost 1000 feet) above the desert floor. The dunes taper off near the coast, and lagoons, wetlands, and mudflats located along the shore attract hundreds of thousands of birds.
‘Namib’ means open space and the Namib Desert gave its name to form Namibia – “land of open spaces”. The park was established in 1907 when the German Colonial Administration proclaimed the area between the Swakop River and the Kuiseb River a game reserve. The park's present boundaries were established in 1978 by the merging of the Namib Desert Park, the Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park and parts of Diamond Area 1 and some other bits of surrounding government land. The park has some of the most unusual wildlife and nature reserves in the world, and covers an area of 49,768 km² (19,215 square miles). The region is characterized by high, isolated inselbergs and kopies (the Afrikaans term for rocky outcrops), made up of dramatic blood red granites, rich in feldspars and sandstone.
Namib Rand Nature Reserve
The NamibRand Nature Reserve, located in southern Namibia, is a private nature reserve established to help protect and conserve the unique ecology and wildlife of the south-west Namib Desert. Conserving the pro-Namib, the area along the eastern edge of the Namib Desert, is critically important in order to facilitate seasonal migratory wildlife routes and to protect biodiversity. It is probably the largest private nature reserve in Southern Africa, extending over an area of 172,200 ha. The Reserve shares a 100km border with the Namib-Naukluft National Park in the west and is bordered in the east by the imposing Nubib Mountains. Virtually all facets of the Namib Desert are represented on the Reserve – sand and gravel plains and stretches of savanna alternate with mountain ranges and vegetated dune belts. The NamibRand Nature Reserve is a model for private conservation in Southern Africa as it demonstrates holistic biodiversity conservation balanced with financial sustainability. Low-impact ecotourism is a means towards sustaining our conservation efforts through park fees. The five tourism concessions awarded by the reserve, each pay a daily, per-bed fee to the Reserve. The funds generated through these park fees enable the Reserve to be financially self-sustaining.
In a remote valley, on the edge of the Namib Dune Desert, set amidst huge camel-thorn trees, lies one of Namibia's most famous and extraordinary buildings - the historic Duwisib Castle. Built in 1909, by Baron Captain Heinrich Von Wolf, the castle stands on the high ground looking southwards onto a valley. It is situated in semi-arid lands, 70kms south-west of Maltahohe. After the German-Nama war, the 'Baron' and his wife commissioned an architect to build a castle that would 'reflect Von Wolf's commitment to the German Military cause.' The interior was designed for comfort and clever placing of its windows allowed for maximum sunlight to shine into the vast rooms. Metre thick stone walls and high ceilings made for coolness in the hot summers and two huge fireplaces were built to ward off the bitter cold winter nights. Beneath the hall, there was a large cellar, full of imported wines and French cognacs. Much of the raw materials used in the construction of the fort were imported from Germany. After landing at Luederitz, the materials were transported by ox-wagon for over 600kms through the Namib Desert. Eventually, a castle consisting of 22 rooms, was completed. While travelling to Europe in 1914, the First World War broke out, and on their arrival the Baron rejoined the German army, but was killed at the battle of the Somme in 1916. His wife never returned to Duwisib Castle, settled in Switzerland, and after the war sold the castle to a Swedish family. One of the legends around the castle is that the Baron's horses escaped into the Namib Desert and where responsible for the Namib Desert Feral horses which are found in the region. Duwisib castle was transferred to the state in the late 1970's, and was opened to the public in 1991. The castle now houses a collection of 18th and 19th century antiques, armour and paintings.
Tiras Mountain and Aus
The Tiras Mountains are situated 280kms from Sossusvlei and 260kms from on the edge of the Namib Desert. The surrounding is made of red shining granite rocks and is undoubtedly one of the best places to relax for a few days, when travelling between the sand dunes and coastal town. The local landscape varies from desert to quiver tree forest, and can be explored by vehicle or on foot.
Fish River Canyon
Fish River Canyon
The Fish River Canyon is located the south of Namibia. It is the second largest canyon in the world and the largest in Africa, as well as the second most visited tourist attraction in Namibia. It features a gigantic ravine, in total about 100 miles (160 km) long, up to 27 km wide and in places almost 550 meters deep.
The Fish River is the longest interior river in Namibia. It cuts deep into the plateau which is today dry, stony and sparsely covered with hardy drought-resistant plants. The river flows intermittently, usually flooding in late summer; the rest of the year it becomes a chain of long narrow pools. At the lower end of the Fish River Canyon, the hot springs resort of Ai-Ais is situated. Public view points are near Hobas, a camp site 70 km north of Ai-Ais.
Ai-Ais Hot Springs
Thermal water rich in sulphates and fluorides and with a temperature of approx 60°C, gushes forth from the springs of Ai-Ais. In the Nama language, "Ai-Ais" means "burning water". The thermal bath next to the hot spring is a popular recreation resort, especially during the winter months. The water is particularly soothing for people suffering from rheumatism. Of course, healthy people enjoy the spouting water fountains as well. There are indoor pools with various water temperatures and an outdoor pool. From May to August, Ai-Ais marks the starting point for hiking trips into the Fish River Canyon. In addition to the breathtaking scenery, there is a rich variety of wildlife and birdlife to be seen. One must be reasonably fit and of sound health to attempt these hikes.
The Orange River is the longest river in South Africa. It rises in the Drakensberg mountains in Lesotho, flowing westwards through South Africa to the Atlantic Ocean. The river forms part of the international borders between South Africa and Namibia and between South Africa and Lesotho, as well as several provincial borders within South Africa. Although the river does not pass through any major cities, it plays an important role in the South African economy by providing water for irrigation, as well as hydroelectric power.
Quivertree Forest and Giant's Playground
Richtersveld Transfrontiers National Park
Conjure up a desolate and forbidding landscape, seemingly devoid of life, except for some people dotting along the horizon. Make a startling discovery upon closer inspection when the mirage dissolves into the human-like half-mens (half person) and the harsh environment prove to be a treasure-chest containing the world’s richest desert flora. Miniature rock gardens, perfectly designed by nature, cling precariously to cliff faces. Tiny succulents, mere pinpoints against a backdrop of surreal rock formations, revel in the moisture brought by the early morning fog rolling in from the cold Atlantic Ocean.
Rugged kloofs, high mountains and dramatic landscapes that sweep away inland from the Orange River divulge the fact that you are now in the vast mountain desert that is the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld National Park, an area managed jointly by the local Nama people and the South African National Parks. This is a harsh and unpredictable land where water is scarce and life-sustaining moisture comes in the form of early morning fog – called ‘Ihuries’ or ‘Malmokkies’ by the local people – which rolls in from the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, sustaining a remarkable range of small reptiles, birds and mammals. A staggering assortment of plant life, some species occurring nowhere else, is to be found here, with gnarled quiver trees, tall aloes and quaint ‘half-mens’ keeping vigil over this inscrutable landscape.
The park is only accessible by means of a 4x4 vehicle, but vehicles with high clearances such as combi’s and LDV’s do travel in the park. Sedan vehicles are not permitted. There is no specific route that can be booked in advance.
The Mesosaurus is probably one of the most convincing examples to prove the drifting of continents. The same genus in the same rock formations is to be found in both southern Africa and South America. In southern Africa the fossils can be found in the Whitehill formations, while in South America they are to be found in the Irats formations. Both these formations were located in shallow sees, in basins and river mouths where the bottom layers were without oxygen and contained hydrogen sulphide. This caused the bottom to be toxic and without bottom dwelling creatures. It is also held that due to this the dead Mesosaurus did not decay as it sank to the bottom and in this way was perfectly preserved.
The quiver tree or "Kokerboom" is one of the most interesting and characteristic plants of the very hot and dry parts of Namibia and the northwestern part of the Cape Province in South Africa. Actually it is no tree, but an aloe plant. The botanical name is ALOE DICHOTOMA. Dichotoma refers to the forked branches of the plant. The plant is called a "Kokerboom" because some Bushmen and Hottentot tribes used the tough, pliable bark and branches to make quivers for their arrows. "Koker" is the Afrikaans word for quiver.
The quiver tree is a stout tree up to 9 metres high with a smooth trunk which can be up to one meter in diameter at ground level. The plants are usually found growing singly but in some areas the plants grow in large groups, giving the effect of a forest. They have their first flowers when they are about 20 to 30 years old. The flowers are branch panicles up to 30 cm tall from the base of the penducle to the apex of the terminal of the racem. The flowers have a bright yellow colour. The flowering-season is in the winter during June and July.
The quiver tree mostly occurs in black rock formations (called "ysterklip") which absorbs a lot of heat during the hot summer. (Average summer temp. is 38°C). The rocks anchor the plants which have a spread-root-system. The quiver tree is proof against frost.
The trees in the forest are natural. No trees have been planted by humans. The quiver tree forest was declared as a national monument on 1 June 1955. The big trees in the forest are between 200 and 300 years old.
Only a view minutes drive away from the Quivertree Forest lies Giants Playground a collection of granite boulders that leave the impression that someone has just stopped playing with them. While the first thought travels to the giants the real story behind this sight is that the sun heats up the granite boulders mercilessly and the cold nights cool them down rapidly. Every material can only take that much of this strain before it bursts and funny enough the granite boulders crack in straight lines forming cubicles that look like toys.
Graves of German Schutztruppe
Of historical significance is the graves of two German Schuttztrupler who died in a battle between Namas and Germans in 1904 at our farm Spitzkoppe-Ost, - namely:
Johann Splitgerber- born at Freienwalde Kr Danzig and Bernhard Lofink-born at Zull.
Lake Oanob Resort is 85kms south of Namibia's capital city Windhoek. The resort is built on the banks of the very scenic Oanob Dam. This is a good place to stay for complete relaxation.
It is not far from the town of Rehoboth, in an area characterized by stony hills, sandy valleys and mountains. There are a wide range of waterfront activities and it is a family orientated destination. All ages are catered for, and there is a huge variety of fish, birds and antelopes, that are particularly attracted to the lake. The reflections of the moon and stars on the lake, is particularly romantic.
The Hardap Dam is the biggest of its kind in Namibia with a water surface area of about 25 sqkms and an 862 metre long dam wall. It dams up the waters of the Fish River, the only river in the country's interior that flows just about all year round, although carrying very low quantities of water during the dry season. The dam is a popular watersport and holiday resort for the people of Windhoek. At the lake's western bank lies a small nature and game reserve of 20000 hectares. Here, one can go for scenic walks or drives. The resort supports many different species of antelope like springbok, oryx and kudu, as well as ostriches, mountain zebras, black rhinos and a great variety of birds.
The Brukkaros Crater is a 2 km (1.2 miles) wide extinct volcanic crater, about 80 km north of Keetmanshoop on the main B1 road to Mariental. From the car park it is a 3 km (2 miles) walk to the southern rim of the crater. It is possible to go down into the crater and visit an abandoned research station, but most people prefer to arrive in the evening and camp on the rim for the night to watch the unforgettable views of the southern hemisphere's night skies, provided by the clear, dry air of the area.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Where the red dunes and scrub fade into infinity and herds of gemsbok, springbok, eland and blue wildebeest follow the seasons, where imposing camel thorn trees provide shade for huge black-mane lions and vantage points for leopard and many raptors... this is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park. An amalgamation of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa (proclaimed in 1931)and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park comprises an area of over 3,6 million hectares – one of very few conservation areas of this magnitude left in the world.
Red sand dunes, sparse vegetation and the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob show antelope and predator species off to spectacualr advantage and provide excellent photographic opportunities. Kgalagadi is also a haven for birders, especially those interested in birds of prey.
Brandberg Mountain is located in Damaraland, in the northwestern Namib Desert near the coast, and covers an area of approximately 650 km². With its highest point, the Koenigstein standing at 2573m above sea level and located on the flat Namib gravel plains, on a clear day 'The Brandberg' can be seen from a great distance. There are various routes to the summit, the easiest being up the Ga’aseb river valley, but other routes include the Hungurob and Tsisas river valleys. The nearest settlement is Uis, roughly 30km from the mountain.
The Brandberg Massif or Brandberg Intrusion is a granitic intrusion, which forms a dome-shaped plateau. The geology of the area is typical of Damaraland, which is littered with eroded mountains, hills and koppies (small hills), which are made up of granite boulders. These piles of granite are ancient magma chambers, formed billions of years ago when underground volcanic activity was common in southern Africa. Over the millennia, these massive deposits of magma cooled and have been exposed, as we see them today, by the forces of erosion. One basic ingredient found in granite is the mineral feldspar. Feldspar is often a pinkish color and Damaraland is blessed with mountains and koppies of a most spectacular red/pink color that during sunrise and sunset can sometimes take on an almost blood-red color. The Brandberg is a perfect example of this and is one of the reasons why Damaraland is a main contender for the "most beautiful region in Namibia".
There is evidence of habitation over 5000 years ago. The Damara who lived here named the valley Uri-Ais or "jumping fountain" after this source of fresh water. However it was renamed Twyfelfontein or "doubtful fountain" in 1947 by the first white farmer to acquire the land; he considered the fountain too weak to support much life. The site was declared a national monument in 1952, but sadly this did not prevent many of the engravings being defaced or stolen, and local Damaras are now employed as guides to protect the rocks and inform the visitors. In 2007 the site was declared world heritage by the UNESCO. Although experts believe that rock painting and engravings featured in the ceremonies intended to imbue the hunters with the power to catch game, the picture of a seal on one of the rocks is particularly interesting considering that this site is over 100 km from the sea.
The site is called the Organ Pipes because the rock columns resemble the pipes on a large church organ. These were thought to have formed about 120 million years ago when the dolerite shrank as it cooled, forming these marvelous angular columns up to 5m high in the process.
The Karoo limestones which formed the mountain were deposited around 200 million years ago. About 120 million years ago, the same period when Organ Pipes were formed, volcanic lava intruded limestones and caused metamorphism giving the mountain its distinctive color.
The "forest" lies on a small sandstone rise and covers an area of 800m by 300m in the Aba-Huab River valley. The trees occur in sandstone of the Ecca Group, a subdivision of the Karoo Sequence, and are about 260 million years old. The name "Petrified Forest' is a misnomer the trees did not grow where they are found. It has been suggested that they were carried here by floodwaters, following the onset of warmer climatic conditions after the Dwyka glaciations. Evidence for the assumption that the trees grew somewhere else is the fact thatno roots or branches are present and only trunks are found. The trees were uprooted and transported by rivers to their present site where they were stranded on sandbank or shoals. This is inferred from the position of many stems which are orientated parallel to each other. Subsequently they were embedded in sand also deposited by the rivers. Opal-filled cracks in the logs suggest that many of the trees dried out before being embedded in the sand. The trees were deposited in an oxygen-depleted environment, preventing decay of the organic material and creating ideal conditions for petrifaction. Silica-rich water penetrated the logs, filling the cells, bark and other parts, where silica precipitated. This long process went together with the hardening of the sediments into sandstones. Nearly 200 million years later, after uplift of the whole area, erosion in a warm, often-arid climate removed the overlying rocks and finally exposed the petrified trees. Remnants of at least 50 trees can be seen on the plateau-some only partly exposed, while others reveal their full length. A good indication of the size of these trees is a partially exposed trunk with a length of more than 30m and an estimated circumference of 6m. The growth rings and the texture of the bark are so well preserved that one can easily mistake the petrified trees for logs.
Living Museum of the Damara
Together with the Bushmen the Damara belong to the oldest nations in Namibia. Their original culture was a mixture of an archaic hunter-gatherer culture and herders of cattle, goats and sheep. Due to their loose social structures the Damara were not able to defend themselves against aggressors. This is one of the reasons why their culture has to a great extent fallen into oblivion.
Within the framework of the Living Museum of the Damara an attempt was made to reconstruct the ‚lost culture’ of the Damara. Here the visitors have the unique opportunity to get to know the fascinating traditional culture of the Damara, thus contributing to the preservation of the culture as well as to a regular income for the Damara community that built the museum.
The Living Museum offers three essential advantages to the project participants. Firstly it is a good source of income for the Damara, who according to western conception live in great poverty. At the moment about 20 Damara have a secure work place in the museum. Through the sale of jewellery and crafts in the craft shop other community members are able to earn some money.
Secondly the Damara occupy themselves with their roots again und thus prevent the loss of cultural values. In this respect the museum also functions as a school for history and culture.
Last but not the least the Living Museum stands for an active intercultural exchange. Within the framework to the museum a lot of people concern themselves with the Damara culture and start to understand what makes these special people unique! The visitors give the Damara self-confidence and also the youngsters develop a feeling of being proud about their ancient culture. Maybe they will in this way be able to help themselves out of the social problems they are so perceptive to.
The Damara are an ethnic group who make up 8.5% of Namibia's population. They speak the Khoekhoe language and the majority live in the northwestern regions of Namibia, however they are also found widely across the rest of the country. They have no known cultural relationship with
any of the other tribes anywhere else in Africa, and very little is known of their origin. It has been proposed that the Damara are descendant from Bantu people originally from Central Africa, and adopted the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and the Khoekhoe language from the Khoisan Nama people.
Their name in their own language is the "Daman". The name "Damaqua" stems from the addition of the Khoekhoe suffix "-qua/khwa" meaning "people".
Prior to 1870 the Damara occupied most of central Namibia, but large numbers were displaced when the Nama and Herero began to occupy this area in search of better grazing. Thereafter dominated by and working for the Nama and the Herero.
In 1960, the South African government forced the Damara into the bantustan of Damaraland, an area of poor soil and irregular rainfall. Half of their numbers still occupy Damaraland.
The Damara consisted of 23 sub tribes/clans. The Darama are very rich in cattle and sheep. The Damara are divided into tribes each governed by a chief but the tribe has only one King, King Justus Garoeb that rules over them. They practiced circumcision until to date. Their traditional colours are green, white and blue. The green and blue identifies the different sub groups, some woman may wear white and blue some white and green, the white representing the peace and unity among all Damara speaking people.
Some Damara women share a similar style of traditional dress to the OvaHerero, with the long, flowing dresses that look almost Victorian in style. However, the traditional hats that the Herero wear have longer 'horns' to resemble cattle.
The woman do house hold chores like cooking, cleaning and gardening. Their Primary objective is milk the cows in the morning and nurturing the young. Man traditional hunt and herd the cattle leaving the village as early as the sun rise patrolling their area to protect their cattle and grazing ground as tradition dictates. Man can be very aggressive towards intruders if not being notified of any other male presence in his grazing area.
Though many Damara people own and live on rural farms, the majority live in the small towns scattered across the Erongo region or in Namibia's capital city of Windhoek. Those that still live on farms tend to stay with extended family so that as many as one hundred stay together, creating a small village of family members.
Vingerklip, a tall monolithic rock - resembling a finger - that dominates the landscape of the Ugab Terraces between Outjo and Khorixas. It can be accessed conveniently from the road D2743 towards the Vingerklip Lodge. In fact the rock is on the premises of the lodge, but you may visit the rock even without being a guest of the lodge. In case you wonder, the rock is about 35 meters high.
The Himba are an ethnic group of about 20,000 to 50,000 people living in northern Namibia, in the Kunene region (formerly Kaokoland). They are a nomadic, pastoral people, closely related to the Herero, and speak Otjihimba, a dialect of the Herero language.
The Himba breed cattle and goats. The responsibility of milking the cows lies with the women. Women take care of the children, and one woman will take care of another woman's children. Women tend to perform more labor-intensive work than men do, such as carrying water to the village and building homes. Men handle the political tasks and legal trials.] Members of an extended family typically dwell in a homestead, "a small, circular hamlet of huts and work shelters" that surrounds "an okuruwo (ancestral fire) and a central livestock enclosure." Both the fire and the livestock are closely tied to their belief in ancestor worship, the fire representing ancestral protection and the livestock allowing "proper relations between human and ancestor."The Himba wear little clothing, but the women are famous for covering themselves with otjize, a mixture of butter fat and ochre, possibly to protect themselves from the sun. The mixture gives their skins a reddish tinge. This symbolizes earth's rich red color and the blood that symbolizes life, and is consistent with the Himba ideal of beauty. Women braid each other's hair and cover it in their ochre mixture. The Himba women never wash, even after childbirth. In order to get rid of body odor, they apply strong-smelling substances to their bodies. They do not wash their hands either - instead they use specific dust to clean their hands. Modern clothes are scarce, but generally go to the men when available. Traditionally both men and women go topless and wear skirts or loincloths made of animal skins in various colors. Adult women wear beaded anklets to protect their legs from poisonous animal bites. Boys are generally circumcised before puberty, to make them eligible for marriage. Marriages are arranged at a daughter's birth and usually take place when the girl is between about 14 and 17.
Peet Albert Koppie, rock engravings
The rock engravings at the Peet Albert's Koppie, close to Kamanjab, are a magical sight. It offers you a wide spectrum of impressive rock engravings. 200 000 years ago the San documented daily occurrences with endemic wildlife onto one of the oldest and hardest rock formations, the Kamanjab Granite. This granite formation is the only one of its kind in the surroundings.
A gab in the mountains gives access to the valley basin on Sesfontein (six fountains), where luch green gardens give the landscape its special oasis character. In 1896, the government of what was then German South-West Africa built the Fort Sesfontein as control point for keeping in check cattle disease, arms smuggling and illegal hunting of big animals. The fort was abandoned in 1914 and only ruins and a small army-cemetery still stood witness to the former German presence in Sesfontein. Fort Sesfontein is the gateway to Kaokoveld, an area of some 50 000km between the Hoanib and Cunene, the frontier river to Angola.
The Hoanib River has dug itself a gorge which is up to 500 m deep and about 23 km long. Experienced 4x4 drivers can explore the gorge during the dry season
A few kilometres outside the little settlement of Warmquelle water from a lukewarm spring cascades over a small waterfall into a natural rock basin. This is a very popular spot with Kaokoveld travellers as it offers the opportunity of a refreshing bath to wash heat and dust from weary limbs.
Surrounded by low-lying hills, Opuwo, which means 'the end' in Herero, is a small and uninspiring town in the middle of the bush. The town grew into a permanent settlement and administrative centre for the region during the bush war prior to independence, when the South Africa Defence Force used it as base from which to lunch expeditions into the surrounding area. A smart lodge and decent community campsite provide lodging for tourists passing through to the more isolated, attractive spots in the region.
The Epupa falls are a series of cascades that drop a total of 60 m over a distance of about 1.5 km, reaching a maximum width of 500 m. Originating from the Herero word for the spume created by falling water, Epupa is a fitting name for this fascinating sight. Watching the Epupa Falls and its white mists of water against the red colours of the surrounding desert and mountains during sunset, with a sundowner drink in one hand and your camera or binoculars in the other, is likely to make up one the most beautiful and memorable experiences during your trip to Namibia.
It flows from the Angola highlands south to the border with Namibia. It then flows west along the border until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the few perennial rivers in the region. It is about 1,050 kilometres (652 mi) long, with a drainage basin 106,560 square kilometres (41,143 sq mi) in area. Its mean annual discharge is 174 m³/s (6,145cfs) at its mouth. The epupa Falls lie on the river. Olushandja Dam dams the river.
The monument commemorates the settlers who trekked north from South Africa due to strife with the Zulus and subsequent annexation by the British. They settled in Angola (and other areas), but decided to move once again when the Portuguese wouldn’t allow them to speak their own language in schools and wanted to convert these staunch Protestants to Catholicism. They suffered many hardships on their epic journey and have earned their place in history.
Etosha National Park is one of Southern Africa's finest and most important Game Reserves. Etosha Game park was declared a National Park in 1907 and covering an area of 22 270 square km, it is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and, surprisingly, one species of fish. The Etosha Park is one of the first places on any itinerary designed for a holiday in Namibia. Etosha, meaning "Great White Place", is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The pan is part of the Kalahari Basin, the floor of which was formed around 1000 million years ago. The Etosha Pan covers around 25% of the National Park. The pan was originally a lake fed by the Kunene River. However the course of the river changed thousands of years ago and the lake dried up. The pan now is a large dusty depression of salt and dusty clay which fills only if the rains are heavy and even then only holds water for a short time. This temporary water in the Etosha Pan attracts thousands of wading birds including impressive flocks of flamingos. The perennial springs along the edges of the Etosha Pan draw large concentrations of wildlife and birds.
A San legend about the formation of the Etosha Pan tells of how a village was raided and everyone but the women slaughtered. One woman was so upset about the death of her family she cried until her tears formed a massive lake. When the lake dried up nothing was left apart from a huge white pan.
The game viewing in Etosha National Park is excellent, the best time being from May to September - the cooler months in Namibia. Visitors to Etosha Game Reserve can expect to see many buck species, elephant, giraffe, rhino and lions. More fortunate visitors will see leopard and cheetah. There is a network of roads linking the three campsites and subsidiary roads lead to various waterholes.
When it was originally proclaimed at the turn of the century the Etosha Park consisted of an area of 100,000 square kilometres. This was the largest reserve on earth but in the 1960's political pressure resulted in the Park being reduced to its current size.
Traditionally visitors to Etosha have had a choice of three rest camps – Namutoni, Halalai and Okaukuejo. September 2008 heralded the opening of Onkoshi Camp a brand new lodge inside Etosha - this is the first development inside the park in several decades and looks set to offer an environmentally friendly luxury experience
Non-resident visitors to Etosha, i.e. those residing at one of the many private lodges and hotels around Etosha, can stop off at these camps for rest, recreation, and refueling. All three camps have floodlit waterholes, two of which provide excellent night game viewing. Rhino and elephant are often seen at the waterhole at Okaukuejo, while the newer waterhole at Halali is fast attracting more wildlife. The dominant vegetation in Etosha is Mopane (Colophospermum mopane) or Omusati in a local language, and it is so widespread in the north-west of Namibia that a region in Owambo is named after it. The western areas of the park support mainly mopane scrub, whereas there are extensive woodlands of tall trees in the southern parts of the Halali area as well as in the camp. One of the most spectacular trees in the park is the African moringa, (Moringa ovalifolia) or ghost tree. There is a specially fenced off area, some 30km west of Okaukuejo, to help preserve this unique and to some, grotesquely shaped trees, known as the haunted forest . This is an unusual habitat for the moringa, as they normally occur on hillsides and they grow in a variety of weird shapes, and as many of the trees have several trunks emerging from a swollen base, they are often mistaken for baobabs, but are not related to them. The second most common species in Etosha is the red bushwillow, (Combretum apiculatum), and is known locally as Kudubusch, aptly named because kudu and other game species browse the nutritious leaves, whilst rhino consume entire branches and elephant prefer the bark. Because the quality of accommodation and service is higher at the private establishments, which can be found outside the Etosha PArk, visitors often choose to stay in them rather than within the camps. Many of these establishments offer private game
drives, either in their own game reserves or in Etosha Park itself. The main entrance to the
park is called the "Andersson Gate" situated near Okaukuejo in the south. The eastern
entrance is called the "Von Lindequist Gate" and is near Namutoni. The new "Nehale lya Mpingana Gate" gate, (King Nehale Gate) was opened at the beginning of 2003 in the north-east.
Visitors should note that the park is only open from sunrise to sunset. Outside of these hours, visitors either have to be in one of the camps, or completely outside the park.
North of Etosha
The water drops almost 134m down vertical shafts into the heart of the mountain, where it drives the turbines before rejoining the Kunene from a discharge tunnel. When in full operation, the three turbines can generate about 240 Megawatts, which is fed into the Namibia Power Grid at 330 000 volts. Today the Ruacana hydroelectric power station is still the core of Namibia's power supply system. The first component of the Ruacana hydraulic system is the Diversion Weir, situated in Angolan territory. The Weir consists of a concrete gravity overspill structure with flap gates to control flood regulation, also incorporating the pressure tunnel intake. From the Diversion Weir a 1 500m long Pressure Tunnel runs along the southern bank of the river, some 30m below the ground.
Nakambale was originally called Olukonda and was founded in 1871 as one of the first Finnish missions in Owamboland. Since 1880 it was home to the Finnish missionary Martti Rautanen, nicknamed Nakambale by the locals. In 1889 Nakambale built the first church in the north of Namibia and in 1893 a house for missionaries. These buildings still exist and since 1992 are National Namibian Monuments.
Thanks to the help by the Government of Finland, both the church and the house were refurbished in 1992 and 1995 respectively. Currently the Evangelic and Lutheran Church of Namibia maintains them.
Nakambale Museum & Rest Camp was established in 1995. Accommodation is offered in five traditional huts, five permanent tents and a spacious camping area. As a direct consequence of the increase in the number of tourists visiting the camp in the last years, they have elaborated a project for its expansion. They will remove the permanent tent area in order to build rooms with a toilet and shower. They plan also to increase the camping area. This project will be financed by the Government of Finland.
Ombalantu Baobab Tree
A huge hollow Baobab tree that served as a post office, a chapel and a hiding place during tribal wars. Nowadays one can visit the tree, read about the tree’s role in local history and camp around the tree. 'Omukwa waaMbalantu', as the people of Ombalantu know their baobab tree, played a significant role in local history. The hollow trunk of this huge tree has, at various times, been used as a hideout, a post office and a chapel, and was integrated into the South African military base, prior to independence. Information displays in front of the tree's entrance give a short overview of the tree's diverse history, its role in the Owambo community and the struggle for independence from South Africa in North Central Namibia.
The renovated 'Koffeehuys' (coffee shop), built and used by the South Africans during colonial times, is now in use as a kiosk with craft shop. The craft shop offers a wide range of wire products, from replicas of the baobab tree to wire giraffes, but also traditional Owambo baskets and clay pots.
Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead
The Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead in Tsandi, the former home of King Josia Shikongo Taapopi, is an opportunity for guests to visit a traditional palace. Worlds apart from European palaces, the royal homestead is a typical Owambo homestead, surrounded by a mopane-pole palisade. This African-style palace offers a unique cultural experience, incorporating the customs, beliefs and accommodation style of the Oshiwambo-speaking people into the royal residence. A craft shop sells the local crafts of the area.
Omugulugwombashe is a settlement in the Tsandi electoral constituency in the Omusati Region. The settlement features a clinic and a primary school. In Omugulugwombashe the Namibian struggle for independence started in 1966. Government of Namibia erected a monument in honour of this battle at the thirtieth anniversary of the start of the conflict in 1996.
Kavango and Zambesi
Rundu is much more than a refueling stop. Situated in the north-eastern corner of Namibia this rapidly growing town is the main administrative center of the Kavango region.
As frontier town, Rundu is set to become the hub of trade and development in the north, especially with rebuilding efforts in Angola and the Trans-Caprivi highway that links the country and its main port in Walvis Bay to the rest of Africa.
With its diverse cultures and people, come the skills and talents to develop Rundu into a dynamic commercial centre.
The Okavango River is a river in southwest Africa. It is the fourth-longest river system in southern Africa, running southeastward for 1,600 km (1,000 miles). It begins in Angola, where it is known as the Cubango River. Further south it forms part of the border between Angola and Namibia, and then flows into Botswana, draining into the Moremi Game Reserve.
Before it enters Botswana, the river drops four meters, across the full 1.2 km-width of the river, in a series of rapids known as Popa Falls, visible when the river is low, as during the dry season.
Discharging to an endorheic basin, the Okavango does not have an outlet to the sea. Instead, it empties into a swamp in the Kalahari Desert, known as the Okavango Delta or Okavango Alluvial Fan. In the rainy season there is an outflow to the Boteti River which in turn seasonally discharges to the Makgadikgadi Pans, which features an expansive area of rainy season wetland where tens of thousands of flamingos congregate each summer. Part of the river's flow fills Lake Ngami. Noted for its wildlife, the Okavango area contains Botswana's Moremi Game Reserve.
Khemo Open Market
The Kehemu Open Market located in the Kehemu high-density residential area in Rundu was called “Tandaveka” a local word to describe a sitting position of a relaxed person, whose legs are stretched out and crossed at the ankles. It describes the comfort of the market. Once you are there you will not want to leave quickly !
The market serves the Kehemu and Safari residential areas mostly and at times a few customers from other surrounding areas. In 2001, referring to the operational costs, the market reached break-even and is cost recovering.
The Sauyemwa Market, built at the same time as the Kehemu market, became operative in June-2001. It basically serves the Sauyemwa residential town ship.
The total number of vendors selling at all three Markets varies from 850-900 vendors. Which means, that at the end of the project more than 90% of the informal hawkers of the Rundu Town had accepted the new structures and paid the basic monthly stand fees to allow the municipality to cover the operational cost and staff (cleaners, security guards, market operators) salaries. Due to their respective position in town and the difference in infrastructure, the main Rundu Open Market was assigned to become more of a multipurpose Market, serving as a trading place during the week and as a social venue for the weekends and evenings, while the two new community markets followed their vocation to serve the” community from 6.00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m., as it was the tradition before.
All Markets are providing a great potential of resourcefulness, creativity, self-employment, as well as a platform for promoting social events and cultural interchange. The organization of a physical Market was a difficult task due to the social interrelation of people of different cultural interest groups and the lack of a Market history before 96.
In addition to the setting up of infrastructure and the marketing of the venue, the Nam/330 Rundu Open Markets Lux-Development project, provided training in fields as diverse as horticulture (gardening), marketing for the producers and traders , hairdresser training, key making, service milling and book keeping for individual Market traders, as well as workshops in community leadership for the market committees.
Mahango National Park
If you are looking for somewhere “off the beaten track” with a true wilderness feel, the Mahango area of the Bwabwata National Park is well worth considering. Located in the north east of Namibia on the Botswana border, the contrasting vegetation of the 25 400 hectare Mahango Game Reserve is widely considered one of Namibia’ s most varied and fascinating conservation areas. There are three distinct habitats that can be identified, the river, which offers a blend of trees, reeds and grasses along its banks and on the wetlands. One tree that you will quickly recognize is the baobab. The Omurambas, which are fossil rivers, are covered with open grassland with tall acacia and bushwillow around the borders. Between the Mahango Omuramba in the north and the Thinderevu Omuramba in the south the vegetation is open dry woodland with some thick patches of Zambezi teak, wild seringa and wild teak. Year round water ensures an abundance of game, however, during the dry winter months, April-November, your chances of seeing game is higher as the animals seek out the river and waterholes.. Mahango is home to many antelope, if you are fortunate you may spot; roan, sable, reedbuck, tsessebe, sitatunga, red lechwe, kudu, Chobe bushbuck , Duiker and Steenbok. Apart from antelope you can expect to see Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Wildog, Hippo, Crocodile, Warthog Baboon and Vervet Monkey. The large herds of elephant are migrants, moving between Angola and the Okavango Delta, outside the dry season sightings will be fewer. During the wet summer months, November-March, birdlife is prolific. After it rains various trees flower and bear fruit attracting an abundance of insects and creating a birding paradise. Over 400 bird species have been recorded in the Mahango Reserve. This area is remote with very little in the way of development. Apart from the main road running through the park, linking Namibia to Botswana, there are only two other “tracks”. The track to the east follows the river, it is approximately 15kms and is suitable for conventional vehicles. The track to the west is only suitable for 4x4 vehicles. This trail is approximately 31kms and follows the course of the two fossil rivers in the park , the Mahango and Thinderevu. The drive through this unspoilt bush is spectacular but it is important to know that these roads can be very sandy in the dry season and very slippery in the wet.
Bwabwata National Park
The Bwabwata National (formerly the Caprivi Game Park) is known as 'a people's park' as it supports both large wildlife and human populations. This special arrangement benefits mankind and the animal kingdom equally, with conservation and rural community development both coming out as winners from sharing this spectacular area. Community game guards and resource monitors have been put in place, not only as a long-term conservation initiative, but to improve the quality of life for local Caprivian people, who now have new opportunities in ecotourism. Namibian wildlife also benefits from this protection with a steady increase in numbers, and this is highlighted by the relocating and restocking of rare species, such as Sitatunga and red Lechwe. This forward thinking should be applauded and Bwabwata National Park now enjoys a stability not dreamed of only a few years ago.
The park is 6,100km² and extends for about 180km from the Kavango River in the west to the Kwando River in the east. Access is easy as the park is located 200km east of Rundu or approximately 100km west of Katima Mulilo. The deciduous woodlands are dominated by trees such as wild seringa, copalwood and Zambezi teak. While the park is sanctuary to 35 large and numerous small game species, visitors are not likely to see many of these animals, as unfortunately vehicles are restricted to the road between Kavango and Eastern Caprivi. Animals likely to be seen though are elephant, roan and kudu; buffalo occur towards the west and as many as 339 bird species have been recorded in West Caprivi.
One of the best times in the year for excellent and reliable game watching is in October. It can be incredibly hot, but as it's been months since any rainfall, game concentrates on the last remaining waterholes along the Kwando River. A favorite is Horseshoe, as the name suggests, a large perennial oxbow lake with picturesque white-sand beaches, surrounded by Zambezi teak woodlands. Bwabwata is named after a village in the reserve and means 'the sound of bubbling water.'
Be warned, Popa falls are not falls at all, rather a series of rapids, waterways and islands on the Okavango River. When the river is low the highest visible drop is about 3m. There is walkway into the middle of the river, after this you are free to scramble over the rocks in the middle of the river. At this point the channel is about 1km wide with the river split into a series of channels making their way through the rocks. The campsite suffers from the inflated park charges, but is set among lovely grassed lawns, by the water's edge. This is a popular spot for travelers on the way to Botswana and a convenient stopping place when travelling between Kavango and East Caprivi. The area is protected as a national park but is very small and apart from bird life, a few hippo and some crocodile there is little wildlife to be seen.
The village of Andara is situated 200km east of Rundu in the Kavango Region of Namibia. The area is inhabited by the Hambukushu people who live as farmers and herders along the banks of the Kavango River. In 1909 the first missionaries arrived to Andara Mission but their work was not successful so they went back to Nyangana where they established a Mission. Then in 1913, Alexander Ndara, chief of the Hambukushu tribe, accepted and welcomed the Catholic Missionary Oblates – OMI. By visiting Chief Ndara and gaining his favor, the first priests were able to easily spread the Good News of God to the people. When founded, the Roman Catholic Mission was named Ndara Mission after the Chief, but today it is known as Andara. On 5 July 1914, the Magdalena Jiwa was the first person recorded to be baptized by Father Josef Gotthard on the river island Tahwe. Fr. Gotthard worked with Junior Wüst from 1921 to 1931 and with Fr. Frolich who would serve the next 69 years in Andara. Fr. Thanissen also worked with Fr. Frolich until 1966 when he was replaced by Fr. L.V. Lulsdorff (1966-1974), Fr. L. Baver and Fr. Kapirika (1975-1982), Kapp – OMI (1983-1992), and Fr. Henryk Ostrowski – Fidei Donum (1992-2006). Aside from the Roman Catholic faith, the first priests brought great things to Andara and the Mbukushu area. The Andara Catholic Hospital was founded in the 1960’s by Sister Katharina and later improved by Sr. Krisanta and Dr. Fisch. The early priests also built a youth hostel on the Mission grounds. In 1966, the hostel accommodated 130 students with the hostel mother Sr. Bernadete, the first Catholic nun at the Andara Mission. Coming from Oshikuku, Sr. Bernadete is, hitherto, the only Namibian sister to serve at Andara. The Andara Mission is also proud of its family for further accomplishments. From Andara, Fr. Gotthard went on to become the Archbishop of Windhoek. Fr. B. Haushiku was also a priest at Andara who later became Archbishop of Windhoek. Fr. Joseph Shikongo served at Andara for a short period and later became the first Bishop of Rundu. These are wonderful accomplishments for us to remember.
Mudumu National Park
The Mudumu National Park is a park in Namibia, created in 1990 out of 1009.59 square kilometers of savannah, mopane woodlands, and marsh on the eastern shore of the Cuando River. Many animals can be found in the park including sitatunga, red lechwe, as well as elephants, buffalo, kudu, impala, roan antelope, and Burchell's zebra. Its waterways are inhabited by spotted-necked otter, hippo, tiger fish, and crocodile.
This expansive Park, proclaimed in 1990, is located on the eastern side of the Caprivi Strip. Its lifeline is the Kwando River, which flows along the western border of the Park. Along the river there are extensive floodplains, floating papyrus swamps and lush riverine forest. Away from the river one finds mixed mopane and teak woodlands, open grasslands and typical African savannah.
The birdlife here is a big attraction with 430 species seen – Coppery-tailed Coucal, Slaty Egret, Greater Swamp Warbler, Swamp Boubou and Brown Firefinch are some of the resident species. In summer, numbers are boosted by the tremendous amount of migratory species including flocks of colourful Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Copper Sunbird, Pennant-winged Nightjar and Broad-tailed Paradise-Whydah.
Mamili National Park
Wild – that’s the one word that best describes Mamili (Nkasa Lupala)National Park. There is nothing prissy about it, it doesn’t have fancy campsites and offers no guided tours. But it is an extraordinary piece of wilderness, waiting to be explored. Lush marshes, dense savannah and high river reeds mean that travelling through the area is a dream for 4x4 enthusiasts. During the dry winter months, large herds of elephant congregate on Nkasa and Lupala islands. But for much of the year, the park is awash with floodwater. Drive slowly through deep pools and avoid rivers where crocodiles lie in wait. Slip through thick black mud, so soft it is called cotton, and dice with the odds of getting stuck! If you have to wait while someone else digs the vehicle out, listen carefully. Nearby buffalo or elephant may be crossing the river. For anyone who relishes the adventures of raw, real Africa, Mamili (Nkasa Lupala) National Park is the place to be. In a vast arid country, Mamili (Nkasa Lupala) National Park holds the distinction of being the largest wetland area with conservation status in Namibia. The Mamili (Nkasa Lupala) was proclaimed in 1990, shortly before Namibia’s Independence. And there is much to celebrate about this wet wonderland. The 318-km2 Mamili (Nkasa Lupala) National Park protects the flora and fauna living within a complex channel of reed beds, lakes and islands that make up the Linyanti swamps. Spectacular herds of elephant, buffalo, red lechwe and reedbuck are among the highlights of any game-viewing experience. But be careful, the waters are also home to five-metre-long crocodiles and families of hippopotamus, which venture onto the floodplains at night to feed. During the rainy season, as much as 80% of the park can become flooded and inaccessible, and yet it remains a sanctuary for birds. With more species of birds recorded here than anywhere else in Namibia, Mamili (Nkasa Lupala) National Park is a bird-watchers paradise.
The small town of Katima Mulilo, in Namibia's Caprivi Strip, is located on the Zambezi River, with its lush riverine vegetation, and colourful tropical birds and monkeys.
As with most African borders that were unnaturally formed, the splitting of tribes into different countries resulted in cross border strife. In mid 1999 there was an uprising and calls for a separate independent state in the region
The Kwando River forms the border between east and west Caprivi, 100 km west of Katima Mulilo. It also forms the border of both the Bwabwata and Mudumu National Parks. The Bwabwata National Park (formerly Caprivi Game Reserve) is an unspoilt wilderness stretching from the Kwando in the east to the Okavango in the west. Mudumu National Park lies east of the Kwando where it borders on Botswana, and further south and west is Mamili National Park. The wide range of habitats along the Kwando allow a variety of birding opportunities, with over 400 species recorded. A minimum of 2 days should be spent in this area. Game viewing in can be exceptional, with huge herds of Elephant present, particularly during the dry season (June-November). A 4x4 vehicle is a pre-requisite if you are planning to travel south of the B8 towards Horseshoe Lagoon.
Kaudum National Park
Khaudum National Park is one of the few remaining wilderness areas in southern Africa. In this beautiful green park one can enjoy the real Kalahari far from the main tourist routes. For the adventurous tourist the park offers deep sand tracks, which surely require good orienteering and 4x4 driving skills. Elephants are abundant in the park, and especially in the dry season (Mai - September) the visitor will see plenty of them. The park represents the only protected area of the “Northern Kalahari Sandveld” in Namibia. Here migration routes of various migratory game species between Namibia, Botswana and Angola are linked. Above this, Khaudum National Park is one of the few refuges in which rare species such as African Wild Dogs and Roan Antelopes roam freely - underlining the important status of Khaudum National Park as a conservation area. This developing web page is thought to serve as a information platform for Khaudum National Park and its surrounding areas. Here you find information for travelling, but also on people's and animal's issues alike.
Hoba Meteorite Surrounding
Part of an underground river system, the lake was exposed when the roof of what was a large dolomite cave fell in. The lake is small with a diameter of about 102m, but very deep, with a depth estimated to be in excess of 142m in places. The lake is situated near the town of Tsumeb.
During the First World War the Union of South Africa, still part of the British Empire, was ordered to invade German South West Africa. The German troops were heavily out-numbered by the Union forces, but managed to hold out for nearly a year before finally being forced to surrender. The final hostilities took place in the vicinity of Otjikoto and, rather than surrender their weapons and artillery to the enemy everything, including the heavy guns and ammunition wagons, was dumped into the lake. Many of these relics have since been recovered, but not all. The lake still contains various pieces of artillery and there are rumors that the German troops also disposed of their war chest in the same manner. Stories are told of a large safe, the edges and keyhole sealed with molten lead and containing 6 million goldmarks, being lowered into Lake Otjikoto. The safe has never been seen again.
The first Europeans to see Otjikoto were the Englishman Sir Francis Galton and the Swede Charles Anderson who discovered the lake by accident in 1850. The name is derived from the Otjiherero language and means deep hole. The San called it "Gaisis" which means very ugly because they were afraid of the deep water. When Galton and Anderson first stumbled on Otjikoto they went for a swim. The local Herero and Owambo people were much surprised because local belief was that nobody could survive the mysterious waters.
Lake Guinas, is situated southwest of Otjikoto, a 50km (31miles) round trip from the main road, but it is usually bypassed in favour of Otjikoto. The detour is well worth the effort, as Guinas is not only deeper, but more scenic than its more famous counterpart.
Tsumeb lies in the so-called "Otavi Triangle"; the area between the towns of Tsumeb, Otavi in the south-west and Grootfontein in the south-east. All towns are some 60 kilometers apart from each other. The Otavi Triangle has a relatively high rainfall so a lot of the land is being cultivated for mostly maize and wheat, but also vegetables and fruit. Tsumeb looks quite green. The prettiest time is spring when the Jacaranda trees are in bloom. The "Garden Town" of Tsumeb, with its 15 000 inhabitants, is economically dependent on the mining industry. Even the bushmen found copper here, in a malachite hill, which they bartered for tobacco with the Ovambo. Around 1900, the industrial mining of copper, lead, silver, zinc and cadmium started. The ore deposits of Tsumeb - of volcanic origin - in fact, contain many more minerals, some of them rare ones. In total 217 different minerals were discovered. Nowhere else in the world can such a variety be found. The mine went bankrupt some years ago, but in the meantime operations have been taken up again. You can learn about the wonder world of minerals and crystals in the museum of Tsumeb's local history. The dedicated curator, Ilse Schatz, who founded the museum in 1975, can tell interesting stories from the colonial times of Tsumeb
The museum lies in Main Street. It is a must for all those interested in geology or history. It informs extensively about the mining industry in Tsumeb and the town's history. The museum also organizes tours of the mine.
Tsumeb Cultural Village
Located at the southern entrance to town, this community project is an open air museum that gives visitors an insight into the rural life of Namibian tribes. Always adding on new details, it displays the life of the majority of Namibians. It tell about their history and culture, shows their work and skills in arts and crafts. Local specialties are on offer, including oshikundu, a drink made from Mahangu (millet).
Hoba (also known as Hoba West) (pron. "HOE-bah") is a meteorite that lies on the farm "Hoba West", not far from Grootfontein, in the Otjozondjupa Region of Namibia. It has been uncovered but, because of its large mass, has never been moved from where it fell. The main mass is estimated at over 60 tons, and it is the largest known meteorite (as a single piece) and the most massive naturally-occurring piece of iron known at the Earth's surface. The Hoba meteorite is thought to have landed less than 80,000 years ago. It is inferred that the Earth's atmosphere slowed the object down to the point that it fell to the surface at terminal velocity, thereby remaining intact and causing little excavation. The meteorite is unusual in that it is flat on both major surfaces, possibly causing it to have skipped across the top of the atmosphere in the way a flat stone skips on water.
The Khorab Memorial, dates back to the First World War and marks the spot where the cease-fire was signed at Khorab on July 9, 1915.
One- to five-hour walking trails meander across the farm, and the Ghaub Cave excursion explores the third-largest cave in Namibia, 38 m in depth with 2.5 km of chambers and passageways. Declared a national monument, the cave is a slippery, rock-clambering opportunity to experience ancient underworld growth. Stalactites and stalagmites glimmer and glow in their solidified water journeys. It takes a hundred years for one centimetre of stalactite to grow so in the cave you will be looking at millions of years of rock history. Roots of camel-thorn trees hang down and water droplets seep into the underground cavern, glistening against the ancient rock. The caves can only be visited with a guide and it takes between 1 to 2 hours. It is best to wear hiking boots. The entrance is a hole in the ground and there are low hanging rocks. It is warm and humid underground and not recommended for people who suffer from claustrophobia.[/tab5]