Cities, Towns and their Attractions
Central Region of Namibia:
The town of Okahandja is of great significance to the Herero People because
it was once the seat of Chief Samuel Maharero who was buried here in 1923. Every
year on August 26 - referred to as Heroes' Day - thousands of Herero converge in
the town to pay homage at the graves of their great chiefs. Some of the women
are dressed traditional red and black, others in green & black, whole the mean
wear full military regalia complete with medals. The name Okahandja comes from
Herero and means 'small widening', the place where the rivers meet. The earliest
records of this town date back to 1844 when the first two missionaries arrive
there. The year 1894 is regarded as the birth of the town as it became a
military base and a fort was built.
The town is an important centre for woodcarvers from the north who practise
their ancient skills at the wood-and-thatch Mbangura Woodcarvers Market next to
the main road at both the entrance and exit of the town.
This town provides a convenient stop over on route to the north of the
country. As, with most towns in central Namibia the name Otjiwarongo originates
from the Herero language, which translated means "place of the fat cattle" or
"beautiful place". Given the central role that cattle play in the Herero
culture, both meanings are appropriate. The town was officially founded in 1906
upon the arrival of the narrow gauge railway linking the important mining centre
of Tsumeb and the coastal town of Swakopmund.
The town of Omaruru is a quaint bohemian “art village” with many curio
shops, art galleries and Namibia's first wine cellar, Kristall Kellerei. The
winery has 4 hectares under 2 different kinds of wines, the Colombard and Ruby
Cabernet. With growing success, Little Wine Tavern was opened in 2000. Wine and
light meals can be ordered and tour around a wine yard and cellar provided.
Like many towns in Namibia, Omaruru originated as a mission station. The
missionary Hugo Hahn was the first European to set foot in the area. When
Omaruru was besieged by Herero forces during the Herero / German war, it was
freed by Captain Victor Franke and his men. The Franke Tower, built to
commemorate this event, was inaugurated in 1908. The oldest building on Omaruru,
the Old Mission House, now serves as the town museum.
The small sun-baked town of Usakos, nestled in the valley of the Khan River,
developed around a station on the old narrow-gauge railway built in 1900. Beyond
Usakos is the Trekkopje Battlefield, site of one of the most important battles
fought during the short-lived 1915 campaign involving South African and German
When travelling between Usakos and the coast an extraordinary granite mass, the
Spitzkoppe, dominates the desert plain towards the north. This 1 728m high
inselberg, sometimes referred to as the Matterhorn of Namibia, is a severe test
for any rock climber. The area is also well known for its rock art and
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Coastal Region of Namibia:
Walvis Bay is Namibia’s major harbour town and has a well-developed and
efficient port, while its fishing harbour is the hub of Namibia’s lucrative
The Walvis Bay Lagoon takes pride of place as regards scenic attractions in the
Walvis Bay area. The tranquil stretch of water, its natural beauty accentuated
by thousands of flamingos gathering at the rich feeding grounds, is over 3 000
years old. Because of its value nationally and internationally as a wetland
area, it was declared a RAMSAR site, RAMSAR being a convention on wetlands, held
in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran.
The lagoon is regarded as the most important wetland for coastal birds in
Southern Africa. Wading birds including Lesser and Greater Flamingos and White
Pelicans are seen here.
In 1929 Major Hentie van der Merwe discovered a fresh-water spring in an old
delta of the Omaruru River. He fell in love with the place and for years it was
his private haven to which he escaped every December. Henties Bay has since
become an increasingly popular proposition for holiday and retirement property
investment. Its peaceful atmosphere and remote setting along the Skeleton Coast
is one of its greatest assets. Situated in the National West Coast Recreational
Area, Henties Bay offers the nature lover an attractive albeit sensitive natural
environment with diversified fauna and flora and many sites of interest.
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Southern Region of Namibia:
Some 88km south of Windhoek is the historical town of Rehoboth. It is inhabited
by the Baster community, descendants of people of mixed parentage who trekked
across the Orange River under their leader Hermanus van Wyk and settled at
Rehoboth in 1870. The history of the Rehoboth Baster's is recorded in the
Rehoboth Museum, detailing their cultural heritage and archaeological finds in
Mariental is the administrative capital of the Hardap Region in southern
Namibia, which stretches from the coast to Botswana Standing on the edge of the
Kalahari Desert, in an area which has long been a centre for the Nama people.
Mariental name originated from the area's first colonial settler, Herman Brandt,
who named it Marie's Valley, after his wife. As this area of Namibia receives
very little rain traditional farming techniques are being abandoned and farming
is moving towards game animals. Mariental is also the centre of Namibia’s
ostrich farming industry as these birds cope well with the arid conditions.
The small town of Maltahöhe is conveniently situated halfway between both
Windhoek and Lüderitz, and Keetmanshoop and Swakopmund.
Keetmanshoop was founded in 1860 by the Rhenish Mission Society, the town
retains vestiges of its original German buildings as well as several dating back
to the arrival of the first Europeans, who trekked across the Orange River to
trade, hunt and explore the land. The first of these expeditions was in 1791.
In 1866 preacher John Schroder of the German Missionary Society built a canvas
shelter from which to operate, he approached the rich industrialist Johan
Keetman for funds to build a church and dwelling fro himself and his family.
Keetman was rewarded for his generosity by having the settlement named after
Eagle's Monument, built between 1897-1907 in remembrance of the casualties in
the battles fought with the Bondelswarts and the Namas and declared a National
Monument can be viewed in the Garden of Remembrance.
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Northern Region of Namibia:
The small town of Otavi, with Grootfontein & Tsumeb, is part of the southern
Maize Triangle, a relatively high rainfall area prosperous in agriculture,
mainly maize and lucerne, some under irrigation. Whole the town itself doesn't
have much in terms of tourist attractions, the surroundings have.
The Khorab Memorial, about 3km from Otavi dates back to the First World War and
marks the spot where a ceasefire was signed at Khorab on July 09th 1915.
Ideally situated in the centre of the rugged beauty of Damaraland, halfway
between Etosha National Park and the Skeleton Coast. In the local language,
Khorixas is a derivation of the Damara word 'Gorigas' - a type of water bush,
which flourish in the area.
Sesfontein is situated in the north western part of Namibia, close to the Hoanib
River, on the southern side of Kaokoveld. A gap in the mountains gives access to
the valley basin on Sesfontein (six fountains) where lush green gardens give the
landscape its special oasis character. In 1896 the government of what was then
German South-West Africa built the Fort of Sesfontein as a 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
Today, almost 100 years after the original establishment of the Sesfontein
Station, the fort has acquired a second lease of life after being tastefully
restored as a comfortable Lodge
The word ‘Opuwo’ means ‘the end’ in Herero, the language used by the Himbas.
Today, it is becoming more of ‘a beginning’ for adventurous travellers.
The reviews on Opuwo are mixed. Some call it one of the most interesting places
in Africa. Others are less flattering. Opuwo is a small town that offers access
to one of the wildest places on earth, Kaokoland, and an opportunity to meet
members of the Himba tribe, one of the last remaining people on earth who live
in as nomadic herders. Although the name Opuwo means ‘the end’ in the local
language Herero, it should more aptly be described as the beginning of an
Ruacana is a waterfall on the border of Namibia and Angola. It is the site of a
hydro-electric scheme, which can be visited with prior arrangement.
Epupa is a waterfall or series of falls, depending on the amount of rain. The
sudden lushness of Epupa is particularly pleasing to travellers after the dry
landscapes of Kaokoland. A number of Himbas live at Epupa.
From 1905 the town of Tsumeb was closely linked with the mining industry, but
mining operations have since been scaled down considerably. The colourful
jacarandas, flamboyant trees and bougainvillea that line Tsumeb's streets have
earned it the name of Namibia’s garden town. The history of Tsumeb is depicted
in the Tsumeb Museum, where a comprehensive collection of rare minerals can be
viewed. The Khorab Room displays a collection of restored cannons and other
armaments dumped into Lake Otjikoto by retreating German forces shortly before
the signing of the Khorab Peace Treaty. It is estimated that at least 30 cannons
and 4 500 boxes of ammunition where plunged into the Lake.
The Tsumeb Arts & Craft Centre, situated in the main street, is an educational
trust promoting traditional arts & crafts.
The small town of Grootfontein serves the surrounding cattle-ranching community
and is the last centre on the road to Rundu and the far east. The town's Herero
name - Otjiwanda Tjongue - means leopard crest, and these animals still occur in
the surroundings. Due to the relatively high rainfall and large number of
springs in the area, the San and Damara's who lived here in the first half of
the 19th century, called the place Gei-/ous, which translates as Grootfontein
(Afrikaans for large spring)
The main town in the Kavango Region is Rundu, situated on the banks of the
Okavango River. This is the home of Namibia’s well-known Kavango woodcarvers.
Their ancient craft, handed down over generations, is a flourishing industry
today. Wooden carvings are made ad offered for sale at the Mbungura Woodcraft
Cooperative, which has its main workshop and office in the town.
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Caprivi Region of Namibia:
The largest town in the Caprivi, Katima Mulilo, lies at the crossroads of
Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Angola, and beats with the pulse of
Africa. It is a microcosm of Caprivi, a place where seven different languages
and many more dialects are spoken, where traditional villages abut the town and
where open markets resonate with more modern conveniences.
The town is a mixture of old and new. In the hollowed-out base of an ancient
baobab tree you'll find a unique public toilet. In the centre of Katima Mulilo a
large, vibrant African market provides a glimpse into the daily lives of
Namibians in the lively town.
There is also an interesting curio shop stocked with wooden items and baskets
for which the Caprivi Region is famous.
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