"Are you intreprid enough to explore Otjimbingwe?" Otjimbingwe by CatherineReichardt

Otjimbingwe Travel Guide: 0 reviews and 1 photos

Otjimbingwe is exactly the sort of outlandishly out-of-the-way place with a colourful history that I look for myself when I am using Virtual Tourist to research a forthcoming trip.

Like so many Namibian towns, it started as a German mission, established by the Rhenish Mission in the middle of the 19th century. A shortlived 'copper rush' the following decade encouraged the Walwich Bay Mining Company to establish Otjimbingwe as their base, but once the orebody was depleted, many of these structures were abandoned.

Almost unbelievably, it served as the capital of German South West Africa for a few years from the late 1880s until 1892 - I was deeply dubious about this, but am assured by my German stamp collector husband that there are indeed highly collectable stamps issued from this period to prove this - and Otjimbingwe's slump from international capital into obscurity at the turn of the 20th century was precipitated by the choice of the railway route between Windhoek and Swakopmund that bypassed the town.

Today, Otjimbingwe is a slumbering, sprawling little rural town, with only a few historic buildings which betray its former glory and illustrious past. The most notable is the gorgeous Rhenish mission church - see picture - whose interior was sadly derelict when I last visited (although the exterior was holding up pretty well, due no doubt to solid German construction!) and some mining-related buildings including an old powder tower. Walk among the derelict buildings to sense the presence of ghosts from the German colonial period and ponder on the possibilities that might have been if only the railway had taken a different route!

Otjimbingwe is not exactly on the beaten track! To find it, take the D1953 south east of Karibib - this was a reasonable dirt road last time I visited, but poorly signposted. But then, much of the buzz of being intrepid is finding things that aren't well signposted!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:You can sense the ghosts of those German colonialists!
  • Cons:Not exactly on the beaten track (this may also be a plus)!
  • In a nutshell:If you haven't visited Otjimbingwe, you haven't lived!
  • Last visit to Otjimbingwe: Dec 2001
  • Intro Updated May 10, 2011
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CatherineReichardt

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