"My nominee for Namibia's most charming small town" Omaruru by CatherineReichardt
Omaruru Travel Guide: 4 reviews and 7 photos
I have a great love of Namibia, but even from my hopelessly biased point of view, I have to concede that Namibia's charm is in its landscapes and wildlife, and seldom in its towns.
But there's always the exception that proves the rule, and in small town Namibia, that exception is the quaint and charming Omaruru. Conveniently located on the road to Etosha and home to Namibia's oldest vineyard, Omaruru is a veritable oasis of calm and hospitality in the desert, and an ideal overnight stop whether you're heading north to Etosha or returning to Windhoek.
The name Omaruru means 'bitter milk' and refers to the indigenous plant which provides most of the grazing in this area. The town is located on the banks of the ephemeral Omaruru River, and although the river only flows after exceptionally heavy rain, the water abstracted from the sands and gravels in the river channel provide a perennial source of water that has been reliable enough to sustain the town and agriculture in the surrounding area.
Like so many Namibian towns, Omaruru grew up around Rhenish mission, which was established by the appropriately named Gottlieb (God's Love) Veihe in 1870. Veihe left a lasting legacy in that he was instrumental in having services translated into Herero and there is now a small museum in the mission building, although regrettably I have never had a chance to visit (keys were kept in the tourist office, but this was closed for lunch last time I visited).
Omaruru later became the home of a German garrison. Because of its strategic importance, it was attacked by the Hereroes during the German-Herero War in January 1904 and the town was relieved from the siege by Captain Victor Franke, in whose honour the Franke Tower was erected (see my travel tip for more on this).
- Pros:Small, quaint, friendly and charming
- Cons:If it has any, then clearly I'm too besotted to have recognised them!
- In a nutshell:Quite simply the perfect Namibian small town!
Of all the things you expect to find in the arid interior of Namibia, a vineyard certainly wasn't top of my list!... more travel advice
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