Sat in the south central region of Namibia, Keetmanshoop is an interesting little stopover town between Windhoek and the South African border. Surrounded by a variety of magnificent and dramatic landscapes, the town offers a lot more than first impression may suggest, especially for those willing to take the time and go that extra mile.
Starting life as a mission station in 1866, in short, the town is small and compact, with a pleasant park at its heart. Alongside the restaurants and hotels, which line the streets, are some fine examples of German architecture, leftover from colonial times. Of particular interest are the railway station, the old Rhenish Church (now the town museum) and Kaiserliches Postamt, the former post office.
However, to uncover and appreciate the areas of true geological beauty, one needs to get out and explore the likes of Quiver Tree Forest, Naute Dam and Brukarros. As an important link between the northern regions of the country and South Africa, Keetmanshoop is blessed with reasonably good transport links. Intercape Mainliner buses pass through town four times a week from Windhoek (6 hours) to Cape Town (14 hours) and Johannesburg (17 hours). Daily, overnight trains run to Windhoek (11 hours) and occasionally to Upington, just across the border. Check Trans Namib for timetables. Furthermore, organised tours are of the plenty, ferrying visitors to Fish River Canyon and the like.
Things to do in Keetmanshoop
Keetmanshoop Museum - Housed in the Rhenish Mission Church, this interesting museum displays a number of exhibits from the towns natural history and local Nama culture. Alongside the exhibits, the building itself, dating back to 1895, is of particular interest with its blend of Gothic architecture set in Namibian stone. Opening times are 8am - 12.30pm & 2pm - 5pm, Monday to Friday. Entrance is free. Quivertree Forest & Giants Playground - 15km northeast from the town centre, on Garaganus Farm, the forest is home to huge collection of Kokerboom (Quiver trees), which are characteristic of the extremely dry regions of Namibia. The forest makes for some great photo opportunities and is a popular picnic site. Next to the forest, Giants Playground, a geological mystery, is an intriguing labyrinth of enormous dolerite boulders that have, over the years, formed into some unique natural rock formations Fish River Canyon - One of Namibia’s most dramatic natural beauties. At 160km long and with a depth, in parts, of 550 metres, it is second only in size to the Grand Canyon of Arizona. Believed to have been formed over 500 million years ago, the canyon is now an admired trekking destination and one requiring a sound physical condition. 5-day treks along the 86km trail are popular, taking in the vast landscapes, spectacular views and an array of wildlife, counting mountain zebras, baboons and the odd leopard.
Naute Dam - Just outside town, Namibia’s third largest dam, built 1970-72, is a pleasant spot for an overnight camp or picnic and is popular with bird spotters and swimmers. The dam provides the water for Keetmanshoop and is a remarkable sight when the floodgates open, allowing the water to gush out into the desert. Bukarros - A curious site, which has been baffling geologists for many years over being a mountain or volcano. Regardless, soaring 600m above the plateau, it is an altogether impressive spectacle. At the southern edge there is a climbing trail taking hikers up and into the basin. The climb takes around 4 hours, but it worth it for the breathtaking panoramic vista.
Hotels in Keetmanshoop
Burgersentrum Backpacker - Cheap, no nonsense lodgings. Tel (264) (63) 223454. Quivertree Forest Rest Camp - Good value camping sites and bungalows on Garaganus Farm. Tel (264) (63) 222835. Bird’s Nest Bed & Breakfast - Homely feel and welcoming staff. Tel (264) (63) 222906. Bird’s Mansion Hotel - Slick hotel suited to businessmen with pool and beer garden. Tel (264) (63) 221711. Central Lodge - Pleasant hotel in the heart of town. Rooms set around a courtyard. Tel (264) (63) 225850. Seeheim Hotel - A little out of town but a recommend rustic hotel with cool bar. Tel (264) (63) 250503.