In terms of tourism Oranjemund in the south-western corner of Namibia is a rough diamond (pun intended). The quaint little mining town has been open to the general public for just over two years and its development potential is enormous. With regular FlyWestair flights from Windhoek and Cape Town it has never been easier to explore the hidden gems of this rustic town and meet its friendly people. Below are five special things to do and see when visiting Oranjemund:
About 20 km from Oranjemund the Hohenfels police station was a stately building constructed in 1908 on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Orange River. According to local legend, the daughter of the constable stationed there took a disliking to a Nama woman whom her father had taken as his mistress. In 1914, while the constable was away on patrol, the 15-year-old daughter shot and killed the Nama woman after a heated argument. Since then it is said that strange things happen in the middle of the night and that a headless woman would sometimes be seen wandering about in and around the building. Although the former police station has long since turned to rubble, the headless ghost apparently still haunts the area.
At the end of the Second World War, there was a surplus of redundant military equipment. The number of American-built M4 Sherman medium tanks was especially abundant. Almost 50 000 tanks had been built during the war. Several of these Shermans were bought by the mine and converted into bucket excavators. The tracked vehicles were perfect for the soft, sandy ground surface at the mine. Three Sherman hulls are still on display in the town.
Thanks to the perennial Orange River nearby, Oranjemund boasts some beautifully manicured public gardens and lawns. These lush green patches of grass set against the arid surroundings are a constant temptation to the local gemsbok population which can be seen grazing lazily and resting all over town.
The Orange River Mouth is the sixth-richest wetland in southern Africa. Covering 2000 ha, this RAMSAR site is home to thousands of water birds. Fourteen rare or endangered species and 57 endemic wetland species, including the endangered Cape Cormorant and vulnerable Damara Tern, have been counted during birding surveys.
You were not expecting steak on this list, were you? Fanie Smit, a descendant of the Afrikaans settlers who emigrated to Argentina after the Second Anglo-Boer War, was born in South America but moved to southern Africa with his mother when he was 17 years old. A selftaught chef and owner of Op My Stoep Lodge, Fanie dishes up mouthwatering steaks done with an Argentinian flair. He is always available for a good chat and he is a wealth of information on the history of the town and its diverse and colourful characters.
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