Gobabis

T he largest town east of Windhoek is Gobabis, an important cattle-ranching centre. A monument of a bull welcomes visitors at the entrance to the town. Gobabis is the gateway to the Trans-Kalahari Highway, linking Namibia to Botswana and South Africa. The completion of this highway resulted in the development of several new tourist lodges in the surroundings.

Gobabis developed around a mission station established in 1856 by Friederich Eggert of the Rhenish Missionary Society. In the latter half of the 1800s and the early 1900s, several- conflicts flared up between the Mbanderu and Khauas Khoekhoe, as well as between the settlers and the indigenous people. The Gobabis district was proclaimed by the German authorities in February 1894, and in June the following year, Gobabis was occupied by a German garrison. While the military fort, built in 1896/7, has long since disappeared, one of the few buildings dating back to that era is the field hospital, or Lazarette, which has been declared a national monument.

Of special interest is the Gobabis Museum, recently rehoused by the Museum Association of Namibia in the old library building with a grant of N$20 000 from the Federal Republic of Germany. The new museum was established with the support of Eberhard and Elfriede Einbeck, the couple who ran a private museum in Gobabis for many years.

The Uakii Wilderness & Gobabis Info and Coffee Shop in Gobabis is the only tourism information office in the Omaheke Region. It offers services such as bookings, tour facilitator services, a coffee shop, Internet facilities, camping and ‘information with a warm smile’.

A church in town. Photo ©Paul van Schalkwyk
The bull that welcomes visitors into the town. Photo©Paul van Schalkwyk

In 2011 the former Horizons Hotel was revamped and renamed the Kalahari Convention Centre, becoming the first black-owned hotel in the Omaheke Region. Another first for the region and the country, was the construction of the first house made up of tightly packed sandbags, instead of bricks, held together by a timber framework. This innovative and eco-friendly concept was used when building the kitchen for the Omuhaturua Primary School hostel and is part of an overall scheme by the Catherine Bullen Foundation to develop a canteen, kitchen and outdoor recreation area at the primary school. Heroes’ Day, celebrated annually on 26 August, was held for the first time in Gobabis in 2011. It is usually celebrated in Okahandja.

Approximately 100 kilometres north-east of Gobabis, the Harnas Wildlife Foundation and Guest Farm is one of the few wildlife orphanages and welfare centres in Southern Africa. The foundation focuses on the rehabilitation of neglected, abused and abandoned wild animals, while the guest farm provides a variety of accommodation.

South-east of Windhoek is the historical town of Dordabis, where cattle farmer and local businessman Michael Krafft of Farm Ibenstein has taken on the massive task of renovating the historical buildings of Dordabis. The Krafft family has lived in the Dordabis environs for many years. Michael is the grandson of August Stauch, the diamond pioneer of Kolmanskop, who developed Dordabis as a trade centre in the 1920s. Michael has restored the old stone house – one-time residence of August Stauch and his wife Ida – to its former glory and uses it to accommodate hunters. He has also restored several other historical buildings, such as the dairy and abattoirs built in the 1920s.

Four kilometres from Dordabis, producers of karakul carpets can be visited at Ibenstein Teppiche. Also in this area is the farm Peperkorrel, where the well-known Dorka carpets are made. Peperkorrel also houses a sculpture studio, with works by local artist Dörte Berner.

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