The Tsumeb Museum was founded in April 1975 by the fondly remembered Ms Ilse Shatz, and she made it her loving and passionate mission to find, restore and display the most interesting and captivating relics of the town’s multi-layered past.
It houses the Ethnology Room, with displays of ancient Bushman artefacts, as well as exhibits that provide a closer look at the Owambo, Herero, Himba, and white settlers. In the Khorab Room, visitors will be astounded to encounter extremely well-maintained relics left by German and Union of South Africa troops.
The biggest attraction, however, is still the renovated canons and ammunition boxes that were retrieved over the years from the murky depths of Otjikoto Lake. The ammunition was dumped in the lake by retreating German soldiers during the First World War. They were clearly not in the mood to hand the arsenal over to the enemy.
And to top your visit to the museum, the mineral display room is where anyone with a sense of beauty could linger for hours.
Another cultural centre worth popping into is the Arts and Crafts Centre, where local people create and display a number of beautiful, humorous and earthy home-made products.
Various restaurants, coffee shops, hotels and a stunning resort are an added bonus to your Tsumeb visit.
For a start there is the Etosha Café, which is very much part of this town’s historical make-up. Likewise, the Minen Hotel is a historic accommodation establishment and restaurant that was a well-frequented social hub patronised by clientele from all works of life. Ranging from the most low-paid to the high fliers in the hierarchy, these patrons come here to cool off and socialise on summer nights. A quick visit to the Minen Hotel unquestionably evokes Tsumeb’s colourful past.
At Café Greenhill, situated at the heart of the historical birthplace of Tsumeb, you can enjoy a savoury meal or a sweet treat, and even cocktails. The building that houses Café Greenhill was built in 1908 and originally served as a maintenance shed for the mine. It has retained its early building style and charm.
Needless to say, comfort and pleasure are never far removed. At the Kupferquelle Resort, beautiful rooms, a well-run restaurant, shaded camping spots and an Olympic-size swimming pool ensure a comfortable few nights while you’re exploring the town and attractions in the surroundings.
Meet ‘Uncle’ Oom Chris Ayres
One man in town who carries Tsumeb’s history well and truly in his mind and heart, is Oom Chris. Passionate about Tsumeb’s rainbow-coloured past, he has dedicated years of his life to keep the story of Tsumeb alive.
The most fun part is the ‘train’ ride offered by Oom Chris. He hooks his beloved golden-oldie tractor to two converted carts devised from the front end of scavenged and renovated Volkswagen beetles. In this once-in-a-lifetime ride around the town, you will learn everything there is to know about it.
This is the largest meteorite ever discovered. The Hoba Meteorite weighs around 60 tonnes, is almost three metres long, and up to one metre thick. Scientifically the meteorite is termed an ataxite high in nickel content. It is well worth a visit.
The Ghaub Caves are the second-largest series of underground caves in Namibia. But, as the owners caution, a visit here is not for the faint-hearted.
André and Marlize Compion also offer guest rooms and campsites to visitors. They say most of the feedback they receive from guests is that after the adrenaline rush of the caves, the guest farm offers immense ‘peace and tranquillity’.
And just because nature here is bountiful, more than 42 tree species can be seen on this farm alone.
One of Africa’s super trees, the baobab, grows close to Tsintsabis about 50 km north-east of Tsumeb. This tree is unique in that there is much speculation on how it got to grow there. The nearest baobab tree is about 160 km to the north of this somewhat magnificent 1 000-year-old specimen.