The great coastal migration

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Text Marita van Rooyen

During the festive season, all roads lead to the coast (except for those heading up north, needless to say!).

From Windhoek, there are the gravel roads that traverse via the Khomas Hochland and the Gamsberg Pass; and for nature lovers, the somewhat longer and scenic route via the Spreetshoogte Pass. But the main road leading to the coast is the tarred B2.

And whether you start in Otavi or Koës, at the end of the day all roads lead through Okahandja, making it an ideal stopover to buy biltong and bites. The town hosts an eclectic bunch of northern artists working together under the Okahandja Woodcarvers banne, and presents you with the perfect opportunity to finalise your last-minute Christmas shopping!

Okahandja woodcarvers market. Photo © Ron Swilling

Okahandja woodcarvers market. Photo © Ron Swilling

If you’re in a hurry to hit the beach and reunite with grandma, then we recommend you take the B2 – west of Okahandja – as soon as you’ve stocked up on meat and other supplies. Being recently upgraded, the road is as smooth as black silk and a great pleasure to drive. If you leave in the morning, you’ll be travelling westwards along a straight stretch of road with ample yellow-line space and the sun behind you. With miscellaneous pit stops along the way, not to mention a plethora of picnic trees to pull under and have refreshments, the road offers a most pleasant migration westwards to the coolness of the coast.

Namibia coast

The coast. Photo ©Paul van Schalkwyk www.paulvans.com

About 30 km before you reach Karibib – where you must definitely stop for some marble magic – look out for the Karibib giraffe, which seems to be stuck on browsing a single bush bordering the road. Once in town, stop at the Henckert Tourist Centre on the left of the main road for souvenirs and a cup of coffee. The town hosts an interesting array of forgotten-about historical buildings, such as the former Hotel Zum Grünen Kranz. Then, just as you leave town, that big white mass you see on your right is the Karibib Marble Works, from where marble is exported to destinations as far away as China and Italy.

Pool Walkways erongo wilderness lodge rock formations view sunset sun set bushmen drawings

Erongo wilderness

The next sun-baked town – 30 kilometres down the road – is Usakos. Nearby you’ll find the Trekkopje Battlefield, site of one of the most important battles fought during the 1915 campaign involving South African and German forces, and the Erongo Mountains, renowned for the rock art found in rocky shelters. The reputable historical locomotive is also still around, albeit moved some 200 metres north from its original position where it was misused as a buffer for run-away trucks.

If, however, road tripping is not your thing, just stick to the speed limit and you could be in Swakopmund in a short two and a half hours (from Okahandja). Drive safely!

Go To Best Leg-Stretchers along The B2

Okahandja: Get biltong!

We know that by the time you reach Okahandja, you won’t have travelled much of the stretch to the coast, but there really is no excuse for not making a pit stop in Okahandja, and while you’re at it, to stock up on biltong for the road. Known for hosting some of the best biltong producers in the country, there is quite a variety to choose from.

Biltong seller at Okahandja. Photo ©Marita van Rooyen

Biltong seller at Okahandja. Photo ©Marita van Rooyen

Option 1: Take the first turn-off into the garden town and pull over directly across the woodcarvers’ market. The Savannah Biltong shop is small, but clean and neat, and has a wide selection of meaty bites.

Option 2: Continue on the B2 a little longer and veer left at the second turn-off. Here you’ll find Piet’s Biltong Shop, which quadruples as a biltong outlet, kiosk, butchery, and gift shop (although spread out between two units). What makes it such a great stop is the fact that you can also pick up some chops for the first night’s braai, and even a gift for your mother-in-law (which we know you’ve conveniently forgotten about).

Option 3: Or, instead of taking the second turn-off, take a right into town, until you reach the train tracks and the second woodcarvers’ outlet. Head right from here, into Voortrekker Road, until you see the Closwa Biltong shop on your left. This is the largest biltong manufacturer in the country, so it’s a top spot for you to pick up a variety of fresh beef and game-biltong products.

Wilhelmstal Farm Stall: Fresh bread and apfelstrudel

A proper farm stall – like those in the days of the early traveller – Wilhelmstal’s pride is its homemade biltong and droëwors. But this is not where it ends. Sit down for the lunch of the day, such as goulash with fresh farm bread, or indulge in a slice of apfelstrudel or Sahnetorte, served with freshly brewed coffee.

Apfelstrudel. Photo ©Marita van Rooyen

Apfelstrudel. Photo ©Marita van Rooyen

 

First thing in the morning co-owner Urte Gebauer packs out the loaves of freshly baked bread and rusks that customers have ordered before hitting the road. Husband Ernst is in charge of the meat products, while the Gebauers buy fresh produce from as far afield as Outjo and Swakopmund.

Wilhelmstal. Photo ©Marita van Rooyen

Wilhelmstal. Photo ©Marita van Rooyen

 

An eclectic array of chilli sauce, orange jelly, various jams, grapefruit syrup, pickled beetroot, olives and cheeses will greet you, so stock up on some picnic goodies and park yourself under a roadside tree for a spot of family time en route. Wilhelmstal also boasts the cleanest toilet facilities along the B2 and is a proud stockist of Travel News Namibia magazines.

Namib Oasis   More biltong, and burgers!

Like all the other pit stops en route, the Namib Oasis Farm Stall and Deli is a place for biltong; but also for burgers, milkshakes and Coke floats. Formerly known as Namib Wüste, this farm stall has been retouched by the new owners, Jan and Chantal Swartz, to include a proper play area for kids and a creative corner offering locally sourced items.

Namib Oasis. Photo ©Christie Keulder

Namib Oasis. Photo ©Christie Keulder

While the waitresses confirm that the burgers are still the most popular items on the menu, the spicy chicken livers come pretty close. Then there is the meal of the day, ranging from braised beef shin and grilled Portuguese chicken, to red-wine-peppered oxtail and grilled Eisbein. Namib Oasis is situated just outside Usakos, pretty much halfway between Windhoek and Swakop.

Ûiba-Ôas Crystal Market   For your shiny stone supply

Now this is a road-break with a difference. At the Ûiba-Ôas Crystal Market, you won’t find any biltong or bites, but you will find a selection of shiny rocks, the likes of which you’ve never seen before.

Crystal seller. Photo ©Marita van Rooyen

Crystal seller. Photo ©Marita van Rooyen

Here the Damara people from the local community sell minerals, crystals and gemstones that they mine, cut and polish themselves.

Crystals. Photo ©Ron Swilling

Crystals. Photo ©Ron Swilling

If you’re short on cash, take some previously loved clothes along, or bring a bag of groceries; the gem sellers here are open to any form of fair trade. For your convenience, the crystal market is open seven days a week from 07:00 to 19:00 and is located 24 km outside Usakos, at the Spitzkoppe turn-off

TNN Summer2012 
Travel News Namibia
Travel News Namibia
Travel News Namibia is a high-quality glossy Namibia travel and lifestyle magazine tasked with promoting Namibia to the world. With riveting stories, first-hand encounters and magnificent photographs showcasing tourism, travel, nature, adventure and conservation, TNN is the ultimate and most comprehensive guide to exploring Namibia. Travel News Namibia is published in five different editions per year. These include four English- language editions and one German. Travel News Namibia is for sale in Namibia and South Africa.

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