A simple pleasure of driving along one of Namibia’s countless gravel roads is the humble padstal – Afrikaans for a roadside shop. They come in many shapes and sizes, offering anything from biltong (essential padkos or “road food”) to small-batch homemade jams and condiments, or even coffee shops and lunch spots. I am a firm believer that some of the most authentic travel experiences come from taking a moment to spend with locals, especially when it means supporting a small business.
Text Charene Labuschagne | Photographs Le Roux van Schalkwyk
From the Spring 2023 issue
Along the C39 road in Damaraland, en route to Twyfelfontein, Palmwag or the Skeleton Coast National Park, lies one of these special stopovers. Just 22 km west of Khorixas is the Petrified Forest Coffee Shop. Owned and run by local couple Eddy and Letty Tsibeb, they serve coffee, soft drinks and beer. And on special request, a loose cigarette.
One of the perks of driving slowly on our gravel roads (other than the obvious breathtaking scenery) is being able to stop at a moment’s notice to pull off the road for a coffee. This quaint little coffee shop is adjacent to the family’s home on the property, where kids and quintessential Damaraland dogs make for a welcome sight. The colourful cabana-style shop is adorned with hand-painted flags, including the Union Jack and Germany, and is shaded with a roof while allowing a breeze to pass through and offering views of the surrounding area.
A few wood tables and chairs are sheltered by the prep and serving area, which boasts a beautiful bamboo tiki-style bar from the 70s which was gifted to Letty. The couple sells gemstones and fabric dolls, and they have also recently invested in a small swimming pool, which is set to be inaugurated and ready for a dip very soon.
Eddy and Letty have big dreams for their property. “You see that hill?” asks Eddy while pointing in the distance, “One day I will build a lodge up there.” In anticipation of the day they can break ground on a lodge, the couple is hoping to engage investors to assist with building a few campsites. If you like the sound of having a stake in a small-scale camping operation in Damaraland which will uplift the community and realise humble dreams, reach out to Eddy and Letty. They epitomise rural hospitality!
Planned your itinerary to pass by Petrified Forest Coffee Shop? Eddy and Letty serve lunches on pre-order, so give them a call to reserve a meal before you are headed through the area. Individuals or groups who are interested in collaborating are invited to contact them on these numbers, joining Eddy and Letty in their passion and vision for their property. Eddy Tsibeb: +264 81 6923018 and Letty Tsibeb: +264 81 4964507