Oranjemund, Namibia

Posted by Kirsten Smart on 29 November 2010

Perched next to the gushing mouth of the Orange River is the small and oft-forgotten diamond-mining town of Oranjemund. Trees line the gridded streets of this closed settlement, lending it the look of a luscious oasis, sharply contrasted with the all-encompassing aridity of the Namib Desert surrounding it. This little-visited town, built on sweat and diamonds, is safe, sleepy and deceptively fascinating.

In the 70s, Oranjemund was at its prime. Populated primarily by young businessmen and their wives, Oranjemund was a pleasant pit-stop on the road to success. Tennis clubs, gun clubs, parties, good health-care and free schooling were just some of the perks that the employees enjoyed. But things have changed since then.

Hard-hit by the economic downturn, the once-bustling and somewhat quaintly colonial town has now lost some of its former luster. Its population has almost halved and houses have been abandoned and left to face an arid future. Resident stray gemsbok roam the near-empty streets like die-hard party-goers who’ve suddenly realised that everyone else has gone to bed.

But despite encroaching desertion, the town still has much to offer. Secluded areas along the banks of the river present perfect places to pitch your tent and the giant sand dunes surrounding the town are a challenge to off-roaders and sand-boarders alike. Surrounded by the wild Atlantic Ocean, the Orange River (and its bird-abundant wetland), the succulent Karoo and the Sperrgebiet National Park, Oranjemund is quite literally a wealth of diverse and unique beauty, pending rediscovery.

How to get there: If you will be arriving via South Africa , you will need to drive to Steinkopf on the N7, turn left to Port Nolloth and then right to Alexander Bay.  A mere three kilometres past Alexander Bay is the South African border. Driving there can be arduous, as the N7 is long, straight and rather sparse, but it may be the easiest way of getting there.

Oranjemund does have an airport, but there are currently no direct flights from South Africa. Visitors who are set on flying will first have to fly to Windhoek and then catch Westair to Oranjemund.

What you’ll need to get in: The Diamond Act means that visitors need to apply for a permit at least 21 days prior to arriving. Also, if you are a non-Namibian citizen, you’ll require a valid passport.

Click here to find out how to apply for a permit.

For more information on the town, its people, activities and accommodation, visit: http://www.oranjemundonline.com/ and http://holiday.oranjemundonline.com/

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