For South African travellers seeking to experience the rather non-traditional “off-the-beaten-track” tourist offerings of Namibia, Open Africa has put together various routes for visitors to southern Africa to explore and experience. A non-profit organisation aimed at uplifting and sustaining local communities through tourism activities, Open Africa provides information to would be tourists about Namibia and have put together three specific routes which cover various areas within the country.
The routes are designed as to let travellers explore at leisure in a self-drive fashion, stopping off when and where they would like to. The first of these routes is the Omulungu Route, which is located along Namibia’s northern border and running from Ruacana in the west to Nkurenjuru in the east. Named after the distinctive palms that dot the otherwise arid landscape, it also links the remote Arid Eden route of the northeastern region and the Four Rivers route which encompasses the Kavango and Zambezi regions.
In a nutshell, the route provides a kaleidoscope of experiences, attractions and sites from heritage and culture to wildlife, adventure and breathtaking natural beauty for visitors to experience at their own pace. There is a choice of two authentic Namibian experiences from which to choose in this route namely the Roof of Namibia Experience and the King Nehale Experience.
With a suggested time of 1.5-3 days given to gain the full experience of this route, the Roof of Namibia Experience sees visitors covering a total of 467km during their exploration. It links the Kunene River (at Ruacana Falls) and the Okavango River (Nkurunkuru) by following the northern-most part of Namibia through an array of salt pans and “efundja” (flooded channels that move southward from Angola towards the Etosha salt pan).
Participants on this route will be able to experience rural Namibia at its best, from bustling African craft markets to meeting some indigenous tribes. For those with an interest in history, a visit to attractions such as the Outapi War Museum, Ombalantu Baobab Museum and the Eenhana Shrine are on the cards.
With a recommended travel time of 2-4 days, the King Nehale Experience covers a distance of approximately 641km. From the bustling towns of Oshikate, Ongwediva and Ondangwa to the rural areas of Owamboland, Namibia truly is a land of remarkable contrasts.
Attractions on this route include the world famous Etosha National Park, Lake Oponono with its extensive water channels, the Omugulugwombashe National Monument, Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead, Uukwambi Kings Monument, Oshikati Open Market, Ongulu Traditional Homestead and the Nakambale Museum.
Combining both experiences within the Omulunga Route, the top five reasons to visit can be summed up as follows:
- Explore Namibia’s modern history with an array of war museums and shrines commemorating those who struggled during the War on Independence;
- Discover a unique culture, traditional villages, royal homesteads, bustling African markets and watch the drums beat in Namibia’s largest city;
- Gain a different perspective of Etosha National Park by entering through the north-eastern gate at King Nehale (within King Nehale Conservancy);
- The Oshakati open market is a cultural experience in its own right as you can buy anything from Mopani worms, traditional beer, local crafts and artefacts, and many other local delicacies;
- Visit one of Africa’s largest waterfalls outside Ruacana and discover how the Kunene Rivers is harnessed to generate renewable energy for Namibia.