The attractive town stands in the north of the central plateau, an area of rich farmland and great mineral wealth. Tsumeb's wide streets are lined with bougainvillaea and jacaranda trees. In the centre of town is a large, green park, a favourite for the townspeople during their lunch.
Economically the town was dominated by the Tsumeb Corporation which, in the early 1990s, mined a rich ore pipe here for copper, zinc, lead, silver, germanium, cadmium and the variety of unusual crystals for which Tsumeb is world famous. Tsumeb's one pipe has produced about 217 different minerals and gemstones, 40 of which have been found nowhere else on earth. However, in the late 1990s this closed – which badly affected the town. Although the mine's recently been reopened for specimen mining, this isn't on a fraction of the scale of the original operation.
Fortunately, Tsumeb still retains some light industries, and is close enough to Etosha to benefit from a steady flow of tourists. It remains a pleasant place to visit, and doesn't have any of the air of depression that you might expect given the importance of the mine that's now closed.
Tsumeb is the largest of the triangle's towns, and generally has the best connections.
Air Namibia have flights to and from Mokuti Lodge, from where any of the local travel companies can arrange transfers. Tsumeb also has its own airstrip, though this is rarely used by visitors.
Intercape Mainliner's services from Windhoek to Tsumeb leave Windhoek at 18.55. On Mon and Fri, buses leave Tsumeb for Victoria Falls at 00.15, returning to Tsumeb on Sun/Wed at 22.10, and departing for Windhoek at 22.15.
TransNamib's Starline service between Tsumeb and Rundu is no longer running.
Trains depart from Tsumeb for Windhoek and Walvis Bay at 11.00 on Mon, Wed and Fri.
Hitching from central Tsumeb is difficult, and you must first get yourself to the main junction of the B1 and the C42. Keep a look out for the small minibuses (normally VW combis) which link the triangle towns. They depart north from the Trek and Auto Clinic, on Bahnhof Street. If you're going south, then hitch on Omeg Allee, about 500m after the VW garage, and before the caravan park. Southbound local combi buses also stop there.
If you are just passing through, there are several fuel stations
around town (including several open 24 hours), and Main Street has branches of Standard, First National and the Bank of Windhoek. For those staying longer, the mine has made Tsumeb relatively rich, and its main shopping street is often bustling, with a branch of Edgar's department store, various clothes shops, take-aways and several curio shops.
For food shopping
, you'll find the Model supermarket at one end of Post Street (opposite the Post Office), also the Sentra Superama in 9th Street, which are probably the best places in the centre. However, just off the main road from Grootfontein or Otavi, a little closer than the Punyu Restcamp, there's a new Alfa Co-op hypermarket.In an emergency
, the police are reached on tel: 067 10111, the ambulance service on 067 221911, 221912 or 221998. The hospital is on 067 221082 and the fire service on 067 221056 or 221042 (a/h) or 221004 (pager). There is also a private hospital serving the mine, tel: 067 221001, who may be able to help in an emergency.
Certainly worth stopping for is the Etosha Café and Beer Garden
, on Main Street opposite the mine. There's a very relaxing garden café at the back, and next door is the TACC, mentioned below. Tsumeb's most useful and interesting places include:Travel North Namibia
– Tourism Centre and Backpackers Omeg Allee between 4th and 5th streets, PO Box 779, Tsumeb; tel: 067 220728, cell: 081 1246722; fax: 067 220916; email: email@example.com
Tsumeb's super tourist information centre has moved from opposite the Makalani Hotel to Omeg Allee, about 300m from the main traffic lights. Leon and Anita Pearson also offer simple accommodation (see Where to stay, below).
Leon has lived in Tsumeb since 1963, and knows the place very well. Here you'll find an extensive resource centre of leaflets and information from around the country, and very helpful staff.
They also act as an efficient local travel agent, so can sort out any travel problems you have, or arrange bookings for anywhere in Namibia. As official agents for Imperial Car Hire in the north, they organise car hire and transfers in the area. As representatives for Air Namibia, and a local light aircraft charter company, they can also arrange transfers by small charter flights.
At the back of the tourism centre local curios are for sale, and there is a PC where you can send emails (N$10 for first message, N$5 each for subsequent messages), and a fax machine for visitors to use (N$4 per page received or 50c per metered telephone unit to send).Tsumeb Aviation Services
- Safari Centre, Jordan St, PO Box 284, Tsumeb; tel: 067 220520; fax: 067 220821
This is on Omeg Allee, off Main Street, by the car park, and will also organise bookings and car hire arrangements; they are Tsumeb's appointed Avis representative. It has been recommended for confirming return flights if you're soon to depart. They usually charge N$10 for the service.