This busy town, standing at the centre of an important cattle farming area on the western edges of the Kalahari, forms Namibia's gateway into Botswana via the Buitepos border post, about 120km east. It's an ideal place to use the banks, fill up with fuel or get supplies before heading east towards Ghanzi, where most goods aren't so easily available. However, it's less interesting as a stopover.
The main tar road, west to Windhoek and east into Botswana, is part of the trans-Kalahari route designed to link Walvis Bay with South Africa's Gauteng Province (the area around Johannesburg and Pretoria). This means that shipments from Europe or the USA can be sent via Walvis Bay, and trucked across this road to Gauteng – which should be far faster than shipping them to Durban, and moving them by road from there.
Whilst certainly helping Gauteng's economy, its benefit for Namibia or the Kalahari is less obvious. It is expected to herald an increase in traffic on this route over the next few years.
Intercape Mainliner used to run a good service linking Windhoek and Jo'burg, which stoped at Gobabis. However, this has now stopped – it runs through Upington instead – so there are currently no coaches passing through Gobabis.
Gobabis is linked to Windhoek by a train service, which arrives from there around 05.43 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and departs again at 21.00 on the same days. It is very slow, taking almost eight hours to get to Windhoek.
Where to stay and eat
For snacks during the day there is a pleasant little café, complete with menu in German, at the back of the general store – just to the right of the Municipal Offices on the main street. If you want to stay in the area for a few days, then consider Arnhem Restcamp, or the excellent Eningu Clayhouse Lodge, just west of here, near Dordabis. However, if you need to be nearer town, then there are three possibilities:
(15 rooms) PO Box 233; tel: 061 562094/5; fax: 061 562092
This old town hotel on Heroes' Lane has basic en-suite rooms, and a small breakfast/dining room and bar.Rates: N$150 single, N$120 per person sharing, including breakfast.
(17 rooms) PO Box 924; tel: 061 562568/563068; fax: 061 562641
Pretty similar to the Central Hotel, the Gobabis is on Mark Street and boasts a small central plunge-pool. Its lack-lustre rooms have Mnet TV – useful if you wish to forget where you are. The bar is reputed to be the highpoint of the local social scene. Rates: N$150 single, N$120 per person sharing, including breakfast.
Doll's House Hotel
(6 rooms and camping) PO Box 13, Witvlei; tel: 0683 570038; fax: 067 221575
Run by the same people as the Makalani Hotel in Tsumeb, it's small, clean and efficient, though only two rooms have en-suite facilities and the rest share. With food always available, this makes a good stop for a night's sleep if you're rushing across the Botswana border.Rates: from N$100 single, N$70 per person sharing, including breakfast. Camping N$20 per person.
Gobabis Guest House
(6 rooms) PO Box 123, 8 Lazarett St, Gobabis; tel: 062 563189; fax: 062 564125; email: email@example.com
To find this from the main road, turn right down Kerk St, then left down Lazarett St; the guesthouse is on the right. The rooms are clean and modern with small verandas, and parking is secure.Rates: single N$220, double N$300, including breakfast.
The main banks
are all here, Bank of Windhoek and First National are both on Church Street, whilst Standard Bank is on Heroes' Lane. As you drive around the small centre, Gobabis will strike you as a prosperous community, with many small, busy shops and businesses. This means that it's a good place to stop for last-minute supplies if you are on the way to Botswana. Several 24-hour fuel stations
line the main road, and garages
include the useful Gobabis Toyota on Heroes' Lane and Motorama for Volkswagen on Church Street.
There's a small, new information centre in town, called the Eastern Tourism Forum
, though at time of press its permanent location was uncertain. It can probably be reached on tel: 061 562551; fax: 061 563012.In an emergency
, the police are reached on tel: 061 10111, whilst the ambulance and hospital are on 061 562275, and the fire service on 061 566666. If you can't get through anywhere else, then try 061 1199 as an emergency number of last resort.