The Triangle & Bushmanland
The triangle of Otavi, Tsumeb and Grootfontein has long been one of the most prosperous areas of Namibia, rich both minerally and agriculturally. Geologists will find it particularly fascinating because of its interesting underground caverns and the famous Tsumeb mine, whilst the rolling farmland here has a lush, well-watered feel that is seldom found south of here.
To the west, Hereroland and Bushmanland extend east, sloping down from the agricultural plains of the central plateau into the endless, gently undulating Kalahari. This 'desert' is very different from the Namib, in landscape and people, although its population density is almost as low. This northeastern corner of the country is time-consuming, and even difficult, to visit, but offers a fascinating wilderness experience for those who are well prepared and make the time to reach it. It's also the home of many groups of San people; a draw for a small, but increasing, number of visitors.
The main sub sections within this chapter are:
Situated in a fertile farming area, this small town has a 24-hour Total service station on the main road that skirts around it. As you turn into the town, Otavi seems small and quiet. Some of the streets are tar, others are gravel. Near Otavi are several interesting cave systems, though visits to these need to be carefully organised in advance.
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. Tsumeb still retains some light industries, and is close enough to Etosha to benefit from a steady flow of tourists.
This small, pleasant town is found at the northern end of the central plateau, amidst rich farmland. For the visitor, Grootfontein has few intrinsic attractions but is the gateway to both Bushmanland and the Caprivi Strip. If you are heading to either, then resting here for a night will allow you to tackle the long drive ahead in the cool of the morning.
To the east of Grootfontein lies the area known as Bushmanland. (This is an old name, but I'll use it here for clarity; it is what most people call the area.) This almost rectangular region borders on Botswana and stretches 90km from north to south and about 200km from east to west. Drive east towards Tsumkwe, and you're driving straight into the Kalahari where the wildlife is a major attraction. The other reason for visiting is to see the Bushman people.
Khaudum National Park
Situated next to Botswana and immediately north of Bushmanland, Khaudum is a wild, seldom-visited area of dry woodland savannah growing on old stabilised Kalahari sand-dunes. These are interspersed with flat, clay pans and the whole area is laced with a life-giving network of omurambas. The vegetation here can be thick in comparison with Namibia's drier parks to the west.