An hour’s drive north of Windhoek, where the main road divides – continuing north as the B1, and veering off west to the coast as the B2 – sits the important historical town of OKAHANDJA. Its 24,000-strong population is rapidly expanding, bolstered by growth in light industry, the relocation here of some government offices, and an improving road link with Windhoek, which is making it a commuter town for the capital.

Okahandja has a long history of trade and strategic importance. The Herero were the first to settle here, around 1800, before it later became an important mission station and trading post, as well as a site of conflict between the Herero and Nama, and later, the Germans. Today the town is still the administrative centre of the Herero people, as well as containing the burial sites of many of their former chiefs, notably Samuel Maharero, who led the uprising against the German colonial forces, and Hosea Kutako, a pivotal figure in the independence movement. These and others are honoured in the annual Herero Day commemoration. Jonker Afrikaner, the Orlaam-Nama leader, is also buried here, but these graves are not open to the general public. Nor is the expensive military museum, which has stood behind iron railings on the main street since 2004, but remains off-limits to the public for reasons that are unclear.

However, what the town lacks in tourist sights it makes up for in its fine craft markets; two occupy either end of the main road into and out of town. Though basketry, painted gourds, gemstones and the like are on display, the markets are predominantly about wood. The array and size of some of the carvings are phenomenal, from beautifully polished masks to sculpted life-size Himba women, giant giraffes and even dugout canoes – not easily stuffed into your luggage. Be prepared to be hassled if the stallholders are short of custom when you arrive.

Less well known to tourists is the town’s reputation for high-quality biltong – not to be missed, provided you’re not vegetarian; head for the Closwa Biltong Factory Shop and Butchery on Vortrekker Street (see The Waterhole). A few kilometres away, two resorts – the hot springs of Gross Barman and the serene Von Bach Dam – have long been favourite weekend getaways for urbanites in need of some R&R.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Namibia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

In pictures: the otherworldly landscapes of Namibia

In pictures: the otherworldly landscapes of Namibia

From the spectacular dunes of the Namib Desert to the serpentine chasm of the Fish River Canyon, the rugged mountains of the Great Escarpment to the acacia-stud…

15 Feb 2018 • Sara Humphreys camera_alt Gallery
Namibia from above: the world's most extreme landscape

Namibia from above: the world's most extreme landscape

The Namib desert is one of the world’s most extreme environments. Covering 81,000 square kilometres, its vastness can only truly be appreciated from above. He…

17 Jul 2017 • Lottie Gross local_activity Special feature
27 awe-inspiring pictures of Namibia

27 awe-inspiring pictures of Namibia

Namibia has some of the world's most astonishing landscapes. It's home to the world's oldest desert, a long and undeveloped coastline and national parks that te…

31 May 2016 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs