On a sloping hillside at the northern extreme of Namibia’s central plateau, Grootfontein is really quite attractive in September and October once the jacaranda and flamboyants bloom; even so, it has a slight frontier feel, in part due to the increasing numbers of informal Kavangan street traders in the town centre. Though Grootfontein is set in fertile agricultural land – producing meat, dairy products, sorghum, maize, ground nuts, sunflowers and leather goods – below and to the east stretches the endless Kalahari, while to the north the flat, dry lowlands extend as far as the Okavango River at Rundu, some 250km away. The Otjiherero name for the place, Otjiwandatjongue, meaning “hill of the leopard”, was eschewed by the first white colonizers in favour of the earlier Hai||om and Bergdamara designation, Gei-|ous, meaning “big spring”, giving rise to the Afrikaans name Grootfontein that persists today. There’s little to do in the town, except drop by the old German fort that now houses the museum.

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