After driving on autopilot along the C44, a seemingly interminable gravel road, for a full 220km, it’s easy to drive right through Tsumkwe before you even realize you’ve arrived. You certainly expect the place to be more substantial than the glorified crossroads that it is – enhanced by a short stretch of asphalt – though possibly no less forlorn. It’s a place where you do your business as fast as possible, then get out into the far more appealing surroundings. The main reason tourists trek all the way out here is to interact with the Ju|’hoansi (San), though for some it’s a stopover on the way to Khaudum National Park. Yet there are also a couple of scenic attractions in the area, too.

The Nyae-Nyae Conservancy Office, which should be your first port of call, is hidden behind a chain-link fence and a large tree on the right-hand side as you approach the crossroads, the ersatz village centre. Next to the office, G!hunku Crafts sells jewellery and artefacts from various settlements, and is worth supporting. Demand for Ju ostrich-shell jewellery is now so great that the conservancy has to import most of its ostrich shells from a farm in South Africa.

Despite having a fluctuating population of 500–800, Tsumkwe possesses a secondary school, which serves the 1500–2000 wider conservancy population, though few of the Ju|’hoansi complete their education. A couple of thinly stocked stores, a petrol station, a courthouse, police station, clinic, a handful of churches and shebeens, and a sprinkling of houses make up the rest of Tsumkwe.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Namibia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew 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
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…

05 Jul 2017 • Sara Humphreys camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook