Marooned at the far southwestern tip of Namibia, the anachronistic mining town of ORANJEMUND lies at the mouth of the Orange River – hence its name, which literally translates from German as “Orange mouth”. Although unlikely to be on anyone’s holiday hit list any time soon – especially given the security restrictions and the fact that the surrounding desert and the estuary still bear the scars of its mining history – it’s an intriguing and incredibly leafy place to visit, full of mature trees, flower-filled gardens and green spaces. Moreover, it has tourism potential since the river delta is a listed RAMSAR wetland site, supporting up to 20,000 birds and over 50 species – when summer migrants pass through – including important populations of southern African endemics such as the Damara tern, Hartlaub’s gull, and Cape cormorant. Although so far no bird hides have been established, you can drive down to the river to watch pelicans, flamingos and terns going about their business.

At present, Oranjemund’s principal draw is its “forbidden” status; a no-go area for the public for many years, in case they indulged in a little extracurricular prospecting on the beach, security paranoia persists even now that the mining action has moved upriver and out to sea, so a permit is still required to get past two security gates, to visit the town.

The two extremely modest sights include a museum and a tiny nature reserve. Arguably, however, the star attraction, which features on the town’s crest, is the omnipresent oryx: nibbling at residents’ herbaceous borders, trimming the parks or the greens at the golf course, lazing around outside the municipal offices or simply strolling around the town centre, window-shopping.

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