Oranjemund, Namibia – the Diamond Town

Posted by on Dec 11, 2014 in Africa, Travel
24 Comments

After a police inspection, a border crossing over the narrowest bridge in existence and killing time at Namibian immigration reading posters advising against bat consumption (TIA) – we were in Oranjemund. It had been a long, albeit beautiful drive from Cape Town to Namibia and Dad and I were happy to finally see the Orange River. If you haven’t paddled the Orange River, you need to add a trip to your lifetime bucket list – it is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

 

Gemsbok run this town

Gemsbok run this town

 

This was my first time in Oranjemund –  a town that exists purely to serve the diamond industry. I’d been told to expect a small, lush oasis where gemsbok roamed the streets, the golf course and caused general mayhem if they got into your garden. Driving along the river and past the salt flats, we spied the fertile patch of green trees and manicured lawns in the middle of the Namibian desert, that is Oranjemund. I had laughed off the gemsbok talk, so you can imagine the surprise when we turned into town and found the above welcoming committee. The tales were true, around every street corner and upon every grassy patch, you could expect to find a sleepy-eyed gemsbok dozing in the sunshine. Apparently they pop into the Spar from time to time to check out the specials, or so the locals said.

oranjemund streets namibia

Small town streets, Oranjemund, Namibia

We spent 3 days in Oranjemund and it was absolute bliss. It’s so quiet in that town,  that you can hear a pin drop in Zimbabwe. The air is so pure and you find yourself so relaxed that you’re climbing into bed at 8.30pm and having some of the best sleep of your life. Days are made up of morning tea, walks on the giant sand dune, watching a family of gemsbok frolic in the desert, tracking jackals on the golf course (found one) and laughingly looking for diamonds on the beach.

 

oranjemund sand dune

Hiking to the giant sand dune

 

We had several days and it is a tiny town, so I was able to take in most of the Oranjemund tourist attractions. These include the sand dune (a quick hike, but take water), the golf course (home to Oranjemund’s wildlife), the lake, the town museum (great exhibits on the history of the town and the diamond trade) and the beach.

 

oranjemund namibia

On the way to the river mouth

 

The town is also home to stories about hopeful diamond prospectors like the man who moved in and started digging up his garage floor in an effort to find the next Cullinan. I admit, walking along the beach, even I got a touch of diamond fever – especially on hearing that the diamond boats weren’t able to process diamonds over a certain size, so unceremoniously threw them back into the ocean. Naturally I imagined tons of giant diamonds floating around the ocean with nowhere to call home. Halfway along the beach however, we realised we had no idea what a rough, uncut diamond looked like and abandoned the hunt.

oranjemund namibia beach

Scenes from the beach. Sadly no diamonds, only trees

I loved visiting this small, sleepy diamond town and it was the perfect way to end off a crazy 12 months of work. The people are friendly, the gemsbok are like the local town watch and it’s incredibly peaceful. The diamond history is interesting and everyone has a story to tell about the quaint mining town. The security in that area is understandably tight, which means you need an invitation from a town resident in order to visit.

If you can wangle an invite, or the chance ever comes to visit Oranjemund, take a roadtrip up and go for it!

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24 thoughts

  1. Dominique

    December 12, 2014

    Awesome blog on my home town. Thank you for the lovely photographs! I haven’t been home in such a long time, and I miss it.
    XO

  2. The gemsbok never disappoint our visitors. It’s true, we are full of peace and full of stories, I hope you managed to get some of both to take away with you. Thanks for enjoying our little town!

  3. I lived in Oranjemund for a couple of years, but visited there regularly for nearly 30 years. Love that place, met some of the best friends in the universe, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

  4. sarah moss(was jones)

    December 13, 2014

    What a wonderful review on my old home town…Left 29 years ago but always in my heart….

  5. Welcome to our home! Really appreciate that you “got” it. Best wishes :)

  6. Talitha Taljaard

    December 13, 2014

    Thank you for the trip down memory lane. I haven’t been back to Oranjemund since I left in 2005 and this really filled me with nostalgia.

  7. 10 Adam Tas Avenue Bothasig..

    Lived there for 23 years.. Loved living in that “Little Town in the Desert”

  8. I was born in Oranjemund and grew up there, I was so happy there. I went back 2 years ago and it was amazing.

  9. Leonie Golder

    December 13, 2014

    Lived there for 27 wonderful years. Raised my two boys in that paradise and will be ever grateful for the wonderful memories! Left in 2009 and now enjoy my birth place Cape Town:-)

  10. Rannie Emery

    December 13, 2014

    Thank you so much for the memories oh man I miss that place and now even more that you have told us how great a place it is . We left in 2004 and still miss the people and the Town .

  11. Dunja Wrbka

    December 13, 2014

    What a blast from the past. Left in 1984, went back in 1989 to visit. What an awesome town to grow up in. And yes, those gemsbok are a treat.

  12. Jessica Gray Nel

    December 13, 2014

    Wow, thanks loved that! Some great memory’s of my childhood.

  13. i lived in Oranjemund for 20 years.

  14. Eugene Esterhuysen

    December 13, 2014

    Lived in Oranjemund for 18 years.

  15. marisa van Elst-Korff

    December 13, 2014

    I was born in oranjemund 33 and a half years ago and lived there the first four years of my life. Lotsa sandy backyard photos :)

  16. moricia-ann solomon (johr)

    December 14, 2014

    Thank u for sharing ur lovely experience. I had tears in my eyes when i read it. Made me realise how much i miss that place. Grew up in Oranjemund from 1985 and left in 1999 and visited in 2006. That place will always have a special place in my heart. #nostalgia

  17. Hi thanx for taking me back to where I use to live,met some great friends while growing up in Oranjemund…I so miss it and would like to go back to visit soon!!!

  18. Dee Kruger

    December 14, 2014

    That was an awesome trip down memory lane. We lived there for 11 years, left in 1982 and have sadly never been back. I’m told on good authority that it has changed a lot since those days! My son was born there and my girls attended school there as well. Wonderful times!!

  19. Lydia Auala-Ramphoma

    December 16, 2014

    The place that shaped many of us…….miss it every day! Lived there my entire life as well as my whole family. Some of them are still there.

  20. Freddie Ahrens

    December 16, 2014

    Born in Windhoek but my parents move there when I was 1 year old. After 51 years I am still here in Oranjemund. Fred

  21. Wasborn there in 1962 and lived there till I went to the army in 1981. Went back in 1984 and 1989 for visits to my folks. The best place ever! Utopia delux

  22. Kondja Negongo

    December 17, 2014

    LOL. Still living here and therez nothing like it. Cape Town is wonderful but nothing can match Oranjemund’s relaxing feel

  23. Jan (Williams)Stockton

    December 21, 2014

    We lived in Oranjemund in 1965/66 – i went to the primary school there. Lived at 43/1st Ave. have so many wonderful memiries of the Pink Pan/playing in the desert/tracking tortoises/having tok tokkies as pets, the list goes on! Never been back, would love to. Now living in Auckland.

  24. Lynda Smolders

    January 13, 2016

    We lived in Oranjemund 1975 -2002. Spent loads of time at the horse riding club. Been back in 2015, some of it has changed, but loads still the same. Now living in Cambridge UK.

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