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GROOTFONTEIN, THE BIG FOUNTAIN. But, the town is still known as Otjiwanda - The Hillcrest of the Leopard.


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Grootfontein Namibia

Big Fountain, but the town is still known as Otjiwanda - The Hillcrest of the Leopard.



Grootfontein a colourful street

Colourful street in Grootfontein

Grootfontain Fort Museum

The Fort Museum


Grootfontein lays at the Eastern end of the picturesque Otavi Mountains. The town is an ideal stay over place if travelling to the northern Kavango - Caprivi Region. Local area attractions include the Big Baobab Tree, Gaub Cave and Hoba Meteorite.

In the early 1880s a group of Trek-Boers, from the Transvaal, who became known as the Dorstland (thirst-land) Trekkers trundled across the north of Namibia. Their leader William Worthington Jordan had promised them the founding of a new and free republic that they were going to name Upingtonia. On 21 April 1885 Jordan concluded with the Ovambo Chief Kambonde of Ondongua the purchase of a tract of land south of the Etosha Pan that included the Grootfontein - Otavi - Tsumeb triangle, an area of about 50,000 sq miles, for the sum of 300 British Pounds, 25 Rifles, an immunized horse and a barrel of brandy. Jordan distributed the land amongst the Trek-Boers, but reserved for himself the mineral rights. The deal that the Ovambo Chief Kambonde had made with Jordan was the cause of great concern to the Herero Paramount Chief Maharero for he considered that the lands of the Grootfontein-Otavi-Tsumeb triangle might be his. He sought the help of an old friend and confident who had been in the country since 1858, Robert Lewis, adventurer, elephant hunter, trader and a man known for 'getting things done'. Lewis travelled north where he exerted his influence on the Ovambo Headmen to cancel the deal with Jordan. Returning payment to the trek-boers was not an option for the Ovambos, and Chief Nehale Mpingana provided a quick and simple solution by attacking, looting and killing many of the trek-boers along with Jordan. Some of the survivors managed to escape to Angola, their dream - independent Republic of Upingtonia the victim of greed and political expediency.



Otjozondjupa Region

19º34'S 18º07'E

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What to See

Grootfontein Map

Baobab Tree

Gaub Cave

Hoba Meteorite

Services 4U


Grootfontein Fort Museum

In 1896 the German Schutztruppe established a presence at Grootfontein and built a fort. It was from here that a patrol was sent to search for the survivors of the attack on the small outpost at Namutoni by Ovambos on 28 January 1904. The fortress now serves as a museum and is well worth a visit.


The old German fort was recently infiltrated by termites. By November 2005 sections of the fort had to be closed for repair. It was discovered the busy insects had first built a command centre between the first level ceiling and floor boards and then launched an all-out attack on the fort.  Above left can be seen a termite damaged floor beam.


Grootfontein Museum has somehow accumulated one of the best collections of crafts-machinery in the country. Here you can see how wagon wheels were made and the machinery that was used to make them and a host of other equipment all in pristine condition.


The UNTAG uniform is that of a Swiss Medical Officer who was stationed in Namibia with the United Nations Transitional force that monitored the free and fair elections that brought about the Republic of Namibia in 1990. I'm told he's quite a celebrity with the Swiss tourists who visit.


Grootfontein Fort Museum Termite Damage

Termite Damage

Wood Lathe

Wood Lathe

UNTAG Unform

UNTAG Uniform

Wagon Wheel Jig

Wagon Wheel Jig

Steam Roller

Steam Roller

The Museum has a Himba display room with many of the traditional items of clothing along with anklets, bracelets and necklaces. If you're not planning on a trip to see the Himba this is the place where you will gain a better understanding of their traditional way of life. Good photos etc. of everyday Himba Life.


The steam engine, shown, was built in England in 1926 and is in full working condition


Acknowledgements and further reading: M7, H20,H21,P1,

Local Area Attractions  
Baobab Tree Baobab Tree (number 1063) is located on the Farm Keibeb, which is about 60km north of Grootfontein on gravel roads. If you haven't seen a Big Baobab tree, and want to, it's well worth the effort. Baobab Trees play an important roll in African legend and daily life. The tree's various parts can be used for medicinal and food purposes, and it's an awesome sight when you see 'your first Baobab'  towering over the surrounding bush. Time budget 1hr  ►►
Gaub Cave Gaub Cave located on the historical Farm Ghaub. The cave is not 'tourist friendly', however, the 'Cavies' amongst you will not want to miss this-one. Be prepared for an amount of rock-hopping, so good boots are a must. Not for the Claustrophobic. Guided Tours only and I recommend you make a booking in advance. Time budget 2-3hr  ►►
Hoba Meteorite Hoba Meteorite. It weighs-in at over 60 ton, is approximately 3 meters square and about 1 meter in depth. It contains about 82% iron and 16% nickel. It fell to earth about 80,000 years ago, and is the largest known-of metal meteorite in the world. When it came-in to land it didn't cause any crater to be formed, so it probably had a very low trajectory and 'bounced' to its final landing site on the Farm Hoba. National Heritage Site. Camping Available. Time budget 1hr  ►►


 Road Distances from Grootfontein
Katima Otavi Rundu Swakopmund Tsumeb Windhok
791 / 492 96 /58 238 / 148 594 / 369 57 / 35 462 / 287


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