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Okahandja Namibia



Okahandja is a small town situated 75km north of Windhoek. It is here that the B1 main north road has a junction with the B2 main road to Swakopmund and the coast. Originally settled by the Herero people, it remains the centre for the Herero, and is the traditional burial place for their Chiefs.

The name is Okahandja taken from the Herero language and means, "the place where two rivers converge to form a larger one". The two rivers, the Okakango and Okamita, are quite small, normally dry and, in the rainy season, drain into the Okahandja River.

The missionary Johann H. Schmelen visited here in 1827 and noted with interest the amount of souls that could be converted, but it wasn't until after 1840 when the London Missionary Society had transferred its right to the Rhenish Missionary Society at Otjikango (Gross Barmen) that Karl Hugo Hahn and Franz H. Kleinschmidt brought Schmelen's Dream to fruition when they established a Mission at Okahandja in 1844, which they appropriately named Schmelen's Hope.

During August 1850, while the British explorer Francis Galton was staying with the Hahn family

at Otjikango, the Nama Warlord Jonker Afrikaner, who was based in Windhoek attacked the Hereros of Okahandja and slaughtered many of them. Legend has it that many of the Herero

Otjozondjupa Region
21º59'S - 16º55'E
Population 15,000
Map of Namibia
Map of Okahandja

sort, without success, to seek refuge and defend themselves on a rocky outcrop, but were slaughtered and their cattle taken as booty. As you drive along the B1 by-pass, you can see the hill to your east. It's known locally as 'Moordkoppie' or Murder Hill.


The Germans recognized the importance of the town and built one of the first of their fortresses in Namibia here, (which no longer exists). It was from Okahandja that the Herero Uprising began on 11 August 1904, and the town was under siege for some days and was only relieved by Major Victor Franke and his 2nd Field Company on 27 January, which just happened to be the Kaiser's birthday.


S Von Bach Dam

S Von Bach Dam

Okahandja Main Street

Main Street

The German fort at Okahandja

The German Fort At Okahandja

Presently, the town is a centre for the surrounding cattle and game farms, and has a growing industrial area to the north of town including one of the largest abattoirs in Namibia,


Near to Okahandja is the S. von Bach Dam and Nature Resort. Camping, water ski-ing. It all happens here. There are a couple of local ski-clubs, so be sure to contact them if you want to make new and helpful acquaintances. For the anglers the dam is stocked with blue-carper, small mouthed yellow-fish, carp, barbers and large mouthed bass.


Okahandja Chief Graves

Chiefs' Graves

Herero Parade

Herero Parade

Herero Parade

Herero Parade

Herero Parade Okahandja

Herero Day Parade

Being the centre of the Herero culture it is at Okahandja where the chiefs are laid to rest and remembered every 23 August, a date referred to as Herero Day. The tribal chiefs visit the graves of their ancestors and pay due homage.



Okahandja Local Area Attractions

Thermal Pool

Thermal Pool

The Gross Barmen Hot Springs Resort is located about 25km west of Okahandja. The mineral rich thermal waters that bubble up from deep within the earth are said to have therapeutic values. The complex makes for a relaxing stay-over. The indoor thermal pool waters are maintained at 38-40°c. The outdoor thermal pool has a temperature of about 30°c. There are accommodation facilities including camp sites, shop, restaurant, bar etc.   
Wood Carving markets Okahandja is the home to 2 of the largest Wood Carving Markets in Namibia. The Curio stalls can be seen an both the south entrance to the town and to the northern side nearby where the B1 and B2 road. You can buy just about anything wooden here from attractive polished fruit bowls to carved animals and even canoes. Be prepared to do get involved in some heavy bargaining if you pay these vibrant markets a visit. Time budget 30min+  
Herero Chief Graves Complex Herero Chiefs' Grave Complex: These can be seen in 2 separate location on Heroes' Street. It was Chief Samuel Maharero, who declared war, on 11 January 1904, against  the Imperial German Colonizers of Namibia and was laid to rest on 23 August 1923 in here Every year on the Sunday nearest to 23 August the Herero people gather here in ceremonial dress and pay homage to the deceased Chiefs.  Time budget 1hr  
Herero Day Moordkoppie Von Bach Dam & Resort  

Getting Here

Scheduled Air No

Scheduled Bus  Yes

Scheduled Rail  Yes

Map Directions

Road Distances from Okahandja

Gross Barmen

Otjiwarongo Tsumeb Karibib Swakopmund Windhoek


25 / 16 175 / 109 360 / 224 115 / 71 295 / 183 75 / 47

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