Oranjemund is a mining town in the ǁKaras region of southern Namibia, located on the banks of the Orange River, on the border with South Africa. It is surrounded by vegetation maintained by the residents with grey water from the mines. Although it is near the Atlantic, the wind is not as penetrating as in other Namibian coastal towns. Old, shady trees are everywhere, with parks and playgrounds, and wildlife like oryx roam the town. This is not a tourist destination but may be of interest to certain travellers.
Oranjemund was established in 1936 by DeBeers, a diamond mining company. Its sole purpose was to accommodate the mine workers, and it was run and operated privately by Namdeb until 2017. The town was accessible by road only via Alexander Bay in South Africa, on the opposite side of the Orange River. All people entering end exiting Oranjemund had to go through security gates to be screened for stolen diamonds. Cars could not cross these gates and had to be parked on either side. A permit was required for non-residents to enter the town, and it was issued only to applicants from within: tour operators, and, of course, the mining business.
Opened to the general public only in October 2017, Oranjemund is not a typical Namibian settlement: There is no homelessness, crime is virtually non-existent. People in bars talk about their work. Consequently there are almost no tourist facilities. If you are looking for ocean cruises, car rentals, day trips, then this is (still) the wrong place to go. However, the small town is quite attractive and relaxing due to its design.
- The Main Road 118 connects Rosh Pinah to Oranjemund on the Namibian side of the border. This 90-km stretch of road is tarred and is in excellent condition. About 20 km outside Rosh Pinah you have to cross a security checkpoint where you need to produce a photo ID. 6 km outside Oranjemund at the Harry Oppenheimer Bridge over the Oranje River is the now unused screening gate. You may drive straight through, unless you want to cross the bridge to South Africa.
- The Main Road 382 leads to Oranjemund via South Africa. Until 2017 this was the only access road.
The town is walkable, but if you bring a bike you'll be faster. As everywhere in Namibia there are taxis that you can wave down. If you are driving do it slowly: Oryx antelopes are roaming everywhere, they have the right of way. Residents will become angry if you hoot or try to bully them away, even if that very oryx occupies the best parking spot. Talking about hooting: At many places you may not hoot at all, which is something rather uncommon in Namibia. This applies to places where the dormitories are—for mineworkers that work shifts—and to the old age home.
- 1 Oranjemund Museum and Teagarden, 9th Avenue (in the town centre). Nice outdoor cafe. At 10 N$ for a plunger that holds four cups of coffee, this is the cheapest coffee in town, probably the country. The museum is a collection of old things nobody wanted to throw away: rocks, furniture, ethnic artifacts, withered wine bottles, tools, machinery, and lots of historic photos. Most exhibits are connected to the diamond mining history of the town. Interesting to see but the similar museum at Kolmanskop is larger and more impressive. Museum entrance is free.
- Go to the beach (about 12 km out of town, signposted from the MR118).
- Visit the golf course (about 10 km out of town, signposted from the MR118).
There is a well-stocked Spar supermarket and bottle store in the town centre.
- 1 Tom's Cabin, Corner of 1st Avenue and 14th Street (at the Southeastern corner of the town), ☏ . Family atmosphere, very friendly staff. Charly, the man running the place, is a retired mine foreman. He was on site when the Oranjemund Shipwreck, 500 years old and full of gold coins, was discovered in 2008. When the lounge TV is idle it shows a slide show of the find. Ask the man for anything, he's been living there for decades and is happy to share. 540 N$ per person, breakfast 92 N$ per person, kids under 16 free (also the breakfast!).
- 6 km out of town is the Harry Oppenheimer Bridge over the Oranje River, and into South Africa, connecting the South African town of Alexander Bay. Continue your journey there into the Northern Cape along the R382.
- You cannot travel along the coast to Lüderitz, even though there is a road. The entire coastal strip is a restricted area due to its diamond deposits.