Do you know the difference between psittacinite and pyromorphite? Pop in to the mining museum at Tsumeb on the way to Etosha National Park and you might find out.
The bustling mining town of Tsumeb is an important support hub for the surrounding farms as well as a vital pit stop before heading into the wilderness. Take a break from your travels in Tsumeb and take your mind for a stroll around the town museum which provides an interesting background to the Namibian mining industry and the history of the country.
In the Beginning
The museum provides valuable insights into the history of the local community. Here you’ll find out about the first tribes that set up camp in Tsumeb, the evolution of the geology of the area and the German heritage of the town.
There are interesting displays showcasing the many indigenous people of the area such as the Herero, Owambo, Himba and Bushmen as well as the first white settlers. Follow the trail of colonisation, wars and eventual independence through the museum. There are loads of interesting historical photographs and snippets of information. You’ll even get to see a display of how Namibian stamps have changed through the years.
One of the most interesting displays is that of the restored cannons, guns, rifles and ammunition boxes retrieved from nearby Lake Otjikoto, a popular scuba-diving site. These relics were dumped into the lake by German troops during WWI as they fled from the advancing South African army.
The museum highlights the mining history of the town from the first glint in a prospector’s eye until the industry was set up in 1890, and beyond. You can even arrange for a trip down one of the mines to gain a deeper understanding of the process at the Tsumeb Upper Levels, Smelter and Mine as well as De Wet Shaft.
The mineral display room has samples and images of most of the 240 different minerals and semi-precious gems found around Tsumeb as well as examples of the tools used to pry them from the earth.
A Rich History of its Own
The Museum was founded in 1975 by Ms Ilse Shatz who saw fit to document Tsumeb’s interesting past. Since the building was built in 1915 it has done time as a German school as well as a hospital. Today it is a National Monument.
Nearby, you can visit the Tsumeb Arts & Crafts Centre to pick up authentic handmade wood carvings, jewellery, trinkets, clay pots and baskets. Grab a bite to eat at one of the quaint local cafés before venturing further out to see Grootfontein Museum, Hoba Meteorite and Lake Otjikoto before arriving at Etosha’s von Lindequist Gate.
Tsumeb is a worthy stop during the long journey from Windhoek to Etosha National Park and provides a great opportunity to learn about your host country in one place.
See our guide to route-planning for Etosha to make the most of your journey and your stay in Etosha National Park.