Set 230km North West of Namibia's Capital City and 50km north of Karibib, in the heart of game farming country, you will find the town of Omaruru. Omaruru is in the Erongo Region of Namibia and although map views of the town show it sitting on the Omaruru River, this can be quite deceiving as the Omaruru River is usually just a dry river bed for most of the year. And just south east of Omaruru is the Oruwe Mountain, one of the most prominent of the mountains surrounding the town.
Omaruru is believed to have gotten its name from the Herero words omaere omaruru which translated mean, bitter milk. The locals believed that their cattle's milk tasted bitter after eating one of the plants that were growing in the area around town. Like many of the settlements in Namibia, Omaruru was established around a Rhenish mission station in 1868. The Rhenish Mission House, which was built in 1871 serves as a memorial of this era, as has been transformed into the town's museum. The Rhenish Mission Church, which dates back to 1872 is another survivor from 19th Century Omaruru history. Originally inhabited by Damara people up until 1870 onwards, the town has been the traditional capital of the Zeraua house of the Herero people and a number of their important headmen lie buried in the cemetery located in the centre of the town.
Omaruru has had quite an unfortunate history, and part of this history has to do with the game in the area. At first the area had an abundant amount wildlife, which was one of the main draw cards for the Famous explorer Charles Anderson. Anderson set up a hunting camp on the river banks in 1958, and 12 years later the hunter Axel Eriksson and brewer Anders Ohissen joined forces to exploit the game, within 10 years they had successfully wiped out all the elephant, rhino, lion and giraffe that had once been living in the area. Over the years game has been reintroduced to the area although there are still hunting safaris in the area. And if the game woes were not enough, the town of Omaruru was attacked repeatedly during the 1880s as a result of the Herero-Nama wars prior to peace being secured in 1889. The town, which had become the largest population of European settlers in Namibia by the end of 1896, was besieged in 1904 during the Herero uprising. The siege was ended when Captain Franke led a cavalry charge on the town and defeated the Hereros. In 1907 Franke's Tower was built to commemorate the event and the town received full municipal status 2 years later in 1909.
There are a number of things to see and do around Omaruru including the traditional festival where the Herero people hold a march to and from the cemetery where their former leader Wilhelm Zeraua is buried. This takes place every year, on the last weekend before 10 October. There is also the Kristall Kellerei, which is the only manufacturer of Namibian brandy and one of four wine producers in the country. The Kellerei produces two red wines, a Ruby Cabernet and a Cabernet Sauvignon and a white wine called Colmard. Some of their interesting products include a variety of schnapps which are made from prickly pears, prosopis, lemons and, grapes of course. Close to Omaruru you can also visit the site of the dinosaur tracks, the farm Otjihaenanamapaero. The site is home to two distinctive sets of footprints which are found pressed into the sandstone.
Something very interesting for the Namibian tourist is that a large number if not the majority of central Namibias points of interest lie within a 200km radius of Omaruru, these include the Brandberg, Erongo Mountains, Spitzkoppe, Swakopmund, Usakos, Karibib, Otjimbingwe, Okahandja, Otjiwarongo and the Waterberg National Park.