GobabisGobabis, 200 kilometres east of Windhoek on the B6, is the centre of the Omaheke. The region borders the Kalahari and covers a huge area of 80 000 sqkm. Omaheke, also called the "Sandveld", is traditionally Herero country. Many survivors of the drama at the Waterberg in 1904 have also settled here after their desperate flight through the dry Omaheke desert. But most of the land is used by big cattle-breeding farms. The landscape is a monotonous and endless grassy savannah with Acacia bushes and camelthorn trees dominate the scenery.
The roots of Gobabis go back to the year 1856, when the Rhenish Mission Society established a base there, which was destroyed and abandoned in 1880. The region was known to be "restless" as the Herero and the Nama, who lived in the south, often fought here against each other. And so, Europeans only hesitantly settled here. Even the "protection agreements" signed by the German colonial administration and the Herero in 1895 didn't bring about any considerable change.
The district capital of Gobabis today has 18 000 citizens and provides mainly for the 800 farms in the surrounding areas.
When strolling through Gobabis you will notice many Herero people. They come from the surrounding villages in the Omaheke, and many of them also from neighboring Botswana, to do shopping in Gobabis. Especially the Herero women with their voluminous Victorian dresses and the typical headgear add some colour to the town.
Gobabis is also an important stop-over for the traffic to Botswana. The borderpost Buitepos lies 110 kilometres east of Gobabis. Just a few years ago, a trip from Windhoek to Johannesburg through Botswana was a real adventure. Now, on the tarred "Trans Kalahari Highway", completed in 1998, one can manage the 1300 kilometres in just two days. The services and accommodation on offer in Botswana are humble, though, and the stretch is rather monotonous. The Kalahari Highway is used mainly by trucks. Much more interesting is a detour into the north-eastern parts of Botswana, to Maun and the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta or further via Savuti or Nata to the Chobe National Park and the Victoria Falls.