24 hours in Noordoewer

We’re going to Namibia next month. Not very far into Namibia, but certainly across the border. Normally, that would be the end of the tale, save for some photographs and a blog post or two when I got back, but there’s more to this story than that. We’re on a tour there and I thought it started on this date, whereas it actually starts on that date (which is a whole day later than the aforementioned this date).
Thing is, the beagle sitter is booked, we’ve taken the time off work, we have accommodation there.

So, why not make the best of the error and have an extra [movie trailer voiceover voice]:

24 Hours In Noordoewer

It would be silly not to make the best of those 24 hours, so I had a look at how one can pass the time in Noordoewer, population 219.
I’ll be honest – I was impressed. The Southern Namibian Tourist Board have certainly worked hard to make this the town in Southern Namibia to visit. There’s so much to do!

What To Do In Noordoewer

Watch the planes at Noordoewer International Airport
It’s a little known fact that approximately 50% of commercial flights worldwide include Noordoewer International Airport (NRX) as either a departure, an arrival or a stopover point. This makes it arguably one of the best airports in the world for planespotters, with flight action almost 24 hours a day (closed Tuesdays).

Ride the rollercoasters at Sammyland Theme Park
The Sammyland Theme Park covers almost 3,000 hectares and is based loosely around Namibia’s favourite cartoon character, Sammy the Sand Dune. Here you can ride the largest rollercoaster in the Southern Hemisphere, The Desert Destroyer. Pulling 8G at the base of its record 370m vertical drop, it has been responsible for the deaths of at least 12 people through cerebral haemorrhage each year since the park opened in 2009.

Go underground at the Caves of Noordoewer
First documented in 1791 by colonial explorer Anton von Arschganstracht, this sandstone cavern system extends at least 131km into the earth – we say ‘at least’, because there are still some tunnels yet to be explored. However, thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of our guides, modern day visitors can still become the first to discover new parts of this astounding natural phenomenon. Bring food and water. And candles.

Learn about whaling in Noordoewer at the Noordoewer Whaling Museum
In the mid 1830s, during the infamous Noordoewer Mielie Famine, mielie farming settlers in the area were forced to look for other means to support themselves as their harvest failed for the third time due to Mielie Blight disease, caused by the fungus we all now know as Pythorans mielicidous. Many simply grew wheat and potatoes instead, but a small number turned to whaling as an alternative means of subsistence. However, given that Noordoewer is over 100km from the nearest ocean, perhaps understandably, this ambitious endeavour quickly failed. Consequently, the Whaling Museum is very small.

Gamble your life away at the Noordhoek Casino and Revue Bar
The most popular nightspot on the famous Noordoewer Strip, the Noordoewer Casino and Revue Bar has over 10,000 square metres of floorspace – all covered courtesy of Noordoewer Carpeting Company: Carpeting Noordoewer since 1982™ – allowing patrons to enjoy Blackjack, Poker, Slot Machines, Roulette and hourly shows in one of the restaurants or clubs on site. The dress code is smart, unless you’re one of the performers, in which case dress code is minimal, if you know what we mean! Wahey!

Eat at the Noordoewer Wimpy
A fast food restaurant located in the Engen Service Station at the south end of the town.

Climb (or ride up) Noordoewer Mountain
Africa’s highest peak at 5,896m, geologists believe that this imposing giant has stood guard over Noordoewer for over 100 million years. Some energetic visitors do take on the climb – indeed it is the most summitted peak in Namibia – however, most people choose to take the cable car from the town centre (Metro Stop C7, Red Line). The journey takes a little more than 22 hours each way, so bring snacks and a sleeping bag.

And finally:
See the mad, flappy ears at the Noordoewer Beagle Racing Track
Beagle racing is as synonymous with Nambia as microwave production or frisbees, so this is ‘a must do’ if you happen to be in town for the weekly Saturday night beagle meet. Beagles from all over the region come to compete in this single 50m dash along a sawdust and mud track, and the enthusiastic hounds chase a vienna sausage on a string pulled by a local orphan. Please note that betting on dog racing is illegal in Namibia, but because of a convenient loophole, betting on dog and orphan racing is perfectly legitimate.

© Southern Namibian Tourist Board

Suddenly, I’m wishing that I’d messed up by far more than just a day, although obviously I would probably give the beagle racing a miss.

Noordoewer, hey? What a place. Who knew?

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