Keetmanshoop (translates from Afrikaans as 'the hope of Keetman') is the administrative centre of Namibia's largest region, Karas. It is 500km south of Windhoek and it's southern central location make it a natural traffic junction, as well as the economic centre for the entire south of Namibia. The Karas region covers some 161,000km², or nearly 1/5th of the country's total surface. Karas is named after the mountains of the same name, south-east of the town. As could be expected of a regional hub Keetmanshoop offers the wary traveller several accommodation choices as well as banks, shops and petrol stations.
As with many Namibian towns, Keetmanshoop developed around a Rhenish Mission Society, founded in 1860 to spread their faith to the local Namas. It was named after the German trader Johann Keetman, who supported the mission financially. Like many missionaries of that era, they found that even though some Africans converted to Christianity, taking away their tribal beliefs was another matter.
The Keetmanshoop Museum is located in the Keetmanshoop Rhenish Mission Church and the building dates back to 1895. The (Lutheran) Church was declared a national monument in 1978 and is a well-known land mark in the history of the town. It's unique combination of Gothic architecture, cast in Namibian stone, makes it one of the architectural master pieces in the country, and a popular tourist attraction.
Also of interest is the traditional Nama matjieshuis (a house made of thatched reed) in the church grounds. Other buildings worth a visit include the old hospital, (also known as the Johanitter Haus), the old Post Office and the Schutzenhaus (1907) the headquarters of the oldest German club in the country.
Accommodation in and around Keetmanshoop include Birds Mansion Hotel, Canyon Hotel and Keetmanshoop Central Lodge, alongside several other guest houses and hotels. Situated 38km north-east of the town is the Mesosaurus and Fossil and Quiver Tree Dolorite Park, set in an area that includes the Mesosaurus Fossil Site and the Quiver Tree Forest and eroded dolorite rock formations. Another accommodation option in a north-easterly direction from Keetmanshoop (13km) is the Quiver Tree Rest Camp.
Other highlights in the region include self-drive visits to the Naute Dam and the farm Spitskop Ost with its mesosaurus fossils, the Giant's Playground, Fish River Canyon and the Kokerboom (Quiver Tree) Forest.
80km west of Keetmanshoop, named after the large lime ovens found on the farms. Boasts the largest collection of lithops in Namibia
A popular establishment in the southern Namibian town of Keetmanshoop
A large air-conditioned hotel in Keetmanshoop. A useful stop en-route to the Fish River Canyon and South Africa
Good facilities make this an excellent overnight choice
The undisputed winner of the longest lodge name in Namibia, MFSQTDP offers accommodation at reasonable prices
Close to the Quiver Tree Forest this is a popular choice