Established through a two year consultative meeting made possible through the Millennium Challenge Account and the Namibian Tourism Board and Open Africa, an non-profit organisation, the routes were officially inaugurated in June last year by the Minister of Environment and Tourism during the Namibia Tourism Expo. Chairman of the Omulunga Palm Route, Shali Nahombo in the describing the routes said, the stops along the route affords the tourist with hotels, lodges, bed and breakfast facilities with tour operators, car hire services and fuel stations.
He said that visitors can expect attractions such as Lake Oponono where the Cuvelai Basin meets, as well as the historical Nakambale museum which displays the history of the first Finnish missionaries who set up church at Olukonda. Nahombo said, “we have memorial shrines at Omugulugwombashe and Enhana with a museum at Outapi, not forgetting the traditional kingdoms of Aawambo that are still existing.”
He added that the most significant feature, is the traditional village house that will take you deep in the villages meeting the locals busy with their daily traditional work one can join depending on the season and the time of the day. “The open markets specially Ongwediva Open Market offers locally prepared traditional meals. Not forgetting the Ruacana Waterfalls and the Himba traditional village amongst the other attractions,” he added.
In describing the areas tourists have to travel through, Nahombo said, the two main roads, the King Nehale Experience, runs from the Etosha National Park through to the King Nehale gate which takes the traveller through the following towns, Omuthiya, Ondangwa, Ongwediva, Oshakati and Okahao-Tsandi upwards towards Omakange.
“The second route, the Roof of Namibia accommodates all types of vehicles, journeying from the town of Ruacana through Outapi before progressing to Okalongo passing Engela where the road leads to Eenhana and Okongo and further to Nkurenkuru,” he described. Nahombo highlighted that during all this travelling, tourists are offered all the basic services ranging from accommodation, meals, filling stations, banks, hospitals, tour guides and tourism information centre.
“One can have different treats depending on the towns you find your self in. With Ruacana offering the Ovahimba traditional houses and the water fall,” he added. Nahombo said that customer service has been challenge in the region with the Namibia Tourism Board realising the need to tackle the issue of tourism enhancing services across the routes hence the need for workshops to train the community. “A two day workshop was conducted in November in all regions within the route,” Nahambo said. Adding that the training was a success as members really identified and noticed that more need to be done to improve the service delivery that they offer to clients.
Nahombo raised the issue for a continuous in house training mostly to the personnel who has little or did not go through hospitality training was a great success.
Commenting on the support, Nahombo said, “the relationship and support we get from the Namibia Tourism Board and Open Africa is very welcomed.” “This brings us together as local tourism stakeholders which was a challenge as there was no platform that really brings us together and provide us with an opportunity to share our success and challenges in the regions,” he added. Nahombo noted that the challenge they encounter is that of the responsibility to promote the rich historical and cultural tourism and then relay how it benefits the community. Meanwhile he said he is committed to intensify, establish, sustain such sites and market them for more tourism attraction in the region.