The Solitary Town of Solitaire, in Namibia

Aug 18, 2014 0 comments

Solitaire is a small settlement in the Khomas Region of central Namibia near the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The town is situated at the junction of roads C14 (connecting Walvis Bay and Bethanie), and C24 (connecting Rehoboth and Sossusvlei), both of which are major tourist routes through the Namib-Naukluft National Park. With no other village for miles around, and the only place to get fuel between the dunes at Sossusvlei and the coast at Walvis Bay – a distance of 340 km, Solitaire is a common stop-over for tourists. Aside from a gasoline station, there's a puncture and mechanical repair facility with a limited stock of tires, a post office, a bakery, and a general dealer. There is also a camp and a motel nearby.


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The area was bought by homesteader, Willem Christoffel van Coller in 1948 -  a total of 33,000 hectares of land - from the South West Administration (the government of Namibia at the time) for the purpose of farming Karakul sheep. Being so remote his good wife named the place Solitaire. Mr van Coller built a small 2-room cottage near to the gravel road junction along with a ranch. In later years, a small shop and a hand-operated petrol pump were added. The shop also acted as the regional post office where weekly postbags were delivered. Eventually, in 1851, a small chapel was built as well.

For most of the year Solitaire is the proverbial one horse town, but during the tourist season it becomes very busy, with visitors heading to the dunes from either Swakopmund or Windhoek passing through. Today, Solitaire has a restaurant and bar that serves set menu's for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is a laundry service, Internet facility in the main office, and secure parking.

Solitaire gained an amount of interest following the publication of the book "Solitaire" by Dutch author Ton van der Lee. The book has inspired many tourists to make the pilgrimage to this remote outpost.


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An old bike outside the bakery. Photo credit


A disused gasoline pump. Photo credit


The new gas station. The second nearest gas station is at Maltahöhe, 166 km away or at Walvis Bay, 232 km away. Photo credit


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The Tropic Of Capricorn passes just 40 km north of Solitaire on the C14. Photo credit


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Source: Wikipedia / Namibia-1on1 / Namibian / Namibweb


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