Capital of southern Namibia and focal point of the scenic and historic attractions in the surroundings is Keetmanshoop.
Founded in 1860 by the Rhenish Mission Society and named after Johan Keetman, the town still retains vestiges of its original German buildings.
The stone mission church, built in 1895, is now a museum with displays depicting the region's colourful past. Housed in the old Post Office building (built in 1910) is the Southern Tourism Forum, an organisation which promotes the region and supplies detailed information on places worth seeing.
The historic town of Bethanie, one of the oldest settlements in the country, lies to the west of Keetmanshoop and can be visited from the road to Liideritz. A significant historical event took place in Bethanie in 1883, when the first recorded deed of sale was signed at the house of the 19th century Nama Chief, Josef Frederiks, for the land which was to become known as Liideritzbucht.
Also of historical interest is the Rhenish Mission Church, which dates back to 1859, and Schmelenhaus, built by a German missionary in 1814.
About 130 km north-west of Keetmanshoop en route to the small settlement of Berseba, a mission station established in 1850, is the Brukkaros Mountain. In a landscape bare of vegetation, this mass of dark – coloured lava rises abruptly from a vast, sun – scorched plain.
Brukkaros is not an extinct volcano, as its shape would suggest, but the eroded remnants of a pile of fragmented rock produced by a gigantic gaseous explosion some 84 million years ago. More than 1 580 m high, with a deep crater of almost 2 000 m in diameter, it has a flat, rock – littered floor. It is said that Brukkaros means "trouser apron" because of an item of clothing worn by a Nama tribe who lived near it.
During 1930, members of the Smithsonian Institute used the crater for research on solar radiation. There are no camping facilities at Brukkaros.
About 14 km north-east of Keetmanshoop on the farm Gariganus is the Quiver Tree Forest, a dense stand of quiver trees (Aloe dichotoma), some of which reach a height of 7 m. The quiver tree's name is derived from the Bushman (San) practice of hollowing out the pithy insides of the branches and using the tough, outer casings of bark as quivers in which to keep their arrows.
About 400 m from the forest is the Quiver Tree Rest Camp with accommodation for up to 21 people. Five kilometres away, also on the farm Gariganus and open to the public, is Giant's Playground, an impressive jumble of massive dolerite boulders between 160 million and 180 million years old.
The Gellap Ost Farm, a research station for the karakul industry, is situated 16 km northwest of Keetmanshoop en route to the airport.
Situated 22 km from Keetmanshoop is the Garas Park, an unspoiled site of quiver trees which also features aloes and a sculpture garden of natural rocks. There are basic camping amenities in the park.