Discovering Solitaire: A Quaint Oasis in Namibia

Discovering Solitaire: A Quaint Oasis in Namibia

Nestled amidst the vast desert landscapes of Southern Namibia, Solitaire is a charming and historic village that has become a popular stop for travellers exploring this captivating region and has been welcoming travellers since 1949. With its intriguing history and picturesque surroundings, Solitaire offers a memorable experience for visitors seeking a glimpse into Namibia’s rugged beauty and historical heritage. Despite having a permanent population of less than 100 (we think it’s a lot less) there are thousands of people stopping there on a regular basis. It is situated on a juncture of two roads between the coastal town of Walvis Bay and Sossusvlei and we recommend stopping there. There is nothing else in this area for miles and miles. It consists of a fuel station, restaurant and bakery, general dealer and offers accommodation. You can also get your flat tyres repaired here. The road network in this area consists of well-maintained gravel roads so it advisable to rent a 4×4 vehicle if you are self-driving through Namibia.  The most well-known reason that Solitaire is known for is its apple pie. Moose McGregor’s famous apple pie is world famous, and it is often mentioned in travel guides worldwide.

A Glimpse into Solitaire’s History

It all started back in 1948 when a gentleman by the name of Willem Christoffel van Coller bought some land from the then South West Administration which was the government at the time. He purchased about 30000 hectares with the intention of farming with karakul sheep. The name ‘Solitaire’ was coined by his wife, Elsie Sophia van Coller which is believed to stem from the solitude of the surrounding area. Over time the first petrol pump was installed, and a shop was opened. The shop functioned as the local post office and one can still see the original post boxes inside of the shop from where post would be collected.

A small church (Dutch reformed) that was built back in 1951 still stands today and is used by the locals. It also serves as a meeting place for the farmers from the surrounding area. It has since been sold a few times to new owners and over the years, Solitaire evolved into a small settlement with a petrol station, general store, bakery, and accommodation options, catering to travellers traversing the desert terrain.

Attractions and Highlights of Solitaire

  1. Solitaire Bakery: One of the town’s most famous attractions is the Solitaire Bakery, renowned for its delicious apple pie. Travelers often stop here to indulge in freshly baked treats and enjoy a break from their journey.
  2. The Namib Desert: Solitaire is situated near the mesmerizing Namib Desert, known for its towering sand dunes, vast plains, and unique desert-adapted flora and fauna. Visitors can embark on desert excursions, dune hikes, and scenic drives to explore this iconic desert landscape.
  3. Sossusvlei and Deadvlei: Solitaire serves as a convenient base for visiting the nearby Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, famous for their stunning reddish sand dunes, ancient camelthorn trees, and surreal desert scenery. These natural wonders are a photographer’s paradise and a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.
  4. Solitaire Lodge: For those seeking overnight accommodation, Solitaire offers cozy lodges and campsites surrounded by tranquil desert vistas, providing a unique opportunity to experience the peace and serenity of the Namibian wilderness.
  5. Wildlife Encounters: While exploring the area, travellers may encounter desert-adapted wildlife such as oryx, springbok, ostriches, and various bird species. Wildlife viewing adds to the allure of Solitaire’s natural charm and wilderness ambiance.
  6. Cultural Experiences: Solitaire provides insights into Namibia’s cultural heritage, with opportunities to interact with locals, learn about traditional practices, and appreciate the resilience of communities living in remote desert environments.

Why Solitaire is a Popular Stop for Travellers

  1. Strategic Location: Situated along the route to Sossusvlei and the Namib Desert, Solitaire serves as a strategic stop for refuelling, refreshments, and rest during long journeys through Namibia’s rugged terrain. If you are travelling through Namibia on a guided tour then your guide will most certainly stop here for lunch, refreshments and to fill up with fuel.
  2. Unique Atmosphere: The town’s rustic charm, desert scenery, and laid-back ambiance create a unique atmosphere that resonates with travellers seeking an authentic Namibian experience.
  3. Photo Opportunities: Solitaire’s picturesque landscapes, dramatic sunsets, and desert vistas provide endless photo opportunities for travellers capturing memories of their Namibian adventure.
  4. Culinary Delights: The renowned Solitaire Bakery, known for its delectable pastries and pies, has garnered a reputation as a must-visit culinary destination, adding to Solitaire’s appeal for food enthusiasts.
  5. Gateway to Namib-Naukluft Park: As a gateway to Namibia’s iconic Namib-Naukluft National Park, Solitaire offers easy access to the park’s natural wonders, including the famous dunes of Sossusvlei and the stark beauty of Deadvlei. Solitaire is situated approximately 82 km’s from Sesriem (the entrance gate to Sossusvlei).
  6. Peaceful Retreat: Solitaire’s tranquil desert setting and small-town charm provide a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban life, allowing travellers to unwind and reconnect with nature.

Tips for Visiting Solitaire

  • Plan Ahead: As Solitaire is a small town with limited services, it’s advisable to plan your visit in advance, especially if you require accommodation or specific amenities.
  • Respect Nature: When exploring the surrounding desert landscapes, practice responsible tourism by respecting wildlife, following designated trails, and minimizing your environmental impact.
  • Try Local Cuisine: Don’t miss the opportunity to sample the famous apple pie at the Solitaire Bakery or enjoy traditional Namibian dishes at local eateries, adding a culinary dimension to your Solitaire experience.
  • Stay Hydrated: Given the arid climate of the region, stay hydrated and carry sufficient water and supplies, especially if embarking on desert excursions or outdoor activities.
  • Capture Memories: Bring your camera or smartphone to capture the beauty of Solitaire’s landscapes, wildlife sightings, and cultural moments, creating lasting memories of your Namibian adventure.

In conclusion, Solitaire’s blend of history, natural beauty, and unique attractions makes it a captivating destination and a popular stop for travellers exploring Namibia’s desert landscapes. Whether savouring delectable treats at the bakery, marvelling at the Namib Desert’s grandeur, or immersing yourself in the town’s laid-back charm, Solitaire offers a memorable and authentic Namibian experience that leaves a lasting impression on visitors.

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