rockhounds turn up in amazing places across the planet as they love fossicking around in gemstone markets. For fun or passion, Namibian gemstones found in markets close to the source are engrossing. The gemstone retailers in the bigger cities such as Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia, have superb quality gemstones, but sometimes the best fun and adventure can be found at the gemstone stalls in lesser known areas of the country.

Rockhounds in search of gemstones in Namibia can visit the Ministry of Mines and Energy

Most government ministries in Africa are dreary places that conjure up dread thoughts of long queues, lots of papers to fill out and peeling paint, but this is certainly not the case at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, (MME) in the capital city of Windhoek.

Their displays of the gems and stones that occur in the country are engrossing for any rockhound and this is where gemstone lovers from across the world will eventually end up to get their permits to export raw minerals. Countless times I have visited these hallowed halls of mineral wealth and every time I have found stone lovers from England, America, Germany and even Greece staring wistfully at stunning tourmaline samples.

Gemstone mining regulations protect against abuse

Africa has a history of enforced child labour in mines, slave labour and horror stories such as the scenes the movie "Blood Diamonds" portrayed, but rockhounds visiting Namibia can mostly rest assured that any gemstones they pick up are probably well regulated.

The Ministry of Trade regulates the small miners and provides them with stalls and markets where they can sell their beautiful crystals and gemstones direct to the public.

In the mineral rich Erongo area of the country, there is the Spitzkoppe gemstone market, and this is one of the best places to buy stones that are properly receipted.

About seven years ago there was a case of fake gems sold from the market but this was quickly stopped by authorities. Receipted stones can be taken out of the country without the need for a permit, so for the casual rockhound, certainly this market is a great option and a must-visit.

Namibia has good roads, tourist police and bustling towns

Rockhounds need to know that there are good roads and Windhoek City is a modern and bustling town that has Tourist Police on every corner downtown. From Windhoek straight across to Swakopmund on the west coast, lie the markets that best represent the opportunity to pick up some lovely gemstone samples that have been mined from local sources.

Karabib is one of the best places to find tourmaline and fluorite from Okorusu Mine near Otjiwarongo. The Karabib Gemstone Centre is a project run by the Ministry of Trade and industry. They train local people to cut stone and this centre should be a stopover for every stone hunting fossicker. Another great place to pick up crystals is further north at Usakos where another gemstone market awaits.

The final destination where the desert meets the sea, is Swakopmund, a charming town known for good German food, beer, and stones. The people who sell their gemstones in this quaint little town often rely on the stones for their living. Minerals and semi-precious stones play a large part in bettering the lives of those who live off the local economy, so hounds should try not to haggle too hard for their prize. One woman is haggled down to a mixed bag of quality crystals for less than five Pounds. The rockhound from London is thrilled, the woman desperate to get some food just for today.

I pay her too much for a sliver of black tourmaline. These people have got to eat.

The adventure of fossicking for rough stones is engrossing

For the rockhounds who love adventure and the thrill of finding a collection of semi-precious gemstones, or for the investor, Namibia has it all when it comes to quality stones. Best of all, there are direct flights to Windhoek out of Frankfurt, or you can fly out of London via Johannesburg in South Africa. The latter option takes about 15 hrs. So, rockhounds, dig out your backpack and book a flight today.

Check out some of the crystals that are on offer year round at the gemstone markets in Namibia in the video below.