Magazine for Porsche enthusiasts • year 17 • quarterly • September/October 2021 • 67
DRIVE2EXTREMES NEW MACAN S/GTS PORSCHE MISSION R PORSCHIST IN NAMIBIË
ZARA RUTHERFORD, SOLOFLIGHT AROUND THE WORLD
Road trip through Namibia text: kathleen van bremdt - photos: kathleen van bremdt & sven hoyaux
he vast country of Namibia, which is the size of France and Germany combined, is a place of extremes. A self-drive journey of three thousand kilometres takes us through endless steppe plains, ancient dune landscapes, spectacular mountain ranges, rugged coastlines and nature reserves full of wildlife. On the beautiful peninsula of Pelican Point we meet a passionate Porsche driver.
Dronephoto: Pascal Supply
TRAVEL PORSCHIST A guy at the customs desk looks at us dubiously. ‘You are publishers?’ His tone makes it sound like a crime. ‘Yes.’ ‘Are you going to write about Namibia?’ ‘Yes, we will make a travel report.’ ‘Do you have an authorization from the Ministry of Interior?’ ‘Uh, no.’ We’re beginning to feel uneasy. ‘Then you cannot enter the country.’ We don’t believe what we’re hearing. This can't be true. ‘But we are making promotion for Namibia,’ we try. ‘For yóúr country.’ We poke our finger at the officer to back up our words. The man pulls a bored face and repeats his words. ‘You need an authorization from the Ministry of Interior.’ We begin to lose our temper and he calls in a superior. With almost military steps, a busty lady steps up to us, annoyed by the delay we are causing. She briefly consults with her colleague and looks darkly in our direction. ‘You need an official authorization’, is again the verdict.
Hell, just to avoid problems of this nature, we always state on our travel documents that we are tourists. But at the time of our departure, Belgium prohibits all non-essential travel. Traveling for professional reasons is possible, but only with a certificate of approval. We have that certificate, but it states that we are publishers and now we’re in trouble. We look at the matron with a look that we hope will improve her feelings towards us. It actually helps. ‘I will give you one week to arrange the permit.’ Phew! ‘One week’, she repeats menacingly, and she punches a visa stamp valid for seven days into our passports. Our tour is meant to last three weeks and we have absolutely no idea how to arrange that permit, but we are very happy not to have been put on the first flight back to Belgium.
The Omaanda Lodge is fantastically located with a wide view of the Namibian savanna.
OMAANDA LODGE: UNDERSTATED LUXURY IN A BEAUTIFUL SETTING Drive on the left, drive on the left, we repeat in our heads. In Namibia they drive on the lefthand side of the road. We just picked up our rental car - unfortunately not a Porsche, the rental company didn’t have one of those in the range. Not even a GPS. We are therefore dependent on the road descriptions that we have and a large map that is now spread out on our knees. We know right away: this trip is going to be a real adventure. We quickly reach our first destination. The Omaanda Lodge is an instant hit, fantastically located with a wide view of the Namibian savanna. The rainy season has lasted unusually long this year, making the plains look exceptionally green. The lodge’s ten cabins blend wonderfully with nature. The interior looks both modern and African. The lodge is part of the Zannier hotel group. Arnaud Zannier, who lives in Ghent –a descendant of the French textile family Zannier – has been working on a career in the hotel world for several years now. He has a mission: discreet luxury without bling that completely matches the local nature and architecture. And that works. He now owns five resorts, each of which is unique and adapted to its environment down to the smallest detail. Even the greats are smitten by the concept. Angelina Jolie was so impressed with the boutique resort in Siem Reap (Cambodia) that opened in 2015 that she introduced Arnaud to a friend who was selling his reserve adjacent to the Naankuse wildlife sanctuary in Namibia. Arnaud snapped it up and that’s how Omaanda came into being.
Cheetahs in the Naankuse Reserve.
Now, Angelina Jolie does have a thing for Namibia. She gave birth to her daughter Shiloh there and is very committed to the conservation of endangered species. She is good friends with the owners of the Naankuse Reserve and supports their work with generous donations. The reserve takes care of injured and orphaned lions, cheetahs, leopards and other wild animals. The animals are cared for until they are strong enough to be released. However, some have been in the reserve for so long that a return to the wild is no longer possible. In the wake of our guide Baloon, we are able to approach a group of four cheetahs on foot to within a metre. They seem quite tame to us, but they are still big cats with a killer instinct. To look so close into their iridescent eyes is an unforgettable encounter.
The Naankuse Reserve takes care of injured and orphaned lions, cheetahs, leopards and other wild animals.
AN AFRICAN THING Martin, the general manager of Ultimate Safaris - the agency with which we put together our trip in collaboration with the Belgian Advalorem comes to Omaanda to help us with our visa troubles. “Journalists and film crews always have problems at customs,” he says. “Even though Namibia has nothing to hide, it is assumed that foreign reporters are stealing work from the local people, which is of course a thought that makes no sense. Hey, it's just a Namibian thing,” he says with a shrug. “Give me your passports and I’ll arrange for an extension of your visa” The job will probably be done according to the ‘good old African way’ with some money under the table, but that is of no concern to us. As long as our visas are in order and we don't have any problems with our return flight, we're fine with it all.
8 OTJIMBONDONA: AN OASIS OF TRANQUILLITY AT THE EDGE OF THE KALAHARI DESERT Namibia is the most sparsely populated country in the world after Mongolia. Only 2.3 people live here per km2. By way of comparison: in Belgium the number is 374. We drive on in a southerly direction and do not encounter a living soul, an endless gravel road through an immeasurable landscape. This is pure enjoyment. Gradually it gets warmer, the ground becomes drier and the graceful grasses of the savanna give way to thorny shrubs. We are approaching the Kalahari desert. German couple Wilfried and Anita welcome us to their private reserve of 3000 hectares. They are already the third generation to manage this domain. In 1922, their grandparents ran a farm here with sheep and cows. Farm life, however, did not appeal to Wilfried and Anita and they dreamed of having a guest house. That dream became a reality when the daughter of the house married an architect and the son-in-law designed a beautiful lodge with four spacious, modern villas. In 2014 Otjimbondona opened its doors. Quite a difficult name, we can’t help noticing. “But one with meaning,” Wilfried replies. "In the local language, the name means 'the place where the camel thorn tree grows', that beautiful, stately tree whose shape resembles a
parasol and which is typical of the Kalahari. And no, the tree has nothing to do with camels. The name is derived from the South African word kameelperd which means giraffe.” And with that, we’re fully informed. Wilfried is one of those men who can turn his hand to anything. If, like him and his wife, you live in the middle of nowhere, you have to. When he tells us that he is also a pilot, we are not surprised. When he asks if we would like a short sightseeing flight, we immediately say yes. His Cesna 210 is located in a half-open hay barn. We hear music. “I leave a radio playing day and night,” Wilfried says. “That scares away the baboons who are only too happy to romp on the plane and can damage it.” It starts to drizzle and dark clouds on the horizon announce a strong thunderstorm. We expect Wilfried to cancel the flight, but he unperturbedly rolls the plane out of the hangar and gets behind the wheel. The view from the air is phenomenal. We see giraffes, antelopes and the varied colour palette of the vegetation. We fly above the lodge and think we see Anita waving. Meanwhile, the storm has arrived in full force. The small plane rocks violently back and forth. We’re not really sure if we feel safe. The windscreen wipers of the plane can’t handle the heavily lashing rain and we can’t see anything anymore. We are therefore pleased that Wilfried manages to land the aircraft safely.
W WW. S L A ET S . EU D E K EY S ERLE I 4 2 , 2 0 1 8 AN TWE R P E N D E K EY S ER L E I 4 6 -4 8 , 2 0 1 8 AN TWE R P E N S C H U T T ER S H OF STR AAT 3 0 B, 2 0 0 0 AN TWE R P E N 0 3 /2 1 3 . 5 0 . 8 0
Sonop: a luxury tented camp on top of an immense rock formation.
SONOP: A JOURNEY THROUGH TIME A new stage. Again we find ourselves alone on the road. What a country, what a view, what a wonderful feeling of freedom! We salute the occasional oncoming vehicle, just like motorcyclists and sailors do. Here, we think, it is fitting, a sign of solidarity. The few villages that we pass are no more than a few shabby houses. Playing children watch us and disappear into the dust cloud that our car causes. In Kalkrand, just to be safe, we fill up the petrol tank. “When you come across a petrol station, you should always use it,” Martin had warned us. “There aren’t many in Namibia and you never know when you’re going to run into another.” A sidekick starts cleaning the car’s windows diligently. We give him five euros for the effort. He beams at us and places a resounding kiss on the note. The road becomes hilly which makes driving more difficult. We are now in the Thiras Mountains, we read on our map. Hill, valley, hill, valley… it goes up and down all the time. The road is like a tape measure that has been rolled up too long and has permanent creases. The panoramic vistas are unparalleled.
Sonop Tented Lodge is a tribute to the explorers of yesteryear and is fully furnished in old-colonial English style.
We are eagerly looking forward to our new accommodation. We’ve read lyrical descriptions of it which were brimming with superlatives and want to know if Sonop Tented Lodge is really that fantastic. And sure enough, the lodge really defies imagination. The tents have been miraculously placed on an immense rock formation consisting of massive, granite boulders. They are connected by many stairs and suspension bridges. Because the lodge is so high up, we have a spectacular view from every angle of the immense pebble desert that surrounds us. The camp is a tribute to the explorers of yesteryear and is fully furnished in old-colonial English style. Leather folding chairs, frayed carpets, brass telescopes, antique trunks, yellowed maps and even a bathtub on ball and claw feet: it’s all there. Nothing is new, everything is vintage, preloved condition. We are thrown back in time and imagine ourselves to be Stanley or Livingstone. The creative brain behind this unlikely place is again Arnaud Zannier. His Omaanda Lodge was top notch, but with Sonop he has really surpassed everything. We watch the infinite Namib Desert spread out before us in its million-year-old glory. We enjoy the total silence and allow ourselves to be carried away by the enchanting desolation of this awe-inspiring landscape. We feel detached and privileged.
THE OLDEST DESERT IN THE WORLD The Namib Desert is both the oldest and the driest desert in the world. According to geologists, it is about 55 million years old. The approximately 150 kilometre-wide desert stretches for a distance of 2000 kilometres along the Atlantic coast. Today we venture even deeper into the desert area. We drive a lot of miles, but it’s fun; a mix between Route 66 and ParisDakar. The sky is a flawless blue and sweltering with heat. The dashboard shows 35 degrees. The wind is quite strong, but does not provide any cooling. A hairdryer on the highest setting simply does not provide refreshment. We pass a herd of oryx, majestic animals about the size of a horse with long, thin horns and idiosyncratic black-and-white, mask-like faces. They look at us sluggishly. When we get out to take pictures, they dash off to stand defiantly fifty meters away.
A herd of oryx.
We drive a lot of miles, but it’s fun; a mix between Route 66 and Paris-Dakar.
After a four-hour drive we approach the heart of the Namib desert: the Sossusvlei. The several metres-high orange sand dunes rise majestically from the pale yellow plain. These awe-inspiring dunes are Namibia’s trademark. Everyone knows the photos of the brick-red dunes against a bright blue sky with some striking dried-out tree stumps as decoration here and there. The name Sossus means 'place where water meets'. The word 'vlei' is an African word and means 'lake'. After a lot of rain - and this only happens once every ten years around here - the water collects in the vlei and remains there for some time. The typical red colour of the dunes has been created over time by oxidation of iron in the sand, just like with rusty metal. The older the dune, the more intense the colour. Despite the drought, acacias grow there. Their roots go up to 40 metres deep. The scorched, dead trees that can be seen in many places also remain standing because their roots are so deeply anchored. We are fascinated by the ever-changing play of light and colour on the hilltops. At sunset, the endless rows of dunes form razor sharp silhouettes on a golden canvas. This is a surreal world.
PORSCHIST TRAVEL FROM DESERT TO SEA After an invigorating night in the beautiful Little Kulala - a top resort near the Sossusvlei - we travel on. The orange dunes disappear and make way for an immense plain strewn with crushed stone and pebbles. An astonishing decor in grey and brown, a moon landscape, endless and deserted. At regular intervals we encounter low zuni bushes, a tough, leathery shrub that can go years without water. In the distance we see the contours of the Naukluft mountain range with its monumental, purple-tinged mountains. Yet in this great void there is a hamlet that can be found in almost every travel guide: Solitaire. It’s little more than a petrol station with a few wrecked cars in the front yard, a shop and a small campsite, but almost every traveller stops there. For many years Solitaire has been the only petrol station between Sossusvlei and the coast at Walvis Bay. A car ad campaign was once shot here and the Dutch writer and film producer Ton van der Lee wrote a book about it. In the 1990s he fled the hectic western life and found peace and solitude in the Namib Desert. He ended up in Solitaire, which was then even smaller than it is today with only a petrol station and a shop and two men. Van der Lee thought it was a paradise on earth and camped out there for three years. After a while he started a small restaurant. Lonely Planet picked up the news and wrote a glowing article about the “primitive restaurant in the middle of the desert.” From then on, the place's charm wore off for the writer and he left.
Endless roads in endless landscapes.
Thousands of seals live on Pelican Point.
AND THEN THERE WAS WATER If one thing is certain, it is that Namibia is a country of extremes and contrasts. After days of wasteland and barren plains, from one moment to the next we find ourselves face to face with the dazzling coast of the Atlantic Ocean. And furthermore, we suddenly end up in a bustling city. Walvisbaai (Whale Bay) is Namibia's largest seaport and of great importance to the country’s economy. The city has little to offer, but Walvisbaai is not our destination after all, rather the slightly more distant Pelican Point, a narrow, extensive peninsula almost parallel to the coastline. It is an exceptional biotope where many marine animals feel at home. One side features a calm lagoon where soft-pink flamingos wade and pelicans rest, on the other the ocean rushes in. Thousands of seals live on the island. You can smell them from afar. The intense scent even penetrates our clothes. You hear them too. They grunt and roar to their hearts’ delight. It’s great to watch them roll about on the sand and waddle in and out of the water. Meanwhile, dolphins gambol in the surf and we occasionally see the impressive curve of a whale. There are also many jackals living here. They are beautiful animals, slender and with a golden coat. They are hunters, but where so many seals live together, there are always those who die. For the jackal, they are an easy takeaway meal. At dusk, large flocks of cormorants form long, graceful garlands in the air. This is again nature at its best.
The alert look of a jackal.
Sven Thieme: great businessman and Porsche enthusiast in heart and soul.
We meet Sven Thieme in the exceptionally beautiful setting of Pelican Bay. If you type someone's name into Google and countless sites pop up promptly, you know you're dealing with someone important. Sven Thieme is no other than the man at the head of Namibia's largest private company; the Ohlthaver & List Group. That it has been possible to get someone with such a busy schedule to talk to Porschist can be called a small miracle. But Porsche connects people from all over the world. The beach of Pelican Bay is the ideal setting for photos of the successful businessman and his Cayenne Turbo S. He is generous with his time. A little closer to the seals? No problem. He brings his Porsche close to the waterline and it is clear he is enjoying himself. This photo shoot is not something he deals with every day! After the shoot, we settle down in the Pelican Point Lodge, the only hotel on the peninsula fantastically located at the foot of a historic lighthouse. Over a fresh pint we talk about his work, his family and of course Porsche.
"The Cayenne represents who I am.” Sven Thieme
Sven Hoyaux (Porschist) and Sven Thieme at Pelican Bay
Gorgeous Porsche Cayenne Turbo S from Sven Thieme.
“My family has been in Namibia for over 100 years,” he starts off. “I am the fourth generation. My great-grandfather moved here when Namibia was a German colony. My grandfather was born here and so was the rest of the family.” The Ohlthaver & List Group has a turnover that contributes roughly 4% to Namibia's GDP and employs around 6,300 people. It is a holding company with branches in almost all possible market sectors from food, agriculture and steel through supermarket chains and shopping centres to property, hotels, shipping companies and the IT sector. Of course, a business empire of this magnitude isn’t created overnight. “It all started with my great-grandfather who founded a bank in 1919,” says Sven Thieme. “A year later, he decided to take over four small breweries that were in financial trouble and turn them into one brewery under the name South West Breweries, which later became Namibia Breweries. Namibia Breweries still exists today. The beer we currently drink, Windhoek Lager, is brewed there, for example. Then came a company that produced milk products from milk that came directly from local farmers. And so the company expanded naturally over the years.” Sven Thieme calmly sums up all the market segments in which his company is currently active. He talks about it as if it doesn't mean much at all, but we are deeply impressed.
Sven Thieme is the man at the head of Namibia's largest private company; the Ohlthaver & List Group. As far as his career is concerned, Sven Thieme has ploughed an impressive furrow - to say the least. “My first job after university was as an accountant at Deloitte & Touche in Cape Town. After three years I was sent to Luxembourg where I started working as a company auditor. I stayed there for four years. During that time I often came to Belgium and that way I got to know your delicious cuisine and excellent restaurants. When my grandfather passed away in 2002, I took over the family business and became CEO of O&L. It was not easy to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps, but the foundations on which he built the company, namely family, trust and honesty, have always been the values that have guided me.” As CEO of a billion-dollar company, Sven Thieme has contacts all over the world, including in Belgium. “At the moment I am working together with CMB (Compagnie Maritime Belge) on a large project concerning hydrogen energy. CMB has just recently launched a passenger boat that runs on hydrogen. I am convinced that this is a technology that can be further expanded for other applications.”
Sven Thieme is not only in charge of Namibia’s largest private company, but also sits on several boards of directors, including those of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation and the Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It is therefore not surprising that the man is one of the most influential people in Namibia. But does a man with so many responsibilities and professional activities still find time to relax? “Yes,” he replies, “I learned that through trial and error. Using your time wisely and efficiently is the key. One of my outlets is my love of cars. I have loved cars since childhood. I inherited the passion for Porsche from my grandfather. I was a big fan of BMW for a long time, partly because there was no Porsche dealer in Namibia and there was nowhere to go for a service. But that has now changed. There is still no dealer in Namibia – to buy a Porsche you still have to go to Johannesburg or Cape Town – but decent service is now available in Namibia. I’ve been driving a Cayenne for five years now. When I bought my first Cayenne I just took what was available in the showroom, but I put together the second one from scratch so that it turned out exactly how I wanted it with all possible off-road adjustments, camera options, a decent music system and a special leather trim for the interior.” When Sven talks about his Porsche, you can feel that he is deeply attached to the car. “The Cayenne is such a fantastic car,” he explains. “I could never have imagined how much fun it is to drive that car. That powerful V8 engine can handle just about anything. Just look at today. All that spinning in loose sand was no problem at all. Even with a heavy 4x4 you would have to be careful not to get stuck. For the Cayenne, it was a piece of cake. Not the slightest hiccup, easy peasy. I also think it's a beautiful car. It is a statement, a car with character. I can identify myself with the car. The car represents who I am. And once you’ve been infected by the Porsche virus, you can’t get rid of it.”
Cayenne greeting the seals.
SWAKOPMUND: BACK IN CIVILISATION FOR A WHILE Kaffee mit Kuchen is written on a sign in the centre of Swakopmund. And below it: Konditorei. The atmospheric seaside town of Swakopmund is located thirty kilometres north of Whale Bay. Namibia was once a German colony and the traces of it are still clearly visible here. In the streets we see many buildings in beautiful Jugendstil. Swakopmund is a popular holiday destination for residents of Windhoek, especially during the Christmas period. It is very warm inland at that time of year, while the temperature on the coast is much more pleasant. With its white sandy beach, many restaurants and hotels and a long promenade under swaying palm trees, Swakopmund is a gemütlich holiday resort. We will stay two nights in the Strandhotel. The ideal moment to get the dust washed out of our clothes and to recover from the many impressions we have gained so far.
Swakopmund is a cozy holiday resort.
Where horizons know no end….
De grootsheid van Namibië is ongeëvenaard. Ver weg van de bewoonde wereld beleeft u de woestijn met haar zoete geuren en adembenemende weidsheid. Originele en avontuurlijke safaritrips op het land, en….vanuit de lucht garanderen een majestueuze woestijnsafari.
Vera Van Steenvoort • Tel. 0475-36 00 27 • firstname.lastname@example.org Braziliëstraat 33 • 2000 Antwerpen • www.advalorem.be
The architecture of the Shipwreck Lodge fully lives up to its name.
ON THE WAY TO SKELETON COAST Skeleton Coast! The name alone intrigues us so much that we absolutely want to go there. From Swakopmund it is – again – a very long trip. Namibians have the habit of expressing the enormous distances between the different places in their country not in kilometres, but in hours. Given the usually poor condition of the roads, this is quite sensible. At least that way we know what to expect and today that is a journey of about seven hours. The road runs parallel to the coastline. Nothing but vast expanses of sand on either side: no houses, no villages, no people, no stalls, not even a lost petrol station. The great void. A heavy iron gate marks the beginning of Skeleton Coast National Park. There are two skulls hanging on the bars. That looks promising. We show our entrance ticket and are allowed to continue. Again our minds are blown by the landscape. Taupe-coloured sand, grey dunes and here and there an unsightly dark green shrub. The endlessness is unreal. Pure science fiction. If the road up to this point was still pretty good, this is over now or rather: there is no more road. We drive completely over loose sand. We try to drive in as straight a line as possible but regularly slalom dangerously from left to right. In our head we hear the well-known tune of Simon & Garfunkel 'You know the nearer your destination, the more you're slip sliding away'. It applies here. Fortunately, rescue is at hand. In Möwe Bay we are picked up by a heavy all-terrain vehicle that is better suited for the difficult terrain and takes us safely to our lodge. The architecture of the Shipwreck Lodge fully lives up to its name. The shape of the ten wooden chalets resembles the carcass of a whale or an upturned ship’s hull and the decorations in the rooms are made of driftwood.
THE SANDS OF HELL The Skeleton Coast is one of the most inhospitable, but also most fascinating regions of Namibia. The original inhabitants called the area 'The land that God created in anger'. “The sands of hell,” said the Portuguese explorers. They are ominous names. Although, in addition to fear, there is also some awe in them. For centuries this coast was the great terror of passing seagoing ships. Strong sea currents, treacherous sandbanks and the often occurring dense fog were fatal for many ships. And that immediately equated to a death sentence. Far and wide no water, no food, no shelter. Just the big nothing. The remnants of the disastrous past can still be seen on the beaches. Rusty skeletons of wrecked ships are scattered among the skeletons of whales and seals.
THE EXTREME DESOLATION OF KAOKOLAND
“True adventurers flock to the far northwest of Namibia” was written in some travel guide. So we do. The dunes give way to countless rows of dark pink basalt rocks as far as the eye can see. South Africa has one table mountain, Namibia has many of them. The capped mountains are strung together. This is Kaokoland, an area often described as Namibia's last wilderness, a place that few people have discovered yet. A place where travel is also very difficult. The road is full of treacherous potholes and sharp stones. We bump and crash and pray we won’t get a flat tyre. But the ordeal pays off. Hoanib Valley Camp is a place beyond all imagination, spectacularly situated on a vast desert plain in the shadow of a huge mountain formation. The decor is one large natural amphitheatre in which eight spacious tents blend seamlessly into the environment. It seems inconceivable to us that there is life in this arid landscape, but we are completely wrong. It is precisely here that many desert animals, large and small, feel wonderfully at home. They have adapted to the unbearable desert climate and possess fascinating survival techniques.
Kaokoland is often described as Namibia's last wilderness, a place that few people have discovered yet.
Hoanib Valley Camp is spectacularly situated on a vast desert plain.
TRAVEL PORSCHIST THE ANIMALS OF THE DESERT The cheerful Mam-cee – once she was a nanny in Amsterdam, imagine – takes us on safari. We trek to the bed of the Hoanib River, which is flanked by broad strips of vegetation. Usually the riverbed is dry and the animals have to dig up the water. The few times it rains, the river turns into a raging torrent. Soon we discover traces of lions. The paw prints are still fresh. According to Mam-cee, it is a male with two lionesses and two cubs. We follow the tracks and of course hope that we will discover the group. Suddenly we see them. They walk behind each other at a leisurely pace. They are slightly smaller and slimmer than other lions and their fur is the same colour as the sand. If they hadn’t been moving we would never have noticed them. “It's almost noon. They are looking for a resting place,” says Mam-cee. A little further on they seem to have found what they are looking for. They settle down in a shady spot under the bushes. Our car is less than ten metres from the animals. “Isn't this a little too close?” we ask Mam-cee. But according to her there is no danger. The lion holds its head up proudly. It is clear who the leader is. His bright yellow eyes stare straight into the lens. But where have the little ones gone? Suddenly we spot them high on the rock wall. They behave just like children. Why follow the boring trail of the parents when there is also a much nicer route? In true Lion King style, one remains standing on a protruding rock for a while. We say goodbye to the lion family and drive on.
We regularly see springbok. They bounce up and down like yo-yos. We see a few desert elephants. “Bring an elephant from Etosha here and it won't survive,” says Mam-cee, “but these desert elephants can go a long time without water.” We get greedy. Would we also get to see desert giraffes, those longlegged supermodels from the African plain? Sure enough, we spot them under some trees. There is also a small one. Mam-cee estimates the baby is three months old. It looks like a toy and is super cute. We also encounter zebras, kudus and antelopes. We never thought that we would discover so much wildlife here. The great thing is that the animals live here in complete freedom. There are no fences anywhere.
AN UNPARALLELED SUNSET A sundowner belongs to Africa like stripes belong to a zebra. Mam-cee takes us to her favourite place. She parks her jeep high on a hilltop. The view is phenomenal: 360 degrees of expanse. She takes a small table out of the car and turns it into a real bar. Aperitifs on the roof of the world: it does something to a person. And the sunset that we are presented with is one to remember. To our left the sky is lead grey and it is raining. To our right, the setting sun hits the mountains with full force, making it seem like they are on fire. And in between, a perfect rainbow unfolds. The world couldn’t be more beautiful, could it? Once back at camp we sit outside for a long time, gazing at the incomparable starry sky with countless diamonds shining next to the Milky Way.
Mam-cee, our fantastic guide in Kaokoland.
TRAVEL PORSCHIST HIMBAS: THE LAST NAMIBIAN NOMADS The Himbas also live in Kaokoland, a pastoral tribe that has completely ignored modern life. The Himbas still live in much the same way as they did three centuries ago and manage without Western trappings, electricity and running water. Together with Mam-cee we visit a camp. We meet four women, a baby and a two-year-old toddler. The men are elsewhere with the cattle. Cows and goats form the wealth of the Himbas. The tribe is known for the brown-red colour of their skin. In order to wash and to protect themselves against the bright sun and insects, the Himbas rub themselves daily with a mixture of ochre and animal fat. Although they are devoid of modern comfort, the women do find external finery important. They tie their hair together in impressive, long braids and show off jewellery made of metal, leather and beads around their necks, arms and ankles. Clothing is of no importance to the Himbas. Apart from a modest calfskin skirt, everything is pure nature. We take a look at their tiny, igloo-shaped huts made of branches and smeared with mud and cow dung. There is a fair agreement between the Himbas and the lodge so that there is absolutely no exploitation. We are not here with a people who quickly change clothes because tourists come to visit (which unfortunately does happen elsewhere in the world). What we see is real.
The Himbas also live in Kaokoland, a pastoral tribe that has completely ignored modern life.
ROUGH DAMARALAND Just as pure as Kaokoland is neighbouring Damaraland. Here, large rock formations, koppies, dominate the landscape. The deeper we drive into Damaraland, the higher the mountains become and the more the road rises and falls. This would make a fantastic rally area. This is a thrill for anyone who loves driving and who can handle a steering wheel. Each time we get to the top of a slope, we are presented with a new vista that is usually even grander, more majestic and vaster than the previous one. Like all lodges we’ve stayed at so far, the Mowani Mountain Camp is small-scale - only six tents - and perfectly integrated into the landscape. There are few places where desolation carries so much beauty as here.
A JOURNEY WITH A WEALTH OF MEMORABLE IMPRESSIONS For three weeks we were modern nomads, crossing the fantastic, vast country of Namibia on our own. We saw ancient sand dunes, endless plains, wild coasts, dramatic mountains and wildlife. Time, freedom and space took on another dimension. We want to carry that feeling inside us for as long as possible and when it is no longer there, we will go back. We got our passports back just in time, suddenly neatly stamped with a visa for three weeks… ♦
Thanks to : - Vera Van Steenvoort (www.advalorem.be) - Mam-cee, our guide in Kaokoland - Pascal Supply, drone photographer (www.nambiandroneacademy.com) - Quentin Guiraud, PR & Communication Manager Zannier Hotels (www.zannierhotels.com) - Hans Thiemann, photographer
Great Escapes Africa. The Hotel Book Angelika Taschen 23,8 x 30,2 cm • 2,38 kg • 360 pages 40 € • ISBN 978-3-8365-7813-4 www.taschen.com
Mowani Mountain Camp.
There are few places where desolation carries so much beauty as here.