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CONTENT 8 I have a Dream The History of Leading Lodges of Africa. How it all began and where they are today.


12 The Circle of Life A visit to the Maasai Mara in Kenya during the Great Migration

14 KILIMA CAMP A Leading Lodges of Africa with the best view over the Maasai Mara

16 Walking with the Bushmen The San people of the Namibian Kalahari Desert show us their survival skills.



INTU AFRIKA Private Kalahari Game Reserve The 10.000 ha reserve in Namibia that holds three unqiue Leading Lodges.

23 CULINARY INTERMEZZO Leading Chef Louis Fernaux shares one of his favourite recipes.







Benefits of Massages with a top five of most popular treatments and unique spa locations in Africa.



Top places to go in Namibia’s capital

26 VILLA VERDI Guesthouse

A hidden gem and its King Kauluma Gardens Restaurant


32 LE MIRAGE DESERT LODGE & SPA A castle in the desert!

DEATH VLEI Nirvana for Photographers! INTERVIEW with Frank De Mulder

34 WALVIS BAY Review on the Walvis Bay boat cruise

38 Must Have Gadgets! An overview of fun safari gadgets


64 TAWI LODGE If not interested in climbing the Kilimanjaro, here you can enjoy the view


OKAVANGO CREATURES A list of Africa’s Most Wanted!


Africa is losing an icon.

DIVAVA OKAVANGO LODGE & SPA Luxury at the Majestic Okavango River

ROYAL TREE LODGE In Maun Botswana, the gateway to the Okavango Delta





Hosting Epacha Game Lodge & Spa and Eagle tented Lodge & Spa

50 INTERVIEW- KIRSTEN FLIPKENS Young tennis star K. Flipkens spends a week at Epacha Game Lodge & Spa and shares some tips on how to keep your body in healthy shape


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Tips that will get you to the Top!





A Brilliant Story!


80 NGONG HOUSE The place to stay in Nairobi where you can relive Out Of Africa




Leading Chef Louis Fernaux shares one of his favourite recipes.

Luxury and Diving in Kenya! Hakuna Matata!



FOREWORD by Leading Lodges of AFRICA CEO Dear Friends Allow yourself to be swept away by the charm and beauty of Africa, our team has succeeded in captivating the dynamics of our continent in our first ever Spafari Magazine. Your Safari will follow us taking our first steps in Namibia from the opening of Epacha Game Lodge and Spa, and then expanding our operations to the South, Central, East and the Northeast of Namibia. Browsing the City of Windhoek, spending time with the endangered Black Rhino, having a good meal and selecting your Diamond. Through the Okavango Delta in Botswana you continue to travel to the Everlasting African Dream Kenya. I want to personally thank Timo De Nijs who is the creative mind of Spafari for the endless hours you worked on this Magazine, thank you for taking us all on this journey, your Spafari is a true African Safari. I wish you all a wonderful journey; we are looking forward to welcome you at Leading Lodges of Africa. Yours in Leading African Hospitality.

PUBLISHERS Leading Lodges of Africa EDITOR ART DIRECTOR Timo De Nijs SUB EDITOR Tanya Kruijer CONTRIBUTORS Anita Witt Pierre – Yves Tack Charlotte Bouckaert Bruno Kruijer Yvonne Lung EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES TEL +264 (0)61 375 300 FAX +264 (0)61 375 333

Werner Beddies

ADVERTISING Leading Lodges of Africa Physical Address: 117 Independence Avenue, Windhoek City, Namibia PHOTOGRAPHY Leading Lodges of Africa Timo De Nijs Corbis COVER Valery Super PRINTING




From a serious illness – to living your dream Christophe Van de Vijver was eighteen when the Grim Reaper knocked on his door and the doctors diagnose him with an imminent malignancy. They only gave him a twenty percent chance to survive


His girlfriend at the time just returned from Namibia and shares her stories of Africa with Christophe in these difficult moments. She tells him about the lodge of her aunt in Namibia where she worked for some months. Christophe then read in nine months over three hundred books on the southwest African country. “I asked my mother to bring every book she could find on Namibia to the hospital“ he says. When father Paul, co-founder of the Belgian fashion brand Rhetorique, asks his son on his sickbed what he wants to become in life, the answer is straightforward, “the manager of a lodge in Namibia “.

“Get well my son, and I will realize your lifelong dream.” These emotional words were uttered by Belgian businessman, Paul Van de Vijver , when his then 18-year old son was diagnosed with cancer during 1997. Four years later, his dream became reality when Epacha Game Lodge and Spa in northern Namibia opened its doors, and bears witness to what was merely a promise at the time.

With this dream Christophe keeps strong and nine months later, the doctors are able to reduce a four kilogram tumor by half with chemotherapy and remove the lump from his lungs.

A few months later, the Van de Vijver family opened a second lodge, followed by a third, and even more were to come…. Epacha Game Lodge & Spa

After the successful treatment, the entire Van de Vijver family left for a holiday to Namibia.


Paul’s main focus was to honor his son’s wish during his illness – searching for a hotel which they could take over. Then, he saw a 13 000ha piece of land, and immediately purchased it. He had decided to trade the textile industry for a new adventure, and that was to open a new lodge. Father Paul and son Christophe then traveled the length and breadth of Africa, including Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa to find ideas and inspiration to realize their dream.


Upon their return, Paul designed the plans for his own lodge, and nine months later, the luxurious Epacha Game Lodge and Spa stood in all its glory on the Epacha Wildlife Reserve. Soon, they planned to build an additional lodge on the same property, but one with a more “closer to nature” feel. Thus, Eagle Tented Lodge and Spa was born. It is located only a few hundred metres from the more imposing Epacha, and the entire construction took place under the watchful eyes of Paul and Christophe.




Fast Expansion Leading Lodges of Africa

Only a few weeks after the completion of Le Mirage Lodge the Leading Lodges of Africa portfolio expanded again with the purchase of Villa Verdi guesthouse in Windhoek and Suclabo Lodge in the north of Namibia on banks of the Okavango River.

Both lodges on the Epacha Game Reserve proved to be immensely popular, and soon a request came from Leading Hotels of the World to join their portfolio. This seemed like an interesting idea to Christophe and his younger brother Olivier, who was in charge of marketing and promoting the lodges. But Paul firmly believed money could be better invested by creating his own collection of unique lodges in Namibia.

Merely one year later, Leading Lodges of Africa added another great asset to its portfolio, the Intu Afrika Private Game Reserve. This 10.000 hectare reserve included three lodges: Suricate Kalahari Lodge, Camelthorn Kalahari Lodge and Zebra Kalahari Lodge & Spa.

And thus, Leading Lodges of Africa was born.

In June 2006 Suclablo lodge was demolished and construction started on the supreme Divava Okavango Lodge & Spa, which opened in May 2007.


Building a Castle Le Mirage, a small castle-shaped six room lodge close to the Sesriem gate, the entrance to renowned Sossusvlei, and the Namib Naukluft Park. After Etosha National Park, Sossusvlei is one of the prime tourism destinations in Namibia. The close proximity of the small castle to the entrance to Sossusvlei made it the ideal location for the next Leading Lodges of Africa project. During April 2004, Paul visited and purchased the property. The hotel with only six rooms proved to be too small, and the decision was made to add an additional 24 rooms, as well as a larger restaurant. Keeping to the same style as the original castle, plans were drawn for two new buildings adjacent to the smaller castle. Construction soon commenced, using 400 tons of cement, it took 700 builders on site, seven months to complete the construction. The building work took place under the close supervision of Paul, who never left the site until the day the first visitors arrived.

Creating a bigger portfolio

In the process, he lost nearly 15kg, and Paul could surely write a book on the trials and tribulations of building a lodge in the Namib desert. Today, he may be very proud of the unique and enchanting castle, now known as Le Mirage Desert Lodge and Spa.

Today, Leading Lodges of Africa is proud to manage eight lodges in Namibia with a constant strive for perfection. In giving justice to the name, Leading Lodges of Africa it now also markets 4 superior lodges in Kenya and a one of its kind lodge in Maun, Botswana. Plans are to add many more unique lodges to its collection in the coming year



The company is known for having built their foundation on human relationships, for investing in the human capital of Namibia in whom they entrust their vision and whom they train, develop and educate to become highly skilled and professional citizens of the hotel and hospitality industry.

From left to right Olivier Van de Vijver, Nele Baele (wife of Christophe), Count Paul Van de Vijver, Annick Haegeman (mother of Christophe and Olivier) and Christophe Van de Vijver

The Switzerland of Africa


As a successful entrepreneur Paul soon realized that due to the congregation of positive internal factors such as political stability and encouraging currency strengths, Namibia is a country where, for investors, dreams can become a reality. It is the firm belief of Paul Van de Vijver that Namibia will become the Switzerland of Africa.

The Van de Vijver family would hereby like to thank all the loyal partners and investors that have supported them throughout the past ten years. “We could not have done it without you!�



The Circle of Life Each year around 1.5 million wildebeest and 300,000 zebra along with other antelope gather their young and start the long trek from Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains, further north to Kenya’s Maasai Mara. It’s a tough journey, and every year an estimated 250,000 wildebeest don’t make it. We went to the Massai Mara to be a part of the action. Walking Buffet

Swimming Antelopes The most spectacular places to see the migration in action are definitely along the riverbanks of the Mara River, as the herds have to cross the crocodile-infested waters, and the animals have to be careful not to squash each other during their own stampedes.


We are now in the first week of August and just arrived at the Kitchwa Tembo airfield. From the plane we could already see large herds of wildebeest surrounding the landing strip. Once at the airstrip, a Maasai guide welcomes us, dressed in traditional bright red clothing, and takes us to Kilima Camp.

Kilima Camp is located on top of the hills and the view driving up is absolutely astonishing. Overlooking the Mara Triangle, you start to understand why the name Maasai Mara means spotted plains. Not only the antelope herds but also the rainy clouds that overcast the scenery create a spectacular green canvas with different shades of brown spots and markings.

But looking at or driving through these gigantic herds of grazing animals is an awesome -- and sometimes deafening -- experience.

Due to the large amounts of rain over the past few weeks, grazing in the Massai Mara is very good but the Mara River is now flowing

Spotted Plaines

On the way the guide tells us with great excitement that the herds are on the move, and there are river crossings every day! The trip to Kilima Camp is immediately like hitting the jackpot; we see a pride of lion, a herd of elephant and at least a thousand wildebeest grouping up alongside the Mara River.

In their search for food and water, the animals make a journey that runs in a clockwise circle and cover a distance of around 3000km. Along the way, these enormous herds must always be on the look-out as they attract many of Africa’s impressive predators. Lions, leopards, hyenas and wild dogs follow the herds and give safari goers excellent chances of seeing a kill in action!

The build-up of animals on the riverbank can take anything from an hour to several days. The wildebeest and zebra are now spread across the Massai Mara and northern Serengeti. The recent rains have encouraged the migration to return to the Mara Triangle to find grazing.

strongly. This makes the crossing of the river even more treacherous for the wildebeest and zebra.

Lions, leopards, hyenas and wild dogs follow the herds and give safari goers excellent chances of seeing a kill in action!

The crocodiles have so much food at this time of the year that they slow down a little but instinct drives them to keep trying.

Crocodile GENOCIDE While parked at a safe distance with a perfect overview of the Mara River, something catches my eye. A young zebra is dragged under water by a crocodile that was waiting to ambush the crossing antelope. It looks hopeless for a while, but somehow the animal manages to break free and drags itself up the opposite riverbank. The crocodiles have ample food this time of the year so that they slow down a little on the attacks, but instinct drives them to keep on trying. By November/ December the rains in the south start again and the herds begin their long trek back down to the Serengeti plains in Tanzania to have their young. Hereafter the cycle simply starts all over again, a real Circle of Life.



Kilima Camp is proud to announce that Ecotourism Kenya has awarded a Bronze Medal as the camp performed well in most of the assessment criteria: efforts to reduce the facility’s ecological footprint by design and forestation, extensive use of solar energy, conservation of water and offering important benefits to the local community, such as supporting the cultural village. “Not only do we strive to offer our guests an unforgettable experience of the African bush thanks to being located in one of the best wildlife areas in the world, we also want to contribute to the conservation of the Mara Ecosystem and the wellbeing of the local Maasai communities.”


Activities at Kilima Camp Hot Air Balloon - The hot balloon silently soars over the vast Maasai Mara plains and the snaking Mara River - The wilds of Africa! Game watch - Explore the wilderness of the Maasai Mara and its African wildlife on board of one of the specially designed and equipped 4x4 safari vehicles. There’s a good chance you spot the Big 5 in no time! Archery - Become a warrior and get an initiation in the use of the traditional Massai weapons.

When visiting the Mara Triangle in Kenya, to spot the Great Migration or any other time of the year, Kilima Camp is probably the best choice for your accommodation! The camp consists of twelve stylish tents and two new luxury, spacious tents, complete with their very own verandas and en-suite bathrooms. There is a large tent that serves as a central meeting point where guests gather together to enjoy a nice dinner, have a drink, chat with the other guests, play board games, plunge into literature about Kenya and Africa, or to sit back and enjoy the breathtaking view.

Visit the School - Learn more about the way of life of the Massai children by visiting our social project. Bush Walk - Encounter wildlife in a totally different way, under the expert guidance of your guide and Massai moran (warrior or escort). Visit a Maasai Village - Experience the traditional lifestyle of the Maasai and discover their beautiful handicrafted items.

The intimate size of the camp and the understated elegance and luxury of each tent provides guests with a comfortable and relaxing environment in which to unwind after an adventurous day on safari. Aperitifs from the bush bar followed by a refined dinner of French-influenced cuisine are served whilst enjoying the sunset and sharing stories and photos of the adventures with the other guests.

Sundowner - Enjoy our appetizers, aperitif or private dinner while watching the sunset Fly Camping - This experience will make anyone feel like the first hunters. When staying for four nights or more at Kilima Camp you can request to camp out in the Mara Traingle!

Sundowner “Sundowner”, a true Kenyan tradition, is organized in the middle of the bush in a private concession, not far away from Kilima Camp. The guests can enjoy some appetizers while watching the sun going down, touching the horizon behind the hills. You will experience this peaceful moment surrounded by the extraordinary scenery of the Mara as the perfect way to end your day in Kenya.

Environmentally-Aware The camp stands out above other camps - it being the only one in the Maasai Mara to be completely self-sufficient in water supply. A purpose-built dam collects up to 6000m3 of rainwater, which is purified and then passed through pipes, reaching each individual tent in order to let guests enjoy a safari shower. With solar power and candles for lighting as well as an effective waste management scheme, you can trust that your stay at Kilima Camp has a minimal impact on the local environment. Over 800 trees have been planted since its owners, whose commitment to the environment remains of paramount importance, first built the camp.


More info on Kilima camp on

Local ProjectS Our projects so far include assisting in the rehabilitation of the neighbouring Massai village, as well as paying the salary of a teacher at the local school. The guests staying at Kilima Camp are invited to visit the village where they will always be given a hearty welcome by the Massai people and have the opportunity to witness the work themselves. We also give guests’ children the unique opportunity to spend an afternoon at the Massai Mara School, learning alongside the local Masaai children. Such an enriching experience epitomizes Kilima Camp’s point of view, offering its guests more than just a typical African safari by giving an insight into deep-rooted Massai customs. After all, a visit to the Mara without the Masai people wouldn’t be a complete experience.



Walking with the San.

“After a successful hunt the Bushmen dance around a fire in a trance-like ritual to celebrate.”

the principle of communicating vessels, the water starts flowing out of the tree. After drinking a few sips they collect the rest of the water in ostrich eggs which are closed with a “lid” made of grass. The “water-bearing eggs” are then carefully hidden somewhere in the desert at the foot of a random tree. The Bushmen will never mark the tree but simply remember at which one they’ve left their water, since they don’t want anyone else to come across their precious treasure.


Under a clear, blue crisp sky in a remote corner of the Namibian Kalahari desert, I am greeted by five Bushmen. Clad in leather cloths and ostrich egg necklaces, they plan to show the visitors some of their survivals skills in this harsh environment. A SCORPION’S HOUSE

Now, in order for you to comprehend this moment, let me draw you a mental picture: On your right: five tiny men wearing nothing but a leather cloth, barefoot with skin as smooth as a red sand dune, innocent eyes and cheeky smiles. On your left: a lineup of backpacks, cameras, hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, socks and sandals towering over the right side.

As the sun rises over the bright orange sand dunes, we walk toward a small hole in the ground, - a scorpion’s house. Here the shortest Bushman explains what to do when you get stung by a scorpion – something that happens quite regularly as the Bushmen all walk barefoot. When they have been stung by a scorpion, they catch and kill the scorpion, then use the tail to open the wound and treat it with a pulp made by mashing the scorpion’s body.

WOODPECKER WATER BOTTLED IN EGGS Next stop is a tall Camelthorn Tree; nothing seems to be particularly special about this tree until one of the clever Bushmen has spotted a large opening in the trunk of the tree. This appears to be the work of a woodpecker, a little red-headed and golden-tailed bird that spends his time pecking away to build himself a large nest. The Bushmen love looking for these nests while they wander around in the desert as some of them might have been flooded during the rainy season and could still contain fresh water. When they come across a nest, they use a long stick, and slide it down the hole, as one would measure the oil level of a cars engine, to see if any water is inside. To collect the water they make themselves a sipping stick from a type of bush which grows in the desert that has hollow branches. They clean the branch and heat it up to make it flexible. Once they are finished creating their own long “straw”, they insert it in the tree and as per


We are almost reaching the end of our “walk about”, and while the wondrous clicking sounds are still lingering in my head, the Guide asks me to line up with the rest of the group. “We’re playing a game” the tall Bushman says. The Bushmen are lined up adjacent to us, staring attentively and are mysteriously whispering to each other. I am intrigued. “You have to guess our age, and we will guess yours”.

“The woodpecker’s nest can contain fresh water, even after months without rain.”

The game commences. You point to the person across from you and hold your hands up high in the air as you count their age on your fingers for everyone to see. As they guess our ages, surprisingly all either correct or very close, I am astonished to find out that these young “guys” are in fact, men aged between 25 – 40. It makes you wonder….

Find out more about the Bushmen Walk at Intu Afrika Private Game Reserve on p21!






The Intu Afrika Kalahari Private Game Reserve is a 10 000 ha wildlife sanctuary located in the southwestern region of the Kalahari desert, along the upper reaches of the Auob river system of Namibia. The expanse of the reserve is characterized by lofty ancient parallel red dunes sparsely covered by unique vegetation. Grassy plains peppered with century old camelthorn trees commonly known as “dune streets” or valleys separate the dunes providing refuge for diverse animal and bird life indigenous to the Kalahari. Learn more about our Lion programme and our African lion which is possibly the toughest lion in the world and endemic to the Kalahari desert. The Intu Afrika Kalahari Private Game Reserve offers a variety of activities in the vast Kalahari wilderness: explore the Thirstland in open 4x4 vehicles and be seduced by the charms of an alluring landscape, seize the opportunity of a sunrise or sunset quad bike tour through the rolling red sand dunes, learn about our predator re-introduction programme or take a walk in the Kalahari with a bushman tracker and learn his desert survival secrets - the history of the ancient San people. The stark splendor of this Kalahari thirstland will find a special place in your heart.

THE INTU AFRIKA Kalahari LION The Kalahari Desert is the largest continuous mantle of sand in the world, stretching across some nine countries and covering over 800 000 km. The African lion is endemic to the Kalahari and manages to survive in an ecosystem characterized as a semi-desert. These lions are of the toughest in the world, facing regular and rigorous drought cycles, veld fires and temperatures exceeding 40ºC in summer and reaching -15ºC in winter. They are generally smaller than their counterparts in eastern South Africa with males averaging between 180 and 200 kg and females around 120 kg. They survive on small mammals such as porcupine and even hunt bateared fox to survive. Oryx comprise about 40 % of their diet and springbok about 10 %.Due to the vast areas they must cover to survive, Kalahari lions will walk up to 60 km in one stretch to find food. Intu Afrika is home to two Kalahari lions. Currently there is an adult male and female. Preliminary results indicate that lions are exceptionally adept at tolerating cold and heat. Published literature states that lions are most active under 10ºC and the fact that lions are successful in the Kalahari desert indicate their ability to tolerate extreme temperatures. Lions, as all cats and dogs, can only sweat through their paws and the mucous membranes of the mouth. This is why one regularly sees lions lying with their forepaws upturned. They also use panting to cool down the core temperature of the body and have a special structure that uses panting to cool down the blood going into the brain.


Drinking has the same effect but for some reason, the lioness’s body responds within an hour and the male only within two hours. Reasons for this are not known although the weight of the male at 226kg versus that of the female at 126kg may play a role. It is said that lions will lie like “honey in the sun” during the day. When they do this they are not lazy, they are in fact, controlling their body temperature!




ZEBRA LODGE ZEBRA KALAHARI LODGE & SPA Zebra Lodge is set in a panorama of open grassy plain, acacia woodlands and red sand dunes. A luxurious establishment, the cool interior reflects casual comfort. This unique lodge can accommodate 26 guests in twin bedded rooms connected to the main lodge building. Each air-conditioned room has an en-suite bathroom with all modern conveniences and is furnished with an elegant simplicity that reminds one of a bygone era.

When visiting the Intu Afrika Private Game Reserve there are three unique lodges you can choose from to spend the night or relax by pool after one of the many activities the reserve has to offer. SURICATE TENTED KALAHARI LODGE Suricate Tented Kalahari Lodge is situated on a red sand dune overlooking a pan system that forms part of the upper Auob wetlands. It is here that one can experience all the romance, all the adventure of the early safari expeditions but with style. The Lodge comprises twelve luxurious walk-in-style tents, well secluded in the Kalahari savannah. Each tent offers a private deck and an intimate open air bathroom with hot and cold running water, flush toilet and shower. A cozy African-style lounge overlooking the vast grassy pans of the Auob river or the pool deck is the perfect setting for drinks and meals.


CAMELTHORN KALAHARI LODGE Camelthorn Kalahari Lodge is set in a secluded valley between two red sand dunes and hidden amongst ancient camelthorn trees. The Lodge consists of a thatched main building, dining area and a boma overlooking a natural stone pool. Each air-conditioned room has an en-suite bathroom with all modern conveniences.





Leading Lodges of Africa Group Chef Louis Fenaux, the Leading Lodges of Africa group chef, is a big man that loves great food. His passion for only the best ingredients and unique tastes have been guidelines for Louis throughout his career at various top European restaurants. Before Louis chose to work in the beauty of the Nambian nature, he was a chef at the “Hof van Cleve”, rated one of the best restaurants in the world. Today, still inspired by the finesse of French cuisine, Louis travels to the various Leading Lodges of Africa properties to enrich our Namibian chefs with his knowledge and skills.

TOMATO TARTARE Ingredients 4 tomatoes, black olives, gherkins, pickled onions, basil, 1 tbs Worcester sauce, 1 tbs Tabasco, 1 tsp vinegar , 1 tbs olive oil Peel the tomatoes and dice them in to small cubes (removing the juice and the seeds), remove the stones of the olives and chop into small pieces as well as the gherkins and the onions. Place the tomatoes, the olives, the gherkins and the onions in a bowl and mix together with your hands. Add pepper & salt, olive oil, basil and worcester sauce. To taste, add tabasco. Place mixture in the refrigerator for ± 2,5 hours. Enjoy! You can try the tartar of tomato at our lodges served as an amuse bouche. Can be perfectly combined with Carpaccio.

TIP: Peeling and seeding tomatoes: cut an ‘X’ is the base of the tomatoe before dipping it in boiling water for 20 seconds. The skin splits around the x, hereby making it easy to peel.






> balalaika AT ZOO Situated at Zoo Park in the centre of town, you can relax & enjoy the idyllic atmosphere on a beautiful terrace under Windhoek’s largest Rubber tree. But Balalaika at the Zoo offers so much more! A late breakfast, a light lunch and tasteful dinners. Their menu contains a large variety of dishes. From daily fresh Sushi to thin-based Pizza’s and even some typical Russian dishes.

LOCATION: Zoo Park - Independence Ave. Windhoek.

Not only is Windhoek experiencing a booming economy with the erection of modern and imposing buildings and shops, it is also rich in bars, restaurants, museums and historical buildings. Since the touristic information about what to do in Windhoek is abundant, here is a short list in which we have ranked the “hotspots” of the city.


Situated in a historical house built in 1927, with a vast range of South African wines and wine-based cocktails, light Mediterranean-inspired meals and snacks, good cheese board with olives, often live jazz or classical music, and even its own Wine Club with regular tastings and shop.


LOCATION: 3 Garten St. - Windhoek


The kitchen is open every day from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. at night! The bar in Balalaika is the perfect place for quick drink and you’ll often find a live band playing or a karaoke party going on. Not unimportant to mention is that Balalaika offers free wifi for its clients!

PHARAOH LOUNGE If you are still bursting with energy and you are in the mood to go out dancing or to enjoy a longdrink in a trendy bar where the in-crowd takes over the dance floor, go and have a look at Pharao’s. It is a cocktail bar and lounge, located at the “Two presidents” crossing of Nelson Mandela Ave. and Sam Nujoma Ave. The perfect location to end your night in beauty. Sit back and relax in the lounge seats or get ready for the floor. LOCATION: Klein Windhoek, crossing of Nelson Mandela Ave. & Sam Nujoma Ave.

For a first drink, Zenzo’s is the perfect adress: a small oasis of peace and quiet in the vivid centre of Windhoek, owned by the beautiful and charming lady Vanessa who with her spontaneity and enthusiasm sparks off the ambiance at Zenzo bar. The catchphrase on the wall perfectly summarizes what Zenzo is about: “The license to chill.” The bar exudes the feeling of a lounge bar with its comfortable seats and settees that tempt Zenzo’s guests to sit back and relax for the whole evening. LOCATION: Guttenberg Platz - across Air Namibia Town office.

The legend of Joe’s Beerhouse. It speaks of an oasis in a land of contrast, a retreat of wholesome, Namibian and German food. A sanctuary of endless relics. A place where you can pull up a chair and relish in good, old-fashioned hospitality. Where the portions are generous, the beer is ice cold and good conversation is abundant.



If you are ever in this part of the world come for a drink and stay for lunch or dinner. Joe’s Beerhouse is truly Namibian and one of Africa’s many wide-spread legends. The restaurant is filled with relics of old and collections of new, each artifact with its very own story. At Joe’s Beerhouse, amongst many fascinating pieces, you will see the biggest ox horns you have ever seen and stare in disbelief at the trophies of two kudu bulls entwined. LOCATION: Nelson Mandela Ave.




VILLA VERDI GUESTHOUSE The terminal of your unforgettable trip

Villa Verdi is a little oasis set amidst the exciting bustle of Windhoek, where everything starts and sadly enough ends….


Villa Verdi is a perfect dwelling place for discerning guests where you can relax in the courtyard garden setting filled with swaying leaves, flowers and a sparkling pool that offers you instant relief. The cool central lounge, decked in comfortable African décor which reflects the diversity and culture of Namibia’s indigenous tribe, is a central meeting point for guests and the perfect place to chill out. Villa Verdi set the standards for boutique accommodation in Windhoek. The villa consists of 15 rooms, 3 apartments and one luxury suite, set a comfortable 10 minutes walk from the vibrant city centre. Each room  has been individually appointed utilising  locally handcrafted art to complete the overall ethnic look. Unique décor and personal service are the hallmarks of this city oasis that with it’s warm and friendly staff welcomes you with warm Namibian smiles. Surround yourself with the inspiring Auas Mountains, martini views and the incredible natural treasures chest that characterises the region and enjoy fine cuisine and wines in the charming restaurant or outside in the King Kauluma gardens restaurant.


a little OASIS SET amidst the exciting busTle of WINDHOEK WWW.LEADINGLODGES.COM




There’s no question that the immense, ochre-rich sand dunes at Sossusvlei are one of the most astonishing sights in the world. Sossusvlei is Namibia’s famous highlight in the heart of the Namib Desert. It’s a huge clay pan, enclosed by giant sand dunes. Some of the spectacular hills of sand are, at a height of 300 metres, the highest on our planet. Only by climbing some of these red sand dunes will you come to Dead Vlei, probably the most photographed dry lake in the world. The combination of the clear blue sky reflecting against the almost orange dunes and the white clay pan with only a few black, dead trees makes the location surreal and a unique setting for some of the world’s top photographers. In 2010 Leading Lodges of Africa hosted Frank De Mulder and his team on a quest to find the perfect light to use in the photographs that would complete his new book “PURE”.





FRANK DE MULDER The leading Belgian fashion and glamour photographer Frank De Mulder is a celebrated personality within the international photo scene. He has worked for large advertising campaigns and well-known magazines, including Playboy, FHM, GQ, Maxim, Elle and Ché 
De Mulder’s most intriguing work, however, are the intimate impressions of female emotions and beauty. These photographs take us far beyond the clichés and show us his interpretation of the world in the same way as a painting or drawing.

ON A QUEST FOR THE PERFECT LIGHT IN NAMIBIA Is there a reason behind your choice to pick Namibia as the location for this shoot? -

I was in Namibia some years back when doing a shoot for Playboy, as soon as that production was finished I knew that this country still had so much to offer and many exclusive locations to discover. So I came back. This time with two models and all the freedom I needed to shoot the picture I am looking for.

What is it that makes the Namib Desert so special for you? -

It’s the light. Light to me is like music to a conductor, I can get very emotional when I see perfect light conditions. You could say like a painter uses a brush to paint, I use light to “paint”. When we were shooting in the Dead Vlei I waited until the sun had set, the crew thought the shoot was over since it was practically dark, but only then I saw a totally different light.

Is it more difficult out here, in the open, to work with a model than when you are in a studio? -The chemistry between a model and a photographer is, and always will be, a kind of magic. It always makes me so happy to see a model who shares the commitment to creating a work of art, giving her all and placing her trust fully in the hands of the photographer. Then, and only then, can true quality be attained. How would you describe the work that you have selected in your new book, PURE? - The images are never provocative, but they tend to balance on the edge of what is forbidden. That balance is what makes the photographs so powerful and interesting. I like to show the delicate sensual world of women— from fragile and emotional to flamboyant and erotic—always at the highest level of beauty. TOP: COVER OF “PURE” BOTTOM: PHOToGRAPH TAKEN IN LE MIRAGE RIGHT: PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN IN DEATHVLEI




lIVE LIKE A KING IN The desert

The dunes of the Namib desert have developed over a period of many millions of years. It is thought that the vast quantities of sand were deposited into the Alantic Ocean by the Orange river. This material was subsequently moved northwards by the Benguela current to be dumped back onto the land by the surf. The coastal dunes developed as a result of this and were shifted further and further inland by the wind. Wind continuously reshapes the patterns of the huge dunes of the Namib desert. It timelessly forces the grains of sand on the flat windward slope upwards to the crest of the dune. Here they fall down in the wind shade. The leeward slope is therefore always considerably steeper than the windward side.

VISITING SOSSUSVLEI Permits are necessary to enter the park - open from sun-up to sundown - and your vehicle is registered in and out. Entering the park after sunset is not allowed by the park officials, probably because they would have to come and search for you if you did not re-appear. Getting lost in the Namib Desert is no joke however, so stick to the tracks and never go walking aimlessly. Not far from the entry gate to the park you will see Dune 45, a much-photographed and often-climbed dune. Kick off your shoes, feel the sand between your toes, huff and puff your way to the top and descend by heading down the steepest part, allowing the deep sliding sand to slow your pace.

Le Mirage Desert Lodge & Spa is located only 21 km from Sesriem, the entrance gate to the Namib Naukluft Park and Sossusvlei. The lodge is a harmonious blend of luxury and nature with each room offering a spectacular view of the Namib Desert.

Absolutely magnificent from afar, the enormity of the dunes is only apparent when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re up close - and wait until you start climbing them!

Guests are accommodated in 27 luxury rooms with en-suite facilities, air-conditioning, safe, mini bar and coffee & tea facilities. The lodge has a spacious restaurant sheltering guests against the harsh desert climate.

MYSTIQUE SPA A highlight at the lodge is our Mystique Spa wellness centre which is specialized in massages, pedicures, manicures, aroma massages and de-stress treatments. In the large courtyard guests can relax at the swimming pool sheltered from the desert in an oasis of palm trees.

ACTIVITIES AT LE MIRAGE We offer eco-quad bike tours and nature drives on our private domain, as well as nature drives to Sossusvlei, scenic flights and hot air ballooning. There is also the option to go horseback riding or visit a cheetah and leopard farm in the area.

the castle offers guests a luxury home after a day in the desert 32 SPAFARI

More info on LE mirage DESERT LODGE & SPA



WALVIS BAY One Thursday afternoon, the editorial team received some exciting news – a weekend at the coast was in store for us! This was the perfect opportunity to explore the beautiful German architecture of Swakopmund, Namibia’s premier holiday resort. Swakopmund was founded in 1892 as the main harbour town for the then German South West Africa. A variety of activities are on offer – from sandboarding to quadbiking or sky-diving over the majestic dune landscape – Swakopmund offers it all. We however opted for a more tranquil and relaxing activity, namely a boat trip in the harbour of the neighbouring town, Walvis Bay.

Walvis Bay: where the water is We arrive early in the morning at Walvis Bay harbour, and whilst boarding the boat, a curious seal and a friendly group of pelicans welcome us. Leaving the harbour behind, our captain Herman and his son Niko share some interesting facts about the pelicans and other birdlife in the lagoon with us.

“Seal”-ing away! After the surprise welcome by the group of pelicans, a large and very excited seal is lured onto the boat by Herman. He informs us that this particular bull is called “Casanova”. Adorable and cute, but yet clumsy, Casanova wobbles onto the seats of the boat, scattering all the guests in eager anticipation of what comes next. Herman pulls out a bucket filled with fish which was just what Casanova was waiting for. Herman shows us that no matter how you present the fish to a seal, they will always slide the fish head-first down its throat. The seal balances the fish on its whiskers before turning it the right way to be eaten. Whilst the rest of the group poses with Casanova for some perfect holiday shots, we take a minute to enjoy the view.

Ooooh Oysters… A short while later, the captain surprises us and tells us to hold on tight while he drives full speed ahead. Just when it seemed as if we are about to reach the end of the earth, we arrive at the oyster fields, characterised by the blue and green plastic floating barrels. Herman tells us that the oysters are cultivated by importing spat from Europe. Wooden platforms are built in the sea, at the bottom of which small boxes or containers are fastened and in which the oysters are grown. The oysters are taken out of the sea before they are fully grown to further cultivate them. Namibian oysters are renowned to be the best in the world, which is as a result of the clean, but cold Bengualla current at our coast. Enjoy some with a glass of bubbly!

Dance of the Dolphins Suddenly, the whole group starts pointing at the waves that are breaking loudly against the boat, and I am moving from side to side to try and find out what is so mesmerizing. Then I see it ….. we are surrounded by a pod of dolphins. I count two, no three, no four…. There are in fact five beautiful, elegant bottlenose dolphins that are, after closer inspection, playing a game with us - now you see them, now you don’t. It is wonderful but extremely frustrating at the same time, because every time I have my camera in the perfect position and direction, this powerful creature of the sea dives right back into the water, only to re-appear in a totally different location a few seconds later! But then, after playing around for more than half an hour, victory was mine and I manage to take the perfect picture! While I am still enjoying the moment, the captain brings out platters filled with oysters, sandwiches and quiches. Perfect timing! In the background I hear the cork of the bottle of sparkling wine pop, and stare at the open sea while the sun is sizzling on my shoulders. Perfect end to a perfect journey!




ABOUT Pelicans. •

Male pelicans have a bump on their head, which makes them easily recognisable..

They have a large mouth – which can carry up to 11 litres of water

While the beak of a pelican is smooth, the tip is extremely sharp, so be careful when standing close to this pre-historic looking bird.

The inside of the mouth is very soft - if you happen to encounter a pelican in a good mood, try

putting your hand in its mouth. Many pelicans fish by swimming in cooperative groups. They may form a line or a “U” shape and drive fish into shallow water by flapping their wings on the surface.


A male flamingo can reach a height of 152 centimetres while standing upright! A flamingo can become 35 years old! Their pink or reddish color comes from the algae, diatoms and crustaceans they eat. The Flamingo breeds in Etosha or at the Okavango Delta, ocean water is too salty. When it rains in Etosha National Park in northern Namibia, these majestic birds leave Swakopmund and fly hundreds of kilometres overnight to reach the Park. There will not be a single flamingo left in Swakopmund by the next day. It still, however, remains a mystery how the birds become aware of the fact that it is raining in Etosha.


Female seals are called cows and the males are bulls

Seals can weigh up to 350 kilograms

Approximately two million seals live along the Namibian coastline

Seals are very greedy: they can eat up to 10 to 20 kilos of fish a day!

Seals are not monogamous: they have up to 30 to 40 life partners!

Seals in the wild can become up to 20 to 25 years old.

When a cow has given birth, they can become pregnant again after just a few days.

When a seal is born, it cannot swim. They have to be taught.





Bodyguard in a box The Body-Gard Self-Powered Emergency Tool has several great features to help you solve problems, both outdoors as well as in the comfort of your home office. This tool would cause even MacGyver to be envious, believe me. Check out some features: Powerful Hand Crank to Generate Power, Super-Bright LED Flashlight, Red Emergency Flasher, Panic Button with piercing sonic alarm, Motion Activated Security Alarm, Easy to Read Compass, Signaling Mirror, Cell Phone Charging Output. Website:


Price: approx € 15

Gascase: “Ivorilla” proves with its “Gascase” that bags do not have to be boring. The Gascase has the form of an old familiar canister, but was converted to a trolley with wheels and retractable handle. The model “Diesel” opens like a regular suitcase along the side, making sure that your clothes stay wrinkle free. Long queues at the airport? This extremely strong suitcase allows you to sit on it and relax. Oh and don’t worry about looking for your suitcase on the conveyor belt: with a suitcase like this, it will immediately catch everyones eye.

Water by the bladder * * * * * *

Website: Price: approx € 120

Ideal for walking! 2 litre capacity With Bite Valve High performance Secure screw down top Durable Tpu material Price: approx €10

Embrace your Battery The Wrist Charger, or as we like to call it, Bracer of Battery Life +2, straps comfortably to your wrist and plugs in to just about any electronic device you like. It’ll power cell phones, mp3 players, gaming systems, or any device compatible with mini USB. Now you’ll have plenty of power to get through long days of travelling. When you reach your destination, simply plug your bracer in and charge its battery back up so you’re ready for plenty of entertainment on the long trip home. Price : approx € 25 Website:

Safari 007

When the bush comes to life Night vision torch: The ideal gadget to go on a night game drive with.The torch includes a two mega-pixel camera. Thanks to the lithium battery you are able to take five hours of images in the total darkness. Website: Price: approx €100.


These camera sunglasses certainly aren’t x-ray specs, but they do capture 1.3 megapixel still images (at a resolution of 1280x1024). The included RF remotecontrol is ideal for easy, stealth-style photo shooting. High-quality lightweight frame material and UV400 polarized flip-up lens. A polymer li-ion rechargeable battery provides a battery life of up to 9 hours (shooting 1 photo/minute). USB 2.0 interface via a standard Mini USB port for data upload and download & recharging the battery. The sunglasses also allow you to enjoy your music via built-in MP3 playback. Built-in earbuds provide super convenient listening capability and can be hooked out of the way when not in use. Website:



Think tin! Contents include: * candle * compass * fireball flint and striker * candle * cotton wool ball * watercarrier (2) * snare wire * fishing hooks 10m line * 2 blades * safety pins * needles * thread & buttons * water purifying tablets * Pencil * reflecting mirror * Whistle * Survival instructions * Tin size approx 11 x 3 x 8cm * Weight approx 195g * Great for scouts, hiking, survival, ... Website: Price: approx € 35

Tiny toiletry Each of these Travel Toiletries is a marvel of modern science. What do they do? Just open the pack, get one of the 50 sheets available and add water. The miracle is done and you will have shampoo, body wash or hand soap. Great! Website: Price: approx € 5 - € 10

Cam overboard You are so attached to your gadgets that you can’t be away from them, even at a swimming pool, in the shower or anywhere near water? this won’t be a problem anymore... You can take them with you anywhere now using these waterproof gadget cases. They won’t allow you to use the gadgets, but at least you will feel good just by having them around! Price: approx € 15 Website:




NAMIBIA CUSTODION PROGRAM Namibia has one of the largest black rhino populations in the world, with a majority found in Etosha National Park. Although their numbers are increasing, the black rhino is still critically endangered. Therefore the Namibian Government, by way of its Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, has created the Black Rhino Custodian Program. The custodianship involves being selected by the Ministry to provide a safe and suitable haven outside the Etosha National Park for the conservation of this valuable animal. This reduces possible over-populating in Etosha, thus eliminating the competition for water and food, and the risk of fights between the animals which often results in death. Finding a suitable area outside the park benefits both the Ministry as well as the landowner, as ownership of the rhino remains with the Government, but the responsibility of caring for the animal is transferred to the landowner. They commit themselves to regularly monitor the condition of the rhino, not to interfere with the rhinos, and give regular feedback on their wellbeing to the Ministry.


When Europeans first began moving into the interior of East and Southern Africa around 150 years ago, the savannahs teemed with wildlife. Even black rhinos, largely solitary animals, were so plentiful that it was not unusual to encounter dozens of them in a single day. Perhaps a million black rhinos existed in Africa at that time, although they had already been exterminated from the Cape region of South Africa. Today, only about 3,100 black rhinos LIVE in the wild and all four subspecies are listed as Critically Endangered.

As the Epacha Private Game Reserve is 21.000 ha in size, properly fenced and with the right vegetation for the rhino, it was selected to join the Program. In 2004 the Reserve took custodianship of 7 rhino (four females and three males). Both Epacha Game Lodge & Spa and Eagle Tented Lodge & Spa greatly value this worthwhile addition to their Game Reserve. The reserve manager ensures that the black rhinos are well looked after and monitored on a daily basis. It is apparent that the rhino are happy at their new home as they are breeding well. At the beginning of 2011 the reserve now boasts 14 healthy black rhino. This success in conservation could attract potential poachers, and thus an anti-poaching unit was put in place and security is kept at a maximum to safeguard the animals.

WHY? Hunters with guns, following close on the heels of the early “explorers”, found rhinos an easy prey. Accounts of killing five or six in a day, to be eaten or simply for amusement were common. European settlers, arriving in the early 20th century to colonize and establish farms and plantations, continued this senseless slaughter. Most regarded rhinos as vermin, to be exterminated at all costs. Where for centuries Africa’s indigenous people had co-existed with rhinos, by the 1960s, black rhino numbers had plummeted to fewer than 70,000. Then, possibly the largest disaster for the rhino population arrived when ninety-six percent of Africa’s remaining black rhinos were killed when a wave of poaching for rhino horn rippled through Africa between 1972 and 1990. For centuries the horn has been an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine to reduce fever and to alleviate other ailments.


The reserve manager ensures that the black rhino are well looked after and monitored on a daily basis.



Epacha Game Lodge & Spa Epacha Lodge offers the best of Namibia â&#x20AC;&#x201C; responsible and environmentally friendly lodging, whilst not compromising on any of the sheer luxuries one expects from the finest on offer. It remains one of the ideal breakaway destinations, with a varied collection of indulgences and especially a great opportunity to see some of the endangered speciesâ&#x20AC;Ś the Black Rhinos!

All the luxurious chalets are equipped with air-conditioning, mini-bar, room safe, ceiling fan and a telephone. Guests can indulge in any of the numerous lodge activities, spend time relaxing in the lounge overlooking the waterhole or in the library. Unwind in the billiards room or the cigar lounge, or enjoy a refreshing cocktail from the bar at the pool deck.

SELF SUSTAINABILITY Epacha Game Lodge started out with a very small farming project which grew into something significant. The project was intialiy had only two greenhouses. From that humble beginning, additional greenhouses were added to supply vegetables for Epacha Game Lodge and Spa as well as Eagle Tented Lodge and Spa. The produce that is not used in these to lodges is send to the Leading Lodges head quarters, where it is distributed to the other lodges in the portfolio.

Epacha Game Lodge & Spa officially opened in March 2003. This lodge prides itself by guaranteeing a truly luxurious African experience, the memory of which will linger

In addition a butchery was opened in 2004. Venison is bought from hunting farms in the area and

forever. Situated on the considerable 21,000 ha of the Epacha private game reserve,

the meat is processed. The butchery currently processes between one and two tons of meat per

guests are spoiled both by spectacular vistas across rolling hills of bush savannah, and luxury accommodation that sets new standards, plus superior quality of service - from housekeeping to hospitality to dining to wellness to the safari offerings and attractions.

IN HARMONY WITH NATURE Epacha Private Game Reserve is a wildlife paradise bordering on the world-renowned wildlife conservation area, Etosha National Park. This private reserve was created as a


week. Epacha butchery is certified and complies with all the necessary health and safety regulations. Together with the opening of Epacha Dairies both lodges on the Epacha Reserver are almost completely self sustainable.

“No visit to Etosha or Namibia is complete without spending a few nights at the majestic Epacha Game Lodge & Spa!”

wildlife sanctuary, committed to wildlife preservation and nature conservation. Epacha Private Game Reserve is also participating in the Black Rhino custodian program of the Namibian government, and they host 21 antelope species as well as the endangered sable antelope.

LIVING THE VICTORIAN WAY WITH A MODERN TOUCH In keeping with the Victorian era in Africa, Epacha Game lodge uniquely combines Victorian elegance with safari luxury. Chalets are furnished with antiques and decorated in subtle relaxing colours. All luxurious chalets have spacious rooms with en-suite bathrooms as well as open-air showers. Each has its own private balcony overlooking the private reserve and the Ondundonwondandana valley.


ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK - PLACE OF DRY WATER Etosha, meaning ‘place of dry water’, is centred around a huge, flat calcrete depression (or pan) of about 5,000 square kms in far north Namibia. The ‘Pan’ provides a great, parched, silver-white backdrop of shimmering mirages to an area of semi-arid savannah grassland and thorn scrub. The pan itself contains water only after very good rains, and sometimes for only a few days each year, but is enough to stimulate the growth of a blue-green algae which lures thousands of flamingos. Etosha National Park is one of Africa’s major wildlife sanctuaries, being proclaimed a game reserve in 1907 and covering an area of more than 22 750sq kms. Despite being a highly ‘managed’ environment featuring a cluster of man-made water-points around the central pan and its boundary designated by a patrolled electrified fence, this is indeed one of the most special game parks in Africa. During the drier months of June to November the water points exert a magnetic pull on the big game herds, and form the centrepiece for visitors looking to see the nearly 150 mammal species to be found in the Park, including several rare and endangered species such as the black rhino, blackfaced impala, tsessebe and gemsbok.




LUXURY IN CANVAS Eagle Tented Lodge and Spa provides breathtaking views over the surrounding mountains & valleys. This luxury lodge, built from natural rock with thatch roofs boasts 8 standard and 8 luxury canvas tents all with spacious en-suite facilities. All tents have their private raised wooden balcony with a splash pool or outside bath and coffee & tea facilities. Each bathroom has a large shower, toilet and a washbasin.


MYSTIQUE SPA The lodge has two restaurants, a cosy bar where you can share your safari stories, A pool bar at the large infinity swimming pool and a fully equipped Mystique Spa which offers aroma baths, pedicures, manicures, massages and yoga. Be sure that our well trained therapists will spoil you with unforgettable treatments in the bush!

ON EPACHA PRIVATE GAME RESERVE Guests can partake in various activities including game drives, night drives and guided walks on the Epacha Private Game Reserve. game drives to the Etosha National Park. The Epacha Game Reserve is home to 21 antelope species as well as endangered species such as Black Rhino and Sable antelope.

Share your safari stories With the other guests AT THE COMFY bar overlooking the reserve 48 SPAFARI



INTERVIEW WITH a rising tennis star


Once Kirsten is settled down on one of the relaxing seats in a treatment room, I pull a small chair closer and ask her if she has enjoyed any other treatments at the lodge.

“I had a hot stone massage the other day, something totally different than the sports massages I usually get. With a hot stone massage, the touch is a lot softer and it completely helped me to relax, whereas if I suffer from cramps, my masseur seriously pounds on me to get all lactic acids out of my muscles, and that is not always such a pleasant feeling.”

So she’s keeping it very light and healthy. “Not all the time. In the evening the five course meals are always so tasteful, I don’t think I’ve skipped one dish in the past week. ”

RISING STAR Kirsten is a rising star – it was not that long ago she beat French player Aravane Rezai, who was at the time ranked number 15 in the world, by 6-0, 6-1! “That must have been the most satisfying moment in my career.”

I ask her about the most difficult match she has ever played. Kirsten says it was definitely during her first Federation Cup, when she played a grueling match of over three hours against Meghann Shaughnessy and lost by 6-7, 6-7. We continue talking about her future plans and how she would be going to Lanzarote the following week for training and to build a base for the coming season.

Kirsten Flipkens was only 17 when she won both Wimbledon and the US Open during 2003. Thereafter, she moved into the professional league and is now ranked 57th in the World Ranking. 2010 proved to be a very successful year for Kirsten, so much so that her manager decided that she should enjoy a short break in Namibia. I meet up with Kirsten at Epacha Game Lodge and Spa, where she has just arrived for her week of rest and relaxation. As a professional athlete, Kirsten lives a healthy and balanced life, and I am interested to know how she does it.

AMAZING! “Amazing”, she says when I ask her what her impressions are of Epacha. She is sitting at the infinity pool overlooking the Epacha Private Game Reserve. “Yesterday we saw three Black Rhino at the entrance, and earlier this week we were face to face with about eight lions and 9 elephant in the Etosha National Park. It is almost surreal to come so close to these animals here.” “The goal of your stay is to get some rest, how is this working out for you?” - “Just perfect - the fact that cellphone recep-


tion is very limited in this area, forces you to go into a total zen mode. In combination with this exceptional view and the always-ready staff here in the lodge, it is impossible to stress about anything.” “Are you someone that easily stresses?” - “When you play pro tennis or even tennis in general it is important to be focused and have a clear mind. Unfortunately I am by nature not someone that would easily feel stressed.”

I am a very active person so I like to have a lot of things to do and to keep busy with. During the tennis season, I play about two hours of tennis each day and then still work-out for another two to three hours. When I arrived at Epacha, I practically slept the whole of the first day here.”

I start talking about an article I read some time ago in a Men’s Health magazine, where cyclist Lance Armstrong explains the exact diet he follows when he is training. I ask her if she has been as strict with herself during the past few days at the lodge.

“As my visit to Epacha is one of the only two weeks holiday per year where I can actually travel and enjoy some rest, I have not been paying too much attention to my diet, but the food here has been absolutely wonderful. The breakfast buffet offers a wide variety of fruit, juices, muesli, yoghurt and that’s generally what I would have during the season.”

After that she’s off to Australia to play the first opening games of the year at the Australian Open. The great thing of being in the top 100 is that she no longer needs to play qualifying games for the Grand Slams. Later that day I drive a completely relaxed Kirsten to the Epacha airstrip where she boards a small Cessna 210 to fly back to Windhoek and from there back to Europe. She tells me that the memories of her stay in Namibia will be an inspiration and motivation in the coming year and she’ll without a doubt come back some day. Soon thereafter the engine of the Cessna 210 starts roaring and the girl that usually moves at high speeds over gravel around the world, now takes off from it.

WELLNESS A lady from the spa comes to the pool to invite Kirsten for her treatment at the Epacha Spa. I suggest we continue this interview at a later stage but she simply tells me to join her as she only getting a pedicure. “My feet really suffer during the season, I should actually get this done every month.”



Culinary Sabayon of Intermezzo Amarula You know you should, but it does not always have to be healthy when you cook. Sometimes you just want to spoil yourself and enjoy an irrisistable dessert. That is why Chef Louis shared his favourite with us recipe. A delicious Sabayon: a French specialty with a Namibian twist! Recipe for 4 people. IngredientS •

Five egg yolks

½ glass of Amarula liquor

1 glass champagne or sparkling wine

3 tablespoons of sugar

4 big wineglasses to serve

Optional Fresh Fruit and/or Ice Cream to accompany.

How do you make it? Mix the egg yolks, Amarula, champagne and sugar together in a bowl. Put the mixure on a high heat and whip until it reaches boiling point (± 2 minutes) Slice your fresh fruit in bite-size pieces and place into the glass. Pour the liquid into the glass, covering the fruit. Even more decadent is to pour the warm Sabayon over some vanilla ice cream!

About Amarula Amarula is a cream liqueur manufactured in South Africa. It is made with sugar, cream and the fruit of the African Marula tree, which is also locally called the Elephant tree or the Marriage Tree. When ripe, the fruits have a light yellow skin with white flesh, rich in vitamin C – about 8 times the amount found in an orange – succulent, tart with a strong and distinctive flavor. Elephants enjoy eating the fruit of the marula tree. Because of the Marula trees’ association with elephants, the distiller has made them its symbol and supports elephant conservation efforts, co-funding the Amarula Elephant Research Programme at the University of Natal, Durban. In 1973 Jamie Uys produced the documentary called “Beautiful People”. The footage, which amongst other things shows wild animals getting drunk after eating the marula fruits, became an immediate hit and even received an award for best documentary.




Leading Lodges of Africa is proud to call itself a pioneer when it comes to combining wellness and safari in Namibia. This is the main reason this magazine is called SPAFARI. In 2001, Epacha Game Lodge & Spa was the first lodge to include a fully equipped wellness centre with a sauna, Jacuzzi, steam room, Thalasso and open treatment rooms. Today almost all lodges that are part of the Leading Lodges of Africa collection are hosting a small spa or wellness centre for its clients to indulge themselves.

IT IS GOOD FOR YOU The beneficial effects of a massage are numerous: not only do they reduce harmful substances such as lactic and carbonic acid; they also increase blood supply, nutrition to the muscles and the number of red blood cells. A massage cleanses your body on the outside as well as the inside; working along the lymph and hastening the elimination of wastes and toxic debris. A massage acts as a mechanical cleanser.



LOSE WEIGHT LYING DOWN Good news for men and women who like losing weight, but donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like the effort it takes. According to some authorities, massage may burst the fat capsule in the subcutaneous tissue so that the fat exudes and becomes absorbed. This way massage, combined with proper nutrition and exercise, can aid in weight loss! Moreover, lying on the massage table can compensate the lack of exercise for people due to an injury, illness or age. Returning venous blood to the heart, it eases the strain on this vital organ and compensates the muscular contraction. Most important of all is that a massage is an invaluable aid to physical fitness with no other single health technique being more versatile.

A POWERFUL ALLY AGAINST STRESS Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no denying the power of bodywork. Regardless of the adjectives we assign to it (pampering, rejuvenating, therapeutic) or the reasons we seek it out (a luxurious treat, stress relief, pain management), massage therapy can be a powerful ally in your healthcare regimen. Experts estimate that more than ninety percent of disease is stress related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. While eliminating anxiety and pressure althogether in this fast-paced world may be idealistic, massage can, without a doubt, help manage stress. And what is a better stress reliever then to combine a relaxing day at a luxury lodge in Africa with a rejuvenating massage. We made a summary of the 5 most popular massages and 5 most unique spa experiences... >



“Many of us know massage therapy as a way to find relaxation and a great way for us to relieve those tight muscles that we have from our daily lives. However, what you may not know is just how far back the history of massage actually goes. Massage has been the simplest and oldest use of medical care in history. “

Full Body Massage Full body massage is one of the special types of massage therapies available that can be used to treat a wide range of conditions or can simply be used to calm, relax, and sooth. During a full body massage the soft tissues of the body are manipulated for multiple benefits. A Full body massage promotes relaxation, improves sleep, eases the symptoms to tired and sore joints, encourages improved circulation and speeds up digestion. Through massage the skin’s natural functions are stimulated which improve the skin’s condition , and the warmth that is created will help to relax the body mentally and physically releasing mental and emotional tension, creating a feeling of well-being, and overall enjoyment.



Marula Wrap A Body wrap is a hydrating treatment geared towards softening the skin. The wrap begins with exfoliation through dry brushing or a salt scrub. After this, with Marula body butter, made from the well known native fruits of Africa, your body is wrapped completely. After 20 minutes of pure relaxation the wrap is taken off leaving your skin revitalized and silky smooth.

Deep Tissue MASSAGE A Deep Tissue Massage is a massage technique that works on the deeper layers of muscle tissue. Deep Tissue Massage consists of slower and firmer strokes and more pressure than other treatments - deep finger pressure that concentrates on particular areas, and follows or goes across the fibers of muscles and tendons. A Deep tissue massage is a particularly effective massage for people with muscular pain. It increases blood circulation in muscles that are under-used, relieves chronic muscle tension throughout the body, and can also break down scar tissue and “knots” deep in the muscles.

Hot Stone Therapy Hot stone massage uses soothing oils and warm basalt stones to relax the muscles, allowing for a deeper and more intense overall massage. Smooth water-heated basalt stones are carefully applied to key points on the body. This direct heat relaxes the muscles, which means that the massage itself is more effective and intense. The stones are coated in fragrant oil to increase your sense of relaxation and calm. As your body sinks further into a state of relaxation, all your knots, aches and worries will melt away.

Thalasso Treatment The word Thalasso is derived from the Greek work Thalassa which means Sea. Within a Thalasso treatment, climate, algae, mud and sand represent the active and dynamic sea-water resources. For women who are seeking the wellbeing in the most reinvigorating and fresh form, this anti-ageing treatment with marine algae refreshes the skin which recovers all its suppleness. The treatment provides a luxurious feeling of intense hydration. Its highperformance formulas act synergistically with a powerful refreshing mask to provide maximum cell protection and to stimulate microcirculation and metabolism.








Imagine getting an outdoor massage. You get to experience the fresh air, the amazing natural view and maybe even see some animals strolling around outside in the area.

Beach massages are comforting and offer a level of relaxation and rejuvenation that are both a soothing and a refreshing experience. A balance of nature and science combined with the use of high end products and professional personal attention is an invigorating experience that you can enjoy in luxurious settings across the globe. A top quality beach massage will encompass a combination of techniques based entirely upon your own personal needs and preferences. Experience a beach massage overlooking the Indian Ocean first hand at Msambweni Beach house.

At the same time that you are witnessing all of this, however you are also getting a massage. Your body is slowly starting to physically relax because of the massage that you are receiving. At the same time, the emotional and mental gain that you get from a massage is boosted tenfold because you are in pristine wilderness in an outdoor spa getting your massage. That is a great way to improve on normal massages which are already pretty splendid on their own. Eagle Tented Lodge & Spa offers their clients outdoor massages along the poolside, on your balcony or in the gardens.

LOCATIONS Duo Massage in an open treatment room at Epacha Game Lodge & Spa - NAMIBIA

Aroma Baths Overlooking the Mara AT Kilima Camp - KENYA Kilima Camp in the Maasai Mara offers aromatherapy baths with an unforgettable view over the Mara triangle. In an aromatherapy bath, the idea is to relax and soothe the nerves. Mental stress and strain leads to hypertension, fatigue, irritability, diabetes, loss of memory, and loss of concentration, so aroma baths are effective in keeping the mind and body healthy. Aromatherapy has emerged as a great alternative therapy for curing various ailments over recent years. In order to overcome some of the stress-related conditions, one of the best solutions provided by aromatherapy is an aromatherapy bath. Aromatherapy oils have a soothing and calming effect on the nerves and relax the mind as well as the body while keeping the skin healthy and young.


Couples massage is one of the most popular services at the spa for the moment. In this massage two people are massaged in the same room, at the same time, by two different therapists. It can be a husband and wife, same-sex partners, girlfriend and boyfriend, or just good friends. You can choose between a full or half body massage. A half body massage can be a neck massage or a back massage. Couples massage is a great way to introduce a partner who has never gotten a massage before in a way that makes them feel more comfortable the first time. At Epacha Game Lodge & Spa Duo massages are one of the most popular massages on offer.

Steam Room WITH A VIEW ON THE OKAVANGO River AT Divava okavango lodge & Spa A steam room experience can be extremely relaxing. Aside from the fact that getting the toxins flushed out will make you feel better, a steam room can ease muscle tensions and relax those stiff muscles. A lesser known benefit of a steam room is that it reduces signs of aging and increases the blood circulation due to your bodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s efforts to regulate body temperature; it can also invigorate skin, making it look healthier. At Divava Okavango Lodge & Spa a steam room is available with an amazing view over the Okavango River, giving guests the opportunity to completely relax.





At 19,336 feet, the mighty snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is Africa’s highest peak. It is the world’s tallest walkable mountain, and what a walk it is. You go through five different climatic zones to reach the summit.

A challenge not to be taken lightly. Follow the advice and tips we gathered and you should reach the “Roof of Africa” in good health! >

1 Find a good tour operator.


You can only climb Kilimanjaro with an organized trek and along established routes, so you will have to make use of a tour operator.

2 Book in advance. This will enable you to go during high season, which is JanuaryMarch and September-October. High season is a good time to go simply because the weather conditions are safest for climbing.

3 Get fit. Break in your hiking boots and walk the dog, climb stairs, hike some hills with a pack on; walking is the best way to prepare yourself for the long hike up Kilimanjaro. You need to build up stamina. It is a good idea to get a basic medical check-up before you go. You don’t want to be dealing with an ingrown toenail or worse at 18,000 feet. Travel insurance that includes medical coverage is also a must.

4 Pack well. Pack light but make sure you have everything you need to deal with altitude and variation in temperatures. Don’t worry about carrying it yourself since a porter will take up to 15 kg of your personal gear in a duffel bag. You can rent some equipment and clothing locally, but you may end up with tiny sleeping bags and a fraying pink jacket.

5 Choose your route. Make sure your hike is at least six to seven days in duration for maximum success. Any shorter and you will not be properly acclimatized. Routes vary in degree of difficulty, traffic and scenic beauty. The least difficult routes are Marangu and Rongai; the more difficult routes are Machame, Shira and Limosho. The longer routes may have more difficult hiking but you’ll be more acclimatized and your chances of reaching the summit are therefore higher. The longer western routes also allow you to start your summit day at a more reasonable hour.

6 Dealing with altitude. Pace yourself….. you will hear the Swahili phrase “pole pole” - slowly slowly - heed it well. Drink lots of water, about 4-5 liters a day is recommended. Luckily the mountain streams after the first day are good to drink and naturally cooled.

7Walk high and sleep low. Take a walk to a higher elevation during the day and come back down to sleep. Consult a doctor before you go and get some medication to prevent altitude sickness. Also make sure your guides are carrying the proper medical equipment such as oxygen, radios and a recompression bag to deal with altitude sickness if it arises.


Over 25,000 people attempt to climb the Kilimanjaro a year. Around 10 people die each year trying.

On 28 September 2010, the Spanish trail runner Kilian Jornet conquered Mount Kilimanjaro in a record breaking time, taking a scorching time of only seven hours and 14 minutes to run to the summit and back of Africa’s highest peak. Jornet takes the record by beating Simon M’Tuy’s who previously ascended and descended in eight hours and 27 minutes. Most trekkers need between five and seven days to climb Kilimanjaro.


More info on TAWI LODGE

GUIDED WALKS IN THE CONSERVANCY TAWI LODGE has an idyllic location on a private conservancy of 6,000 acres just five minutes from Kimana Gate, the eastern entrance to Amboseli National Park which covers 400 km2 of plains enhanced by the stunning spectacle of Kilimanjaro towering over it. Take a walk with the Maasai Guides and let them tell you all about this unique location.


LUCKY BAHATI Bahati, which means “luck” in Swahili, is the pet eland that belongs to Dominique, the owner of Tawi Lodge. As curious as she is big, Bahati is very friendly and a very handy addition to the lodge as the gardening is regularly taken care of.

WHERE YOUR breakfast table is just 38 km from the Kilimanjaro PEAK! AND WHERE ELEPHANTS FEEL AT HOME Tawi Lodge is ideally located in a private conservancy, bordering Amboseli National Park and facing the mighty Mt Kilimanjaro. This new boutique lodge is perfectly integrated with the environment and consists of twelve private cottages with traditional thatch roofs offering spacious and comfortable rooms.

FACING THE KILIMANJARO The cottages are decorated in a simple but elegant style with wooden decks and floors, large four-poster beds, a fireplace, luxurious bathtub, separate toilet and shower, all with stunning views of Mt Kilimanjaro. A fireplace and a minibar make for relaxed and memorable sundowners as you watch Mt Kilimanjaro fade into the African night. Unwind with a cold drink in the extraordinary bar at the foot of a beautiful Tortilis tree, maybe reading a book from our extensive library. Sample one of our wines from the wine cellar sitting in a deep sofa in the sunken lounge, decorated with African leather and wooden furniture gazing into the large fireplace. Alternatively have a massage in our spa complete with hot spring, to ease the muscles after a tiring but exciting day of game viewing. After relaxing with a sundowner, stroll through for a delicious dinner. Tawi Lodge offers superb cuisine, dinner is either served in the dining room or in the ‘boma’.


RELAX IN THE SPA After an exciting day filled with unforgettable activities, one can relax at the Tawi Spa where an exciting selection of treatments are on offer. With a view over the Kilimanjaro that will linger in your mind, the treatments at the Tawi Spa will perfect your holiday!

Kenya: the best destination for eco-tourism Kenya has been elected as world’s “best destination for eco-tourism” at the World Travel Fair in Shanghai. Kenya thereby receives a boost and leaves South-Africa and Egypt behind them. Tawi Lodge is an example of these eco-friendly lodges that have adapted a lot of their infrastructure over the last years. •

24h power supply is being provided thanks to an invertor fed by solar, wind and generator.

Water is heated with solar energy combined with some wood and eco-charcoal.

The bio-pool is kept clean without chemicals, thanks to a system of papyrus ponds and UV filtration.

Therefore, the overflow of the pool water can be used to supply the waterhole attracting a lot of wildlife: giraffes, zebras, gazelles, elephants, etc.






The image of elephants wandering across grass plains with the snowy peak of Mt Kilimanjaro in the background, is well known even to less adventurous travellers. This epitomises Amboseli National Park and highlights the stark contrasts Africa has to offer. VOLCANIC GROUNDS In Amboseli’s case it is big skies and far horizons combined with swampy springs and dry and dusty earth trampelled by hundreds of animals. Amboseli has an endless underground water supply filtered through thousands of feet of volcanic rock from Kilimanjaro’s ice cap, which funnel into two clear water springs in the heart of the park. However, the climatic pendulum can swing from drought to flood, and in the early 1990’s ceaseless rain changed Amboseli into a swamp. A few years later the rains failed and the grass-covered plains turn in to dust. Amboseli’s dust is ancient volcanic ash, whose salt crystals shimmer on the surface of the parched lakebed during the dry season. This creates hazy mirages which make you question just what is real. Surrounding Amboseli are ranch areas where the Maasai share the land with the wildlife. Wild animals tend to avoid the village areas as there are far too many people and the grasslands have already been grazed by the Maasai’s all-important cattle.


 This park is renowned for its elephants, which can be seen in herds of over a 100 strong, drinking from the surface springs. There are so many of them that their penchant for pushing down trees is destroying the habitat that sustains them. Big old bull elephants carry some of the largest tusks to be seen anywhere in Africa and are a renowned feature of this park. Also happily roaming the grasslands are buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, giraffes, impala and warthog. Attendant carnivores include lion, leopard, caracal, cheetah, jackal, hyena and serval cats. Unfortunately, rhino are long gone from this area after intensive poaching. Birdlife is extremely rich and you can expect to see pelicans, bee-eaters, kingfishers and many types of eagles.


Amboseli’s dust is ancient volcanic ash, left by the eruptions of the Mighty Kilimanjaro a millenium ago

CREATURES Inhabiting the waters of the Okavango River are an estimated 35 million fish, containing almost 80 species of fish, and other animals such as crocodiles and hippo’s. At the borders of this majestic stream one finds some of Africa’s most treacherous animals. Some of these intriguing creatures are unexpectedly more dangerous than one would think. Here is a summary of Africa’s most wanted -and most dangerous -


And the winner is....the Hippo, responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other animal. Male hippos actively defend their territories, which run along the banks of rivers and lakes. Females have also been known to get extremely aggressive if they sense anyone coming too close to them and their offspring.


In second place... The Mosquito, spreading malaria and thereby killing over a million Africans every year, most of them children under the age of five. Malaria is only spread by the female Anopheles mosquito which is most active around dawn and dusk. In fact there are approximately 3,500 species of mosquito flying around and their average life-span is about two weeks. (Good advice is to always use insect repellant, and wear longsleeved tops and trousers in the evening.)


The fifth animal on our list is … the Crocodile, known by everybody and feared by everybody because it kills hundreds of people each year in Africa. The crocodile can be found in almost every major river throughout the continent as well as in many lakes. Most fatalities occur when people are washing or collecting food near river banks and lake shores, so do not get too close to the river banks.



You may have been wondering which place the King of the Jungle occupies… Well, we can reveal to you that this magnificent, beautiful but nevertheless dangerous animal occupies the sixth place. Lions live throughout sub-Saharan Africa in protected areas and can be extremely dangerous. The famous man-eating lions of Tsavo were not just a myth; sick male lions are mostly responsible for the hundreds of human deaths that occur each year because of lion attacks.

That brings us to the the three last most dangerous animals in our ranking: the Puff Adder, the Buffalo and the Rhino.

In third place.... The Elephant. It is unlikely that you will bump into an elephant outside of a protected wildlife reserve, should you by chance encounter this six ton beast, things can potentially get ugly – and most dangerous. African elephants, especially older bulls and young males, who can be aggressive even when they’re not provoked, occupy the third place in the list of most dangerous animals of Africa.



The Puff Adder is considered to be Africa’s deadliest snake because it is responsible for the most human fatalities. Puff Adders reach an average length of around 1 meter, and they’re solidly built with a wide girth. The Puff Adder has large fangs and its venom is powerful enough to kill a grown man with a single bite! Puffadders are slow moving, and since they are well camouflaged between grasses and bushes, most bites occur when humans step on them by accident. So, what about the Cape Buffalo? They are said to have killed more big game hunters than any other animal. Buffalo are thought to kill around 200 people every year; they first charge and then gore their victims.

This brings us to the end of our list with the Black Rhino being a contender amongst Africa’s deadliest animals, if for no other reason than their aggressive disposition and massive size. The Rhino is known for its huge protruding horn, which is a well-known aphrodisiac in some countries, thus leading to large-scale poaching of the animal.

8 There’s more... A smaller animal – but not less agressive or deadly than the elephantis the Black Mamba, one of Africa’s most dangerous snakes which is greatly feared in East, Central and Southern Africa. It is one of the most aggressive snakes that when cornered will not hesitate to strike. If you encounter one, you better be quick because it can reach a speed of up to 20 km/h.






DIVAVA Okavango lodge & SPA


Have a private dinner party on the “Tijuana” boat. To enjoy both our delicious cuisine and the beautiful nature of the Okavango River, Divava Lodge is proud to put the “Tijuana” boat at your disposal. The kitchen team moves the buffet from the restaurant to the lower deck. Enjoy the food and the extraordinary environment while relaxing on the upper deck with a beautiful sunset at the background giving you a heart-warming romantic feeling. Minimum two people and maximum eighteen people can experience this unique opportunity.

Boat excursion We really advise you to go out fishing or to discover the dozens of hippos, crocodiles, as well as many other species from our fishing boat. It is equipped with coolers, comfortable seats, a shade net and a friendly captain who adores taking you out on this trip. During the cruise you will also experience the beauty of the Poppa Falls and this in the company of a local guide who gives you all the information about the river, the fish, the wildlife and nature.


“Paradishi Ghomumbiru” or “Little Paradise” is the name given to the breathtaking place where Divava Spa and Lodge is built, the only lodge of its kind that reaches a first-grade standard in the matter of luxury.

Have a Romantic dinner on a private snow-white island where you no longer have to imagine yourself in paradise. The fishing boat will take you to the island where you will be welcomed by the kitchen team. The moment you touch the sand with your feet, the kitchen team will take care of everything and the only thing left to do for you is to sit back, relax and enjoy!

In the North, at some 900 kilometers from Windhoek lies Divava Lodge, a piece of paradise at Divundu. After hours of straight roads and arid sceneries, we were astonished to see the change of setting merely 400 kilometers from Windhoek. Passing the so called “red-line border”, one will be amazed by the change of the surroundings. The area is scatterd with huts forming small villages and lifestock all over.

big Five High five for the big five! If you want to be part of the lucky ones that saw the Big Five, the only chance to get to see buffalos is here at Divava Lodge! The ranger team at Divava lodge is at your disposal to take you on a game drive to the Bwabwata National park, the best place in Namibia to see Cape Buffalo, thereby completing your Big Five tick list. The Buffalo core area maintains a large buffalo population that, with the exception of the buffalo on the Waterberg Plateau and the population near Khaudum National Park, is unique in the country.

Continue the journey for 500 kilometers and you finally arrive in an oasis of peace and quiet that gives you the impression that paradise really is a place on earth. This is where “Divava Okavango Lodge and Spa” is nestled amongst majestic trees on the banks of the Okavango River, just a few hundred meters from the Popa Falls, offering an exquisite view over the Okavango River with excellent opportunities for bird watching. At only 14km’s you can expercience an excellent safari in Mahango Game Reserve, as it is celebrated for it’s abundance of game species such as elephants, buffalos, sable and roan antelope.

Mahango Park If you are eager to discover more game and wildlife, a guide will gladly take you to Mahango Park, a small reserve of 25 400 ha located at only 14 km from our lodge. The contrasting vegetation, Namibia’s highest count of bird species (over 400) and the variety of wildlife makes it one of Namibia’s most varied and fascinating conservation areas where you can expect to see Elephants, Leopards, Lions, Cheetahs, Hippos, Crocodiles, Vervet Monkeys, 10 different species of antelopes, and where you can drift away in your thoughts, lying against a more than one hundred year old baobab tree.

Culinary Delight at Divava Lodge The restaurant is set up on a beautiful wooden deck, overlooking and offering an exquisite view over the Okavango River with excellent opportunities for bird watching while enjoying your lunch or dinner. For dinner the chef will surprise you with a delicious 5-course menu and a wide selection of excellent wines. With to sound of the river as background music you are sure to have a exquisite dining experience at Divava.






at Royal Tree Lodge BIRD VIEWING

Over 300 species of birds have been sighted in and around Royal Tree Lodge, at peak season at the nearby Thamalakane River. Our summer from October to March is the best time with both Palaearctic and Intra-African migrants.  Keen birders should be able to see at least 50 – 70 species in a day and have the opportunity to add new species to the lodge’s bird sighting list. The record thus far is 130 species in a 24 hour period!

GAME WALKS Slow down and take in the details as you set the pace on one of Royal Tree Lodge’s marked trails through the reserve. Smell the grass, stroll past a grazing giraffe, or admire the grace of a kudu bounding through the savannah.   Take the well marked network of game paths for a structured or comfortable walking safari of your own making.  The trails are perfect for unusual but safe close encounters with beautiful African game.

Royal Tree Lodge is a small, intimate lodge providing its guests the finest luxury accommodation in the iconic safari town of Maun, the gateway to the Okavango Delta. The lodge nestles in 400 acres of riverine trees and acacia woodland on the edge of the Thamalakane River with an abundance of wildlife as well as an extensive variety of bird life.

HORSEBACK SAFARI Experience the joy of an intimate safari ride. Horses are owned and managed by David and Robyn Foot (with 17 years experience in the horse safari business) and are well trained and accustomed to the resident game.  Experience and training allow horses and game to remain calm, passing mere feet from each other.  A high standard of riding provides close up sightings and fun riding.  Safaris can be arranged within the reserve or along the river.

LUXURY TENTS & COTTAGES The eight Maru style safari tents are stylishly appointed and thoughtfully placed for privacy beneath a canopy of large shade trees. There are also two new Honeymoon Cottages including large sunken baths, numerous candles and an outdoor shower to make your stay a memorable experience.

GAME DRIVE Revel in a full day of adventure safari in Moremi Game Reserve. Game drives provide wonderful photo opportunities at close range.  They are a very popular way to safely view even large predators in their natural habitat.  Search for the big five as you track lion, water buffalo, hippo, elephant, and rhino.  Learn about local tribes and Botswana’s natural beauty from Royal Tree Lodge’s director and personal safari guide who himself, born and raised in Maun, has over 40 years guiding experience and a lifetime of personal adventure stories.

THE PRIVATE VILLA The Royal Tree Lodge Private Villa is a luxuriously furnished house situated on a secluded corner of the reserve. The villa has two bedrooms, each with its own en-suite bathroom and its own private pool set in a tranquil garden with exotic views of zebra and eland at the nearby flood plains and grasslands.


EXCITING ACTIVITIES At Royal Tree Lodge, it’s not just about luxurious accommodation and old world hospitality. Marked walking trails invite guests to create their own adventure allowing a safe, intimate interaction with wildlife. For the more adventurous, set off on a horse back safari, scenic flight over the delta, or mokoro canoe trip down the river.


Finish off the day with a warm drink around the communal fire as personal safari hosts and Royal Tree Lodge managers share life stories from over 80 years of safari experience.

Experience the thrill of the Okavango Delta from above! Discover the joy of scenic flight in either a fixed wing plan or helicopter.  The ideal platform for photography and film, capture animals in the most remote of locations.  These flights can be booked on a per-hour basis.



Sparkles under the

Namibian sun Splinters from falling stars

Billions of years ago, diamonds were formed under extreme heat and pressure which caused carbon atoms to crystallize. Thanks to the volcanic eruptions, the diamonds were finally brought to the surface. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that diamonds represented the tears of the Gods and were splinters from falling stars. Today, the story is less idealistic but diamonds continue to hold a deep fascination as the world’s ultimate symbol of wealth and romance. They called the precious stone adamante (Greek) and adamas (Latin), which both mean ‘invincible’. Since the Diamond is the hardest material we know, our word ‘Diamond’ stems from those words.

Diamond cutting As every diamond is different, a stone must first be carefully examined by the planner and then marked by the marker for sawing and/or cutting. Of all the cuts, the most popular is the round brilliant because it gives a stone the greatest possible brilliance and fire. The following cutting and polishing procedure uses the round brilliant cut as an example. The rough diamond is divided into two parts by a process called sawing. Most stones are sawn across the “grain” – a visible evidence of the diamond’s crystal structure- by a paper-thin metal blade, coated with diamond powder, revolving at high speed. A few years ago a green laser sawing machine was developed by an Israeli company. Where it normally took ½ a day to saw with traditional blades, it now takes only ten minutes by means of the laser, depending on the size of the diamond. After cleaving or sawing, the corners of the diamond are rounded off by a process known as “bruting” or “girdling”. After completing this final process, the polishing can begin.

Diamond Polishing

Diamonds, a memorial to love…

When polishing the diamonds, facets will one by one be grounded on to the stone. Each facet is in fact the tiny plane or surface that traps the light and makes a diamond sparkle. A brilliant diamond cut has 57 facets!

De Beers, established in 1888, is the world’s leading rough diamond company with unrivalled expertise in the exploration, mining and marketing of diamonds. In 1938 De Beers engaged N.W. Ayer & Son, the first advertising agency in the United States, to change the image of diamonds in America. The ad agency suggested a clever ad campaign to link diamonds to romance in the public’s mind. To do this, they placed diamonds in the fingers of Hollywood stars and suggested stories to newspapers on how diamond rings symbolized romance.

The facets are applied to the diamond on a “turntable”, made of porous iron, which has been coated with diamond dust and oil. The diamond is set into a tang with a holder and held against the turntable as it revolves at a high speed of approximately 1500 tours/minute. A diamond has been cut well when its facets are clean, sharp, and symmetrical, and the proportions above and below the girdle are correct. A diamond is correctly proportioned when one-third of the total weight of the gem is above the girdle and two thirds below. A well-cut diamond will be fiery, brilliant and beautiful.

In 1948 a N.W. Ayer copywriter, had a flash of inspiration and came up with the slogan “A Diamond is Forever.” It’s a fitting slogan, because it reminds people that it is a memorial to love.

When the diamond cutting and polishing is finished, the evaluation of the diamond can begin. Diamonds are valued by a system of the 4 C’s.

Diamonds may be seen as romantic, they may be the symbol of love and wealth, but a lot of work crawls in to making these precious, shiny stones. Many people and many processes are put in to place to have it ending in a beautiful ring or a mesmerizing necklace.

Carat: The carat of a diamond is measured by its weight. Cut: The cut does not refer to the shape of the gem but to the proportions of the diamond. In diamond terms we speak about table size, crown height, crown angle, pavilion angle, pavilion depth, girdle diameter and girdle thickness. The better the proportions are, the more light will be able to shine through and give the diamond what they call “life”.

MINING DIAMONDS There are two ways to recover diamonds: pipe mining and alluvial mining. Pipe mining refers to the extraction of diamonds from volcanic pipes during which 250 tonnes or more must be mined in order to produce a one-carat gem. The other process, alluvial mining refers to the extraction of diamonds from riverbeds or ocean beaches. Millions of years ago, at the time the diamond pipes were formed, some diamonds were weathered out of the pipes and carried great distances along rivers and even into oceans. After the diamonds are mined, they get cut and polished in order to transform them into the beautiful rock you see in the jewellery store. Over time modern machinery has replaced traditional diamond cutting tools but the cutting and polishing still requires several hours or days to complete. During these processes, the diamonds lose on average half of their original weight!

Colour: Colours can range from colourless (D-colour) to slightly tinted (Kcolour) to yellow (Z-colour). > DIAMOND POLISHERS AT THE NU DIAMOND FACTORY IN WINDHOEK

Clarity: The clarity describes the blemishes and inclusions in the stone. It ranges from internally flawless (IF) to imperfect (PI3) with heavy inclusions that can be located with the naked eye. These 4 factors play an individual role, the clarity might be perfect but if the cut is poor the diamond will not shine to its full ability, therefore will not be sold to its deserved price.

> KOLMANSKOPPE, Once a small but very rich mining village, Now a GHOST TOWN IN THE SOUTH OF NAMIBIA




Namibian diamond industry The diamond industry is extremely important to Namibia since the diamond mining, trading and manufacturing happens within Namibian borders providing much needed jobs, healthcare and education for Namibian residents. In 2008, Namibia was 6th in the top producer countries. The diamond mining industry generates over 40% of Namibiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s annual export earnings. We had the opportunity to meet with Kim Verdonck, the general manager of Nu Diamond Manufacturing Pty Ltd, in Namibia. Kim, born and raised in Belgium, always had a fascination for diamonds. As a young girl, she watched her father planning and grading rough and polished diamonds and decided to follow in his footsteps. She studied Diamond Grading and Identification at the Diamond High Council in Antwerp, the diamond city. After working at the head office of the SunDiamond Group of Companies, she was asked to manage their Namibian operation in Windhoek. Nu Diamonds acquired their cutting and polishing license in Namibia in July 2007 through the Ministry of Mines and Energy. After being selected in October 2007 as a sight holder by the Namibian Diamond Trading Company (NDTC), Nu Diamond became one of the 11 factories in Namibia that are allocated a 5-weekly sight. Some of NDTCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s criteria are rough utilization, skill transfer through job creation, equity and Namibian branding.



As the company has a number of patented and proprietary cuts and also because of the fairly young industry in Namibia, they decided to bring expats in to teach the Namibian workforce how to cut and polish. Because of the intensive one-on-one training, unskilled locals have now become professionals in diamond polishing and can further apply their knowledge to other Namibians. Recently Nu Diamond opened their second factory in Prosperita following the huge success of the first factory, increasing the number of job opportunities in two years from 20 to 151. > COMPUTER CALCULATES THE BEST CUT


â&#x20AC;&#x153;I had a farm in Africa

at the foot of the Ngong Hillsâ&#x20AC;?

These are the exact words used by Isak Dinesen to open the worldwide bestseller book and subsequent film, Out of Africa. As my room at the Ngong House offers practically the same view as described in the book, I decided to take a look around and find out what has changed during the past century. Text & Photography by Timo De Nijs

Isak Dinesen is actually the “nom de plume” of Danish author Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke. Her memoire Out of Africa, first published in 1937, recounts events of the seventeen years when Blixen made her home in British East Africa, now known as Kenya. The book is the story of Blixen’s life on her coffee plantation, as well as a tribute to some of the people who touched her life here. It is also a vivid snapshot of African colonial life in the last decades of the British Empire.

KAREN & KAREN Today I’m accommodated at Ngong House, situated in Karen, Nairobi. It is generally believed that the suburb is named after Karen Blixen as her farm occupied the land where the suburb now stands. Blixen herself even declared in her later writings that the residential district is named after her.


The provenance of the name may in fact be a bit more complex. Blixen herself was known to her friends in Africa not as “Karen” but as “Tanne”. The farm on the other hand was incorporated as the “Karen Coffee Company”, where the chairman of the board was Blixen’s uncle who could have named the company after his own daughter, also named Karen. It must be said - even if the region isn’t directly named after Blixen - since ther success of the Oscar winning film Out of Africa in 1985, the area has been filled with Karen car-washes, coffee houses, schools, shopping centres and many more.

OUT OF AFRICA SET A visit to the Karen Blixen Museum is a must when you are in the area. It was her home “Mbogani” between 1917 and 1931 and still contains original furnishings as well as some props used in the movie. I was shown around by a very knowledgeable tourism student, who was working at the house and on the grounds. He explained the story of Blixen and how the Estate played a part in the film. The exterior was used during filming, whilst the interior was filmed in a studio.

GIRAFFE CENTRE Only a twenty minute walk through the gardens of Ngong House takes me to the Giraffe Centre. This sanctuary was founded in 1979, and is today a non-profit organisation that runs a giraffe breeding programme. The Rothschild giraffe is the second-most endangered giraffe species in the world and one of three species found in Kenya, along with the Somali and Maasai Giraffes. You can opt for a guided tour or just a leisurely stroll through the centre. If you are up for an exciting experience of touching the giraffes, you can climb on the deck and feed them!

CAMP FIRE STORIES Back at Ngong House after an interesting day in the Karen Region, owner Paul Verleysen invites me for a drink at the campfire, where I meet all the other residents and we share our stories of our stay in Kenya. Some of us are already soon to depart on our way home, whilst others have just arrived and still have a whole adventure ahead of them.

It is a most relaxing and tranquil place to visit, and you really get the atmosphere and “feel” of how it must have been during the early Colonial Days. 
During that time, the house was situated in the middle of a large coffee plantation. Now you hardly find coffee in the area but there is a lot more to do!








MSAMBWENI BEACH HOUSE & PRIVATE VILLAS Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Kenya, but the country does not only offer a perfect safari holiday, you can easily combine your stay in the bush with a few nights at the coast. It is said that Kenya has some of the best spots in world to dive! You can even swim with Sea Turtles and Dolphins!

KISITE MARINE PARK The Kenyan coastline commences not far south of the equator, at the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s border with Somalia, and winds its way down to Tanzania in the south for a total distance of approximately 290 miles. This short stretch of coast is divided into two marine parks, Watamu and Kisite, and the big draw of both is the Whale Shark. Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park and Reserve is found off the Kenyan coast, 75 miles south of Mombasa. This Marine Park and Reserve has been a center of discussion for European marine biologists because of its increasing number of new fish species and corals being documented, and particularly because of the marine environment still being intact. There are currently around 250 varieties of marine fishes, and over 40 varieties of coral species.

DHOW DIVING EXCURSION A traditional dhow (boat) transports you over to the shallow marine reserve from the coastal mainland, where you have the opportunity to witness the clarity of water and awesomeness of the diverse marine life. Kisite is loved by snorkelers and divers because of the ease of viewing and picture taking. There is a 90% success rate of viewing dolphins! Deep sea fishing lovers can travel further down south to the Pemba channel to catch large barracudas and kingfish. In the Kisite Marine some of the commonly seen fish include large numbers of pelagic fish, butterfly, parrot, rockcod, angel, manta ray. Turtles, dolphins, reef sharks are also seen. The pristine coral varieties are impeccable; corals such as staghorn, brain, liliac-blue, mushroom, and lavender present unique photo taking opportunities. The colorful beauty of the coral, complimented by the large number of yellow and red tuna and snappers, are unmatched.


Msambweni Beach House & Private Villas is in a quiet, unique setting on a stretch of completely unspoilt sandy beach surrounded by 28 acres of natural land. The property has 700 feet of private beach along a four mile stretch of coastline with palm trees offering peace and tranquility where guests can really be at one with nature while enjoying a luxurious, yet discreet, stay with attentive service in beautiful surroundings. Dining at Msambweni Beach House & Private Villas is pure delight. Our kitchen staff are thoroughly trained by a celebrity Belgian chef. Enjoy seafood, Swahili dishes, Belgian and French cuisine. Dine next to the pool under the African sky by candlelight while listening to the whispers of the breeze from the Indian Ocean. Suggestions of the day are explained at breakfast. Each lunch and dinner can be served in a special private setting.







I never knew of a morning in Africa, when I woke, that I was not happy. - Ernest Hemingway


Spafari Magazine  
Spafari Magazine  

Made in Africa - on luxury lodges, the greatest African adventures and wellness. by Timo De Nijs at Leading Lodges of Africa.