Travel News Namibia Winter 2019

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Namibia. Endless Horizons.

"There is nothing like the absolute stillness of Namibia, especially early in the morning. My husband and I sat silently watching as the sun’s rays filtered through the mist and dappled the opposite walls of the Canyon. Anywhere else, this place would have been flooded with tourists. And there we sat, completely alone and in awe." - Nina van Zyl

Photo: Alexander Heinrichs

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is published by Venture Media in Windhoek, Namibia www.travelnewsnamibia.com

EXPLORE THE TINY TOWN OF HELMERINGHAUSEN

With sweeping views as far as the horizon and a light that bathes the landscapes in a kaleidoscope of colours, Namibia truly touches the soul. A journey to the country is unforgettable. The land of contrasts really does have something to offer every visitor: magnificent landscapes, fascinating wildlife, numerous outdoor activities, beautiful places to stay and hospitable people. Namibia is a year-round destination with more

than 300 days of sunshine and exploring the country is both easy and safe. After a comfortable flight, you will arrive in a completely different world. Namibia is exciting, exotic and familiar all at the same time.

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MANAGING EDITOR Rièth van Schalkwyk PRODUCTION MANAGER Elzanne McCulloch elzanne@venture.com.na PUBLIC RELATIONS Janine van der Merwe janine@venture.com.na LAYOUT & DESIGN Liza de Klerk CUSTOMER SERVICE Bonn Nortjé bonn@venture.com.na ONLINE EDITOR Ruairí Hammond digital@venture.com.na TEXT CONTRIBUTORS Elzanne McCulloch, Pompie Burger, Nina Van Zyl, Willie Olivier, Kirsty Watermeyer, Le Roux van Schalkwyk, Linda de Jager, Christie Keulder, Jandré Germishuizen, Christine Hugo

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TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA is a high-quality glossy Namibia travel and lifestyle magazine tasked with promoting Namibia to the world. Travel News Namibia is published quarterly in English and annually in German. The NAMIBIA HOLIDAY & TRAVEL is an annual tourism directory with over 200 pages of updated information on the country, regions, people, activities and wildlife. The NAMIBIA TRADE NETWORK is an annual trade and industry portfolio and is the pillar of information dissemination to the private-sector and the promotion of foreign investment.

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EDITOR’S LETTER

CHANGING SEASONS

CONSTANT WONDERS The world is upside down and inside out. Flooding on the east coast and drought in the west. Heat waves, and hurricanes and the most devastating fires. Why does it seem that the planet is trying to tell us something? In Namibia we are used to living close to nature and the elements. We grow up with respect for water and learn from an early age not to waste. Anything. We get used to the cycles of seasons and make jokes about rain and drought and praying for rain and our lack of spring and pretty blooms as described in fairy tales. We like to think that people who grow up to treasure rain instead of hating it, are more optimistic because it implies that they have a lot more sun and light for most of their lives and therefore things look brighter in their world. But then there comes season after season when the drought does not let up. When the rain, as much as we talk about a shift in seasons, is over. Full of hope we watch the autumn clouds and spectacular sunsets in anticipation of a miracle, but we know that it is not going to rain any more this season. Which means that the winter of 2019 is one of parched earth. Some places in Namibia have no ground cover at all. No grass. Namibia is beautiful in all its dramatic phases, whether drought or floods, hazy spring or crisp winter, blazing summer or dramatic cloudy autumn. The earth is now red, ochre and brown. Greyish in some places where brush and bush defied the drought. Majestic mountains purple and sunsets a breath-taking gold-rimmed red. Majestic camel thorn trees still drop life-saving pods in their tons and the ana trees in dry river beds produce nutritious red curly ones, an elephant delicacy. Nature continues to keep the cycle going. To tick over to a future when this dry cycle will be followed by a wet one. In the meantime our ancient desert land still offers travellers the most dramatic vistas and soul-restoring experiences. All you need to do is travel through these pages with our team of content creators to be inspired and delighted. Luckily Namibia has 46% of its total surface area under some form of conservation management. Namibians, on communal and free-hold land, have succeeded in curbing the trade in wildlife products from rhino horn to the most recent crisis, hardwood trees. And we have succeeded in protecting wild places for you to marvel at.

Rièth van Schalkwyk

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CONTENTS 10 BUSH TELEGRAPH The new and exciting 12 LAND ART A celebration of water 18 10 COOLEST PLACES to go camping 22 FARM WINDHOEK a city at your feet 24 GENERATION WANDERLUST the coast 30 HELMERINGHAUSEN The tiny town with massive character 38 JERMAIN KETJI with MYD 40 NAMIBIA'S SOUTH as a honeymoon destination 48 EXPLORE WINDHOEK Katutura 50 TALKING TO TWO BEARDS over a cup of coffee 54 PHOTOGRAPHY FEATURE Jandré Germishuizen 60 AL FRESCO, PRONTO! Safari Food Solutions 64 BIRDING WITH POMPIE How to get started 72 FISH RIVER CANYON Putting things into perspective 60 TRAVEL NOTES from a vagabond 80 ONCE UPON A TIME Heirloom honey and seeds of the future

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t +264 839378247 w westair.com.na e reservations@westair.com.na PO Box 407, Aviation Road, Eros Airport, Windhoek, Namibia


CURRENT PRESIDENT: Hage Geingob

Secular state

Multiparty parliament Democratic Division of power between constitution executive, freedom of religion legislature and

90%

Christian

Freedom of the press/media

MAIN SECTORS:

Mining, fishing, tourism and agriculture

46%

BIGGEST EMPLOYER:

Agriculture FASTEST-GROWING SECTOR: Tourism Diamonds, uranium, copper, lead, zinc, magnesium, cadmium, arsenic, pyrites, silver, gold, lithium minerals, dimension stones (granite, marble, blue sodalite) and many semiprecious stones

CURRENCY: The Namibia Dollar (N$) is fixed to and on par with the SA Rand. The South African Rand is also legal tender. Foreign currency, international Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club credit cards are accepted.

TAX AND CUSTOMS All goods and services are priced to include value-added 15% tax of 15%. Visitors may reclaim VAT. ENQUIRIES: Ministry of Finance

Tel (+264 61) 23 0773 in Windhoek

TRANSPORT Public transport is NOT available to all tourist destinations in Namibia. There are bus services from Windhoek to Swakopmund as well as Cape Town/Johannesburg/Vic Falls. Namibia’s main railway line runs from the South African border, connecting Windhoek to Swakopmund in the west and Tsumeb in the north. There is an extensive network of international and regional flights from Windhoek and domestic charters to all destinations.

NATURE RESERVES:

of surface area

HIGHEST MOUNTAIN: Brandberg OTHER PROMINENT MOUNTAINS: Spitzkoppe, Moltkeblick, Gamsberg PERENNIAL RIVERS: Orange, Kunene, Okavango, Zambezi and Kwando/Linyanti/Chobe

EPHEMERAL RIVERS:

judiciary

ECONOMY

MONEY MINING: MATTERS

15%

Numerous, including Fish, Kuiseb, Swakop and Ugab

FLORA

37,000 km gravel

HARBOURS:

Walvis Bay, Lüderitz

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MAIN AIRPORTS: Hosea

airstrips Kutako International Airport,

Eros Airport

RAIL NETWORK: 2,382 km

narrow gauge

TELECOMMUNICATIONS: lines per

LIVING FOSSIL PLANT:

Welwitschia mirabilis

BIG GAME: Elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo, cheetah, leopard, giraffe

20 240 250 50 676

5,450 km tarred

6.2 telephone

200 ENDEMIC 14 vegetation zones plant species 120 100+ species species of lichen of trees

PHYSICAL

CAPITAL: Windhoek

INDEPENDENCE: 21 March 1990

ENVIRONMENT INFRASTRUCTURE ROADS:

antelope species mammal species (14 endemic)

reptile species frog species bird species

ENDEMIC BIRDS including Herero Chat,

Rockrunner, Damara Tern, Monteiro’s Hornbill and Dune Lark

DRINKING WATER Most tap water is purified and safe to drink. Visitors should exercise caution in rural areas.

TIME ZONES

GMT + 2 hours

ELECTRICITY 220 volts AC, 50hz, with outlets for round three-pin type plugs

www.travelnewsnamibia.com

Direct-dialling facilities to

221 countries

100 inhabitants

MOBILE COMMUNICATION SYSTEM: GSM agreements with

117 countries / 255 networks

INFRASTRUCTURE

SOCIAL

824,268 km²

FAUNA

GENERAL

SURFACE AREA:

13,650 people 4 medical doctor per

privately run hospitals in Windhoek with intensive-care units

Medical practitioners (world standard) 24-hour medical emergency services

POPULATION

2.5 million

DENSITY: 2.2 per km²

400 000

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE:

(15% of total)

14 regions 13 ethnic cultures 16 languages and dialects

inhabitants in Windhoek

ADULT LITERACY RATE:

85%

English

POPULATION GROWTH RATE:

2.6%

EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS: over 1,700 schools, various vocational and tertiary institutions

FOREIGN REPRESENTATION More than 50 countries have Namibian consular or embassy representation in Windhoek.


ZANNIER HOTELS

Zannier Hotels, a privately owned group defined by understated luxury, local authenticity, discreet tailored service and unique experiences in elegant settings, will open a second lodge called Sonop in the Namib Desert on the first of June, 2019. Sonop is a high-end tented camp nestled on the southern edge of the Namib Desert in the Karas Region. An out-of-the-ordinary lodge with ten tents built on top of boulders in a 1920s British colonial design complete with gourmet dining, heated pool, spa, gym and excursions such as horse riding, stargazing, mountain and trail-biking or open air cinema. At Sonop everything is orientated towards the desert’s richness. Guests will get a taste of living in complete isolation while enjoying the comfort of their accommodation. Last year Zannier Hotels opened Omaanda, a five-star lodge in the Zannier Reserve, a private animal conservation reserve of 9000 hectares in the countryside west of Windhoek. This luxury retreat has ten Ovambo-style round thatched huts overlooking the boundless savannah, with a heated infinity pool, a restaurant and a cosy bar, a spa and a boma for evening bonfires. The lodge blends seamlessly into the surrounding landscape. Guided excursions include conservation drives and animal tracking.

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HAN CONGRESS

BUSH TELEGRAPH The Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) this year hosts the 21st annual Tourism Congress, the Tourism Networking Cocktail, the Tourism Trade Forum and the Tourism Awards Gala on the 20th and 21st of June at the Windhoek Country Club Resort. The Congress and Trade Forum are platforms to discuss ways to ease up on stumbling blocks, allow for flexibility and adaptability to change and open up to new markets. The overall aim of the event is to look at the way forward in the tourism industry, with an added focus on local products and services, in partnership with the Tour and Safari Association (TASA) in the form of a round-table discussion uniting all sectors of tourism to discuss ways of tackling the biggest challenges in the industry.

WE

MIDGARD TRAINS NEW LOOK We love the new look of the recently refurbished trains at Midgard Country Estate. Each of the three carriages was done up according to the themes Graphic, Vintage or Crisp.


PEDAL IT OUT!

EXPERIENCE NAMIBIA FROM THE SEAT OF A BIKE Well-maintained gravel roads and the variety of off-road trails make Namibia a great destination for experienced cyclists and beginners alike. Mountain Bike Namibia’s bike tours take guests around the country on the back of a bike, covering 2000 km in the course of two weeks to visit the must-see spots in the country. From Windhoek to Sossusvlei, all the way up to Etosha and even a stop at the coast, the Namibia Classic Bike tour is a great way to get your family out to do something truly unique and experience completely pristine and isolated places in Namibia. Plus, when your bicycle seat gets a bit too uncomfortable, a back-up vehicle is there to take you the rest of the way. We won’t tell if you don’t. Find out more: www.nit.com.na

A TOAST TO 25 YEARS

OF GUARDING THE FUTURE OF CHEETAHS 25 years ago the Cheetah Conservation Fund started a guard dog program to protect livestock from predators and thus reduce conflict between humans and predators like cheetahs. The program has seen immense success and this year CCF invites supporters and donors to join them for the 21st Annual Fundraising Gala Dinner on the 12th of July at the Windhoek Country Club Resort. Tickets are N$650 and include a complimentary tour of the CCF centre. Please contact CCF for further information or bookings: Heike Stackmann +264 67 30 4806 / +264 81 81 97976 / ccfinfo@iway.na

MORE FUN FOR FOODIES AT AM WEINBERG ESTATE

Visitors to the sophisticated Am Weinberg Estate now have two more restaurants to be tempted with. Olivia’s Kitchen and Butcher’s Block joined the already popular Cape Town Fish Market. Olivia’s is the perfect place for lunch, cake and coffee, and also offers an array of deli products like local cheeses, while Butcher’s Block calls for generous appetites and an appreciation of delicious steaks. Olivia’s Kitchen: +264 61 209 0995 Butcher’s Block: +264 83 288 8000

GONDWANA HEADS INTO NAMIBIA’S WILD NORTHWEST Tourism giant Gondwana recently acquired Palmwag Lodge in Kaokoland and Omarunga Lodge on the banks of the Kunene River, expanding its presence to Namibia’s northwest. Both properties were taken over from long-time owners Birgit and Fritz Schenk of Camelthorn Tours and Safaris, who invested in the local communities and the conservation of the area. According to Gondwana’s Managing Director, Gys Joubert, the company is looking forward to working closely with the Torra, Anabeb and Sesfontein conservancies at Palmwag as well as the Epupa Conservancy at Epupa. Palmwag Lodge is on the banks of the ephemeral Uniab River in north-western Damaraland, where huge makalani palms and mopane trees shade the lodge’s rooms, the tented chalets and spacious campsite. Guests can enjoy the stunning views of the river from the deck of the restaurant and bar, and take a refreshing dip in one of the two swimming pools or take a refreshing drink at the pool bar. Hikes and excursions along the wellestablished trails in the area offer the opportunity to spot the legendary desert-adapted elephant or rhino, or perhaps even a predator or two. Palmwag boasts the largest predator population outside of Etosha National Park. The prolific and diverse birdlife in the concession is sure to enthrall birders as well. The vast concession area, a nature reserve of 5,500 km², consists of the Torra, Anabeb and Sesfontein conservancies and borders on Skeleton Coast National Park. In the far north of the Kunene Region, Omarunga Lodge is located only 200 metres upstream from the epic Epupa Falls. Dramatic sunsets over the water, imposing mountains and a glorious riverine landscape make for an exciting destination. The chalets and campsite are perched on the banks of the Kunene, tall makalani palms are dotted throughout the property. Visitors enjoy the variety of birdlife, richly coloured rock formations, hikes, nature drives, rafting and guided visits to a traditional Himba village. Bookings can be done via the Gondwana Web Store or at bookings@gondwana-collection.com.


LAND ART A Celebration of Water Text Linda de Jager Photographs Strijdom van der Merwe

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HOW IT ALL BEGAN

How did it come about that a scrambled note written on a serviette in a Starbucks Café in Washington, D.C., in 2013 ended up as, well, a message about water conservation written in the sand at Namtib Biosphere Reserve in 2016? In May 2019 Anni Snyman, PC Janse van Rensburg and a team of volunteers from the Site-Specific land art collective finetuned the last lines of the giant earth drawing of a desert horse at Klein Aus Vista. This message of intent recently evolved into yet another possible new chapter – as I made my way down a secluded gravel road to a breathtakingly beautiful house in the middle of the desert: an artist’s retreat in the making at Wolwedans. But more about the other outcomes later: drawings of a wild horse – and the realm of “dancing wolves”.

B

ack to the reality of a noisy Starbucks Café and the coffee-soaked serviette.

At the time the note simply said Strijdom – Namibia, it was just an intention written down, probably to combat the growing riot in my mind with something positive. I had (unfortunately) arrived in the United States at the time of the horrific Boston Marathon bombing, a terrorist attack on April 15th, 2013.

Land art is the creation of art with what is available at a specific site.

The peace and quiet of south-western Namibia at Namtib Biosphere Reserve – and the Tiras Mountains – were a long way from there, worlds apart in fact, and a far cry from the act of violence replayed a million times on the television screen in my miserably small hotel room. In spite of the warning on the news – in the wake of the Boston bombing – that visitors should refrain from going to crowed tourism spots, I was hell-bent on visiting the famous Smithsonian Institution, in search of inspiration – in search of kindred spirits.

TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2019

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What Strijdom came up with were the selections of images depicted in these photographs: thoughtprovoking reflections on water. While that is not always the case with land art, the images were also, well, very temporary. They only live on in these photos and multimedia images. The National Museum of African Art is the US’s premiere museum dedicated exclusively to the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of Africa’s traditional and contemporary arts. I was heading for the famous Independence Avenue at the Mall because one of my favourite South African artists, Strjidom van der Merwe, got the rare privilege of adorning the front pavement with his reflection on the theme: “Earth matters,” The National Museum of African Art’s first major exhibition (Earth matters) of African Land Art coincided with my visit to the US. Strjidom was born and raised on a farm on the South African Highveld. His early childhood, close to the land, also crystallised into an intense relationship with its forms and shapes. Land art is an art form that has always resonated with me – evoking memories of my uncomplicated childhood in Namibia – forever seeing, chasing and tracing interesting shapes and

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messages in the rocks and sands, already at the age of four irresistibly drawn to the landscape’s inherent mysticism. The exhibition was tipped as “the first major exhibition exploring the ways in which African artists and communities mediate their relationship with the land upon which they live, work and frame their days.” Strijdom had the prime spot. It was a clear sign of the high international esteem in which his art is being held. Soon I was there to ask Strjidom to explain his artwork to me – occupying the dimensions of a very small garden. It had obvious aesthetic appeal, but it was difficult to figure out its meaning. How could ‘red pins’ on ‘grass’ fit in with the theme of this exhibition? At the time, Strjidom shared the broader context of his unique artwork in the context of the theme. “The desire to mark and



Reserve to celebrate one theme: water is synonymous with life - it is not possible to survive without it. The John Muafangejo Art Centre, a Namibian creative think tank focused on establishing collaborative networks, supported the idea by facilitating a workshop with Strijdom for Namibians. In conjunction with Endgame Media they also facilitated a session with science writer Leonie Joubert who has spent the past decade publishing reports about climate change, energy policy, environmental pressures, and now food. The art talk was followed by a workshop conducted by Van der Merwe. His workshop with local artists looked at “the history and development of land art since the 1960s, current trends and the importance as a movement regarding environmental issues and a hands-on experience in creating our own temporary work in the landscape and the importance of documentation”.

WHAT IS LAND ART? A very practical Namibian farmer scrutinised one of the land art creations depicted in the newspaper (a small path within a seasonal riverbed) and while looking perplexed remarked dryly about the artwork, entitled Shadow Line, “but where does this little road lead then?” map the earth, thereby making it a place of your own, is a universal human urge. The world is a multiplex mosaic of cultural marks. If you have land you are rooted, you belong, and you are earthed. Once this privilege is taken away from you, you find yourself stranded in a no man’s land, you are uprooted and have become a nomad in search of your roots.” By the time I arrived back in my hotel room, in a no man’s land and feeling very much like a “nomad” myself – bombarded by more news on the real impact of the terrorist attack – an idea on the serviette took shape, and I recalled a morning not too long ago when I woke up on a campsite nestled in the Tiras mountains – dunes shimmering on the horizon. The sight left more than a lasting impression: I felt grounded because I was in the country of my birth. Strijdom’s work would manifest itself well in the spacious Namibian landscape. I realised that I wanted to do more than go back in search of my Namibian roots; that I wanted to celebrate the incredible gift of the peace my home country enjoyed, its open spaces, its conservation ethic and its dead-quiet nights (in the true sense of the meaning). My “celebration” started by simply connecting dots in my circle of talented artist friends – the stars on my skyline – to invite them to my home country to create land art, and to identify suitable hosts with open minds and open hearts, united in a love of nature. And so the story goes, the rest is history. Two years later, Strijdom visited Lynn and Thorsten Theile’s Namtib Biosphere

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The best definition of land art I could find at the time: “Land art is the creation of art with what is available at a specific site. Generally, artists use natural materials, such as sticks, stones, sand, water, and natural processes such as tides and wind to form communion with the land that changes one’s perceptions of given surroundings. It is like being given new eyes. Even after the art has been reabsorbed into nature, the memory of it persists and informs one’s interaction with the landscape. It doesn’t demand visual literacy or education to be moved by the experience of a great land art piece. It is immediate and enhances one’s own sense of being in the world. Land art engages in the much-needed integration of ‘culture’ and ‘nature’. Sometimes it is a celebration of the land that sustains us. Often it reminds us of the temporary nature of our shared existence.” Van der Merwe completed exploratory artworks at Namtib Biosphere Reserve. What Strijdom came up with were the selections of images depicted in these photographs: simple and thought-provoking. While that is not always the case with land art, the images were also, well, very temporary. They only live on in these photos and multimedia images. A very practical Namibian farmer scrutinised one of the land art creations depicted in the newspaper (a small path within a seasonal riverbed) and while looking perplexed remarked dryly about the artwork, entitled Shadow Line, “but where does this little road lead then?” I understood that in his world outcomes must be permanent and tangible, final destinations mapped securely. And that this venture was utterly “meaningless” to him as such – as if life was a secure and permanent undertaking? As we say in Namibian slang, this is sobieso not true. In my world some conversations and experiences continue long after we have had them. The intent manifests itself in images that linger even longer when we receive “new eyes” – when we can say the words: "I can see it."


In Andrew Zuckerman’s book Wisdom the legendary tennis player Billie Jean King is quoted as saying: “You have to see it to be it.” In many ways small-scale projects like land art just follow in the wake of Namibia’s conservation legacy, walking on the little footpaths created by the dogged first steps of pioneers like conservationist Garth Owen-Smith. He was one of those who saw early on that we should love the land and the animals on it and that this should essentially be a communal effort. So why would we create art? In the words of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973): because it is a supreme tool that “widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things.” On breathtaking Namtib I saw (almost in a dream-like state) a beautiful living thing, a bird of prey, flying strong, focused and secure in the knowledge that the prey will be targeted, as if the blueprint of its flight is eternally engrained in this bird’s genetic makeup. It is like a drone used in a warzone as an autonomous offensive weapon - programmed to hit the enemy target in a split second with mechanical efficiency. Unlike birds of prey and robots, human beings are so very often not united in (positive) intent, not programmed collectively to hit a target vision with clarity.

How do we articulate our future? What do we write down (whether on a serviette, on an iPad or in the sand)? How do we make our intent visible? How do we choose that which heals over that which destroys in the short span of our lives? How and when do we pause in our stumbling blindness to become part of the concerned voices warning that we are hacking the body of our planet to pieces? When do we acknowledge that we are maiming not only our outer worlds – but also our inner realms? And when do we recover the time to celebrate the gifts of our natural world (or what’s left of it)? Only when the taps run dry do we celebrate water. Only when our pristine wildernesses are reduced to strips of blue sky above skyscrapers, do we write poems about open landscape. Only when we are bombed and we mourn our lost limbs ripped to shreds on a fateful day (like those who showed up at what was supposed to be just another marathon in Boston) do we truly count our blessings and see with “new eyes”. TNN Linda de Jager is a Namibian-born documentary filmmaker/ journalist responsible for award-winning television series, like Bush War/Grensoorlog.


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Namibia Wildlife Resorts

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TEN COOLEST PLACES

to Go Camping in Namibia Text and Photographs Le Roux van Schalkwyk

Why do some people love to camp and others don’t? Too be honest, who cares? Luckily Namibia offers everyone the chance to travel the country and stay in the type of accommodation they prefer. Okay, with that settled, for those who DO love camping, here is a list of the ten coolest places to pitch your tent in Namibia. 1. MAVUNJE CAMP

Staying at bigger, well-known campsites can diminish your enjoyment of being close to nature, especially if you have to share the site with other rowdy or inconsiderate campers. Mavunje Camp on the bank of the Kwando River offers three private and intimate campsites overlooking the flood plains. Each meticulously positioned campsite has its own ablution facilities. As an added bonus the camp lies close to a corridor used by elephants crossing the river on their way to and from Bwabwata National Park, which makes for some fascinating sightings.

2. ONGONGO

A literal oasis hidden in sun-baked arid Damaraland, Ongongo is sure to surprise any first-time visitor. With its small waterfall that crashes into an unusually blue pool, the overhanging trees that grow out of the rocks and loads of birdlife, it is a small Eden compared to its surroundings. All the campsites are close

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to the water. Make sure to bring enough sunscreen to protect yourself against the unforgiving Damaraland sun.

3. NAMIB-NAUKLUFT NATIONAL PARK

The desert soothes the soul with its wide open spaces, its tranquillity and the absence of any digital interference that usually is part of our daily lives. The campsite at Mirabib in Namib-Naukluft National Park gives you the peace and quiet you deserve. A granite island on a vast flat plain provides excellent protection against the elements as well as some incredible photo opportunities – sunrise, moonrise, sunset, moonset and all the rest.

4. SESRIEM CAMPSITE

With the Sossusvlei area becoming dangerously close to saturation point in terms of accommodation facilities as well as visitor volumes, the Sesriem Campsite still holds a charm that is hard to beat. The appeal stems from the age-old camel thorn


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trees that provide campsites with life-saving shade during the day and at night appear like magical dark, moving silhouettes when lit up by campfires. As the campsite is located within the park, early risers will be able to get to Deadvlei and the big dunes before the masses arrive.

5. MUDUMU NATIONAL PARK

It doesn’t get wilder than this. Set in the heart of Mudumu National Park, the three isolated campsites are situated on the banks of the Kwando River. Be aware that none of the campsites are fenced, which means camping there is not for the faint-hearted. Those who are brave enough to camp there nevertheless will be rewarded with a camping experience like no other. There is no better alarm than being woken up by the sound of hippos splashing in front of your tent. Note that you will have to be self-sufficient in Mudumu, as there are no facilities at all.

6. OLIFANTSRUS – ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK

Interesting sightings in Etosha National Park can easily become spoilt by the arrival of heaps of cars and tour busses all vying for the best position, all the while blocking your view. What makes Olifantsrus different is the relatively small number of tourists that visit the western part of the park where the camp is situated. This means that more often than not there are no other cars around. The main feature of the campsite is its impressive viewing tower which allows close-up viewing of animals at the waterhole, especially elephants. Adding to the draw of Olifantsrus is the limited number of campsites that gives a sense of exclusivity when staying here.

7. ERONGO PLATEAU CAMP

A superb place to overnight when traveling north to

Damaraland, or just to spend a weekend for a short getaway. Erongo Plateau Camp is situated on the edge of the Erongo mountain range and with its elevation above the valley floor guarantees spectacular views from every campsite. Relax and enjoy the peace and quiet or go and explore the area on foot on one of the hiking trails. Don’t miss the amazing rock art.

8. NGEPI CAMP

Well-known and a tourist favourite, it is hard to exclude Ngepi Camp from this list as it remains one of the funnest campsites in Namibia. Ngepi is known for the beauty of each camping spot set up between the natural vegetation and the views over the Okavango River. Quirky ablution designs as well as funny signage give the camp its character. And of course there is also the world’s first hippo and croc cage dive opportunity...

9. SPITZKOPPE

This group of inselbergs that make the Spitzkoppe, with its distinctive bald granite peaks, is iconic to Namibia. It remains one of the coolest spots to camp, as many Namibians and all mountain climbers would know. The opportunities to explore the area in and around the rock formations are endless. Make sure to go after good rains when there are many hidden rock pools that are loads of fun to swim in.

10. SPREETSHOOGTE CAMPSITE

The Spreetshoogte Pass is Namibia's most scenic mountain pass. The meandering road takes you from the much higher escarpment to the start of the Namib Desert at the foot of the pass. Set just over halfway down is Spreetshoogte Campsite with its spectacular views of the vast sandy plain to the west, lined by red sand dunes in the distance. Needless to say, this is sundowner central. TNN

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CAMPING Hello. My name is Elzanne, and I’m a campoholic…

I got addicted to the great outdoors at a young age. Why on earth would anyone sleep inside when the infinite night sky glittered so brightly? Outside was magical to me. Not dirty and scary. It was a wild world of wonder. And so, when I became old enough to venture out into the wilderness of nature by myself, camping was the only way to go. There’s something to be said for going back to basics. Convening with the natural world we all come from. This love of nature and the purity of the “outside” was not so wholly encompassing, however, that it would have stopped me from developing an appreciation for technology and modernity. Sooner or later, as you camp your way through the wild corners of Africa, you realise that there are certain benefits to the collection of gadgets tucked away in various ammo boxes in your camping kit. A tent is sometimes necessary, even if it does obstruct your view of the starry night sky. And once you’ve ventured into the realm of tent-buying you’ll notice that not all tents are equal. Various tools, culinary appliances and thingamabobs that have 20 different uses start piling up in your kit, and so it goes on. Before you know it you have every camping gadget ever created in your arsenal and a new something or other gets created and marketed specifically for you every day. Now you are also the person all your buddies want to park their car next to on the camping trip. “We don’t need to pack it, Jakes will have it”, is a sentence I’ve come to know extremely well over the years, as my parents refer to their good friend and my fellow camping-gadget connoisseur. So, you may ask me, or Jakes, which camping gadgets are a must-have? Well, here is my list of the 5 coolest contraptions that have revolutionised the experience for me.

POP-UP TENT: Easy, easy, easy

– that’s the best and only way to describe the wonderful invention that is the pop-up tent. If you’re looking for something durable and long-term (i.e. you are now living in the bush full time and don’t plan to ever head back into society), then a good old canvas dome tent is your option. But if you’re looking for something convenient which will still brave weather elements like rain, with a set-up time of three seconds and which is extremely easy to pack up again, the pop-up tent is for you!

YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT THOUGH. WE WENT OUT AND ASKED OUR FRIENDS ONLINE WHAT THEIR FAVOURITE MUST-HAVES ARE:

THE COFFEE FLASK: An absolute must-have for those who don’t know how to be human without a fair amount of caffeine in the system. Having hot coffee at hand, or hot water if you’re one of those weird people known as “teadrinkers”, is always super convenient. AMMO BOXES: I honestly don’t know how anyone ever packed anything into a camping car without an ammo box to store their stuff in. It makes for the best, most structured and most opportune packing, keeps everything inside safe, and these boxes fit on top of and next to each other like a glove. How my secretly OCD heart soars!

LEATHERMAN: A friend once told

me that with a Leatherman and cable ties you can keep the world together, and I couldn’t agree more. From quick mechanical fixes, slicing stuff open, popping off that pesky beer cap to buttering your toast, a compact multitool is your best friend.

ENGEL OR NATIONAL LUNA FRIDGE: Your car has a 12V lighter

socket plug, right? You’ll be driving around most of the time (there is A LOT to see in Namibia) and most modern campsites come equipped with

electricity points… Well there you have it! Pack your electric camping fridge and make sure that neither your chops nor your beers are ever on the wrong side of chilled. Happy camping! TNN

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A CITY AT YOUR FEET Text and Photographs Willie Olivier

I guess there are few countries in the world where you can drive from the centre of the capital for just 15 minutes, walk for 45 minutes and enjoy views of the city stretched out far below you. And when you make a 180 degree turn, all you see is unspoilt nature.

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arm Windhoek with its 70 km network of trails for walking, mountain biking and running is one such place. The trails meander along jeep tracks and into the foothills of the Auas Mountains at the southern end of the Windhoek valley. How far you want to walk and how much energy you want to expend is entirely up to you. The trails are interlinked and signposted at every junction with information about the distance to the next junction, the elevation and the average slope. Especially if you are not familiar with the trails, it is extremely useful that they are graded and colour-coded. Jeep tracks are graded as easy and suited for those looking forward to a relaxing walk with their dogs, for families with children and novice cyclists. Single trails range from easy (on jeep tracks) to intermediate and advanced. As soon as you have stepped through the entrance gate you will feel as close to nature as you can get – together with those who are also out enjoying their walk: families, cyclists and people taking their dogs for an outing.

As soon as you have stepped through the entrance gate you will feel as close to nature as you can get... The trails wind through bush savannah which is dominated by a variety of thorn trees. The first good rains transform the drab winter veld into a lush green landscape. Carpets of yellow devil’s thorn cover the plains along the Serengeti Trail, and the drooping clusters of pink and yellow flowers of the Omutjete, also known as the Kalahari Christmas tree or sicklebush, are unlikely to escape your attention. The white trumpet-shaped flowers of the Ghabbabos, commonly known as the trumpet-thorn, are also conspicuous after the first rain.

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The Witgat, or Shepard’s Tree, with its white bark is another noticeable species. As you make your way through the bush, the alarm call of a Go-Away Bird might startle you, while the high-pitched whistle of the Grey Hornbill is unlikely to go unheard. Blackcheeked and Violet-eared Waxbills as well as a variety of other birds can also be ticked off along the way. Farm Windhoek is popular with cyclists, too, and while you are hiking up or down one of the hills you might have to do some fancy footwork to get out of the way of downhill racing enthusiasts whizzing past you at breakneck speed. Remember that cyclists have right of way on trails. Mountain Biking events are regularly held on Farm Windhoek. There are just so many options and combinations, but one of my favourite walks is to the trigonometric beacon on top of Kleine Kuppe. From the start at the Kleine Kuppe Gate it is level and easy-going to the Play Pit, where you turn right, followed by a sustained uphill walk of about 40 minutes. As you ascend, Windhoek comes into view. But when you reach the beacon (1918 m above sea level) your efforts are rewarded with a bird’s eye view of the capital to the north, the Auas Mountains to the south and the Khomas Hochland to the west. This is where we usually enjoy a cup of coffee and a brötchen (German bread roll) before setting off again. From the beacon the trail descends steadily for about 35 minutes until it joins a jeep track which you follow for about 25 minutes to get back to the start. At a relaxed pace it takes about an hour and 45 minutes (rest stops excluded) to complete this hike. The trail network in the immediate vicinity of the Waldorf Gate consists of short, interlinked paths, while the routes in the Kleine Kuppe area are longer and the terrain is more undulating. TNN


FAST FACTS • •

• •

Access points: Waldorf Gate at the end of Andries de Wet Street in Avis and the Kleine Kuppe Gate in Otjivero Street, Kleine Kuppe. Entrance fee: N$40 (10 years and older); Pensioners (over 60 years) free. Various package options are available for individuals and families who are regular visitors. Free maps are available at the entrance gates. It is always advisable to walk in groups (three or more is a good number) and to leave your valuables locked in your vehicle at the access gates.


Elzanne McCulloch


GENERATION WANDERLUST:

The Coast Text and Photographs Nina van Zyl

Generation Wanderlust – you know who you are‌ You are that person who loves finding their way to new adventures, discovering different places, setting off on a journey to somewhere in the distance. And, of course, you have to document the process with your keen eye for photography. Or the keen eye of your behind-the-scenes partner-in-crime (you surely have one, how else would you be in the pictures?).


Xenia Ivanoff-Erb

DID YOU KNOW? • • • • • • •

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Quad biking Sand boarding Skydiving Swimming Fishing Surfing Lazing away the day on the beach

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Elzanne McCulloch

ACTIVITIES TO EXPLORE AT THE COAST:


GENERATION WANDERLUST

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amibia has many stunning locations to feature on your feed, but you don’t necessarily have to “rough it” to get to all of them. Some are a little closer to home than you think. Case in point: Swakopmund. Yes, we know you go there almost every other December holiday (if you’re a local). You’ve been there before. We get it. This time though, think like a tourist, act like it’s all new, in fact chances are a few things on this list will be. Your next visit to the coast can be your opportunity to explore the quaint town and experience it from a whole new angle. And for those of you who have never been there, finish reading this and then pack your bags. Swakopmund, as the adventure capital of Namibia, has a ton of exciting activities you need to try (and then boast about to your friends). There are the obvious things one does by the seaside. These involve water. But with the Atlantic Ocean’s chilly temperatures, perhaps a better idea is staying on dry land, but close enough to hear the waves crashing and feel the sand between your toes. In fact, why not try a dose of Zen and open your arms to the start of the new day with a relaxing yoga session on the beach? There are a number of yoga studios at the coast, but the best would be to search online for a seaside class or workshop that you can join. The aim is to twist yourself into those epic yoga poses that are so photogenic in front of a sunrise or sunset.

However, when you decide to jump from the open door of a plane, kilometres above the ground, make sure someone takes photographic evidence. Swakopmund is a great place to try out skydiving for the first time, with jumps taking place high above the town. If you have a fear of heights, this is not for you. Or perhaps it is – maybe you want to get rid of that fear? A less daunting but no less exciting activity might be climbing onto a quad bike and rushing across sandy plains and over yellow dunes. Join an excursion into the desert southeast of Swakopmund with one of the established quad bike tour companies in town, and let loose. You will be provided with a helmet, but remember to wear a warm jacket or windbreaker, because the effects of the relentless wind will make you freeze up if you don’t.

TRAVEL: • • • •

Shuttles drive to the coast every day Frequent flight specials from Windhoek to Swakopmund are advertised on social media The Namlifts group on Facebook offers lifts There’s even the train!

Xenia Ivanoff-Erb

Tania Vermeulen

Speaking of sunsets, Swakopmund is the one place where you need to stop whatever it is you are doing when the sun starts to sink into the sea, and pay attention. Namibia’s sunsets are spectacular, but at the coast they are so much more magical. Make your way to the dune belt that lines the road

between Swakopmund and Long Beach, climb to the top (or halfway there, we won’t judge) and enjoy the view. It is said that when the sun disappears behind the ocean, it sometimes causes a green flash. Watch closely and maybe you will have a great story to tell. But it is up for debate whether anyone will believe you.

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Charene Labuschagne

PUB CRAWL YOUR WAY THROUGH SWAKOP’S FINEST ESTABLISHMENTS:

Sinéad van Niekerk

• • • • • •

captions

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Tiger Reef Brewer and Butcher Bar Zonder Naam Brauhaus Hansa Hotel Kücki’s Pub

FROM TOP LEFT TO RIGHT Memorabilia and flags inside the Brauhaus Kücki’s Pub Relish a seafood meal on your coastal trip Enjoy some craft gin at Bar Zonder Naam Be sure to make time to stop for coffee Striking street-art in the city centre


GENERATION WANDERLUST

For those of you for whom the mere thought of braving the elements is the furthest from your idea of fun, don’t despair. Kick up your feet for a pedicure, stretch yourself out for a massage, or just chill during a relaxing day at the spa. In this regard you will also be spoilt for choice, but we recommend the spa at the Strand Hotel Swakopmund – the hotel sits right on the beach and after your appointment you can enjoy a soothing cup of tea on the terrace. The biggest draw-card for Swakopmund is Swakop itself. There is only one place like it, and even if you want nothing to do with any of the activities mentioned, simply basking in the atmosphere of this town will relax and unwind you. Even when the weather turns, and the sun ducks behind the mist, you will find that there is nothing quite like being tucked in your warm, thick jacket, as you stroll along the jetty hand-in-hand with your S.O. (Significant Other for you non-millennials). Just remember to take a selfie. TNN

Elzanne McCulloch

...simply basking in the atmosphere of this town will relax and unwind you.

FOR THE FOODIES: • • • • •

Two Beards and a Saint SlowTown Coffee Roasters Gabriele’s Pizzeria Old Steamer Restaurant The Tug

AFFORDABLE ACCOMMODATION: • • • •

Camping at Tiger Reef Municipal bungalows Mile 4 Backpacking


Helmeringhausen: The Tiny Town with Massive Character Text and Photographs Le Roux van Schalkwyk

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Make sure you fill up on fuel.

Small towns tend to have loads more character than cities, not even to mention the actual characters who call these towns home. When travelling, we often drive through these tiny places without giving them a second glance, because we are in such a rush to get to our destination.

The main road is the only street in Helmeringhausen.

LEFT TO RIGHT The Agricultural Museum of Helmeringhausen displays an array of antique farming implements. The entrance to the Helmeringhausen Hotel and Guest Farm The office of the Farmers’ Association of Helmeringhausen.

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elmeringhausen in the deep south of Namibia, with its one and only road of 400 metres, could potentially be missed if you don’t pay attention. Some places like Kamanjab solved this problem by strategically placing a four-way stop on the main road. A great way to make travellers realise they are passing through your town. Helmeringhausen is the result of one man’s dream. Hubert Hester was born in Helmeringhausen, Germany, on 30 October 1885. In 1907, at the age of 22, he arrives in German South West Africa as a marine and decides to stay, volunteering for service in the Schutztruppe. During his two years of service he is stationed at the military post of Chamis, 20 km from where he would eventually build his own small town. Hester distinguishes himself, along with the other members of his patrol, for being among the first to cross and explore the Namib Desert. Starting at Duwisib, it took the patrol and their camels 14 days to reach the coast and back. A few years after settling on a farm in the Bethanie district in 1911, the First World War breaks out and he once again joins the Schutztruppe, this time to fight the invading South African Forces. Hester is involved in the first battle between Union troops and the Schutztruppe on 26 September 1914 at the Sandfontein watering site between the Orange River and Warmbad. After his commanding officer is shot dead right next to him, he carries the body off the battlefield while under constant enemy fire. For this act of bravery he is awarded the Iron Cross.

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In 1919 Hester buys a 10 700 ha farm named Brons for £900 and changes the name to Helmeringhausen. As time goes by he starts erecting more and more buildings, creating the little town we know today. In 1934 he builds the hotel, followed by the service station in 1935 and the first shop in 1937. Due to his German origin he is interned at the internment camp at Koffiefontein at the outbreak of the Second World War. He spends six years there before he is allowed to return to his farm. Continuing his efforts, he builds a post office in 1948, the small residential building in 1950 and the current shop in 1953. It is said that he singlehandedly constructed every building in town. On 27 May 1972 this colourful character and pioneer passes away at the ripe old age of 87. According to the obituary in a local newspaper Hester was still strong and healthy shortly before his death. Almost until his last days he was still the area’s news correspondent for the Suidwester newspaper. He had also been a correspondent for the South African Broadcasting Corporation since 1956. The Helmeringhausen Hotel & Guest Farm now belongs to the Basler family and guests are still treated with the same wonderful German hospitality. The cosy restaurant is a popular lunch stop-over for travellers and the hotel a good place to spend the night. Right next to the hotel is the Agricultural Museum of Helmeringhausen, founded by the local Farmers' Association, which displays an array of antique farming implements. Fuel is available at the service station and at the shop you’ll find almost anything you are looking for. Next time when travelling south, make sure to take the quiet back roads and visit this tiny town with the big character. TNN Windhoek

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FROM TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT One-stop shop: The Helmeringhausen shop, bottle store and post office You’ll have to try it to judge for yourself Friendly locals Helmeringhasuen is not only good for a quick stop-over, but offers weary tourists some excellent accommodation The entrance to the Helmeringhausen Hotel and Guest Farm

HOW TO GET THERE

Helmeringhausen, on the C14 south of Maltahöhe, is centrally located when touring the area. From town continue on the C14 when travelling to the Fish River Canyon 300 km away, or turn off onto the C13 to Aus, from where it is another 230 km to Lüderitz. When heading to Sossusvlei, 250 km to the north, take the C27 that turns off the C13 not far from town.

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C24 Solitaire

Kalkrand

C14 C21 C14

Sesriem Sossusvlei

Mariental

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Maltahohe

B1

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NamibRand Nature Reserve

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C14

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Helmeringhausen

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“The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge remains in silencing the mind.” Caroline Myss

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BREAKING NEWS IN THE DESERT

On the 1st of April 2019 Gondwana’s social media was on fire after the following headline was published:

“An unidentified object has been found in the Gondwana Namib Park this past weekend. Authorities were called in to investigate. Thus far, the object’s origins have not been determined.”

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The The wildfire The wildfire wildfire was was was brought brought brought under under under control control control only only only when when when aa handful handful a handful ofof of sharp-witted sharp-witted sharp-witted followers followers followers pointed pointed pointed out out that out that that this this was this was was aa brilliant brilliant a brilliant April April April Fool’s Fool’s Fool’s joke. joke. joke. Little Little Little did did anyone did anyone anyone know know know that that that the thethe “unidentified “unidentified “unidentified object” object” object” was was was the the newest the newest newest addition addition addition toto the to the Gondwana the Gondwana Gondwana Collection Collection Collection Namibia’s Namibia’s Namibia’s family family family ofof lodges, of lodges, lodges, namely namely namely the thethe Desert Desert Desert Whisper, Whisper, Whisper, also also also called called called the the Pod. the Pod. Pod. The The mysteriously The mysteriously mysteriously shaped shaped shaped cabin cabin cabin inspired inspired inspired byby the by the !Nara the !Nara !Nara plant plant plant is is aa retreat isretreat a retreat forfor two for two two and and sits and sits atop sits atop atop aa rocky rocky a rocky mountain mountain mountain outcrop outcrop outcrop inin the the inGondwana the Gondwana Gondwana Namib Namib Namib Park. Park. Park. With With With views views views stretching stretching stretching asas far as far as far as the as the eye the eye can eye cancan see, see, see, fringed fringed fringed byby the by the Naukluft the Naukluft Naukluft Mountains Mountains Mountains inin the the indistance, the distance, distance, there there there is is nono isother no other other human human human being being being inin sight. sight. in sight. 36

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The The Secret The Secret Secret Collection Collection Collection A stay A stay A in stay in thethe inPod, the Pod, part Pod, part of part of Gondwana’s Gondwana’s of Gondwana’s Secret Secret Secret Collection, Collection, Collection, is is anan is otherworldly an otherworldly otherworldly experience experience experience in in thethe intruest the truest truest sense sense sense of of thethe of the word. word. word. This This ultimate This ultimate ultimate escape escape escape beckons beckons beckons travellers travellers travellers yearning yearning yearning toto to veer veer off veer off the off the mundane the mundane mundane tourist-trodden tourist-trodden tourist-trodden tracks. tracks. tracks. NoNo ticket No ticket ticket toto to thethe moon the moon moon is required. is required. is required. The The desert, The desert, desert, untouched untouched untouched and and unpretentious, and unpretentious, unpretentious, woos woos woos every every every single single single soul soul who soul who who sets sets foot sets foot on foot on itson its bare its bare bare sands. sands. sands. This This is This is the the is the desert desert desert that that isthat is renowned renowned is renowned forfor capturing for capturing capturing hearts, hearts, hearts, and and simuland simulsimultaneously taneously taneously setting setting setting them them them free, free, free, in in perfect perfect in perfect harmony. harmony. harmony. It sings It sings It sings a song a song a song only only audible only audible audible toto those those to those who who are who are willing are willing willing toto tune tune to tune in in toto in to thethe art the art ofart of listening listening of listening toto silence silence to silence – the – the –silence the silence silence of of a land aofland a that land thatthat vibrates vibrates vibrates with with stories with stories stories of of ancient ancient of ancient nomadic nomadic nomadic wanderers wanderers wanderers and andand itsits indigenous indigenous its indigenous and and endemic and endemic endemic animal animal animal species. species. species. In In a fast-paced, aInfast-paced, a fast-paced, modern modern modern world, world, world, wewe have we have have become become become overoveroveraccustomed accustomed accustomed toto perpetual perpetual to perpetual noise noise noise – beeping – beeping – beeping cell cell phones, cell phones, phones, rush-hour rush-hour rush-hour traffic, traffic, traffic, carcar alarms, car alarms, alarms, people people people talking talking talking just just for just for the for thethe sake sake of sake of filling filling of filling pauses pauses pauses that that might that might might become become become awkward awkward awkward silences. silences. silences. What What What will will itwill take it take it to take to relearn relearn to relearn toto embrace embrace to embrace thethe silence? the silence? silence?


AA contemporary contemporary A contemporary desert desert desert home home home

ADVERTORIAL

AtAtthe At theDesert the Desert Desert Whisper, Whisper, Whisper, guests guests guests getgetaget ataste taste a taste ofoflifeof lifeon life ontheir on their their own own own little little little planet, planet, planet, without without without giving giving giving upup oxygen up oxygen oxygen and and fresh and fresh fresh earth-grown earth-grown earth-grown food. food. food. A private A private A private chef chef cooks chef cooks cooks upup a storm up a storm a storm and and attends and attends attends toto guests’ guests’ to guests’ needs needs needs after after after which which which hehe seemingly he seemingly seemingly disappears disappears disappears into into thin into thin air. thin air. If,air. If, however, however, If, however, you you want you want want toto to whip whip whip upup your up your your own own meals, own meals, meals, allall thethe allfresh the fresh fresh ingredients ingredients ingredients will will be will be supplied. be supplied. supplied. This This isThis ais luxury aisluxury a luxury one one would one would would only only imagine only imagine imagine in in outer outer in outer space: space: space: thethe power the power power toto to have have have things things things appear appear appear and and disappear and disappear disappear according according according toto your your to desires your desires desires with with the with thethe snap snap snap of of a finger. aoffinger. a finger. Your Your contemporary Your contemporary contemporary desert desert desert home, home, home, inspired inspired inspired byby nature, nature, by nature, is one is one isthat one that you that youyou may may never may never never want want want toto leave. leave. to leave. The The open-plan The open-plan open-plan lounge lounge lounge and and dining and dining dining area area with area with with itsits well-stocked well-stocked its well-stocked barbar and bar and fully and fully equipped fully equipped equipped kitchen kitchen kitchen is connected is connected is connected toto your your to your bedroom bedroom bedroom and and en-suite and en-suite en-suite bathroom bathroom bathroom – all – all with – with all spectacular with spectacular spectacular desert desert desert vistas. vistas. vistas. If your If your If your inclination inclination inclination forfor the for the duration the duration duration ofof your your of your stay stay isstay is toto saunter is saunter to saunter down down down thethe wooden the wooden wooden walkway walkway walkway toto relax relax to relax in in thethe insplash the splash splash pool pool while pool while while soaking soaking soaking upup the up thethe endless endless endless panoramas panoramas panoramas from from from there, there, there, nono one no one will one will judge will judge judge you, you, because you, because because there there there is is nono is one no one else one else around. else around. around. But But ifBut you if you ifdecide you decide decide toto getget toout get out ofout of your your of shell your shell shell and andand venture venture venture out, out, private out, private private activities activities activities can can be can be arranged be arranged arranged forfor your for your enjoyment. your enjoyment. enjoyment. If one If one Ifday one day for day for some for some some reason reason reason the the Namib the Namib Namib Pod Pod needs Pod needs needs toto bebe to moved, be moved, moved, itsits its environmentally environmentally environmentally friendly friendly friendly design design design would would would leave leave leave the the surrounds the surrounds surrounds exactly exactly exactly asas they they as were they were were before before before – beautiful – beautiful – beautiful and and unspoiled. and unspoiled. unspoiled. Like Like aLike whisper a whisper a whisper being being being carried carried carried away away away onon the on the wind, the wind, wind, it would it would it would disappear disappear disappear without without without a trace, a trace, a trace, asas if no ifasno if no human human human being being being had had ever had ever set ever set foot set foot there. foot there. there. NoNo matter No matter matter what what what humans humans humans decide decide decide toto dodo to and do and the and the trends the trends trends wewe decide we decide decide toto to follow follow follow oror unfollow, unfollow, or unfollow, thethe desert the desert desert wind wind wind will will continue will continue continue carrying carrying carrying itsits message. message. its message. ItsIts silence silence Its silence will will remain will remain remain anan artart an available art available available toto whomever whomever to whomever is willing is willing is willing toto listen, listen, to listen, embrace embrace embrace and and appreciate and appreciate appreciate thethe beauty the beauty beauty thereof. thereof. thereof. Annelien Annelien Annelien Robberts Robberts Robberts

Silence Silence Silence isisan isanan art art art and and and the the the Desert Desert Desert Whisper Whisper Whisper aamasterpiece. amasterpiece. masterpiece.

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Jermain Ketji

Jermain Ketji is a Namibian who spent his early years outdoors as a goat herder, where his love of nature first began. Today Ketji is the Community Engagement Manager for Wilderness Safaris. He has been in community-based conservation and tourism for over twelve years, starting as a research assistant doing work in the Okavango and Caprivi regions of Namibia to piloting agricultural tourism concepts in the Omaheke Region. He has served as a Business Advisor to the Namibian Community Based Tourism Association and the Namibia Rural Development Project before venturing into business. In 2005 he joined Wilderness Safaris as a freelance guide before taking on a full-time position as a Community Liaison Officer in 2006. He's since moved up the ranks to become Community Liaison Manager.

I

grew up in Grootfontein. Back then family was the community. It was really extended, we had parents everywhere up and down the street. I grew up with farming. We could enjoy nature. There was an old man who was our goat herder. I enjoyed his company and he used to take me with him to herd the goats every day and he would really interpret nature for me. I learnt the uses of the plants, learnt about which tracks I had found, the uses of different fruits and berries. I fell in love with nature at that young age. Namibia is known the world over for our great conservation story. To sustain our conservation success, tourism comes in handy by using it as a base to launch a tourism concept that does not destroy the environment, but shares our conservation story with international guests who also help pay for conservation. Our tourism model is “boots on the ground”, which defines sustainability and conservation in a different way. We show people how to do it. We share our story and I think we inspire people. There are many uses of land but you can have land and

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still not be empowered. Conservation is utilising land and adding economic value to it, so that out of that land we may reap the benefits which help to sustain the economy. A conservancy’s assets, like wildlife, its administration and the success of conservation on that land – that’s a package. On top of that you add tourism, build a lodge, employ people, sell the package and empower. I am proud of being a negotiator for concessions and conservancies, and playing a role in clinching the deal with the Palmwag Conservancy. I’m looking forward to refining and enhancing what we are doing and making it a model that others can copy. If you are genuine and authentic about what you want to do, if you add passion to that, like in my case, I’ve had the opportunity to see things materialise. That inspires me to keep doing what I do, regardless of what it takes or how long it takes. Children in the Wilderness is a program focused on schools in rural areas. We engage with kids in what we call Eco Clubs. It basically plants a seed in these learners to become aware of their environment and become future custodians of it.


At our annual Eco Club camps we close one of our lodges to guests and open it to the children. They come and are exposed to the value of tourism, and they get treated like guests. We share inspiring stories that can ignite little fires in them to open up and start dreaming about big things. The Children in the Wilderness program sponsors basics for those who don’t have a lot. It pays for uniforms and buys books and study materials. It also sponsors tertiary education.

will have a better world. We need to awaken ourselves to become conscious of that, and we need to value our impact on people. TNN Jermain’s story is part of a new series celebrating Namibians in tourism and conservation in partnership with Master Your Destiny. Read more in the MYD Journal at: www.issuu.com/99fm/docs/99fm_myd_book_2018

We underestimate the impact that we can make on other people. If we can be generous with what we have, we

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On Honeymoon in Namibia’s South Text and Photographs Nina van Zyl

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Honeymoons are a big deal... apparently. It’s supposed to be the most romantic holiday a couple can take. That’s a lot of pressure on one trip. Where in the world is this destination for two people that is sure to deliver on all of their rose-tinted expectations while still being affordable enough to leave the bank balance dent-free? It’s not an easy order. And it was one that threw me into the depths of despair over the fact that not only did our honeymoon have to be original, special, romantic, stunning and exotic, but also that there are so many potential honeymoon destinations that the thought of choosing one made me gnash my teeth with anxiety. And I was a relatively relaxed bride, so that’s saying something. Then a thought hit me: why not honeymoon in our motherland, Namibia? TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2019

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Sunset game drives on NamibRand.

When the light of dusk becomes soft and magical, one is too enthralled not to sit down and enjoy it.

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Exploring roads less travelled


Lüderitz at sunset from the deck of the Lüderitz Nest Hotel.

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he reasoning was simple enough. People come from all over the world to experience the stunning scenery and epic vistas which we, the locals, take for granted. I convinced my soon-to-be hubby that our perfect honeymoon would be for the two of us to pack his car and take a road trip down to Namibia’s south, make a detour to Lüderitz and finish at the Fish River Canyon. We put in a week’s leave and set off, exploring roads less travelled and tasting various apple crumbles, stopping at roadside farm stalls and getting up early to catch the sunrise.

ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

There’s a look-out point on the edge of the Khomas Hochland escarpment, where the mountains drop down from the central plateau to the flat expanse below, stretching out to the west, to the desert, to the sea. A road leads down in ribbons, known as the Spreetshoogte Pass, and at the top one of the most beautiful views in the country unfolds, the Spreetshoogte View Point. This is where we started our honeymoon trip. Looking out to where the sun was setting, our road lay ahead of us. We spent the night in the vicinity, watching the spectacular spectrum of colours that washed over the sky ahead of nightfall. And early the next day we set off down the pass, our vehicle leaving a trail of dust that whirled behind us for kilometres. We were heading for one of the most visited areas in Namibia – the famous Sossusvlei and nearby Sesriem and Solitaire. We skipped Dead Vlei and its camel thorns, however, not interested in the crowds that we would meet there, and instead opted for a coffee break with a slice of apple crumble at the Solitaire bakery. Solitaire is famous not only for said apple crumble but also for the collection of rusted, broken down automobiles from yesteryear that sit in the sand, seemingly stuck there until the end of time. They do offer great photo opportunities, though. The reason why the south of Namibia speaks to me, to my soul, is the isolation. There are places in the Namib that feel completely abandoned. NamibRand, a private nature reserve just south of Sossusvlei, embodies this feeling. We were booked into the reserve’s Wolwedans Dune Camp for two nights and spent our time basking in the endless horizons. Our tented room was perched on the side of a russet-coloured dune with a view to the distant mountains. It felt unreal. When you find yourself in heaven, there’s not much else to do except rejoice in it. However, we weren’t allowing ourselves to become completely slothful, so instead we took part in as many of the activities as we could, sans the sunset horseback rides. Early morning drives to the best spots for coffee and rusks, check. Late afternoon drives to the best spots for sundowners and snacks, check. And of course, the obligatory massage on the deck in front of our tent. Not a bad way to pass the time. Eventually, we had to leave, but we did so with light hearts because our next destination was just as unique, albeit in a completely different way.

TO STAND BETWEEN ROCKS, SAND AND THE SEA

Lüderitz is a place from another time. Almost as if transported from another planet. The distinct architecture, similar to the German colonial style seen in Swakopmund, stands out in a place so stark and a landscape so harsh. The seaside town is known for its delicious oysters, but perhaps more for its wind: it happens to be the venue of an annual speed-surfing competition. Strangely, or maybe magically, whenever I visit Lüderitz the weather is cool and comfortable, and it is only when I leave that the wind picks up. Lüderitz is not the place one visits for a run-of-the-mill holiday. It is not a beach resort, palm trees and rum cocktails kind of place.

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Windhoek

C26

OUR ROUTE: From Windhoek to Spreetshoogte Pass Follow B1 and C24 to D1261 in Hardap Region Continue on D1261 Drive to D1275 in Khomas Region

Rehoboth C24 Spreetshoogte C24 Pass

From Spreetshoogte to Solitaire Head west on D1275 for 34.5 km and turn left onto the C14. Continue for 9.3 km, then turn right onto the C19. After only 300 m, turn right.

B1

Solitaire

From Solitaire to NamibRand Nature Reserve Turn right onto C19 Continue for 70.8 km, then turn right onto the D826 After 11.8 km the D826 becomes the C27. Continue for a further 67,7 km. You should see the sign on your right

C21

C14

Sesriem

Mariental C19 Maltahohe

C19

NamibRand Nature Reserve

C14

From NamibRand Nature Reserve to Lüderitz From the entrance of the Reserve, turn right onto the C27. Continue south, with the C27 turning into the D831. After 69.2 km, turn right onto the suddenly reappearing C27 again Continue for 99.1 km. At the turn for Helmeringhausen, turn right onto the C13. After 101 km on the C13, turn right onto the B4. Keep following the road until you reach the town.

C27 B1

C13

B4

Luderitz

C14

Keetmanshoop

Aus

B4

Kolmanskop

Seeheim

C12

C13

From Lüderitz to Fish River Canyon Lookout Point (we took a slight detour through the desert here, but at the risk of getting lost, please don’t) Follow your way back on the B4 for about 300 km After driving past Seeheim, turn right onto the D545 Continue for 33.4 km, driving past the Naute Recreational Resort on your left. Turn left onto the C12 and continue for 48.1 km After Holoog, turn right onto the D601 You have now entered the Gondwana Nature Park. Continue for 45 km, past the Canyon Roadhouse and Hobas campsite. The road comes to an end at the lookout point.

Tsau //Khaeb (Former Sperrgebiet) National Park

Naute Recreational Resort

D463

Hobas Viewpoint

B1

Canyon Roadhouse Gondwana Collection

Grunau

Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park Ai-Ais Hot Springs B1

Oranjemund Noordoewer

We won't blame you if you tear this page out


It is dramatic, rising out of the ancient black rock, almost at risk of being swallowed up by the desert around it. Kolmanskop, the well-known ghost town a few kilometres outside Lüderitz, bears witness to this distinct possibility. Whereas in NamibRand we had woken up every morning to the sound of silence (it really does have a sound, as if your ears are closed!), our mornings in Lüderitz began with the roar of the dark blue waves crashing over black rocks far below our window. Our room at the Lüderitz Nest Hotel had a view over the bay and we would stand on the balcony and watch the sea birds fly by, landing on the liquid surface, rising and falling with the rolling ocean. Evenings were spent taste-testing local restaurants, from seafood paella at an intimate one-room pub, to pizzas overlooking the harbour and the tastiest Portuguese fish pot at, you guessed it, the Portuguese restaurant (the only Portuguese restaurant in Lüderitz, mind you). We trekked to the south of the town, following the road to Diaz Point, where Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias erected a padrão, or stone cross, on top of a rocky outcrop. After climbing our way up there we stood at the national monument, wondering out loud how on earth those 15th century sailors managed to haul the massive structure up from the beach far below. The ocean seemed volatile, violent, and I couldn’t imagine travelling down the coast of Africa in what compared to later standards of shipbuilding were flimsy wooden vessels. To be tossed about by strong winds and vicious currents. It made me even more thankful a while later to find myself enjoying a hot cup of coffee and a slice of delicious freshly baked cake at the quirky Garden Café opposite the Waterfront. Looking back at history is a charming pastime, but I was rather glad to be in the 21st century, especially considering the developmental milestones achieved in coffee brewing.

WHERE WE STAYED:

Wolwedans Dune Camp: the most luxurious accommodation on our trip, but worth every cent. Lüderitz Nest Hotel: waking up to the sound of waves crashing against the rocky shore below was a treat. Plus, the views are stunning. Gondwana Roadhouse: Friendly service. We especially liked the bar, which is in the centre of a huge shed-like structure filled with automotive memorabilia from past decades and decorated in a vintage Americana fashion. Oh, and there are old cars parked between the dining tables.

DON’T FORGET:

Pack warm clothes, especially a thick jacket, because nights and early mornings in the desert can be extremely cold. Remember closed shoes, for aforesaid low temperatures as well as for walking safaris and exploring the surroundings. Cash – many establishments along our route didn’t have card facilities. Always ask whether a fuel station accepts cards before filling up. Always travel with at least 10 litres of water in your vehicle. Road trip snacks (distances between towns are vast and you might find yourself peckish half-way between nothing and nowhere).

FOLLOW YOUR NOSE

While a visit to Lüderitz may feel like finding the last bastion of civilization in the middle of nowhere, imagine turning back the way you came and now heading out into the desert, following gravel roads, not seeing another vehicle or homestead for hours on end. That was exactly what we did, and it was wonderful. From the west we headed east into the interior, exploring the dry landscape, following the D463 as it skirts the top of /Ai-/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, the orange sandy desert transformed into a cool greyish brown of eroded rock. Along the way we spotted an abandoned Land Rover on a two-wheel track that turned off the road and ended abruptly a few metres away. The Landy was parked there, as if its occupants had merely stopped to take a walk. It had no roof and there were bottles of water inside. One tyre was missing. The valley around us seemed eerily quiet, not a soul in sight. We noted the coordinates and wished the Landy well before continuing on our way. The next morning we got up in the dark and followed the road lit by our car’s headlights to the edge of the Fish River Canyon. We were all alone. We sat on the rough gravel ground, between baby boulders and hardy grass, and watched as the sun behind us lit the canyon wall opposite us, the rosy dawn light flowing down its side. All was quiet. All was calm. TNN

Breathtaking view of Spreetshoogte.


OUR ETOSHA RESORTS

SOME OF OUR PRIZED POSSESSIONS

CELEBRATING OUR RESORTS ONKOSHI RESORT

HALALI RESORT

OLIFANTSRUS CAMP

 +264 855 502 342  +264 67 687 362

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OVERVIEW

OVERVIEW

OVERVIEW

IN THE SOUTHH L

L

/AI-/AIS HOT SPRINGS

SHARK ISLAND

in seclusion, on the rim of the majestic Etosha Salt Pan and aLaLi Resort is situated at the base of a dolomite hill, nesocated in the western part of the Etosha National Park far away from the public self-drive routes, Onkoshi provides a tled amongst shady Mopane trees in Namibia’s legendbetween the Okaukuejo and Dolomite Resorts, Olifantsrus beautiful escape within the Etosha National Park. The 15 freestandary Etosha National Park. The thick vegetation in the area Campsite is a camping-only facility, there no stunning chalets Namibia’s southern reaches are made up of rolling hills, mountain-scapes and vast stretches of savanna grassland, slowly morphing intoarethe ing chalets (30 beds) overlook the vast pan, which is home to a varimakes it a popular draw to leopards, rhinos and elephants. available here. The facility has 10 campsites with 5 power desert landscapes of the Namib in the west. Nature is pure here, unblemished and awe-inspiring. From the dramatic scenery of the Fish River Canyon ety of exotic wildlife, including a crowd of pink flamingos and 4 of the stands whereby two campsites are sharing at one stand. at big 5 game in thethe rainyquiet season.solace of the warm water springs Someat of /Ai-/Ais the most popular of thepicturesque park are locatedhistoric in Hobas Camp, to thewaterholes quaint and coastal retreat of Lüderitz and Shark Island, our The campsites take a maximum of 8 pax per site. There are braai close proximity to Halali, and the floodlit waterhole at the camp southern resorts are enigmatic havens in the far-flung corners of this beautiful land. is an attraction to both wildlife and the visitors seeking to spot it. facilities for campers and flat bases to make fire. The camp opens at The unobstructed panoramic sunrises and sunsets are spectacular sights to behold. At night, the stars fill the vast open African sky, The guided morning, afternoon, and night game drives arranged sunrise and closes at sunset as per the general park regulations and allowing for sensational stargazing opportunities. at the resort provide flexible opportunities to see the wildlife. day visitors are only allowed to use the picnic facilities up until 16h00. ocated

HOBAS LODGE

OKAUKUEJO RESORT +264 63 683 469

+264 63 683 676/7 NAMUTONI RESORT +264 63 683 682

+264 63 683 469

 +264 67 229 300 OVERVIEW  +264 67 229 306

/A

i-/Ais Hot Springs Spa offers comfortable OVERVIEW accommodation in 36 exquisitely appointed double rooms facing either the Fish River or the mountains, all uiLt into an old German Historic Fort built in 1897, Namutoni with direct access to the indoor spa pools, and seven Resort is chalets. the perfect setting can for a enjoy culturalthe adventure African self-catering Visitors therapeutic savannah. It is thermal located insprings the eastern part central of the Etosha National powers of the in the indoor spa Park in close proximity to the Fisher’s Pan – a hotspot for birders. or choose to wallow in the large outdoor thermal pool, and experience an invigorating and relaxing foot massage The romantic fort overlooks the flood-lit King Nehale Waterhole from with a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains. which visitors can enjoy views of wildlife without leaving the resort. For a true Namibian touch, true relaxation and true The swimming pool and bar offer moments to relax and socialize. tranquillity that heals body, mind and soul, a wide range of massage options are on offer. Hikers and visitors alike can experience exotic massages on the banks of the Fish River.

B

DOLOMITE RESORT +264 63 202 752 +264 63 203 213

 +264 67 229 800  +264 67 229 852 OVERVIEW

 +264 65 685 119  +264 65 685 116 OVERVIEW

H

hark Island is located on the Shark Peninsula in Lüderitz OVERVIEW

obas Lodge is located in the /Ai-/Ais Richtersveld OVERVIEW Transfrontier Park, near Fish River Canyon, one of the largest canyons thekm world main attraction kaukuejo , locatedin 17 fromand the the southern entrance in Southern HobasPark, Lodge at the of the of the Namibia. Etosha National is sits famous forstart its flood90litkm long Fishwhere River visitors Canyoncan Hiking Trail, at ranked of waterhole, observe close one quarthe best hiking trails Southern Africa. The offers ters a spectacle of in wildlife congregating andlodge interacting. six en-suite rooms and 14 campsites nestled among shady trees at the top endto ofsuit the Fishneed, Riverin Canyon. Accommodation is provided every premier Hobas is closely located the Fish viewpoint. bush chalets overlooking the to waterhole; bushRiver chalets and dou-

o

ble rooms; or family chalets. Other facilities include a restaurant, bar, shop, swimming pool, kiosk and camping facilities.

S

Bay in southwest Namibia. The resort overlooks the bay,oLomite townResort and is harbour. spot scenic the seals located inOnlookers a previouslycan restricted area inand pelicans that frequent the rocky areas around the site. The the western region of Etosha National Park, rich in biodiversity resort is absence an excellent centraltourism. point The for dolomite exploring the town due to the of mainstream formations ofthe Lüderitz, famous Kolmanskop Ghost and no Diaz in area givethe the resort its name and provide a lushTown, vista. With Point, historic landing spot ofare17th explorer less thanthe 15 waterholes, wildlife sightings very century common around Bartolomeu The resortphotography also runs itsopportunities. own signature the resort and Dias. provide excellent Blacktrip, Sand Roses, the Diamond Area at atthe Agate Beach. Visitors and White Rhinointo have often been spotted Klippan waterhole. get to see sand arranged roses formed from bring crystallised Moreover, thethe specially game drives you to thegypsum, most which are a stunning marvel, unlike anything you’ve exclusive areas of the park,natural generally only known to conservationists. ever seen. Visitors can also swim at the Agate Beach.

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BOOK ON THE GO Our app has been reimagined from the ground up so you can get a little more from it. You can now make and pay for your bookings while on the go. View our resorts and camps even when you are offline. NamLeisure Card applications can also be made right from the app. Download it now for your iOS and Android device.  www.nwr.com.na/app

WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA

MICE (WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA)

SWAKOPMUND, NAMIBIA

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

 +264 61 285 7200

 +264 61 285 7108/2857167/

 +264 64 402 172

 +27 21 422 3761



KATUTURA

EXPLORING WINDHOEK´S

– ‘THE PLACE WHERE WE DO NOT WANT TO LIVE’ Text and Photographs Willie Olivier

One of the easiest ways to see the highlights of any city is to take a guided tour, but surprisingly Windhoek did not have a regular city tour operator until earlier this year when Lothem Safaris, in conjunction with the Namibia Scientific Society, launched Windhoek City Tours.

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he company offers tours of Old Windhoek as well as the western suburbs and Katutura. I opted for the latter and as we got on our way from the Christuskirche, which overlooks Windhoek’s rather small central business district, our guide Hané Brink gave a brief overview of the city’s history. Leaving the city centre behind, our route took us past what was previously known as the Old Location on the western outskirts of Windhoek. This area was inhabited by black and coloured residents until their forced removal in the 1960s to an apartheid-style township which they called Katutura, an Otjiherero name meaning ‘the place where we do not want to live’. Our first stop was at the Old Location cemetery where Hané recounted the events preceding demonstrations which left 12 people dead and another 44 wounded when the police opened fire on the crowd on the evening of 10 December 1959. We visited the mass grave of the victims of the Old Location Uprising. Our journey continued towards the Rocky Crest suburb and soon we were passing the Otjomuise settlement which has sprung up on the southern outskirts of Katutura more recently. Hané explained that Otjomuise, which means place of smoke, was the Otjiherero name for Windhoek in precolonial times, because the steam rising from the hot springs could be seen from afar. The Khoekhoen speakers called the site /Ae//gams, or fire water. She also elaborated on the origin of the name Windhoek.

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RIGHT

Wall art at Penduka Seeds for beads Batik cushion covers As we passed Wanaheda, Hané refreshed my memory by pointing out that the name was formed with the first two letters of Wambo, Nama, Herero and Damara. A little further on we turned into Eveline Street which has earned various reputations – famous, infamous and notorious. Driving past the numerous bars, car washes, hair dressers and other informal businesses, Hané said that the street was named after Meme Eveline who became famous for the vetkoek (a type of doughnut) that she used to sell on the street. Our next stop was at Penduka on the banks of Goreangab Dam. Penduka, an Otjiherero name meaning wake up, was established as a development project for women from rural and underdeveloped areas in 1992. We were shown around the pottery, sewing and batik workshops. At the glass unit, where beads and jewellery are made from recycled glass, Hané translated the sign language of the deaf women who work there. As we continued our journey past Katutura’s sprawling informal settlements, Hané gave an eye-opening insight into the way of life, the informal businesses and the challenges faced by the people living there in huts put together with corrugated iron sheets. She also told us what the Windhoek Municipal Council is doing to improve their plight.

We now made our way through the historic core of Katutura with its gridiron layout. People who were removed from the Old Location in the late 1950s and early 1960s were allocated small brick houses in blocks known as lokasies (English: locations), according to ethnicity, i.e. Owambo, Herero, Damara and Nama. There was also a mixed area. At the Oshetu Community Market we got another opportunity to stretch our legs and meet the locals. The market was established in 2004 in an area where the Single Quarters for unmarried men used to be. Oshetu is an Oshiwambo name meaning it’s ours or our community. As we disembarked from the bus the aroma of kapana (small strips of beef) being grilled on open fires greeted us. Our first port of call was a vendor selling a variety of traditional food – mopane worms, dried spinach cakes, eembe fruit from the Bird Plum tree, groundnuts, dried fish and nuts from the Makalani palm tree. Only one brave member of the group was adventurous enough to

sample mopane worms… and didn’t look too enthusiastic afterwards. We then made our way to the meat section which has its own dynamics. At one work station chunks of meat are cut into thin strips, the aforementioned kapana, and passed on to those who braai (barbecue) the meat. At other stands vendors were preparing tomato and onion salads as an accompaniment to the kapana. Everyone was rather peckish by now and the vetkoek vendors made good business with our group of visitors. The final leg of the tour took us past the Katutura Intermediate Hospital, built in 1973, and then through the leafy suburb of Eros back to the Christuskirche. The tour takes about four hours. Even though I am a local and have been to Katutura numerous times, it was time well spent – learning new things and being reminded of things that I had long forgotten. And for a visitor it is most certainly a most insightful journey into an area of Windhoek that is often overlooked. TNN

CONTACT DETAILS

Hané Brink Mobile: +264 81 129-2597 Email: windhoekcitytours@ lothemsafaris.com Web: www.windhoekcitytours.net

LEFT

Oshetu meat section Penduka dolls Oshetu community market


Talking to Two Beards Over a Cup of Coffee Text and Photographs Christie Keulder

Coffee is not only one of the world’s most popular nonalcoholic beverages, it is also – more so than anything else – responsible for kickstarting the world every morning and for getting everyone out the door and off to work. Without coffee, I, perhaps like many others, would simply be unemployable. David Letterman once revealed that if it had not been for coffee, he’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.

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e that as it may, the world produces and consumes more coffee than ever before. In December last year the United States Department of Agriculture estimated that world coffee production for 2018/19 would increase by 15.6 million bags to a record 174.5 million bags. Growth in the coffee market has been driven by a number of factors: the availability of a wide-range of coffee types, flavours and brewing styles; rising urbanisation and higher disposable incomes; and the increasing number of food outlets, retail stores and cafés that sell coffee. So, perhaps it is no surprise then that Namibians are joining the global coffee market as consumers and coffee roasters. Slowtown Coffee Roasters was the first artisanal coffee roaster in Swakopmund, and now there is another: Two Beards Coffee Roasters. Mark, the young man sitting across the table from me, has had his beard since he left school. Roy, his father, has a beard that dates back much further. Together this father and son duo established Two Beards Coffee Roasters in 2016. The dream of one day roasting coffee full time started with advice from a close friend when Roy asked about early retirement. Roy took the words “make sure you have something to do from day one” to heart and purchased a roaster to pursue his passion for roasting coffee. As with so many artisans, Roy and Mark’s journey started at home and without formal training as coffee roasters. Trial and error, reading and research brought experience and secured their first commercial clients. These were all local Swakopmund businesses looking for their own, unique signature blends of coffee.

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For Mark and Roy the key to excellent coffee lies not only in the quality of the beans, or the standards of farming, but in roasting the beans. Now this sounds simple enough, but as Mark often points out there is both a science and an art to roasting coffee. Once the beans have matured, they are removed from the coffee cherries (the pods that hold the seeds) and dried. These green-coloured coffee beans are packed into large sacks (usually), weighing 60 kilograms each. The green coffee beans do not smell like coffee at all – they have a beany, grassy aroma – but when roasted, these very same beans develop hundreds (yes, hundreds) of different aroma and flavour compounds. It is thus up to the skill and experience of the roaster to extract the best and most sought-after of these characteristics by applying variable heat at specific times during the process and thus bring out the unique flavours for each batch of coffee. After watching Roy meticulously “reading the beans” for roast colour and what is commonly referred to in the industry as the First Crack, monitoring the Rate of Rise temperatures and, depending on the roast, the Second Crack, I could not help thinking how far we have come with our coffee. I still remember the way my long-deceased grandmother used to roast her coffee in a large cast iron pot over an open fire set up in the one corner of her homestead, after which it was my task to grind the beans using a cast iron mill mounted to the wall. No disrespect Ouma, but I think I like Roy and Mark’s roasts better. Two Beards specialises in single origin, 100% pure Arabica coffees that reflect the true diversity of the world’s great coffee producing countries: Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Indonesia, among others. If you are ever in need to discuss your coffee affairs, or just exchange your most recent ideas about the local artisan coffee movement, you’ll not only find the Two Beards most helpful and gregarious company, but you’ll also be able to enjoy a scrumptious meal in the Two Beards and a Saint Gourmet Coffee Bar and Bistro right below the Roastery where Radley – the Saint – offers a gourmet, café-style menu to go with a wide selection of coffees. Two Beards Coffee Roasters and Two Beards and a Saint Gourmet Coffee Bar and Bistro are located on the outskirts of Swakopmund at Unit 6 Eastern Concepts, 5 Einstein Street, Swakopmund. Business hours are from 7h30 to 17h00 Monday to Friday, and from 7h30 to 14h30 on Saturdays. TNN

FOR MORE DETAILS SEE:

Two Beards Coffee Roastery Email: coffee@2beardscoffee.com.na Telephone: +264 81 772 3757 Two Beards and a Saint Gourmet Coffee Bar and Bistro Email: bistro@2beardscoffee.com.na Telephone: +264 81 441 0255

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Located 30 minute drive from the Hosea International Airport and 15 minutes from center town. For Reservations: reservations@rivercrossing.com.na Telephone Number: +264 61 401 494

For Functions: functions@rivercrossing.com.na


ADVERTORIAL

Wilderness Safaris:

35 YEARS of Travelling With a Purpose

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perating camps and safaris in six countries on the African continent, Wilderness Safaris is going into its 36th year in style by offering 8 lifechanging Travel with Purpose journeys which will make an impact. Filled with exciting destinations, guided by local experts and with a unique behindthe-scenes access to conservation and the community processes of Wilderness Safaris and its partners, every journey promises to be unforgettable. In Namibia the destination will be beautiful untamed Damaraland. The date for this exceptional experience is 16-21 June 2019 with an itinerary that will focus on conservation initiatives in this area supported by Wilderness Safaris. Furthermore, funds raised through this exclusive trip will go directly to the Save the Rhino Trust, a partner and beneficiary of this journey. Ecotourism has been a fundamental part of Wilderness Safaris since its beginning in 1983, with the aim of conserving and restoring Africa’s wilderness and wildlife. A vision statement, embedded in the character of the company as well as in every one of its employees. What better way to experience this unique brand of ecotourism than through an itinerary that is designed to be a fun, enlightening expedition that takes you to picturesque Damaraland, with the added incentive of actually helping conservation efforts in the area. Intended to not only showcase this remarkable part of the world, the itinerary is also designed to give first-hand exposure to remote rural communities like the Riemvasmakers, who form part of Namibia’s world-leading community conservancy system. Witness the impact of community-based conservation and how it has saved the black rhino and many other desert-adapted species. Guests will also get the opportunity to track the Critically Endangered black rhino on foot across the parched rocky desert of north-western Namibia. Accompanied by community and rhino conservation experts, they will be able to learn more about the last truly free-ranging population of black rhino left in the world. Guest capacity is limited, so be sure to book your spot as soon as possible. TNN

Tel: +264 61 274500 Email: info@wilderness.com.na Web: www.wilderness-safaris.com

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THROUGH MY EYES: Jandré Germishuizen Photographer Jandré Germishuizen grew up with a love for Namibia’s nature that led him to study conservation and guiding in South Africa. However, after returning to his homeland, Jandré gradually became more interested in turning his photography hobby into a career. Jandré is currently a full-time photography guide who accompanies some of the world's greatest photographers through Namibia. They have included National Geographic photographer Art Wolfe, leading landscape and wildlife photographer Hougaard Malan, who was awarded the Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2016, and Izak Pretorius, the National History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Driven by the urge to capture what is different, Jandré continues to be excited by the possibility of drawing viewers into a new world.

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Etosha Standoff – Taken at a waterhole in Etosha, where size does matter every now and again.


FROM TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT

Golden Etosha – Early morning light in Etosha, the lion couldn’t be less bothered by any passers-by. Waterhole storm – Dramatic action at a waterhole in Etosha. Over the dunes of time – The Namib desert – the oldest desert in the world. It seems impossible to adequately portray the absolute vastness of this space. Autumn Glaze – A black rhino picks up our scent in the bush.


Together – The famous grey elephants of Etosha take a moment’s rest at the waterhole.



PHOTOGRAPHY FEATURE

OPPOSITE TOP

Sandblasted – A young elephant in Etosha dusts himself with his trunk, a skill that he has not yet fully mastered.

OPPOSITE BOTTOM

Bothered by the birds – Taken in Etosha where finding leopards is a rare occurrence. This young leopard gracefully flew up the tree and went back to sleep.

LEFT

Dust storm – Namibia is known the world over for some of the best rhino conservation initiatives out there; here is to more success.

I'm Jandré Germishuizen, and for as long as I can remember, my passion has been the great outdoors.

professional photographer, which now is my everyday life. Currently I am a fulltime photography guide.

I've spent most of my life in the south of Namibia, where I was introduced to one of the most beautiful places on earth – Sossusvlei. After matriculating in South Africa I realised I had no choice but to follow a career that would allow me to spend most of my time in nature.

Photography is part of my being. I constantly have the urge to capture what's new and different. Luring viewers into new worlds, experiences and possibilities gets me excited and motivated to keep doing what I do.

I spent some time back home and then returned to South Africa to study nature conservation and guiding, my compact DSLR never leaving my side. After graduating I accompanied small private groups to Sossusvlei as a guide and later led groups all over Namibia.

We live in a highly visual world, with the constant opportunity to draw viewers into images. If I can inspire, amuse and entice through what has been a massive presence in my life, nature and images, then my mission is accomplished. TNN

I soon realised that photography is my passion. With the help of some great mentors I gradually worked towards accomplishing my dream of becoming a

SEE MORE Facebook: www.facebook.com/JandrePhoto/ Instagram: @jandre_namphoto

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Al fresco, pronto!

Safari Food Solutions makes self-catering easy for self-drive campers. Like so many excellent ideas over millions of years, Safari Food Solutions was born around a campfire. Text Christine Hugo Photographs Susan Nel

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frican bush babies and avid campers Mimi Nel and Lizelle Rousseau identified a gap in the market for self-drive campers who are at a loss when it comes to selecting, buying and preparing food for a safari. Safari Food Solutions was designed for the traveller who wants to eat simple but tasty food, as fresh as possible, while enjoying the true outdoor Namibian experience – without the hassle of cumbersome sourcing and preparation. Everything can be ordered online before you depart and will be ready packed for collection on arrival. “Being enthusiastic campers ourselves we often come across foreign travellers finding themselves out of their depth with regard to camp cooking. Faced with unknown shops, limited packing space and equipment as well as uncertainty about where to source food, they often resort to eating tuna and twominute noodles for the duration of their journey. Many travellers are reluctant to camp because of the perceived complication and will rather miss out on a unique experience”, Mimi explains. Born and bred in Namibia, Mimi holds a degree in Human Resource Management from Stellenbosch University in South Africa. She is also a qualified chef and worked in the hospitality and culinary industry in the UK as well as South Africa. When she finally returned to Namibia she joined the Wilderness Safaris team as Food and Beverage Manager and Chef Trainer. After starting a family she ran a boutique design bakery for wedding and celebration cakes, until the buzz of the tourism industry lured her back.

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“Namibia is truly an amazing country where we are privileged to raise our children in unspoiled nature. We use every opportunity to take them into the bush to experience the wonder of nature in all its wholesome, tactile beauty. Cooking and having a lovely meal around a fire under the stars – it doesn’t get better than that. Hopefully through this they will fall in love with nature as well and in turn look after it for generations to come.” Lizelle is a South African import who first fell in love with the country and shortly afterwards with a Namibian. She has since established a successful career as an optometrist and serial entrepreneur. Never satisfied with her workload Lizelle is constantly busy multi-tasking work, needlework, hobbies and part-time endeavours. Being an avid organiser and planner, she is always the camp general on their own safaris, planning the menu, the route and the accommodation. “Well planned menus and packing lists take the effort out of the mundane parts of traveling and allow you to spend more time enjoying your surroundings”, the camp general explains. Although some Namibian campsites have restaurants, dining out can become quite expensive over a two to three-week journey. Through personal experience of trial and error, Lizelle and Mimi figured out exactly what the limitations, complications and solutions are for economic self-catering in terms of money, space and time. Lizelle says: “Safari Food Solutions does all the planning and packing, so that the client can prepare simple and tasty


meals without any of the tedious planning, uncertainty and waste. Food allergies, lifestyle choices and intolerances are other challenges that we take into consideration when we develop Safari Food Solutions menus – we go to great effort to source really healthy, good ingredients in line with our clients’ requirements.” The menus offered by Safari Food Solutions cater for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, keto and sugar-free diets. Meals and supplies can be selected and ordered online via the SFS website before you even start your journey. Simply choose your menus from the wide selection, indicate the number of people to be catered for as well as any special requirements and make your payment. Upon arrival, pick up your perfectly packed boxes, accompanied by straightforward recipes. “Although there is cooking involved, we make it easy by preparing as many steps as possible in advance. Onions will be packed chopped, most sauces and dressings pre-made, and spices already measured and mixed. All meals are provided with the exact amount of ingredients needed to prepare for the specified number of people, eliminating extras or waste. Where possible we also vacuum pack ingredients to save space. We say: spend an extra day next to a waterhole instead of in a grocery store.” TNN

FOR MORE INFO VISIT:

www.safarifoodsolutions.com


This can be your

Naturally Namibia story

‘Naturally Namibia’ brings together the country’s leading safari families to provide a journey of unforgettable experiences. We offer thoughtfully considered safaris through exceptional landscapes with time to appreciate the best of Namibia’s independent lodges. We are owner-run and all the partners are involved in every aspect of our safaris.

www.naturallynamibia.com

Am Weinberg Big Sky Lodges Okonjima and AfriCat The Mushara Collection Ongava Private Game Reserve Villa Margherita Namib Sky Balloon Safaris Skeleton Coast Safaris


ADVERTORIAL

AM WEINBERG – More than just a Hotel

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t just over six months old, Am Weinberg Boutique Hotel in Windhoek has already created a name for itself with excellent service, beautifully furnished rooms and the popularity of its Sky Lounge with locals and guests. Service is what sets Am Weinberg apart from other hotels in Namibia, which is evident when looking at the high ratings received on websites like TripAdvisor. “We will never be a star hotel, but rather a luxury boutique hotel with five-star service, and through their ratings on social travel websites we let our guests tell us how we are doing,” explains Robin Donenberg, the general manager of Am Weinberg Boutique Hotel. The hotel has 31 luxury hotel rooms and 10 luxury double volume Oasis Lofts of 64m2 each. Their design guarantees the utmost in comfort, but also gives a homely feel. Every room feels like a home away from home. Enjoy a meal in the stylish Wine Lounge or at the Sky Lounge with its exquisite views across the city. The dining experience focuses on tapas composed of international cuisine ingredients. The idea behind serving meals in these small portions is the wonderful intimacy that comes with sharing meals. With a wine list consisting of more than 60 different wines – a lot of which are Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards winning wines, including an extensive collection of Champagnes, Proseccos and South African MCCs – winelovers will not be disappointed. For those beautiful Namibian sunsets the Sky Lounge also offers tasty designer cocktails to round off a perfect day.

+264 61 209 0900 reservations@amweinberghotel.africa www.amweinberghotel.africa

Deriving its name from the vineyards that Roman Catholic missionaries planted here for winemaking, Am Weinberg Estate today is associated with luxurious living. Apart from the Am Weinberg Boutique Hotel, the estate also boasts some of the best culinary establishments in the capital, a five-star spa, luxurious residential villas as well as prime office suites and a conference centre. TNN

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HOW TO START

BIRDING Text and Photographs Pompie Burger

If this story will not motivate you to start birding you can just as well die and never be able to enjoy life to its fullest. If you are an anti-social animal, birding is for you. If you are a party animal and crowd pleaser you will even like it that much more, entertaining your guest with another wonderful sighting of your first 50 birds (mossies?). You can even join a bird club and meet some wonderful new people who will explain to you how uninformed (stupid) you are, to boost your morale.


B

irding is primarily for fun, enjoyment and for being able to go to a game park, not seeing the Big Five but still enjoying every moment without getting bored, or fighting with your wife. The other option is to turn your CD player so loud (Bird on a Wire) that you do not need to listen to the constant complaining of your kids about when they will see the lion that you promised. Yet another wonderful birding option is sitting on your stoep watching and listening to the birds in your garden entertaining you with their constant joyful singing. I think that most of the gesoute (seasoned) birders will tell you that they all started off by listing their birds as they went along exploring the world of birds. I followed that way myself, with – I must confess – much enthusiasm. My personal choice was to tick the birds in my Roberts as I spotted them. Looking back, paging through my first Roberts, I ticked a few birds which make me think that I might be the only birder that has seen them. But who cares, as long as you enjoy it, it does not really matter.

A rather easy one to ID, a Burnt-necked Eremomela.

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The best place to start is on your doorstep, that is if you have a garden, or a doorstep. Interesting enough: if you are not into gardening and let nature have its own way, you will probably attract more fascinating birds than your neighbour with his exotic plants and trees. Somehow birds find nature as God made it much more appealing than our own efforts to beautify it. This is also the place where you will learn a lot about bird calls (and your family) by just being able to sit, watch and listen. Maybe I should mention that there are a few things you need before you start. Most important is patience, which is for free. A bird book is non-negotiable. Which book to buy is a problem, some will tell you Roberts is the best while others recommend Sasol. If you are Basie you would prefer a black and white picture so that you could do the colouring yourself. The options are endless and the market for these books is ever increasing. As for myself I prefer the books published by Namibian photographer Pompie Burger (available at all good book shops in Namibia). All the money goes directly to the author’s pocket, so don’t be shy, buy one for your friend and make somebody happy.


BIRDING WITH POMPIE

FROM TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT Raptors can be difficult to ID, when immature it is almost impossible - like this Gymnogene. Wattled Cranes are found in the Zambezi Region. Even raptors like this Bateleur can be colourful. Hornbills are among the most common and well-known birds. This is one of Namibia’s seven hornbill species: the Red-billed Hornbill. For the entomologist: look closely and you may ID what is in the bill of this Ground Hornbill.


Binoculars (loerpypies in the Netherlands) are probably the most expensive item you need. Again, the options are numerous. Get the best, if you are a rich man/woman. (Our first binoculars were bought with money my mother-in-law gave us to buy chairs for our sitting room). It will be a once-off expense and your frustrations will be that much less. If you want to make the correct ID with less than excellent binoculars you will probably see new birds – birds that have never been seen and identified before and your tick list will grow in leaps and bounds. Beware of too heavy binoculars because if you are walking/hiking while birdwatching it can become a bit of a sweaty expedition. A spotter-scope (similar to the telescope found at Cape Canaveral) is a good choice but you will see so many birds that it will confuse you, so wait with that till you can call yourself a pro. Remember that wherever you go there will be birds, so always have your binoculars and bird book with you.

A surprise visitor to our garden, a Little Sparrow Hawk.


BIRDING WITH POMPIE

LEFT Start your birding career with beautiful birds like this Marico Sunbird.

BELOW

For the cattle-lover, this Oxpecker can protect cattle from ticks. If you are not into birds you can even see the odd fish when birding. Where to watch birds is a million-dollar question. The opportunities in Namibia are endless, but try to start at places where you will be able to see lots of birds (quality and quantity). The somewhat underwhelming places can wait until you start looking for Dune Larks and other LBJs. My favourite place is still the Zambezi Region, where you will be able to see well over 400 of Namibia’s 640+ species. Etosha National Park is well known for its big 5 or 6, but the bird life is even better, in fact exceptionally good. Spending time in the rest camps is one of your best options, because of the availability of food (trees and shrubs) and water. The birds there are also more tame and approachable. I will probably end up in the bad books of the real birders if I do not mention the coastal birds. The Walvis Bay Lagoon is not a bad place to start, especially if you want to see numbers, but take care not to end up being frustrated by the number of unidentifiable grey and white birds. The terminology is one of the next obstacles that you will have to master, i.e. not bird names but your co-birders’ vocabulary. Consult your dictionary or Google for words like Tickers, LBJ, Lifers etc. If after reading this you think that I have overdone the enjoyment, the wonderful, entertaining and beautiful words and adjuncts, forgive me – once you’ve started birding you will probably understand why. TNN

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A luxurious Private Nature Reserve and Wellness village, nestled on a hilltop and surrounded by the majestic beauty of the mountains. Sweeping views onto an awesome Namibian landscape. Only 25 minutes from Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia and 50 minutes from the international airport. Tranquillity and serenity on a Wildlife Sanctuary with wide open spaces.

Tel +264 61 22 4909 | Fax +264 61 22 4924 | info@gocheganas.com | www.gocheganas.com

SWA SAFARIS

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Yoga

ADVERTORIAL

at African Monarch Lodges

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n the heart of a 'Peace Park' in the north-east of Namibia, where the Kwando River meanders through the lush verdant landscape, is Nambwa Tented Lodge.

Nestled high among majestic jackalberry, sausage and knobthorn trees and built on stilts, the lodge itself takes its cue from nature and allows the uninterrupted movement of nature’s giants, the African elephant, who follow their ancient paths below the timber walkways. The soothing effects of nature’s slow rhythm create an atmosphere of relaxation and peace in complete wilderness. This haven became the fitting location for an exclusive six day Namaste Yoga Safaris retreat in late February. Heartsounds’ Steven and Vanessa Mazabouw from Australia led guests in Yin Yoga and Deep Dream Sound Journeys to the sound of the couple’s hypnotic music. Yoga mats were laid out on the deck overlooking the vast floodplains, on a pristine private island, and in the most stunning locations in the middle of the bush. Wild creatures looked on and some may have even tried to mimic the poses. While the yoga sessions provided nourishment to the soul, the delicious, carefully prepared vegan and vegetarian

meals nourished the body. With an eye for detail, the Nambwa staff saw to their guests’ every need, while the ten tastefully decorated luxury tented suites provided incomparable comfort. An experience like no other in the heart of the Zambezi wilderness, where nature and nurture for the soul came together in awe-inspiring harmony. The next yoga retreat to be hosted by African Monarch Lodges at Nambwa Tented Lodge will take place in November 2019. Visit their website for more information or contact them directly. TNN

Tel: +264 81 125 2122 Email: reservations@africanmonarchlodges.com Web: www.africanmonarchlodges.com

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Putting Things in

Perspective Text and Photographs Le Roux van Schalkwyk

As humans we struggle with the concept of time. We can make New Year’s resolutions for a year which we can adhere to (mostly not). But when asked about where we will be in five years, it becomes a bit more difficult to imagine because of the time and variables involved. The same is true when looking back in time. We can easily understand changes that have happened to us and in the world over the past five years, thanks to a combination of the relatively short timeframe, having lived through this period and of hindsight. When it comes to a hundred years however, it is a lot trickier to understand, or even to remember collectively, the changes caused by things like politics, wars and more importantly the degradation of our natural environment. Going back 300 million years is inconceivable.

T

hese thoughts were running through my mind as I woke up in my bed at the Fish River Lodge. Having arrived the night before, I had no idea of what was waiting for me at sunrise. With stars and a sliver of moonlight during the night, I could see the Fish River Canyon only as a dark hole in front of the lodge, but not much else. But the first rays of sunlight changed everything. Situated directly on the edge of the canyon, the Fish River Lodge offers a view that is breath-taking in every sense of the word. While my eyes were still getting used to the great expanse of ravines in front of me, all I could think of was what a tiny spec I am not only in the world, but in time itself. What a humbling feeling, but also strangely soothing. The Fish River Lodge is the only lodge that is situated directly on the edge of the Fish River Canyon and offers a view that one does not tire of, no matter what time of day. During my stay I constantly caught myself staring out over the canyon while trying to imagine, with my limited knowledge of geology, how all of this was formed over 300 million years.


HIKING INTO THE HEART OF THE CANYON

In an area like this I become greedy and always need to explore more than just the views. Fortunately the Fish River Lodge caters for my kind of visitor and offers a variety of activities that allow you to experience the 45 000 hectare Canyon Nature Park with its interesting Karoo succulent flora and endemic wildlife. By far the best way to truly get immersed into the environment is by going on a guided hike down into the heart of the canyon. Guests can choose to do a day hike or one of the overnight packages with a choice of hiking and sleeping out in the canyon for one to three nights. All hikes start early in the morning when hikers are taken from the lodge to a drop-off point from where the ascent into the canyon starts. The first segment is a challenging climb down the sheer rock face of the upper canyon wall, after which the trail traverses rock-strewn wilderness down a deep gorge, appropriately called “Jelly Legs”, because the climbing really makes your legs feel like jelly. Going over these tricky segments of the trail is difficult at certain points, but the experienced guides will get you to the bottom without any problems. At the bottom the slog continues, but over a much more even terrain. With the current dry conditions the surroundings look as if you were going on a Mars expedition, but they are still beautiful nonetheless. After about 14 km inviting rock pools are reached, where a packed lunch, cold drinks and a relaxing swim refreshes tired bodies. Having recuperated, a short walk takes us to the overnight campsite, already set up by the backup team. A proper glamping experience with everything from tents with stretchers, matrasses and comfy duvets to a toilet and shower all set up between tamarisks against the backdrop of a high cliff to the north. Sundowner drinks and a fire-lit dinner prepared by the dedicated chef round off a long day of excellent hiking, and then it’s off to bed for some welldeserved sleep. Doing only the one-day trip, a car is ready to pick us up and take us back to the lodge after breakfast the next morning. For those who booked one of the longer hiking packages, you will be guided further downstream where you will be able to see more of the ancient rock formations as well as birds and animals. Each night you will be treated to the same luxurious, wild camping setup.

CANYON DRIVES

Guests not so keen on donning a pair of hiking boots can explore one of Africa’s most impressive geological features on a canyon day drive. Be prepared for a bit of a bumpy ride as the track down into the canyon is a rocky one, but nevertheless a rewarding experience. While expertly manoeuvring the vehicle down into the depths of the canyon

your guide will provide details on the surrounding rock formations as well as the fauna and flora found along the way. The Fish River Canyon is more than 500 metres deep and 27 kilometres at its widest point. The excursion down to the riverbed will take you through a geological journey that reveals the formation process which took place in a combination of continental shift and erosion over the course of 300 million years. The whole outing takes about seven hours, and being able to cover more ground than on foot you get a better picture of how some of the oldest rocks in Namibia, the Namaqualand Metamorphic Complex dated at around 600 million years, were transformed into the secondlargest canyon in the world.

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CANYON SUNSETS

A drive on the plateau just before sunset is a great way to end a day at the Fish River Lodge. A guide will take you north along the rim of the canyon with two completely different but equally stunning views on both sides of the vehicle. To the east the canyon with its endless vistas is blanketed in the soft light of the setting sun, while to the west the silhouettes of quiver trees and euphorbias stand out against the orange sky and the mountains on the horizon. A stop at a viewpoint just before the sun dips behind the mountains allows for unbelievably panoramic views of the canyon and the meandering Fish River while you enjoy some snacks and a drink.

RIM WALKS AND FAT BIKES

If you like doing things at your own pace, take an unguided walk from the lodge along the rim of the canyon, allowing you all the time you want to reflect and enjoy your insignificance in the face of the size and age of the Fish River Canyon. To go a bit faster, rent a fat bike and cruise along the same track. Being stuck in the confines of a city we easily forget how big and old our planet is. When we do get reminded of this fact it creates a feeling of comfort, because you realise that no matter how overwhelming you think your daily stresses are, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter in the bigger scheme of things. TNN

Tel: +264 61 228 104 Email: reservations@journeysnamibia.com www.journeysnamibia.com


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Willie Olivier is a veteran journalist and travel writer. He has been compiling guides and travel directories for visitors to Namibia since before independence. In this new series for Travel News Namibia, Willie compiles notes, thoughts and takeaways from his travels. Interesting facts, little-known happenings and anecdotes of the adventures of this vagabond.

TRAVELLING TOGETHER Exhaustion, dehydration, aching muscles and discomfort are not unusual on an extended hiking trip, irrespective of how fit you are – although it helps to be fit, of course. All of this could be caused by temperatures as hot as Hades, icy cold weather, rough terrain underfoot, steep ascents, slippery descents or huge blisters. Over the course of hiking thousands of kilometres in my younger days (and less frequently nowadays), I have experienced all of these emotions. Sometimes the spirit is willing and the flesh is weak. Other times, the flesh is willing but the spirit is weak. So when the going gets tough, physically or mentally, I draw inspiration from an Oriental martial arts saying: “The body and the mind must travel together.” I simply slow my pace down and if my body ‘tells’ me that it is about to cease up, I would take a 30-second break while standing, re-align the body and the mind and continue pushing on. Believe you me, it works.

FAMOUS MISSIONARY WAS ALSO A KEEN AMATEUR BOTANIST The scientific names of plants, animals and birds often provide fascinating information about various aspects of the species itself or in many cases of whoever first recorded it. Although the Finnish missionary Martti Rautanen is best remembered for his missionary endeavours in Owamboland, he had a keen interest in ethnology. His ethnographic collections were donated to the National Museum of Finland. Rautanen was also an avid amateur botanist and sent numerous plant specimens to the University of Zurich, Switzerland, for identification.

IMAGINARY LIONS Stories of encounters and near-encounters with lions when camping in the wilds abound. But there are not too many stories of imaginary encounters with the King of the Beasts. Way back in the early 1990s I was camping with two companions at Liadura in what was then known as the Mamili National Park (now Nkasa Rupara National Park). The morning after our arrival we spotted a small pride of lions lying in the shade not too far from our campsite, so when darkness fell the lions were still on our minds. Few things are as enjoyable as having a small fire going at night when you are camping. The lions were roaring in the distance, but across the Kwando River in Botswana. Close by there was the occasional splash of a hippo taking to the water. And in the flickering flames of the fire, it appeared as if something was moving just outside the circle of light. One of my companions (name withheld to protect his dignity) suddenly said, “There’s something moving over there.” The angst in his voice was palpable. Meanwhile, the roar of the lions from across the river had intensified considerably. As I peered into the darkness, it soon became apparent that it was a clump of grass that caused the changing shadows as the light of the fire flickered. Fortunately, my other companion caught on when I said, “You are right. I can also see it moving.” While we were ‘debating’ about what it could possibly be, our now visibly shaken companion had moved his chair right back, seeking the protection of his vehicle. And then came the classic words, “I like the wild, but the wild is now getting too close to me. I’m out of here tomorrow.” Needless to say, he was not too amused when we burst out laughing and told him it was a clump of grass which appeared to be moving as the fire flickered up and down.

The genus name of the manketti tree (Schinziophyton rautanenii) honours the Swiss botanist, Hans Schinz, who collected plants in Namibia towards the end of the 1800s, while the species was named after Rautanen. In addition to the manketti, several other plants species, as well as two plant genera, Rautanenia and Neorautanenia, honour his name and are reminders of his contribution to botany. One species, Crinum rautanenianum, a bulb that grows in seasonal pans, was classified in 1896 after Rautanen collected a specimen at Olukonda. Rautanen’s original plant specimens are in the care of the herbarium at the University of Zurich, while other collections are housed in the Botanical Museum of the University of Helsinki and the Albany Museum, an affiliated research institute of Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. TNN

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Where reality and imagination meets

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Once upon a time… HEIRLOOM HONEY AND SEEDS OF THE FUTURE Text Elzanne McCulloch

I

think it was about four years ago, on a trip to the Palmwag area in northwestern Namibia, when I found myself sitting next to a campfire once again with Simson Uri-Khob. We were not far from Ma-i-Go-Ha, Save the Rhino Trust Namibia’s HQ, and we were chatting about our upcoming Ride for Rhinos cycling tour, the beauty of the region, recent rains and other wonderfully Namibian things. I’m not quite sure how the conversation came up, but Simson regaled me with the most interesting story of wild honey and regional Damara families’ hereditary claim to beehives. This is how the story went… It is a tradition for the families in Sesfontein and the surrounding communities to make sources of wild food hereditary. This would mean that a specific “spot” or hive or burrow would in essence belong to a specific family, from which only this family was allowed to harvest honey, seeds and the like. These “spots” were passed down from generation to generation. When he was young, Simson lived with two old men who used to harvest honey. They taught him how to harvest and showed him where their family hives were. One of the men, Old Mesag, would tell

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him how the honey hive once belonged to his great-grandfather, who bestowed it on the next generation and so on. Everyone in the community knows who a certain hive’s honey belongs to and where it is located. “This hive belongs to me, Mesag.” Everyone else knew that the tree and the hive and the honey within, was Mesag’s. People respected this tradition, and no one would steal another man’s honey. The same went for a certain type of grass seed that can be harvested from termite mounds after a good rain. You would gather the seeds that the termites had collected, clean them and grind them. The seeds were once a staple for the people of the area and, according to Simson, taste like peanut butter. This was your spot. If you died, your children would inherit the spot. Unfortunately, as happens across the world, traditions often fade away into obscurity. Whether it is the changing times, the increasing loss of oral tradition or simply because honey is now easily accessible at the Superspar – Simson isn’t sure. What the old men who still carry the tradition at heart lament the most, though, is not just the loss of exclusivity

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to a source of food, but also the loss of knowledge on how it can be harvested sustainably. When harvesting honey, they use grass to shoo away the bees and then only harvest half of the honeycomb, not all of it, so that the bees do not move away. They want the bees to stay at the same spot and return time and again to keep producing. The smoke from burning zebra dung and elephant dung also works for chasing bees away without killing them. Apparently it just makes them slightly tipsy and prevents them from stinging you. These days, youngsters don’t grasp these old tricks of the trade or the importance of tradition. Some even go so far as to make a big fire under a hive and smoke out the bees, causing them to leave the spot permanently, or even killing them. The practice of oral tradition and knowledge of age-old skills are not only sacred pieces of heritage to be safeguarded, but they are also brilliant examples of how traditional communities would practice instinctive conservation. The old men protected their honeybees and their termite seeds and preserved them so that they could be passed on to the next generation. Heirloom honey and seeds for the future. TNN


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