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VOLUME 26 No 1 | SUMMER 2017/18

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SUPER KING AIR 350 EXTENDED RANGE The Super King Air 350 offers twin engine safety, a luxury interior and  unrivalled capability.  Adding to its ability to landing on unimproved gravel runways, it offers a luxury VIP cabin with dual club seating for 8 passengers, fold-out tables and a refreshment centre. The King Air is the ideal aircraft for your next African flying safari, corporate excursion or mine visit. With its unparalleled range the Super King Air 350ER has the ability to fly-in between Windhoek in Namibia to the St Helena Island or to Nairobi in Kenya. With its more than 40 year-heritage, the rugged design of the aircraft, and its robust systems make the 350 one of the most dependable and predictable aircraft in operation today. Contact Westair Aviation and find out how the Super King Air 350ER can add value to your next flying excursion. t +264 839378247 w westair.com.na e reservations@westair.com.na PO Box 407, Aviation Road, Eros Airport, Windhoek, Namibia


Namibia TRAVEL NEWS

Namibia TRAVEL NEWS

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is published by Venture Media in Windhoek, Namibia www.travelnewsnamibia.com Tel: +264 61 420 500, 1 Mozart Street, Windhoek West PO Box 21593, Windhoek, Namibia MANAGING EDITOR Rièth van Schalkwyk PRODUCTION MANAGER Elzanne Erasmus 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 Nina van Schalkwyk info@venture.com.na TEXT CONTRIBUTORS Elzanne Erasmus, Pompie Burger, Nina van Schalkwyk, John Pallett, Annelien Robberts, Anja Denker

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PHOTOGRAPHERS Elzanne Erasmus, Annabelle Venter, Annelien Robberts, Nina van Schalkwyk, John Pallet, Xenia Ivanoff-Erb, Pompie Burger, Anja Denker, Namibia Horse Safari Company PRINTERS John Meinert Printing, Windhoek Travel News Namibia is published quarterly, distributed worldwide and produced solely on Apple Macintosh equipment. The editorial content of TNN is contributed by freelance writers and journalists. It is the sole property of the publisher and no part of the magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

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A classic image of Namibia's national animal and its famous red sand dunes...Writer and photographer, Annabelle Venter, once again astounds with her special ability to capture wild moments in spectacular style.


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ABOUT VENTURE

VENTURE MEDIA Venture Media is the pioneer of Namibia tourism promotion. We are the leader in spreading the tourism word around the world. We distribute accurate, credible, up to date and regular tourism-related information on paper, in social media, on the World Wide Web, and on mobile apps. We have reached hundreds of thousands over more than two decades. Be part of our community and let’s do it together.

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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.

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WWW. TRAVELNEWSNAMIBIA.COM TNN online is home to more than 20 years worth of content. We’ve been online since 1995, keeping readers across the world up-to-date with what’s happening in Namibia! Visit us today for the most amazing photos, enticing stories and comprehensive information on all things Namibia!

WE'RE A SOCIAL BUNCH


EDITOR’S LETTER

Trendy Travel this Summer Working with millennials forced me to look at many things from a different perspective. Some of the seemingly insignificant changes that crept into our discussions and onto our pages are the so many “top” of this or that; check lists; what’s trending; what’s hot and what’s not; be woke; wanderlust, as in generation; instant access to everything; a touch of a button; cellphones; selfies; and so the list could go on. I can even organise the above into the top 10 things I have learnt from the 20-somethings this past year. But then fortunately, certain things never change. It is just the way we look at them. Or what we are able to ignore when we look. Change is inevitable, and development is necessary. The Atlantic Ocean will always be cold. The joy of a kabeljou on your fishing line when you stand on the beach with your bare feet in the icy water. Unfortunately I am not a horseman, but I can imagine the thrill of riding through reed thickets and across the floodplains of the big rivers in north-eastern Namibia. Another unchanging aspect of our life in Namibia is the magic of our long summer holiday. When we close up our offices and homes and move to the coast or up to the north. To be with family or run away from the heat. You will notice some nostalgia in this edition, about the things that do not change, regardless of the changing times, the new trends in tourism and the way we live in this desert country. Café Anton is 50 years old and still serves pastries baked by the granddaughter of its founder, Manfred Anton, according to the original recipes. Bonus Markt has a new lease on life, with enough of the same essence to be part of the past and joy for the future. Most of the tourist trends for 2018 are a perfect fit for Namibia. To name the ones which appear on all the lists: visitors want to feel they contribute to improve the livelihoods of the population; they want to experience things, not only look at them. It must take some effort and engagement, be something of a challenge: an experience that can be shared with entire families, including the grandparents. In an overcrowded world they don’t want to feel they are contributing to the destruction of nature or magical places; they want to immerse themselves in unfamiliar cultures. In just this one edition, Travel News Namibia provides a snapshot of all of these and more. Without even trying we can tick off enough on any trend list for the discerning traveller of 2018. And to top it all, Namibia is worth every strong Euro or Dollar. We wish you a wonderful summer in Namibia. With magical rain showers and blazing sunshine, challenging adventures and beautiful sunsets. May the fish bite.

Rièth van Schalkwyk

TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2017/18

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CONTENTS 58

SUMMER 2017/18 10 BUSH TELEGRAPH The new and exciting 14 THE KAZA EXPERIENCE Made of rivers, hope and heart 20 DESERT DASH Gravel and Granny 26 SWAKOPMUND AQUARIUM is best with kids 28 BIRDING WITH POMPIE Immatures, fledglings and parents 36 WECKE & VOIGTS 125 years 40 GOBABEB Youth Environmental Summit

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44 HORSEBACK RIDING through Namibia's big rivers 52 PHOTOGRAPHY FEATURE Raging rivers and stormy skies 58 BONUS MARKT Then and Now

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CONTENTS

62 62 EXPLORATIONS into the unknown 70 HOTEL SCHWEIZERHAUS Half a century 74 A SWEET SURPRISE at Conny's 77 HOUSE OF ANIN 30 years strong 80 THIS IS MY NAMIBIA

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This is a collective of Namibia’s most characterfilled independent experiences.

This is a celebration of African individuality. This is... www.naturallynamibia.com


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BUSH TELEGRAPH A NEED FOR SPEED AT THE

LÜDERITZ SPEED CHALLENGE “If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough.” For South Africa’s Karo van Tonder this quote became a reality when she broke the women’s speed sailing Africa record during the Lüderitz Speed Challenge. Van Tonder clocked an incredible 38.9 knots (72.4 km/h) within 500 metres. “It was terrifying". Since the competition’s inception in 2007, 17 world records and more than 100 national records in windsurfing and kitesurfing have been broken. These include the records set in 2017 by world champion windsurfer Twan Verseput from the Netherlands and Björn Dunkerbeck from Spain.

A NEW 'SPOT'

GOOD NEWS

FOR WELLNESS-LOVERS IN AND AROUND WINDHOEK Onjala Lodge and ZenSations Spa & Wellness, located a mere 40 minutes’ drive from Windhoek’s airport, has joined the membership discount program of the Namibian Environment & Wildlife Society (NEWS). What does this mean? NEWS members can now enjoy a 10% discount on dinner and Bed & Breakfast rates (excluding Saturday nights), as well as on all weekday treatments at the spa. Other activities include hiking, rubbing shoulders with wildlife on game drives, and stargazing at the observatory.

AT CHEETAH VIEW LODGE

WE

Venture Media's new video We Love Namibia. Check it out on FB or Vimeo: @venturemedianamibia OR www.vimeo. com/venturemedia/ welovenamibia

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You can now put “sleeping among cheetahs” on your wish list. Cheetah View Lodge opened this summer and offers affordable accommodation at the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) near Otjiwarongo. Watch cheetahs run like the wind during a ‘Cheetah Run’ or view them in their natural habitat with unbeatable photo opportunities. Cheetah feeding is also a major attraction and takes place daily. Learn more about these animals at CCF’s education centre and model farms combining predatorfriendly and commercially viable livestock and wildlife programmes.

WWW.TRAVELNEWSNAMIBIA.COM

Not all those who

Wander are lost J.R.R. Tolkien


KLARA’S MARKET PLACE - A LIFESTYLE, NOT JUST A BRAND No love is deeper than a family’s love for their Boston terriers. The proof is in the name of the family-run business: Krisjan’s Bistro was named after the male terrier and the newly opened Klara’s Market Place after the female. Upon stepping into the deli at 77 Independence Avenue your senses will be treated to colourful displays of fresh fruits and veggies and the smell of freshly baked bread and croissants wafting through the air. Add handmade granola with natural yoghurt, paired with a fruit juice freshly squeezed at the juice bar. And voila! Breakfast fit for a king. Garden-fresh salads, sandwiches and other meals and snacks are prepared each morning. Klara's Market Place is an all-in-one deli, grocery store, juice bar and coffee shop that prides itself on the love for natural foods primarily sourced from local businesses. They range from our favourite Slowtown Coffee Roasters to the historic Krumhuk Farm and Cramer’s Ice Cream, as well as the Kiyomisandz Summer Rain beauty products.

GIRAFFE'S TALL TALES

JAPANESE RESTAURANT IN WINDHOEK

SUMIA NEW

Sumi means both elegance and charcoal – the perfect description of the new eatery with its stylish interior and huge fire pit for grilling in the kitchen centre. Owner Christopher Wills acquired a lot of his know-how at top restaurants in Hong Kong and recently opened his own restaurant in Windhoek. Although it is a Japanese restaurant, there is much more than sushi on the menu, for instance a 750 g Tomahawk steak or sea bass grilled to perfection.

All giraffes are not similar. In fact, most people do not know that there are different species of giraffe. That is why, in the next few issues of TNN, we are sharing fun facts about this enigmatic animal that is increasingly under threat. Giraffes may all look the same, but there are four distinct species, the northern, southern, reticulated and Masai giraffe. The different species of giraffe differ as much from each other as polar and brown bears do, and cannot interbreed. There is a total of nine subspecies of giraffe. Superficially there is not much difference between the different giraffes. That is because their coat patterns are so alike. The giraffe species found in Namibia is the southern giraffe. It has two subspecies, namely the Angolan and South African giraffe. Ironically, according to the Giraffe Conservation Fund (GCF), there are no longer any Angolan giraffes in Angola. Keep an eye out for more giraffe fun facts in the next issue. giraffeconservation.org

A NEW START FOR ART The latest addition to Windhoek’s art scene comes in the form of StArt, an art gallery which is the brainchild of Gina Figuera and Helen Harris. Both ladies are former ninjas of the National Art Gallery of Namibia. During their stint with the NAGN they realised that there was a gap in the Namibian art scene: there was no commercial art gallery that could connect interested buyers and local artists. And that’s exactly what they are trying to accomplish with StArt. The gallery is located next to the Wolfshack Wine Bar in Windhoek’s Southern Industrial Area. Contact StArt at startartnam@gmail.com or 081 831 6306.


MADE OF

Rivers, hope and

Heart

THE KAZA EXCELLENCE EXPERIENCE Text and photographs Elzanne Erasmus


The beating pulse of southern Africa is made up of many things. It is made of wildlife, flourishing across the landscapes. It is made of breathtaking sceneries, vast and ever changing. It is made up of the people who call the land home, proud and strong. The beating pulse of southern Africa is made up of nature. It is the epic sunsets and strong flowing rivers, pulsing energy into the land. And at the heart of it all lies one of the largest conservation areas in the world. The rhythm and life-blood of the region. At the beating heart of southern Africa is KAZA.

I

t was the last day of our trip. I had visited four different countries in five days. My camera’s SD card was full. I caught one last glimpse of a billowing tower of what looks like white smoke as it stretches skywards. We were heading out of town towards the airport and the Air Namibia flight that would take us home. Mosi Oa Tunya* waved farewell as I glanced in the rear-view mirror. I waved a sad goodbye in return. But it wasn’t a forever kind of farewell. I knew I would be back soon enough. Because this was just a taste. A peek into the wonders of one of Africa’s most spectacular regions. A glimpse at the wealth of wildlife and biodiversity, the friendly people and beautiful sites of

the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA). And a glimpse is never enough. Our trip started in Windhoek, where a short flight to Rundu and a two-hour drive eastwards brought us to Namibia Wildlife Resorts' Popa Falls Resort. The Popa Falls are a series of cascades on the Okavango River, the source of life to the people of the region as well as the Okavango Delta. The delta, the pride and joy of our neighbours, Botswana, was declared the 100th UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014 and is one of the key attractions in the KAZA landscape.


FROM TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT

Chobe is one of the riches game viewing areas in southern Africa. A Pied Kingfisher, one of almost 500 different bird species to be spotted in the KAZA region. An amazing viewpoint of the Victoria Falls on Livingstone Island. David Livingstone is said to have been the first European to view the falls.

TEN ATTRACTIONS AND ADVENTURES NOT TO BE MISSED IN THE AREA: 1. Namibia’s Popa Falls 2. A game drive through the Mahango Core Area of Bwabwata National Park along the Okavango River 3. A cruise on the Chobe River around Sedudu Island, departing from Kasane in Botswana 4. A game drive through Botswana’s Chobe National Park 5. A mokoro (dug-out canoe) trip through the marshlands of the Okavango Delta in Botswana 6. A cruise on the Zambezi River from the Zambian shores 7. Swimming in Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls on the Zambian side 8. Shopping for crafts or fresh fruit at a local market in Livingstone, Zambia 9. A walk through the national park to view the Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwean side 10. Bungee jumping from the Victoria Falls bridge

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From Popa Falls the road led east via Katima Mulilo and then across the border at Ngoma Bridge into Botswana. On the trip through Chobe National Park from the border to the tourist town of Kasane a bachelor herd of buffalo crossed the road in front of us, akin to cattle crossings across the world. From Chobe Marina Lodge in Kasane our group departed on the first of what would by many river cruises. The Chobe River serves as the border between Botswana and Namibia. The banks along this wet wonderland are often home to hundreds of elephants at the times when they, along with buffalo and other game species, cross the river to reach the ample grazing grounds on Sedudu Island, which lies between the two countries. Another island lies a few kilometres downriver. Impalila serves as an iconic point for the KAZA nations. Here, at the very tip of Namibia’s protruding arm, four countries (Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe) come together. At the Kazangula border post a new bridge is being built. At present, a ferry is still used to transfer vehicles across the river from Botswana to Zambia, but the bridge is projected to be complete in 2019. And so our journey continued to another neighbour. At the David Livingstone Safari Lodge we set off on a river again. This time our host was the mighty Zambezi, the fourth-longest river in Africa. The Zambezi’s source is located in north-western Zambia. It serves as the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and cuts through Mozambique to empty into the Indian Ocean. Crocodiles and pods of hippo relax in the water as we pass by on the Lady Livingstone. A magical scene presents itself as the sun dips towards the horizon. Imminent storm clouds cause a dramatic spectrum of colours to adorn the sky. And there, downriver, we catch our first glimpse of white smoke rising from the horizon. The next morning, dressed in adventure gear, we set off for a daring feat. During the drier months the water of


the Zambezi dips low enough that a pool, which has been formed on the very edge of the cliff by years and years of erosion, is accessible. The Devil’s Pool is not for the faint of heart. Situated just a few metres from a mass of tumbling water, in the middle of the Victoria Falls, this extreme rock pool is a popular adventure for visitors to tick off their bucket list. Guides are there to make sure that no one is pushed over the edge by the strong river currents and to help capture the moment in digital eternity as you precariously balance over the edge, the largest waterfall in the world gushing in the background. Zambia may have the falls on their side of the border, but Zimbabwe likes to brag that they got the view… A trip to Victoria Falls town on our visit to Zimbabwe is not complete without viewing the falls from that side. Walking along the pathways we gaped at the beauty of this curtain of water cascading over a height of 100 m. The adventure epicentre of southern Africa, Victoria Falls boasts a multitude of extreme sports, including bungee jumping from the Victoria Falls Bridge, river boarding, white water rafting, high wire activities such as the gorge swing, canoeing, tiger-fishing and helicopter or even microlight flights. And so, in five short days, we discovered a new world. A world of lush greenery and an abundance of wildlife. Where rivers flow and create marvellous sights. Where hope blooms for a spectacular tourism destination on the rise.

KAZA Mission “To sustainably manage the Kavango Zambezi ecosystem, its heritage and cultural resources based on best conservation and tourism models for the socio-economic wellbeing of the communities and other stakeholders in and around the eco-region through harmonization of policies, strategies and practices.”

ANIMAL CHECKLIST:

BIG 5

LITTLE 5

• • • • •

• • • • •

Lion Leopard Buffalo Elephant Rhino

Ant lion Leopard tortoise Buffalo weaver Elephant shrew Rhino beetle

KAZA

The Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) is one of the largest conservation areas in the world. It covers an area of 519 000 km2 and extends over five countries: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Kavango and Zambezi river basins, which fall within this protected area, include UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta, and Victoria Falls, as well as 19 national parks. KAZA also affords some of Africa’s best game viewing opportunities, with flourishing numbers of wildlife migrating through and around the region. Intricate and expansive ecosystems and landscapes allow for the supreme biodiversity the area is recognised for. And though the natural wonders astound, there is one element that forms a significant pillar of this system and should not be overlooked… the people. Local communities living within the KAZA region play an intricate role in the feasibility and success of such a structure. Many live off the region’s land and rivers, agriculture still being one of the cornerstones of rural life in most of Africa. The emergence of a growing tourism industry has many added benefits for locals as it pertains to not only economic growth for the region in terms of foreign money being brought in, but also the development of much-needed infrastructure and the creation of job opportunities. As has been successfully accomplished in Namibia with our Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) systems, local communities, with the help of the KAZA project, are starting to realise the value that natural resources have when it comes to tourism development and are thus actively participating in the preservation of these resources. The rivers and wilderness areas of the region are now not only a source of life in the most basic way, but also a tourism draw card and thus a source of hope for the people calling these areas home.

Herds of buffalo graze on Sedudu Island daily.


TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT

Victoria Falls town is the tourism capital of Zimbabwe. Craft markets in the region yield skilled and colourful handmade arts and crafts. Shadreck, a Zambian artist from Livingstone, gives a creative modern twist to his African bush inspired artworks.

RIGHT AND BELOW

Waxprint fabrics can be purchased at various formal and informal markets. Local dried goods and spices are a popular fare for residents and tourists alike. The Devil's Pool is rated as one of the top natural swimmingpools in the world, but is not for the faint of heart.

The first KAZA Excellence Tour hosted a group of foreign ambassadors to Namibia, the UNDP and support staff from NWR.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Victoria Falls are the largest waterfall in the world and are categorised as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The falls are on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Though the falls are technically on the Zambian side, Zimbabweans like to brag that “Zambia may have the falls, but we have the view”. The Victoria Falls were proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989. The Scottish explorer and missionary, David Livingstone, is believed to have been the first European to see the falls. He is famously quoted as saying: “Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” Though he named the falls after Queen Victoria of Britain, the local Tonga name, Mosi-oa-Tunya, is still commonly used.

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TOURISM WITHOUT BOUNDARIES In November, the first-ever KAZA Excellence Tour with Namibia Wildlife Resorts, the UNDP and a delegation of foreign diplomats departed from Windhoek. Among the group, the ambassadors of the five KAZA nations. The aim of the tour was not only for us to familiarise ourselves with the region, its people and attractions, but also to see, understand and celebrate the direct influence tourism has on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including job creation and conservation. We were the test group. On an expedition to assess the feasibility of creating an all-encompassing KAZA safari that could take guests through the region to explore its many wonders first-hand. A project filled with so much sentiment could only be born from an impassioned heart. It may seem arbitrary to some for an initiative such as this to have been the passion project of any other nation than those directly involved, but in reality a foreign ambassador to Namibia, her Excellency Deniz Çakar of Turkey, planted the seed. Her tenure in Namibia led to an inevitable love for its natural wonders. When advocating it as a destination to her countrymen though, it was reasoned that if you were to travel all the way to southern Africa, would it not make sense to visit as many countries as possible in your limited time in the area, and in doing so see as much as possible. Ambassador Çakar thus gathered a group of remarkable women to champion her cause. As it happened, whether by luck or divine intervention, the ambassadors to Namibia of the other KAZA nations to be involved, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, were all women. After agreeing that this was an idea worth fighting for, they called on the Managing Director of NWR, Ms Zelna Hengari, to make it happen. And the rest, as they say, is history… with a bright future ahead. NWR will be taking their first group of guests on the newly structured KAZA Excellency experience in February 2018. With luck, and perhaps enough grovelling, I’ll be hitching a ride! I left my heart there in the heart of KAZA – I should probably go look for it… TNN

UNITED NATIONS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS In 2015, UN countries adopted, as part of their sustainable development agenda, a set of 17 goals aimed at ending poverty and ensuring the protection of the planet and prosperity for all its inhabitants. These Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have specific targets set to be achieved over the next 15 years. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

No poverty Zero hunger Good health & well-being Quality education Gender equality Clean water & sanitation Affordable & clean energy Decent work & economic growth Industry, innovation & infrastructure Reduced inequalities Sustainable cities & communities Responsible consumption & production Climate action Life below water Life on land Peace, justice & strong institutions Partnerships for the goals

From UN website: www.un.org/ sustainabledevelopment/sustainabledevelopment-goals/

*Mosi Oa Tunya

The local name for the Victoria Falls means ‘the smoke that thunders’, describing the billowing tower of mist that rises from the site, akin to white clouds of smoke, and the rumbling sound that accompanies it.


Gravel

AND GRANNY

So what’s the attraction of the Desert Dash? Text and photographs John Pallet

Well, cyclists get a kick out of any hyped-up group of their own kind, all in their click-clacking cleated shoes and brightest lycra, showing off their superbly engineered bikes. I’m an environmentalist, so any road f illed across its width with human-powered vehicles, not a whiff of fossil fuel, is a real turn-on. Then it’s the sheer kick of crossing the world ’s most impressive desert under your own steam. The scrunchscrunch-scrunch of tyres on gravel as you steadily head west, the moon rising behind you, the path ahead lit by a thin pool of light and the tantalising flicker of red rear-lights of the riders ahead. For the months leading up to December, the Dash is about long rides through Namibia’s outstanding landscapes, organising stop-offs and drop-offs with riding partners, building up stamina and the callouses on your backside for long hours in the saddle. The Dash is a celebration of the Namib, an endorphin-high of long-distance open-air exercise, and for the serious dudes, a test of extreme endurance for the longest single-stage ride, world-wide.

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P

edaling westwards out of Windhoek and up Kupferberg Pass, Stage 1 climbs to an altitude of about 2,000 m. Kupfer is the first test for novice Dashers; it’s a long slow slog where the afternoon heat and the hills suck out your energy, but there’s 300+ kilometres ahead of you so energy must be conserved. Wise to pace yourself here, take it slowly, don’t let the adrenalin drain you yet. Stage 2 is a hard slog across the Khomas Hochland, into the teeth of the westerly wind. Wherever they can, riders bunch together in tight flocks, spur-of-the-moment alliances between competitors caught in the same struggle. A peloton behaves like a group of birds flying in formation, each rider manoeuvring for the best effect of the slipstream from the dude ahead, making micro-adjustments so you are close but not touching. You pay close attention, legs pumping, head down, focused on every movement, mesmerised. At the crest of Us Pass your reward is an exhilarating reckless descent down the escarpment, dust flying, eyes watering, dodging rocky obstacles in the road. This stretch brings out the true meaning of the Dash. Stage 3 crosses the crazy foothills at the base of the escarpment. It’s as if God sliced up the terrain with a carving knife, creating a zillion rough hills and valleys

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that keep you alternately sprinting downhill, spitting out loose stones behind you, then quickly ratcheting down to find granny gear for the slow climb up the opposite side. This stage is supposedly the hardest section of the Dash, and weeds out those soloists who have already been in the saddle for ten hours or more, but aren’t even half way yet. Water points bring out more animal behaviour, with riders focused on refreshment like zebras in Etosha at a water trough. No social niceties, little eye-contact. The night is quiet, and the cyclists are too, taking in liquids, munching on bananas and Bar-Ones, stuffing them down with concentration and relief. Rehydrate solution is poured into water bottles, downed. All focus is on refuelling, no effort wasted on chit-chat. Some riders stretch out on the ground, seeking relief from the ache in their backsides. The situation feels dire.

It’s as if God sliced up the terrain with a carving knife, creating a zillion rough hills and valleys that keep you alternately sprinting downhill, spitting out loose stones behind you, then quickly ratcheting down to find granny gear for the slow climb up the opposite side.

Dashers have clocked up long months of practice rides, gradually building up their strength and stamina. While doing so, they’ve compiled a list of dashing necessities. Dusty conditions: wrap-around specs. Night riding: lights. Batteries charged. Rear red light charged. Water in the camelback, enough to stay hydrated for 40 km. Food stowed into pouches: potatoes, biltong, dates, or synthetic gummies squeezed out of a tube. Emergency repair kit: patches, bombs, spare chain links, spare tube. Meals for the stop-overs: lasagne for carbs, coffee for the kick, Rennies for the cramps. Each item ticked off on the day of the race, now finding its role as the trip unravels. Stages 4 and 5 take you over the plains and westward towards the coast. At dawn, the liquid kelkiewyn call of Namaqua Sandgrouse heading for far-flung waterholes reminds you that you are now in the Namib proper. The route leads through the Moon Landscape, where marvelous views compete with short glimpses of Welwitschia plants, ancient relicts of this, the oldest desert in the world. It’s a privilege to cycle your way through this rugged landscape, and finally make a speedy descent into the valley of the Swakop River at Goanikontes. The race organisers have kept a few gruelling hills for the last stage into Swakopmund, as you zigzag your way over the rugged terrain towards town. This is the home straight, but your legs are feeling the strain now, and it’s difficult to push through the soft sandy patches, and to face the onshore wind as you get closer to the sea. Never has your first sight of the Atlantic felt more deserved! In economic terms the Dash gives a major kick-start to the Swakopmund Christmas holiday season. Consider that each of the 1,000 cyclists has at least one fan or supporter waiting at the finish line. For most, it’s the entire family. They’ll need accommodation for the weekend, and at least one celebratory slap-up meal to restore energy levels. That’s probably worth 5 million Namdollars at the coast. The mountain bikes, costing anything from 5 to 50 grand, have been serviced, added to and kitted out, and the cyclists themselves have not been shy with shoes, shades and snazzy gear. Add at least 10 to 20 million dollars for that. All in, there’s major expenditure in both Windhoek and Swakopmund, and anywhere else where you find cyclists. It’s not a small investment. So what is the Dash worth? For every cyclist it’s an objective achieved, a massive surge of satisfaction to the ego. The legs might feel wrecked, but they will recover. The head and heart are over the moon, victorious. Try it. TNN

ARE YOU UP FOR IT? For more information on the Nedbank Desert Dash visit www.desertdashnamibia.com.

TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2017/18

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Not for Sale to Persons Under the Age of 18. Drink Responsibly.


Why the

SWAKOPMUND AQUARIUM

is best with Kids Text and Photographs Nina van Schalkwyk

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Children make most of life’s journeys a little more interesting. You need a bit of patience, a dash of imagination, and the insight that will take you along the journey with them. Many Namibians migrate from the interior to the coast as soon as the summer holidays hit. My family was lucky enough to have a little house one block from the beach. In my childhood we’d wake up early and, emboldened with five Namibian dollars (a lot in those days), we’d venture out to take part in all that Swakopmund had to offer. Now, much older, I found myself one morning with two little people under the age of twelve, who needed to be entertained for a few hours. Where should we take them, we, the adults, asked. Pizza perhaps? The kids didn’t seem tempted at all. So that idea fell flat. Someone else suggested the aquarium. What an idea! I hadn’t been inside Swakopmund’s aquarium in about ten years – the last time was when we took our American exchange students to see it. Needless to say, a bunch of teenagers weren’t quite the right audience. The aquarium redeemed itself to its young audience, though. Whereas previously we had sauntered inside, about the only people to visit, this day, the place was packed. School children with sheets of paper flapping as they scurried about, oohing and awing and trying to scribble down the facts they needed, fingertips and pens pressed against the smooth glass surfaces. Our young friends, a boy and his younger sister, dashed from one window to the next. Walking under the glass arc of the tube-like corridor that runs through the main tank, the kids couldn’t contain their excitement. Boy, as I’m calling him here, feigned fear every time the ragged tooth shark came close, while Girl pointed out the stripes and dots of the silver plate-sized fish swimming past us. I took them to my favourite childhood hideaway spot. The main tank has windows all around it, with the tube-like corridor running through its radius. Along one side there are two little ladders that lead up to the round windows. There a little body can sit practically as if inside the tank, in the water. As a child I was always scared my (slight) weight would make the glass break, and carefully kept to the outer edges. Boy and Girl had no qualms. They pushed their little hands against the glass and stared out through it. We took photos, them posing as if falling into the water behind them. Every metre of the aquarium deserved their full attention and excitement. Upstairs, we looked down at the sloshing water as the backs of the massive kabeljou came up and surfaced. I’ve never seen kabeljou this big, probably because these guys have the time to grow old and fat in their fisherman-free environment. They were as big as the sharks! Now the excitement reached fever pitch because we were so close, and I wondered how the kids could resist putting their hands in the water. Would a shark reach up from the blue for a nibble? We didn’t wait around to see. Around us, other families milled about. A toddler, her hair done with pretty pink beads, leaned against the glass of the tank as her mother tried to get the perfect shot. We excused ourselves as we crossed in front of her view. Down the steps, and around a corner, and suddenly the bright light from outside blinded us. Before we left, though, the kids insisted on writing in the guest book. “Did you enjoy it?” Girl asked me, “Then you have to write in that book.” That’s just how it worked. And so we did. TNN

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IMMATURES, fledglings AND PARENTS Text and photographs Pompie Burger

And feed them on your dreams The one they picks, the one you'll know by. Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry, So just look at them and sigh And know they love you. And you, of tender years Can't know the fears that your elders grew by, And so please help them with your youth, They seek the truth before they can die. Teach your Children by C.S.N & Y


Black-shouldered Kites: sometimes the juveniles are more handsome than the adults.


A juvenile African Jacana looking almost like a Lesser Jacana but lacking rufous forecrown and hindneck.

M

any people think (see editor) that I overestimate my abilities and intelligence in writing my extremely interesting and informative articles on birds, especially trying to educate people on subjects related that I do not know enough/anything about. This might be true, although unlikely, but I do think that we need to educate our population and children, immatures and juveniles whenever and wherever we can, even if not that scientific. Unfortunately one cannot separate the subject of immatures/kids from parents, parenting and education. As you know, if a child is nice it is because it’s a nice kid, but if he is a poepol his parents have failed in raising him well. The success rate of raising chicks in the avian world is not that fantastic, although some birds have a better average than others. The role that the male, the female or their combined effort plays is extremely important. One should not overestimate the role of the males, because genetically the females are the more important partner in the effort of raising chicks. In hornbills for instance the male locks up the female

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in the nest inside a tree trunk. Her long-term survival depends solely on the male, feeding her and the chicks inside the nest. If the female has major differences with the male, or he thinks that she was unkind to him in any way, he can just leave the scene of the crime and the female and the chicks will die! In some species the chicks do not help to improve the survival rate. In the case of Verreaux’s Eagles the one chick kills the other sibling while still in the nest (cainism), although this is more the exception than the rule in birds. As one would expect the main problem in raising chicks are predators, and the younger the chicks the more vulnerable they are. Snakes, monitors, raptors, baboons and lesser predators like wild cats etc. are their main enemy. The sad reality is that humans also play a major role in killing young birds. The extent to which parents go to protect their offspring is quite impressive; especially the thick-knee adults who fake injury to distract predators, while lapwings will attack any predator (even elephants) if they feel their juveniles are endangered.


BIRDING WITH POMPIE

A Spotted Eagle-Owl looking all fluffy and adorable.

A Blue Crane chick still under the supervision of its parents.

Demanding! Young Southern White-crowned Shrike doing what youngsters do best.

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My main concern about the future of young birds are the amount of pictures I have taken over the past few years of juvenile/immature birds without ever being able to use them in any of my articles. The obvious solution was writing an article on them and at the same time including my own take on parenting and raising kids, because this is probably my only chance of doing so. Having no background or any education in this field I would be the ideal, independent observer to comment on the subject. The significance of private schools, corporal punishment, home schooling, quality time versus quantity time etc. will unfortunately not be addressed in this article, neither in the next. Unfortunately, “wisdom comes at an age when it is not necessary anymore.” To say that some birds (raptors, larks, pipits and sea birds) are difficult to identify is a bit of an understatement. Added to that, immatures can make this ever confusing exercise almost impossible. Luckily the immatures can sometimes actually be an advantage, like get you out of trouble just by saying: “Oh that’s an immature”. That is if you are certain and it is indeed an immature. The other major advantage is that these youngsters can add to your ticking list on a birding safari. You can end up with a much longer and more impressive list than your opponents. Most of the time, however, it is just another hurdle in the way of a novice birder/ photographer. Invariably it will simply add to the list of birds in the “unknown”, “unidentified” folder on your computer. Looking through the various descriptions of juveniles in Roberts Bird Guide will make you get the message (overall duller, brownish wash, dull greyish, overall brownish, mottled brown, paler and more spotted, dusky mottling!). As can be expected, juvenile birds behave pretty much like their human counterparts. They tend to be naive (often trusting animals/humans to their own detriment), stupid (doing things they should not do), exuberant (loud), uncontrollable (obviously), ugly (ears, bill, nose and knees too big), awkward (because of aforementioned handicaps), demanding (just spend a few minutes at a bird’s nest, but do not spend too much time in the presence of a “pubertant”) and adorable (obviously). The Thesaurus adds a few wonderful traits like childish, undeveloped, unformed, unripe and infantile. To add insult to injury there is an unfortunate stage in the development of humans called puberty. Somewhere somebody said “We don’t need no education.” As in all walks of life there are exceptions to the rule. As far as beauty is concerned you do not have to look much further than geese and ducks. Anyone who has seen a clutch of geese will agree there is no substitute for these beauties, although some of them do have a bit of an oversized bill compared to the rest of their bodies (sounds familiar?). Let’s just teach (not educate) them. So that you, of tender years, can’t know the fears that your elders grew by. And please help the adults with your youth, because they seek the truth before they can die. TNN

A juvenile African Fish Eagle behaving a bit inappropriately...

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QUICK GUIDE Egg: Just out of mother’s stomach. Chick: Young bird. Fledgling: Ready to fly, just learning to fly. Young bird that has just fledged. Has flight feathers. Juvenile: Plumage not adult yet, still juvenile plumage, non-adult. Immature: Any bird that is not adult. Puberty: Nobody knows.

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It is hard to believe that when the brothers first arrived this yard was so muddy that Gustav almost got stuck there with his horse.

125years

of Wecke & Voigts Text Annelien Robberts

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Starting off as a small trading post in Okahandja, W&V has withstood the test of diverse politcal eras under three different f lags, three different official languages and changing ruling powers.

A bumper sticker on the tailgate of the light green Volkswagen delivery truck on Kaiserstraße, now Independence Avenue, sums up the character and culture of Windhoek in the early 1900s: “Bitte nicht hupen. Der Fahrer träumt von W&VKaffee” (no honking, please; the driver is dreaming of Wecke & Voigts coffee). In those days a cup of coffee was served with large spoonfuls of serenity. A pioneer in both farming and business, Wecke & Voigts played a decisive role in the cultural and historical landscape of the country. TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2017/18

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The founders of Namibia’s coffee culture Wecke & Voigts was more than just a store where farmers could buy everything from horseshoes, saddles, wagon spares and building material to food, liquor, shoes, stationery, cutlery and corsets. This family-run business has also been a trendsetter in Namibia’s coffee culture. After stocking up on necessities, customers would enjoy a coffee at the Kaffeebar, the mood barometer of society according to historian Dr Andreas Vogts. All was well as long as patrons came to rant about the government, the drought, lousy meat prices, lazy employees and inflation. A tongue-in-cheek paradox dating back to 1892 when the coffee tradition started to take root. Gustav and Albert Voigts from Brunswick in Germany, together with their business partner Fritz Wecke, first set up shop in Okahandja. In 1895 they opened a second store in Windhoek, exactly where the bustling Gustav Voigts Centre is today. The coffee tradition continues in full swing: Whether shopping at today’s retail store in Independence Avenue or at Maerua or Grove Superspar, customers can sit down for a cup of Java paired with a slice of cake or a brötchen. Agricultural ground breakers The Voigts brothers’ first trading partners were the Herero – goods were exchanged for the beautiful cattle that caught the brothers’ eye. At the shop, customers were greeted by a couple of hundred cattle in the backyard. Gustav Voigts’ residence, office, shed and horse stables were located there. It is hard to believe that when the brothers first arrived this yard was so muddy that Gustav almost got stuck there with his horse. This was the result of Windhoek’s hot springs; the water had flown from below Alte Feste towards Tal Street. Over the years they received several prizes for cattle breeding, karakul wool, ostrich feathers, Angora goats and mules, although their ultimate passion was horse breeding. Stud horses from pure blood lineage of the Arabian Desert and

English strains were imported, which left a lasting mark on the horse population in the whole country. The German government imported the first karakul sheep from Russia in 1908. Sheep farming was Albert’s division, making him the first karakul sheep farmer in Namibia. W&V became the first to export karakul wool to Leipzig and later to Frankfurt and London. After leaving the business, Albert started farming fulltime at Voigtsgrund. He constructed a European mansion that became one of the economic, cultural and political centres of South West Africa at the time. Voigtsgrund provided a startup for many Germans who wanted to establish themselves in Namibia. One of Gustav’s sons, Harald, retired from the business and started farming fulltime at Voigtskirch, which was the first dairy farm in the country.

Gustav & Frida Voigts Frida Voigts is the elegantly dressed lady riding a horse (see first picture on previous page). Frida Voigts radiates confidence and class in this picture from the early 1900s. She was well-known and respected, the chairlady of the Deutsche Frauenverein and founder of the Susanne Grau Heim, an old-age home that still exists today. After the fashion of old photographs this black-and-white monochrome image gives the impression of a serious disposition, but Frida’s essays in the W&V archives reveal a light, humorous side. In one of them she writes about her family’s return to Namibia after the First World War. The Voigts were in Germany when the war broke out and were not able to return to Namibia until July 1920. Six years changed everything, Frida noted, since many Germans had left or had been expelled and a “new breed” of officials came from across the Orange River. Of course, they brought along new social habits and peculiarities that she

The fourth generation of Voigts is celebrating 125 years of business excellence in the country that they are proud to call home.


Robert and Adriane were involved at the store from a very young age as they used to go there with their father. Their father was not only their mentor, but also their role model in business and in private life. wittily called “those strange South African ways”. The South African newcomers, for their part, were confronted by unknown European customs, such as merry celebrations and beer festivals that involved dancing until the early morning hours. “By Jove, those Germans know how to enjoy themselves,” she overheard them saying. Frida was married to Gustav, one of the W&V founders. Gustav was a busy man who had a go at everything ranging from business to agriculture. When the agriculture sector suffered under drought and locusts, his good-heartedness landed him in trouble with the bank. As cash was scarce, farmers paid in kind – anything from wool to boerseep had to do. The bank reprimanded him for granting too much credit, to which he responded that he couldn’t simply let the farmers suffer.

Overcoming obstacles The path to success was not without obstacles. Following the thriving business of the early years, the company suffered huge losses after the outbreak of Rinderpest in 1897 and once again during the Herero and Nama uprisings of 1904-1907. Then came the First World War during which Gustav was separated from the business. After a brief post-war boom the country entered a 14year recession and depression lasting from 1922 to 1936.

and the well-known grocery retailers of Maerua and Grove Superspar, as well as the Hochland and Westlane Spars. Yet, despite these winds of change that brought along fruitful growth, Adriane and Robert’s biggest aspiration for the future is to maintain what has been their mission for more than a century – to continue as a family business with the emphasis on strong ethics and treating their staff as part of the family. This is something they learned from their father Dieter, who has followed in the footsteps of their grandfather Gerhard, who of course took the business over from their great-grandfather Gustav. Gerhard had an impeccable reputation as a gentleman, and his gentle nature was passed on to Dieter. But fortunately it did not end when Dieter retired last year. According to Adriane, her brother Robert also inherited this quality. Adriane has her father’s innate love for horses. Robert and Adriane were involved at the store at a very young age as they used to go there with their father. The toffees they stuffed their pockets with and the dark underground rooms are Adriane’s most vivid childhood memories. She and Robert both did small jobs at the business. Their father was not only their mentor, but also their role model in business and in private life. TNN

Starting off as a small trading post in Okahandja, W&V has withstood the test of diverse political eras under three different flags, three different official languages and changing ruling powers.

Wecke & Voigts at present The fourth generation of Voigts is celebrating 125 years of business excellence in the country that they are proud to call home. Gustav’s great grandchildren Adriane Jandrell and Robert Voigts are at the helm. While Robert is the CEO, Adriane is involved in the retail sector and has been part of the company for over 20 years. The ever-growing business not only includes the famous department store Wecke & Voigts Retail but also Wecke & Voigts Wholesale

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YES!

YOUTH ENVIRONMENTAL SUMMIT AT GOBABEB

Bright T-shirts, fresh faces, young voices, braids, earphones, bling, selfies. These are my first impressions of the rowdy youngsters who’ve blown into Gobabeb with the east wind for a week in the Namib to learn about science and the environment, think critically, and get exposure to outdoor work. They are the kids of the 2017 Youth Environmental Summit (YES). One normally thinks of a summit as a high-profile meeting of world leaders, who button up their jackets as they emerge from black Mercs, shake each other’s hands importantly, give slick news conferences, and never achieve world peace. The Youth Environmental Summit is different. There are no phony leaders here, and there is no pretence with this bunch. These young adults are here to learn, they’ve got energy for Africa, enquiring minds, and optimistic attitudes. The thirty-one Grade 11s have been flung together for a week in the world’s best outdoor classroom, the Namib Desert, to get some hands-on experience of science in the field. Their enthusiasm is contagious.

Now in its eighth offering, the YES is an initiative of the Gobabeb Research and Training Centre, a world-renowned centre that is responsible for most of what we know about the natural history of the Namib. This year learners for the summit were selected from schools in the //Karas, Khomas and Erongo Regions. They applied with a short essay motivating their interest in environmental science, and were drawn into a group reflecting Namibia’s mix of cultures, colours and capital. They spent 10 days learning about the desert environment, investigating specific aspects of ecology, and preparing to discuss what they had discovered in a public finale on Saturday 20 May, which also marked Namibia’s Biodiversity Action Day, under the theme ‘Biodiversity and sustainable tourism’. Annetjie Siyaya, now a teacher in Otjiwarongo, has come to see the Biodiversity Day celebrations, and to witness this year’s YES performance. She was the one who conceived the YES idea when she worked at Gobabeb in 2012. “You just have to see the expressions on these kids’ faces when they come out here!” she says. “They live in Namibia but know almost nothing about the Namib. Science has to be exciting to get people’s interest. So YES exposes the learners to practical fieldwork, taking learning into the outdoors. We want to show them that you don’t need fancy labs to do scientific experiments: the outdoors and an enquiring mind is all you need!” The learners are divided into three groups and each group is given a topic to investigate. They are required to think up the questions, and to consider how they will find the answers using simple observations. Each group has a Gobabeb mentor to guide them with background information and how to apply the scientific method to their questions. They identify plants and animals, tally up numbers, conduct interviews with stakeholders, and gather whatever data is relevant. An important principle for

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Text and photographs John Pallet

any investigation, no matter how complex the issue, is to ‘keep it simple and straightforward’. KISS! Given the short time they’ve got, it is impressed upon them to design their experiments carefully, and to keep their data simple and focused, allowing the results to be interpreted with a clear conclusion at the end. Obviously the task demands that they think together and combine all their skills and talents. Being 16-17 years old, they also party together, liven it up, and bring their fresh perspectives to the problem with singing and laughter. Julita from Academia Secondary School, Windhoek, explains: “We come with our differences and we bring it together. I got to learn other people’s background, to understand and accept the way they are. YES makes people connect from different areas of the country, it makes us feel like one.” Dr Gillian Maggs-Kölling, Director of Gobabeb, emphasises that YES has a role in career guidance for these youngsters who will be out of school in 18 months’ time. So it was interesting that a few of them told me that YES had helped them to decide on their future direction. One said that the week at Gobabeb had confirmed her interest in geology, while another said this made her go back to the idea of veterinary science, even though psychometric tests had suggested a different direction. Somehow, the Namib works its influence in ways we can’t fathom. People who visit Gobabeb, for whatever purpose, always leave with a deeper sense of appreciation of our place on the planet. That’s an important lesson for young adults. YES is good for Namibia in many other ways. I’m happy to hear Lipuleni, from Cosmos High School, Windhoek, say that “it makes us be aware of the ecosystem. It helps us to keep track of everything so that our resources won’t be depleted.” Even in the short time at YES the experience builds their knowledge base and their confidence. All those dudes doing their role plays looked totally collected and on top of the subject. And teaching to cooperate is never a waste of time. Julita again: “I actually liked the teamwork – it taught me that if you want to make something work then teamwork is the best.” It’s encouraging, too, that some past YES participants still maintain active links with Gobabeb. For instance, Lebbeus Hashikutuva from the 2015 YES came back this year to chaperone and mentor. He is now studying chartered accounting at UNAM and maintains that YES changed his life. He believes that an appreciation of the environment will grow in all sectors of the economy in future. Is it worthwhile and even necessary to get young adults into the outdoors and active in science? The answer is a definite YES! Gobabeb and the YES kids would like to thank the Finnish Embassy, GIZ and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for getting them out there. Please keep YES going. TNN


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RIDING AMONG

NAMIBIA'S

BIG RIVERS Text and photographs Namibia Horse Safari Company

Georg Leo Graf von Caprivi might well have approved of this adventurous riding safari through Namibia’s Caprivi Strip – now the Zambezi Region. Although it is anyone’s guess what the noble Graf would have thought of the luxury comforts of hot showers, ice in your evening cocktail and down duvet sleeping-rolls. He would no doubt have been surprised to find a backup team made up almost entirely of women – even the truck-driver, a diminutive blond!


T

he curiously shaped panhandle jutting eastward to join northern Namibia to the Zambezi River – and thus to both Zimbabwe and Zambia – is the result of an 1890 Anglo-German treaty. Graf von Caprivi, the Chancellor of Imperial Germany, assumed that by annexing the Zambezi region to German South West Africa, as Namibia was then called, Germany would have access to east African trade routes and thus the Indian Ocean via the Zambezi River. It is a mystery how the Germans were unaware of the Victoria Falls which the Scottish missionary, David Livingstone, had described some 40 years earlier and named after England’s Queen Victoria. Luckily this oversight works very much in Namibia’s favour: those north-eastern parts boast a tropical, forested paradise which serves as a corridor for herds of big game moving between Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia. We chose the Caprivi for this year’s 270-km exploratory safari as, surrounded by big meandering rivers, it is as unlike the arid

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areas of Namibia we usually ride in as can be. Where normally our back-up team must find and transport over three tons of water for the horses alone, the challenge on this safari was to try to avoid the numerous deep water channels. Those who join our annual exploratory safari – called ‘exploratory’ because we have not even ridden there ourselves until then – know to expect the unexpected. And they were not disappointed this year. At dusk, on the second day out, when nosebags or a stiff G+T were on everyone’s mind, the group came upon a very deep channel some 5 km from camp. About to lose the light, there was no option but to cross it – and 19 horses, two guides and 13 guests arrived in camp tired and soaked to the skin but high on the sheer thrill of the adventure. This is what our guests come for, this explosive adrenaline rush triggered by that unknown element which is part of being on an exploratory safari. Imagine the trust needed


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This is what guests come for, an explosive adrenaline fix in the wilderness of Namibia. Keeping a close eye on you... The tall grasslands and floodplains of the Zambezi Region were their playground. Locals in a mokoro on an early morning fishing trip. Dramatic sunsets added to the beauty and splendour of the experience. PREVIOUS PAGE AND RIGHT

River crossings were a precarious and cautious undertaking... Not for the faint of heart.


to guide an unknown horse across a deep river, practically in the dark – a horse that has possibly never swum before. Not for the faint-hearted! Understandably these rides are for strong, confident riders who have ridden with us before and whom we can trust to ride out of trouble when push comes to shove. With large predators roaming the remote areas where we tend to ride, this is a very real possibility. Since over 70% of our guests return multiple times, the pressure is always on to find somewhere new and interesting each year. And so we chose the Zambezi Region, not only for its rich diversity of vegetation and animals but also because no one had ever ridden there before. In fact, on this ride we encountered children – and even some adults – who had never seen a horse before. Our guests were as enchanted by the novelty effect as were the villagers.

Starting along the Kwando River near Kongola and ending on the banks of the Zambezi River east of Katima Mulilo, our route followed the outer edge of the V-shaped nub that forms the end of the ‘panhandle’. On two recce trips (November 2016 and March 2017), tapping into the resources of local authorities and village headmen, we mapped a route to incorporate the best the region has to


offer: the huge floodplains of the Liambezi, riparian forests and mopane woodland – and of course the big rivers.

and a twist of lemon and much banter and laughter recalling the day’s adventure.

Before the abundant summer rains we found much of this area very dry, but by March the landscape had turned into rich grassland – little did we know that by the time of our riding safari in June that same grass would be tall reeds and the dry dusty channels deep enough to be inhabited by hippo and crocodile. Finding your way through kilometres of three-metre-high reeds requires more than just a GPS. Every rustle in the reeds was treated with much suspicion as these plains had been teeming with buffalo in March. Happily, much of the rustling turned out to be long-horned Nguni cattle – but you never know!

Why do visitors keep coming back? Some mention the freedom of unrestricted riding, others the colours of the landscapes but most of them say they enjoy the easy rhythm of camp life – the simple delight of a hot bucket-shower at night, of having fresh coffee in an enamel mug in the morning, evening fireside companionship, and best of all, that special bond between horse and rider. Namibia seen from the back of a horse seems to be quite addictive and some old campaigners keep coming back for more, and more – some up to 10 times! That’s a lot of hours in the saddle.

The mind-boggling logistics for setting up a safari such as this requires a fine-tuned backup team with years of experience – this is certainly no ordinary 9 to 5 job! Protecting our 19 horses, which stand on a picket line, from the danger of large predators required a makeshift ‘kraal’ out of shade-netting and blankets, and three shifts throughout the night to keep the fires going – listening for that snort of alarm that might indicate something could be on the prowl. The backup team moves several tons of equipment, breaks camp twice a day and supplies hot showers, chilled drinks and three delicious meals a day for our intrepid riding guests. But caring for the horses always comes first and no one gets attention until the horses have been watered, allowed to roll and are quietly munching on their nose-bags. Only then is it time for those G+Ts with ice

There is a sombre pang about this beautiful paradise, however, and one wonders what Leo Graf von Caprivi would have thought of the sheer weight of human habitation, of the many large herds of cattle and, other than in the park areas – we were not given permission to ride in the parks – an unfortunate lack of game and birds. Unsustainable fishing practices have resulted in the collapse of fishing, affecting both locals and tourism, and we learnt that there is an insatiable Chinese market for the gorgeous rosy feathers of the Carmine Bee-eater. Such is the fate of these places of quiet splendour. The question on everyone’s mind, however, is “where next” and, despite the fact that we have no idea, the next exploratory ride is already fully booked by those eager to discover more of this poignantly beautiful country from the back of a horse. TNN

On the ride the group encountered children – and even some adults – who had never seen a horse before.

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Beat the sands of time (and Namibia).

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Reflections on the Giribes Plains.


RAGING RIVERS

AND STORMY SKIES

The Kunene Region of Namibia dons a coat of water Text and photographs Anja Denker

E

xpectations were high. Setting out on a photographic camping trip to Namibia’s Kunene region in April this year, our mission was clear: to document the wildlife and hopefully catch a glimpse of a famed desert-adapted lion or two AND a few elephants AND a rhino or two – we weren’t fussy… A rhino or two did make their appearance – as did torrents of water in the form of rain, a hailstorm, raging rivers and pooling in a virtual lake in areas that had probably never been privy to such a downpour before, like the Giribis plains. The Obias River, a tributary of the Hoanib, came down in flood for the first time in over 30 years and we were caught in the middle of it. Travelling down the Giribis plains towards the valley of the Obias in search of a suitable campsite, we were greeted by a wall of black-blue clouds in the distance. Within minutes we were engulfed by fierce winds that swept across the Giribis plains.

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Dramatic thunderclouds overhead as the Obias River comes down.

Busy photographing and videotaping the approaching sand storm we were left with no choice but to eventually seek the safety of the car as we were pelted with grains of sand followed by first splatters of rain. We slowly made our way down the Obias, finally stopping on an embankment as our sight was impaired by the rain, and then a hailstorm of epic proportions broke loose. The rain stopped as suddenly as it had begun. We were presented with an astonishing sight: hail was lining the banks of the Obias, and the river was in full flow. Enterprising and opportunistic Namibians that we are, we filled

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the cooler box to the brim with hailstones the size of small grapes – guaranteeing instant cold beer and other refreshments for the next few days. A bottle of Windhoek Draught photographed in the most scenic of surroundings under bizarre circumstances – an advert for Namibia Breweries in the making? The prolific rainfall in the region had a sort of advantage for us: hardly any people or vehicles in sight, leaving us to enjoy our camping trip in the breath-taking landscapes


PHOTOGRAPHY FEATURE

The stormclouds forming over the mysterious fairy circles of the Namib.


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Hail collects on the riverbanks.

virtually in solitude. Ephemeral rivers like the Hoanib and Hoarusib sprang to life. According to reports the Hoanib had already come down as many as eight or nine times this rainy season, leaving it practically inaccessible at the best of times, and people were wary. One camping spot at the confluence of the Hoanib and Obias, which we thought safe to camp at on one occasion, was completely flooded a few days later! However, rivers in Namibia run their course very rapidly, making it possible to cross at certain points if you give it a day or two. We did manage to get stuck, and properly too, on the Giribis plains en route back from Sesfontein! The waterlogged track, which we foolishly thought was safe to navigate, proved treacherous: the sand sucked our tyres in with an almighty squelch and held them in a vice grip, making it impossible to get out. Just when we thought we were doomed to spend a few nights on the plains with more thunderclouds looming above – the distinct absence of other vehicles during the

past days etched firmly into our minds – help arrived within 15 minutes! MET staff from Sesfontein and two brave South Africans who, as it turned out, also had to be rescued from a raging Hoarusib River a few days ago, had us out in no time. Our car plopped out like a cork from a bottle and we were on our merry way again. We were profoundly grateful to have witnessed the spectacle of nature in all its unpredictability, from thunderclouds piling up and the heavens opening in split seconds, causing water to form vleis and race down sandy riverbeds, sweeping along dry detritus, tree trunks and branches and everything in its path with great force. The air has that special rainmusty smell of raw earth and different grasses, and the landscape sparkles in a new glistening light, washed clean. A rebirth! Once again we were reminded of how fortunate we are to live in a country of such spectacular beauty and contrasts, a country of endless horizons, wide open spaces, crystal clear air, spectacular thunderstorms, magnificent wildlife and a range of colours that vary from the ochre and yellow tones of the Namib Desert to the lush greenery of the Zambezi Region… TNN

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Xenia Ivanoff-Erb

BONUS

MARKT

Then and Now Text Nina van Schalkwyk

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Q

uintin Liebenberg has an eye for potential. He saw the potential of the Bonus Markt building. But then, so could anyone else. Located on a corner of one of the busiest intersections in Swakopmund and on the artery road that leads into town, the building is a landmark. Ask anyone about Bonus Markt and they’ll remember driving into Swakop past the shop window displaying chickens roasting slowly on a rotating spit. Of the delicious soft-serve icecream that could be bought inside. As a heritage building Bonus Markt came with a few challenges, though. For one, not much of the structure can be changed. But Quintin also had to create parking spaces, either at the property or anywhere else in town. He constructed new parking bays below Hotel Schweizerhaus near the Mole. It took a long time for the development of Bonus Markt to get underway. But it all began when Quintin built a rapport with the previous owner, Cathy Blatt, who agreed to sell it to him. Quintin has an eye for location, as well as potential. All his projects have that in common. Plus the fact that they end up successful. Quintin is not averse to a challenge – in fact, he thrives on them. He doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, as he did with the Jetty when it was about to disintegrate into the Atlantic unless enough capital was found to restore it. Bonus Markt was in the same boat. While Cathy Blatt contemplated selling the building, Mrs Gellert who ran the shop on the ground floor passed away. Suddenly one of the town’s best known establishments was closed indefinitely.

the window, like it was in Mrs Gellert’s day, but then the modern roaster didn’t make that possible. The rest of the property is taken up by local clothing stores Desert Rain and The Red Shelf, by Natural Namibia which stocks !nara oil products made in Swakopmund, Zen Health and Beauty Spa, the Ivanoff Erb Gallery as well as Krisjan’s, a restaurant popular in Windhoek and now opening its doors in Swakopmund, too. In the end, Quintin managed to preserve a place that was a landmark in the memories of many. It’s a story of what can go right when the heart is in the right place. TNN

HISTORY OF BONUS MARKT: The building that would eventually become Bonus Marktplatz was completed around 1914 and according to Swakopmund history-buff, Georg Erb, was then owned by the family of Dr Weber. Cathy Blatt came into possession of the building through her husband Arnfried Blatt, son of the famous Namibian landscape painter Johannes Blatt. Arnfried’s grandfather Aladar Hrabovsky had owned the building as well as the Hrabovsky Bottle store next door. The roast chicken and soft-serve that Bonus Markt would become famous for was introduced by H.J. Haenisch. The building has been used as a electrical store, high-end women's fashion shop and of course, as the famous roast chicken and soft ice-cream shop, where one could get almost anything at any time, too.

What happened next could have been very different. Instead of building yet another block of flats and side-stepping heritage regulations, Quintin decided to go the long route. He got Mackintosh & Lautenbach Architects on board to create a small shopping centre that would retain the charm of Swakopmund’s German architectural history. The result is a fresh take on the town’s classic character. A tribute to the original Bonus Markt is the shop that sells soft-serve ice-cream and roasted chicken. Quintin admits that he considered placing the rotisserie next to

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Explorations

into the unknown and the subtle art of

soul searching

A PHOTO STORY THROUGH NAMIBIA’S NEARLY UNREACHABLE HINTERLANDS WITH WILDERNESS EXPLORATIONS

Text and photographs Elzanne Erasmus


‘Tuck tuck tuck’ goes the Landy engine as we soldier on. The wind rustles through my hair. Of course it does. Your window should always be open when driving in a Landy, your elbow on the sill, your gaze on the horizon. Over dusty gravel plains, through rocky outcrops dotted with euphorbias, we stalwartly made our way northwest. The road was inevitably bumpy, dust an inescapable reality, but there was a sense of freedom I had never experienced before. We were not led by nearly non-existent roads, but rather by the allure of the unknown. Well, unknown for me at least. Luckily, for the sake of survival, Gerhard knows this corner of the world. This dry, desolate, mostly unexplored stretch of land almost everyone used to refer to as Kaokoland. One of the most beautiful places on this planet, by my reckoning. I left my heart there, on that adventure into the unknown. I can’t wait to go back and find it.

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here is a special brand of magic within Wilderness Safaris that not many are privy to. Wilderness Explorations are privately guided safaris that take guests into some of the wildest and most remote areas of the country. Very often such explorations delve deep into the wilderness areas of the Kunene Region in the north-western corner of Namibia. These experience-based safaris offer a fully serviced and personal journey for up to seven guests at a time that will, without question, change their lives. Some of the expeditions serve to connect guests between far-flung camps such as those in Damaraland (Damaraland Camp, Doro Nawas and Desert Rhino Camp), and the famed Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, or all the way north to Serra Cafema on the Kunene River. Others are designed for the pure natural experience of the wilderness, a rugged yet luxurious camping adventure. I was lucky enough to experience such a safari with the head of Wilderness’ Explorations Division in Namibia, Gerhard Thirion. For four days we were lost to the world, its connections and complications. We lost ourselves in the wilderness with only herds of gemsbok and zebra as witness. Wandering amongst desert elephants and lions we came out on the other side with a deeper, more connected understanding of what it means to go soul searching. And everything seemed to make more sense afterwards. For lack of a less cliché phrase, maybe it is possible to “find yourself” on such a journey. As Tolkien said: Not all those who wander are lost.

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WHAT MAKES EXPLORATIONS SPECIAL? •

Guides are passionate, experienced and highly trained local individuals who make the whole journey seamless and interpretive from start to finish. Explorations are for small groups of up to seven people, with each guest being guaranteed a ‘window’ seat on game viewing vehicles. Tailor-made Explorations for private groups, and to meet specific and specialist requirements, are possible. Exceptionally diverse activities are offered and can include game drives, walks, water activities, flights, picnics, bush dinners and many more. These journeys take place mostly in private concessions and wildlife areas exclusive to Wilderness Safaris guests.

Find out more about how you can book your soul-searching exploration by visiting www.wilderness-safaris.com/countries/ namibia/explorations.

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SOUL SEARCHING SOJOURN Hartmann’s Valley is by far one of the most visually dramatic sceneries in the country. The sandy plains or grasslands (depending on the season or annual rainfall) are nestled among the Hartmann Mountains of the far northwest. Standing atop the edge of the valley, before your descent into its realm, offers breath-taking views. Spot the fairy circles as they dot the plains below, right at home in this magical place. Catch a glimpse of Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, endemic to the area, as they trot across the great expanse. Take a deep breath and let it sink in, this is a once in a lifetime kind of wonder for most visitors. A vacation not only from your day job, but maybe even reality.

VANTAGE POINTS Climb the hill, scale the outcrop, hike up the plateau… or just clamber onto the Landy for a better vantage point. The view is always better from the top.

RUNNING WILD AND FREE This is where the mighty gemsbok roam, Namibia’s national animal. These herds will move thousands upon thousands of kilometres over their lifetimes. They go where the rains do, trekking across the vast plains in search of grazing. Through your binos they may sometimes look like flecks of dust or like a forest of long-dead acacias across the landscape.

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FAMILY FIRST Mom was in the lead, the youngest just underfoot. It was a big family. No pun intended. We stopped in the middle of the single track. They were coming straight towards us, but as they sauntered closer our best bet was to stay completely still, lest we startle them. A family of gentle giants, specially adapted to the dry region they call their homeland. The young bulls were curious and sniffed at the hood of the Landy. They did not seem particularly perturbed by our presence, the herd flowing around us like the water of a river parts for a rock. And so they went about their day, walking down the dry riverbed towards their next water source. A family of desert-adapted elephants. A sighting like no other!


DANCE FOR ME We were making our way down a dry river as dawn broke. A series of high-pitched squawks pierced the early morning stillness and a rustle of feathers caught our eyes. There he was, prancing around like a show pony, feathers and wings in full swing. It was a male korhaan doing his best imitation of a Flamenco dancer, strutting his stuff and showing off for the pretty lady nearby. A mating dance. A flamboyant example of the beauty of nature.

THE BIGGER SCHEME OF THINGS I think my favourite places are those that make us realise how small we are, and therewith how small our troubles are in the bigger scheme of things. The rough textured land stretches on for as far as the eye can see. And there we are. A mere blip on the radar. Small and decidedly insignificant compared to the vast nothingness and beauty of this land.

ENCOUNTERS OF THE CLOSE KIND We were on our way home, the journey nearly at its end. While making our way up the Grootberg Pass, four young boys came ambling down the road. They weren’t human boys though‌ they were young lions. Playful with each other, paying us no mind, they gave us quite the show. Note that this is a very frequently used public gravel road meandering up the mountainside. Not the most obvious place for a lion sighting, but there they were nonetheless. Relaxed as can be, they curiously sniffed at our vehicle and lay around staring at us as if we were the oddities on this stretch of gravel and not them. I like to think that they were our send-off party. A last glimpse of the truly wild world we had just left behind. Windswept hair and tanned faces. Hearts overflowing. Souls soaring. TNN

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The Luxury of

Experience

Wilderness Safaris – dedicated to conserving and restoring Africa’s wilderness and wildlife by creating life-changing journeys and inspiring positive action.

www.wilderness-safaris.com


ADVERTORIAL

A day well spent at

N/a'an ku sê Lodge & Wildlife Sanctuary T

he cheetah was just a few feet away from me. I looked at his lithe body through my viewfinder, zooming in to focus on his face. But he moved. His eyes filled up my vision, blurring as he crossed the space between us. I pulled the camera away from my eyes just in time to see him saunter past me, almost brushing my left leg. I heard gasps behind me, and turned to watch the cheetah as he stalked around another bush, playing cat and mouse with his sister, who hid perfectly camouflaged nearby.

Suddenly she sprang out from under a bush and sprinted away from her brother, playing Ring Around the Rosie while darting between myself and a few other people as if we were merely part of the foliage. We were on a Cheetah Walk, but to be honest, it felt more like the cheetahs were walking us. Three orphans, all raised from cubs with uncertain futures to adults, which as a result of human-wildlife conflict could never return to the wild. Instead, they play like the cats they are, while their human guests watch in fascination. We are all overcome by the magical moment in which we find ourselves. To be so close to such an aweinspiring predator, and yet completely safe. We follow behind as the trio explore their surroundings. But when it's time to go, the guides call them back by name. The animals are Afrikaans, it seems. "They're scared we'll leave them behind," one of the guides tells me, noting my surprise that the cheetahs are so obedient to their call. We are on a visit to N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary, which is about an hour's drive outside of Windhoek. We left early that

morning and took the B6 main road on the way to Hosea Kutako International Airport, turning onto the M53 gravel road after the stop sign. The morning sky had just started to blush over the horizon. We were ahead of schedule as we parked the car at the N/a’an ku sê Activity Centre, which meant that there was enough time for a fresh cup of coffee before our playtime with the cats. A long, full day stretched ahead of us, as was evident from one look at the activities board. The Activity Centre was specifically built for day visitors like us. The structure is reminiscent of a large tented mess hall, with colourful chairs and tables scattered throughout, plus a few comfortable lounge chairs in a corner. The huge blackboard behind the reception desk lists all the activities available, from carnivore feeding to learning ancient skills from the San.

First things first, we tick off the cheetah walk and are then dropped off at the research centre, where we meet up with N/a’an ku sê co-founder Marlice van Vuuren. Following in her steps we visit the many rescued animals temporarily housed in enclosures on a Behind-thescenes Tour. It is clear that Marlice has a way with animals. They love her, almost as much as she loves them.

The Activity Centre for day visitors.

Marlice and a young baboon.

There is so much to see and do, and one day is not enough to take it all in. We have our checklist ready for our next visit: there’s the baboon walk, the reptile centre, the ancient skills academy with the San as well as hunting with the San. But for now we can relax at the restaurant and toast a day well spent. www.naankuselodge.com

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HALF A CENTURY AT

Hotel Schweizerhaus

Text and Photographs Nina van Schalkwyk

A doorway, wedged in the corner at the back of the café, led to somewhere special. I wasn’t really allowed to go through there, and if I did I had to promise that I would not be noisy. Beyond that doorway was another world. Exotic birds hooted and whistled, there were big green leaves and branches from a courtyard garden. Silently, like a secret agent on a special mission, I’d move over to the trampoline. That’s what I’d come for: to grab the air in my f ists while I propelled my skinny legs from the taut surface.

T

hat was back when I was a child, when Café Anton was part and parcel of my family’s December holidays in Swakopmund. In the misty chill of the early morning we walked from our flat to the café, hands tightly clasped together in sweatshirt pockets, to purchase a Mandeltörtchen, one for each of us. The brown paper bag weighed heavily on the way home, daring me to open it, daring me to eat the almond tartlet before I reached the flat. It was a ritual. A ritual like when my mother took my brother and me to Café Anton for tea and cake. She’d order the chocolate nougat ring for me, except I didn’t know what nougat was and believed it to be some kind of banana mushiness. My brother and I would resist fighting; resist making a nuisance of ourselves, squabbling over the last crumbs. The hushed atmosphere in the café was infectious. We knew to sit nicely in our chairs. And if we did, if we promised we wouldn’t make a racket, we were allowed to go off by ourselves – to the secret garden at the back. Through the doorway, into the small hall with the

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winding staircase that leads to the hotel rooms on the upper floor which, of course, I didn’t know at the time. I wouldn’t dare go up there anyway. Only special people ever came down those stairs. Ahead, though, was the door with the yellow stained glass windows, through which you had a blurry view of the outside. Push the door open and slip out before anyone notices. Naturally the courtyard garden was meant for the guests at Hotel Schweizerhaus. That’s why we had to keep super quiet. There was something about being a guest at the hotel that seemed extra special to me. Which is why, in honour of its 50th anniversary this year, I grabbed the opportunity to be a guest there. To experience the world hidden from me as a child. Hotel Schweizerhaus is family-owned in the third generation. Owner Heidi Snyman, née Anton, born in Namibia, was five


Three generations of Schweizerhaus ladies: Sylvia, Aria, Heidi and Desireé

What a view! Sundowners on the balcony.

when her parents, both from Germany, bought a “Swiss-looking” house in Swakopmund, which is how Hotel Schweizerhaus got its name. Later the Anton’s added the café, which Heidi’s father, a master baker, made into the icon it is today. She grew up in the family business, a witness to her parents’ commitment and sacrifice in running it. “Immer alles für die Gäste” – everything for the guests – she remembers complaining to her father. Now, of course, she understands it, the sacrifice. And the family always managed to make time for lunch together, a tradition that has continued to the third generation. Today, Hotel Schweizerhaus and Café Anton are still run by Heidi, along with her daughters Sylvia and Desireé. I meet up with the ladies on my first morning at the hotel. We’re sitting around one of the tables in the dining room and in between sips of coffee talk about how far the hotel has come and about working with family. Desireé has taken over behind the counter, producing the famed confectionaries that her grandfather taught her to make. Both daughters spent time in Germany, learning the ins and outs of their trade before heading home. Neither was pressured to get involved. In fact, Heidi was shocked when Sylvia first announced that she planned on working in the hotel. “I told her, about the long hours, the hard work. But it didn’t matter.” As we talk, Sylvia’s 15-month-old daughter sits on her lap. Apparently she is already getting involved in the family business. “She follows the housekeeping staff around like a shadow. She’s learning all about how to clean”, Sylvia says. The past is indisputably part of the hotel’s charm, but how will it translate into the future? In the café Desireé still uses her grandfather’s original recipes – to the relief of customers. When even top restaurants use pre-mix ingredients, she still makes the pretzels from scratch. Lately, though, she has slowly added a few new cakes and biscuits to the range, experimenting with

seasonal fruit and international trends. Some, like the lemon meringue cake, do well and stay on, others, like macaroons, don’t. The hotel, too, has seen some changes over the years. Most are too subtle for regulars to notice. The interior of the café and hotel is refurbished every few years, replacing bedding, carpets, curtains and seat cushions. Gradually the big television sets reminiscent of the nineties are being replaced with their flat screen counterparts. One characteristic of the business that seems unlikely to ever change is the team of loyal staffers who have been with the family for decades. The “new” employees are those that have worked there for “only” six years, says Shaheed Abrahams, who is part of the management. Shaheed has been with the family since he left school, starting as a waiter and working his way up. Now he has a hand in every aspect of the business, and helps Hotel Schweizerhaus adapt in the face of modern challenges. In fact, the staff often come together as a team to brainstorm ideas. The latest is a goulash soup special on Sundays that has become popular in a town where most establishments are closed on the last day of the week. I ask him why no one seems to want to leave. What makes it so great to work there? “We are a like a family,” he says with sincerity, “we just all gel.” And when he walks back to the reception counter, I watch the employees converge around him, making jokes and chatting in that familiar way that only comes with time and shared experience. And while everything changes, everything stays the same. Climbing the staircase to the first floor, the hallway still retains the hushed quality, the thick carpets absorbing the sounds of my steps. My room looks out onto the promenade below, beyond which the ocean reflects the sun’s afternoon rays. Out on the balcony, I toast the weekend, and watch as the evening falls over Swakopmund. TNN

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ADVENTURE AWAITS ETOSHA ANDERSSON TAXI Located in the beautiful and desolate northern reaches of Namibia, ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK is one of the country’s prime tourist locations and home to a large variety of wildlife.

Windhoek Office: Tel: +264 61 249 268 Email: windhoek@scenic-air.com

www.scenic-air.com

• Situated in the beautiful coastal town Swakopmund • Built in and around the restored Old Station Building dating back to 1901 • This 4-star hotel offers 90 spacious rooms • Recreational facilities include a swimming pool, a gymnasium and casino, 2 Cinemas with 3D, Hair Salon & Spa • Two-minute’s walk from city centre • Day trips to the desert as well as dolphin cruises and scenic flights can be arranged.

Swakopmund Office: Tel: +264 64 403 575 Email: swakopmund@scenic-air.com

“There is still only one place to stay in Windhoek. Windhoek Country Club Resort - Your resort in the city” • Standard Rooms (wheel chair accessible) • Luxury Suites • Restaurant • Casino • Bars

• • • • •

Foreign Exchange Limited Wireless Internet In-house Gym Child Friendly 18 hole Championship Golf Course

Tel: +264 (0) 64 410 5200 | Fax: +264 (0) 64 410 5360 Email: swakopmund@legacyhotels.co.za | Website: www.LegacyHotels.co.za PO Box 616, Swakopmund

Tel: +264 (0) 61 205 5911 | Fax: +264 (0) 61 252 797 Email: windhoek@legacyhotels.com | Website: www.LegacyHotels.com Location: B1 Western Bypass, Windhoek South, Namibia

www.LegacyHotels.com

www.LegacyHotels.com


An up-market sanctuary for the modern day traveller

76 + 78 Geverstreet (Dr. Kwame Nkrumah), Ludwigsdorf, Klein Windhoek NAMIBIA P: +264 61 25 88 67 | P: +264 81 127 2037 E: belvedere@afol.com.na | W: http://www.belvedere-boutiquehotel.com

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A Sweet Surprise

Halfway between Nothing and Nowhere Text and Photographs Nina van Schalkwyk

Gßnther Martens on the stoep of Conny’s.

There's a quirky little restaurant a couple of kilometres southwest of Rehoboth in Namibia's dry and dramatic Hardap region. Called Conny's, the establishment is an famous stop-over for many a tour bus or camper. It's a place to relax and recharge over lovely local cuisine made in the Baster-style of the area. Try to Google it, though, and you might not f ind much about the area. In fact, without the weathered sign next to the road one might miss it altogether.

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getting out. A sign with "Conny's Restaurant" stood against the wall, the arrow pointing towards a fence with only the road beyond. We headed in the opposite direction, and around the corner was life. The building we'd parked next to has a large veranda with potted plants on the balustrade. The sand was meticulously raked, and two iron chairs and a rickety table stood in front of steps leading to the entrance. And that's where we found Günther. The lunch crowd had passed through a few minutes earlier: very little was left of the yellow rice with raisins, and none of the meat. However, we grabbed cold drinks from the gas refrigerator (no electricity here) and a few home-made muffins, and made ourselves comfortable, our feet cooling on the cold cement floor, little Conny the dog nibbling at exposed toes.

Delicious local fare. Conny's has been around since 1978 when it was started by Catherine (Conny) van Heerden and her husband. Their homestead housed the little restaurant which at that stage served as a fish and chips spot and a general dealer. Conny's became known among tour operators, and many stopped here on their way to Sossusvlei and further south. Inside the simple and sturdy building, next to the oldfashioned glass counter, is a collage of photos, drawings, postcards and letters from all the foreign friends that Conny made over the years. Smiling up from the pictures, one can tell that Conny was the kind of person that drew people in. Unfortunately Conny passed away, but the tragedy opened the door for new boots in the kitchen. Günther Martens has soft blue eyes and a relaxed smile that is partly covered by his white beard. He's dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and, despite the heat, wool slippers. Here, in the middle of nowhere, without electricity, stands the last remaining hippy with only a little black puppy to keep him company. Günther tells me that he was never interested in making money. He could have done far worse, though. The atmosphere at the restaurant is laid back when my friends and I arrive after a weekend in the south – tired, dusty and ‘car-strophobic’. We'd never heard about Conny's, but, as with all great road trips, we spotted the sign and had to stop. At first it seemed as if we were mistaken, when we drove through the gate and saw around us a scene that resembled a typical rural homestead: aged buildings discoloured by the dust, an old Mercedes baking in the sun and a medley of bric-a-brac (including a pair of white plastic swans guarding the entrance of the main house). The place seemed deserted, except for two modern 4x4s parked on the side of a building. We stopped next to them and looked apprehensively at each other before

An unexpected pleasure was the fantastic coffee. No exaggeration. Günther's passion is coffee, and his coffee set-up allows him to make multiple cups. He demonstrated the correct way to sip the brew, and guided our tasting process to reveal which blends we preferred. Strange to find a connoisseur in the bush. Vows were made by all to come back for a proper demonstration of the art of making a truly delicious cup of coffee. TNN

Günther carefully prepares fresh coffee during a tasting.

The late Conny van Heerden and a visitor to her store.

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C O N S I D E R YO U R S E L F I N V I T E D When last have you allowed yourself to be overwhelmed? Not by a little more than what you’re used to, but by the extraordinary, by a surplus of untouched beauty, by something you’ll most definitely never ever see again. Experience phenomenal luxury on the doorstep of raw nature in front of your very own private villa.

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How one company CHANGED THE FACE OF

Crafts

Text and Photographs Nina van Schalkwyk

How do you change the lives of a community from one of the poorest areas in Namibia? You give them the opportunity to turn their skills into success. As local linen manufacturer House of Anin turns 30 this year, we take a look at the Namibian brand that successfully used crafts to uplift a community through embroidery. A HEARTFELT WELCOME Maria !Kharuxas is perched on a stool, trying to hide her broad smile behind a pretty pashmina scarf. We're sitting in the House of Anin workroom in Windhoek, above the Anin shop in the quirky Bougain Villas on Sam Nujoma. Maria sits behind a long table that is covered with an expanse of fine white cotton stretched over the top. I can’t help but touch the fabric; it feels luxurious and light. Completed products are folded and stacked neatly on one side of the table, with the embroidered sides face up. Maria beams when she shows me, proud of the work she and the other ladies of Casa Anin are doing, creating these elegant pieces with their skilled hands that are coveted the world over.

AN EYE FOR TALENT AND OPPORTUNITY Maria is one of the women who form the heart of House of Anin, stitching together its linens for loyal clients local and abroad. Most come from an impoverished village near Hoachanas, about two-and-a-half hours south of Windhoek. A centre at Hoachanas allows many of the women to do their stitching closer to home. It's a small community, Maria tells me, where everyone knows everyone. What started out thirty years ago as a congregation of women under a Camelthorn tree grew into a company, which at one stage employed more than 300 women. Casa Anin is the story of many women, and one woman in particular, at its heart. Heidi von Hase saw a unique charm and skilled workmanship of the embroidered fabrics made by the local women of Hoachanas and created her business around it. Back in the day, von Hase and her husband had just moved to their Karakul farm. Heidi, however, a city girl and fine art graduate, needed a creative outlet. When the colourful cloth with the vibrant stitching that adorned the fabrics flapping in the wind and tugging at their tethers around the Hoachanas settlement caught her eye, she saw an opportunity. The name Anin was chosen, meaning many birds in Nama. And it was fitting. Taught by early 20th-century missionaries and passed

down the generations, the traditional hand-stitching revealed a world of Namibian animals and many, many birds.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER When Casa Anin was eventually taken over by the next generation, namely Heidi's daughter Anabel Loubser and her son-in-law Stephan, the brand entered a new phase of existence. The couple is passionate about design, which fits naturally with the scope of work for Anin. But what initially attracted them to the brand was the positive impact the company had on the community of Hoachanas. "We both have a love for and desire to help people improve their quality of life. [We enjoy] working with and providing opportunities to the people of Hoachanas to improve their lives and that of their children." The most important thing Heidi passed on to the two of them, they say, is respect for people.

HAND EMBROIDERED HERITAGE Many of those involved in Anin today have been around since its beginning. Anin's senior seamstress, Lena Harases, has been with the company since its early years. She started out doing embroidery before developing her skills in sewing. Today, her daughter is also part of the Anin family as the saleswoman. "Be tough on standards, but soft on people,� Heidi told her young successors. In recent years, the Anin brand underwent a metamorphosis. The colourful aesthetic grew-up into a modern, sophisticated and simple look, in line with global trends. And the name, now simply House of Anin. Anabel and Stephan have taken the brand into the digital age with an online store and sleek website to match. Old challenges remain: to compete in a global market where products are churned out cheaply and quickly and not necessarily of the best quality. Anin's edge, however, is always its hand-made appeal. That these products are created by women whose names you can find stitched onto the linen. TNN

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THIS IS MY NAMIBIA By Ron Swilling

Welcome home.” I remember those words scrawled by a former employer on a piece of paper and clipped to my notes when I did a stint as a lodge reliefmanager in the Kunene Region. They struck a chord. And, whenever I leave the country for a while, on my return to ‘the land of big skies’ I smile, let out a deep sigh of relief and say to myself “welcome home.” Namibia does that to you. Easily. It gets under your skin like the desert dust – and then it takes a skip into your heart and a jump into your soul. There it stays. When I’m away for an extended period of time, I feel the universe nudging me. It says: Get back to Namibia. Now! It’s that time when I am hungry for authenticity – for raw energy. My heart always does an extra jig when I spot my first quiver tree and ‘Cape to Namibia’ road sign, and I know I’m drawing closer. The land named after one of the most ancient deserts on the planet knows how to do things with passion. There is no time to dilly-dally and pussy-foot over here. When it rains, it storms. Thunder and lightning make their way over the hills, rumbling and flashing with fury, moving closer and closer, until the powerful thunderclaps are overhead and the rain pounds down causing torrents of water that quickly form rivers around you. When it rains long and hard in the catchment areas in the interior and Namibia’s ephemeral rivers begin to flow, the excitement in the desert is palpable. The world holds its breath. People upstream tell you that the river is on its way. And you wait. You hear it before you see it, a rush of water that arrives in waves, carrying logs and debris in a celebration of existence and with the force of life itself. And then it quiets down, sinking into the sand to replenish the aquifers. The seasons turn, sometimes leaving areas without a drop of water year after year. At the beginning of every summer we wait in anticipation for the clouds to build up, the sky to darken and for those first heavy drops to hit the soil. Nature calls strongly here. With vast open countryside that runs into infinity, the

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stars are brighter, lighting up the dome of the night sky with a dazzling display of diamonds – and sleeping outdoors becomes one of the greatest luxuries in the world. The simple things in life begin to matter more. This is my Namibia. Beauty takes on a different guise, both in the land and among the people, as if it will not be dictated to by conventional ideas. It has a mind of its own. Sand heaped into towering mountains forms some of the most extraordinary scenery in the world, and the Himba women’s glistening loveliness makes for a new and refreshing perception of beauty. I love the fact that Namibia invites me to think anew. It has taken me by surprise to learn of the many secrets the Namib Desert holds in its rough, wizened hands. The most delicate blooms emerge from the hardiest of plants, and expanses of sand that appear lifeless hold a myriad of life-forms. There are many discoveries to be made. And, as if to acknowledge that balance is essential in life, the rivers and waterways of the Kavango and Zambezi regions wend their way through verdant riverine vegetation. A gentle green fills up all the empty places inside my being until I am peacefully replete. Hippo grunts and birdsong fill the air, punctuated by the piercing calls of the African Fish Eagle.

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Namibia’s people complement the exceptional natural world with their rich age-old traditions. Flashes of colour and vibrancy remain etched in my mind: A group of Himba women stamping their feet and swinging their arms energetically in dance; an Owambo man patiently weaving a granary basket outside a homestead; a group of women laughing, flashing pearl-white teeth, while fishing in an oshana with their funnel-shaped woven traps; a family on a donkey cart travelling homewards on the gravel roads of the hinterland; and a Herero woman walking at a regal pace down the street on a scorching summer’s day, dressed in her voluminous skirts. Wherever and whenever, it is always the friendliness, the smiles that cut through the barriers of culture and are the currency of life. Over the years, I have collected a collage of Namibian smiles. They overlap marvellously with images of desert elephant, gemsbok and all the rest of our Namibian siblings. When it is time to leave and I exit the country at the Noordoewer border post in the south, I feel a pang of sadness. Then I look up at the Engen fuel stop’s billboard, appreciating its apt message to departing travellers: ‘Thank you for visiting Namibia’, it says. ‘It’s been a treat’. TNN


www.wolwedans.com

Wolwedans is more than a collection of camps and lodges. It’s a collection of dreams. Our desert based economy is a sustainable example of ‘business in the balance’. At Wolwedans we are committed to the conservation of the NamibRand Nature Reserve and Namibia’s development of human capital through vocational training and the expression of her unique and diverse cultures.

...simply out of this world


Photo © Gerhard Thirion

Namibia. Wild at heart.

An untamed wilderness that will always leave you spoilt for choice. Mother Nature is waiting for you.

NAMIBIA – Head office C/O Haddy & Sam Nujoma Drive Private Bag 13244, Windhoek Tel: +264 61 290 6000 Fax: +264 61 25 4848 Email: info@namibiatourism.com.na www.namibiatourism.com.na

GERMANY Schillerstrasse 42 – 44, D – 60313 Frankfurt am Main, Tel: +49 69 1337 360 Fax: +49 69 1337 3615 Email: info@namibia-tourism.com www.namibia-tourism.com

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www.namibiatourism.com.na

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Travel News Namibia Summer 2017/18  

Travel News Namibia Summer 2017/18