Namibia TRAVEL NEWS
VOLUME 25 No 4 | WINTER 2017
The RIGHT kind of tourism N$40.00 incl. VAT R40.00 incl. VAT
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 firstname.lastname@example.org PO Box 407, Aviation Road, Eros Airport, Windhoek, Namibia
Namibia TRAVEL NEWS
is published by Venture Media in Windhoek, Namibia www.travelnewsnamibia.com
Not a typical view of the Fish River Canyon. Photographed from the western side near Fish River Lodge, it shows the river in flood after years of drought. Photo: Dook
Tel: +264 61 420 500, 1 Mozart Street, Windhoek West PO Box 21593, Windhoek, Namibia MANAGING EDITOR Rièth van Schalkwyk PRODUCTION MANAGER Elzanne Erasmus email@example.com PUBLIC RELATIONS Janine van der Merwe firstname.lastname@example.org LAYOUT & DESIGN Liza de Klerk CUSTOMER SERVICE Bonn Nortjé email@example.com ONLINE EDITOR Sanet van Zijl firstname.lastname@example.org TEXT CONTRIBUTORS Ron Swilling, Elzanne Erasmus, Pompie Burger, Ginger Mauney, Rièth van Schalkwyk, Marita van Rooyen, Annelien Robberts
PHOTOGRAPHERS Elzanne Erasmus, Ron Swilling, Pompie Burger, Xenia Ivanoff-Erb, Gerhard Thirion, Tarry Butcher, Clement Lawrence, Paul van Schalkwyk, Annelien Robberts, Marita van Rooyen, Rièth van Schalkwyk 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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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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WE'RE A SOCIAL BUNCH
the year of
RESPONSIBLE Tourism 2
017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development. In Namibia, every year is a national year of sustainable tourism development. Since independence, when our constitution was crafted and the sustainable use of our natural resources was enshrined in article 95, obliging the state to “actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting policies which include the maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibians...”, sustainable use has been the backbone of tourism development in Namibia. The Namibian success stories during the past 26 years of how we protect wilderness and wildlife, how communities use their resources responsibly and how the percentage of land that is managed and protected increases rather than decreases, make for inspiring statistics. It is easy to promote the right kind of tourism here, because that is exactly what we have to offer. It all sounds terribly serious, but while you turn the pages of this Winter edition you will see what I mean. To be a responsible tourist in Namibia is just so much fun. The photography feature on page 44 almost makes me wish I could be a lodge manager or a guide in the wilderness. Have you ever heard of a game warden on a bicycle powered by the sun? Marita’s Salambala love story with a difference is an example of doing the right thing in the right place, with the support of NGOs, tourists and communities. The same goes for Annelien’s Treasures of the South on page 74. Such fun and colour, close to the largest canyon in Africa.
I always wish to be in Ron’s shoes, or rather behind her steering wheel, when I read her ‘taking a break from the road’ stories. She takes roadtripping to a whole new level, sometimes on well-travelled routes, but always by adding a surprise and an exciting twist. Just like Pompie Burger and his birding stories. You think you know it all, but no, you don’t. At least not highlighted with the most stunning close-up poses. And so I can continue to spoil your fun by giving away all the secrets of what you will find in this edition. Suffice to say that Namibia is a destination with the most amazing diversity in every respect. Judging just from this edition you should be convinced that one visit is not nearly enough to scratch the surface. The annual Tourism Expo in Windhoek always brightens up our already sunny winter, with all the hype and activities and the introduction of new products and projects. Best of all, though, is the sense of shared commitment to a sector that is extremely important to Namibia. The music video of the Elemotho’s Rhino song (page 27) promises to be a hit following the launch at the Expo. No sweat there to do something responsibly. Just download the tune and share with your friends. We hope you enjoy the first insert and revamp of a decade-old tradition in Travel News Namibia, the Bush Telegraph. We invite you to make use of this line of communication. Another addition to the format is a surprise on the last page. Let’s continue the conversation online.
Rièth van Schalkwyk
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
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.
Central Reservations: +264 61 431 8002 • Lodge Direct : +264 66 253 602 • www.chobewatervillas.com
T HE J UPITER D RAWING R OOM (CT) 5 0 42 7/ E
LET US INTRODUCE YOU TO OUR
HEAD OF QUALITY CONTROL Join us on a Windhoek brewery tour and we’ll show you how Namibia’s World-Class Beer is brewed. You’ll find out why fermenting beer naturally takes so much longer, and taste for yourself why no additives, colourants or accelerants have ever been added to our 100% Pure Beer. All thanks to this man, Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria. In laying down the Reinheitsgebot purity law, he ensured beer was brewed the right way in Germany in 1516, and now 500 years later, in Windhoek, Namibia. Tours every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday; starting at 8:30 or 14:00. Please book two days in advance on +264 61 320 4999 (min of 3 people).
Not for Sale to Persons Under the Age of 18. Drink Responsibly.
12 BUSH TELEGRAPH Happenings in the industry 16 O'TRIPPING THROUGH NAMIBIA Okaukuejo to Ondangwa 22 SALAMBALA The Forbidden Romance 27 STAND TOGETHER The making of 28 WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE Connect with Botswana 36 A WILD JOURNEY Base camp through the interior 44 PHOTOGRAPHY FEATURE Let me be your guide 52 PARADISE HAS A NEW NAME at Kazile Island Lodge 58 THE MOUNTAIN-BIKER DIARIES with CYMOT 62 BIRDING In and around Windhoek
52 62 70 TRAVEL LIGHTLY over earth and sky with African Profile Safaris 74 TREASURES OF THE SOUTH with Namibia Wildlife Resorts 80 THIS IS MY NAMIBIA
58 TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
Why pay extra for foreign exchange?
Check-in at your nearest FNB Branch, or the new FNB Foreign Exchange Centre @Parkside, 130 Independence Ave., and pay 0% commission on all Foreign Currency bought by FNB. Add to that expert advice plus fast, efficient service countrywide, and your travels are off to a great start. For more information, visit www.fnbnamibia.com.na or call your Personal Foreign Exchange Dealer on (061) 299 2340.
Terms and conditions apply. www.fnbnamibia.com.na
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BUSH TELEGRAPH WHO WON THE 2017 NAMIBIAN
Take only photos
RESPONSIBLE TOURISM AWARD?
Maybe you know already. That is, if you were at the official opening of the Namibia Tourism Expo before you read this edition of TNN. Unfortunately we had to go to print before the announcement, so go to our website to see which of the four finalists walked away with the honours. Ongava Tented Camp, Jackalberry Lodge in Nkasa Rupara, Gondwana Etosha Safari Camp or Wilderness Safaris Hoanib Camp in Kaokoland. The awards were initiated by Namibia Media Holdings who aims to promote ecotourism in the country.
FLY BIG BETWEEN
WINDHOEK, GABORONE AND DURBAN
WE Deluxe Coffeeworks at Old Mutual Towers @deluxecoffeeworks
LONG-LISTED FOR A 2017 AFRICAN RESPONSIBLE TOURISM AWARD
Only a few months in operation and already the demand for travelling between Windhoek and KwaZulu Natal's popular south coast holiday city is bigger than the supply. Air Namibia replaced the 37-seater Embraer on this route with a 112-seater Airbus A319, which includes 16 business class seats for discerning passengers. Visit www.airnamibia.com.na for specials and details.
Damaraland Camp has brought home a silver award from the World Travel Market (WTM) Africa in Cape Town. This pioneering camp, one of the first in the area, received the Silver 2017 African Responsible Tourism Award in the “Best Accommodation for Social Inclusion” category. As a result of a partnership established between a Namibian community and the ecotourism operator, Wilderness Safaris, this camp forms part of the hugely successful Torra Conservancy that led the way to increased employment, thriving wildlife and the co-existence of animals and local people.
GETS A FACELIFT
One of the favourite family weekend break-away destinations in the vicinity of Windhoek is about to be spruced up. Midgard, just 85 km east of the capital in the Otjihavero Mountains, will soon boast a braai boma at the pool bar and unobstructed views from the renovated restaurant over the central highlands to the east.
WINDPOMP 14 TOWN? Don’t worry! This fun watering hole, north of Swakop, will always be the heart of the village, even when bungalows and free standing houses are built around it. Mile 14, the wellknown camping site destroyed by changing seas and angry tides a decade ago, will be a better version of its old self once Sun Karros’s plans for an environmentally friendly holiday village and resort in the West Coast style become reality. Namibia Wildlife Resorts has given the green light for the low density development, with Windpomp 14 as the restaurant and shop in the centre of it all. No date for completion, but get the update on www.travelnewsnamibia.com.
#THISISMYNAMIBIA AT WINDHOEK CITY MARKET
Come join in the jovial conversation and share your Namibia every second Friday at the Windhoek City Market. Venture Media’s team in the bright orange Kombi would love to hear what you have to say about our beautiful country. Find the project under #thisismynamibia on social media and make sure to follow us, keeping up with our latest project innovations (@venture_media).
HAVE YOU SPOTTED
THE NEW WHEELS IN THE CAPITAL? Explore all of Windhoek’s nooks and crannies with the recently introduced sightseeing buses. Hop on and off as many times as you like at stops throughout the city. Sip on a cocktail at the Hilton Hotel’s Sky Bar while admiring the city lights from the swimming pool. Shop ‘til you drop at the Grove Mall. Discover Heroes’ Acre and learn more about Namibian history. For more information on all their exciting sites visit www.sightseeingnamibia.com.na.
FIT FOR A PRESIDENT At the opening of Ongava Game Reserve in 1993, then Prime Minister Hage Geingob did the honours. Now, 24 years later, he paid a visit again – this time as President, accompanied by First Lady Monica Geingos and the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta. Treated to the quintessential Little Ongava service in the tranquil setting of nature, the guests were informed about the successes and developments at the reserve, especially the rhino conservation story. They discussed future plans, the new research centre and the new Andersson's Camp to be opened in 2018. President Hage Geingob and First Lady Monica Geingos. Standing from left to right are Rob Moffett, Mariette Venter, Adriano Shimanya, Pohamba Shifeta, Stuart Crawford, Abigail Guerier and Elizabeth Heberling.
Auas Safari Lodge
The century-old church at Nakambale, against a stormy sky.
O'TRIPPING THROUGH NAMIBIA:
Okaukuejo to Ondangwa Text and photographs Ron Swilling
Wild and quirky. A clockwise loop from Etosha to the Zambezi, via the Owambo regions, complements a wildlife safari with a juicy bite of culture.
pent the afternoon with a bull elephant,’ is how I started my email to a friend from Olifantsrus Camp in Etosha National Park. It was a rare privilege. Even more so because I had the strong feeling that this wise old giant had a large and deep memory bank. I felt sure, watching his calm composure from just metres away, that he had witnessed the transformation of the site over the years from an elephant abattoir - used to process meat from the elephant culls in the 80s - to a tourist campsite. A large metal frame with a pulley and several elephant skulls still stand as a grisly reminder. He tolerated my presence patiently as he savoured the clean water near the hide, only using the muddy mush further out as brown body paint to keep away the bugs. Elephants know what is what.
A typical scene: relaxing outside a shebeen.
BREATHTAKINGLY WILD The grand and exhilarating experience continued in epic proportions. In this wild Eden, zebra, hartebeest, wildebeest, kudu, gemsbok and springbok congregated skittishly around the waterhole, warily eyeing the lionesses lying nearby, as the wind blew dust across the vast plains in great gusts and the sandgrouse circled and landed, shouting ‘Kelkiewyn!’ to all the world. I left overwhelmed with the immensity and power of it. What could possibly equal the experience? At the next waterhole, I skidded to a halt in a cloud of dust. I had received my answer and spent long, quiet, happy moments watching the antics of elephant calves tumbling playfully in the mud before I reluctantly moved on.
View from Olifantsrus Camp, Etosha
Women wearing the characteristic puffy-sleeved Owambo dresses.
DON’T MISS: • • • • •
Watching wildlife from the hide at Olifantsrus Campsite, Etosha Walking through the maze of passageways at Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead, Tsandi Sitting in the heart of the Ombalantu Baobab, Outapi Ambling through the open markets in Outapi or Ondangwa Visiting the museum housed in the old Finnish Mission Station at Nakambale in Olukonda, on the outskirts of Ondangwa (Remember to prebook a traditional meal!)
THE LAND OF THE O’S Galton Gate, Etosha’s western gateway, ushered me into a different world and I had to quickly adjust my thinking as I made my way out of the wildlife sanctuary northwards into the ‘O’ regions, slowing down for the goats and cows that frequently crossed the road. I was entering the Owamboland of old, home to eight Owambo groups, some still represented by royalty. Here, the road leads through rural areas characterised by makalani palms, oshanas (seasonal ponds) and homesteads, interrupted at regular intervals by the bustle of towns with their sprawling and sparklingly new shopping centres. At the junction to Opuwo, a woman flagged me down outside the Sun City bar. I slowed to a stop, my intention to barter with her – a lift for a photograph. But, you can’t let expectations interfere with a good journey and I let her hop aboard anyway when I realised that we shared no common language. We travelled together communicating with smiles and sign language – and she graciously posed for a shot while we waited at some road works. As we neared her destination, she reached into her bra, took out her packet of money and offered to pay for the trip as is the local custom. My next lot of passengers on the short gravel road to the Ongulumbashe heritage site was under the incorrect impression that my vehicle was a taxi and hardly greeted me as they piled in. It wasn’t worth the effort of explaining otherwise with limited mutual language, so I played my accidental role of taxi driver as expected. They were pleasantly surprised on disembarking that they didn’t owe anything. The short dusty road soon ended at a cul-de-sac where the larger than life statue of Sam Nujoma (Namibia’s first president), dedicated to the country’s liberation struggle, towers robustly above the trees.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
The Ongulumbashe heritage site, dedicated to the country's liberation struggle.
OF PALACES AND BAOBABS I didn’t linger. The highlight and my main destination at Tsandi was the Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead, the former residence of King Taapopi, who now lives next door in a modern brick residence. When I reached the Lost Key shebeen (bar), I realised that I had bypassed the homestead and backtracked to find it on the outskirts of the town. The road sign lay inconspicuously on the ground against the entrance gate, baking in the bright sunshine. Unusually – and refreshingly – the Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead is free of the glitz and glamour of western palaces, its European equivalent. A palisade of stout mopane branches encircles the large homestead and extends inwards forming a maze of passageways in the interior, built to deter wild animals – and enemies. The huts for the various living quarters and the areas set aside for specific and diverse purposes, from receiving visitors to storing grain, are found inside this circular maze. Nowhere else is a guide so sorely needed! This is a place that requires you to leave a trail of cookie crumbs behind you, Hansel and Gretel style, or to keep your eyes glued to your guide’s back.
Nuns in bright purple dresses pose outside a shop in Tsandi. lectern and a few pews. I am told that three couples have been married in its arboreal heart, a fine beginning for a life of growth and cyclic blossoming.
ESSENTIALLY OWAMBO A distinctive Owambo character pervades the O regions. Women wearing the quintessential puffy-sleeved dresses add a splash of colour to the towns and a collection of shebeens lines the streets. They bear intriguingly wacky names like Top Life and Reality Bar, and their clients sit and relax in plastic chairs outside drinking the local grainy brew or bottled Namibian beer. I offered a lift to a mature woman wearing a crisp, clean dress and possessing a sombre Owambo beauty. A lift for a photograph. Nuns in vivid purple dresses posed happily on the side of the street, generously offering their good will free of charge.
UPSIDE DOWN HATS & LOCAL LIFE
The typical and traditional Owambo homestead design is repeated in a simpler and smaller scale throughout the Owambo regions, with a perimeter fence surrounding several huts. These days, however, with fewer trees and the availability of alternative materials, corrugated sheeting or bricks often replace the branch palisades, as well as being the construction material of choice for some of the huts inside.
Heading eastward, followed by dark ominous clouds and the promise of a rain shower, another favourite haunt drew me in a few kilometres southeast of Ondangwa. Nakambale, the simple and evocative museum, was home to Finnish missionary Martti Rautanen in the early 1900s. He was nicknamed after his hat that resembled a type of Owambo basket – an okambale - if turned upside down. Reverend Rautanen was instrumental in translating the bible into the local language. The thick walls and cool interior hold the old energy of the place and its last resident, his daughter Kuku Johanna, whose antiquated furniture has been preserved in her bedroom at the back of the house.
Further north, behind the open market in Outapi, I visited one of my favourite places for absolute charm. Also revered as a national heritage site, the Ombalantu Baobab is a gigantic 1000-year-old tree, with a circumference of 25 metres. It would take 13 people with their arms outstretched to circle its base! The tree once served as a place of refuge for the Ombalantu people, who hid in its centre during tribal wars long ago. It has since said to have been a prison, a shop and a chapel. Today, it holds a
As the night and rain came in I found cosy and dry lodging inside the display Ndonga homestead in a hut marked ‘Storage hut for beers and other supplies’, weaving my way through the maze of passageways and using my footprints in the sand to mark my way. If booked in advance, manager Maggie Kanaante cooks up a traditional meal of mahangu (a type of millet) porridge - best eaten with the hands - and chicken and spinach, accompanied by oshikundu, a thick mahangu drink. She also takes you
WHERE TO STAY: •
• • •
Nakambale Museum & Restcamp (for camping), 5km southeast of Ondangwa: +264 (0)81 249 3108/ +264 (0)65 245 668 Ongula Homestead Lodge, outskirts of Ondangwa: +264 (0)61 224 712, www. ongula.com Etuna Guesthouse, Ongwediva: +264 (0)65 231 177 www.etunaguesthouse.iway.na Protea Hotel, Ondangwa: +264 (0)65 241 900, www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/ondon-proteahotel-ondangwa
Nowhere is a guide as sorely needed as in the maze of passageways at the Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead.
Ombalantu Baobab Tree into the adjacent homestead to watch the women pounding grain with a large pestle and mortar, making oil from the kernels of marula fruit and weaving baskets from the fronds of makalani palms. It’s a friendly and easy way to be introduced to the fascinating culture of the Owambo people and to take a peek through the cultural window into their everyday lives. In the morning the rain promised to continue and the goats were lined up against the wall of the old church for protection. An old ox-wagon watched, unimpressed at the commotion. It stands next to the small graveyard which holds the bones of the former residents deep in its soil. The sprawling century-old church is now only open for important ceremonies, while the Sunday worshippers flock to the church in the next street, which has been joyfully daubed in a coat of bright orange.
BACK TO THE ROAD… Time had flown too fast and the road was once again calling, as was the next glittering destination. The journey of discovery, always best appreciated if taken slowly, had used up its allotted time. I reassured myself, knowing I would return to do it all again. Over the years it had become a colourful way of travelling through northern Namibia and a corridor into the Kavango and Zambezi regions. A jumble of images, powerful experiences and warm memories kept me company as I made my way towards the lush beauty of the east. TNN
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
SALAMBALA Forbidden romance
& the birth of a conservancy
Text and Photographs Marita van Rooyen
A TALE OF TWO LOVERS Deep in the Zambezi Region, on the protruding southernmost tip of the former Caprivi Strip, lies an abundant landscape dominated by Mopane woodland and floodplain grasslands. It’s an environment that boasts a large diversity of exotic bird species – many of which are unique to the area – and plenteous wildlife, including four of Africa’s Big Five. This lush paradise marks the setting of Namibia's version of the legendary tale of ‘star-crossed lovers’, who managed to steer the course of history for two rival communities. Myth has it that our two main characters, Sala and Bala, fell in love. And when – despite great protest from their respective families – they continued their forbidden rendezvous, were unconditionally banished to the forest. What finally happened to them remains a mystery, but the couple did manage to create enough of a local interest for the area to be named in their honour.
THE BIRTH OF A CONSERVANCY The Salambala Conservancy that carries the lovers’ name covers 930 km2 and is home to more than 8 500 inhabitants, all of whom co-exist peacefully and without any sign of civil unrest. In fact, in recent years, this conservancy has been praised to deserve the ‘Oscar for Community Conservation’, if ever such an award were to be allocated. Salambala was one of the very first communal conservancies to get gazetted in Namibia, and since then has featured in various conservation films, showcasing best practice for other conservancies and community-based initiatives. Most recently, it made headlines as recipient of the first set of e-bikes to be used for conservancy patrol and wildlife protection.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
Edward Mwauluka has been proudly protecting Salambala’s wildlife since 2011.
A MAN ON A MISSION True to its roots, Salambala still produces local legends and our man of the moment is a conservation hero in his own right. Edward Mwauluka is a ranger who patrols the conservancy. “My job is to protect our local wildlife from poachers. I enjoy this job very much, because I’m watching over nature and it helps me to get to know the animals and their behaviour.” Edward has been proudly protecting Salambala’s wildlife since 2011. He is one of 20 rangers who work in one-week shifts to make sure the animals are kept safe. A team of five rangers usually patrols a selected area, starting their day at 6 a.m. and spending up to three hours of continuous patrol by bicycle as they make their rounds and attend to problems. With the recent handover of e-bikes to rangers, Edward is positive that it will be of great benefit to the work they do.
“With the support of the e-bike, it will be much easier to attend to the scene of a crime, or catch poachers in the act. It will help me not to get tired when on patrol, and to not feel pain in my thighs when I’m riding for longer periods of time. I wish each game guard could have such an e-bike.” His group leader, Martin Mushabati agrees, “With a normal bicycle you can barely cover 5 km through this wild terrain before you’re exhausted. I’m certain that with these e-bikes we’ll easily travel 10 km without even knowing it!” In this case, proof is in the pedal, and during the first two days of using the e-bikes, Martin and Edward had each travelled 60 km, testimony to the fact that these bikes can easily double the range covered by conventional bicycles. Edward is especially excited that the journey home now takes him 10 minutes, where previously it took him up to an hour. “Even thick sand is no problem, these bikes have built-in 4x4!”
COMMUNITY CONSERVATION FORWARD-THINKING MOBILITY E-bikes provide a sustainable, fast, silent and cost-effective alternative, which could reshape the future of mobility in Africa – very much like our lovers Sala and Bala managed to do with the course of local history.
Conservancy rangers are introduced to e-mobility. Caretakers of the first e-bikes for game guards, Edward and Martin. Salambala was one of the first communal conservancies to get gazetted in Namibia.
Namibia is facing a great challenge in terms of transport, especially in rural areas where distances are vast and public transport is inadequate, or simply non-existent. Game guards are in an even trickier situation, as they need to be on constant patrol. They often have to cover large areas, mainly by foot, to move as silently and efficiently through the wild environment as possible. Apart from its mobility benefits, Salambala’s e-bikes are powered by solar equipment, and with free energy from the potent Namibian sun a 100% carbon neutral pedal patrol is ensured. Solar recharge stations could also be used for powering small electrical devices such as mobile phones and camp lights. These additions see to it that our rangers can stay in constant contact with their supervisors, while also enjoying some of the basic necessities of life in the depths of the forest where their base camp is located.
LOOKING AT THE FUTURE Caretaking and maintenance are often the biggest obstacles to the success of sustainable projects, but when guards are given ownership it often provides for a more encouraging outcome. Says Edward, “This is my bike. I have the key in my pocket and no one can take it away from me. If you share your bicycle with others, it always comes back with problems. I am taking care of this e-bike.” As caretakers of the first e-bikes for game guards, Edward and Martin are global e-mobility pioneers in their own right. If the use of these bikes turns out to be a success, more bikes will be delivered to game guards in Salambala, and hopefully also to other conservancies throughout the country. With direct local involvement, dedication and passion, Namibia’s conservation success story is ever growing as organisations and individuals create new initiatives to protect and preserve our natural resources. Sala and Bala would have been proud. TNN The delivery of e-bikes to Salambala game guards was made possible by SunCycles Namibia in partnership with the Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO) and WWF Namibia. For more information on e-bikes as alternative transport solution in Namibia, visit www.suncycles-namibia.org.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
Beat the sands of time (and Namibia).
Pick up a 4X4 from Bidvest Car Rental Namibia and make every minute count. www.bidvestcarrental.co.za email@example.com
Call 00264 62 54 0225
the making of
STAND TOGETHER Text and photographs Ginger Mauney
There is magic in this desert. For four days in April it appeared in the landscape, the message and the messengers, when four fabulous Namibian artists came together to share their plea to save the rhino. Here is a glimpse of how it all came together. On World Rhino Day 2016, Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) launched the song, Stand Together, an anthem to the fact that if we are going to save rhinos from extinction, we have to stand together. The song was the brainchild of Elemotho, a passionate Namibian singer/ songwriter, who asked, “What can I do to help?”
We have to stand together….. or we’ll lose it forever. - Elemotho, Namibian singer/ songwriter -
DOWNLOAD THE SONG by donating N$20 or more @ www.today.com.na/give
Video available from 31 May
SRT responded by saying, do what you do best – write a song, bring in other voices, add indigenous messages and and let's get this message spread all across Namibia so that more and more people will respond to the call to save the rhino. Oteya, Esme Katjikuru “Songbird” and Metarere Tjiho, three inspiring Namibian artists, joined Elemotho in the studio to record original, heartfelt lyrics in English and several indigenous languages. The results were amazing. But the sad fact is that the answer to the rhino poaching problem won’t be found in Namibia alone. To affect real change, this message must go out on a global scale. With support from Namibia Breweries, HAN and several tourism companies in Namibia, SRT produced a music video with these four fantastic artists on location in northwestern Namibia.
To view and share, please go to SRT’s Facebook page.
The artists interacted with community members, tracked rhinos with SRT and came to understand the challenges of rhino protection on a much more profound level. They were deeply moved by these experiences, and this is evident in their stunning, selfless performances.
For more information, visit: www.savetherhinotrust.org
SRT’s goal is to spread the music video and its message far, wide and immediately – so that people will listen, really listen to the message, and they too will ask, “What can I do to help?” TNN
CONNECT YOUR TRIP WITH BOTSWANA
WHERE THE WILD THINGS AREâ€¦ Text and photographs Elzanne Erasmus
Travel News Namibia sets off with Wilderness Safaris on an epic adventure from Namibia to our neighbour, Botswana. 28
he morning light slowly breaks over the horizon as we set off into the lush African bush. It's early, but the wilderness we find ourselves in is awake around us. Not having had my third cup of coffee for the morning yet, I give a bleary-eyed yawn as my brain slowly wakes in time to the sidling sun. Another day in beautiful Africa, but for once I do not find myself surrounded by the familiar arid landscapes of my homeland. There are no dunes or rocky mountainscapes in sight. The tell-tale yellow hues of grasslands after a substantial rainy season find themselves conspicuously replaced by shades of bright green. As
our game-viewer meanders through lush woodland, over ruggedly built wooden bridges traversing watercourses and floodplains, I marvel at the abundance of flora and fauna. Rather unfamiliar antelope amble through the wet green grasslands to our left. A herd of elephants is on the way to a riverbank in the distance. There are birds everywhere. Ones I am familiar with only because I have been fortunate enough to venture into the Zambezi Region of my country’s northeast once or twice before. Tall trees of the leadwood and teak variety loom overhead, and everything is just so… green. No Toto, I’m definitely not in Namibia anymore…
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
EARNING YOUR SPOTS: Red Lechwe bulls peek through the tall grass on the river's edge.
VENI. VIDI. AMAVI. (WE CAME. WE SAW. WE LOVED.) Adjacent to Moremi National Park is the Chitabe concession with Chitabe Lediba, the first stop on my Botswana adventure. Our journey from the airstrip to the lodge leads us through a forest of dead acacia trees. The eerie effect created by the dark naked limbs of these ancient trees is wonderfully dramatic. A small herd of elephants make their way through the bare forest. But everything, including the trees, is soon teeming with life again and hidden within the wilderness surrounded by water lies Chitabe Lediba. The dirt soccer field is flooded and currently a lioness is making more use of it than the staff. Overlooking a floodplain, the beautiful lodge is stretched out along the edge of an island. We admire a family of hyena at their den just before sunset that evening. Five different generations in one view. The younger ones learning their curious ways from their older cousins. Our game drive the next day is highlighted by a pride of lions. We follow them as they stalk a herd of impala through the thick brush. The sheer density of animals in this wilderness wonderland astounds me. While we wait for the lions to make their move we watch a herd of elephant graze on the green foliage. Zebras look on, ears perked and alert. The impala are skittish, they know something is afoot. The slightest provocation from an overeager feline sends the entire herd into a panic and they flee the scene.
Did you know that hyenas are not born with their spots? They grow into them! When born, hyena cubs have a black pelt, which grows into a lighter fur with dark spots.
Maybe next time girlsâ€Ś Gin and tonics next to the river are the perfect end to a day unwinding with the setting sun. Tea-time on our last Chitabe day is marked by a quick, yet highly informative geography lesson. Lodge manager Thompson tells us about the wonders of the delta. How it was formed, the ever-changing landscape and the movement of animals. Iâ€™m amazed at the intricacies involved in the construction and constant renovation of the southernmost point of the Rift Valley. He describes how the islands in the delta are formed: changing water levels, a build-up of debris, shifting Kalahari sands and even termite mounds culminate in an ever-changing system of river courses and islands forming one of the greatest and most visually dramatic wetland areas in the world.
GOOD PEOPLE BRING OUT THE GOOD IN PEOPLE Botswana, home to the largest population of elephants in Africa, is also home to an abundance of smiling faces. The Setswana speaking Batswana people and the conservancies they call home are direct beneficiaries of joint-venture lodges such as those owned and managed by Wilderness Safaris. Operating according to a similar system as their Namibian counterpart, Wilderness hires local. These locals
know their native land and thus are the obvious choice to host and guide guests from across the world. The delta is not only teeming with incredible animals and bird life, but also generates incredible voices and stories of inspiring individuals working their way up into management positions, often after starting out as kitchen staff. The guides I was lucky enough to not only meet but befriend on this excursion into the wilderness ticked-off everything on my "how to be an amazing guide" checklist. It's all about the personality. You have to be one strong, intelligent, out-going, assertive, patient, benevolent, organised, efficient, patient, funny and kind person with an excellent memory and a great sense of humour to be a great guide. Did I mention patient? Well, our guides succeeded in spades! There are few things that I love more than listening to guides' stories. They have a wealth of tales to tell and amazing bush life experiences to share, so listen with bated breath and hang on their every word!
TOP TIP FROM A GUIDE: TRACKING BY ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR: At a kill, the Hooded Vulture will always sit closest to the site. They need to get to the kill early because they are the smallest and weakest of the vultures. A zebra kill can lure many different species to a site: lion, leopard, hyena, jackal, vultures, Tawny Eagle etc.
BREATHING DREAMS LIKE AIR Taking to the sky in a Cessna with a bush pilot at the helm, we set off from Chitabe to our next destination, King's Pool. The bird's eye view over the delta is something every Africa-lover or travel enthusiast should put on their bucket list. Having learned all about the different island formations from Thompson the day before, I kept a keen eye on the amazing sights below. I was even treated to the view of a massive elephant bull grazing along the marshlands. On the southern bank of the Linyanti River lies a breath-taking camp. The welcoming staff and utter luxury sets King's Pool far above the benchmark of safari luxury. Treated like royalty, fed like a queen and spoiled rotten with luxuries such as a full body massage in my room overlooking the river while a hippo chortled downstream, it was quite a tear-jerker moment when it became time to leave... Our stay at King's Pool was filled with all the best Botswana has to offer: lush green and wet landscapes, an abundance of animals and birds.... so many birds. On safari expeditions such as these, one often spends up to eight hours a day driving around the bush. Not to worry though, the phrases time flies when youâ€™re having fun and time spent having fun is never wasted were coined for moments such as these. BELOW FROM LEFT
The iconic Lilac-breasted Roller. Note the difference in colour between these giraffe. This may be atributed to the old bull on the right's age. A spectacular sunset view over the Linyanti. A warthog living up to the porcine stereotype.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
Thompson, lodge manager, teaching us about the details of the delta
DID YOU KNOW? The Okavango Delta was proclaimed a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site in 2014, making it the 1000th site.
COLLECT BEAUTIFUL MOMENTS My second-last day with Wilderness in Botswana was spent counting. Not fingers or toes or sheep, but rather feathered friends. The Big Birding Day officially started at 05:30 in the morning, and we had until 23:00 that evening to identify and record as many different bird species as possible. So we set off on a new kind of adventure. Why care about the giraffe browsing in tall trees to our right when there was an LBJ* in the tree ahead of us that needed identification! Non-birders may not understand the enthusiasm of those who keep their binocs pinned to their eye sockets when something winged passes. It becomes a slight (sarcasm!) obsession when the birding bug bites. And on a day like this, when all the Wilderness Safaris camps in Botswana take part in a competition to see which team can identify the greatest variety of birds, the bug bites hard and leaves a mark. Necks craned, binocs at the ready, we scoured the floodplains and trails of the wilderness area surrounding Kingâ€™s Pool camp and counted and counted and counted. Our tally by the end of the day was 67 different bird species. The winning team got 142.
The Okavango Delta from above, a must-see!
Little Brown Job: a popular birding term referring to small brown or grey birds which are often difficult to correctly identify.
We are firmly convinced that they did not have as rigorous a quality controller as we had and some LBJs probably got slipped into their list as a Familiar Chat… or four.
FIND ME WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE So there I sat, on a lounge seat overlooking a mighty African river. Beyond lay a beautiful sight. The view from my perch extended over King’s Pool, and beyond to where home is. Namibia and Botswana are not such distant cousins. They share many wonders: The Kalahari Sands, the life-giving Okavango. They share the spirit of Africa, too, and a deep love for nature and all it encompasses. This wonderful corner of southern Africa is for the nature-lovers, the adventurers, the passionate seekers of beauty and grace. TNN
BOOK WITH WILDERNESS To book your Botswana adventure with Wilderness Safaris, visit: www.wilderness-safaris.com, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: If you are self-driving with a rental car, make sure to have all the required cross-border paperwork from your rental company. A fee is payable at customs on Botswana’s side. They accept Visa and MasterCard so cash on hand is not crucial.
HOW TO GET THERE So you want to connect your next trip to Namibia with our beautiful and enigmatic neighbour Botswana… Well, we think that is a fabulous idea!
HERE’S HOW TO DO IT: From Namibia’s capital, self-drivers can take the B2 route leading east to Gobabis and cross the border into Botswana at Buitepos. If your destination is the Okavango Delta, as mine was, Maun is an approximate 8-hour drive from Windhoek. Choose from any number of accommodation options in the Ghanzi area if you don’t want to make the trip in one go. Look out for interesting stopovers along the way, such as Lake Ngami – a birders’ wonderland! If you’d rather fly, there are a number of options. If your trip from distant lands takes you via Johannesburg, it may be easier to catch a connecting flight to Maun before your visit to Namibia. But if you are visiting Namibia first you can either fly from Windhoek to Johannesburg and then to Maun, or from Windhoek to Botswana’s capital Gaborone, where you can catch a connecting flight to the delta’s basecamp.
Giant Eagle Owl, Bubo lacteus
African Darter, Anhinga rufa
A spectacular view of the Linyanti River, and Namibia which lay beyond, from King's Pool.
Kalahari Comforts Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge
smooth two-hour drive on the B1 southbound from Namibia’s capital will take you to a haven within a realm of red Kalahari dunes, acacia trees and beautiful lush yellow grasslands. Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge is truly a hidden gem. This establishment, which forms part of the Ondili Lodges and Activities group, is situated just south of Kalkrand. Marvel at the splendour of the red hues of sand that envelope the lodge on all sides, cradling attractive thatched chalets. The roofs mimic the sociable weaver nests in the adjacent acacia trees. Notice the quirky and engaging design elements in the décor, both in your room and in the main lodge area. Elements from the original farm remain: gates, zinc sheets from old dams, and the poles and wire from the former sheep ‘kraal’ pay homage to a bygone era. A wooden walkway weaves through tall yellow grasses that have recently emerged from the dry sandy earth after a period of wonderful rainfall. In a network not unlike game tracks, a series of hiking and biking routes spread out from the lodge. Set off on foot on the Baum (German for tree) Walk. A short stroll through the stunning landscape will take you to a sala on a dune side. Sip a cold lager while watching the skies ignite with the setting sun. Your breakfast the next morning can be enjoyed with views of the waterhole, while the ‘ghosts’ of the African bush, the eland, have a relaxed nibble at the grass along the deck’s edge. Set off on a fatbike for a morning ride on the designated paths, or for a nature drive into the picturesque Kalahari surrounds. For the more adventurous at heart, the TransKalahari hike will take you on a daylong expedition across the landscape on foot, with your evening spent under the majestic starry night sky. Enjoy the Kalahari comforts, sala sunsets and adventurous spirit of the charming Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge.
Tel: +264 (0) 63 264003 email@example.com www.redduneslodge.com
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
Base camp for a
wild journey through the interior Text Marita van Rooyen
There are landscapes in which we feel above us not sky but space. Something larger, deeper than sky is sensed, is seen, although in such settings the sky itself is invariably immense.
Paul van Schalkwyk
Flamingos, Walvis Bay Lagoon
Table Mountain, Cape Town
AN INFINITE INTRODUCTION A bird’s eye vantage point over a landscape tends to blur the lines between sky and space, and the flight from Cape Town to Walvis Bay is certainly no exception. As the aircraft passes over the dry, mostly deserted southernmost regions of the country, the journey becomes an ideal introduction to the immenseness that is Namibia. Arid plains and the seemingly infinite Namib Sand Sea are but a fraction of what awaits the eager explorer on the ground. Once arrived, the view will inevitably vary, but it will by no means be any less spectacular than from the sky. The space will be just as vast as before and now you will have the additional advantage of touch, smell and feel and getting to know some of the country’s most unique self-drive destinations. From coastal charm to culture, wildlife watching and admiring weird and wondrous geological features, through desert, bush and wilderness, via the capital and some of the most spectacular mountain passes, to the dunes of Sossusvlei and finally back to the coast – let’s go on a great Namibian adventure!
WIND IN YOUR HAIR AND SAND UNDER YOUR FEET The coastal hub of Swakopmund is our starting point. From here the road heads due north through Dorob National Park
The Mole, Swakopmund
on a smooth salt surface that hugs the Atlantic coast. En route, massive sand dunes tower and drop into the ocean, and a selection of fishing hotspots provide ample choice for a good picnic spot – and an opportunity for closer inspection of where the oldest desert meets one of the most treacherous shorelines in the world. The intriguing settlement of Wlotzkasbaken, the remains of shipwrecks and fields of lichen make for interesting pit stops before reaching Henties Bay where fish and chips or melt-in-the-mouth calamari at Skubbe Bar is a must. If you’ve packed the rods this will be the place to get your bait, and if not, take your pick from the morning’s fresh catch made by one of the local fishermen, cleaned and ready for the first night’s braai. If you are moving at a relaxed pace and have the time, tackle one of the hiking trails to explore the surroundings – it’s a harsh but beautiful desert environment. There is also a nine-hole golf course: its location in a dried-out tributary of the seasonal Omaruru River provides a desert golfing experience like no other. Namibia’s coastal climate offers a welcome refresher before heading inland, so make sure to enjoy every minute of the cool ocean breeze!
OFF TO SEE THE ANIMALS AND SOME CULTURE IN BETWEEN Just north of Henties the road makes a sudden turn in an easterly direction to take you to the old mining village of Uis. Guided tours to Brandberg mountain, with its intriguing paintings dating back 4 000 years, are offered from Uis. Have a coffee at Vicky’s Coffee Shop and buy a few semi-precious stones from the small-scale miners before continuing to the cultural hub of Omaruru. Omaruru is perhaps best known as host to the annual Artist Trail and as a result is often visited to see artists at work and buy some local crafts. But the town also has an interesting history – with many century-old buildings still standing to tell their tales. A selection of small industries offer further incentive to linger a little longer, like Tikoloshe Afrika where weather-worn roots are transformed into masterpieces, Dörgeloh Chocolates for truly Namibian choc delicacies or Kristall Kellerei, a manufacturer of local wines, brandy and schnapps.
CAKE, CRAFTS AND RELAXATION AT THE SPRINGS After having ticked all the species off your must-see list, head southwards towards the capital. Take time for a stop in Okahandja. Not only is it the epicentre of Namibia’s biltong production, but it is also where you will find a large number of woodcarvers from the north who flaunt their skills at an extended informal craft market on the southern edge of the town. Apart from a wide selection of carved souvenirs, you will find anything from woven baskets to beaded chameleons and it is the perfect opportunity to stock up on presents for the unfortunate ones who had to stay at home. Across the street the Brewed Awakenings Coffee Shop is the ideal place to try a variety of homemade cakes with your coffee. Don’t forget to take some biltong for the road, either next door at Savannah Biltong, from Closwa in the centre of town or Piet’s Biltong on the northern outskirts. If you are looking for some real relaxation, take a break at Gross Barmen Hot Springs Resort just west of Okahandja, where you can soothe aching muscles and your mind in the naturally steaming spring water of the thermal hall.
From Omaruru it’s not far to the animal kingdom of Erindi Private Nature Reserve. It is one of the largest private game reserves in the country and you certainly won’t be disappointed with the selection of wildlife that roams the plains and mountains which are characteristic of the area. From eland to elephant, lion to leopard and everything else in between – expect to see them all!
Camp Elephant waterhole, Erindi Private Game Reserve
Windhoek, Namibia's capital city
TO THE CAPITAL AND BEYOND Upon arrival in the capital you will be spoilt for choice in terms of food, activities and entertainment. Windhoek is a modernday capital much like any other, but with a truly African flair where local customs complement western influences – don’t be surprised to see a Himba in traditional attire walking barefoot next to a businessman wearing a suit and tie and polished shoes. Acquaint yourself with national heritage and history by visiting the National Art Gallery, the theatre and museums or take a lazy stroll through the National Botanical Garden, Zoo Park or the Parliament Gardens. Windhoek has numerous art and culture hotspots, some of which – including the Warehouse Theatre, FNCC and Goethe Institute – present live music and other performances. An excursion to Katutura, ‘the place where we do not
want to live’, is another must for culture seekers. Local markets are bustling with township life and are the ideal place for trying delicacies like kapana, oshikundu or ekaka. If you’re hungry for more, Xwama Cultural Village offers traditional specialities like Oshiwambo chicken and mopane worms, which can be enjoyed in a reconstructed village setting, complete with wooden cups, woven basket plates and soft sand under your feet. Another popular eating spot, Joe’s Beerhouse, caters exclusively for meat lovers. Nevertheless, non-meat eaters will also find it worth a visit just to admire the décor which is an extensive collection of memorabilia. A public drumming circle on Wednesday evenings is another drawing card. Once you’ve had your fill of the city, head in a south-easterly direction to explore the Namib Naukluft Park – the largest conservation area in the country and home to the worldfamous Sossusvlei.
A SEA OF SAND AND SWEET APPLE CRUMBLE Sossusvlei can be reached from the capital via a selection of picturesque mountain passes. It is a tough choice, as all of them have their unique charm â€“ and spectacular views from the top â€“ but Spreetshoogte is particularly popular. Not far from the bottom of the pass lies Solitaire, a wonderful little oasis with a bakery straight out of heaven. Indulge in some sweet apple crumble before heading onwards through the desert.
Now that you have seen it all, head back to Solitaire for a last sweet treat before making the return journey through peaceful desert landscapes back to the coast from where you started. By now you would have collected just enough memories for wanting to come back for more. See you next time! TNN
Apart from boasting some of the highest and oldest sand heaps in the world, including a section of rock-hard petrified dunes, other attractions in the park are Sesriem Canyon and Dead Pan. The Naukluft Mountains also make for a fascinating geological excursion.
This expedition will take between 7-10 days, depending on the preferred stay-over time at each destination. A sedan car is suitable for most of the suggested route, but some of the more off-the-beaten-track stops are only accessible by 4x4. Make sure to do your research before diverting from the main roads.
See www.destination-swakopmund.com for more information.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
Elegant Dining in a Relaxed Atmosphere THE WRECK RESTAURANT @ BEACH LODGE
he Wreck Restaurant provides an elegant dining experience where guests can enjoy a meal in a relaxed atmosphere. The Wreck recently re-opened to the public and the luxury interior has been revamped and modernised with stylish, understated decor. The restaurant is generously sized, seating 74 patrons, with vast windows to allow endless views across the ocean. Next to it is a comfortable bar and seating area. The menu offers a varied selection of seafood, beef, pork and venison dishes, all of which are prepared and presented in a refined, contemporary and appealing manner. Even the vegetarian and banting sections offer a respectable variety to choose from. The restaurant management prides itself on great service, rendered by courteous and experienced staff, and the chef’s love of food is obvious by the way each meal is perfectly presented. Meals are complemented by a delightful range of fine wines. A meal at The Wreck Restaurant is a special experience and our team loves to exceed the expectations of guests. This, we believe, is the real reason why many locals choose the Wreck Restaurant for elegant dining or to celebrate special occasions. Tourists favour The Wreck for the exquisite views and outstanding value for money. Reservations are a must at this signature restaurant, so book in advance to avoid disappointment. Business hours: Monday to Saturday - 12h00 to 14h30 for lunch Monday to Saturday - 17h30 to 23h00 for dinner
+264 64 414528 firstname.lastname@example.org | www.the-wreck.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.
“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: email@example.com | Website: www.LegacyHotels.co.za PO Box 616, Swakopmund
Tel: +264 (0) 61 205 5911 | Fax: +264 (0) 61 252 797 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website: www.LegacyHotels.com Location: B1 Western Bypass, Windhoek South, Namibia
LET ME BE YOUR
Few people are in as fortunate and opportune a position to constantly capture amazing photos as tour guides. This season we follow three photographers who mainstream as guides travelling across the country or hosting guests at lodges. Every trip may be unique, and each experience special in its own way, but you can be sure that it is your guide that will make your journey to Namibia unforgettable!
rowing up on a farm just north of Etosha National Park, I developed a passion for wildlife, nature and cultures at a very early age. Holidays were spent in the African bush â€“ horse riding, walking, sleeping under the stars and conducting game capture operations.
I am currently the general manager for Wilderness Safarisâ€™ Explorations Department in Windhoek and am still actively involved as a guide. I definitely have the best job in the world. My favourite activities include safaris in the most remote areas in search of different indigenous cultures or tracking free-roaming black rhino and desert-adapted elephants.
After nine years in the freight handling business, my heart still yearned for the bush. I had the desire to share my nature experiences with others. When Wilderness Safaris offered me a permanent position as a mobile safari guide, I made the career change without hesitation.
Photography is a great way to keep a record of what I do and to share once-in-a-lifetime experiences and memories with others. I enjoy capturing wildlife and people as there is always some kind of interaction, but I also have a great affinity for aeroplanes. My images are unedited and therefore serve as memories rather than arty displays.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
bought my first camera, a Canon EOS 450, with the tips I earned while working at Felix Unite on the Orange River. For more than seven years it was my trusty travel companion that snapped over 60 000 shots in South Africa and Namibia until it was unfortunately stolen. I upgraded to the Canon EOS 70D for its fast shutter speed that is ideal for bird photography. Seeing that my first camera was a Canon, the brand made its way well into my comfort zone. I use the 100-400 mm telephoto lens for photographing people from a distance. The fact that they do not anticipate being photographed results in the best shots. Yet, for culture photography it is recommended to build a relationship with the people you plan on photographing. I have often spent hours in remote villages to get to know the village and its inhabitants. My second lens is the standard 18-55 mm for quick shots of landscapes and lodges. Last but not least, given the amazing landscapes in Namibia, no photographer is complete without a wide angle, such as the 10-18 mm F4.5 I use. My photos present the highlights of what Namibia has to offer.
am the General Manager at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp and have been working in the wilderness for over ten years in many different parts of Namibia. I instantly fell in love with the vast spaces. My camera is a Canon 7D Mark and I switch between two lenses, namely the 100-400 mm and a short wide angle lens. Photography in Namibia becomes an interpretation of how fauna and flora are able to survive in extraordinary environments. Photography goes hand in hand with a passion for the outdoors, as it means spending your days in the most spectacular parts of the country. Our countryâ€™s diversity makes it tough to single out my preferred spot, because I love Namibia as a whole. I do, however, have a favourite season â€“ like any Namibian, I love the rainy season, owing to the surreal transformation of the dry land we are used to. Even the animals tend to behave differently during this seasonal change. Photography offers us the opportunity to preserve the beautiful country and animals that we are lucky to have. Responsible tourism starts with us, the locals, and if we preserve what we have future generations will be able to benefit from it too.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
This is a collective of Namibiaâ€™s most characterfilled independent experiences.
This is a celebration of African individuality. This is... www.naturallynamibia.com
Something special AT RIVER CROSSING LODGE
iver Crossing Lodge is situated on a 6500 hectare game reserve, a mere 2 km from Windhoek on the airport road. Perched on top of a koppie, and designed along the lines of an old Namibian farmhouse, the wrap-around verandas are a wonderful place to unwind with a good book or simply to soak up the views. The main lodge houses a well-stocked bar, an intimate yet spacious dining room, a romantic lounge with a central open fireplace, and a swimming pool ideal for swimming lengths. Our twenty beautifully furnished chalets each offer our guests a unique view of Windhoek and its surrounds. Six of our chalets face west and afford guests dramatic sunset views, whilst the other 14 face east and allow you to savour the purple and pink morning hues with your first cup of coffee. The main dining room can accommodate up to 120 guests, and for your special event, we will happily assist you in tailor-making your menu of choice. Both a plated and a buffet service is available, depending on your preference. Thanks to our gorgeous location, we have become a very popular venue for sundowners. We offer an interesting selection of cocktails and canapĂŠs, should you wish to host an early evening function. We can provide you with a selection of delicious platters, and weâ€™ll make sure to keep the champagne and beers on ice!
+264 61 246 788 (Reservations) +264 61 401 494 (Lodge) email@example.com
The delightful setting of our conference facilities and peaceful bush ambience will ensure that your meetings are most productive at River Crossing. No matter the occasion, River Crossing Lodge has something special to offer.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
HAS A NEW NAME Discover Kazile Island Lodge Text and Photographs Elzanne Erasmus
Green. Lush. Wet. Wild. The sun setting beyond tree canopies. Surprise visits from elusive creatures. An adventure awaits here in one of Namibiaâ€™s most enigmatic locales. Welcome to the Zambezi in all its wonder.
s the crow flies, or perhaps in this case as the Fish Eagle flies, Kazile Island Lodge is situated about 2 km across green marshlands adjacent to the famous Horseshoe Bend within Bwabwata National Park in Namibia’s Zambezi Region. You can’t see the beautifully appointed canvas structures from this POI’s* white sandy beaches though. They are strategically hidden in the midst of a tall Mangostene forest on the opposite side of Kazile Island. But delve into the depths of the riverine woodland and you’ll find a secret paradise amongst the growth. Coming down river from an allotted rugged wooden dock, a winding river course takes you from the Mashi Conservancy on the Kwando River’s eastern banks into Bwabwata National Park. Rounding a bend, the golden morning light catches the stunning wood and canvas visage of the area’s newest establishment. Hugging the canopy of trees in which it was built. Kazile Island Lodge can boast being one of only two lodges within Bwabwata National Park. Its sister lodge, Nambwa Tented Camp, is also owned and operated by African Monarch Lodges. Owner Dusty Rogers recounts how Kazile Island has long held a special place in his heart. It is here, in
the part of the country he loves above all else, that he had a narrow encounter with an angry buffalo. Dusty lived to tell the tale and went on to build a refuge within the natural beauty of this special island in the Kwando River and its floodplains. From the lodge’s main deck the view over the gently meandering Kwando is otherworldly. Dramatic rainclouds and a setting sun combine to create a mosaic backdrop of colour and texture culminating in an awe-inspiring moment. Dusty tells me that he has been witness to a herd of elephant crossing the river right in front of the sunken deck seats we are lounging in. On a scenic boat cruise to the nearby Horseshoe Bend we are privy to amazing bird sightings such as only the Zambezi Region can deliver. Before we reach the main bend in the river we veer off onto a riverbank where a game-viewer vehicle awaits our arrival. A drive through Bwabwata’s grasslands and thick bush areas can conjure up sightings of fauna such as buffalo, elephant, kudu, impala, lechwe, innumerable birds and, if you’re lucky, even wild dog or the illusive sitatunga. In the evening, now under a canopy of wondrous starry skies and looming Jackalberries, we sit around a fire and watch fireflies intermittently flash about across the water surface.
ACTIVITIES AT KAZILE • • • •
Boat cruises on the Kwando River Game drives in Bwabwata National Park Guided bush walks Visits to the Mashi Traditional Village and the craft market at Kongola
OUR KAZILE BIRDING CHECKLIST: We spotted these birds on our recent trip: ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏
Bearded Woodpecker African Green Pigeon African Paradise Flycatcher Arrow-marked Babbler Black-backed Puffback African Wood Owl White-browed Robin-chat Black-collared Barbet Pearl-spotted Owlet Woodlands Kingfisher White-browed Coucal
From the private porch of my tented suite I watch a woodpecker hack away at the trunk of a tree in search of his evening meal. A hippo gives an iconic ‘huh huh huh’ just downstream. The air is relaxed, the décor simple and oh so stylish, and not a moment passes where I don’t feel utterly at peace, calm and comfortable in this new corner of paradise. With the Kwando on your doorstep and the Horseshoe Bend in your backyard, what more can you expect than an unbelievable and cherished experience? TNN
*POI: POINT OF INTEREST
An interesting feature worth a visit in a certain area, often referred to as such on a map or on GPS geodata.
DID YOU KNOW IT’S QUITE EASY TO SPOT A HIPPO TRAIL? Hippos leave a very distinctive trail when exiting the safety of their river home to graze each night. A hippo’s path has a “middle-man” or centre parting of grass or mud just like a vehicle track would leave. This is caused by the shuffling motion of a hippo’s feet as it heads out on its next adventure. Visit www.africanmonarchlodges.com for more information on this new gem.
DISCOVERING NAMIBIA STARTS HERE firstname.lastname@example.org | www.staytoday.com.na | +264 61 420 509
THE ‘CLAY’ IDEA
he original builders – Stefanie and Volker Hümmer – found a lot of clay in the area, about eight kilometres away from the lodge in a tributary of the dry Seeis riverbed. After the Namibian Construction Engineering Council determined that the quality of the clay was excellent, they got books on clay houses from all over the world and slowly began to realise how many advantages clay has to offer.
Visually, the colour of the clay allowed them to effortlessly blend the tones of the lodge with those of the rusty-red shades of the Kalahari Sand Plateau on which Eningu is located. Remarkably, too, the clay buildings have proven to remain about 5 degrees warmer in winter than conventional buildings and 5 degrees cooler in summer. These thermal insulation properties are perfect in our extreme weather conditions. Stefanie and Volker wanted to offer their guests a healthy room temperature in addition to the pleasing ambience that the walls create as part of the interior decoration. Every beginning is difficult, however. The process of turning the riverbed clay into Eningu buildings was long and hard. Stefanie and Volker had to dig the hole, sieve the clay into powder, load the clay powder onto the car, drive the clay eight kilometres to the lodge site, add water to the clay, tread the clay with their feet, throw clay balls into brick-sized forms, press out the clay bricks from the forms, and let the bricks dry slowly under plastic sheeting. At times they probably felt they were turning into clay themselves. 120 000 clay bricks later, and after drawing up their plans and building a cardboard model of the lodge, they started to build. After one-and-a-half years of hard work the lodge, called Porcupine, was finished. The first guest arrived in September 1994. This lodge built of clay became a unique addition to the multitude of Namibia’s hospitality establishments.
Tel +264 64 46 4144 Fax +264 64 46 4155 email@example.com www.eningulodge.com
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
Text Annelien Robberts
wing to Namibia’s diverse terrains and sunny weather, mountain-biking has seen a spike in popularity over the last couple of years, attracting local and international cyclists alike. With the vast variety of races and events offered, adventure junkies and extreme sports enthusiasts can pick and choose crags, slopes and dune crests that will ensure they get their fix of speed, flow, technical, endurance or a combination of these elements.
Cyclists with a passion for nature leave nothing behind but tracks, that is to say if the surroundings allow it. Tracks left in the soft dune sand are shortly afterwards erased by restless winds with a new blanket of fine grains. Elsewhere in the country, signs of bikers on single-track trails are likely to become covered with animal footprints or washed away by rain in the summer months. The only proof of bikers’ presence remains in the gallery of their memories.
Namibia offers diverse terrains to satisfy any biker’s desires. Rugged and mysterious landscapes in the relatively lesser explored north. Rocky terrain and rolling hills in the south. Long flat stretches of dusty gravel roads where cyclists soon learn to take heed of road signs warning against crossing wildlife. The Namib Desert stretching from horizon to horizon is a central attraction in the country and has prompted the introduction of fatbikes, to match the challenge of the tough terrain. Mountainbikers are undeterred. On the contrary, it only makes them yearn for more. More dunes. More demanding terrains.
Tubeless. Hardtail. Full sus. 1x gearing. 2x gearing. Huck. Shred. Bail. Berm. Booter. Travel News Namibia writer, Annelien Robberts, talks mountain-bike with five enthusiasts to discuss the do’s, don’ts, how to’s and all the nuts and bolts of this ever-growing obsession. Learning by trial and error, and having a talent for crashing hard but mostly emerging unscathed, these bikers give us a glimpse of their personal experiences in the saddle and what makes cycling in Namibia so spectacular.
Rather a downhill kind of guy, Mario has been living behind handlebars for 22 years. He is currently the cycling department supervisor at CYMOT and also takes part in various competitions organised by the company. Although he does not consider himself a full-out racer, he has had his fair share of desert heat during almost 24 hours in the saddle at the Nedbank Desert Dash, described as one of the toughest mountain-bike challenges on earth. He and his partner completed the race in 23 hours and 25 minutes. Mario sees this as his biggest accomplishment, thus landing the race on his list of favourites, yet carved into his memory as the toughest. Mario has explored Germany and South Africa on two wheels, but Namibia will always have a special place in his heart. He loves being able to take his bike out of the city within a couple of minutes and riding off into the bush. At any given moment riding in Namibia can easily turn into a safari, as free-roaming wildlife can be found in abundance.
Life behind bars (no illegal mountainbiking activities took place for this article)
If there is something that really grinds his gears, it is a lack of trail etiquette. In the same breath he adds that there are generally no bad feelings between riders. Being included in a group is part of the experience and a ride is not complete without a round of beers afterwards. His favourite trails are the IJG trails on Farm Windhoek: over 70 km suitable for mountain biking, hiking, running and birdwatching in pristine nature. As gravity rider he prefers downhill, because it provides the rider with everything from technical to speed and flow.
ANDRÉ DE JAGER In his biking circles they are known as beer drinkers with a biking problem.
Inspired by a friend, André bought his first bike in his student days in 1991 – a Diamond Back equipped with the bare basics. He strongly advises not to take a new bike on your favourite trail… The worst that has happened to him, he reckons, was when he took his new bike for a spin in the Kleine Kuppe hills of Windhoek and lost the bike on a downhill. He limped back home, scabbed from shoulder blade to knee. Another time he shot through a golden orb weaver’s web spun between two trees at the foot of a hill, and slapped himself off his bike in an attempt to get rid of the unwelcome eight-legged passenger he picked up. André reckons that breakdancing on a bike is an activity that every Namibian biker has to endure at one time or another. It offers great entertainment for co-bikers. He regards mountain-biking as a gentleman’s sport in which camaraderie plays a pivotal role. He highly praises legendary Mannie Heymans who was the first in a group of riders to turn back to help a boy with a flat tyre. After 26 years of mountain-biking, André’s advice is not to take things too seriously. He has learned the art of slowing down along the way and taking pictures of the spiders that he claims to have a phobia of. It’s a love-hate relationship. Should you consider taking up this sport, André advises to invest in a quality bike at a shop where you can build a relationship with the people. Our country lends itself to mountain-biking. There is a huge variety of races and events to participate in on many different terrains, be it bush, desert or road. His favourite event was RMB Namibia Ride for Rhinos – one for the soul. His favourite race, he says without the slightest hesitation, was the Kuiseb Classic that started off with 70 km of cross-country cycling and ended with 30 km of steep hills. He still has his number 92 race cap.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
MARCIA VENTER If you don’t see her on the hockey f ield she is probably swinging away on the golf course or cycling through the desert.
Marcia has finished races with a bike twice her size. She explains that as a medical student in her fifth year she uses what she has at her disposal, in this case a huge bike, but she does not regard that as a setback. Though she thinks that investing in good cycling shorts is a must.
MARTIN NGHILIFAVALI According to Martin, 32-speed bikes and the likes are a myth just like snow in the Namib. If you want to go the extra mile… or any mile at all, use your legs. Martin grew up riding bikes and gained a lot of exposure to the sport when he started working as a technician in a bike shop, a role that has earned him a place in the field at races and events. One of the most memorable events was Ride for Rhinos in Damaraland, a Venture Media initiative organised by Rièth van Schalkwyk and Elzanne Erasmus which combined the sport with the cause of saving our rhinos. Martin is a joyrider rather than a competitive cyclist and recalls a less joyful experience when riding a race close to Cape Town. About 70 km from the finish line he got a serious puncture and the tyre was deflating at the speed of a biker racing downhill. As riders were zipping past he knew that the race must continue. He pumped his flat wheel, cycled between 3 and 5 minutes, then stopped again just to repeat the procedure. Deflating tyre and all, he climbed some steep slopes and finally crossed the finish line. Endurance in a nutshell. He prefers cycling in the ruggedness of Namibia where “what you see is what you get”. Nature is not disturbed to make way for man-made luxury. Our raw trails make cycling in Namibia so special. For him the cycling culture in Namibia completely differs from many other places in the world, because only a very small part of the Namibian population uses bicycles as a daily means of transport. This means anyone who cycles is quite serious about the sport. Speak to a bike expert when you are new to the sport and get all the right advice. As soon as you have the right equipment, everything will fall into place. And Martin will ensure that the bicycle parts do not fall out of place.
Marcia started cycling at the end of the hockey season and has completed the Desert Dash twice with a group of friends. She describes the race as an ever-changing challenge due to the fact that you never know what to expect. Last year the biggest challenge was braving the exhausting heat and whizzing winds, but seeing that this event takes place in one of the most beautiful areas of Namibia she regards it as a real treat. The toughest part was the night stage when she was encircled by darkness at three in the morning with only the lights in front and behind her for orientation. She had a funny encounter during the night stage of that race when a rider came to cycle next to her and chatted away. Marcia did not have a clue what he was going on about and felt ‘lost in the desert’. When she rode off he continuously called out somebody’s name, but since she did not know the person she simply focused on her goal. Eventually at the finish line she recognised the guy – accompanied by a lady wearing a bright pink top that matched hers. Marcia loves to escape the city for training and regularly sets off on gravel roads like the one leading to N/a’ankusê, or any gravel roads around Windhoek that are mostly ideal for training. Though she is more of a Desert Dasher, she has also enjoyed the KleinAus Vista race in the south of the country close to Lüderitz, a tough climb that stretches over two days. You have to be a student to realise that you do not need much to cycle. A bike, Namibia’s beautiful landscapes and a little bit of time are the essentials to get a handle on this sport.
Cycling means meeting like-minded people who combine a healthy lifestyle with an enjoyment of the outdoors. As the son of Namibia’s cycling pioneer Claus Theissen, it is no surprise that Axel was involved in cycling from a very young age. Claus started the first road-cycling club in Namibia called Windhoek Pedal Power, which still exists today. Sunday mornings were reserved for fun rides. According to an ancient law, bicycle owners were obliged to emboss a number on their bicycle frames that served the same purpose as a number plate on motorcars. When bicycles stopped having such numbers due to the impossibility of punching them into modern chromolite or carbon frames, they were fined by the police during one of their excursions. For approximately five years Axel served on the Rock & Rut committee, the oldest mountain-biking club in Windhoek that was started in the early 90s. This club still organises races and continues to be popular especially because it caters for the entire family. Namibia is unique in the sense that you can effortlessly get out into nature and onto single tracks for proper mountain-biking. Another great plus is our weather that permits almost 365 days of cycling per year. Axel participated in the solo Dash in 2016, which he describes as a hectic ride due to the elements, but he nonetheless completed the race in 19 hours. Proper nutrition is key, as well as physical and mental preparation.
Previously he exchanged sand for snow by participating in the first-ever Snow Epic held in Engelberg, Switzerland, in 2015. Kitted out in multiple layers of clothing and braving sub-zero conditions, he had to learn about temperature control and cycling on snow. For him the six-day Namib Quest is the most extraordinary race. During such a race, he and his partner encountered a herd of wildebeest when coming around a bend. He still remembers the flash of uncertainty in his partner’s eyes, wondering whether they should accelerate so they wouldn’t fall behind in the race or hit the brakes full-on and wait for the herd to cross the road.
TOP 10 RACES AND EVENTS IN NAMIBIA: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Nedbank Cycle Challenge in February Klein-Aus Vista MTB Challenge in May Windhoek Light Namib Quest in May Kuiseb Classic MTB in May RMB Namibia Ride for Rhinos in June Otjihavera Xperience in August Desert Knights Cycle Challenge in September 8. Namibian Pick & Pay Cycle Classic in October 9. Cycletec Spring Festival in November 10. Nedbank Desert Dash in December GET 'KITTED OUT' FOR YOUR NEXT MTB ADVENTURE AT CYMOT: www.cymot.com
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
in and around Windhoek Text and photographs Pompie Burger
magine a tourist asking you where they can do some birding in and around Windhoek. At least I will be able to tell them what others will say. The golfer will tell them the golf course is the ideal place to see an Albatross (not that common) and other birdies. The hunter will tell them where they can shoot some geese and other endangered species. The farmer will tell them he has millions of raptors killing his sheep, so come and have a look. In town they will tell you where the White-backed Mousebirds are (in their fig trees). If you happen to visit one of Windhoek’s watering holes the cronies will introduce you to the Famous Grouse, Fish Eagle and other exotic birds. Birding in and around Windhoek has a few moets and moenies, unfortunately mostly related to safety and security. Although, if you stick to the obvious safety rules there is really nothing to be concerned about. Apart from the importance of the different spots’ security level, the most important is to try not to look like a tourie. This part is very easy: don’t look lost (scrolling through your map of Windhoek in the middle of the street), do not wear safari-style outfits and do not wear socks with sandals. Do not wear the full battle dress (long sleeves and boots up to your thighs). And don’t wear a mask! Unless you’re on your way to the operating theatre, you won’t need one. Before visiting the identified spots, check with the locals on the safety of the area because it might differ from time to time. Safety at the various golf courses is very uncertain if you don’t have your golf shoes and socks and shirt on (dress to kill) because golfers can get very aggressive if you are not dressed like a golfer, especially if they are struggling with their own birding. Before you start off on your journey, there are very knowledgeable birders in Windhoek to ask for advice. The Namibia Bird Club (www.namibiabirdclub.org) is a good start. Contact the chairperson, Gudrun Mittendorf, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 081 240 3635. The City of Windhoek is in the process of establishing a Tourist Office in Robert Mugabe Street. This will be functional in the near future and will be another good place to source information. NARREC (Namibia Animal Rehabilitation Research and Educational Centre), run by Liz Komen just north of the city near Brakwater, is a must. This is a rehabilitation centre for injured birds, so apart from the birds under treatment to be seen at close range the information and knowledge you will get will be invaluable.
Montiero’s Hornbill, Tockus monteiri
BIRDING WITH POMPIE
Rock Kestrel, Falco rupicollus
Diederik Cuckoo, Chryococcyx caprius
Rockrunner, Achaetops pycnopygius
Mijn stad heeft rode lippen, En een hart van diamant. Want mijn stad heeft mooie benen Ze kan me schaamteloos verleiden. - Mijn Stad, (Stef Bos) -
Rosy-faced Lovebird, Agapornis roseicollis
Grey Go-away-bird, Corythaixoides concolor.
BIRDING WITH POMPIE The most popular and worthwhile places to visit are Daan Viljoen Game Park, Avis Dam, Heja Lodge, the National Botanical Garden, the Country Club Golf Course, Omeya Golf Course, Goreangab Dam and any bird loving Windhoek resident who has a garden. The directions to each of these places are easy to find (see City of Windhoek tourist information). Except, of course, the private residents. Those you have to know to arrange a visit. Instead of trying to mention the various birds you will see at the mentioned locations I will rather mention the birds in the different groups: Raptors, endemics, migrants, water birds, garden birds, calls, in flight. As one can expect, raptors are not really the main attraction in a city, although while I wrote this article a Rock Kestrel called from a tree in my garden. Interesting visitors to my garden and neighbourhood were African Hawk-Eagle, Little Sparrowhawk and Gabar Goshawk. Your best option for raptors is indeed Daan Viljoen where a multitude of them are present. The African Fish Eagle at Avis Dam will welcome you if the dam has any water. Anyone calling himself a birder will first ask where they can find the endemics. Indeed, 4 of Namibia’s 13 endemics can be found in and around Windhoek. The Rockrunner, Short-tailed
Shrike and Monteiro’s Hornbill can be seen at Daan Viljoen Game Park and at Avis Dam. One of the famous breeding areas of Monteiro’s Hornbill is in Daan Viljoen Game Park, but these birds are often seen in town as well. All of the above can be seen in the National Botanical Garden and the surrounding areas. Carp’s Tit, a rather evasive little bird, does occur in Windhoek, but consider yourself extremely lucky if you see one. Just by sitting outside your town-house or hotel you will hear various birds calling. At night the Pearl-spotted Owlet and the Rufous-cheeked Nightjar can often be heard. During the day in summer one always hears the European Bee-eaters flying overhead, while the Diederik Cuckoo will entertain (irritate) you endlessly. The Grey Go-away-birds are also very loud and cannot be missed. Another special in Windhoek is the Rosyfaced Lovebird, which is more often heard rather than seen in town. If you do not find it too strenuous, look upward (at the right time) and you might see Yellow-billed Kites, a migrant raptor. In the early morning Egyptian Geese and various other geese are coming from their roosting spots and return there in the late afternoon. If by any chance you see a flock of 50 or more birds high up in the sky it is almost certainly a group of Abdim’s Storks. Four of the most common C.B.D. city slickers are the Pale-winged Starling and Little Swift, Palm Swift and Kentucky Fried Chicken (actually more than one of those), although the latter is unfortunately not so mobile anymore.
Black-winged Kite, Elonus caeruleus
Shaft-tailed Whydah, Vidua regia
If you happen to know a Windhoeker or a farmer nearby, the number of garden birds will impress any potential and even non-potential birder. My own latest addition to my list of garden birds is a Village Indigobird. The feeding tray is a good starting point for seeing anything from Laughing Doves (millions), Speckled Pigeons (thousands), White-browed Weavers, Shaft-tailed Whydahs, Pin-tailed Whydahs and Red-billed Fire-finches, Southern Red Bishops etc. All over the city, wherever there are aloes (autumn) or any trees in flower (spring), you will see sunbirds feeding on the nectar of the abovementioned trees and plants. The most common sunbirds are Scarlet Chested, Marico and Dusky Sunbirds. Some lucky people even have African Paradise Flycatchers breeding in their gardens. To go too much into water birds can be quite misleading. When El Niño is around there will be very few water birds. On the other hand, when our dear El Niña (mooie benen en rode lippen) is present, your chances of seeing some wild and wonderful water birds are fantastic. Great White Pelicans, Great White Egret, White-backed Night-Heron are common visitors as well as the rather rare Black Storks. The migrants are to a large extent also very much into the “rode lippen”, so if water is scarce they tend to visit areas where water is more abundant. The cuckoos do not seem to be too particular and most of them, like the Black, Greater Spotted and Diederick, are more than happy to do the trip to Windhoek.
Marico Sunbird, Cinnyris mariquensis If you listen a bit further to Stef Bos’s song Mijn Stadt, he also says: “Want ze haat een vreemde, uit een ver en arm land”. I don’t think he had in mind people who spend lots of money in our country boosting our economy. Instead he’s talking about those people bringing their own provisions (not buying anything in Namibia) and fishing all our little fish out of the sea or the hunters killing all our wild animals (and birds)! TNN
BIRDING WITH POMPIE
Great Egret, Ardea alba
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Travel lightly over earth and sky Text Ginger Mauney
Rich veins run across the African landscape. Rivers, mountains, deserts and plains incise the land, creating mosaics that define and connect countries. They keep ecosystems whole, and dreams alive. From the air we are drawn to these patterns. On the ground we are immersed in them. Few people spend as much time learning to understand the importance of these landmarks as pilot-guides. They take guests aloft for the big perspective and bring them down to earth to experience these links in a more intimate, tactile way. This breeds respect and wonder, allowing for some of the best safari experiences in Africa.
A legacy written in the sky
ince 2007 African Profile Safaris has specialised in exactly this type of safari - private, tailor-made tours led by experienced pilots who are also knowledgeable guides. From planning how to match the desires of adventurers, birders, hikers or any other special interest group, to leading trips from Egypt to South Africa with a healthy dose of Namibia invariably sprinkled in: to African Profile Safaris has become a leader in pilot-guide tourism.
Work that requires this type of commitment always starts with passion. For the founders of African Profile Safaris, Ole and Marie Friede, it includes a long history in nature conservation and tourism. While working for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Ole developed a deep understanding of life in many of Namibia’s national parks and protected areas. He was head of the Ministry’s game capture unit for many years. Marie’s background is in tourism, and when they opened African Profile Safaris, the company was designed to share their love, respect and knowledge of the bush with visitors, while travelling lightly on the ground and in the sky.
“Our safaris are personal,” says Marie, “meeting the clients’ needs and opening up the continent for them to explore. We see flying as a ‘tool’ to get to the destination, and it is just one tool in our guided safaris. Our pilots are not only excellent field guides but they also work closely with guides on the ground at the lodges where we stay, to share local knowledge with our guests.” In recent years African Profile Safaris has branched out into planning ground-based safaris, applying the same exacting standards and care to their self-drive customers as they do for their air-borne counterparts. These self-drive safaris include specialised route planning, a fully detailed tour description and directions for clients, plus all the support material like maps and guidebooks. “Over the past few years, we have expanded into Europe. Most of the agents we work with started with us in Namibia. In the North American market most of our clients come to us through ‘word of mouth’ references,” Marie says.
Both business concepts rely on establishing and maintaining long-term relationships, something that African Profile Safaris has emphasised from the beginning. “We don’t need huge volumes and we value our loyal clients. Our years of marketing have paid off. Business is better than ever. This part of the dream has come true.” But the dream is bittersweet. Ole, Marie’s partner in life and business, and chief aviator of African Profile Safaris, died in a tragic air accident on 29 January 2016. Another two experienced pilots, Uwe Herbert and Fritz Alpers, were killed in the same crash. It was a huge loss to Namibian aviation and a devastating personal loss to Marie and their family, as well as the staff and clients of African Profile Safaris. The accident happened on a Friday. Marie was back in the office the following Monday morning. “I couldn’t have done it without Marianne and the other women in the office, but I never considered not showing up. We never cancelled a trip. We carried on, just as Ole would have wanted and expected. You see, he had a tremendous work ethic. This was just one of the things that we shared. We also shared a commitment to our clients and a precise execution of our responsibilities, so there was never a question that the business wouldn’t go on.”
“One of the agents we’ve worked with for years offered to fly in their staff to man our office for a week. A client in New York City offered legal advice, and hundreds of people reached out with love and support.” While the business never missed a beat, Marie adds that it has taken three additional people to do Ole’s job. Jan, Ole’s brother, who has been a dedicated and popular pilotguide with the company for years, stepped in to handle more of the technical issues, and additional consultants were hired for the increased volume of planning, logistics and office work. African Profile Safaris has a large pool of experienced pilotguides to draw from, which allows the company to run five safaris at the same time. “We want to keep the business small so that we can still connect with our clients. This will never change,” Marie points out. So, while life has forever changed for Marie and her family, African Profile Safaris continues as it began – dedicated to its clients, committed to conservation and respectful of life on the ground and in the air. TNN
During this difficult time, offers of support were close at hand and came from far away.
Ole, Marie and their children
TREASURES OF THE
SOUTH Text and Photographs Annelien Robberts
As you stand at the viewpoint above the Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa, you cannot help but think how insignificant we are. How nature has really outdone itself simply by following its course over hundreds of millions of years. In the Nama culture, legend has it that locals killed an enormous life-threatening snake. In its death throes it tossed and turned, resulting in giant fissures in the ground. These meandering gorges can be explored on an 85-km hike through the deepest part of the canyon. Hobas Camp chalet
Hobas Camp chalet interior
stone’s throw away from the Fish River Canyon viewpoint in /Ai-/Ais Richterveld Transfrontier Park lies Hobas Camp. Making our way there we are lucky that the biggest reptile we encounter is a sun-basking monitor lizard. Run by Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Hobas recently put on a new coat and tie boasting six new chalets, with more to come, as well as the new Quiver Taste Restaurant and a swimming pool. With all the recent renovations Hobas aims to provide an unparalleled experience. When visitors go home, Hobas should still linger in their memories.
Fish River Canyon
As part of the formal reopening of Hobas in its new look the culture group Suide Maak Vrede, dressed in their beautiful trademark outfits sewn up of colourful patches, entertained guests with singing, dancing and theatrical performances. Introducing themselves to the audience, group member Marius explained that their name is Afrikaans for “South Makes Peace”. “If you are not looking for peace, then what are you doing in the south?” he asked in good humour. This camp is the starting point of the Desert Knights Tour, a cycling event that has seen huge growth in popularity since it was launched in 2010. This event is extraordinary in many ways, as it takes place under the full moon in the desert landscapes of Namibia and South Africa. After three days of cycling through spectacular mountainous scenery, riders get to rest their legs and exchange pedals for paddles on the Orange River, a unique feature of this transfrontier park. The river forms the natural border between the two countries. On the remaining two days participants get back into their saddles for the final climb to Sendelingsdrift.
The event is packed to the brim with highlights along the way: the Ai-Ais Hot Springs, Gamkab Canyon, Hakkiesdoring, the Richtersveld Helskloof Pass and the Orange River. Apart from offering cyclists a route with mind-blowing scenery, the event promotes additional activities that contribute to the understanding of cultural and natural landscapes.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
Suide Maak Vrede in action Hobas Camp's new look
Day 1 of Desert Knights Colourful performances by Suide Maak Vrede /Ai-/Ais Richterveld Transfrontier Park is one of three transfrontier parks in Namibia. The transfrontier concept is aimed at supporting locals in order for them to become the best chefs, service providers or even cyclists. Johanna Ashimbanga and Maria Ndeshi Mokahwa, both employed at /Ai-/Ais Hot Springs Game Park, took up cycling after meeting the Desert Knights team for the first time. Transfrontier Conservation Areas director, Ernest Mokganedi, describes Johanna as “dynamite in a small package”, which seems fitting given her petite physique, yet she has participated in Desert Knights as many as six times. Maria works as a masseuse at /Ai-/Ais Hot Springs Game Park. Standing in front of the Desert Knights banner on day one of the event, spectators form a line to cheer the cyclists riding off into the sunset to admire the canyon under a different colour sky. When these adventurers return to the camp later the same night, the full moon will be their guide to their tents for a good night’s rest before taking on double the distance with an elevated climb the following day. If the long stretch of road on the return trip to Windhoek seems daunting, I recommend a stopover at Hardap Game
Enjoy the beautiful sunrises at Hardap Dam.
Reserve. Hardap Dam is the largest dam in Namibia and the facilities of Hardap Resort offer a welcome relief from the sweltering heat. Hardap Dam is a most impressive sight in the arid landscape surrounding it. The resort is perched high above the northern shore of the dam from where you can enjoy unforgettable views of the wide expanse of water, rich in fresh water fish such as kurper, barbel, yellow-fish, carp and bass. With 284 recorded bird species and one of Namibia’s largest Great White Pelican breeding colonies, this oasis is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Black rhino, kudu, oryx, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, springbok and red hartebeest roam the game reserve adjacent to the dam. Like a father praising his child’s virtues, Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) CEO Digu /Naobeb’s chest swells as he announces that bookings for tourist facilities in the south of Namibia are already rolling in for 2018. A combination of adventure, culture and spectacular scenery, Namibia’s south is a treasure chest waiting to be unlocked by local and international travellers alike. TNN
Namibia has some of the world’s most Namibia has some of the world’s most magnificent landscapes but there’s more… magnificent landscapes but there’s more...
Let Namibia Wildlife Resorts offer yo Let Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) offer(NWR) you a new perspective. With 21 resorts Namibia we have perspective. With 21 across resorts across Namibia something for everyone, including the children. From something for everyone, including the child camping to hiking trails for the thrill seeker in you or when camping to hiking trails for the thrill seeker in yo all you need is a breakaway from the big city monotony. all you need is a breakaway from the big city
1. Onkoshi Resort 2. Namutoni Resort 3. Halali Resort 4. Okaukuejo 1. OnkoshiResort Resort5. Sossus 2. Namutoni Halali Resort 4. DuneResort Lodge 3. 6. Terrace Bay Resort 7. Waterberg Resort Okaukuejo8. Resort Sossus Dune Terrace /Ai-/Ais5.Hotsprings SpaLodge 9. Popa6.Falls 10. Bay Gross Barmen 11. Duwisib Resort 7. Waterberg Resort 8. /Ai-/Ais Hotsprings Spa 9. Popa CastleBarmen 12. Sesriem Camp 13. 12. Hobas Camp Falls 10. Gross 11. Duwisib Castle Sesriem Camp14. Naukluft Camp 15. 13. HobasDolomite Camp 14.Resort Naukluft 15. Dolomite 16. Camp 18. Shark Island 16.Camp Torra Bay Camp 17.Resort Khorixas Torra Bay19. Camp 17. Khorixas Camp 18. Shark Island 19. Sun Sun Karros Daan Viljoen 20. Hardap Resort 21. Olifantsrus Camp Karros Daan Viljoen 20. Hardap Resort 21. Olifantsrus Camp
+264 61 285 7200
MAKE YOUR BOOKING TODAY!
@ email@example.com www.nwr.com.na
+264 61 285 7200 or +264 64 402 172 or +27 21 422 3761 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or
Vast, contrasting and unpredictable Namibia is a country of primeval and unspoilt beauty: SWA Safaris can introduce you to its spectacular variety of landscapes, rich treasures of wildlife and unique flora. Enjoy the hospitality and friendliness of the Namibian people. Let SWA Safaris, one of the most experienced tour operators in Namibia, that has been in operation since 1954, make your stay an unforgettable one.
Tel +264 (0)61 22 1193/ 23 7567 firstname.lastname@example.org www.swasafaris.com
Experience with us the Beauty of Namibia, Wilderness of Botswana and Secrets of Zimbabwe
What makes us unique?
+264 (0)64 203496 +264 81 246 0034 email@example.com www.namibia.com.pl Sam Nuyoma Avenue 11, Walvis Bay
• Personal service • One stop – shop (Accommodation, vehicle hire and activity bookings) • Specialize both in self –drive & guided Safaris • Cater for all: from family travel, filming crew, bird watchers etc. • Taste of African original • No hidden costs
Bismark St. 1, Swakopmund, Namibia Tel: +264 64 400 331 • Fax: +264 64 405 850 firstname.lastname@example.org • www.schweizerhaus.net
WORLD RAIL General Sales Agent in Namibia offering Eurail, EuroStar, Amtrak, Swiss Rail Tours and many more rail products.
BIDVEST PREMIER LOUNGE
Guaranteed escorted tours / Fly-in saFaris
• widest range of affordable tours exploring Namibia’s highlights
Private Guided tours
• creation of tailor-made itineraries to fulfil individual needs.
• Dynamic and innovative luxury safaris for the connoisseur
selF drive tours
• most comprehensive self-drive tours added value through our VIP card and exclusive Travel planner
daily short break PackaGes
• as an extension or a short break holiday
Free & easy
• Last-minute discounted voucher pass
“Everybody’s Lounge” in South Africa. No membership required. Purchase your voucher directly with us and receive preferential rates. www.renniestravelnamibia.com.na email@example.com +264 61 2890 760
• Stay for 3 nights, pay for 2
Tel: + 264 (0)61 275 300 / Fax: + 264 (0)61 263 417 PO Box 2058, Windhoek, Namibia Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / www.senseofafrica-namibia.com.na
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA WINTER 2017
THIS IS MY NAMIBIA
t is rather daunting to be the first contributor for a new series to grace the last page of Travel News Namibia in future. I spent many hours contemplating the perfect topic to write about. Should I try to be witty, sentimental, clever or preachy. Often in situations like these, when one wants to create a masterpiece, the outcome is determined by the pressure of the deadline. To choose an example of what to share with you as being “My Namibia” from a lifetime of experiences. What made the strongest impression on my heart and my eye during the past year? Will that vivid memory which left a lasting impression on me, also entice you to go look for it? Namibia is beguiling. It gives meaning to the concept of multi-faceted. To isolate one experience will not do justice and neither will a few hundred words explain Namibia’s soul and multilayered character. I was born less than a hundred kilometres from Etosha, the famous pan with its white chalk dust and pink sunsets. I think there is something of that atmosphere etched into my DNA, because I cannot resist a sunset. Regardless of where I am in Namibia, in what season, the
sunset is always exceptional to me. Stop, and be still. Watch the magic. Look in the opposite direction to admire the warm glow on the mountains or the golden reflection in water, in the sea or on a building. The more dust, clouds, rain or dramatic weather, the more spectacular the sunset. What makes it so extraordinary is the visual drama minutes before the sun reaches the horizon, and especially after it has disappeared. If you have not experienced it yet, there is something magical to look forward to. Those dark blue, almost purple clouds above the eastern horizon, with the magical glow of the setting sun that lightens up whatever is in the foreground. Sunsets this past season have been idyllic. The relief of a long drought brought thunderstorms and delivered the most extraordinary cloud formations. Regardless of which part of the country I travelled, the intensity, contrast and colour made me wish I had the discipline to travel with better photographic equipment than just my iPhone. A mesmerising setting among Marula trees a few kilometres from Ruacana, close to the Angolan border; that purple-blue storm advancing towards the setting sun
over the Etosha pan, with dust devils faintly visible and the dramatic chalk white silhouette of the Chudop elephants against that backdrop; the reflection of the setting sun in the wake of the boat on the Kwando river; the most intense, deep, vivid cerise pink reflection on the water in a Windhoek street after a rainstorm. With thousands of sunsets stored in my memory I chose to share a place I have been to for the first time this year. The image is of the eastern face of Brukkaros Mountain in southern Namibia. I took the photo on a hike to the centre of the former gas volcano. On the way out I was caught in a rainstorm, when for a few moments the clouds shifted, leaving me in awe. A double rainbow. I could see where it ended between two ridges. If it had not been so steep, and so wet, I could have found the pot of gold. This rainbow ended in Brukkaros. I have travelled the B1 south for decades, taking the mountain for granted. In March this year, the spectacular scene and touching experience was my reward for walking into its heart.
Rièth van Sckalkwyk
Wolwedans is more than a mere collection of camps. Itâ€™s a collection of dreams. Its ethos lies in setting an example in sustainability and continually fulfilling its commitment to the conservation of the NamibRand Nature Reserve.
...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: email@example.com www.namibiatourism.com.na
GERMANY Schillerstrasse 42 – 44, D – 60313 Frankfurt am Main, Tel: +49 69 1337 360 Fax: +49 69 1337 3615 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.namibia-tourism.com
SOUTH AFRICA Cape Town Ground floor, The Pinnacle Burg Street, P O. Box 739 Tel: +27 21 422 3298 Fax: +27 21 422 5132 Email: email@example.com
Discover the right kind of tourism with Travel News Namibia this winter as we explore the wonders of the country and celebrate the Year of R...
Published on Jun 1, 2017
Discover the right kind of tourism with Travel News Namibia this winter as we explore the wonders of the country and celebrate the Year of R...