How the Fish River Canyon should be experienced

The mighty Fish River Canyon…second largest canyon in the world. Not at all daunting when you think about this massive slice through the country’s soil. What moves this natural marvel from daunting to majestic are the secrets and raw natural beauty that hide within this massive landscape.

The Fish River Canyon - Image: www.host-namiba.com

The Fish River Canyon – Image: www.host-namiba.com

As some may know, the Gondwana Collection used to offer the Canyon Mule Trails. Well this year, we have decided to retire our mules. And since last we spoke, they are thoroughly enjoying retirement life.

Image: www.news24.com

Image: www.news24.com

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Rest assured though, that your opportunity to experience the Fish River Canyon is not lost. In fact, we here at the Gondwana Collection have created a brand-new canyon experience. Drum roll please… the Canyon Klipspringer Trail!

 

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“The Canyon Klipspringer Trail”

Image: tracks4africa.co.za

Image: tracks4africa.co.za

What makes this hike so unique? Simply put, you do not need to lug around all your own baggage. Using an ingenious design concept, the Gondwana Collection offers the use of lockable trunks to store all your goods in.

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Image: Judy & Scott Hurd

So when you head out into the canyon for your hike, you only need to pack the necessities (water, snacks, etc.). And all the other goodies, pots, pans and clothes, are ferried to the next evening’s campsite.

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What I am actually getting at, is you pretty much get to enjoy a hike through the northern areas of the Fish River Canyon without any heavy loads. And then when you arrive at the camp in the evening, your cabin and all possessions await.

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And the process repeats itself throughout the entire hike. Every morning someone comes to collect your trunk and you do not need to worry about the heavy weight holding you back.

So for all the adventurous souls looking to break away from the hustle and bustle of city life…here is your answer.

Image: www.getaway.co.za

Image: www.getaway.co.za

Go explore the natural magnificence of the Fish River Canyon in slack packing ease.

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Check out what you need to pack for this hike by clicking here.

And if you have any of your own canyon stories to tell, we invite you to share them with us in the comment section below.

Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.

Jescey Visagie

 

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The Singer sewing machine: Changing the world stitch by stitch

In the mid-1800s, the invention of the sewing machine revolutionised the sewing industry and transformed people’s lives. It made its way to the southern hemisphere where it remains, more than a century later, a treasured and well-used item…

Oblivious to technology madness and the catapulting developments of the last century that began sluggishly with ox-wagons and ended with spacecraft on Mars, the humble sewing machine is still going strong. Nowhere is it more appreciated than in the rural areas of the world, where the luxury of electricity is rare.

Rural Namibia is no exception and throughout the country sewing machines that have felt the touch of a multitude of hands and sewn many a dress – or school uniform – can be seen.

"Owambo dresses"

“Owambo dresses”

Women in the north sit amidst a forest of colourful Owambo traditional dresses, carefully feeding material through their sewing machines, while in the Kunene region Herero women patiently sew miniature dresses for their immaculate dolls and in the south Nama ladies put finishing touches to their patchwork skirts with a deft flourish.

“Herero women patiently sew miniature dresses for their immaculate dolls”

“Nama ladies put finishing touches to their patchwork skirts with a deft flourish”

In the 19th century people recognised the dire need to speed up the process and a variety of inferior sewing machines were invented with much initiative and at incredible cost.

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” A new breed of sewing-machine pi­oneers emerged mid-century” – Image: www.emaze.com

Later in­novators followed the early inventors, adapting the develop­ments that had already been made and improving on them, often stepping on the original creator’s toes in the process. Yet, none of these early machines worked efficiently until a new breed of sewing-machine pi­oneers emerged mid-century.

The sewing machine may look old-fashioned in com­parison to computers and even kitchen appliances and most folk would not give it a fleeting glance, but the invention of the sewing machine was a milestone in the world.

“The invention of the sewing machine was a milestone in the world”

It didn’t win wars or take us to the moon, but it enabled millions of women to dress their families and earn an income, without interfering with the chores and responsibilities of motherhood.

It also freed up hours and put an end to the time-consuming and laborious work in sweat shops and factories (relieving eye-strain in the process), where every garment from a pair of trousers to a trousseau was hand-stitched. And, it was a slow process, with even the most proficient seamstress only able to sew 40 stitches per minute.

“It also freed up hours and put an end to the time-consuming and laborious work in sweat shops and factories”

Elias Howe was the first to take the sewing machine to the next level by patenting the first proper lock-stitch sewing machine in 1846. Then, Isaac Singer stepped into the arena and bettered Howe’s machine with his own improve­ments. These dramatically increased the sewing rate to the unprecedented speed of 900 stitches a minute!

It was the first machine that could sew continuously on a piece of fabric. When Singer formed the I.M. Singer & Company in 1857 in New York with Edward Clark, the team opened a factory to produce moveable parts for their sewing machines.

Singer advert

Singer advert

This enabled them to produce an afford­able domestic sewing machine, which allowed the sewing machine to finally reach people’s homes. By 1860, the company had become the biggest sewing machine manufacturer in the world and the sewing industry had been revolutionised.

Zululand advert

Zululand advert

Isaac Merritt Singer had come a long way. He hadn’t been born into money. His parents had emigrated from northern Germany to the US in 1803. Singer left home at the age of twelve and used his wits to survive, working in a variety of jobs as an unskilled labourer before establishing a theatre troupe.

Isaac Merritt Singer

When that ended he resumed his mechanic apprenticeship, eventually finding himself working in a machine shop repairing the many faulty sewing machines. This gave him the opportunity to become familiar with the difficulties of mechanical sewing and to consider alternatives.

Singer machine

He was a jack of all trades. Not only was he a good inventor, he was also an accomplished entrepre­neur and an excellent salesman. His reliable sewing machine ushered in new manufacturing methods that speeded up the sewing industry, freeing women from hours of drudgery and kick-starting a wave of industrial growth.

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He was suitably rewarded for his ingenuity and amassed a fortune over his lifetime, becoming one of the richest men in the world (and attracting many an admirer – his reputation among the fairer sex being legendary).

The Singer sewing machine began to make its way around the world. It also reached the southern tip of Africa. Emma Hahn, wife of missionary, Hugo Hahn, brought the first sewing machine into Namibia in the late 1800s. She was astonished to see people still wearing skins and encouraged forty local women to learn how to sew.

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“The Singer sewing machine began to make its way around the world. It also reached the southern tip of Africa”

More than a century later, the dependable sewing machine is preserving the culture of ‘home-sewing’ in an era where shops are crammed to the brim with mass-produced items of variable quality.

There’s something extremely comforting to see what now seems like a simple machine surviving in our fast-paced world, showing itself as a solid item of quality that has proven its worth over time.

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“The dependable sewing machine is preserving the culture of home-sewing”

And everyone who has ever fixed a rip on a shirt, turned up a hem on a dress or patched a favou­rite pair of jeans knows the merit of the sewing machine – and someone who can use it.

Every time I encounter one of these old, treasured machines, whether in the market place or at some­one’s home, I can’t help admiring the ingenuity of the machine that had the power to change history in its own, very humble way.

Author: Ron Swilling

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Why you should visit the Kalahari Farmhouse

Working for Gondwana definitely has its perks, and sitting on my own little terrace in front of my room with a refreshing drink in hand… it is obvious that life cannot get much better than this. In the past week, my work took me to The Kalahari Farmhouse.

Image: Judy & Scott Hurd

Image: Judy & Scott Hurd

"comfortably located in the small town of Stampriet"

“comfortably located in the small town of Stampriet”

A small lodge owned by the Gondwana Collection, comfortably located in the small town of Stampriet.

Image: Micheal Spencer

Image: Micheal Spencer

Image: Micheal Spencer

Image: Micheal Spencer

Currently the lodge is closed to the public as it is the home of the Gondwana Training Academy.

Courses have been offered over the past few weeks, ranging from maintenance and bartending, to cooking. And thanks to the role I play in the grand scheme of things, I got to break away from the hustle of the city.

Kalahari Farmhouse is by far my favourite Gondwana property. Simply because it does not try, it does not need to.

Image: Judy & Scott Hurd

Image: Judy & Scott Hurd

The entire property, from the vineyards that run along the road as you approach, to the smiling managers as they meet you at the entrance, is effortless.

When you walk through the entry way toward reception, it is easy to forget that you are in the Kalahari. Instantly, you feel transported into another world, an enchanted forest.

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“When you walk through the entry way toward reception” – Kalahari Farmhouse

I always wait for the garden faeries to come dancing across the tree branches. The Farmhouse garden is stunning in a way that is difficult to explain.

Massive palm trees stretching into the blue sky, with their giant branches lacing through the branches of other ancient trees. You are immediately sheltered from the harsh desert heat.

Image: Judy & Scott Hurd

“Massive palm trees stretching into the blue sky” – Image: Judy & Scott Hurd

The sound of bubbling water is a constant companion as the artesian well pushes the water up to the surface and small channels lead the fresh waters to the farm gardens.

And when you walk into the main building, you cannot help but feel at home.

Image: Judy & Scott Hurd

Lounge at Kalahari Farmhouse – Image: Judy & Scott Hurd

Your great grandmother’s piano is placed in the foyer and as you walk into the bar lounge, large, leather couches invite you into their embrace.

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Bar area st Kalahari Farmhouse – Image: Judy & Scott Hurd

Something I have always been adamant about, it that I don’t want a hotel or lodge to feel like home… I want to feel comfortable and welcome, but it should definitely not be a second home. But here, you are home.

It’s not that anything looks like a house or that it is boring or traditional.

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Rather that you cannot help but feel at ease and comfortably content when you are there. And this is exactly how I found myself on my little terrace, sitting in a rocking chair with the lodge cat snoozing on the seat beside mine, watching the summer rain drip down the edge of the terrace roof.

Kalahari Farmhouse is truly a special place and is always there to welcome you with open arms when the city life gets too much.

Image: Judy & Scott Hurd

Image: Judy & Scott Hurd

The lodge will be open to the public again at the end of April, and I look forward to getting back to my little terrace as soon as possible.

If you have ever been to Farmhouse, please share your experience with us in the comment section below.

Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.

Jescey Visagie

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