Ideas for Christmas gifts in Namibia

Christmas is always a time of festivity and laughter, and of course fantastic foods. The one thing that does tend to be challenging is getting gifts or even suitable Christmas décor. More and more our societies are moving into a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. We recycle, save water and try to keep our environment clean, but something we should all start looking into is the idea of upcycling. Basically we use old and used objects to create something new and beautiful. And to adhere to our Christmas theme, here are a few gift/décor ideas that embrace the upcycling spirit!

First off, some décor for the Christmas tree. The Matukondjo Dolls Project has been running for more than fifteen years. And they have now started creating beautiful little angels from wood and beads. These little guardians wear dresses made from the traditional African material called “shweshwe”, which was brought to Africa by German missionary women in the days of old. These little angels are ideal for any Christmas tree or can even be attached to a bottle of wine, as a gift.

Shweshwe angels

Shweshwe angels

Well, we all know that Nespresso pods have taken the world by storm, The Delight Hotel included. And now, the Gondwana Collection has found a way to use these pods twice! All the pods that are discarded in The Delight are recycled and used to create stunning little stars, angles and decorations. It has been claimed that these new Nespresso pods have become one of our oceans biggest polluters. What better way to prevent pollution than by creating something beautiful and useful? Antje Ewald is the brain behind these creations and sells her little stars on the mezzanine floor of the Namibian Craft Centre in Windhoek. Alternatively, you could find these gems at the Canyon Village, Canyon Lodge and The Delight Hotel.

Nesspresso stars

Nesspresso stars

An obstacle we tend to face during the festive season is gift wrapping. It is tedious and more often than not wasted. A young woman in Swakopmund has found a way around this little problem by using discarded Coca Cola bottles. Entirely waterproof, these little packages have been decorated using decoupage, with African themed serviettes. Other than wrapping for small gifts, these also double really well as jewellery boxes. You can find these at the Canyon Roadhouse in the south or right here in Windhoek at the Namibian Craft Centre. Or make your own with a unique Christmas theme!

Coke pods

Coke pods

The ladies of FIMBI have found a unique and creative way to recreate old fashioned decorations with an African twist. Beautiful little hearts to be hung on the Christmas tree, made from springbok hide! These little gems can also be purchased at the Namibian Craft Centre and alternatively at the Etosha Safari Lodge.

Dyed Springbok hearts

Dyed Springbok hearts

Recreating the classic angel by using discarded tins is brilliant. These best sellers are made by Epafras of kabo Craft at Krumhuk Farm. Using the colourful shades of tin, he has created little guardian angles with bright dresses. And cleverly used a marula nut to create the little heads. These can be bought at the Namibian Craft Centre.

Aluminium tin angels

Aluminium tin angels

Finally, Maid in Namibia has recreated a classic favourite. Chips and crisps are a delicious snack, but more often than not the empty packets are left with no use but pollution. In Thailand these testy packets count as one of the biggest sources of pollution in their oceans. Well that has changed.

These empty packets can now be recreated into bags! Pencil cases, purses or even small handbags, these packets are now a fashion statement rather than pollution. What a great way to continuously enjoy your favourite salty snack. And these packets can even be found at the Etosha Safari Camp.

Recycled chips bags

Recycled chips bags

If you have any other great ideas and ways to recreate something into a Christmas gift, décor or wrapping, we invite you to share this 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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101 sunsets with Gondwana  

In Namibia, clear skies and delicious warm evenings have inspired an important tradition – and celebration of life – sundowners!

As part of their 20th anniversary celebrations, the Gondwana Collection held a ‘101 Sunset Competition’, inviting the public to share their sensational sundowner moments. The competition kicked off at the Namibia Tourism Expo in May and continued until the end of August when it wrapped up with 875 entries. It took another month to carefully evaluate the photos, selecting the finest. In October, the winners were announced and the prize of 101 nights at Gondwana’s lodges was shared between the five winners of the various categories, who each won 20 nights, with the overall winner bagging the additional day to make up the total of 101.

Overall winner & Natural Sunsets Category - Winner: Alloyce Makhosi

Overall winner & Natural Sunsets Category – Winner: Alloyce Makhosi

Crazy Sundowner Moments - Winner: Michael Hackauf

Crazy Sundowner Moments Category – Winner: Michael Hackauf

Pro Sunsets - Winner: Carsten Von Carsten von Frankenberg-Lüttwitz

Pro Sunsets category – Winner: Carsten Von Carsten von Frankenberg-Lüttwitz

Images of clinking glasses, striking landscapes and land and water aflame with the deepest and richest colours on Earth came streaming in. They encapsulated the wonderful African tradition: sundowners i.e. spending the late afternoon somewhere out in nature with a drink in hand, appreciating the landscape bathed in gold at this enchanting time of the day. It’s the time to stop whatever you are doing and enjoy the transition between day and night, when softness and beauty merge the two in a spectacular display, one of the best shows on the planet.

Social Sundowners Category- Winners: Ralph Ellinger

Social Sundowners Category – Winners: Ralph Ellinger

Image: Mike Scott

Sundowner Competition – Image: Mike Scott

 The bustle of the day and the excitement of travel or wildlife viewing pauses for a while as drinks are sipped and snacks are nibbled. Then, as the sun begins to dip in the sky, there’s a hush as the ruby orb slowly and regally sinks into the horizon. A wash of pastel colours splash dramatically across the heavens in its wake,lit up from below,before the first stars begin to shimmer and the blanket of night is eventually drawn over the land.

Sunsets and Wildlife Category - Winner: Suzanne Pienaar Van Zyls

Sunsets and Wildlife Category – Winner: Suzanne Pienaar Van Zyls

Sundowner Competition - Image: Carlo Palomba

Sundowner Competition – Image: Carlo Palomba

The world stills as the diurnal birds turn in and the nocturnal life begins to stir, adding its voice to the indigo night. Occasionally, jackal calls ring out through the air. The power, magic and mystery of creation is palpable.

 As part of Gondwana’s 20th birthday bash – and the sunset theme, Gondwana (in partnership with Namibian kwaito singer EES and Namibian Breweries) released a ‘Sundowner’song celebrating just that, the time of day to close laptops and workplace doors, hang up tools, pack a coolbox and head out to a rooftop vantage point, a dam, or if fortunate enough, the great Namibian wilderness, the canyon or countryside.

The video clip showcases the vast and majestic scenery of the Fish River Canyon and the sweeping landscapes at this golden hour, accompanied by EES’s lively beat. Towards the end of the clip, while sitting at the edge of the dam as the sun sets into the African bush, EES turns to his friend and makes the apt observation: “The thing is,” he says, as the music quietens in the background,“I think people nowadays don’t realise how important a sundowner actually is; how to chill and relax and to just let the day quietly settle.”

Image: Silke Kuhr

Sundowner at Namib Desert Lodge – Image: Silke Kuhr

So, here’s a reminder. While in Namibia, remember to take time out for the best time of day. Take a walk or a drive, or simply sit on your veranda or balcony. Or, if you are at one of the Gondwana lodges, join the sunset celebrations to appreciate the Namib Desert, Fish River Canyon, Zambezi waterways or Kalahari dunes when Mother Nature puts on her best performance on Earth just for you.

Image: Piero Alberto Grassi

Sundowner at Kalahari Anib Lodge – Image: Piero Alberto Grassi

Sundowner Competition - Image: Myriam Werra

Sundowner Competition – Image: Myriam Werra

 Cheers!

 Gondwana’s top ten sunset spots:

  1. The crest of the 20-million-year-old fossilised dunes at Namib Desert Lodge with a superlative view of the desert landscape
  2. A sunset deck built on the hill overlooking the mopane savannah and Brandberg in the distance at Damara Mopane Lodge
  3. The edge of the Fish River Canyon that drops down to ancient chasms – Canyon Roadhouse, Village and Lodge
  4. The boat on the Kwando River after a game drive into the Bwabwata National Park at Namushasha River Lodge
  5. Watching the Namib wild horses at the Garub viewpoint while visiting Klein Aus Vista
  6. The Hakusembe River Queen on the Okavango River at Hakusembe River Lodge
  7. The end of the jetty as the waves crash around you (the Delight hotel,Swakopmund)
  8. The top of the granite koppie (hill) at Canyon Lodge overlooking the Gondwana Canyon Park
  9. The wooden deck at Etosha Safari Lodge, with a view of the mopane woodland
  10. The red sand dunes of the Kalahari (Kalahari Anib and the Farmhouse)

Ron Swilling is a freelance writer, based in Cape Town, writing for Namibian and South African publications. She is a regular contributor to Gondwana’s History and Stamps&Stories columns and documented the information on the Wild Horses in the Namib Desert for Mannfred Goldbeck and Telané Greyling. She invites you to ‘Follow her footsteps’ on her journey from the Orange River, exploring the Gondwana routes through the intriguing country of Namibia.

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Ron Swilling

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How to taste Namibia

Taste Namibia!

Food is a universal language that has a tendency to bring people together and in Namibia we take this ‘language’ very seriously. When traveling to another country, place, destination… the location’s cuisine becomes part of your local experience. The tastes become memories associated with your journey and can often help remind you of the moments enjoyed while abroad. In Namibia this is no different, here you will have access to a variety of unique and tasty delights that will make your mouth water at the mere thought of them.

Let’s start in the south… Along the Fish River Canyon, just a few kilometres away from the ridges, you will find the Canyon Roadhouse. Now besides the quirky décor and playful atmosphere, the real treasure at this location is the Amarula cheese cake. Light and delicious, this is something not to be missed. I cannot offer our scrumptious recipe, but I can offer the closest one available! Click here for the recipe to try your own Amarula cheese cake.

Image: mzansi style cuisine.co.za

Amarula cheese cake – Image: mzansi style cuisine.co.za

Next up and not to be missed, is the chicken schnitzel at Kalahari Farmhouse in the small town of Stampriet. Schnitzels are a relativity well-known food, being a boneless piece of meat that has been flattened out and coated in crumbs, but the Farmhouse does things slightly differently. I am not quite sure what the chef does, it must be some deliciously secret ingredient that makes this dish so tasty. All I can say is that this is definitely something to add to your travel list.

Chicken Schnitzel - Image: daringgourmet.com

Chicken Schnitzel – Image: daringgourmet.com

Make your way to the coast and enter The Delight Swakopmund. This is the place where breakfast gets interesting… start your day with champagne and fresh oysters! For those who haven’t had oysters before, they are simple to eat. Just add some lemon juice, a few drops of green Tabasco, and salt and pepper and there you go! A word of caution, you’re either going to love it or hate it, there is no in between.

Breakfast at The Delight Swakopmund

Breakfast at The Delight Swakopmund

Another delightful indulgence that can be found at The Delight is the banana delight. This is their own version of banana bread but here they top it off with fresh, hand-whipped cream. It is a sweet way to start the morning and if you’re lucky the bread may still be warm, which makes it taste ten times better! To try your own version of the Banana Delight, click here and start whipping the cream.

Banana bread - Image: flickr.com

Banana bread – Image: flickr.com

And of course no trip would be complete without tasting the chocolate mousse at Hakusembe River lodge. Light and airy and absolutely delectable, this is a dessert that will linger in your thoughts for a while. And the surprise found at the bottom of the glass…fresh raspberries grown in their own garden! This is a must-taste and even if you may not be able to make the trip right away, here is a simple recipe for you to try it for yourself.

Chocolate mousse - Image:cookingwithcurls.com

Chocolate mousse – Image:cookingwithcurls.com

And to end off on a savoury note…nothing comes close to the Oryx steaks and mushroom sauce that can be enjoyed at the Kalahari Anib Lodge. Namibia is known for its game meat and this lodge makes full use of it. The steak is juicy and tender, perfectly cooked and the sauce rounds off the whole culinary experience.

Needless to say there are vast amounts of other incredibly tasty foods that can be enjoyed in Namibia. Unique items like a good braai, kapana and malva pudding to name but a few. What is your favourite Namibian dish? Share it 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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