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.

KALAHARI_FARMHOUSE8 5

“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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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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Gin and Tonic is making a comeback

Sitting at one of the Gondwana lodges, watching the sun sink into the Namibian horizon, I find myself wondering how the iconic Gin & Tonic in my hand became so wildly popular. What exactly led this beverage to be enjoyed around the world?

The refreshing drink found its humble beginnings in India in the nineteenth century. Tonic water was initially used to deliver quinine, used as a drug to prevent malaria. Quinine came in a powdered form and was horribly bitter, by mixing the powder with water and sugar Tonic Water found its way into the world. However even with the medicine mixed into the liquid, it was still hard to swallow. Of course this changed in the early 1800’s, when British officers realised that their daily dose went down much easier when they added a shot of gin.

Tonic bottles - Image: howtobeswell.com

Tonic bottles – Image: howtobeswell.com

In many ways, the Gin & Tonic played a crucial role in the growth of European Imperialism. This is because the consumption of the G&T allowed European forces to stay healthy and successfully maintain control of their colonies. However these forces needed enough quinine to ensure all their officers and their families have enough tonic water to keep them healthy. They quickly realised that South American countries – who were the main producers of quinine – could pose a threat to European power if they managed to be the sole manufacturers of the only product that kept malaria at bay. So the Europeans stole the seeds of the cinchona tree, of which quinine is made, and smuggled these to their homeland where they sowed their own plantations.

Image: Opinionated Indian blog

Image: Opinionated Indian blog

This allowed the European forces access to as much of the product as they needed. As the saying once went, ‘The sun never sets on the British Empire’ and though it did, the Gin & Tonic remains, which quickly became the drink of choice for all Europeans living in the tropics, along with watching and playing cricket.

However times have changed and the tonic water of today does not contain nearly enough quinine to prevent malaria with a mere daily dose. Unless of course you are capable of drinking 20 litres of tonic water a day. And in doing so, you may be spared malaria but a new list of problems is sure to follow. Thankfully modern medicine has advanced to the point that tonic is not crucial in preventing malaria and the trusted combination’s daily consumption began to dwindle.

Gordon Gin - Image: theginism.com

Gordon Gin – Image: theginism.com

As most products found on the world markets, a typical rise and fall of demand and popularity is to be expected. And even though the Gin & Tonic enjoyed a lengthy amount of time in the spotlight, it was eventually reduced to a dusty, un-opened bottle of Gordon’s at the back of the liquor cabinet. It became a drink that was associated with the past or an ‘old-fashioned’ mentality. The idea of the ‘Gin & Tonic’ went hand-in-hand with the image of your great grandparents sitting on their “plaasstoep” at the end of a long day… but not for long. The Gin & Tonic combo is making a striking comeback.

Image: Institute for Alcohol experimentation

Image: Institute for Alcohol experimentation

A wave of new brands of both gin and tonic water are filling the shelves in liquor stores across the world as the iconic drink is once again regaining popularity as a summer time drink. But where in the past, the gin was added to the drink to make the process of drinking the tonic water easier, the new varieties of tonic water are formulated to make the gin softer to taste.

Tonic water - Image: british-corner-shop

Tonic water – Image: british-corner-shop

Gin has stepped onto the forefront of nightcaps, becoming a common ingredient in most cocktails and quickly leading to the establishment of various gin bars across the globe. This is thanks to the new and interesting flavours paired with the traditional alcohol.The Gin & Tonic has been reinvented. As in the case of the growing popularity of craft beers, a flock of craft distilleries have appeared around the world, with their main focus being Gin.

Modern and new style - Image: siansburrymagazine

Modern and new style – Image: siansburrymagazine

These distilleries have allowed for the traditional idea of gin to be morphed into something modern and new, while maintaining the traditional style of mixing gin with tonic water. One of these new brands is the Kalahari Devil’s Claw Dry Gine, distilled right here in Namibia by NauteKristall near Naute Dam.

Gin & Tonic - Image: Carsten Von Luttwitz

Gin & Tonic – Image: Carsten Von Luttwitz

Despite all these new and exotic flavours that have been infused into the gin-market, the traditional G&T is not to be forgotten. Even with the ‘old-fashioned’ mentality that sometimes still accompanies the drink, it remains one of the most refreshing ways to end a summer day, especially in Namibia. It lies imbedded in history and will forge its way into the future as a consistently refreshing way to quench one’s thirst.

Image: Mike Scott

Image: Mike Scott

As the last rays of light shimmer in the distance and the taste of my G&T brings the day to an end, I ponder about what the British officers would think if they knew that their daily medicinal dose would become a modern day treat. I’m sure they would cheers to that!

If there is anything interesting that you would like to share about Gin & Tonic please feel free to share them 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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