What does Gondwana mean?

The Gondwana Collection is celebrating its 21st birthday this year. To the public we are known as a lodge group that strives for service excellence and to conduct business in a way that is environmentally conscious. One of our major aims as a company is to preserve the natural heritage of Namibia.

The basic history, summed up quite bluntly, is that four like-minded people came together in 1996 to create a place where wildlife could roam freely and safely along the Fish River Canyon. They intended to have this project funded by a temporary tented camp on the property. This humble idea grew rapidly and the Gondwana Collection grew into fourteen properties across the country.

Gondwana Collection Namibia

Some may recall that we once had a different name, the Gondwana Travel Centre, which was changed to the Gondwana Collection. I’m sure you’ve noticed though that the one idea that remains at its centre, is ‘Gondwana’.

The word itself has prehistoric origins. Scientists believe that there was once a super continent, in which all continents of earth were connected as one. This massive continent was named Pangaea. Its name is derived from the Ancient Greek words pan (meaning “whole / entire”) and Gaia (meaning “Mother Earth” and also the name of the ancient Greek goddess of earth).

Rights to John Pangaea

Rights to John Pangaea

This super continent was divided into a northern and southern hemisphere. The northern half was named Laurentia or Laurasia and the southern half was named Gondwana.

Rights to ZME Science

Rights to ZME Science

The name of this southern super continent has unique origins. The continent was named by Austrian scientist, Eduard Suess, after a region in central northern India. This region is named the ‘forest of the Gonds’, after a tribe that lives in the area.

The Gonds are a people who live in central India. The reason the continent was named after this group, is because India had been part of the Gondwana super continent.

Rights to Indianbijou

Rights to Indianbijou

It is because of this rich background that the four founders of our company decided to use this name. However the meaning of Gondwana was brought in once again, when the lodge group received its new logo. To explain the logo, one needs to understand the origins of the company’s name. The new logo consists of the hand. A very simple but also loaded image.

The hand can symbolise history and heritage through the lines embedded in the skin. It can also be a welcoming idea, an introduction through a handshake. And of course it symbolises unity and the ‘coming together’ of people and communities. These are some of the reasons why we chose the hand as our identity. And if you look closely, there is so much more.

"You can see Africa & South America"

“You can see Africa & South America”

When you consider the logo above, you can see Africa. You can also see South America, as it was once connected to the African continent. And if you look carefully you will see Namibia, forming part of all the continents afore mentioned.

"Look carefully you will see Namibia"

“Look carefully you will see Namibia”

We here at the Gondwana Collection see the world as interconnected. One thing cannot exist without the support of another. This ideology is also grounded in our philosophy. We believe that we can only be successful if we bring the tourism sector, environmentally conscious methods and the local communities together. And so far this has not let us down.

If you have any information regarding Gondwana or experiences with the Gondwana Collection, we invite you to 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


Postal Runners – The Heroes of Early Communication

Talk about snail mail! That’s putting it mildly. Are the loved ones back home all right? Will head office send the urgently needed bibles or not? German missionaries in Namibia used to have to wait two years before they received an answer to letters sent to the home country. Every now and then they waited in vain. Around 1840 the mail route was not only very long but was also dangerous.

At that time, of course, postal services did not exist. Missionaries sent their letters by runner or asked travellers to carry them home. The first postal runner service in today’s Namibia was established in 1814 between the missionary stations of Bethanien and Warmbad. Letters to Germany had to be sent via Cape Town and Great Britain, the colonial power, because German ships had as yet no particular reason to call at the coast of South West Africa on a regular basis.

The surface route was the biggest challenge. Namibia’s first postmen were real heroes who certainly deserve to be honoured. They covered hundreds of kilometres on foot, in the murderous heat of summer and bitter cold of winter. They were able to carry up to 17 kg of mail. The mailbag was tied to a stick that they carried on one shoulder and a bag carrying their provisions was attached to the other end of the stick. They took around 12 days to get from Windhoek to Walvis Bay.

Postal runner on the Tsumeb – Ondangwa route with post bag and pouch of provisions. Photo: Walter Moritz

Postal runner on the Tsumeb – Ondangwa route with post bag and pouch of provisions. Photo: Walter Moritz

Apart from the exertion, postal runners also had to withstand many dangers. One of the runners who was the communication link between the mission stations of Bethanien, Warmbad and Kommagas, disappeared one day. Tracks were found shortly afterwards which led to the assumption that he had fallen prey to a lion. One of his successors met with the same fate. In this case, however, neither the postal runner’s mortal remains nor the mail was ever found.

The first postal agency for South West Africa opened in Otjimbingwe on 16 July 1888. Why Otjimbingwe? Because the office of the Reichskommissar, chief administrator of the “Protectorate of German South West Africa”, which had been proclaimed by Imperial Germany in 1884 was there.

The beginnings of the postal service were very modest. The post office was a small hut and the full-time police constable doubled as postmaster. For many years letters and parcels were also distributed via the mission stations. The postal agency was transferred in October 1891 from Otjimbingwe to Windhoek, where a fort had been built in which the imperial commissioner had taken up residence.

After the construction of the railway line from Swakopmund to Windhoek, the number of post offices mushroomed. In 1907 a well-organised public postal service was established. A regular shipping service was also started between Swakopmund and Germany. The two-year wait that a German missionary had to endure in 1840 before receiving an answer to his letters had shrunk to just six or seven weeks.


Gondwana’s new clean, green, glass crushing machine

The Gondwana Collection has acquired six glass crushing machines in order to address the environmental threat that discarded glass bottles are posing to the country.


Gondwana team receiving the glass crusher machines from Steven and James Hirst.

The leading brand in Namibian eco-tourism, The Gondwana Collection Namibia, is widely respected for its environmental entrepreneurship and green technologies employed at its establishments, all around the country.

With the introduction of six brand new glass crusher machines, they are doing their part cleaning up the environment and clearing it of littered glass bottles as well as managing the glass that originates from the Gondwana Lodges.

James Hirst and the glass crusher machine

James Hirst showing how the glass crusher works

The glass crusher machine weighs 95kg and can crush an estimated 120-150kg of glass an hour, grinding it into non-hazardous glass sand. The unique property of the glass sand enables it to be used as a mixture with cement from which decorative and various other practical pieces like table tops and tiles can be manufactured for re-selling and re-using.

A Gondwana staff member with a new glass crushing machine

A Gondwana staff member with a new glass crushing machine

Gondwana will initially deploy the glass crushers at six of the Gondwana lodges, in an attempt to reduce the amount of glass waste in their respective regions and also managing its own glass waste better.

Other uses for the glass sand is in the manufacturing of bricks from which Gondwana hopes to become self sufficient when conducting smaller projects at their lodges, which can be done by simply managing its glass waste more effectively.

Non-hazardous glass waste being handled by james hirst after being crushed by the crusher.

The non-hazardous glass sand after being crushed by the glass crusher.

The Gondwana Collection hopes that its small step in eradicating waste glass bottles can become a giant leap for Namibia in glass waste awareness and a cleaner environment through innovative and efficient disposal and use of new products.

The hope is that the glass crusher technology and the application of the waste products can become an income generator for disadvantaged and marginalized communities in the areas of the Gondwana lodges.

The user friendly machine is produced in Johannesburg South Africa and is distributed in Namibia by G-eco Glass. The father son duo, James and Steven Hirst, hope to start a trend of entrepreneurial opportunities, which can arise by cleaning up the country.

The first machine was taken to Namib Desert Lodge on the 04 March 2016, by Gondwana’s Environmental Officer, Quintin Hartung. He will be responsible to teach the staff at Namib Deseret Lodge the workings of the machine, so that they can get started as soon as possible, cleaning the environment and managing Gondwana’s own glass.

In doing so the hope of the Gondwana Collection is that Namibians in general will confirm custodianship over nature and the environment and maintain the reputation of the country as a world leader in the protection and sustainable use of its natural resources.