The bicycle: 200 years of freedom - Namibia Safari and Lodges - Gondwana Collection

Namibia with Heart and Soul: Take our hand and let us introduce you to this awe-inspiring country. Come and stay with us, experience Namibia.


Where the Namib Desert stretches languidly from the Atlantic Ocean and wild land extends into infinity, dreams become real. At this place where fantasy meets reality, you'll find the Gondwana Collection safely positioned.

Take our outstretched hand and let us introduce you to our extraordinary country, Namibia. From the massive chasms of the Fish River Canyon, the fossilised dunes of the Namib Desert and the red sands of the Kalahari Desert to the waterways of the Kavango and Zambezi, there are countless marvels to behold. Explore this awe-inspiring wilderness from the warmth of our lodges, created with conservation cognizance and ample character. And return to relax after an exciting day of discovery.

This is the Gondwana feeling: Namibia with heart and soul.

Come and stay with us, experience Namibia.

About us

SAFARI2GO - The easiest way to travel the country!

10-Day Namibian Highlights Tour
Enjoy Namibia’s most popular destinations on this compact guided tour that incorporates visits to the Kalahari and Namib deserts – including the famed Sossusvlei dunes, the intriguing coastal town of Swakopmund, the Twyfelfontein rock engravings and Etosha National Park. more

3 Day / 2 Night – Sossusvlei Shuttle Safari
Exciting adventures await those who partake in this exhilarating safari to Sossusvlei, one of the most spectacular sites in the world. The magnificent star dunes are a photographer’s dream and the spectacular landscape will leave memories to last a lifetime. more

Namibia Road Map 2018/19

Anyone touring Namibia should definitely take our road map along. It is available from Gondwana free of charge, or as pdf download. This map features fascinating experiences plus recommended accommodation. At the same time it is an ordinary road map with all the essential information of the official Namibia road map by Prof. Uwe Jäschke and the Roads Authority of Namibia.

Namibia2Go Car Rental

Namibia 2 Go

Experience Africa like never before. Explore Namibia your way with our well-maintained and fully inclusive rental vehicles.

Easy. Hassle free. Unforgettable.

Go Big

Discover Namibia’s main attractions.

This package offers a four-wheel drive vehicle and a thirteen day trip through the beautiful Namibian landscapes. Starting from Windhoek you will head south, into the Kalahari where your first night will be spent enjoying the sunset at the Kalahari Anib Lodge.


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Go Epic

Experience Namibia's famed locations.

Take eleven days to discover Namibia in an Epic way. This self drive safari - which includes a four-wheel drive vehicle - will take you to the famous Namibian locations that will make you long for the vast open spaces long after you return home. Starting in Windhoek you will head south to the Kalahari Desert.


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Go Wild

Track Namibia's awesome wildlife.

This 12 day self drive safari includes a four-wheel drive vehicle and stopovers at all major wildlife-viewing sites. Starting from Windhoek you will head towards the famous Etosha National Park, where 3 nights will be enjoyed at the unique Etosha Safari Camp.


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Car Rental

Enjoy an active Namibian adventure.

We offer a comprehensive travel service including car rental, accommodation, safaris and self-drive itineraries and day trips. Interested? For detailed information and vehicle specifications of our Renault Dusters SUV 4WD and Toyota Hilux Double Cabs 4x4, please click below.


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Gondwana's Newsroom

The bicycle: 200 years of freedom

Avatar of inke inke - 08. December 2017 - Discover Namibia, Culture

Driving along the streets of Windhoek, I notice a cyclist careening past me, dressed in close-fitting lycra cycling gear with a cycling helmet on his head, sleek as a racehorse. I take a few moments to entertain my active imagination, exchanging his modern bicycle with one of the first wooden bicycles of the 1800s, which without pedals would have required him to propel it forward with his feet on the road, rather like a child’s scooter. Cars hooting behind me bring me back to the 21st century, with a chuckle. The bicycle has come a long way. Indeed.

This year marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the bicycle. At the beginning of the century, it was estimated that more than 1 billion bicycles had been manufactured worldwide.

The forerunner of our modern bicycle was called a ‘Dandy horse’, ‘Draisienne’ or ‘Laufmaschine’, and was invented by Baron Karl von Drais in 1817. People were hugely impressed to be connected to such a small patch of ground as they propelled themselves forward; it was almost like flying! The only limit to your speed was your muscle power and endurance. There was a strong, promising feeling of freedom in the air. And, the world was ready for it.

In 1842, one of the early pioneers, Kirkpatrick MacMillan, was convicted for committing the first cycling traffic offense. The Glasgow newspaper reported that an anonymous gentleman from Dumfries-shire knocked over a little girl in his velocipede of ingenious design. He was fined five shillings.

The next leap in development of the bicycle took place in the early 1860s when Frenchmen Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement added a crank drive with pedals. Later that year, lightweight bicycle wheels with wire spokes were patented by Eugène Meyer. By the 1890s bicycles were the rage in Europe and cycle clubs popped up throughout the continent. Until then, personal transport was limited. Travel was by horse, or by foot. The world was hungry for alternate transportation. The humble bicycle ushered in an era of mobility. 

The bicycle was also readily available to women, whose clothing had limited them on horseback, providing them with a freedom and independence that was unheard of until then. Some even say that the bicycle – or ‘freedom machine’ as it was known by the late 19th-century suffragettes - led to a movement for more comfortable clothing, replacing the restrictive dress of the time. Who knows?

When the motor vehicle was invented, it was far too dear for the masses – and bicycles remained a firm favourite, and a means not just to commute or carry goods and messages, but to enjoy the countryside. And, after all, the early vehicles travelled at more or less the same speed, needed fuel, were noisy and messy, and were far more labour intensive. Eventually motorcycles and motor vehicles took over as the most popular and quickest form of transport, although bicycles remained in use for carrying mail and for general deliveries for many years to come.

The bicycle was revived during the oil crisis of the 70s when fuel was in short supply and prices skyrocketed. It is still popular at universities and many large cities worldwide are implementing bicycle programmes, where the bicycle provides an easy (healthy) alternative to braving the traffic. Cycling has also evolved into a popular recreational activity and a sport. Some cycle races, like the multi-stage Tour de France, have gained international prestige. With the advent of mountain bikes, a variety of gruelling mountain-bike events like the Desert Dash now fill the cycling calendar. Adaptations and developments are continual. The latest advancement, the e-bike - an electric bicycle enabling the rider to reach faster speeds with less effort - is the ultimate bicycle to date, catapulting us into the future. Gondwana’s Kalahari Anib Lodge now offers e-bikes to its guests as a leisure activity.

In Africa, and specifically in Namibia, the bicycle came much later. As the story is told, Hans Emil Lenssen came to southern Africa from Germany in 1898 and became a trader in the colony. In the years between 1906 and 1908 he was based in Okaukuejo, where he opened a shop. It was located on the main route between the northern and southern parts of the country, and Lenssen came into contact with many a passer-by. His bicycle made a huge impression. One of the first encounters caused a stir when he approached a group of men on his bicycle at tremendous speed. It appeared larger and larger as it drew near, causing them to drop their luggage and flee into the bushes. It was a misunderstanding that was easily resolved, ending in laughter.

Bicycles soon found their way to the north, becoming a luxury - and a much-treasured - item. An extra metal or wooden seat at the back transformed the bicycle into a taxi that could transport passengers, goods, firewood or water. In many areas, it remains a valued and important means of transport. 

What’s in store for one of the world’s friendliest inventions? It is anyone’s guess. But, it’s my thought that as our roads become congested, our air becomes increasingly polluted and fuel prices soar, it may just be time for us to return to the energy-efficient and noise-free 1817 invention - with pedal power, of course.

Ron Swilling

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