First electric vehicle comes to Namibia - 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.

WELCOME TO GONDWANA COLLECTION

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.

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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.

The Desert Grace - Opening November 2018!

Treat yourself to desert elegance and an extra touch of grace! Graceful spaces and gracious hospitality imbue this modern lodge with its elegance of yesteryear, spirited character and refreshingly stylish interior. Sip on a pink gin while appreciating the expansive desert scenery from one of the 24 bungalows, each with its own plunge pool. Book now!

Self Drive Safari Packages - Expecially4You

Namibia 2 Go

Experience Africa like nowhere else. Discover what makes Namibia so special and as it should be, with Namibia2Go. Easy. Up close. Unforgettable. Explore Namibia your way with Gondwana Collection's new unbeatable self-drive safari package for two. Includes accommodation, 4x4 vehicle and a detailed on route map guide.

Go Big

Discover Namibia’s main attractions.

This package offers a four-wheel drive vehicle and a twelve 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 Active

Enjoy an active Namibian adventure.

Have an active adventure in Namibia with this ten day trip. See a new side of Namibia that includes a wide variety of activities. All from the comfort of a four-wheel drive vehicle that is included in the package. Starting in Windhoek you head west towards the coastal town of Swakopmund.

 

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Go Wild

Track Namibia's awesome wildlife.

This 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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Go Epic

Experience Namibia's famed locations.

Take ten 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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Gondwana's Newsroom

First electric vehicle comes to Namibia

Avatar of inke inke - 19. January 2018 - Environment

Conrad Roedern with his new electric car. (Photo: Brigitte Weidlich)

Brigitte Weidlich

The arrival of the first electric car in January 2018 has heralded a new chapter in Namibia’s transport history. 

At the first glance the curvy and snazzy hatchback sedan in white and black does not look any different than fossil fuel cars. But when you open the bonnet there is just a cable and a plug – no engine! The car does not require a gear box or a radiator either and many of its components are made from carbon fibre, a very strong material. 

Conrad Roedern bought the electric car in South Africa and drove it to Namibia, crossing the border post east of Gobabis on 3 January. “It was an epic journey with many stops since we had to find power points for the car’s plug to recharge its lithium batteries,” says Roedern. “The help and kindness received in South Africa and Botswana was amazing, people allowed us to plug in and tap their electricity to ‘fill up’ the car,” Roedern recalls in an interview with Gondwana News Online. “The interest and attention my BMW i3 REx received was overwhelming, people were surprised that this ‘noiseless car’ runs on electricity.”  

An ‘old hand’ at renewable energy  

An engineer by profession, Roedern set up his own solar energy company in Namibia back in 1989 after emigrating from Germany. In true pioneer fashion he converted a Mini into an electric car some years ago, thereby introducing Windhoek residents to the first converted vehicle powered by electricity. Later he also converted a Fiat Uno into an electric car, which he drove regularly until a few months ago. 

Now semi-retired, Roedern visited Germany last year and tested several electric cars on the market. His brother also drives one. “I realised I wanted one, not just for my own enjoyment, but to set an example to others, to show that it is possible in Namibia. In order to bring about change with regard to renewable energy sources, change is also necessary in the transport sector,” says Roedern. “I decided to contribute to this change by acquiring an electric vehicle myself.”

Obstacles in the way

It was not so easy, however, to find and buy an electric car in southern Africa. Although BMW introduced its electric i3 model range to the South African market in March 2015, these cars are not yet available in Namibia or in Botswana. The car maker will first have to train local dealerships in providing the service and maintenance required for electric models. There are no public charging points for electric cars in Namibia. So, it was not a matter of simply going to a Windhoek dealership and ordering an electric vehicle to be imported into Namibia. 

Roedern searched on the internet and found an i3 demo model at a Durban BMW dealership with only some 3,000 km on the clock. He and his navigator Wiebke Volkmann flew to Durban just before Christmas 2017. Their one-way tickets raised eyebrows at the airport’s check-in counter. Roedern had to explain that they would only pick up a car and drive it back to Namibia.

In Durban the i3 stood ready on the proverbial red carpet, hidden under a cloth which was pulled off with the usual “ta-dah” and a handshake for the new owner. “After a short introduction we were on our way, it was quite a moment,” Roedern recalls. He thoroughly studied the owner’s manual for the next few days and gave Volkmann a crash course in e-car driving as they explored the surrounds.

Friends and strangers did not just lend them their ears but also their power points to recharge the car overnight. After a brief holiday the trip to Namibia started. At the border to Botswana some delays and red tape had to be endured, “but customs and immigration officials as well as clearing agents were tremendously helpful, we could even charge the car at the customs office,” says Roedern. “Many people were stunned to see an electric car.”

Conventional backup

Driving through Botswana without knowing how far the next socket might be to charge the car was adventurous, but the BMW i3 REx has a back-up system. The range extender (REx) is powered by a two-cylinder engine and the car has a small petrol tank. The engine fuels an on-board electrical generator that provides electricity for the electric motor. While the batteries give the car a range of up to 160 km before recharging becomes necessary, the range extender adds another 120 to 150 km, depending on the driving style. 

Another special moment on the final leg of the 2,600 km journey was reaching Namibian soil. “With a sense of reverence and boundless joy Conrad called out: We are taking the first electric car into Namibia!” remembers Volkmann. 

Namibia’s transport evolution is coming full cycle. The good news is that the local BMW dealership seems to have signaled willingness to explore this new avenue in due course, says Roedern. 

First petrol driven car arrived 1904

The first vehicle with a petrol engine arrived in Namibia on 15 May 1904. It was an engine that generated 30 HP. The country was known as South West Africa and it was under German rule. The initiative to introduce modern transport came from Oberstleutnant (Colonel) Edmund Troost of the German Imperial protection force (Schutztruppe). The vehicle was used to transport supplies for the Schutztruppe, writes Wolfgang Reith in his book “Autos und Flugzeuge in deutschen Kolonien”. A second vehicle of the same type arrived on 24 May 1904 and another one with a 50 HP engine in November that year. It could transport loads of 15 tonnes. In the same month a ‘sedan’ version of that model was also imported, according to Reith. 

First ever four-by-four

The world’s first-ever four-by-four off-road vehicle was built by Daimler in Germany in 1907 and shipped to Namibia in 1908. It was built on a truck chassis and specially designed for the trip of Bernhard Dernburg, the permanent secretary of the Imperial Colonial Authority (Reichskolonialamt) to Namibia. It weighed 3.6 tonnes, had a four-cylinder engine of 35 HP and could reach 40 km/h. This unique 4x4 vehicle was dubbed ‘Dernburg vehicle’. The premiere of the world’s first off-road vehicle did not bring much joy to Dernburg, however. Too many mechanical problems occurred. The chauffeur was Paul Ritter, a police officer. 

While the vehicle vanished during the First World War and was never found again, Ritter was deported by the South Africa authorities in 1919. But he was allowed to return to Namibia in the early 1920s and started the iconic vehicle repair business Ritter’s Garage. It remained in the family until 2012, when it was taken over by local business man Aupa Indongo. 

New comment

1 comments

James

07. February 2018

I toured Namibia in 2017 in a diesel and loved every view.

 

I missed my electric Nissan Leaf especially in the Etosha National Park. I really missed my electric Zero Motorcycle almost everywhere else.

 

As I drove I envisioned every hike point with a solar charging canopy with charging cars waiting for enough passengers and a full charge.

 

Namibia is so ideal for electrics.


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