Padlangs - Upcycling in rural Namibia - Namibia Safari and Lodges - Gondwana Collection

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

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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

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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 2019/20

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.

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Padlangs - Upcycling in rural Namibia

Avatar of koney koney - 10. January 2020 - Discover Namibia

Creative upcycling: An Ovahimba woman uses a military helmet as a pot. (All photos: Mannfred Goldbeck)

Mannfred Goldbeck

Being on the road often gives me time to ponder things – past, present and future. And I make a habit of stopping at least once or twice on a journey to chat to people and hear their tales and to visit interesting, often forgotten places. In Padlangs, I share some of the thoughts and stories collected along the way.

I’m always inspired when driving around Namibia, a country that holds such an important place in my heart. Something that I always notice on my journeys is how innovative Namibians are.

I recently became familiar with a new term – ‘upcycling’. Unlike recycling, which enables you to reuse the raw material again, upcycling refers to creatively reusing discarded objects to produce something different with added value. And we Namibians are so good at it.


There are many examples I’ve seen on my travels in rural Namibia, so simple and so clever, and I usually stop to see who has made it and to ask if I can take a photo, often getting involved in long discussions and making new friends. The ‘bokkie bell’ is one of my favourites, where an old metal cup - with a nut inside - has been used as goat bell to deter predators. Another is a cunningly-made soccer referee’s whistle made from pieces of plastic and metal cleverly assembled. And I recently saw an old fire extinguisher being used as a pot to boil water, a gas bottle cut in half used as a water trough for livestock and another old gas bottle used as a church bell to call people to the Sunday service.


But the items are not only for work, they are just as important for play. Up in the North or in the Zambezi Region, I notice many soccer balls made of plastic bags tied together with old fabric. An empty Castrol oil tin and a piece of plank make a good ‘blik guitar’, a rusted Windhoek beer-can becomes the roof of a toy truck with a bit of imagination and a legless plastic chair attached to a wheelbarrow base provides children with many hours of fun.

Some upcycled items even make good homes like this old Kombi, whose lifespan was extended when its days on the road came to an end.


I also come across remnants from the past that would have a story to tell if they could talk, like the military helmet used by an Ovahimba woman as a pot, a leftover from the SA Defence Force. Or the Toyota logo on a rusty tailgate, cleverly altered to read DTA, the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance, formed in the late 1970s with the aim to bring ethnic groups together in a democratic Namibia. The upcycled items that took the cake and made me realise that perhaps upcycling could also be seen metaphorically as making something positive from the negatives in life, were the chicken coops I saw on a farm belonging to a former Namibian minister. They were made from the canopies of old police vans, once used to convey criminals and activists.

I couldn’t help smiling at this twist of fate as I drove off onto another country road, my head filled with these wonderfully useful and creative upcycling inventions.

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