A lodge fit for a king: Welcome Etosha King Nehale - News - Gondwana Collection

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A lodge fit for a king: Welcome Etosha King Nehale

Avatar of koney koney - 27. décembre 2019 - Tourism, Discover Namibia

Gondwana Collection’s newest lodge 'Etosha King Nehale', situated north of Etosha National Park is set to open on 1 May 2020.

Ron Swilling

Gondwana Collection’s newest lodge Etosha King Nehale opens doors to tourism in northern Namibia. A grand entrance is apt for momentous occasions like this one, when a major lodge group moves into the area north of Etosha National Park that has never featured prominently on the tourist map. Dubbed ‘Owamboland’ in the past, the four Owambo regions - Oshikoto, Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati - are home to the largest ethnic group in Namibia, the Aawambo people. The four regions fit snugly to the north of the popular national park like a crown on a princess’s head.

Built on the wide open Andoni plains just outside King Nehale Gate, the lodge - a joint venture with the King Nehale Conservancy - is set to open on 1 May 2020. The name of the lodge pays tribute to the former king of the Ondonga Traditional Authority, King Nehale lya Mpingana.

Carefully designed by architect Sven-Eric Staby, and built with an environmentally-friendly technique using sandbags, the lodge takes the shape of the head of a cow with the rooms radiating outwards from the central area like cattle horns. Each of the spacious chalets, fit for a king, has its own plunge pool and views over the plains, where sunrises and sunsets, and the phases of the moon are accentuated, offering guests the exceptional feeling of endless space and limitless horizons. Etosha King Nehale exudes a relaxed yet royal air, with leather headboards, chandelier-type light fittings and a medley of royal blues assembled in a cosy synthesis of items chosen with good taste and an eye for detail. It merges fluid and fresh modern interiors with flourishes of the North - the Nguni cattle that graze on the floodplains and the Oshiwambo traditional striped-pink fabric - introducing visitors in a subtle and stylish manner to the Owambo regions. Welcome!

 

And the North is new to mainstream tourism. It’s an area that has been bypassed by most tourists as unknown territory. Its network of tarred roads, however, allows easy access into the Kunene Region in the west, the Kavango and Zambezi regions to the east and Angola to the north. Etosha King Nehale is conveniently located on the outskirts of Etosha, making passage from Namutoni Camp and forays into northern Etosha a breeze. A highlight of a stay is to spend time viewing wildlife at the exclusive waterhole in Etosha reserved for lodge guests. In keeping with the Gondwana Collection’s innovative style, appreciated by its guests over the last two decades, it crosses into a new and exciting frontier with flair and joie de vivre.

For those travellers crossing from Etosha to the Kavango Region, the northern route via the M121 and B10 has conveniently been tarred in recent years, making the journey to Rundu both easy and peaceful. An expanse of trees dotted with homesteads leads towards the glittering Okavango River near Rundu.

To the west, a series of bustling towns with modern shopping centres links the rural areas, providing a colourful and lively African experience. The countryside is characterised by makalani palm trees, homesteads surrounded by palisades, fields of mahangu (a type of millet) and oshanas – seasonal ponds. Colourful shebeens - informal taverns - line the streets in profusion with wacky names like ‘Top Life Bar’ and ‘Red Carpet Bar’, a good place to pop in for a good bottled Namibian beer or traditional homemade brew at the end of the day.

 

For those who enjoy a new culture and are open to different cuisine and fascinating history, take the time to explore this culture-rich area. Pay a visit to Nakambale in Olukonda near Ondangwa, where the old Finnish mission takes you on a journey back in time to the nineteenth century when missionary Martti Rautanen built a thick mud-walled church and home for his family (now a museum), befriended the local people and was instrumental in translating the bible into the Oshindonga language. He was fondly named ‘Nakambale’ after the hat he wore, which resembled a basket. Make arrangements beforehand to enjoy an Oshiwambo meal, eaten in the African way scooped up with fingers of the right hand, and take a guided walk to visit the nearby homestead to watch the friendly villagers pound grain, cook mahangu porridge, weave a basket and remove the kernels from marula fruit to make the nutty ondjove oil.

Further westward in Outapi, sit in the centre of an ancient baobab at the Ombalantu Baobab Tree Heritage Centre and Campsite, behind the open market. Once a refuge for the Ombalantu people in times of war, the baobab has served as a post office and a church in its more recent history and the lectern and benches still remain.

Ruacana Falls, bordering Angola, is worth a visit after good rainfall when the water thunders down in a vibrant celebration of life.

And, near Tsandi, the Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead gives invaluable insight into the way of life and traditions of the Aawambo people. The homestead is the former residence of King Taapopi, the king of the Uukwaluudhi people (one of the eight Aawambo groups), who now resides next door. The African palace is royal in size, so don’t lose sight of your guide as the maze of passageways, bordered by stout mopane branches, was made to deter enemies and wild animals.

 

Owamboland is the perfect place to relish the new, whether the brightly-coloured Oshiwambo dresses, the dried mopane worms sold at all the markets, the history or the seamless fusion of rural life with the modern world. In Owamboland you can watch the age-old tradition of fishing with funnel-shaped woven nets in the oshanas, a man weaving a huge granary basket on the side of the road - as in days of old - and do your shopping at a modern supermarket all in the same day.

Etosha King Nehale – is the perfect gateway to the North, bridging the western and eastern regions of northern Namibia. It is a good endpoint for an Etosha journey or a convenient base from which to go back for seconds or thirds. And it offers an exciting opportunity to explore.

The northern reaches of Namibia await. Palmwag Lodge and Omarunga Epupa-Falls Camp lie invitingly to the west, Hakusembe River Lodge on the banks of the Okavango River to the east, and the abundance of wildlife and lush waterways of the Zambezi further eastward. So, don’t hesitate. It’s time for that long-awaited journey of discovery and an exciting leap from the newest springboard in the North.

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