Tourists are dining where the blacksmith used to work - News - Gondwana Collection

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Tourists are dining where the blacksmith used to work

Avatar of inke inke - 27. June 2018 - Tourism

Castle Duwisib, which Captain Hansheinrich von Wolf commissioned in 1908, and the surrounding 50 hectares of land are owned by the state. The property is managed by Namibia Wildlife Resorts, a commercial public enterprise.

Castle Duwisib in the arid south was remarkable from the very start – something special in the local farming community and for the country as a whole. The grand opening ceremony took place in the middle of 1909. The owners, Captain Hansheinrich von Wolf (1873-1916) and his American-born wife Jayta, née Humphreys, chose this particular spot in a sparsely vegetated landscape, far from the larger settlements and their shops, to build a mansion in the style of a knight’s castle with very tasteful and luxurious furnishings. Some 250 metres away from the stately home was an outbuilding which housed a smithy, a workshop, storerooms, stables and staff quarters. 

The very spacious smithy and workshop were needed to repair the wheels, springs and shafts of horse carriages and ox wagons and to make horseshoes and parts for pumps. In fact, any ironware needed at the manor house or on the farm was produced in Duwisib’s own smithy. To the left and right of the smithy were storerooms as well as staff quarters, and directly behind it were the stables. The outbuilding was constructed from hand-cut sandstone blocks similar to those used for Castle Duwisib. It had a corrugated iron roof which was expensive at the time but the latest trend in roofing. The stables housed horses as well as livestock. Subsequent owners of Duwisib also made use of the workshop, storerooms and staff quarters in the outbuilding. 

A look into the former smithy with the enormous hardwood-and-leather bellows attached to the ceiling, the forge (on the left), chimney, drill, anvil and several tongs. These days it houses the restaurant and the reception of Duwisib Guest Farm.

The current owner, Jochen Frank-Schulz, bought farm Duwisib – with the outbuilding but not the castle – in 1987. In the same year the nature conservation authority of that time acquired Castle Duwisib and 50 hectares of the surrounding land. Now the castle and its piece of land are managed by Namibia Wildlife Resorts, a state-owned company which runs all the other non-private rest camps in Namibia´s national parks as well.  

Jochen Frank-Schulz also made good use of the historic workshop. “From the old days, the times of Captain von Wolf that is, there were still the enormous bellows suspended from the ceiling, plus a large old drill and flywheel, an anvil and several tongs for holding the pieces of hot iron”, he recalls.

In 2010 the Frank-Schulz family decided to utilise the former outbuilding for tourism purposes. Ten years earlier they had started to rent out five guestrooms and they had set up a camping place on the farm. The former smithy was turned into a restaurant, and adjoining rooms and stables became eight guestrooms. The restaurant is not restricted to the farm’s guests, and it is also popular with passing visitors who stop at Castle Duwisib.  

Guests are now dining where the blacksmith and his assistants used to be hammering away, sweating in the heat of their working environment. The bellows on the ceiling, the vent, the old drill and a few tongs bear silent witness to bygone times. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner but reservations must be made in advance. Jochen Frank-Schulz’s son Christian and his wife took over the business last year. Duwisib Guest Farm not only invites tourists to stop for refreshments but also offers insights into life on a farm. Cattle and sheep are still bred at Duwisib, as they were in the days of Captain Hansheinrich von Wolf more than a hundred years ago. When he owned Duwisib, the farm was particularly successful as a stud.       

Duwisib is located 82 km from Maltahöhe, 104 km from Helmeringhausen and 170 km from Sesriem.

The owners of farm Duwisib, Jochen and Christian Frank-Schulz. The father and son team still breed cattle and sheep, and they also operate a tourist accommodation business. For this purpose the former outbuilding of Castle Duwisib was transformed into guest rooms and a restaurant.
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