A vein of African sophistication
by Ron Swilling
I still hear laughter coming from the dining area as I walk along the well-lit path back to my tented room, the waxing moon and starlight accompanying me in this area situated close to the Etosha National Park.
The prelude to supper is an outside fire, with some guests sitting around and others lounging in the various couches and chairs on the veranda of the colonial African house. A fine meal at the long wooden dining table, surrounded by hand-selected artefacts that fill the large open central area, is rounded off with harmonious Oshiwambo songs sung by the staff.
From the many interesting and intriguing areas of the main building to the tented rooms, cuisine and hospitality, everything is of a high standard at Mushara Outpost. Owner Marc Pampe describes how it is important to be professional in all areas.
Emphasis on service
Marc values his staff. He says that the Mushara people make it special and that the human touch is most important. The staff at Outpost were first trained at Mushara Lodge, sister to Mushara Outpost, and with its exclusive Villa, making up the Mushara Collection. Mushara Outpost opened in December 2007 with most of the staff already having a full year of training behind them. Others, like manager Helena Makili, have been with Mushara for much longer. Helena has been employed for eight years, working herself up from laundry worker to waitress and much-deserved manager. Helena beams as she tells me her story while I sip my Cabernet next to the fire, before inviting us in for the evening meal. She is dressed in one of the attractive staff outfits, with the tops especially embroidered by a Senegalese sewer.
A vein of African sophistication runs through Mushara Outpost, combining practical with beautiful, style with comfort. A grassy lawn leading up to the corrugated iron roof of the wrap-around veranda of the main building, reminiscent of the old African colonial houses, the bone-handled knives, pewter butter dishes and milk jugs and the homemade lemonade given to the guests when they arrive, all hold old-fashioned civility. Inside the large central room with its high white roof, is a selection of polished kudu horns, soft plump couches, leather and cane chairs, wooden tables, photographs, floral displays, and a variety of stylish paraphernalia. Everything is easy on the eye, with the colours all blending melodiously with the natural environment.
Positioned in between trees and African bush, alongside the dry Omaramba River, the eight raised tented rooms are east-facing to avoid the searing late afternoon sun. They have wooden walkways lit up with paraffin-style lamps, the wood continuing onto the private deck and floor of the room. The wooden windows and doors, with additional screened replicas, and separate toilet, all give solidity to the room, belying the tented appearance.
The glassed-in shower has wooden floor slats, a large shower-head and a zipped canvas exterior providing the option of showering surrounded by trees. The white bedding on the high woven cane bed is complemented by a striking embroidered throw. A large white mosquito net envelops the comfortable twin beds, and with the wood, gives an atmosphere of African safari luxury to the room. A canvas cupboard with a safe, kettle and cups, and well-stocked mini-bar including a small bottle of Pierre Jourdan champagne, combine with the air-conditioner to satisfy the guest’s every need.
A bird hide is situated along the river and a swimming pool painted in dark grey creates a calming natural effect, fitting in with the bush surroundings.
Activities at Outpost
Positioned only eight kilometres from Etosha’s Von Lindequist Gate, Mushara Outpost is an ideal location from which to explore the park, either on your own or with Mushara’s knowledgeable guides. For a bit more understanding of the park, the history of the pan and information about the animals and their habits, a guided drive is recommended. The guides are aware of the waterholes favoured by certain species, territories of others and recent sightings. A gin and tonic enjoyed at a waterhole while watching a black rhino, not easily sighted, with the sun shining its last golden rays on a group of giraffe, is a worthwhile experience.
And with the national park gates shutting after sunset, it is then time to drive back to the lodge for a hot shower before a dinner of homestyle cooking. Everything at Mushara is made with fresh ingredients, with herbs grown on the property decorating the meal. Marc’s wife, Mariza, trains all the chefs at the Mushara Collection, with an outside chef visiting every now and then to revamp the menus and offer new inspiration.
While I stroll back to my room after a full day and a good meal, a kudu barks from the surrounding bush and a nightjar calls. The curtains have been drawn, the outside light switched on and mosquito net pulled down. A white soft world of comfort calls invitingly.
This article appeared in the Aug/Sep ‘08 edition of Travel News Namibia.
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