What dreams are made of
by Ron Swilling
Combine the height, coolness and romance of a Moroccan kasbah with African bush, a waterhole and a view to Fisher’s Pan at Etosha and you can begin to understand the allure of The Fort on the Onguma Plains.
This lodge makes you want to don attire you wouldn’t normally wear, such as a thin cotton kaftan taken from a dream cupboard stored in the far reaches of the imagination, and pad barefoot over the cool floors.
The long curtains blow in the wind, the candles are lit around the central water feature in the courtyard, spiral staircases reach up into secret balconies and rooms, and the fresh African wind blows in the scent of rain from the far horizon.
Here you can let your imagination run wild. The Fort offers the space to explore the alcoves and towers like an excited child and enough romance to satisfy the most jaded adult.
You can let convention fly out the window and unwind into this sensuous world, and for a short time those tight-fitting western clothes may just want to be exchanged for soft cottons and flowing robes. Situated right outside the Von Lindequist Gate, the eastern entrance to Etosha National Park, the Onguma Reserve is an area of 36 000 hectares bursting with game. With eleven standard suites, one maxi-suite and one Fort suite, twenty-six privileged guests can be accommodated at The Fort, which is part of the Visions of Africa safari company.
Each suite has an appealing bedroom, deck and bathroom, and affords sprawling views. With terracotta-coloured walls, antique African doors, Moroccan lamps, and subtle colours, the suite lulls the senses like a cool wind on a scorching day.
The main building has a selection of small sitting areas, a library, balcony and tower with scatter cushions, giving numerous places to relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery. The large antique doors open onto a water feature with stepping stones, and a partially open lounge and dining room to let in the African bush. A choice of chairs and tables on the decks allow you to soak up the sun and view, with a few placed unusually and enticingly in a shallow pool to sip cocktails from the coolness of the clean water.
Evoking the romance of Arabian evenings, The Fort makes a perfect location for weddings, life ceremonies and celebrations, and is ideal for a small group of guests or as a honeymoon destination. A conference room also makes the lodge a good getaway for presentations and award ceremonies.
Moroccan and African fare
In the dining room the tables are positioned in open recesses between the pillars, with a clear view of the waterhole. Frans the waiter is dressed in a long African tunic top and beams a true African smile.
The cuisine switches from Moroccan to African on alternate evenings, a harissa lamb rack changing to Bushman’s kebab threaded with crocodile, kudu, springbok and ostrich meat. On the Moroccan menu, spicy lentil soup begins the meal and mint leaves adorn and complete the melon and sorbet dessert. Chef Immanuel, who trained in Munich, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, comes out in his unusual black chef’s outfit to receive compliments and meet the guests.
The Fort offers game drives into the adjacent Etosha National Park and around the Onguma Reserve. Alternatively, guests can explore the national park on their own, returning to the comforts and beauty of the Onguma plains.
My night here is shared between enjoying the luxury of the Fort suite and, with a soft blanket wrapped around my shoulders, sitting on the deck watching a male lion calling and prowling around the floodlit bush as the lightning strikes the sky blue beyond the pan.
And for my dreams, I have more than enough to weave into a deep peaceful sleep. I imagine belly dancers twisting with slow suggestive sensual movements, running water, adobe towers, spiral staircases, towers filling up starlit skies and lions roaring out in the African bush.
This article appeared in the Aug/Sep ‘08 edition of Travel News Namibia.
Additional photos courtesy of http://www.onguma.com