A lodge with an old African feel
One of the first rest camps to grace the surroundings after independence, Hammerstein opened in 1992 with five bungalows for self-caterers. These provided a much-needed accommodation option midway between the Maltahöhe Hotel and Namib Restcamp, now the Namib Desert Lodge.
As increasing numbers of tourists visited the country and the demand for accommodation grew, Hammerstein continued to expand. It now has 56 rooms, five of which are for self-caterers, and two family rooms, easily accommodating the large bus groups that pass the lodge on the C19 on their way up from the Fish River Canyon and Aus or Lüderitz, or travelling the circular route from Windhoek via Mariental and Maltahöhe.
Hammerstein Lodge took the name given to the 14 000-hectare farm by the German Survey company more than a century ago. Owner, Anton Porteus, once farmed karakul on the land, but now focuses on tourism and keeps a small number of cattle and sheep.
With its thatched central area, the lodge has an old-style game-farm atmosphere. Surrounded by bush, hills and mountains, the guest experiences the ambience of Africa of old. The vast central lapa has a reception area, breakfast room, large dining room with kudu-horn and ostrich-eggshell chandeliers, a bar and a cosy rounded lounge with small tables and comfortable wicker chairs – the atmosphere provided by paraffin lamps. A central stove provides warmth on cold nights, while two glass tanks against the walls house indigenous reptiles. Wrought-iron garden chairs and tables provide seating in a pleasant setting under trees in the small garden. At the time of my visit, a Namaqua chameleon was put out in the sun to warm up, and I joined several guests to watch in anticipation to see whether it would shoot out its long tongue for a tasty mealworm.
One of the highlights of a stay at Hammerstein is a visit to the enclosures behind the lodge where a leopard, two cheetahs and several caracals are housed. Anton says that this began unintentionally when his son acquired Lisa the leopard, which lived with the family for many years. Soon cheetah and caracals caught by farmers arrived at the farm. Hans, the zebra, and Daisy, the springbok, also roam the grounds and guests are delighted to be given a gentle head butt by the sleek springbok. For those who have never seen a big cat up close (and may not have the chance to see the wild cats in Etosha unless extremely fortunate), the short walk into the big-cat enclosures is a special experience.
After visiting the big cats, guests have the opportunity of holding a small house snake and Namaqua chameleon. Resident guide and reptile lover, Henk Marais, explains how the interaction gives guests an ecological awareness of reptiles. He says there is space for everyone, the objective being to respect and not fear wild creatures. There are wonderful photo opportunities as the afternoon sun colours the happy guests with a snake curled around a neck like a shining necklace or twined around hands.
The time between the afternoon animal encounter and supper can be used to shower, sit in the comfortable lounge around the fire or in the garden, or have a drink at the bar. A buffet dinner is then served, often followed with a performance by the staff singing in their local Namibian languages.
Other activities offered at Hammer-stein are a nature drive with the possibility of viewing game and a sunset drive around the farm and up a koppie for sundowners. Sixty-five kilometres from Sesriem (125 km from Sossusvlei) in the Tsaris Mountains, guests have the opportunity to rise early for an excursion to the dunes to catch the early morning light. Lodge staff will already be up to serve breakfast or, alternatively, prepare breakfast packs for the trip. For those tempted to stay under their electric blankets a bit longer, the lounge is an appealing place to sit, watch the snakes or read a book when it’s cold. In the warmer months, the garden and swimming pool are attractive alternatives.
A lodge with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, Hammerstein has forgone the frills for a down-to-earth experience, a good exchange making for a pleasant and tranquil stay.
PO Box 250, Maltahohe | Tel (+264 63) 69 3111 (Lodge Direct) | Email: email@example.com | Web: www.hammerstein.com.na