Hoodia Desert Lodge – south of NamibiaAugust 28, 2012
Mesosaurus Fossil Camp – south of NamibiaAugust 28, 2012
A secret garden at Stampriet
by Ron Swilling
A place evokes a certain feeling, and it is the creators of lodges who envision what a place should become, or extend the feeling of what is already there.
I had already heard good reports about the Kalahari Farmhouse from someone who described the feeling of arriving there as one of coming home, of wanting to throw off her shoes and sink her toes into the soft grass, of curling up on a bench with a book in the dappled shade of a large tree, and mostly of being at peace.
As soon as I walked through the entrance, I could relate to her words, and had the strong sense of a secret garden beneath 24 palm trees growing alongside each other and birds singing from their leafy heights. A green lawn, flowerbeds and several other trees conspire to create an inner sanctuary. The eleven chalets face onto this secret garden and I wouldn’t have been surprised if told they were backed by an invisible wall instead of rows of grapevines and a blue sky, giving the feeling of an enclosed garden. Yes, here you definitely want to pull a chair under a tree or lie on the grass and listen to birdsong, the wind playing in the upper palm leaves.
Kalahari Farmhouse is situated in an area where artesian waters enable the lush green of gardens and growing of vegetables, a blessing and rarity in the arid land of Namibia, and a perfect place for the Self-Sufficiency Centre located on the property. Staff will happily accompany guests on a walk through the rows of spinach, tomatoes and peppers, and visit the butchery and cheese-making facility. The cows are milked twice a day, producing 80–100 litres, and several pigs feed on the kitchen and garden leftovers. The butchery supplies the Gondwana lodges with a selection of cold meats, including cabanossi and biltong, and beef and game cuts, while the cheese-making facility produces a selection of flavoured goudas, mozzarella and feta cheeses. As most of Namibia’s fresh produce travels all the way from South Africa before it reaches Namibia’s tabletops, fresh farm-grown produce is a pleasure and the Self-Sufficiency Centre the perfect complement to the Farmhouse.
The farmhouse theme is reflected in the farm-style chalets, which have two exterior walls clad in the white stone of the area, a shady porch with woven wicker chairs, and pale-green shutters. The interior is a surprise of freshness; the high, white ceiling and white bedding are accompanied by colourful patchwork quilts, bringing in a warm country flavour. Two floral cushions and lantern-style lamps add to the country effect, while a stone wall separates the room from the bathroom, which has an enamel sink fitted into a dresser, as in days of old, and a pull-chain flush system. An air-conditioner/heater ensures that the correct temperature can be maintained throughout the Kalahari extremes. Among the eleven chalets are a triple-bed room and two double rooms with an inter-leading door, ideal for families. A conference centre transforms the Farmhouse into a perfect venue for small groups, while a campsite with eight sites positioned under a group of palms next to the grapevines offers campers a place to pitch tents.
Situated on a portion of a farm that belonged to the Van der Wath family- for three generations and where karakul sheep were farmed, the Farmhouse has retained the tall palms and original house, which has been renovated and converted into the lodge’s central area. Seating under the trees in the garden provide places to enjoy breakfast or lunch, while away the time or enjoy interludes of rest. A pool and barbecue area are well-utilised in the summer months for cool dips and outdoor meals.
The Kalahari area is a popular stopover for guests travelling down to or returning from the Fish River Canyon, and for guests travelling into Namibia from the Mata-Mata border post. With the Kalahari Farmhouse opening its doors in October 2009, it joins other accommodation facilities in the vicinity in making the Namibian Kalahari a destination in itself.
An excursion into the 10 000-hectare Gondwana Kalahari Park is recommended while you are here to experience the beauty of the Kalahari landscape. A sundowner game drive that leaves daily from the nearby Kalahari Anib Lodge is a worthwhile activity while visiting the area.
Kalahari Farmhouse is a flourish of fresh energy in the region. It provides a dash of colour, country character and a magical garden to soothe the soul. So take off those shoes and sink your toes into the soft lush grass or settle your weary body on the lawn to feel the good nurturing Earth. Look up into the trees, into the expanse of blue sky and hear birdsong and peace.
This article appeared in the Dec ‘11/ Jan ‘12 edition of Travel News Namibia.
Additional photos courtesy of http://www.gondwana-collection.com/