by Neil Digby-Clarke
Duwisib Castle, an extravagant gift built by a German nobleman nearly a century ago for his American bride, offers a chance to camp surrounded by a sense of history.
Baron Hans Heinrich von Wolf’s time in Namibia proved to be short, but his legacy has endured. Posted to what was then German South West Africa in 1904, Baron von Wolf served in the Nama/Herero War. After the war, he returned to Germany and married before settling on Farm Duwisib three years later. His home, an exaggerated residence of red sandstone, battlements and turrets on its corners, was completed in 1909. The furnishings and fittings for the castle were shipped from Germany, off-loaded in Lüderitz and transported to Duwisib by ox wagon. Today many of the 18th- and 19th- century furnishings, paintings and weaponry are on display in the castle.
A compulsive buyer of farmland with a desire to breed top class horses, von Wolf owned some 55 000 hectares of land, supporting at least 90 mares, stallions and foals.
He left Namibia to fight in the First World War and died at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. His widow never returned to Africa. The horses were left to run wild, and some believe they are the forefathers of the wild feral horses of the Namib. The Castle was left to rack and ruin until it was purchased by the State in 1978. In 1991, Duwisib Castle, a national monument, was opened to the public.
Namibia Wildlife Resorts, the former parastatal, offers twelve separate camping sites pleasantly situated in the wooded surroundings of the Duwisib riverbed. Each site has braai and waste facilities and can accommodate a maximum of eight visitors. Recently built ablution amenities are first class, although eagle-eyed tourists may notice there are discrepancies in the tile patterns in both the male and female enclaves. Finding himself short of matching files required on the male side, the builder had to maak ‘n plan and carefully blend in a few different examples. Once bitten, twice shy. Not at all, laughs resort manager Otniel Kariseb. Exactly the same thing then happened in the ladies room!
Duwisib is ideally situated between southern Namibia and the delights of the Namib, Sossusvlei and the Naukluft mountains, making it a perfect stopover point. Travellers from Maltahöhe should take the C14 south for 38 km, then turn right onto the D824, turning left after 12 km onto the D831 and after another 16 km, turning right onto the D826. Duwisib Castle is some 15 km further on. If leaving from Sesriem, you will cover some 180 km on the D826 to reach the Castle.
This article was made possible by Cymot Namibia
This article appeared in the July/Aug ‘05 edition of Travel News Namibia.