Restored to its former glory
“We want to place Aus on the map,” says Bernd Roemer, one of five owners of the newly renovated Bahnhof Hotel, which opened in August 2006. He believes that the hotel will play a big role in the success of placing Aus on Namibia’s tourist map.
The history of the hotel, the food and the service already play a major role in the success of the latest addition to hospitality in this part of Namibia. After only its first high season, indeed, even before the reopening and final renovation of the Bahnhof Hotel in Aus a few months ago, its big wooden sundeck caught the eye of many a visitor to the quaint village in south-western Namibia. The Bahnhof is perfect for long, lazy lunches, snacks and sundowners while enjoying the view of the historical village nestled among picturesque mountains.
Aus is located in the southern Namib Desert, 125 kilometres east of Lüderitz, on the main road between the harbour town and Keetmanshoop.
The village was developed in 1906 when the railway line between the two towns was being completed. The original Bahnhof Hotel was built in the same year. The wooden hotel burnt down in 1948 and was rebuilt – this time with bricks.
Bernd and his four partners, Lothar Gessert, Ernst Herma, Dieter Curschmann and Cobus Brayshaw, bought the Bahnhof Hotel in February 2005. Except for Cobus, the partners are also stakeholders in the Namib Huib Plateau Park, 30 kilometres south of Aus. They bought the hotel to serve as the first profit centre in the planned conservation area, which comprises 173 000 hectares bordering the Diamond Sperrgebiet and stretching eastwards onto the Huib Plateau.
All farming activities in the area have been stopped. According to Roemer the internal fences are currently being removed. The aim is to rehabilitate and prevent the destruction of this pristine section of the Namib Desert. If everything goes according to plan, the park will eventually boast one or more lodges, camping sites, a museum and a roadhouse.
Much still intact
While the Bahnhof was given a complete makeover, much of the original structure, such as the wooden floors, was kept intact. The bar was restored to its former glory and a footrest made from remnants of the old railway line will soon be added. The hotel offers thirteen en-suite double rooms, one of which is wheelchair friendly, and another is suitable for families.
A breakfast buffet (English and continental) is included in the rate, while lunch and dinner can be ordered from an à-la-carte menu. The Bahnhof salad is very popular at lunchtime, perhaps because it contains fresh herbs from the hotel’s herb garden. Other dishes to choose from are fish and chips, game carpaccio and ostrich breast with sherry and litchi sauce.
The food lives up to the saying ‘local is lekker’, but also has international flair. The hotel offers freshly baked bread and cakes every day, of which the chocolate truffle mousse, dark-chocolate ganache and apple crumble are the most popular.
Van Deventer, who has been in the hospitality industry for eighteen years, previously worked as a chef at the Burning Shore Hotel in Langstrand outside Swakopmund; at Castle Park in Walvis Bay; and at Mokuti Lodge close to Etosha in northern Namibia.
Attractions close by
Nearly a third of the flora species in the Succulent Karoo vegetation area, of which Aus forms part, flourish in and around the village. If the annual rainfall is high enough, the land is covered with carpets of flowers between March and July.
The main tourist attractions are the commonwealth graves where 69 WWI prisoners who died of Spanish influenza were buried in 1918. The ruins of the prisoner-of-war camp, where 1 500 German soldiers were kept after the First World War, are still visible just outside the village.
A herd of about 170 wild horses can be seen from a viewpoint 20 kilometres south west of Aus on the way to Lüderitz. There is much speculation about their origin, but it seems they escaped from domestication and over time adapted to the harsh conditions of the Namib.
This article appeared in the Dec ‘06/ Jan ‘07 edition of Travel News Namibia.
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