Therapy for the soul
by Marita van Rooyen
What’s better than jumping on a horse’s back and taking the winding road into the mountains, riding lazily with the wind in your hair and the smell of dry, desert air up your nose? It’s difficult to find an experience that compares to this ultimate feeling of being free.
Not called the Desert Homestead for nothing, the place oozes an inviting feel of your grandparents’ old farmhouse, where you are woken up early in the morning by grandmother’s freshly made coffee and a hearty farm breakfast, and then jump in the saddle to go on a full-blown horse safari with your grandfather.
Everyone here is crazy about the horses, treating them like part of the family (except for assistant manager, Alex Iyambo, who is apparently ‘allergic to horses’ and can’t come close to them, but still admires them from a distance). If you want a bit of an adventure ride, ask for Tornado, who was named after the majestic whirlwind for good reason. Desert Homestead even hosts two retired horses on the property, because, “They treat us well, so we treat them well when they are too old to use for excursions,” says Charl van Jaarsveld, manager of Desert Homestead.
Riders and horses usually spend their first few hours together by going on a sundowner ride to become acquainted properly. Even if you’re not into horse riding, it’s still a very therapeutic exercise to spend time watching the horses roll around in the dust and walk about lazily without the slightest care in the world. And just in case you were wondering why all the horses are light of colour, it’s because darker horses don’t survive as well in the harsh, desert landscapes.
Desert Homestead has 20 thatched chalets, of which four are triples, and an additional four guide rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms and a porch for watching the sunset, relaxing with a book, or simply enjoying the magnificent views over the Naukluft Mountains.
All rooms have been newly painted and undergone minor small upgrades. The main house has a lounge area, dining room, book-exchange corner, bar and a large veranda where lanterns and stars add a romantic ambience to a proper meal and good conversation. A typical Friday dinner consists of a tomato, aubergine and mozzarella stack with balsamic vinegar as a starter; marinated lamb chops with a choice of vegetables as main meal; and rum banana in pancakes as dessert. A wide selection of wines adds pleasure to the meal.
The Desert Homestead is situated 31.5 km from Sesriem. If coming from Windhoek, turn right at the junction of the D0854 and C19 and drive a further 3.3 km before finding the lodge on your left. Desert Homestead also offers sundowner drives (with your choice of either car or horse), guided walks, excursions to Sossusvlei and Naukluft, ballooning, scenic flights and quad-biking.
Photos courtesy of www.deserthomestead-namibia.com
This article appeared in the Feb/March ‘10 edition of Travel News Namibia.