The untamed wilderness of Namibia… by roadJuly 18, 2012
Treesleeper Camp – bringing legend to lifeJuly 19, 2012
Text Jeannette van der Merwe
White buildings set in dolerite hills peek out through lush vegetation. A welcoming crowd gathers as we stop in front of the lodge. Lucky, the Himba dog, is first to greet us. We meet the rest of the friendly clan over a glass of bubbly grape juice on the veranda. Jürgen and Heidi Göthje are the owners of the farm and Jürgen’s sister, who has fifteen years of managing experience, runs the lodge.
Jürgen bought the farm in 1993. The Göthje’s built the farmhouse and four en-suite double rooms themselves, with the help of the local Damaras and an Owambo, who has been loyal to them for the last 18 years. Additional rooms and separate bungalows were added later, bringing the total to twelve en-suite double rooms, each decorated individually.
The flagstone floors add an earthy touch to the spacious rooms. Fresh flowers and mopane leaves in the rooms highlight the attention to detail. The large thatch-roofed dining area and bar are decorated with stylish wooden furniture and natural materials, giving them a warm African feel.
Outside, the swimming pool beckons. The less sporty can relax on a deck chair, sip a drink and enjoy the panoramic view. After sunset the guests gather around a cosy fire and chat about the day. A trail of candlelight emerges from the dark and deep African voices start to sing. The twelve staff members serenade the guests, setting the mood for dinner.
Home cooking at its best
Cooking is a family affair. The women of the house lovingly prepare all the meals. Guests can look forward to sampling roast eland fillet after an appetising starter. An array of side dishes complements the main course, as do a collection of wines. The hosts dine with the guests, telling them interesting stories about the area and its people.
Sweet-toothed visitors are in for a treat, as dinner is rounded off with a delicious dessert and afternoon coffee is served with freshly baked tart. A packet of homemade fudge is a pleasure you can indulge in secretly on your private balcony.
Visit to the Himbas
The lodge offers a day tour to a Himba village near Opuwo. This is an unforgettable experience, despite the long drive to the location. Jürgen has been going to the village for the past twelve years, visiting them about once a week. He speaks their language and is well accustomed to their traditions.
As Jürgen walks into the supermarket in Opuwo, the locals greet him by his local name “Katenda, Katenda!” Everyone knows and loves him. The Himbas welcome us in their village with handshakes, smearing our palms red. We are invited into the head-woman’s hut, where she shows us the traditional Himba beauty routine. A whole new way of life opens up.
The villagers gather outside and give us a special performance, standing in a circle, singing and cheering those who dance in the middle. Dust rises around the red, swaying bo-dies as they thump their feet on the ground. They enchant us with their movements, and with the way they laugh and live the same way their ancestors did hundreds of years ago.
Enjoying farm life
The lodge offers other tours, but relaxing there is just as pleasant. Endemic bird species can be seen flying through the luxuriant garden. The mountain trail is dotted with curious flora and intriguing rock formations. Guests view giraffe, springbok, gemsbok and zebra on the afternoon game drive and can enjoy champagne between the mopane trees.
A visit to this lodge opens your eyes to the diverse cultures of Namibia. The distinct setting enhances the area’s natural wonders. The experience is a discovery of the things that make Namibia special.
A German couple loved their holiday on the farm so much they decided to stay. They built a house near the lodge and live there six months of the year, a true testament to the homeliness of the lodge.
I wished I could have stayed longer.
This article appeared in the April ‘07 edition of Travel News Namibia.