Treesleeper Camp – bringing legend to lifeJuly 19, 2012
Bird’s-eye view – African green-pigeonJuly 19, 2012
My dreams are interwoven with the powerful sound of lions calling, and double doors and long windows let in the first view of the golden dawn over the African bush. Wire stretched onto wooden supports creates a secure deck without blocking the view and the space wafts in with the gentle breeze.
by Ron Swilling
I assume that Andersson, the Swedish explorer-trader, one of the first two Europeans to record the existence of Etosha Pan, would approve of frontier exploration, and in the case of Andersson’s Camp, the frontier explored in this new attractive and friendly lodge is environmental sustainability. I would also imagine him approving of the transformation of the old farmstead Leeupoort (lion portal) into a perfect place for people to explore the adjacent animal-rich Etosha National Park.
Andersson’s Camp is situated on private reserve land, the cattle ranches of long ago converted into the prolific Ongava Reserve. Surrounded by wild bush and bountiful animals, the camp has been created on the original farmhouse site, rehabilitating the location rather than impacting on another area. The architect, Nina Maritz, further reduced the impact that a new camp makes on the environment by using almost no cement with tent poles bedded in gabions and raised decks made from timber, as well as remodelling the farmhouse with stone gabion cladding using grey stone from the surrounding area and invasive river reed and mopane poles from a bush-clearing programme for the ceilings. The round farm reservoir was even restored to a small swimming pool.
As you reach Andersson Gate, Etosha’s southern entrance, the road to Andersson’s Camp veers left into the Ongava Reserve. With four rooms easily converted into family rooms, the twenty-roomed camp with its proximity to the national park and electric fence surrounding the property securing the area, is ideal for individual travellers, families and small groups. The lodge has a large sheltered veranda with a collection of comfortable couches overlooking a small floodlit waterhole, the veranda extending around the building to accommodate long dining tables and a bar area. With guided trips into the Etosha National Park on offer, the guest has a choice of using the camp as a base for his self-drives or making use of the camp’s knowledgeable guides for forays into the park.
This relaxing camp, part of the Safari and Adventure division of Wilderness Safaris, has innovative tented rooms transporting the tented rooms of old into new territory. The bedroom section has whitewashed wooden doors and windows and a wooden floor, while the partially-open bathroom wall is created with stone gabions. A shower with a view of the stars and moon gives new meaning to the daily routine. Corrugated iron and gabion walls enclose a separate private toilet area. Thin wire mesh covers the gabion walls to protect the room from any undesirable visitors. This new territory is further explored with a zinc tub creating the shower floor. Creative wooden towel stands, coathangers and bedside lamps cut out of sheet metal, continue the appealing and interesting effect. Tin mugs hang on a corrugated iron panel above the washstand. The tent has a triple layer to improve air circulation and heat control, and a speed-controlled fan. Solar-water heaters, natural paints, grey-water usage and a charcoal cooler room further contribute to the environmental sustainability of Andersson’s Camp.
After a day or morning driving through Etosha, watching elephants gamble along, springbok pronk high into the air and catching glimpses of lazy lions soaking up the sun after a busy night of hunting, the return to this comfortable lodge built with foresight and balancing old with new, is immensely pleasing. An outdoor fire beckons before the invitation to the evening buffet. A wildebeest comes to drink at the waterhole and friendly chatter and laughter combine with the evening air.
At a place where old can become young, and new can be innovative as well as environmentally sound, where wild can be enjoyed in safety and comfort, Andersson, I’m sure would be nodding his approval.
This article appeared in the April/May ‘08 edition of Travel News Namibia.