You know the feeling when you smell the yeasty aroma of freshly baked bread then bite into it to discover the taste is even more heavenly? Now imagine you watched the swirl of spinach threaded through the roll being harvested earlier that day. That’s when you know that the concept of farm to fork is thriving here at the Kalahari Farmhouse, a relaxing oasis in the Kalahari, Namibia.
For instance, the lodge closes from January to March when it’s used as an academy for ongoing training of the Gondwana Collection’s staff, aiming for them to leave with new skills and fresh motivation for their work in the tourism business.
There’s also a Self Sufficiency Centre on the property that supplies 70% of the needs of the Gondwana Collection’s Namibian lodges, from the Fish River Canyon in the southwest to the Zambezi and Chobe rivers in the northeast.
Using water from the natural aquifer on the property, the centre’s aim is twofold. First is obviously to make the Gondwana Collection’s lodges self sufficient. Second is to create jobs. It employs 22 permanent staff and around 11 seasonal workers in spring/summer.
We visited in winter, a quiet time when few veggies grow because of the cold – down to minus 9 degrees in manager Breshnef Diergaardt’s 17-year experience here. But the scale of the operation is impressive nonetheless. ‘We produced 5500 lettuces last year,’ said Breshnef. Using shade-net tunnels, they also produce watermelon, pumpkin, cabbage, onion, tomato, pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach – just about any vegetable you can think of except potato, which has its own particular challenges. There’s a small vineyard too.
As part of a social responsibility effort, the Gondwana Care Trust gives off-cuts from the butchery to some 40 organisations that help to support underprivileged people.
So, what is there to do in this oasis among the dry Kalahari sands? Here are some ideas.
- Go walking at sister lodge, Kalahari Anib, about 25km to the west. Collect a walking trails map from Kalahari Anib reception when you arrive, then choose from as little as 5km or as long as 16km. Note that there are no dangerous large predators in the reserve.
- Join a morning or sundowner drive at Kalahari Anib Lodge. Kalahari Farmhouse will phone ahead to confirm your place, then you drive about 25km to Kalahari Anib for your activity. Animals you may see include springbok, oryx, red hartebeest, kudu, eland, giraffe, wildebeest and zebra. To get a sense of what the sundowner drive is like read my blog post, Kalahari Anib Lodge: enjoy a sundowner drive in Namibia.
- Enjoy good food that’s a cut above what you’d expect here in the Middle of Nowhere, Namibia. Breakfast is a buffet of all the usual suspects, but I especially loved the fresh fruit (what a luxury in this semi-arid area) and the light-as-air pastries and croissants. Dinner is a set menu that includes things like delicious vegetable soup, springbok fillet in a wine sauce, and toffee apple pudding. It’s good farm-style food with a sophisticated edge.
- Once you’ve tasted the food, you’ll know you have to tour the Self-Sufficiency Centre. The profusion of produce seems paradoxical in this semi-arid area, but is made possible by an aquifer that pumps water to the surface naturally. All the Farmhouse had to do was install water canals, piping and a pressure pump to get it from the spring to the rest of the farm. You can buy directly from the butchery, so stock up here for your holiday braais.
- Admire the parade of old farm implements that line the entrance road to the lodge. Especially atmospheric in the early morning light, they will put you in the farm mood and evoke nostalgia in anyone with farming in their blood.
- Go for a swim in the pool, a welcome treat on a hot Kalahari summer’s day. There are loungers, chairs and tables around the pool where you can soak up the sun even in winter.
- Relax on your stoep – it may be the only time you really do this during your Namibia holidays. Our visit was during the last week of an extended and busy trip to Namibia so it was a pleasure to kick back and just chill out, no long distances to drive, no madcap activities to be ticked off the list. If you’re quiet you may even hear the tinkling of water from the aquifer that bubbles up near the main building.
- Take a stroll in the garden to enjoy quirky touches like small statues (I loved one old man taking a nap next to a pile of red leaves, as if he was tired from sweeping them up). Order a cold drink or cup of tea to enjoy on a rustic bench or sit at one of the tables that dot the garden. Listen and watch for birds like white-browed sparrow-weaver, hornbill, laughing dove, Namaqua sandgrouse, wagtail and olive thrush.
- Enjoy some star-gazing. Here in the clean, dry Kalahari air, you’ll be astounded by the masses of stars in the dark sky, the density of the Milky Way. Try to walk a little distance away from the lodge’s lights for the best effect. If you’re camping at the lodge’s campsite, you’ll know what I mean.
- Remember that Kalahari Farmhouse's Stampriet accommodation is just a three- to four-hour drive from the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, so perhaps schedule a stopover there on your way to or from the lodge. The Kgalagadi landscape is pure Kalahari, just like Kalahari Anib Lodge, but with the added excitement of large predators like lions, leopards and cheetahs.
Like it? Pin this image!
Kalahari Anib Lodge: 12 things to do in Namibia’s Kalahari
The Kalahari in bloom
Copyright © Roxanne Reid - No words or photographs on this site may be used without permission from roxannereid.co.za