The Elegant Farmstead
Running down Namibia`s spine, the Central Highlands separate the Kalahari from the dunes of the Namib Desert. The rolling hills and wide valleys are covered in farms, many of which have converted from cattle to game ranches. Most, like the Elegant Farmstead where my wife and I stayed on our last night of our first holiday in Namibia, have waterholes and offer nature drives which usually end with a sundowner on a kopje with views of the surrounding terrain which typically comprises mountains, dry river beds and open plains.
The Namibian-based agent who supplied our 4x4 rental vehicle had given us directions to, and approximate timings between, our accommodation but I don`t think he had actually driven many of these routes himself as some of his estimations proved wildly optimistic, including this one. He reckoned it is was a leisurely 3 hours from Etosha`s east gate to the Elegant Farmstead but it took us 5 hours of steady motoring without stops.
The property is located on the D2102 about 27 km from the main arterial B1 but the condition of the minor road surface isn`t great in places, despite the efforts of local highway maintenance department. Typical scenery during the final stage of the drive is pictured below. The body of water is the Von Bach Dam which, along with the nearby Gross Barmen Hot Springs, has traditionally been used as a weekend getaway for town and city dwellers. The dam supplies most of the capital`s water and is surrounded by a nature reserve, once managed by Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) which also manages the country`s parks including Etosha, but in 2009 control of the Von Bach Dam site was acquired by Tungeni, a private enterprise.
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The `Farmstead is built on the site of an old German mission post and some traces of the original buildings remain, including one which had previously served as the telegraph office. The working farm is well-stocked with game such as Eland, Kudu and other species of antelope and an elevated viewing deck overlooks a tiny waterhole which is illuminated at night.
We stayed in the apartment on the right (above). The old telegraph office is shown below left.
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At first glance the wooden stockade and electric fence surrounding the complex seemed a bit excessive but with leopard resident in the surrounding area (although very rarely seen) the additional security is understandable. We learnt, however, that rather than big cats, it was the local troop of baboons that had been causing problems, carrying out frequent raids and making off with any unattended items before the site was properly secured.
The Elegant Farmstead is just a couple of hours drive away from Windhoek Airport so is worth considering for a first or last night stopover.
Despite being Namibia`s only airport
for scheduled international flights, the capital`s Hosea Kutako Airport (WDH) is a very laid back place and seems more like a small regional airport.
Located 45 km (28 mi) east of Windhoek, the airport was opened during South African administration in 1965 as J.G. Strijdom Airport. It was renamed Hosea Kutako International Airport when Namibia gained its independence in 1990.
Air Namibia is the country`s only international carrier. As of August 2017 it`s current fleet comprised of just 10 aircraft - 2 Airbus A330-200, one of which is pictured below, 4 Airbus A319-100 and 4 Embraer ERJ-135ERs.