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Ghaub

From missionary station to nature reserve

The many rock engravings bear testimony to the fact that humans have inhabited Ghaub and the Otavi mountains for milennia. In fact, the direct ancestors of man roamed this very area. In the early 1990’s scientists found fragments of the jawbone, the ulna and finger bones belonging to a Gibbon-sized anthropoid ape that populated wide parts of Africa 13 million years ago. A sensational find: The so-called Otavipithecus namibiensis is the first specimen of an extinct anthropoid ape in the southern part of Africa.

  • Ghaub Aktivitäten

    The history of farm Ghaub begins in 1895

  • Ghaub Aktivitäten

    With Namibia’s independence in 1990, tourism started to boom

  • Ghaub Aktivitäten

    With the release of white rhino into the nature reserve, special anti-poaching patrols were established

The history of farm Ghaub, however, only begins in 1895, when the first missionaries of the Rhenish Mission settled here to convert the Bergdamara to the Christian faith. A small church was built, to which a school was added later.

As there was a lot of water, the land was to be cultivated. In January 1900 the Rhenish Mission acquired 9,000 ha (90 km²) of land that became farm Ghaub and employed Wilhelm Detering from Germany as caretaker in August 1901. He initiated the drying of marshes, the cultivation of crops and cattle farming.

During the colonial war between the German Schutztruppe and the Herero in 1904, Ghaub was looted and destroyed. Its inhabitants were brought to safety in the Grootfontein fort and returned in October 1904. After reconstruction Detering planted fruit orchards and ordered the erection of walls around the facility, which were built with stones collected from the fields.

In 1911 missionary Heinrich Vedder founded the Augustineum in Ghaub, a school where locals were trained to become church employees. It was during this time that Vedder discovered the limestone cave, which is today rated the third biggest cave in Namibia.

World War One brought an end to Vedder’s work. On the 4th of July 1915 Ghaub became the battleground for a skirmish between the German Schutztruppe and the South African army; on the 8th of July the war in the German colony ended with the signing of the capitulation at Khorab, north of Otavi, only a few dozen kilometres from Ghaub.

After the war, missionary work became less of a priority. Vedder was deported to Germany in 1919 and established a new Augustineum in Okahandja after his return in 1922. Many of the local activists who rose up against the administration of the South African apartheid regime in the 1960’s and took up the struggle for Namibia’s independence, received their schooling here.

Nevertheless Ghaub continued to be an agricultural stronghold. In 1925 the Rhenish Mission received a further 3,000 ha of land adjacent to Ghaub, so that the farming area now totalled 12,000 ha (120 km²). A number of caretakers succeeded Wilhelm Detering after his death in 1945. During the 1980’s Ghaub was administrated from the neighbouring farm; the buildings stood empty and slowly but surely deteriorated.

With Namibia’s independence in 1990, tourism started to boom. In 1996 the Rhenish Mission sold Ghaub to the Olthaver and List Company and the buildings were lovingly restored. Ghaub consequently made a name for itself as a guest farm, where clients could enjoy hospitality, view an abundance of game and explore a flowstone cave as well as gain insight into maize crop culture and cattle farming.

In new hands since April 2016, Ghaub is now partly a lodge with nature reserve and partly a farming enterprise. With the release of white rhino into the nature reserve, special anti-poaching patrols were established. Two rooms were added to the lodge now equipped with modern comforts such as WLAN, all without compromising on the warm hospitality and unique historical flair Ghaub is known for.