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Your oasis in the Otavi mountains

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Ghaub tills its fields
  • Tractor plowing the fields at Ghaub

    Tractor plowing the fields at Ghaub. Photo: Ghaub

While almost all people in Namibia are preparing for the summer holidays at the end of November, farmers in the Otavi mountains are rolling up their sleeves: The fields have to be ploughed so that the maize can be sown, because the magic rain mark has been exceeded...

According to an old country lore there must have been 100 mm of rain before you can sow maize. However, one must not wait too long, because the rainy season in Namibia only lasts until April / May. Therefore, last deadline is the end of January.

In order to thrive, the plants need at least 300 mm of rain in the period from the end of January to the end of March – without long dry periods in between. Harvest time is in the months of June or July.

At the end of November, Ghaub was busy tilling the fields, beacause at that time there had been enough rain. Maize is cultivated on 200 hectares, of which 32 hectares are under irrigation. The Otavi mountains receive on average much more rain than the surrounding area and are therefore known as maize area.

On a farm tour, guests of Ghaub will find out everything about the cultivation of maize, which is exceptional for Namibia: Because of the low rainfall the majority of the farm land is only suitable for livestock farming. Cattle and sheep farming on the 60 km² farm area as well as game farming in the nature reserve of about the same size are further exciting topics of the tour.

Namibia’s heraldic animal back home in Ghaub
  • Jump to freedom: 18 oryx are reintroduced at Ghaub mid October

    Jump to freedom: 18 oryx are reintroduced at Ghaub mid October. Photo: Ghaub

Our valley in the Otavi mountains has 40 new inhabitants: 18 Oryx and 22 impalas have arrived in the Ghaub nature reserve on a game transporter. Visitors taking our Rhino Drive now have two more game species to discover.

The capturing of the game on a farm near Otjiwarongo went smoothly, as did the two hour transport and the release at Ghaub. The antelopes were happy to jump into freedom over a provisional ramp next to the transporter. They immediately started exploring their new home.

We specifically chose these two species because they had become quite rare in this area and the living conditions are ideal on Ghaub. Rainfall is considerably higher in the Otavi mountains than in the surroundings and therefore grass grows higher and more abundantly.

We specifically chose these two species because they had become quite rare in this area and the living conditions are ideal on Ghaub. Rainfall is considerably higher in the Otavi mountains than in the surroundings and therefore grass grows higher and more abundantly.

With our game reintroduction programme we want to strengthen the populations and re-establish a variegated and robust ecosystem. We only reintroduce species which originally occurred in the region, as was the case with the white rhinos that arrived in April. Ghaub is also home to eland, red hartebeest, blesbok and kudu as well as klipspringer, duiker, Damara dik-dik and warthog. Sometimes tree squirrels visit the restaurant patio, much to the delight of our human patrons.

Surf service at the reception

From the Rhino Drive to facebook: Visitors of Ghaub Lodge can now immediately share their adventures, such as close encounters with rhinos, with family and friends all over the world. The new WLAN was installed end of September. For now reception is limited to the lodge restaurant.

Access to mobile telecommunication and Internet are still scarce in many areas of Namibia. In order to ensure better reception at Ghaub, we established a direct connection to a distribution point on a mountain near the tar road between Tsumeb and Otavi.

One should however not expect Internet speed and reliability of urban European standard. Internet provider Telecom Namibia has to supply a developing country twice the size of Germany, but with a population only roughly the size of Paris, i.e. 2.3 million people.

Rhinos conquer valley in the Otavi mountains
  • A white rhino cow carefully ventures outside the transport container and sniffs her new home ground

    A white rhino cow carefully ventures outside the transport container and sniffs her new home ground. Photo: Ghaub

Visitors to Ghaub pinch themselves in disbelief: Are those rhinos in the bush savannah? Yes, those are in fact rhinos. White rhinos, to be precise. They were released at the end of March, after the game sanctuary was fenced and measures for their protection were put in place.

The impressive pachyderms have in the meantime recovered from the transport and have settled well in their new surroundings. They seem completely relaxed when a game viewer vehicle approaches them. We see the rhinos on almost every game drive because every day a ranger of the "Rhino Patrol" tracks them and gives their location to the guide via radio.

White rhinos are larger, but more placid than the black rhinos mostly sighted in Etosha. In Namibia they are also the less common of the two species. Once our rhinos are used to the daily visits by humans, our guests will be able to get out of the car and approach them on foot. The guide and tracker present carefully watch their body language and immediately alert the viewers, if an animal seems nervous or irate.

With a little luck you can also see other game like eland, hartebeest, blesbok and kudu on the game drive. You are guaranteed to see an elephant, or rather the portrait of an elephant, engraved on a rock at a time when elephants still roamed the whole of Namibia.

Ghaub Lodge in new hands
  • Guest wing of Ghaub in historic style against old palm trees of the former mission station

    Guest wing of Ghaub in historic style against old palm trees of the former mission station. Photo: Ghaub

The farm Ghaub with its eponymous lodge in the Otavi mountains changes hands and thus becomes a partner of the private nature reserve Waterberg Wilderness (at the Waterberg) and the Ondekaremba Lodge (at the airport). The previous owner and former flight entrepreneur André Compion moves to South Africa because of private reasons. Operation of Ghaub Lodge continues as usual.

Ghaub is well-known for its stalactite cave, the third largest cave Namibia, which guests can explore on a guided tour. Quite remarkable for Namibia is also the cultivation of maize, which is shown together with the cattle on a farm tour. The game rich nature reserve of Ghaub is home to antelopes such as eland, red hartebeest and blesbock. With more than 250 species of birds the area is a haven for birdwatchers.

Ghaub charms its visitors by its historic atmosphere of the former mission station, built by the Rhenish Missionary Society in 1895. The whole facilities have been lovingly renovated and expanded by buildings kept in the same style.