Starting in the year 2000, the 3,500 ha (35 km²) farm was gradually transformed into the Waterberg Wilderness nature reserve. Internal fences, which subdivided the former cattle farm into so-called camps (grazing plots), were dismantled and dense bush was cleared from large areas in the valley and on the east plain of the Waterberg. Additional watering holes for game were set up, which are fed with water from the spring through a supply network totalling 25 km.
Game was released in several phases - giraffe, hartebeest, zebra, blue wildebeest, eland antelope and even white rhino. All these species roamed this part of the country in earlier times, as can be learnt from reports written by the first Europeans who came here. Around the plain Waterberg Wilderness is fenced in with 20 km of game fencing (2.20 m high) – also for protecting the game from poachers. The two gates at the through road are guarded around the clock.
Nature conservation is expensive: a giraffe, for example, costs around N$ 12,000, and a kilometre of game fencing N$ 35,000 (figures from 2006). Considerable costs are incurred by refraining from profit-orientated cattle farming and by the labour intensiveness of running the nature reserve.
The funds for our private nature reserve come from our hospitality business, which we run as environmentally friendly as possible. Waterberg Wilderness Lodge was opened in 2000, Waterberg Plateau Lodge in 2004, Waterberg Plateau Campsite in 2005, Andersson Camp in 2008 and Waterberg Valley Lodge in 2014.
The lodges and campsites run on solar power. The high cost of cells and storage batteries makes solar power expensive, even more so as solar power is not subsidised Namibia. Nevertheless it is an eco-friendly alternative to power generated by coal-fired power stations in South Africa or even hydro power stations in Namibia: High-voltage power lines disturb the landscape and are a death trap for large birds.
The 220 V solar power supply, is enough for hair dryers, shavers and battery chargers, but unfortunately not for the mini bars and kettles in the rooms. Thank you for your understanding.
Hot water for the bathroom is supplied by "donkeys", wood-fired geysers. The fire wood is a product of debushing, which is necessary to keep the grass planes open. Veld Fires used to keep the bushes at bay, but nowadays the fires are snuffed at the earliest sign.
The water in the lodges and at the watering holes comes from the strong spring at the end of the valley. It was analysed and found to be of excellent drinking quality, so we have decided to bottle some of it. We do not take more than half of the spring water, so that enough is left for our resident plants and animals.