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The cyclone from the east of southern Africa also brought good rain to the Waterberg in the first few weeks of the new year. Unlike last year, there were no fallen trees or flood-damaged roads. However, the rain made for unusual guests in some rooms ...
With 317 mm of rain since the beginning of the "rainy season" in October, Waterberg Wilderness almost reached the annual average of around 350 mm. The area can hope for more rain until April / May.
With the good rains, Waterberg Wilderness has been shining again in rich green, red and blue tones. Trees, bushes and grass line the sandstone cliffs of the Waterberg, an azure blue sky arching above.
Whether square-lipped rhino (Ceratotherium simum) or giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), all game can find food in abundance everywhere. For a time there were "armies" of caterpillars.
Baboons were less likely to be seen in the lodge facilities. Much to the relief of the employees, who otherwise have to keep driving them away. Instead there were other uninvited guests, even in the rooms: mice. In numbers never seen before. The record now stands at nine mice captured in just one night.
This time the rain at Waterberg Wilderness did not fall as cloudbursts like last year. Large-scale deployments of the maintenance team due to flood-damaged driveways and fallen trees like before have therefore not been necessary so far.
What on earth do the white rhinos think? From one day to the next, hardly any of these strange two-legged creatures can be seen... - Since mid-March, no tourist has been allowed to enter the country because of Corona. But don't worry: the rhinos are waiting for their visitors. And they even have a surprise up their sleeve...
March 14, a Saturday. The test results of two sick tourists in Windhoek confirmed an infection with SARS-CoV-2. President Hage Geingob immediately took measures to protect the Namibians from an epidemic. He ordered to block the main flight connections to Europe.
Three days later a state of emergency was declared so that the government can act swiftly if necessary. Tourists were allowed to leave, but they were no longer allowed to enter the country. Their home countries closed their borders, too, unless they had already done so.
In April all of Namibia was in a lockdown. The number of confirmed infections remained at 16 for weeks. State of affairs as of April 30th: eight infected, eight recovered, no death. More on the development in Namibia in the news blog of our partner Bush Telegraph Namibia.
From one day to the next, Waterberg Wilderness no longer had any guests - and therefore no income. On the contrary: Due to travel restrictions, many bookings had to be cancelled and deposits had to be reimbursed. There is little hope of support from the government. Namibia is a developing country. Due to the three-year recession and the severe drought, the state budget is already severely restricted.
No additional help can be expected from the industrialised nations because they have to provide amounts of billions for their own economies. Namibia can count itself lucky if the existing development aid is not cut.
The Waterberg Wilderness private nature reserve does everything to keep as many of its employees as possible, especially since one has to be aware that each workplace supports eight- to ten-person families. In addition, it is necessary to invest more in the protection of the rhinos and other game because the problem of poaching will worsen, due to increasing unemployment.
Of course, Waterberg Wilderness will survive this crisis – thanks to its concept of sustainability. Anyone who managed to live in and with Namibia's nature for decades knows that building up reserves in good years for periods of drought is essential for survival.
However, the team of Waterberg Wilderness is grateful for any support. A big thank-you to all those tour operators and hundreds of customers who have rebooked planned stays to next year.
Waterberg Wilderness hereby also expresses its thanks to those other hundreds of customers who had to cancel but waived the refund of their deposit for the time being. They have been sent a voucher that they will be able to redeem after the travel restrictions are lifted. Many thanks also to the tour operators who showed their trust and accepted a credit.
The vouchers are also valid for the partners Ghaub (nature reserve with rhinos in the Otavi Mountains) and Ondekaremba (natural paradise directly at the airport). They can also be given to someone who is planning a trip to Namibia. If they cannot be redeemed by the end of 2021, Waterberg Wilderness will of course refund the amount – depending on the cancellation policy of the original booking.
Last not least in the name of the rhinos, giraffes, wildebeest, antelope, kudus, damara dik-diks, baboons, porcupines, leopards, oryx antelopes, springboks and many other animals, all members of the Waterberg Wilderness team would like to thank everyone from the bottom of their hearts. And express their sympathy to all those who had been looking forward to their Namibia trip for months and who could not set out on their journey because of the measures against the Corona epidemic.
However, how do they say: It's only a pleasure deferred. Namibia and Waterberg Wilderness are waiting for their visitors. The white rhinos even have a surprise in store for their visit after Corona: offspring! The cow that was released into the reserve in May two years ago gave birth to a bull calf. In mid-March, when the travel restrictions came into force.
Guests who visit Waterberg Wilderness, whenever travel is possible again, with a little luck can experience the calf on a Rhino Drive. The little one might wonder then, where all of these strange bipedal creatures suddenly come from?
In the rooms, photos tell of times long past of the former farm. On the roof, on the other hand, solar panels testify to the lodge's latest step towards the future. Not only the environment can rejoice, the guest can do so, too - because the solar power from the roof brings more comfort into the room...
In mid-February, the Waterberg Wilderness Lodge received the 24 batteries that are required for its solar plant. The delivery had taken some time, also because the batteries are manufactured in Germany. The solar panels that were installed on the roof of the farm building could now be put into operation.
The spacious lodge rooms now offer even a little more comfort. The solar power system still does not allow kettles nor refrigerators, let alone air conditioners in the rooms. However, all rooms are now equipped with a portable fan.
On particularly warm days, these fans provide additional cooling with their drafts. The buildings of the lodge are, as usual on Namibian farms, shaded by tall trees and are therefore naturally cooled anyway. For more info and photos of the Waterberg Wilderness Lodge please click here.
The lodge has been running on solar power already. A large photovoltaic system at the central reception of Waterberg Wilderness has so far supplied all three small lodges in the private nature reserve with electricity. However, since the guest operation grew over years, the management decided to invest in an additional plant. The other two lodges had been equipped with fans already.
By the way, Waterberg Wilderness' environmental concept includes more than just solar power. Continuous-flow heaters, which are fired with collected dead wood, provide hot shower water. And only half of the water from the spring at the upper end of the valley is used for hospitality and waterholes for the game, thus leaving enough for the plants in its vicinity. For more details click here.
The audience member is entering a Herero hut and the dining room of a German-Namibian farmer. In the middle of the theatre hall he is watching actors rehearsing a court hearing. And he is trudging through red Kalahari sand. The play "Hereroland" of the Thalia Theatre moves the Waterberg mountain to Hamburg...
The decisive skirmishes between OvaHerero and the German Schutztruppe (protection force) took place at the Waterberg on the western edge of the Kalahari in August 1904. Despite superior weaponry, General Lothar von Trotha was unable to empocket the Hereros, crush and capture them. They fled to the Kalahari – fighters and women, children and the elderly, with their cattle. Destination: British Botswana. Thousands died.
The Germans were too exhausted to take up the pursuit immediately. In addition, Trotha was not prepared for this and had not organised adequate supply. At the beginning of October, he gave up the pursuit and issued his infamous extermination order. Herero survivors who surrendered later died in their thousands in concentration camps. Historians today generally speak of genocide.
The play "Hereroland" critically examines the genocide and colonial rule in German Southwest Africa, today's Namibia. It also creates a link to Hamburg, from where the German troops were shipped to the colonies. The harbour town also benefited greatly from the colonial economy.
However, you can hardly call "Hereroland" a play, but rather a puzzle game. The directors of the German-Namibian production, Gernot Grünewald and David Ndjavera, split the plot to scenes and stories, which are enacted at 19 "stations".
Each audience member would receive an individual ticket at the entrance, serving for orientation, and visit the "stations" in different orders. Nobody would visit all the "stations", everyone would end up with different pieces of the puzzle and thus a different picture.
The premiere was on January 19. Newspaper reviews praised the production. All performances – the play is on until mid-February – are sold out. A complete success, not least because of thorough research.
Grünewald and Ndjavera, who know each other since 2016, travelled through Namibia for twelve days in July and collected impressions and voices - from Hereros, Namas and German Namibians. They were accompanied by the production manager, the dramaturge, the set designer, the video filmmaker and one of the actors.
Waterberg Wilderness had supported them by giving an interview, supplying information and arranging a discussion with pupils of the private high school Deutsche Höhere Privatschule (DHPS) in Windhoek.
The group was of course also a guest at the Waterberg. On the History Path, they visited two locations from the past: one of the battlefields from 1904 and the location of a collection camp from 1906 for Hereros who were living in the bush. Along the trail ten display boards with text and images describe the events and explain backgrounds.
By the way: Anyone who did not manage to get a ticket for the performances in Hamburg can still attend the play "Hereroland, a German-Namibian (hi)story" in Namibia. It will be staged from 11 to 13 June at the National Theatre in Windhoek.