From Luderitz to Namseb Lodge near Maltahohe
This morning was never going to be an early one. We overshoot breakfast and only just manage to get ourselves up and ready before the 10am checkout at our hotel. By pure chance we have an easy day ahead, having always intended to head for our overnight accommodation at Namseb Lodge, near Maltahohe, and leave our en-route activities up to the fates.
Brunchers behaving badly
However, the first order of the day is brunch, and so we find ourselves in the tropical setting of the Garden Café’s al fresco dining room, overlooking the boats and harbour in Lüderitz.
While we fully intended to sample some of their famous filled brotchen, temptation once again gets the better of us and we choose scrumptious cakes instead. Not a very healthy start to the day, I know, but we did purchase some oven-fresh bread rolls to take along with us to atone for our bad breakfast habits.
Eventually we hit the road to Helmeringhausen. The two-and-a-half-hour drive is uneventful, incorporating familiar arid landscapes, and now and then a tree laden with massive bird’s nests. These huge grass creations are the work of the sociable weavers, who are unique in that they build communal nests – making these constructions the apartment blocks of the avian kingdom.
No Horse Helmeringhausen
As we near Helmeringhausen the grasslands of the Namibian interior make a reappearance dotted with a rocky rim of hills in the area of the Tirasberg Conservancy. Helmeringhausen is truly tiny and if it has a horse I did not see it. It does have a hotel though, and this is our port of call for lunch.
The Helmeringhausen Hotel is one of the only places for a meal on the way to Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon and thus is the number one eatery in town.
Despite our misgivings we enjoy our meal in the beer garden with a tame springbok nibbling amiably on the lawns nearby. The menu is limited but the bratwurst and sandwiches were good with thick slices of homemade bread, farm-fresh toppings and DIY coffee.
The Baron’s House
The best-known landmark in the area is Duwisib Castle and we come across the turn off just 60km from our lunch stop. This fort-like construction, which looks as though it dropped straight out of a western movie, was once the home of Baron Captain Heinrich Von Wolf.
Built in 1909 after the German-Nama war the fort is a testament to the Baron’s commitment to his German roots with metre-thick walls an imposing façade and 22 bedrooms. Five of these have now been converted into overnight accommodation.
We pay the small entrance fee and explore the interior which is lit by sunlight streaming in through the huge cleverly placed windows. The interior is beautifully decorated in the style of the times and also features a gorgeous collection of 18th and 19th century antiques, armour and paintings.
It is believed that some of Baron Von Wolf’s horses escaped to form part of the foundation stock of the Namib wild horses during the 1900s (that explains what happened to Helmeringhausen’s horse…).
Up the plateau we go
After an hour or so lapping up this old-style glamour we are on our way to Namseb Lodge, high on a plateau (4×4 advised) near Maltohohe, where we gratefully embark on a short afternoon nap in our rustic farm-style rooms. Dinner is early and consists of a pre-booked braai at sunset overlooking the grassy plains.
So ends our most (self-induced) uneventful day so far and we look forward to being back up to full-steam in the morning as we head for Sesriem Canyon and Sossusvlei.