Dear Guests and visitors,
It has been a while since I have updated the news on my website, so you must be wondering: is there anything happening at Düsternbrook?
We have to start with some sad news. Our beloved cheetah Circa has been killed by a leopard 3 months ago. Circa could hardly have been competition for a wild leopard but still…
We have come through the dry year of 2013 rather good with not so many loses. 2014 has been a normal year, but 2015 is looking to be a bad year again, since late February we hardly got any rain. Luckily the rain finally came in March and April so things look a more positive for this year.
Katrin Luxury Suite
Like I announced in 2013, we have completed our new accommodation Katrin Luxury Suite in 2014. We are very happy that we can now offer this most luxurious room. It has both a Summer and a Winter terrace with a beautiful view, little kitchen with a fridge, coffeemaker and sink. This way it comfortable if you wish to stay for a few days more. Photos of the room are in the gallery, so please have a look here.
In the meanwhile we have also renovated all the other rooms and the Felsenhaus has got a little upgrade. Two rooms in Kolonialhaus now both have extra single beds, so they can sleep up to 4 persons. Then we also have the Dama house, a little more in the back of our farm. This free standing house has a half-open terrace, two bedrooms and bathroom with bath and shower. The house is basic and ideal if you want to cook your own meals or travel with children. The price is very competitive. Around the main house we will not build any more accommodation, as it will spoil the character of the farm.
New hippo chalet
Down at the dam we have constructed a second hippo chalet, about 150m from the other chalet. This chalet is build out of natural stone and has a basic inventory. There is a shower, toilet, electricity via solar-power and braai (bbq) on the roof terrace. You will enjoy the view. In the summer you can sleep on the roof and enjoy the stars. Bring your own food or you can also have breakfast and dinner at the main house (3km). Both chalets are adored by nature lovers that are comfortable with only the basic necessities and enjoy the silence and sound of nature. With the water in front of your door you can enjoy the bird life, wildlife and of course the hippos, which numbers have grown from 3 to 6 in 2015. This April 2 hippo babies were born.
Because these chalets are very popular with campers we want a little bit more, we are going to construct two more chalets. These will be situated at another beautiful site, called Davidsdraai. Davidsdraai is an old water source from the ox wagon years with a wide view. The chalets will be build out of stone, also with roof terrace. On this location there is also a small lake, but not in front of your door. It is often used by wildlife as a source of drinking water. Davidsdraai is about 5km from the farm house. We hope to have completed the construction by September of this year.
Last year I have bought 4 tame horses, so we can cater for all kinds of riders. Also we now offer a horse riding package for a few days with a local guide.
Together with our neighboring farms we have formed a collective, the Windhoek Green Belt Landscape. Across our farms we have created a 90km (6 days) hiking trail, together with a south-african hiking expert. It is now ready and was tested by a group of south-africans. They were very much impressed. We have also obtained the Green Flag Accreditation GFA for this. The project has been initiated together with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and NAMPLACE. On the 12th of June the minister of Conservation and Tourism, Pohama Shifeta, has officially opened the trail here on Düsternbrook. It was a successful day and we hosted the event for 60 guests.
The trail always starts at Düsternbrook and we also process the reservations. A part of the revenue will be cover our costs as WGBL, but most will be divided amongst the farmers. You can do the trail in two forms: backpack or slackpack. Backpack means that you camp and take all your things with you, like a air mattress, sleeping bag etc. Slack pack means that we transfer your belongings from farm to farm and we provide basic catering such as a mattress, food etc. This means you do not need to carry anything around. On the campsites there is a shower, toilet, cooking gear. The trail can also be shortened to 53km (4 days). We hope that many people are interested in this trail.
Besides the 6 day trail some farms also offer a weekend trail, with only 2 nights. Here you can also choose between backpack or ‘slackpack’.
With this I end my writing and hope to see you soon in Namibia!
On the 12th of June we have officially opened our newest Windhoek Green Belt project: The Khomas Hochland Hiking Trail.
The hiking trail covers a total distance of 91km over 6 days. The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Minister Pohamba Shifeta has officially opened the trail on our farm. We also had great company of the Governor of the Khomas Region, Miss Laura McLeod-Katjirua. The opening was a big success. For those who think six day is too much, there is also a hiking trail of 4 days which covers 53 kilometers.
We hope to see you soon our farm to experience the new trail.
Read a full description of the Khomas Hochland Hiking Trail here
We had finally a very good rain season and the landscape looks very very good. The animals also seems to have liked it. 4 weeks ago we had a new Hippobaby and last week another one. Now we have 6 hippos at the dam, including two little hippo babies, less than 4 weeks apart. What a joy!!
We are busy with two more chalets at another venue with a very nice view. We think by beginning of August both will be finished.
Finally we got some good rain, we are all very thankful and happy! Landscape and wildlife suffered most from that long lasting drought. Now, only a few days later tiny blades of grass pop up everywhere. It looks like someone put a green carpet on the arid soil, dotted by beautiful flowers.
Our four Hippos went during the past few weeks quite often on run for searching more water. Their habitat, the Andreas dam dried almost out so they looked for a better place to stay. Fortunately, thanks to the rain, the dam got some water and all the Hippos are now happily back in their dam.
On short notice, we got mid of November the visit of an NTB inspector (Namibia Tourism Board). The inspector checked thoroughly our Guestrooms, Campsites, Kitchen & cool rooms, Dining and Lounge areas upon their functionality and cleanliness. We are proud to say, that nothing was been found or complained about!
Our new reception has become within a short time a very popular and highly frequented spot by our guests. They like to sit in the open lounge, enjoying the fresh breeze while exchanging their travel adventures with others and drinking a cool beer.
Soon our newly build house will be finished to move in! We will then be able to offer our guests besides our guestrooms and luxury tents, an individually decorated, self-catering flat with build-in kitchenette. Moreover, from that house you will have an amazing view over the beautiful riverbed!
Well it seemed about time for an update!
Since the last entry, I am pleased to announce the arrival of another newborn hippo! This one was born in January. Two hippos in two years! Incredible! Guests staying at the Hippo Chalet are sure to be in for a treat!
In order to ensure the happiness and well-being of the growing hippo family, what we need now is rain. While there have been some scattered showers, Andreasdam where the hippos are housed is looking very dry. Not only will this have an adverse effect on the hippos, but this unusually dry weather season will also have consequences for the other animals on the farm. Many of the animals here are water-dependent and need to stay close to a water-hole.
So, an extra careful eye must be kept on the water supplies!
That is all I can report on for today, and while this may have been a short entry, shorter is definitely sweeter!
Look after yourselves in the coming week!
On my camera I saw the Hippomother lying with young one. Suddenly I saw the Hippo twitching its ear and it opened one eye. In the next moment a leopard came from behind through a tunnel of gras, as it emerged from the tunnel it stopped for one second looked at the Hippo and continued to his walk away from the Hippo. The Hippo did not move for a second and just closed its eye again.
Very good news. A hippobaby was born at duesternbrook safari guest farm and we had a very good rain season.
Jackpot. From previous news you know that we have introduced 3 Hippo in September 2011 in our big farm dam. Some two weeks ago, 1st week of june, I saw one evening on one of my permanent cameras very unexpected a big Hippo at a salt lick..but there was something else ..in front of the mother a small Hippobaby running around, which we had not seen or noticed before. For birth the mother went from the big Andreasdam to a smaller dam, Alexdam, which is about 8 km away. The next day she was back in the big dam introducing her baby to the other Hippo. So only after 8 months after introducing the three Hippo I have a small Hippo this is a real jackpot and we are very very happy about it as with the Rhino I had to wait 4 years.
Hippos carry about 240 days. The Hippochalet at the big dam, Andreas dam , is also getting more and more popular as it is so quite and remote and you have all this pure nature around you.
2011 was an unexceptional good rain season. I had 933 mm of rain which is 3 x times the average. Namibia has never seen such a good rain season since rain data are taken. I think the highest was like 760 mm in Windhoek but this year it was more than 1000 mm of rain. The vegetation looks fantastic. In the mountains, 2 month after the last rain, we still see some water running normally after 2 days of rain all the water has been soaked up by the sand but this year it is different . I have never experienced something like that in my life before. All the underground cavities have been filled up with water this year and that is very good for the country.
With this little news I like to greet you.
I wish you a happy and prosperous new year.Good rain. Already beginning november we had very good rain, the so called small rain season. In this small rain season I do not care too much about the grass but if the rain is good at least the trees are getting green leaves which helps a lot especially the browers as they suffer in the dry month most.This year their table was laid just in time.Our rainfall was just 4 days but double amount as normal so after about 10 days nature exploded into a green landscape.
Hippo. The Hippo are doing fine, they have well adapted to our big dam. In the beginning the cow which came from another dam was alone but after 10 days they are always together now in the water. Again in the beginning when it was much dryer I kept on feeding them but now they go out at night and graze on the green grass and return early in the morning. If you stay in the chalet they are in the water like 40 to 50 meter away or you could see them from the little balcony in the water or if they are coming out.
Pangolin, an animal which is very, very seldom seen. A week ago on a safari game drive not even 10 minutes from the farmhouse guests saw a Pangolin. I did not even know that we have this rare animal in our area. I myself have never seen it in my entire life, not here nor anywhere else not alive and also not dead or even any remains of it. To me it is more seldom in free nature than a leopard or even a black rhino, but I am happy that it is here and that again and again you are surprised by nature.
Leopard. See further down for the story.Since 3.9.2010 we duid not get a signal from him so he was out of cellphone range. Now we have received again a signal from him from end of october. He is still south of Windhoek in an area where he has not always cellphone coverage. But we are happy that he is still alive.
Special offer. If you visit Namibia you normally need one or two nights near the airport ( arrival/departure), furthermore you spend mostly two nights in Swakopmund coming from the north Etosha going down to Sossusvlei or the other way round. We now offer you a combination of then two as we are close to the airport (90km) and we have accommodation in Swakopmund. If you book 3 nights fully inclusive (not camping) on Duesterbrook Safari Guestfarm, you get 2 nights free in our self catering holiday apartment in Swakopmund.The 3 nights can be flexible say two night in the beginning of you stay and one night at the end of you stay or the other way round. The selfcatering apartment, has three dbl rooms, and is very central of Swakopmund: 2 min from the main beach, 3 min to a super market and 5 minutes all by foot to the centre of the town in other words also very close to any restaurants or cafe's. Make the sum and you will see this is a very interesting offer. You can even safe 5 days of car rental . For example we pick you up from the airport you stay here three days than take a shuttle to Swakopmund and stay another two days and than you can rent a car in Swakopmund to go to Sossusvlei for example. So there are many options if you do not like malaria (which is in the north) and if you do not like to drive on the left side of the road. We can organise a non-driving holiday for you called lodge or guest farm hopping without a car. Example: The shuttle to Swakopmund costs less than filling up your car.
Hippo. Finally after waiting for more than a year we got our three Hippo. One bull, one cow and a heifer. They arrived safely after a long trip from South Africa. Now they are settling in our big ( several acre ) dam. Thats only a shortnews for today. Kind regards Johann
We have had an exceptional good rain season. I am standing now at 732 mm of rain while our average is 280mm. Only in January we had more rain than our average. Than I had some damage which is fixed again as two walls came down and it took us about 4 weeks to repair, see pictures. The big dam is totally full the water is standing in the overflow. One more rain and it will overflow, so the dam looks very nice.
I also got now a camera at the dam and you see from the house the water the camera can rotate 360 if I want or I can keep it still just on one spot. It is planned during the year another 3 cameras at different water spots this you can see than on the TV screen in different rooms and the office. This is quite a sophisticated system which we have put in place as the signal goes from the water spot to the highest mountain and from there to the house. The basic structure and one 360 degrees camera is working. Now it is just a question of add one. The advantage for me is that I can see from my office what is happening at the dam sometimes I can even see the Hippos as they like to stay at one place for hrs up and down, up and down.
11.09.2010. Leopard. The second leopard with a gps collar was hanging around in this are for about 6 weeks. His maximum range from one side to the other was like 20 km. Suddenly beginning july he decided to move down south. He went through the mountains and for some days we had no signal. He went about 100 km south, I thought already he wants to go to the soccer world cup in SA. From 15.7. he was, as it seemed on the way back, but again out of range as since we do not get a signal until this day. At the moment we do not know is he still alive or just out of range or where is he? What a pity!!
My other leopards here at the house are doing fine, they are really beautiful animals. Really best leopard and or cheetah shots can be taken here. Some well known professional have also been here. On the my early mountain drive, which you get for free if you 2 nights or longer, some guests saw a female leopard and two cups. And the other day three free ranging cheetahs have been seen.
Chalet at the dam. Our Chalet at the dam only 3 km from the farmhouse is now furnished and ready for use. Two beds, table and a small bathroom and a balcony to look over the water. You can make your own food , or you can have dinner at the main house it is very flexibel. The first guests we had enjoyed it very much to be so close to nature. Introduction price all inclusive is N$ 800.00/person. ( inclusive: the overnight at the chalet, dinner, breakfast and the two drives we offer). The chalet alone and you look after yourself is only N$ 200.00/night and person.
Campsite. We have now an inside and an outside camping site. Inside we have 6 sites and three light points and three plugs and fire places and there is a fence around thwe campsite. Outside, we have 5 sites along a river bed, there is no fence, the sites are much further apart from each other like between 80 and 100 meter, there are also fire places but no light ( due to the noise no own generator is allowed ). The distance to the toilett and shower is a bit more, but you are much closer to nature and you have a much better view of the surrounding, due to the riverbed it is very open, it is more like free camping. The experience shows the more advanced camper enjoys this much more.
Thats all for today.
Solarenergie. We have since two weeks a solar system up and running to produce enviroment friendly electricity from the the sun. I can cover now nearly the daily supply of our daily consumption.To cover more does not make sense at this stage as if I produce more into the grid I am not getting paid from our energy supply company, Nampower is unfortunately NOT doing anything to support the use of alternative energy and has been critised also in parlement lately having not done enough in terms of energy supply for Namibia since independance. Officially they say they want to do someting in terms of alternativ energy but pratically nothing happens. But my system is running and it is really a good feeling to use the sun for electricity and warm water supply.
Leopard. I had two experienced wildlife biologists from australia as volunteers and they did some leopard research on freeranging leopards on the farm. They established as good as possible a home range of one leopard and the moment we are busy with another leopard to see where he is roaming around and if homeranges are overlapping etc. This is all very exciting and this is ideal for some volunteer who likes to do a project on these animals to find out more about what prey he takes etc.The two volunteers also improved considerably my info centre in terms of displays and information about the large carnivore.
Python. Although I grew up on this farm and have spend many many yeas here and in the field we never came a cross a python in this area but since three years things have changed.First we saw one small python than we a year later we saw another small python and the other day I saw the first big python about 2.50m in length crossing the road and just a few days again I saw avery big track of a python. What a beautiful animal and how nice to be suprised after living so many years in this area to come across such an animal.
Chalet. The chalet only 3 km from the house at the dam is also slowly picking-up in popularity.
That is all for the moment from our side, the FIFA worldcup is on, winter is coming, days are getting shorter and temperature are starting to drop especially in the morning and the evening after sunset.
It is again such a long time that I have not updated the news. I see I am not a professional always with the lates news. But nevertherless first of all happy new year 2010.
Our online reservation system is also getting more popular as it makes life easier as you can immediately see the availability before you make a reservation. Here I can also offer specials for example at the beginning or at the end of your stay. Most people said they should have booked a second night to acclimitise or to finish off the trip, therefore I have created a special for two nights. So it is worthwhile to have a look in the online reservation system.
Good news is after we had such a bad small rain season the rain has come end of december and it makes such a difference to the animals if the green grass is getting more and more and I also feel much better now and I enjoy the green as well.
What is new? In our yard we have a small signalamplifier for cellphones. Anywhere now we have good reception and if you have your laptop with you and a modem ( offered by the local provider called mtc ) you can download your emails. If not we also have a WLAN or hotspot.
New is also for camper ( but it can also be used by non-campers) a little chalet at our dam with a fanatstic view on the water . It is in principle a little wooden hut on legs with a shower, a toilet and washbasin, a room for abot 4 people and a balcony. Light is only solar light. Food. Either you do it yourself like camping or we can supply you with the basics or you have dinner and breakfast at the mainhouse as it is only 3 km from the mainhouse. It is no luxury hut but more luxury than plain camping. I think it lends itself to spend a few days here as it is so calm and a nice area for hiking. There is no noise just nature and a few meters away you have the beach of the dam and the water birds.
Camping Landrover to hire. A friend of mine has a camping land rover for hire. It is very well equiped for two people and may be a child not older than 10 years. Rooftents, chairs cooking equipment etc simply everything is there. Condition is to spend two nights here one night in the beginning to pick it up and one night at the end to drop the car again. We will arrange to pick you up and bring you back to the airport. Costs: Euro 120.00 per day and Euro 3000.00 deposit. If you are interested just write to Gert Maenicke. email:gert @maenicke.com or look at his home page :www.landy-camper.com .
Another positiv news is that we have received again in november 2009 a silver award from the namibian hotel association. According to them a silver award is 90 until 95 % customer satisfaction.We are also proud and happy about this repeated achievement.
That is all for today and I hope sooner than in 7 month like last time.
First news is for us a little sensation. Finally we had a little Rhinobaby born here.In august 2004 I introduced 2 Rhinos and only now we have a little baby. It still so small that the back of it is hardly higher than the gras. You just see the ears above the gras.It is only 3 weeks old and the mother is very carefull.
We upgraded our website and you can now download a map how to get here and we have also a online brochure which can also be downloaded. Since 1 st of may 2009 you can do online realtime reservations here. Until today it has been used already quite a few times. This method really saves time and is much more convienient for everybody.
This is all for today until next time.
Some time has passed . Tourism wise 2008 was a very good year for Namibia. We also have been very busy but now with the international crisis for 2009 it seems as things are cooling down a bit. I can report we had avery good small rain season that is between september and december. It was the best I ever experienced. They predicted though a bad big rain season but nothing of the like it is also fantastic the country looks so beautifull and it will be so good for the game. 2008 brought some changes. First of all I have now since jan 2008 a new game viewing Land Rover, really a smart 4x4 to serve this specialised purpose. I also extended my kitchen and equiped it a bit more professional. Eco award. In 2005 and again in 2007 I received 3 out of 5 flowers in the eco award. In Nov 2008 I managed to receive 4 out 5 flowers in the namibia eco award. This puts me with some Wilderness Lodges in the forefront of running a set-up in sound ecilogical manner. This was achieved with the help of motivated volunteers. I am very proud of this achievement.
Beginning of december 2008 we celebrated here 100 years Duesternbrook. The ranch was bought on 3.12.1908. My parents bought this farm from the previous owner in 1942. In 1962 it became the first guest farm in Namibia. On 5.12.2008 we had a farmers day here. On the one hand it was my turn but as I also won the award agricultural employer of the year in 2008 I also had to offer a farmers day to show what we do here in terms of staff management, so I combined the two into one day. It was a very sucessfull day with some famers even staying here overnight.
23.10.2008. WARNING. Like anywhere else in the world be carefull if you pay with credit card. They discovered a syndicate who trying to bribe the staff working in lodges to copy credit card to be later misused. It did not happen to us but it has been in the press that it happend to a chain of lodges. Just always keep an eye on your card.
19.10.2008. Is this of interest to you? Just to show you how we are organised as a ranch in Namibia.
Membership: On the one hand we atre a ranch in Namibia so we are also member of the namibian agricultural union (NAU). Thsi is a roof organisation and the country is subdivided in subregions.In our farmer association we meet 4 x per year to dicuss agricutural matters. We always on different ranches in our area which is very interesting to see different farms and their specific problems. On 5.12.2008 it was our turn and at the same time we celebrated 100 years Duesternbrook as the farm was bought on 3.12.1908 and I was also obliged to offer a farmers day as I have won the agricutural employer of year award in 2008.Normally in the morning we discuss and are informed about agricutural matters and in the afternoon the farmer explains his farm and how he approaches the challenges of his life.
For the sake of game management of the larger area we are also member of the Khomas Hochland Conservancy of roughly 200 000 ha. This was a voluntary decision of the neighbouring farmers to create this conservancy to discuss game reated matters.The conservancy is also registered by the MET ( Ministry of enviroment and tourism). As we are so big we subdiveded our conservancy again in 4 subregions of the directly neighbouring farmers.The roof organisation again of all the conservancies in namibia is called CANAM.
For the sake of sustainable game utilisation we are memeber of the namibian professional hunting orgaisation NAPHA. This is the biggest tourism organisation in Namibia and most probably also the best organised. This organisation looks after the interests the diffrent hunting guides in Namibia. This organisation also does most, according to my knowledge, to the poorer people of Nambia of all tourism organisations in Namibia. There is the best training for the guides, trackers and camp staff of the local community. They help schools in terms photocopy machines, or blankets in winter etc. Trophy hunting is a specialised form of tourism which generates a lot of foreign exchange for the country. In average one hunter spends as much as 10 times as a normal tourist. many people do not like trophy hunting but mostly just because they only know part of the total picture. They do not know the spin offs. If done properly it is without question the best tool in terms of nature conservation as game get a high value and people are therefore prepared to look after it. Since introduction of trophy hunting in Namibia in the sixties game number have gone more than ever before.In a country like Namibia with such a low rainfall ( pratically very low agricultural activity possible) we simply cannot afford and we do not want to do without trophy hunting. It keps so many jobs alive on and in remote areas. In my case for example I have only 15 to 20 hunters per year, compared to far over 2000 normal tourists but these 20 persons are responsible for over 80% of all the tip which we used as a fund to pay the school fees of the kids of the employees and we manage to get all the kids through the school today. It is all a question how it is done, I am not saying there no bad hunters those which the press like to publish, but it is not the majority. Conservation is not about saving the life of this one animal which I see right now it is about saving and protecting the species.
As we are also in tourism we are also member of the Hotel asscociation of Namibia.(HAN) This organsation looks again after hospitality related matters.All the tourism orgaisations like HAN or NAPHA or the car rental orgaisation are again under one umbrella organisation called FENATA. ( Federation of Namibian Tourism Organisations)
This is all for now
Crime is never a nice subject, I know, people do not want to know about it, but thereby it is not getting less. I from my experience and what I read in the paper would like to tell what you can do just to be prepared. please do not get me wrong Namibia ist still the most safe country in Africa but with rising food prices and higher pertrol prices the pressure is rising and a tourist is a soft target there are no two ways about it. Take responsibility and be prepared.The police it will appear shift their work towards admin not investigating. So to be insured or to insure you valuables ist a good idea. Second try to dublicate your memory cards for your photo make immediately back-up and store it somewhere else. Make use of the safes in the room for your airtickets, passport, back-up memeory cards etc. they are not there just for decoration. Carry your photo and money always with you. Use the alarm system of the rooms if they are there. Use these security measures anywhere in Namibia, often peole do not want to admid that there might not be a risk, even if it is less ...be always prepared and you can safe you a lot of time an trouble waiting at the police station or where ever until all those papers are filled out etc.
Just in case we at Düsternbrook, have now security and alarm systems in the rooms but also small safes but you also have to take responsibility for yourself as you would do in any other country in this world. Even if you think its safer still do it it does not demand too much extra pain. Be prepared and you will have a much better feeling. Do not be afraid that was not my intention.
Otherwise everything is fine here all the animals are doing very well and you will enjoy the cats there is no question.
I have some good news and only one bad news. The good news is Düsternbrook Safari Guest Farm managed in 2007 to get just just second in the agricultural employer of the year award.It took me years to strike a good balance between my environmental policy, sound financial stability and social investment.If you look lately at some of the european countries with a high social network you can clearly see a high social level is a luxury and they all have to cut on their social spendings because it is not sustainable. Looking at the film of Al Gore it will apear the whole living standard in europe with their high CO2 output is not sustainable and to the disadvantage to many other countries elsewhere in the world. Africas CO2 output ia only 2.5.%. The lesson for me was, you need a minimum of social conditions, but otherwise you first have to get the business going and than do your social investment.Many african and other countries, it seems to, me have not understood this. They first make a social investment which drains their coffins before they can get the business going. I first got vital business points going and than I made major social investments like building new houses, building a new kindergarden, training etc. The return of investment, the better business, now carry those social investment costs to the advantage of the employees. I am quite sure today my employees, in average, are of the best earning in the agricultural sector of Namibia.Each employee also has its share or cut in the business i.e. part of the earnings are linked to the turnover of their specific work.The socio-economic development which has taken place here over the last years I think is very interesting.Mathias, a young swiss gentleman, has written an environmental study about water, waste and energy managementand and you can clearly see how with the higher living standard of the employees water and energy consumption has gone up.
The second positiv news is that in 2007 I also managed to get again the eco award, 3 out of 5 flowers. The eco award is re-evaluated every two years, so you are not allowed to get slack.We are quite happy about this achievment.This year, 2008, I am aiming for 4 flowers and I think we are not far away.
The third good news is we achieved in 2007 a bronze award from the namibian hotel association, HAN. This is the 5 th award now in a row in the hospitality sector.
As I write these lines I see what a bad marketing person I am. As all this happend last year which is now about 5 month ago. But may "be better late than never" and I can improve on this one.
Another good news is we and the whole country had really good rains.The country looks beautiful and green.In january it still looked very bad with only some soft showers. Many game farmers, including us, had to feed their game as there was no more grass.Some really had to invest thousands so that the game does not die. 2007 is the worst year that I have experienced here. We had years with less rain but the rain distribution was was better. Anyway now its over and it looks all very good.The north got too much rain and is partly flooded.
On the negativ side crime has gone up in Namibia since Independance.It is by far not like in South Africa but and thats why I am writing it here just be carefull and not negligent. Its not more than anywhere else in the world, so, for you, apply the same safety methods you would use on any other travel. Important papers have to be on your body or locked up in a room safe or a central safe in the reception. Back-up your memory chips of your photos more often on CD or laptop and keep it seperately from the cameras.Cars have to be locked at night. Make use of car guards in the towns.
Otherwise tourism has been very good in Namibia last year.The country is getting more an more popular in the traveling society.Officially is has gone up by 7%. The practical result of this is you have to make your bookings and reservation more in advance. Direct or nonstop flights to Windhoek is the best option but you have too book well in advance.There are now 5 flights from Frankfurth with Air Namibia and two flights from Düsseldorf or Munich with LTU, and two flights from London also with Air Namibia.Of course you can fly also via Johannesburg to Windhoek but you loose at least 5 hours.The exchange rate is very favourable for you. One Euro = 12 N$ or one pound = 16 N$. So it is about 25% cheaper for you than 2 years ago.Thats all for today, thank you.
In fact the rain season was very bad this year and the country faces a lot of problems. One of the reason is the overgrazing, here a lot can be learned from the commercial farmers who have developed over the years a very fine tuned grazing system for our dry circumstances.From a cultural point of view communal farmers do not like to seperate from their cattle as this shows richness, but in years of draught this is necessary to relieve the ground.The goverment now subsidises transport costs to get the cattle of the overgrazed pastures.You see once overgrazed you have to start off with a so called pioneer grazing but which needs 3 to 10 times more rain than a well established perenial grazing, but in normal years you have not this higher rainfall and again you sit with a man made draught.We have to wait at least another 4 months before we can expect for sure a better rain although the wheather forcast say october to december looks good. Wait and see.Thats one of the reason why I moved away from a monoculture cattle farming set-up to be excatly less dependant on rain.With game you "graze" also vertically and not only horizontal so you use your available plants and trees much more effectivly.
Tourism is going in generall very well in Namibia and it seems that it will or has allready overtaken the fish industry in Namibia as an income generator for the country. We on this ranch also cannot complain. My small leopard which is now quite big, 14 month, is now well trained, to go up the tree in front of the people and cars, so he is doing very well and this is still a very unique experience in Namibia. Also the other two leopards are doing very well and soon one will also be trained, we are just building another new training enclosure.
My kids in the kindergarden have unfortunately not passed the test in the german private school. Their english was not fluent enough and the test was from my judgement a bit one sided as I am sure if we had trained just these specific test excersises which they had to do they would have easlily passed. But be it as it may this is not the end. They will go now to another school and whatever they have learned here will be a big advantage once they come to school next year. Thanks to all the volunteers who made a contribution during their stay here.
horse training: I just got one application to do this job, thats not a lot but she, Franziska, does a great job. She spends 5 to 6 hours with the horses and has the chance of a lifetime to apply Monty Roberts training methods with success, as these are mainly so called totally free ranging horses.She is and will gain very very valuable experiences and she is willing to learn. After 6 weeks she just started to ride one horse which had some trainig before and another horse which was completly wild is following her in the round pen and she can touch him already on the neck and nearly on the back. I am glad she is here.
on that note
We are in the middle of the rainy season, but there is very little rain. This is opposite to 2006, which was an excellent rainy year, so the weather situation currently looks bad as the rain that did fall was insufficient to let the grass grow. However in other places like Zambasi, Okavango and Kunene they have enjoyed more water than in the last 20 years.
Here on the Guest Farm everthing is ok and we are all fine. It surprises me that in these first three months of the year I have already received a lot of reservations and bookings. It seems that Namibia is becoming more famous. So, if you are also planning to spend your vacation in our country, I recommend that you book as soon as possible.
My rhinos still haven't had babies but there is quite a lot of news from my leopards. The little male leopard, which another farmer brought to me last august, and which was in a very bad condition then, is now nine months old, strong and fast. He likes to spend time in the trees but he is still pretty shy. It will take some time before he gets used to people and cars. But in the meantime Gina (our female leopard) has become a real star! And there is still more news. Since the end of January I have received two little leopards as their mother was shot and the farmer where they were before couldn't keep them. These cute little cats are now 4 months old and already twice as big as a domestic cat. Until now I cannot say which sex they are, but they are healthy, getting the right food and looking very relaxed when they stay on the trees.
There are also good messages from our Kindergarden. Since february I had a volunteer called Samantha, from England, who had just graduated from university. She cares a great deal about the kindergarden where she and Diana taught the kids english, because they need this language to get accepted to the school (Deutsche Privatschule) I want them to go to. Samantha does a great job! She has also written me a curriculum for the whole year so that Diana has a plan which she can follow when there are no volunteers here. They now know the alphabet and it is amazing how motivated they are and how fast these farm children learn. The next volunteer, also from England, comes in the middle of May. It's now very important, that they practice their english because it would be wonderful if they could go to a better school than the national schools as these aren't very good. That is why I registered them on the Deutsche Privatschule. The cost per child per year will be Euro 1500,00 and I'm Willing to take over the full cost for all 4 children. but it would be great to hear from anybody who would like to help us with this. We are very grateful for every little bit of help and it is guaranteed to go towards a very good purpose, going directly to those who need it.
Volunteering: I'm looking for someone, who would spend 3 months here on the farm and who would train my horses. Deal: Food and accommodation against horse training.
We and the whole of Namibia had a very good season. Officially in July, August and September, Namibia had 7 % more tourists than the previous year.The kindergarden is doing very well and the kids are really enjoying it. I think it has changed their lives already so I am very happy to have started it. We have received another silver award from the hotel association on the 19.11.2006.The female leopard Gina is doing very well which just goes to demonstrate female power!!. But most important for our english speaking visitors who are keen bird watchers is the news that I had Ken Burton here. Ken is an American wildlife biologist from California and he compiled a fantastic list of birds surrounding the house in addition to a much longer list of birds that you can expect to see on the different walking trails. In total he managed to spot 160 birds in just 4 weeks. Furthermore, due to the good rainy season in the beginning of the year, we also had a good fire season. I lost about 6000 ha. but fire also has its positive sides as it cleans the landscape of old wood and smaller bushes which reduces the bush densities which can be a problem with lack of fire.That's all for now.
Time runs so fast. Anyway we and the whole of Namibia had a fantastic rainy season from January through to April so the country looks fantastic with all the big water reserves filled up and grazing recovering very well. Our oldest leopard Caeser has died from old age, but he was about 26 or 27 years of age which is very old for a leopard.He was perhaps the most photographed leopard in the world in my opinion. Another leopard also died very unfortunately from a burst stomach after 15 years with us but the vet could find no reason for it in the post mortem analysis as he found no bone or anything sharp in the stomach. Our "star" at the moment is a little female Gina.
Furthermore our Kindergarden for the kids of the employees is finally finished. 5 kids enjoy this luxury now and this will change their lives.They have their own kindergarden building and their own teacher and they will learn many of the things they will need in school. The kids are enjoying the kindergarden very much and are very excited to go there every day.This has been a major step towards the upliftment and improvement of the farm and is a central part of our overall philosophy here. That's also why we received, among others, the ECO AWARD last year. Part of it is obviously due to our guests who come here to support the guest farm and by that also local social mini-projects.The kids are also taught in english to count and the abc etc. with the effect that they repeat it so much at home that their mothers and fathers may also learn the language, as they currently do not know any english because most of them have not been to school.So teach the kids and you teach the world. On this note
It is about time to up date the news, I have been very negligent!!! 2004 has been a very good year and in 2005 we received the Silver Award from the Namibian Hotel Association, HAN. In May 2005 we also received, as only guest farm in Namibia, the newely introduced ECO AWARD. Next to Damaraland Wilderniss camp who got 4 flowers, Duesternbrook Guest Farm near Windhoek and another lodge were second best in Namibia and we managed to get 3 out of 5 flowers. I think we can be very proud of this achievement. The ECO AWARD not only takes into consideration how environmentally friendly you run your business (waste management, water and energy consumption) but also how you train and employ people from the local community in addition to your game and wildlife management as a whole.
At the end of august 2004 we have introduced two white rhinos onto our property. They are now over a year old and are doing very well. This year we have built some stables for the horses in case they have to stay a few days at the house for those people who like to go horse riding. Our information center for leopard and cheetah and our reading corner with wildlife literature is also getting more and more popular. We have improved our camp site and are currently busy building a kindergarden for the kids of our employees. Hopefully it will be finished this year. We added another walking trail and replaced all the signboards with bigger ones so you see there is always something happening here to improve the comfort of the guests.
Until next time or when I see you and you will be welcomed at Duesternbrook Guest Farm.
Apart from the Bronze Award 2004 which we received from the Namibian Hotel Association, I lave also got my own quality control system to monitor my service. This system has proved to be very valuable to me over the years in relation to necessary improvements etc. We evaluated 147 questionaires, as not everybody fills in these questionaires, but it gives you a good indication. As result I give you only the percentages of good and very good.
Appearance and cleanliness of the facilities ( good or very good): guestrooms 93%; bathrooms 80%;dining room 93%; Pool and garden 85%; yard 94%.
Services ( good or very good): reception 89%; individual visitor care 94%; courtesy and efficiency of staff 97%;
Activities: Cheetah and leopard drive 96%; Gamedrive 89%; Horseriding 96%; walking trails 90%; transfer service 82%.
Meals: Breakfast 96%; lunch 89%; Dinner 93%
30% of our guests come in the beginning of their stay and 70% at the end of their stay.
I am very happy to note that in comparison to September 2000, when I last published these results, there is a clear improvement, as we worked hard on the guests comments to improve our product and all its different facets. But the most important question is: do the guests come back or is my occupation rate getting better? Yes that is also the case and we will without question continue to improve as we enjoy having happy guests who should be getting good value for their money.
This year it is also our 10th year of our cheetah and leopard drive the way we offer it today. From an open Jeep you can see these wonderful cats and can take excellent photos. A really good and exciting experience.
Sensation and good news: Last year we saw young white kudu in the mountains. This is not an Albino as it has normal brown eyes. Then we did not see him for several months, but now he is suddenly back in our game area. I have never heard of a white kudu ever to be seen and I think this is a small sensation. But seeing and taking a photo are two different pairs of shoes. This time I was lucky.The kudu is about 4 to 5 years old and the horns are getting into the second turn.
And finally. Another giraffe got a small baby in mai. The smaller one on the foto is about 4 to 6 weeks old and the little bigger one is born in april. The big one behind is not the mother but the elder sister.
kind regards until next time.
Telephone, fax, email, everthing is working again. We had a good rainy season so everything looks fantastic throughout the whole country.The animals are breeding well and it is always something special if you get small giraffes and this happened in April. The baby is now about 4 weeks old and our giraffe family now stands at 12.
Award 2004: We received this year again a bronze award from the Namibian Hotel Association, HAN. Last year we just missed out on a silver award by two questionnaires. At least 50 questionnaires have to be sent in and we had only 48 because 2 cards did not have an address for spotchecks so they where disqualified. But the evaluation would have been a silver award so thanks to those guests who participated.
Johann Vaatz and his team
Please be patient with our e-mails as all our telephone lines are down due to the heavy rain. This occurs only in the rainy season in Jan, Feb and March.As we live in the countryside telecom takes quite some time before they come out here, so please be patient. We try at least once a week to answer the mails if we go to town.This is relevant only during the rain season jan, feb, march. Only our cell line is working.00264(0) 81 124 1662.
December 2003: Due to the developments in the exchange rate US$ and Euro vis-a-vis the SA Rand/N$ we decided to quote all our prices now from 18.12 2003 in N$ (= SA Rand).We honour all the bookings done before 18.12.2003 in Euro or US$. All bookings done after 17.12.2003 will be quoted in N$ (= SA Rand). The equivilant of the Euro or US$ will be calculated on a weekly exchange rate.
It seems to be now a reality.The Namibian Government has dedicided to introduce a 2% Bed levy on the Bed and Breakfast price from 1.3.2004 onwards.
October 2003: Spring is now in Namibia and this came quite fast. In August there were still a few cold days and then it changed quickly. Now all is in flower and it is getting quite warm, but at night the temperature always drops and one can sleep very well.
The exchange rate is changing rapidly and the Rand or Namibia Dollar gained strength, compared to last year in september by 20%, so I had to adapt the prices in Euro.
On the wildlife side I saw something quite sensational yesterday which at least I have never seen before: a white kudu. My neighbour once told me that he had seen a white kudu and my employees have also seen it but yesterday I saw, in a totally different area, a white young kudu bull. However, it appears not to be an albino which is the most interesting part of it.
The new workers houses (4 units) are finished and the employees have moved in and are enjoying their new homes. Now we are busy upgrading the older houses.We are also building a new leopard enclosure of 20 ha which will be finished soon, and then we will have about 75 ha ( 190 acre ) for 8 cats as cheetah and leopard enclosures, all natural terrain.This year the rain season was very bad, so we started to enlarge our game area instead of beeing forced to buy food later in the year. Our "big chief" leopard Caeser had again a lady leopard visitor from outside in his 10 ha ( 25 acre) enclosure. Somehow the lady leopard manages to get in, normally she stays about a week and leaves again. I saw her personally sitting high up in a tree looking at me.
Our new campsite ( see june 2001) is now popular but it was a bit dark for access at night. Now we have put up some 15 light points to show the way to the campsite and the luxury safari tents. Needless to mention power is available on a 24 hr basis 220V without a noisy generator. The giraffes had again two young ones in October 2002. This year we concentrated more on new housing for the workers and new garages and workshop for the farm. During the year we received an award from the local hotel association.
Our prices in Euro won't change in 2002.
New fixed wall bathrooms for our luxury tents: We upgraded the luxury tents with fixed wall bathroom. The bathroom is entirely closed with electrical light and 220 V plug. Please look at our photo gallery for details and to get a better impression.
Camping on Düsternbrook: In the beginning of the year, together with the bathrooms in the tents, we upgraded the fixed house and the sanitary facilities for campers. We offer the camping as a package: dinner, camping, breakfast and the activities. We don't allow for selfcatering as we don't want to create a baboon problem. We want you to camp in a peaceful environment.
New Lapa: The new lapa with game viewing deck is enjoyed very much by the clients.
New additional bathroom: Düsternbrook is often booked at the end of the Namibia safari. Often the flight home is only in the evening. Now you can still enjoy the whole day here and utilize your time to a maximum. Then, at the last minute, you can take a refreshing shower in the new additional bathroom, put on your travel gear and leave for the airport relaxed.
Floodlight at artificial waterhole: There is still some water in the river which passes in front of the main house. If the water dries up an artificial waterhole is in place for the game to drink water. At night we can now switch on a floodlight to see the game.
Gamedrive: We introduced seven waterbuck into our gamepark which can be seen on the gamedrive. In march/april 2001 two giraffes were born and they are doing very well.
Very good news. A hippobaby was born at duesternbrook safari guest farm and we had a very good rain season.
On my camera I saw the Hippomother lying with young one. Suddenly I saw the Hippo twitching its ear and it opened one eye. In the next moment a leopard came from behind through a tunnel of gras, as it emerged from the tunnel it stopped for one second looked at the Hippo and continued to his walk away from the Hippo. The Hippo did not move for a second and just closed its eye again.