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Through the curtain to Namibia's haven

By unknown | Jul 10, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

I've finally managed to solve one of life's little mysteries that has bothered me for years - what lies behind the curtain on aeroplanes that separates first class passengers from the rest of us who sit in economy class?

I've finally managed to solve one of life's little mysteries that has bothered me for years - what lies behind the curtain on aeroplanes that separates first class passengers from the rest of us who sit in economy class?

My whole life when flying I've had to squeeze my ample frame into a space designed for a 10-year-old. When the person in front reclines in their seat my knees normally end up somewhere around my ears and at meal times I resemble an octopus as I attempt to get my coordination right.

Imagine my surprise and delight, when on a recent flight to Namibia's capital Windhoek, I found myself "bumped-up" to first class.

At first I thought it was a joke until I found myself seated and the white tablecloths and champagne being handed out - and that was before departure?

With the drinks trolley never far away I decided it was a good time to put to an end to my three month-break with booze. I mean I couldn't toast my good luck with mineral water could I!

Throwing caution to the wind I ordered a gin and tonic - double of course - from the lovely Emma, a stewardess.

As the flight progressed and the drinks went down it became something of a joke every time Emma enquired "how my drink was" and the standard reply was "empty".

Lunch consisted of a starter of cold chicken with slices of orange accompanied by garlic bread dripping with butter. This was followed by slices of mutton, peas and mashed potato.

Not for us the standard issue plastic knives and forks - which are about as useful as a Chippy Shaik engineering degree - but genuine silver utensils.

Dessert was a decadent chocolate cake soaked in a brandy sauce.

All this was finished off with an assortment of cheeses and coffee. I must admit the one cheese on offer smelt like something the dog threw up the night before but it tasted like it was made in heaven!

The reason for my whistle-stop visit to Namibia was for the launch of a new motor vehicle and our overnight base was GocheGanas Game Lodge, which is about 50km from the airport and 30km outside the capital, Windhoek.

Set on a 6000ha nature reserve, the resort has 15 chalets set atop a mountain that commands a spectacular view.

The chalets themselves are attractively furnished.

Walk into the bathroom and the first thing that hits you is the enormous round bath that sits below a skylight, but more of that later.

Walk out on to the small balcony and you can sit and relax and absorb the splendour that unfolds before you.

During my short stay I came across a variety of game. From rhino to springbok, gemsbok to kudu but for me the highlight was coming across a herd of giraffe - at least 40 - silently walking past on their way to wherever.

But GocheGanas is more than just a game reserve and boasts a Wellness Centre second to none.

A heated indoor swimming pool, cave sauna and fitness and gym equipment are all on offer and well worth a visit.

After a drive around the reserve, it was time for dinner, which consisted of medallions of eland accompanied by roast potatoes and spinach in a cream sauce. Dessert was a sweet chocolate and vanilla mousse covered in a mulberry sauce.

Ooh la la.

Back to the bath in the chalet. Deciding this was the best way to unwind. After a long day, it was a case of filling it up to the rim, sinking in and taking in the magnificent view through the skylight.

Lying back and looking up you are exposed to thousands of stars, all dancing about like Fred Astaire. For the brave there is an outside shower for that real back-to-nature feel.

I slept with the curtains open that night so as not to miss the sunrise the next morning. I wasn't disappointed.

Creeping over the horizon like a hot ember, the sun soon chased away the cold, and enticed the animals out from their night shelters.

Given the choice of a mountain bike ride, a walk or a massage was a tough choice as after all of the eating I had done, I know it should have been one of the first two. But a 30 minute back, neck and head massage won. I was not disappointed.

"Our massages and in general our wellness centre are very popular," said Alexander Christow, operations manager for the resort.

After completing a three-year course in the hospitality industry in Germany, Christow has lived in Namibia for three years and loves every moment.

"You literally fall in love with this place. I call it the Namibian virus - the friendliness of the people. They are so full of love and very helpful."

In fact Christow is marrying a local woman in September and the couple are expecting their first child in three weeks time.

"It is an exciting time and I can think of no better country than Namibia to experience it."

The only downside for me was that my trip was so short.

For me Namibia is a country just waiting to be explored.

GocheGanas was my first stop and has opened my eyes to a country that is not only exquisitely beautiful but friendly as well.

Everyone I met was welcoming and positive and willing to share knowledge and experiences.

Back at the airport that afternoon for my flight home, I bumped into Emma, the air hostess. She was preparing for a flight to Europe that evening. Sitting with colleagues at a small cafe I inquired how her drink was . "empty" she replied with a smile.

lTo view a photo gallery and video of GocheGanas log on to www.sowetan.co.za


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