By By Shasimana Uugulu
November 2010
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SITUATED a mere 29 kilometres south east of Windhoek on a hilltop overlooking a spectacular landscape, GocheGanas is a luxury lodge offering a unique combination of wildlife, nature and wellness experiences.

The lodge first opened its doors in 2004 after Udo Stritter and his son, Ingo converted this 6 000 hectare property into a game reserve and wellness village sheltering more than 25 different wildlife species.

GocheGanas is a descriptive Damara/Nama name meaning a “Place of Camel Thorns with Candle-Pod Acacias”.

Designed on a Chakra concept, an ancient Hindu word that means a circle, GocheGanas lodge offers 16 luxurious chalets, under thatched roof, with uninterrupted views over the nature reserve and all rooms are equipped with en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, mini bars, and TV and DVD/CD players.

The wellness village boasts of state of the art facilities, as well as heated indoor pool, cave sauna as well as fitness and gym facilities

Large game species totalling approximately 1,600 roam the GocheGanas nature reserve and visitors enjoy early morning and late afternoon game drives which, according to the lodge Manager Reinhold Risser, “remains a highlight for many visitors”.

“Our qualified guides assist with sharing information on the fauna, flora and interesting bird species. With the abundance of game on the farm, every game drive has its highlights, especially when guests are lucky enough to view our rhino family, says Risser.”

Wildlife on GocheGanas include steenbok, duiker, klipspringer, red hartebeest, wildebeest, eland, Burchell’s zebra (protected and conserved animals in Namibia), springbok, oryx (gemsbok), kudu, giraffe, waterbuck, warthog, white) rhinoceros, cheetah, leopard, caracal, striped polecat (Zorilla), and black wildebeest.

Among the smaller species, you can spot are the small-spotted genet, honey badger, African wild cat, cape fox, bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, aardwolf, aardvark, pangolin, yellow mongoose, banded mongoose, suricate (meerkat), ground squirrel, scrub hare, springhare, rock dassie, porcupine, and bushbaby and chacma baboon.

GocheGanas offers its guests the unique experience of enjoying a combination of hospitality, wellness, wildlife and nature, all working together to compliment a sense of well-being.

“The tranquil surroundings, stunning landscapes and glimpses of herds of game beckons our guests to enjoy the variety of activities we have on offer, ranging from our outdoor activities such as walks and guided game drives to relaxing in the comfort of the wellness village”, explains Risser.

The wellness village consists of 11 specialist treatment rooms with a heated indoor swimming pool under a cathedral like masonry vault, an outdoor swimming pool on the Oasis Peninsula affording breath-taking views, a Granite Bath (cave sauna), and Kneipp showers and also include fitness, gym and yoga facilities, as well as a fruit and juice bar.

A large variety of special packages and wellness treatments are offered, ranging from outdoor massages to de-stress and detoxification packages as well as personal training and nutritional consultations.

Risser explains that wellness is a holistic approach to health that combines all aspects of physical, mental and spiritual well-being to realign mind, body and soul.

“It is a place where the noise of our busy lives is drowned out by the whispers of tranquillity - a place where we can draw upon the strength of a healthy body and the sanctuary of our inner calm”, adds Risser.

In December 2002, the owners of GocheGanas Nature Reserve made an exciting discovery of ancient Stone Age caverns, located a few kilometres from the lodge. Stone tools and a variety of pottery shards were found and according to Risser it has been confirmed that the pieces are between 2000 and 9000 years old, making its tourism hotspot more unique.

He says more and more caverns are being discovered, and it would appear that the natural hot water spring on GocheGanas could have been the reason for Stone Age humans to settle down here.

“The possibility also exists that rock engravings or paintings may be found on GocheGanas. Therefore due care is taken not to damage this sensitive area, and for this reason, guided visits to the Stone Age Caverns are offered by GocheGanas,” he elaborates.

GocheGanas has more than 40 employees, some working at the lodge and others within the nature reserve.

According to Risser the lodge is one of the few places that are mostly fully booked throughout the year and this thanks to the unique naturalness, the services offered, the wellness village, the spectacular landscape and its proximity to Windhoek.

“On average the duration of the stay at our lodge is four nights for most visitors, while at most lodges guests spend only one or two nights. Some tourists also prefer making a stop here to relax at our wellness village to relieve their bodies of the stress they endured after touring other parts of Namibia.” PF