COUNTRY CLOSE TO TOWN
ELISENHEIM Guest Farm is located 15 kilometres outside Windhoek along the Okahandja road. It is an ideal countryside getaway, not only for tourists but for Windhoekers longing for relaxation.
Christina and Andreas Werner have owned the guest farm since 1986. In fact, records show that it is the eighth guest farm to be registered in Namibia.
Resting on 2200 hectares of land, Elisenheim lies on the foot of the famous Eros Mountains and shares the same borders with Heja Lodge and Otjihase Mine.
Spectacular views of the densely populated forest and mountains swallow the ten minute drive to the guestfarm.
It was Prime Focus’ first experience of an informal leisure resort that Namibia has to offer to tourists. The farm house is surrounded by a stunning show of bamboo, flowers and a beautifully kept garden.
We turn down the tea and homemade cake for soft drinks, as Christina sits down to share with us the experience of farm life.
It is a pretty farmstead set in a beautiful location and as we chat outside the bar, other German speaking guests frequently interrupt us, needing Christina’s attention.
Andreas is busy with three farm labourers digging a trench for water pipes.
“He does everything by himself. He thatched the bar roof with the boys (farm labourers) after it was burnt down by a farm fire and my husband does not like outsourcing,” says Christina.
European guests sit in the garden next to the swimming pool, relaxing and unwinding, the only sound being that of the wind rattling the bamboo trees.
A combination of sweet and foul indefinable smells from the forest makes the whole environment profound and offers an idyllic holiday retreat.
Visitors exploring Namibian countryside will find staying on a farm both enjoyable and economical.
For Christina Werner, farm life is a type of get-away which should be made popular for families. With milking to watch and animals to stroke, children are entertained and educated.
The farm has a gentle walking trail that leads to a (usually) dry riverbed, and a hiking trail. Visitors can enjoy activities such as horse riding, swimming, mountain climbing, bird watching, canoeing and wild animals citing.
It has areas purely devoted to wildlife including kudus, warthogs, steenbucks, occasional leopards, and baboons.
Stories from Eliseheim Guest Farm are a sample of Namibian history meeting Mother Nature at her best.
The oldest building on the property is the farmhouse itself, which was built in 1908 during the period marked by the war of colonial resistance waged by the Herero and Namas against the Germans.
Says Christina, “This farm has its unique history. During the German colonial period the Schutztruppe horses on patrol would come drink water at the spring on their way to Windhoek.”
South African colonial government Administrator General Wentzel Christoffel du Plessis owned the farm before renting it to Christina’s father.
Christina and Andrias married and moved to the farm in 1983 from Windhoek.
The Namibian couple decided to establish a guest house on the property in 1986 after realising that they often get many visitors from the city who wanted to spend weekends with them, escaping from the noisy city life.
“We started only with six rooms and later added a campsite and a mountain hut built on top of the mountain.”
The mountain hut is built against rocks, and offers a beautiful view over wide open farmland and city of Windhoek. It is 1200m above sea level.
An open plateau is situated behind the mountain hut which, according to Christina is suitable for guests who wish to overnight in tents.
The guest farm offers excellent cuisine, comfortable guest rooms, swimming pool and game viewing at nearby waterholes which, according to Christina combine to make Elisenheim what it is - the place to enjoy that “holiday of a lifetime”.
It now has nine guest rooms with a total of 20 beds; that are comfortably furnished and also offers modern conference facilities for up to 30 delegates and an entertainment room that can cater for up to 80 guests.
“We host functions not only for government ministries and private companies, but also many family parties and high school reunions.”
The lounge of the mountain hut can accommodate up to 12 persons and has braai-facilities inside and outside. It also has three beds, with three additional mattresses, cutlery and crockery, gas-stove, an outside bathroom with hot shower, flush-toilet and hand basin.
The bar and entertainment area burnt down in 2002 and had to be rebuilt. The new look entertainment area is supported by five giant Eucalyptus trees and has a wreckage of the famous Martin Luther Train, part of which is exhibited outside Swakopmund. Andreas recovered it from the near riverbed.
The couple’s daughter, Nicole (23) an interior designer, does the exotic decor of the guest farm.
The Guest Farm rose to international fame over the past seven years with a domesticated kudu which the Werners had adopted in 2003. Tourists came in hordes to see this kudu. They called her Kambi, this kudu had been tamed and lived with people and other domestic animals, “the way a dog or cat does,” says Christina.
The kudu had strolled into the farmyard as a three day old baby deserted by its mother.
“I took care of her and nursed her like my own kid.”
Soon Kambi began regarding herself more of a cat than a kudu, staying on the farm premises for more than six years where she could sleep in the sitting room, or on the verandah at the farm house and allowed tourists to pat and or play with her.
She became the face of the guest farm.
Says Christina: “When guests went back to Europe and wanted to enquire on our well being or thank us for the hospitality most of the time they would first start by asking how Kambi was doing.”
Unfortunately, one afternoon in 2009 Kambi sneaked into the garage and ate something poisonous and died.
“I was so devastated when she died. She was part of the family and she would even be rubbing shoulders with tourists. She played and slept with my two dogs and would always be home although sometimes she would join other kudus in the wild but still come back at sunset. It is because of her that I became a vegetarian,” says Christina Werner.PF