Dordabis and environs
The small town of Dordabis, at the end of the tarred C23 to the southeast of Windhoek, is closer to the capital than Gobabis. There's a police station and petrol station here, and a small township just outside the centre, all in a beautiful valley covered with tall acacia trees, between rounded, bush-covered hills.
In recent years the area has attracted attention as the base for several artists and craftspeople, especially weavers. Dorka Teppiche
, situated on the farm Peperkorrel 294 (PO Box 9976, Dordabis; tel: 061 573581; fax: 061 229189) welcomes visitors, and here you can see how the textiles are woven, as well as buy the results.
Where to stay
Most of the guest farms in the area around Dordabis and Gobabis promote hunting rather than just watching game, though there are two excellent exceptions. Both are unusual, and worth a visit:
Eningu Clayhouse Lodge
(8 twin rooms) PO Box 9531, Windhoek; tel: 062 581880; fax: 062 581577; email: email@example.com; web: natron.net/tour eningu.htm. Central reservations tel: 061 226979; fax: 061 226999
Just an hour's drive (65km) south of the international airport, Eningu is surrounded by bush-covered dunes on the fringes of the Kalahari. Expect lots of masked weaverbirds in hanging nests, round eroded hills … and perhaps a little Kalahari sand when the grass dies down. It is one of Namibia's most original small lodges, winning the country's 'Best Lodge' award in 1997.
Each of its large, spacious rooms has stylish wooden furniture and two single beds with mosquito nets. Rugs cover parts of the painted, polished floors and the en-suite bathrooms have showers rather than baths. Outside each is a veranda on which to relax, with a few chairs.
Eningu is consciously arty – though in a relaxed way without being preten
tious. Its design seems to owe as much to New Mexico as Africa, and the work of many artists can be seen here, including that of the owner's mother, a well-known sculptress.
Activities include archery, volleyball and badminton, though relaxing in the hammocks amongst the banana trees (or the swimming pool and whirlpool-jacuzzi) is also popular. If you stay for more than one night, then you may also do trips to a local sculpture studio, a local leatherworking shop and craft centre, or even Arnhem Cave. This is a super, offbeat lodge, perfect for a first/last night in Namibia (if you're flying in/out).Rates: N$524 per person, full board.
Arnhem Cave and Restcamp
(4 chalets and camping) PO Box 11354, Windhoek; tel/fax: 061 581885; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Arnhem is signposted from the D1808, about 4km south of its junction with the D1506. From the airport take the B6–C51–D1506–D1808; from Gobabis turn left at Witvlei on to the D1800–D1808.
The main attraction here is a cave system. It's claimed to be the longest in Namibia and the sixth longest so far discovered in Africa, with about 4,500m of passages. It's thought to have been a home for bats for around 9,500 years, and still probably contains about 15,000 tons of bat guano, despite it being mined on and off for the last 70 years. Six species of bat have been identified here, including the giant leaf-nosed bat – the world's largest insectivorous bat. There are also shrews, spiders, beetles, water-shrimps and various invertebrates, some of which are endemic to the cave.
Though very dusty, and not at all fun for claustrophobics, there's a marked trail through the cave. Visitors are advised to dress in old clothes and bring torches (which can be hired for N$8 each).
The small restcamp here has good, purpose-built, thatched four-bed chalets (with fridges) as well as grassy camping sites and a swimming pool. Wood is for sale, and braai facilities are provided, but meals should be booked in advance.Rates: self-catering chalet N$300, bed and breakfast N$230 per person, camping N$60 per person. Day visitors to cave (min 4 people) N$70.