Indaba in Namibia

Photo by Chloe Durr

Indaba in Namibia

12 October 2020 | Tourism

In this month’s edition, the Tourismus Namibia team decided to attempt something different: Introducing you as a reader to Namibia’s conferencing facilities. You might argue that this is not your usual tourism topic, but then we have found during our travels, that more often than not, the Namibian hospitality industry has long ago started to combine business with pleasure.

By Frank Steffen

Like it or not, Namibia has since independence become a favoured spot for all types of organisations in Africa, to conduct conferences, workshops, meetings of all kinds and not least of these, also a place, where strategic meetings and team building are combined. And it makes sense, simply because this land of expanses more often than not allows you to be on the road for no more than an hour or two, in order to reach an establishment, that offers luxurious conferencing facilities with rough-and-tough outdoors activities being conducted right next door.

It is impossible to list the more than 200 facilities that we have been able to identify, but we would like to introduce you to some of the better-known facilities in Namibia’s 14 administrational regions. Because that’s the thing: Namibia offers you sound facilities right throughout the country and in this regard we might remind you, that Namibia is really a summary of the African continent. Depending where you go, you find yourself in a desert or semi-desert, in grass-rich savannah or lush bushveld, in harsh and rock-strewn “klipwêreld” or in what must seem like virgin forest in close proximity to marshland. Namibia truly has it all!

Khomas - The centre of Namibia

Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city, is found in the Khomas Region and so it would make sense for most visitors to land at the Hosea Kutako International Airport about 30 kilometres outside the city. The city has a rich cultural history, which is derived as much from the Nama tribe as it is derived from the Herero folk, but this has been - typical for Africa - interwoven with European cultural influences, dating from colonial times, whether that be German or Afrikaans and English.

The offer in terms of conferencing facilities are tremendous and ultimately depend on personal choice. And it needs to be remembered that Khomas reaches beyond Windhoek. You could thus prefer to remain sophisticated and make use of the Am Weinberg Boutique Hotel in Klein Windhoek or you might choose the more robust style of Arebbusch Travel Lodge, which does not mean that you need to discount any amenities. But then you might go for the pure African experience and visit a place like N/a'an ku sê Lodge outside the city, where nature envelopes you in no uncertain manner.

Those who prefer to make use of Windhoek as their base, might consider Avani Windhoek Hotel & Casino, the Safari Hotel & Conference Centre or Windhoek Country Club, while those that prefer to be closer to nature, having left the hustle and bustle behind in order to have a clear mind, will find the Daan Viljoen Lodge, Elisenheim Guest Farm, Gocheganas Private Wildlife Reserve & Spa and for that matter Heja Game Lodge or River Crossing interesting prospects.

Hardap - Going South

The Hardap Region is vast, stretching like a belt across Namibia south of Windhoek and this area is teeming with guest houses and -farms, as well as lodges and different types of establishments. In terms of conferencing facilities, the Lake Oanob Resort close to Rehoboth (just 80 kilometres south of Windhoek) comes to mind as you are here able to facilitate sundowner cruises on the water which are great for game watching, but then you can also take part in game drives. Further to the south you have Hardap Dam (until recently it was Namibia’s biggest dam), where Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) will gladly host you too - it is after all a mere 30 kilometres outside Mariental.

Talking of Mariental, you need to seriously consider Anib Lodge of Gondwana Collection Namibia, which allows for a hands-on Kalahari Desert feel and is also quite close to town. And then there is still Bitterwasser Lodge & Flying Centre near Hoachanas, where some of the finest game drives await you.

||Karas - Home of the Fishriver Canyon

The ||Karas-Region is a continuation of the Hardap Region as you visit Namibia’s south. The south is the home of the Nama and it is an extremely harsh region, but in many ways so fulfilling. This area has countless tourism attractions, which may be incorporated into any conferencing activities. The Canyon Hotel in the regional, administrational centre Keetmanshoop, is available for your conference needs here, but so are a number of smaller establishments in and around town.

If you choose Lüderitz, it will not surprise you to once again have the name Lüderitz Nest Hotel cropping up, but then you might also consider the Lüderitz Zum Sperrgebiet (part of the Protea Hotels group). In Lüderitz you have countless opportunities that allow you to combine business with pleasure as you choose between spectacular boat cruises, visits to mining towns lost back to the desert or tours to geological wonders such as the Bogenfels (rock arch).

Erongo - The challenge related to Choice

Typically the Erongo-Region is associated with the central coast, more specifically Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. But it encompasses so much more than that. Whether it be Karibib, Omaruru or the typical mining towns of Uis or Arandis - they all are able to cater for conferences or workshops, it really depends on size as well as what you needs. Obviously, the further you move from your typical centres, the easier it is for you to include nature’s treats in your plans.

The bigger conference facilities are found in Swakopmund, such as Hansa Hotel, Hotel Deutsches Haus, Rossmund Golf Resort, Strand Hotel Swakopmund (part of the O&L Leisure group) and the Swakopmund Hotel & Entertainment Centre. In Walvis Bay the Protea Hotel Pelican Bay comes to mind. Being close to the sea and all related activities, these centres can easily be used as base, from where you are able to take part in team activities outside. In this regard never underestimate what the Namib Desert has to offer in terms of nature and activities.

Otjozondjupa & Omaheke - Diversity beyond Compare

In Namibia the Otjozondjupa- and Omaheke Regions are probably the areas with the widest and most diverse offer for tourism, whether that be generalised conservation or dedicated nature conservation such as the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

It offers game farms, safari- and hunting experiences, game stalking and exhilarating Rhino-watching, as well as plenty of African culture experiences. The region reaches quite far down to Okahandja and the Windhoek district, for which reason the reader should not be surprised to find that the Midgard Country Estate (also part of the O&L Leisure group) is found merely 50 kilometres north of the Hosea Kutako International Airport. Here you find a conference facility right on the doorstep to nature, and ready to incorporate it.

The administrational centre of the Otjozondjupa Region is Otjiwarongo, but Okahandja also forms part of this region – here you have access to establishments such as Okahandja Country Hotel and Ombo Rest Camp. The Waterberg Rest Camp close to the town of Okakarara is part of Namibia Wildlife Resorts and allows access to the rare buffalo population of the Waterberg Plateau Park. They can all host conferences of various sizes, but you should never disregard Mount Etjo Safari Lodge or the Otjiwa Safari Lodge in your deliberations, when you want a true African experience.

Depending on what you would like to achieve you might want to make use of the world-renowned Erindi Private Game Reserve that is able to spoil your team-building members second-to-none. But you cannot discount the Hotels C’est si Bon and Casa Forno in Otjiwarongo, which are not only able to host large groups in their conference facilities, but also have the accommodation capacity.

And for that matter, if you want to be different and need to be in the Omaheke Region closer to Gobabis, consider Sandune Lodge (and even though it is situated in the Kalahari its name is not derived from a sand dune). Remember that we are here trying to place the onus on facilities, which are closer to natural environments – in the town of Gobabis you will find many more facilities.

Kunene - A magical Place

The Kunene Region comprises of Kaokoveld - home of the Ovahimba tribe - and a huge chunk of Damaraland - obviously home to the Damara folk. This area is a tourism paradise, no doubt about it, but even here all types of lodges and accommodation establishments are able to host smaller conferences. That is what makes Namibia unique: the easy combination of work with pleasure. But when it comes to conferencing facilities that can cater for bigger groups, you need to consider Opuwo Country Lodge in Kaokoveld or you might have a look at Toshari Lodge (70 kilometres north of Outjo).

When the coast is where you want to be, you should consider the Cape Cross Lodge along the South Atlantic, about 50 kilometres north of Henties Bay.

The four O-Regions - Yet to be Explored

The so-called O-Regions of Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto have in the past been often seen as pure business sites. But there are many new opportunities, not least of which is the King Nehale Lodge on the northern fringes of Etosha National Park as you drive towards Omuthiya. Fact is that the four regions are effectively the home of the Ovambo people (or Aawambo tribes). Fact is also that the inhabitants of these areas make out a substantial part of the Namibian population and thus business. So it is not surprising that the offer in terms of conference facilities is more often combined with opportunities to get to know the Ovambo culture. Typical places that are able to offer you something along these lines are Oshakati Guest Hotel, Oshikuku Town Lodge and the Protea Hotel in Ondangwa. Alternatives would include the Outapi Town Hotel and the Oshito Pension Hotel in the Omusati Region. Your deliberations would then have to also include the mighty Kunene River and the Ruacana Falls, close to which you find the conference facilities of Ruacana Eha Lodge. Should you be inclined to remain in Tsumeb much further south, then the Kupferquelle Resort and the Makalani Hotel should become part of your plan. From here you could undertake visits to Tsintsabis (Bushmanland) or Etosha, but in the latter case you might then also consider the facilities of the mesmerizing Mokuti Lodge (O&L Leisure).

The North-East - The spell of Kavango and Zambezi

There can be no doubt that the regions Kavango-West and -East and for that matter the Zambezi Region (formerly known as Caprivi Strip) currently offer to visitors what few places can offer tourists on earth. The entire region is a largely untouched paradise that is served by two big rivers, the Kavango and the Zambezi. It is thus one of the few areas, where water life also abounds. So this is not the typical area where you hold conferences, but that does not mean you cannot. Again, both the towns of Rundu (Kavango) and Katima Mulilo (Zambezi) have ample facilities, but the places that deserve special mention are Hakusembe River Lodge (Gondwana), Nkwazi Lodge, Kavango River Lodge, Popa Falls Resort (NWR), Zambezi River Lodge and Namushasha River Lodge (Gondwana).

We hope to have been able to illustrate that Namibia does not only cater for conferences in its capital, but truly has an extremely wide palette of products, which can be attuned to your needs. May Namibia open your mind and facilitate meetings, which take you and your colleagues to new heights!

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