We’ve just got back from staying at Corona, one of our favourite guest farms in Namibia. Guest farms are your home from home in Namibia. Once farming livestock such as cattle, they now welcome guests to stay and share the warmth and comfort of their family home. They are often in some of Namibia’s most spectacular places – like Corona here – and offer self-guided and guided walking trails, game drives and the opportunity to get a sense of what living in Namibia feels like.
From Windhoek, it’s an exciting approach, over the Gamsberg Pass – Namibia’s highest and most scenic pass overlooking the Kuiseb River in the valley below – to the jewel of the Gamsberg, Corona Guest Farm. Having successfully negotiated the jaw dropping drive over the pass, you make a turn down a road that winds between the mountains dotted with camel trees (acacia) and finally drops you down to the guest farm on the plain below.
Nestled among bright green trees, cactus and colourful pink, purple and red bougainvillea, the guest farm is framed from every angle by the enormous Gamsberg mountain range that stretches as far as the eye can see, awakening the soul with their vast, rugged drama. At 2347 m, Gamsberg Mountain, just behind the farm, is the third highest mountain in Namibia, reminiscent of Table Mountain, with its flat granite top.
We’re met at the gate by Janus, who takes us through Corona’s beautiful garden to the main farmhouse. While we sip our welcome drink of cool, pink guava juice, Janus introduces us to the farm where he’s lived since the early 2000s. Although it hasn’t yet been discovered who first built Corona, it’s recent history can be traced back through several families of cattle farmers. The property was first run as a guest farm in the early 1990s but tragically burn down shortly after opening. Reopening in 1997, even now, guests are treated to a slice of Namibian history, with the main building feeling like the original farmhouse. Decorated with antique furniture and silverware, wooden masks and carved animals, a blow pipe and arrows, exotic skins, baskets and ostrich eggs, you’re transported to earlier times. Look out for the fascinating Himba head rests, each individually carved into wooden symbols.
Five spacious, en-suite rooms are built inside the main house – great for families or groups of friends – and four have been built slightly apart. The carefully tended gardens provide fruit and vegetables for the kitchen and the wonderful aquamarine pool promises refreshment at any hour. The hospitality at Corona is exceptional, everyone enveloping you with genuine warmth and friendliness, instantly putting you at ease. Special care is taken over the food and Christina and Anna-Marie work miracles with fresh ingredients to serve beautifully presented, delightful dishes. As a vegetarian, I did particularly well with baked aubergine and tasty chickpeas while my meat-loving husband devoured tender steaks of kudu, and smoked zebra. Meals are eaten on the shaded veranda overlooking the mountains and you’ll enjoy a well-stocked bar, and excellent list of hand-picked South African wines.
Corona is an excellent place for walking, with 5 marked self-guided trails to explore in the cool of early morning or evening. We explored the shortest, trail 4, which took us 2.5km from the farm along an undulating gravel track to a water pumping station. In this desert environment, water is piped many kilometres from boreholes to the farm and to several troughs for game. Fortunately, ground water levels are still good in Namibia, despite the 7-year drought they are currently experiencing, and the marble running through the farm makes for sweet drinking water. Motivated by a spirit of self-sufficiency and the desire for a small carbon footprint, the farm is entirely powered by solar energy and all waste is recycled in nearby Swakopmund.
Our guide, Fernando, a Namibian born in Walvis Bay but with Portuguese roots, took us on several outings in his zebra stripped game viewing vehicle during our 2-night stay. Time spent with Fernando was invaluable in bringing this seemingly empty landscape alive. The farm covers an area of around 23 000 hectares and Fernando points out plants – including several infamous, endemic Quiver Trees – birds, flowers, rocks and animals. The terrain here is strewn with clear, white, amber and pink coloured semi-precious quartz, like a giant has emptied out their jewellery box, and even the sand sparkles like fairy dust! We see steenbok, springbok and warthog and learn about hardy families of kudu, orxy and Hartman’s mountain zebra who thrive in this stark land. Leopard, cheetah and hyaena also live in the mountains although keep out of sight and sound of humans.
Undoubtably, highlights of our stay were climbing up to a cave with spectacular views (…I quite fancied setting up camp myself if it weren’t for the possibility of the less than savoury company of baboons), to see the ancient bushmen paintings. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but let’s just say, this is a very special place. Our late afternoon scenic drive took us to the far corner of the farm where we had incredible views of endless mountain peaks that stretched far into the distance.
A few nights at Corona Guest Farm can be woven into any of our tailor made Namibia holiday itineraries. Get in touch on 01768 721040 to start planning your trip with our Namibia experts.