The sun appeared briefly in the gap of sky between a thick layer of cloud and the horizon to light up the granite boulders of Canyon Lodge in pink-tinged gold. Nestled between them lie the bungalows and a series of walkways that snakes through the lush green lawn, creating a picturesque scene of Gondwana’s first and flagship lodge. It was established on a century-old farm containing a good supply of sweet water. The farmhouse has been converted into the lodge’s reception and dining area, retaining the original charm.
We descended at a slower pace than on the ascent - when we had to match Mannfred Goldbeck’s klipspringer pace to the top - to enjoy steaming coffee at the lodge brewed to German strength and perfection. The photographers, a team from Page Ten Productions in Windhoek, required more photographs of the Namibia Breweries’ environmental-ambassador candidate - and the exceptional land - so we made our way past quiver trees, some laden with sociable weaver nests, to the mountains edging Canyon Village and to the wind-channel of a hole at its crest. Cloud with intermittent blue sky didn’t create ideal photographic opportunities so we returned to the Village for the interview. I listened in to find out what wisdom I could glean from someone who was instrumental in creating a 130 000 hectare Park - a rare pocket of wilderness in a busy, overpopulated world - and a successful and sound company with a tripod-base philosophy consisting of environmental, social and financial legs. I received a clue when he was asked how he would spend the N$10 000 prize money: “I would contribute it towards education,” he replied.
Time was running out as usual. The hours in the day just weren’t sufficient for all I wanted to cram into them, something I knew I would have to mention when (and if) I reached those pearly gates. I threw clothes for the four-day mule trail into a pannier bag and drove to Gondwana’s wacky Roadhouse - decorated in frontier style with an assortment of rusty old American automobiles - to meet the walking group for lunch. While we devoured the Roadhouse’s delicious fare, we watched people enter the gents’ and ladies’ restrooms, waiting to see if the alarms would ring. These would alert us to the fact that they couldn’t resist opening the Pandora’s boxes that were shrewdly positioned over the private parts of a (painted) buxom blonde and brawny man. When someone’s inquisitive nature got the upper hand and he or she opened the box, the bell rang through the restaurant and the diners erupted into giggles. Inside the box lay the innocent note that the person now owed his friends a round of drinks. I remembered hearing how one restroom-user realised his embarrassing situation and climbed through the window to re-enter the restaurant through the main doors, denying any responsibility.
And on that happy note, the mule trail group climbed into their vehicles for the drive to Mule Station, where they would park their vehicles for the duration of the trail, and from there into open vehicles for the drive to Battlesnake Camp and the beginning of the awe-inspiring Fish Eagle trail.
Ron Swilling is a freelance writer, based in Cape Town, writing for Namibian and South African publications. She is a regular contributor to Gondwana’s History and Stamps&Stories columns and documented the intriguing information of the Wild Horses in Namibia for Mannfred Goldbeck and Telané Greyling. She invites you to ‘Follow her footsteps’ on her journey from the Orange River, exploring the Gondwana routes through the intriguing country of Namibia.