I was going through old boxes the other day from my Top Travel days, a tourism company I started in 1992, when I came across some of the old slips. I looked at the dates and discovered that they were all from 1993, exactly thirty years ago. How things have changed . . .
When I left the teaching profession after many fulfilling years at Concordia College, I started ‘Top Travel Information’. It was the early days after independence when tourists were starting to visit Namibia. I employed several upcoming guides, among them Jochen Beckert, Peter Pack and Almut Steinmeister, to take small groups around the country. We made a good team.
Looking through the receipts, I saw that at the time you could buy a beer for R3 and a dinner for five for R200 (including three banana splits for dessert!). It cost R28 for four guests to visit Kolmanskop, R27.50 for a permit for Sossusvlei, R100 for a night’s accommodation and R140 for 81 litres of petrol (which amounts to about N$2/litre compared to the N$20/litre we pay today). Those were the days.
We’ve all moved on since then. I founded Gondwana and Jochen, Almut and Peter also moved forward in the tourism industry, starting their own companies.
Looking at those old receipts a lot of good memories came flooding back and I searched for some of the old photos. I found one with my old Kombi at Namib Rest Camp from the time when I used to take my guests camping in the dunes, something that is no longer permitted. I had an understanding with the owner Pieter Voges. When I’d visited the Dieprivier farm in my teaching days, in awe of the spectacular range of petrified dunes on the property, I had suggested that he start a tourism venture on the farm. This he did, opening the campsite and a few guest rooms. Little did I know then that at a later stage, many years later, the property would become Namib Desert Lodge, one of Gondwana’s most beautiful and successful properties. Today it is also home to The Desert Grace, Desert Whisper, Namib Desert Camping2Go and Dune Star Camp.-Padlangs