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The history of Schloss Duwisib is an object lesson in What Not To Do to impress your new bride!
The 'castle' was built by Captain Hans Heinrich von Wolf, a captain in the German Schutztruppe and veteran of the German-Nama war in what was then South West Africa. On marrying the daughter of the US Consul in Germany, Miss Jayta Humphreys, in 1907, Captain von Wolf (who affected the title 'Baron') bought eight farms in the Maltahoehe region - renowned for its grazing - and proceeded to built a castle befitting his 'baronial' status. He then elicited the input of workmen from all over Europe to create the castle of his dreams.
The outcome is remarkably comfortable with what passed for state-of-the art plumbing in those days and well suited to the harsh extremes of the Namibian climate. However, some of the details - such as the minstrel's gallery - are so eccentric that you find yourself wondering whether this man had a superb sense of ironic humour ... or none whatsoever (I'm married to a German, so I couldn't possibly venture my opinion on the matter!)
Hans Heinrich seems to have been a rum sort of chap - which is often Colonial Code for 'barking mad' - and was renowned for his habit of riding his horse INTO the bar of the Maltahoehe Hotel and using the bottles for target practice. Which was quite a feat when you consider that it was a 70km one way ride and brings a whole new dimension to the concept of 'shooters' ...
Unfortunately he and his wife were caught travelling in Brazil at the outbreak of the World War II hostilities, and he dutifully returned to Europe to join the German army - not a particularly wise move as he perished in the Battle of the Somme two years later. His bride had at least the common sense to retain her American passport, and escaped to Britain where she saw out her days, never returning to Namibia - or the castle of their dreams.
Fanciful rumour has it that the wild horses of the Namib are descending from Von Wolf's stud ... whether this is true or just romantic twaddle, it's a jolly good yarn much beloved by those who write tourist literature!!!
The castle was purchased by the Namibian government in the 1970s and extensively restored in 1991. It is possible to visit the castle and you can also stay overnight in a camp site, but be warned that it is relatively basic (and does not have electricity supply).
If there were ever a historical site crying out to be converted into a boutique hotel, this is it!
Updated Nov 7, 2011
The food at the hotel was absolutely stunning. Rustic huge portions. I ordered the homemade bread with ham, cheese and tomato. The bread was fantastic and I am still dreaming about it. My sister ordered the sausage & salads and got two huge weiss wurz with potato salad, carot & pineapple salad, mixed salad.
Written Aug 2, 2011