Warmbad Springs – a Little Paradise

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By Surihe Gaomas WARMBAD Just a day after the Warmbad Community Lodge was opened by President Hifikepunye Pohamba, a couple of tourists turned up to have a go at the Warmbad hotsprings. The elderly couple from South Africa, Madl and Gert van Rensburg heard about the new lodge from their relatives around Warmbad area and decided to be the first to come and experience the healing powers of the hotsprings. “We really like the bungalows. It is very comfortable and cool inside from the hot sun,” said Madl who enjoyed the serenity of the place situated in the vastness of the desert. “We are coming from just across the border and we thought of starting here first before we continue to other tourist sites in the south,” added Gert rather excitedly. Even though business for the Warmbad Lodge starts on Monday, it looks set to lure in tourists in large numbers. The lodge, which comprises five traditional huts, three family units, a hot spa, restaurant and outdoor swimming pool, looks attractive. The healing waters of the hot spa have a temperature of 36 degrees Celsius during the summer and 33 degrees during winter. In addition, visitors can view the historic buildings, national monuments and relics of the past as they drive around the village. Not only is the place known for its warm water as its name reveals, but it carries a very rich history of who the Bondelswarts are and how they came to reside in the parched desert area called Warmbad today. When New Era spoke to some of the traditional councillors recently about the origins of the hotsprings settlement, the story that came to light is an interesting one. “We are the people of the Bondelswarts and our ancestors came here a long time ago looking for water and grazing for their animals,” said Councillor Jossop, who was dressed in his Nama patched outfit. He claimed that his colourful shirt and trousers are a trademark of the Bondelswarts. “My wife made it for me and I am very proud to wear it for a special occasion, like this one of the President opening the lodge, and other cultural festivals,” added the elderly man as he settled down on the wooden chair outside his house. According to history, the Nama tribes were Nomads in search of water and suitable grazing. It is said that two brothers of the Bondelswarts clan moved with their people from the Cape Colony during the 13th century to the ÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ’ÂÃ’šÂ¬Ã…¾ogu-/Ams. Today this place is known as Port Nolloth (in the northern Cape). The two brothers, who were chiefs at the time, sent scouts northwards to look for grazing mainly north of the Orange River. “They came here to Warmbad, but could not find a suitable place. One night they slept on the hill-top or !Khe-!homs on the west side of the Hom River, fearing the wild animals which were many at the time,” said Jossop, reminiscing the oral history as he has done so many times to his grandchildren. While their intention was to go back and tell the chiefs and people that there was no water anywhere, their dogs gave them some hope. “The dogs that wandered off early in the morning came back from the east side of the river all wet and muddy,” he added, raising his eyebrows. Out of curiosity, they followed the dog tracks and they came upon a hill covered with rocks, reeds, shrubs and bushes. They came upon the bubbling springs of hot water. The hotsprings were then called Aogu-Abes, which means the place where the men quenched their thirst. Other names were Goregu-Abes, meaning the place where the zebra drinks and also #Iriris – the sound made by water as it bubbles in the hotsprings. While this is only a short summary of the discovery of the hotsprings of Warmbad, local and international tourists alike can come and enjoy a lifetime experience in this rich cultural village with its friendly people.