30 August 2009
/Ai /Ais-Richtersveld - Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) has re-opened its newly refurbished and former rest camp Ai-Ais Hot Spring Spa for business as it strategically positions its operations ahead of the 2010 international soccer showcase to be hosted by neighbouring South Africa.
The spa complex, nestled in the /Ai /Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and at the southern tip of the Fish River Canyon, one of the main tourist's attraction area in the dry and rugged southern parts of Namibia, was refurbished at the cost R34 million.
Apart from the exquisitely redesigned Spa facilities, the resort now has a filling station, outdoor swimming pool and a tennis courts and a restaurant and bar.
The resort owes its name to the sulphurous Ai-Ais hot spring, a Nama language for 'burning water.'
The springs date back to 1850, the hot springs were discovered by a Nama herder, searching for his lost sheep.
Water from the springs at Ai-Ais is pumped into the thermal baths at a temperature of 65 degrees Celsius.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony the Chief of the Bondelswarts traditional authority Kaptein Joseph Christiaan said the water in those springs are rich in fluorides, sulphates and chlorides and is said to relieve rheumatic ailments and illnesses of the nervous system.
"Ai-Ais as a source was not only directly used for watering and for drinking cattle but for ritual, healing and spirituality," said Christiaan, who is chief of the Bondelswarts, who reside in the surrounding areas.
He further said those water points and river courses were strategic routes for laying ambush for enemies, during the fight between Namas and Germans.
As part of turnaround strategic plan introduced by the managing director of NWR Tobie Aupindi in the past three years aim to addresses the systematic improvement of all facilities in the NWR portfolio and to improve service delivery, the government decide to re-furbished Ai-Ais Hot Springs Spa and made it an excellent place to relax in and around the thermal baths & heated swimming pool.
Aupindi said the camp created 300 fulltime jobs for people living at that area.
He further said the new tourism facilities such as Ai-Ais hot springs spa not only create new jobs but also boost the local and national economy through the purchase of goods and services.
"Furthermore, tourism creates significant opportunities to benefit local and marginalized communities, through provision of local crafts, agricultural products, services such as laundry or cultural tourism," he said.
Aupindi said allows visitors to experience the tranquility and splendor of the Ai-Ais springs spa and its wildlife treasures.
The newly redeveloped NWR Camp, which is situated within /Ai /Ais-Richtersveld transfrontier park at the southern end of the Fish River Canyon, also boasts refurbished Mountain View and River View double rooms, Premier Family chalets, exquisitely redesigned Spa facilities, an expanded Restaurant and a neatly landscaped Camping area.
The Southern Times - 30 AUgust 2009By Lahja Nashuuta