The history of Namib Sky
25 years of Namib Sky…
In 1987, we were living in a village in the forests deep in the Congo. At a friend’s home, we saw a video showing balloons flying over the African Savannah. We decided that this was a dream life for us, showing visitors around Africa in the most romantic mode of transportation available – A hot air balloon. Obviously there were some vital elements missing, a balloon license, money, a place to fly, and of course, a balloon.
Two years later, we achieved the first goal: Eric passed his balloon license.
Another year later, we found what we thought to be in the right place: the Akagera National Park in Rwanda. We threw a party, invited all our friends, and soon watched, hearts heavy, as civil war broke out around us. Putting our dream on hold, prisoners of Rwanda as the borders were closed and the shooting began, we continued teaching and dreaming for another year…
Finally, a three day ceasefire allowed us to pack our children and possessions into our Hilux, and flee to Botswana.
But something was missing in Botswana… We didn’t feel that this was our new home. We then saw a picture of Sossusvlei and the dunes, and we knew, instantly, that it was our future.
On arrival, we realized that our dream was coming true, this was ballooning paradise. But there were no tourists, no hotels, no lodges, just a campsite at Sesriem and very friendly farmers, who all thought we were a bit mad!
It took us a few months to convince the authorities (Civil Aviation, Ministries, National Park…) that balloons were harmless to people and wildlife.
We were happy, together as a family in this beautiful place. We were living in a tent, which seemed fine to us until we experienced our first east wind, and then realised that our home was now in a tree some kilometers away.
We approached everybody around and eventually, another man with another dream, Albi Bruckner, allowed us to restore a farm stead in the north of Namib Rand Nature Reserve, and make it our home.
We added 3 en suite tents and “Mwisho” – the first camp in the region was born!
In 1991, our first balloon arrived. The first few guests began trickling in, allowing us to slowly get a feel for ballooning and tourism, but we realised we needed more lodges in order to bring in more tourists.
We then built Kulala Lodge, while living a year under a tree in the riverbed until the river flooded and again, our home ended up some kilometres away from us…
Once we reached “Geluk” (today’s balloon base), things really took-off, and Namib Sky began to finally reach its potential. Our family grew with Namib Sky to have a great love and respect for the desert that had become our home.
After studies, our eldest son Denis and his wife Andreia joined the company, and we are proud to see Namib Sky growing into a new generation!
The future is bright, and we thank everyone for their support over these years.
Eric & Nancy Hesemans