Text and Photographs Le Roux van Schalkwyk
Why do some people love to camp and others don’t? Too be honest, who cares? Luckily Namibia offers everyone the chance to travel the country and stay in the type of accommodation they prefer. Okay, with that settled, for those who DO love camping, here is a list of the ten coolest places to pitch your tent in Namibia.
1. MAVUNJE CAMP
Staying at bigger, well-known campsites can diminish your enjoyment of being close to nature, especially if you have to share the site with other rowdy or inconsiderate campers. Mavunje Camp on the bank of the Kwando River offers three private and intimate campsites overlooking the flood plains. Each meticulously positioned campsite has its own ablution facilities. As an added bonus the camp lies close to a corridor used by elephants crossing the river on their way to and from Bwabwata National Park, which makes for some fascinating sightings.
A literal oasis hidden in sun-baked arid Damaraland, Ongongo is sure to surprise any first-time visitor. With its small waterfall that crashes into an unusually blue pool, the overhanging trees that grow out of the rocks and loads of birdlife, it is a small Eden compared to its surroundings. All the campsites are close to the water. Make sure to bring enough sunscreen to protect yourself against the unforgiving Damaraland sun.
3. NAMIB-NAUKLUFT NATIONAL PARK
The desert soothes the soul with its wide open spaces, its tranquillity and the absence of any digital interference that usually is part of our daily lives. The campsite at Mirabib in Namib-Naukluft National Park gives you the peace and quiet you deserve. A granite island on a vast flat plain provides excellent protection against the elements as well as some incredible photo opportunities â€“ sunrise, moonrise, sunset, moonset and all the rest.
4. SESRIEM CAMPSITE
With the Sossusvlei area becoming dangerously close to saturation point in terms of accommodation facilities as well as visitor volumes, the Sesriem Campsite still holds a charm that is hard to beat. The appeal stems from the age-old camel thorn trees that provide campsites with life-saving shade during the day and at night appear like magical dark, moving silhouettes when lit up by campfires. As the campsite is located within the park, early risers will be able to get to Deadvlei and the big dunes before the masses arrive.
5. MUDUMU NATIONAL PARK
It doesnâ€™t get wilder than this. Set in the heart of Mudumu National Park, the three isolated campsites are situated on the banks of the Kwando River. Be aware that none of the campsites are fenced, which means camping there is not for the faint-hearted. Those who are brave enough to camp there nevertheless will be rewarded with a camping experience like no other. There is no better alarm than being woken up by the sound of hippos splashing in front of your tent. Note that you will have to be self-sufficient in Mudumu, as there are no facilities at all.
6. OLIFANTSRUS â€“ ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK
Interesting sightings in Etosha National Park can easily become spoilt by the arrival of heaps of cars and tour busses all vying for the best position, all the while blocking your view. What makes Olifantsrus different is the relatively small number of tourists that visit the western part of the park where the camp is situated. This means that more often than not there are no other cars around. The main feature of the campsite is its impressive viewing tower which allows close-up viewing of animals at the waterhole, especially elephants. Adding to the draw of Olifantsrus is the limited number of campsites that gives a sense of exclusivity when staying here.
7. ERONGO PLATEAU CAMP
A superb place to overnight when traveling north to Damaraland, or just to spend a weekend for a short getaway. Erongo Plateau Camp is situated on the edge of the Erongo mountain range and with its elevation above the valley floor guarantees spectacular views from every campsite. Relax and enjoy the peace and quiet or go and explore the area on foot on one of the hiking trails. Don’t miss the amazing rock art.
8. NGEPI CAMP
Well-known and a tourist favourite, it is hard to exclude Ngepi Camp from this list as it remains one of the funnest campsites in Namibia. Ngepi is known for the beauty of each camping spot set up between the natural vegetation and the views over the Okavango River. Quirky ablution designs as well as funny signage give the camp its character. And of course there is also the worldâ€™s first hippo and croc cage dive opportunity…
This group of inselbergs that make the Spitzkoppe, with its distinctive bald granite peaks, is iconic to Namibia. It remains one of the coolest spots to camp, as many Namibians and all mountain climbers would know. The opportunities to explore the area in and around the rock formations are endless. Make sure to go after good rains when there are many hidden rock pools that are loads of fun to swim in.
10. SPREETSHOOGTE CAMPSITE
The Spreetshoogte Pass is Namibia’s most scenic mountain pass. The meandering road takes you from the much higher escarpment to the start of the Namib Desert at the foot of the pass. Set just over halfway down is Spreetshoogte Campsite with its spectacular views of the vast sandy plain to the west, lined by red sand dunes in the distance. Needless to say, this is sundowner central.
This article was first published in the Winter 2019 issue of Travel News Namibia.