A getaway for sun worshippers and sand lovers
By Ed Jenkins
The aptly-named and affordably-priced Sophia Dale Base Camp is an easy ten-minute drive away from Swakopmund and the many activities the coastal town has to offer, and offers a few of its own…
Swakopmund is a tourist mecca, but not everyone is fond of the damp, chilly morning fogs. For sun worshippers and sand lovers, Sophia Dale Base Camp provides an affordable alternative, 12 km east of town, and only 800 metres south of the B2 roadway, turning off into road D1901.
Owners Michaela and Manfred Lutz purchased Sophia Dale when they emigrated from Germany in 2009. The facility accommodates tent and vehicle campers and non-campers. A German-style breakfast of sausage, cheese, rolls, and tea or coffee, is available as an extra to the room/campsite rates. A laundry service is also available, at additional cost.
Manfred was a Master Butcher in Germany, to the delight of the guests who enjoy his wonderful sausage specialities; he also maintains select cuts of beef and game meats for campers to braai, which he is happy to spice to their individual tastes.
In addition to the home-made sausage and braai meats, the camp store provides cold drinks, ice, braai wood, coolers, toilet paper, and even some mobile home accessories.
Quiet and secure
Despite being close to a major roadway, the campsite is remarkably quiet, and the setting is quite secure. Fences provide a windbreak, and add to the privacy of individual sites.
Campers with roof-mounted tents will appreciate the sites with shade structures built to accommodate their vehicles. Other sites are designed to take advantage of the shade provided by trees. Water access points are plentiful, and many sites have electricity. A dishwashing area is available, with solar-powered warm water. Each site has a fire pit. The ablution facilities for campers are undergoing renovations, due for completion in November.
Campers in groups even have the option of sleeping indoors, in a dirt-floored structure that allows them to pitch tents, or just utilise their sleeping bags.
For non-campers, several rondavels are available with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a shared kitchen/dining area. The ‘Royal House’ offers a two-room family suite with shared bathroom, and a third room, with bathroom en suite. All rooms have been repainted and redecorated, and have new furniture.
Dogs are welcome on the campsites, provided the owners prevent their animals from disturbing the other guests.
A desert oasis
Newly planted trees and plants flourish among the sites. Michaela envisions the camp becoming, ‘an oasis in the desert’, and she’s made significant progress toward that goal. She’s also proud of the fact that all 35 sites have been built to complement the natural environment, with no two alike.
The facilities are designed to meet the needs of large groups, or of single campers. Tour arrangements can be made from the office, and some of the tour businesses will pick up clients.
In the immediate area, guests can explore one of Namibia’s most important ephemeral river systems, the usually dry Swakop River. These watercourses rarely contain surface water, but underground water sources support life in areas that would otherwise not be there. Birding enthusiasts are likely to see grey louries, masked weavers, mousebirds, or even an occasional African grey hornbill.
From the campsite, it is a very short walk to the Camel Farm (064) 40 0365, where guests can hire camels for short rides.
For horse lovers, the Okakambe Trails horse ranch (064) 40 2799, located next to the Camel Farm, offers one- to three-hour day trips on horseback, and one- to three-day catered trips, exploring the dunes and the coast.
The Lutz family continues working to improve the vacation experience for their guests. By May 2011, an old farm outbuilding will have been converted into a full-service restaurant and beer garden. Manfred’s vision for this project is to provide a menu that is, ‘basic, good and fresh’, while focusing on game meats and traditional German food.
If avoiding the inevitable crowds at motor and tent camping areas in Swakopmund appeals to you, or if the stark beauty of the Namib touches your soul, then the Sophia Dale Base Camp may be the getaway you’ve been looking for.
This article was made possible by Cymot Namibia
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This article appeared in the Dec ‘10/ Jan ‘11 edition of Travel News Namibia.