Sossusvlei, Namibia: Moon Mountain LodgeSeptember 3, 2012
Etosha: Onguma Tree Top CampSeptember 3, 2012
A magic granite enclave
by Ron Swilling
Nearing Twyfelfontein, the landscape changes abruptly from mopane grassland to include granite koppies.
Entering this magic mountain world, the guest encounters a pocket of energy, an enchanted granite enclave. Mowani Mountain Camp appears snuggled into large granite boulders, its high thatched-roofed beehive domes reminiscent of an African kingdom of old.
As with the other Vision of Africa camps at Onguma on the eastern side of Etosha and the new Camp Kipwe, Mowani was built with extraordinary vision, imagination and perception of beauty, and an understanding of utilising superb scenery to create luxury lodges.
Mowani is derived from the Swahili word ‘m’wani’ meaning ‘Place of God’, and looking out from the viewpoint atop a massive granite boulder onto the surrounding plains and mountains, it is easy to understand the celestial acknowledgement.
Out of Africa ambience
The large central area comprises two partially open domed rooms, the lounge superbly decorated in an ‘Out of Africa’ mixture of leather couches, ottomans, dark wood and cane chairs.
Cushions in oranges and browns are stitched with fine ostrich feathers that blow in the wind and a small birdbath trickles down the boulders into a water feature, attracting rosy-faced lovebirds, Ruppell’s and Meyer’s parrots and colourful rock agamas. The second and adjacent domed room is the dining area, where delicious meals and home-baked breads are served by waiters dressed in black tunics suggestive of North Africa.
As the sun sinks into the Damaraland landscape, the viewpoint is the ideal spot for sunset views, and the waiters carry trays with tinkling drinks and colourful snacks to the guests absorbing the splendour before them.
With twelve luxury tents, four with outside showers built into the rock, four sharing the magnificent view, and one honeymoon tent with an outside bathtub and shower, private sitting area and pool loungers, Mowani offers ample accommodation. Stretchers for children are easily added to the rooms, as are kiddies’ tents.
For maximum romance and celebration of life, Mowani outdoes itself with its luxury room and suite. The luxury room is a partially open dome-shaped hut that can easily be closed off with canvas ‘walls’. An outside wooden deck hugs the large boulders, creating a private outdoor area with table, chairs, and loungers looking out onto the magnificent landscape.
If that isn’t enough to satisfy all aesthetic tastes, the more private luxury suite has three thatched partially open dome-shaped rooms, one with a lounge decorated in classic African style, the other a bedroom.
It has DStv, a mini-bar, a butler service, a wooden deck to savour the land, an inside bathroom and outside shower and bath. It is a suite that demands reverence, whether sharing it with the most special person in the world or just appreciating the luxury, good service and superlative views Mowani Mountain Camp has to offer. If there is ever a search for a special place for an exceptional occasion, this is the answer.
A very small campsite is available at the bottom of the camp, with basic ablutions, to be pre-booked through the camp.
Well-situated, Mowani Mountain Camp offers nature drives in the area, giving guests an opportunity to enjoy the Damaraland landscape, possibly seeing the desert elephant in the wintertime as they travel through the dry riverbed of the ephemeral Aba-Huab River.
These hardy animals move further afield when the summer rains arrive and there is water elsewhere. A nature walk around the camp can be taken by those wanting to stretch their legs, fill their lungs or absorb the beauty of the land, either with Mowani’s experienced guides to learn more about the area or to traverse on your own.
Keep an eye out for tracks of the elusive leopards that live in the rocky terrain. White-barked chestnut trees, shepherd’s trees and Brandberg acacias, endemic to Namibia, emerge from boulders, creating striking images.
Positioned only 15 km from the Twyfelfontein engravings, recognised as a world heritage site in 2007, the camp offers guided trips to the engravings, a must for those wanting to witness hunter–gatherer communication from thousands of years ago engraved into rock.
As a destination on its own, an opportunity to glimpse the desert elephant, or a relaxing few days of leisure en route to the engravings, Mowani is a recommended destination.
Mowani and the Onguma camps are members of the ‘Classic Safari Camps of Africa’ group, comprising small privately owned and managed luxury lodges. With its high-domed thatched roofs, luxury tents, the small pool encapsulated in the large rocks, the viewpoint and the efficient, friendly staff, Mowani makes a quality mountain kingdom experience in the rounded boulder landscape of western Namibia.
This article appeared in the Feb/March ‘10 edition of Travel News Namibia.