Close to nature near a famous park
by Ginger Mauney
Rising up from the uniform landscape, Etosha Safari Camp stands out, its 50 tents and separate campsite and facilities dotting an isolated mopane outcrop. Moving up a gentle slope from the main camp, each tent has a private ‘stoep’ or veranda outside, inviting you to sit and write your postcards, enjoy a sundowner or simply relax and absorb the peace and quiet of the bush. Inside, the tents are tastefully furnished with locally made furniture, a romantic flounce of mosquito netting above and other special touches underfoot bringing the outside in. Branches sprout from the cement floors and African animals, painted across the floor, lead you from the main bedroom into the bathroom. Here a shower sculpted from rocks and cement with soft natural contours provides an equally impressive view across the bush while you wash away the dust of hours spent driving to the north or through the bush.
While the tents usually contain two twin beds, they are spacious enough to house four twin beds and double the camp’s capacity to sixty. The rest of the Etosha Safari Camp and its grounds are expansive enough to embrace this enlargement without feeling overcrowded. In fact, it would be easy to feel alone here.
Etosha Safari Camp is surrounded by 450 hectares of bush and has three separate walking trails from which you can discover the different plants, birds and animals that roam freely outside Namibia’s national parks. The walks are designed around your time, ranging from a one-hour walk, a one-and-half-hour walk, up to a two-and-half-hour walk. Along the way, indigenous plant and tree species are marked for identification. Bird and plant lists are provided for you to tick along the way. Larger life may also be found with signs or sightings of kudu, gemsbok, zebra and even cheetah or leopard.
Closer to camp, water is possibly the biggest draw. Typical of a large farm dam and typically inviting, the rush of water running into the pool is unusual in such a dry environment, and is a pleasant reminder of the world beyond the desert. Set above the main reception area and below the tents, the sparkling pool provides wonderful relief – first with its cooling waters and also as a place to lie back and enjoy the views from the mopane forest across the rocky outcrops and vast tracts of seemingly unending bush.
Just below, thoughtfully without the typical hotel’s check-in desk, is the main reception area. A warm, friendly welcome from members of staff is followed by an invitation to enjoy coffee while reclining on a sofa or a cold beer at the bar. Or you may opt to simply lie down on a bed of soft, green grass in the indigenous garden.
The reception area incorporates the lounge, bar, dining area and a small curio shop. The feeling is light, airy and flowing, with mopane branches and rocks from the nearby hills creating a natural structure.
Meals are served under the roof or outside; the choice is yours. Dinner is a delicious three-course meal with enough options to satisfy the carnivore or herbivore and make the omnivore very happy indeed. Soup starts the meal, followed by a buffet with a delicious variety of meats and vegetables and, once sated, you’ll find room for more, as dessert is served to you at your table.
While you may go to bed feeling over-full, you’ll wake up ready to indulge in a large continental breakfast. Cold meats, cheeses, cereals, fresh scones and a strong cup of coffee are a wonderful way to start the day. Ten minutes later you could be exploring Etosha National Park or be on your way to destinations beyond.
Etosha Safari Camp welcomes day visitors for a light lunch of soup, salad and fresh bread. There is also Internet access for those looking to stay in touch with the outside world from the bush. In the curio shop there is an interesting variety of locally made crafts, including a special selection of greeting cards.
A few hundred metres away from the main camp is a campsite enjoyed by many self-drive guests. Each of the twelve separate sites has its own outside cooking place and lawn. There are ample ablution facilities and even a place for washing laundry. If you prefer the campsite but arrive without camping equipment, Etosha Safari Camp has four tents, each with two beds, for hire.
This article appeared in the Dec ‘04/ Jan ‘05 edition of Travel News Namibia.