by Peter Bridgeford
If you want to pitch your tent at the most exclusive camping spot in all of Namibia, Enyandi Camp is the place for you. It’s not the amenities that make it exclusive – there are none. It’s the absolute remoteness of the place.
The camp is located at the junction of the Enyandi and Kunene rivers in Kaokoland. When you’re at the camp, you’re at least four hours, albeit only 40 kilometres, away from ‘civilisation’. The camp is accessed from the road between Swartbooisdrift and Epupa Falls, and only well-prepared 4×4 drivers in well–equipped vehicles should attempt to drive there.
The rewards of braving the road to reach the camp are high, making it well worth the effort. There is no organised campsite, but the large fig tree on the banks of the river invites you to camp under its spreading branches.
The river makes a slight bend where the camping spot is, thus affording views both up and down the river. To the south is a large stand of makalani palms, adding to the tranquil setting.
We watched vervet monkeys and baboons foraging on the Angolan side of the river. Water birds were common and we saw African Fish Eagles, Little Bee-eaters, Olive-headed Bee-eaters, Masked Weavers, Pied Wagtails, both Giant and Pied Kingfishers and Bank Cormorants. We saw no crocodiles, but were sure they were there, so we didn’t risk bathing or swimming in the river.
As far as amenities go, there is no water other than from the river, no shower, and a pit latrine that is best described as slightly better than nothing. The camp attendant showed up only on the day we were leaving, with a receipt book in hand, indicating that the camping fees were N$25 per person per night. We were at the camp in mid-November and the last guest had registered in August. As you drive downriver from Swartbooisdrift, there are signs 10 kilometres away from the camp that create the impression you’re already there. At the Enyandi River, when you approach from the east, the sign is confusing, as it has an arrow pointing to the camp, but to reach it you have to negotiate a steep bank and cross the sandy mouth of the river. What the sign should tell you is to drive another 500 metres cross the Enyandi and then cut back to the mouth via the west bank.
Although the camp is managed by the Kunene Conservancy, there didn’t appear to be any occupied Himba villages nearby. While at the camp, we heard goats bellowing and went to investigate. Several Himba goat herders were dragging animals across the Kunene River to the Angolan side at some shallow rapids. At the river’s edge the water was waist deep, but it soon became deeper, so that both the herders and goats had to swim.
Don’t be intimidated by the road, and don’t be put off by the fact that no car-hire companies will give you permission to drive their vehicles there. Rather find an adventurous friend with a 4×4 and discover this hidden gem yourself.
This article was made possible by Cymot Namibia
This article appeared in the Feb/March ‘07 edition of Travel News Namibia.