This lodge in Northwest Damaraland, with all the waving palms, is just great. It’s a superb base for doing game drives in the scenic Palmwag Concession which harbors the famous desert elephants, the rare black rhinos, giraffes, zebras, gemsboks and many other wild animals. Or travel even further afield to the spectacular Uniab River area. Each time we stay at Palmwag, it is worth the really long and bumpy road from the tiny village of Kamanjab. And it’s a good stop between Etosha and Swakopmund.
Book your campsite well beforehand, since the site is extremely popular, and with good reason. The place has a great atmosphere and beautiful sunsets. It’s one of Namibia’s oldest holiday destinations and is charming, with good service, good campsites and food. The camp has nice, peaceful areas where you can sit down and relax and watch a very diverse birdlife. All together its great for us and our friends: Job, who is born with his binoculars around his neck and Renate, who loves to take pictures.
The campsite was spotless and the newly added ablution block right next to the campsite was just as clean and tidy. All pitches benefit from kitchen facilities and a braai. Showers are warm and toilets are clean. And for those who like it: there’s plenty of game passing though the campsite daily, especially the resident elephants. This is so impressive: those elephants really live near you and eat from the trees right next to you. In the night, you hear them next to your tent. If you don’t like it: you’d better not pitch on any elephant tracks, as you may have an unwanted wake-up call as the elephant does his rounds during the night.
If you’re eager to sleep in a comfortable bed, the lodge also has rooms to rent. It seems they are busy with building additions and renovations and the work that they put in is evident; there were some welcome changes to the general upkeep. They offer new tented rooms (twin and single), and some family units. The rooms have good beds and are cleaned daily, but still basic, so to be sure take some mosquito nets while travelling, for some don’t have a net, and take mosquito lotion. Each room has nice views over the valley, where you can spot lots of animals from the veranda. Take in mind while booking that with some rooms, you will have to walk 5 min to the main building. Some people might not find this very pleasant in the dark with all the bushes and animals around. The room price includes dinner and breakfast (both buffet). The restaurant is big and beautiful and with high quality, as well as the bar. The service is as friendly as we remembered it and professional. And there’s charming choral entertainment at the end of dinner.
Lots of people arrive with their own car, so you can use this to see around. Palmwag also offers specific excursions far off the normal tourist tracks and routes, with which you will probably encounter much more game and with a bit off luck the endangered black rhino. A wildlife excursion takes about 8 hours, so with kids you might prefer a morning of afternoon (with sundowner) game drive, from 3 to 4 hours. For more adventure seekers, there’s the Under Canvas Sleepout, in which a guide will take you to build up a tented camp in the Palmwag Concession where the night will be spent. An easier alternative are the hiking trails to discover the nature around with one of the guides. Or go for the Rhino Tracking if your kids have the patience and condition, since this will take you 6 hours at a minimum. The rangers and guides are well prepared and add a lot of value at the tracking.
Comparing the lodge with other campsites, this is bit more expensive now. It is very up-market and worth a visit if you want some luxury. We found all the staff very friendly, welcoming and helpful. The pools can get busy though in the afternoons.
They also have a small workshop on their site. You can buy tires or do basic repairs on your car there. A very useful asset regarding the gravel roads in the area.
We also spend time at the pool area; there are two basic pools, the pool area is clean and relaxing, although depending on the season the water can be cold. But after a long road, your kids might not care and love it. We also enjoyed the coffee bar at the pool with free coffee.
# We recommend this place for its great and lovely campsites, but you do need to love camping of course.
# The kids will love the pool, that is totally inviting.
# Where else can you see elephants crossing by daily? Signs of their presence are to be found if you are not lucky enough to spot any.