Reviews of Palmwag Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Palmwag Lodge at par with lower expectations
We read lots of negative reviews about Palwag Lodge so we prepared for the worst. In fact, it wasn't bad at all.
The tents are worn out of course, & there are few things that need fixing. Service was all right. Not outstanding but not outrageously bad either.
Whilst here, we organised a full day excursion to see a Ovahimba community. They commented:
Good - Himba tour very interesting & worthwhile.
It just so happened that there were only two of us on that tour - my husband and I. The driver was great. We picked up our guide who translated from Otjihimba language into English. The overall experience was very interesting and unusual.
However, we had instances where we'd ask a question & the answer he translated for us seemed incorrect. For example, we asked whether their dresses and headpieces reflect their social or marital status & the answer we got was a simple no! It's hard to say whether the guide translated our question incorrectly or he simply did not want to go into great detailed talk with villagers... However, a knowledgeable guide should know these things and he should've given us a more detailed answer given he knows the lifestyle/customs/traditions etc.
We were really curios to find out more about people we met but somehow the guide wasn't really that helpful... Don't let our comments stop you from going on that tour, it will be very unique experience regardless of how knowledgeable your guide is.
Palmwag Lodge review
I'm not actually sure the lodge had a reservation for us? It didn't actually matter as the lodge was only half full. This may simply be a perception as all other lodges consulted their reservation lists when we arrived - Palmwag didn't and then asked me if I had a reservation.....
One game-spotting activity taken - an evening drive with a sun-downer at the end. Very little game was actually seen, but we were not disappointed - Palmwag is not a "reserve" and covers a huge area so a bit of luck is required. The magic of the drive was in the scenery and the sunset at the end - splendid ! Beware, it is COLD at sunset !
Palmwag Lodge, well!
Our arrival at Palwag was not good. Tented accommodation had been booked for us, on arrival we were shown to 3 rooms in the centre of the camp, with views of the notice board and the loos. when questioned by 3 of us in turn, we were told that all the tents were booked. I pointed out that they had been booked by us 1 year ago.
Eventually we were told we could have 3 tents after all, as our vouchers stated 3 tents, so we moved, when we were settled, 1 couple was told they would have to move, unfortunately it was the least able couple. We later discovered that there was a group of Namibian conservationists on an inspection visit who were to have had the tents!
The general staff in the restaurant were good, the guide was good, but we all felt that the absence of a permanent manager was something that should be addressed sooner rather than later. There was a manager from HQ there for a few weeks. The result was that we felt they had tried to take advantage of us.
We would not want to come back here, which is a pity as the area is fantastic
Although this was not the best establishment we stayed at, being fairly old, it provided a memory that will last with Sandra and myself forever. Just before turning in for the night we were visited by an old bull elephant which proceeded to spend two and a half hours eating the vegetation outside our cabin. To have such a massive beast some 3-4 feet from our door was both scary and exciting at the same time. He was not in the least bit bothered and showed no signs of aggression. We just watched whilst he ate.
The food was very good, the staff attentive and the guide on the walk was knowledgable. Overall it was a fantastic 2 nights.
Palmwag Lodge review
Somehow we just did not click with Palmwag. It may have started with the welcome drink - it was a nice cold apple juice but served in a glass and in such a quantity that I thought it was a single whisky. We were not shown to our tent location properly ( and hence managed to take the wrong track!).
We went on two of the activities, the early morning walk and the pm drive. Both of these were led by Stephanus and were excellent. The pm drive in particular was a great adventure including our sundowner drinks and snack on the top of a small hill in the middle of nowhere. The highlight was our encounter with elephants in pitch darkness.
The swimming pool looked very uninviting. It was a pale green colour, the water was cloudy and there was a scum on the surface. I had hoped for a refreshing dip after our journey, but the appearance put me off completely.
I had a puncture en route to Palmwag. Once I found where this could be repaired on site (another example of not being given either clear instructions or being taken) the job was done effectivley by a very helpful mechanic. Cost for puncture repair and refitting of wheel was N$105.
Palmwag Lodge review
Go here for the overnight camp out. This was fabulous. The guide was truly excellent.
Other than this, Palmwag was very disappointing, and we wished that we had simply stayed for that overnight. Fabulous location, but the whole place needs a complete overhaul - physically and managerially.
Physically - the facilities were comfortable, but fell well short of the other locations we stayed in.
The service was consistently very poor.
For example, our first night was an overnight camp. When we arrived, we were told to take a seat in the cafe and the guide would come to meet us. 4 hours later, no one had come. It took 4 attempts before anyone would tell us what was going on - they eventually admitted that the guide wouldn't arrive for a further 2 hours. By this stage we'd missed the opportunity to take any of the activities. Had we been told we had a 6 hour wait - we would have gone and done something (the purpose of hte holiday). Instead we wasted an entire day waiting for something that would never turn up!
Another example - they got our bill wrong 3 times when we checked out.
Overall - the general attitude of the staff was one of not caring. No hint of concern when we were clearly unhappy, no sense of urgency to help out, and seemingly no pride in standards. This was totally the opposite atmosphere to everywhere else we stayed - typically characterised by happy staff with high energy. This leads me to believe that there is a real leadership & management failing here.
Palmwag Lodge review
Now here's a place for the dedicated traveller to arrive at. A palm oasis in the middle of scrub-land accessible past a health checkpoint when coming from the south, The petrol facility (two pumps in the open) is part of Palmwag Lodge. The workshop which is adequate to do puncture repairs is at the lodge itself.
The chalet was two rooms plus shower / toilet facility and a small plunge pool outside.
The restaurant food was good, with an adequate choice of menu for dinner and the possibility to sit out on the restaurant terrace for breakfast. We did not see any animals walking through the lodge grounds that are unfenced, but desert elephants are regular visitors. We took the afternoon game drive (approx 3 hrs inc sundown) that took the road north out of Palmwag.
Although there were 2-wheel drive saloons passing by, if I were to travel that road north I would probably hire a 4wd.
Moving north through Damaraland
Palmwag Lodge has a slightly shopworn feel about it, but that in itself is not unattractive. It is well located, and the staff freindly and helpful, and the food excellent as before, but the pool area certainly needs some renovation, and the service at lunchtime in the pool bar was very slow. It took over an hour for our toasted sandwiches/burger to arrive!
However, we liked our tented accomodation units, looking out on the reed bed, stuffed full of starling (and lots else besides no doubt) and we saw lots of game on our drive in the morning.
Similarly the tented sleep out was a good adventure for the children, and it was all acheived with a certain old-colonial style - table cloths, hand washing facilities, and folding camp beds in the tents... We enjoyed looking at the stars, and learned a lot from our guide about the night sky, as well as animals and plants that we had seen.
Worth a visit.
Good location for exploring Damaraland
Accomadation a little tired and design of room could be improved, otherwise okay. Our room proved to be noisy from traffic noise from carpark, and all the outside path lights shone directly in all the windows. Other Lodges had managed the lighting of paths in a far better way.
Staff all friendly and helpful, especially the restaurant manager.
Truly beautiful & peaceful place to relax
Wow- a truly beautiful place to stay. Rooms were well furnished and comfortable each with own private veranda overlooking waterhole. Good parking. Very warm welcome received from all staff who were very helpful and knowledgeable.
Wonderful pool bar area to just relax and soak up the surroundings with well stocked bar and menu offering very tasty light lunches and a la carte food.
Went on Sleep Out on second night- ABSOLUTELY FIRST CLASS. El Gusto, the guide was exceptional and very knowledgeable about all the plants, birds and animals we encountered. His approach to relaying the information was engaging and really enabled a deep understanding of how the whole Palmwag concession works and the way that the wildlife freely roams the area. His optimism to find the Desert Elephants for me was unfailing and even after the decision to head back to the lodge without a sighting, he remained confident that they were around- low and behold we located them on the main road back to the lodge.
The evening sleep out will always be a treasured memory- not so much because of the animal sightings, but more due to the comfort and layout of the camp, the unbelieveable food (braai), drinks and levelof service that El Gusto delivered in the midst of the wilderness, together the the interesting campsite conversation and laughter that he insipred around the camp fire. The tents were very comfortable with everything that was needed to make the whole experience very memorable.