Dolomite Camp: Our full report
Nestled amongst dolomite outcrops near the Dolomietpunt waterhole, the aptly named Dolomite Camp is the first camp to be built in the far west side of Etosha National Park. Opened by Namibia Wildlife Resorts in 2011, the camp gives access to an area that few people have been allowed to visit before.
Situated on top of a large dolomite ridge, Dolomite Camp has a fine vantage point overlooking the plains below and a saltpan in the distance. This hilly western side of Etosha National Park has different vegetation to the rest of the park, being made up of a mixture of scrub mopane woodland and sandy acacia shrubland.
Guests with a confirmed reservation at Dolomite Camp have unique access to Etosha’s western Galton Gate, which otherwise remains closed to the public. As a result, a stay at Dolomite Camp means that, for now, you will be the only members of the public allowed to drive through and explore this restricted area. (There have long been rumours that this gate may open to the general public in the future; we’re not holding our breath.)
The main complex at Dolomite Camp includes two dining areas, two lounges and a bar. While the staff were friendly during our most recent visit, they were overstretched, and the camp is certainly not as efficient as it could be. Indeed, the service at times – especially during dinner – was pretty poor, even if the food was very good when it came.
Outside there is a sunset deck with an infinity swimming pool overlooking the plains below; the views from here are stunning! With a steep drop-off on the infinity side, and deep water, it’s not an ideal pool for younger children – and the camp doesn’t allow children under 14 to use the pool without adult supervision.
From the central area, a sometimes steep wooden walkway and narrow, stony paths lead to Dolomite’s 20 thatched chalets, all elevated on wooden decks and perched around the edges of the undulating ridge. If your room is at the opposite end of the walkway to the restaurant area, then getting between the two can become quite strenuous: sturdy shoes are a must.
The chalets themselves differ in location and layout:
- The 12 west-facing chalets each have adjacent twin beds and a view of the sunset.
- The Five east-facing chalets are similarly set up, but have a view of the sunrise.
- Three deluxe chalets are all east-facing, and so their twin beds face the sunrise, and outside each of these has its own private plunge pool.
Constructed out of canvas and wood, the chalets have wooden floors and are decorated in neutral tones, though they’re a little cramped, especially considering the space that the builders had available to them. Tall, quite narrow, four-panel Concertina doors open up onto a fairly small private balcony with two chairs on it. (Don’t close these when you’re outside, as we did; there are no handles to open them and it can be a bit tricky.) Inside, each chalet is kitted out with mosquito nets draped over the beds, tea- and coffee-making facilities, an electronic safe, hairdryer, mini fridge and a wardrobe with extra blankets and hot water bottles. The en-suite bathrooms have a shower rather than a bath, and include a small supply of toiletries – although on our visit, the bathroom in our chalets was less than spotless.
It’s important to remember that you're in a national park with dangerous game and that Dolomite Camp is unfenced. The walkways are poorly lit and signed, too, so after dark you should be escorted between the main area and your chalet. Alternatively, you can make use of the a motorised 'golf buggy' which is designed to ferry guests with luggage to/from the car park, but there's often something of a wait for this to be available. It also takes up pretty much the whole width of the walkway – which can be inconvenient for others trying to use it at the same time.
Activities at Dolomite Camp focus firmly on game drives in this remote western side of Etosha National Park. With 15 waterholes in the surrounding area there are good opportunities to view game that comes to drink as well as on the plain. The area boasts good numbers of plains game, for example, giraffe, zebra, springbok and black-faced impala, as well as elephant, lion and both black and white rhino. Despite that, on our recent visit in May 2013, the game viewing was a little disappointing – although we did come across herds of elephant at the waterhole and had two lion sightings! Bear in mind, too, that whilst the lack of vehicles in this area of Etosha is a real bonus, the game is much less habituated to people, and can be very skittish compared to areas further east.
As elsewhere in Etosha, you can, of course, drive yourself around, taking your time and lingering as long as you like at a sighting. However it may be worth taking at least one game drive with a knowledgeable guide who can show you around this part of the park. Note, too, that there is no fuel station at either Dolomite Camp or at Galton Gate, so you need to ensure that you fill up your vehicle with fuel prior to entering the park; if you're coming from Okaukuejo, you should certainly fill up there.
Our viewDolomite Camp has opened up an area of Etosha National Park that was previously restricted to visitors. The game here can be good, if skittish, and the experience quite exclusive compared with the rest of Etosha. The camp itself has a stunning location, but getting around its long walkways, which are sometimes steep and poorly lit, can be an issue, especially for the less agile. We also had concerns about the cleanliness, and while we found the staff friendly, at times the service was poor.
Ideal length of stay: About 2 to 3 nights, at maximum, would be fine here.
Directions: Dolomite Camp is approximately 43km from Etosha’s Galton Gate, so easily accessible from Damaraland and the Kaokoveld.
Owner: Namibia Wildlife Resorts
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Half Board
Food quality: A buffet style breakfast consists of breads, cereals, juice, cold meat and yoghurt, with tea and coffee. A hot breakfast is available to order.
Lunch is a set menu, served in the restaurant from midday to 2.00pm. We did not have lunch here.
A three-course set dinner is served from 6.30pm. We had butternut soup, followed by pan-fried sole served with parsley potatoes, vegetables and fresh lemon slice. Dessert was malva pudding with custard. Despite the confused/disorderly service, we thought the food was tasty.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £5-10
Drinks included: Drinks are not included – but on our most recent visit, prices were very reasonable. Soft drinks cost from N$10 (£0.80 / US$1.20), a beer from about N$14 (£1 / US$1.50) and a bottle of wine cost from about N$100 (£7 / US$11).
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at Dolomite Camp.
Property’s age restrictions: None
Special activities & services: None
Equipment: Highchairs can be provided.
Generally recommended for children: Although the camp doesn't have any age restrictions, we feel that the steep, long walkways and unfenced nature of the camp make it unsuitable for young children. Hence we would only really recommend it for children aged 12 years and over.
Notes: The terrain around Dolomite Camp is hilly and there are lots of sharp dolomite rocks around. Children should be under adult supervision at all times.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: Free WiFi is available at reception, the lounge, bar and pool areas. There is limited mobile reception.
TV & radio: None
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The nearest clinic is in the town of Kamanjab, about an hour’s drive away. A basic first-aid kit is available at reception.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: None
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are strategically placed around the camp and provided at the entrance to each chalet.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry services can be provided at an extra charge.
Money: Each chalet is fitted with an electronic safe. The camp does not offer any currency exchange.
Accepted payment on location: Visa and MasterCard are accepted, as well as cash in South African rand or Namibian dollars.