Reviews of Dolomite Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Stopover in Etosha, with a difference
The lodge is laid out along the top of a hump-backed ridge, running North-South. The main buildings are at the southern end, with guest chalets arranged in a double line along the spine of the ridge so that each has a spectacular view over the plain, either to the East or the West. There is a nearby waterhole, but, because it is located about 500m Northeast of the ridge, only 2 or 3 chalets have a clear view of it.
The climate-controlled chalets are cleverly designed, partly on stilts (to counter the slope of the ridge). The main bed area of our chalet looked out over the plain through panoramic windows, across a narrow verandah with seating. It was modern, comfortable and well-equipped (for example with telephone to the main lodge, fridge, kettle, tea/coffee facilities and luxuriously (or wastefully) large shower-heads in the ensuite wash-room at the back).
We were lucky to be allocated a chalet at the Northeastern end of the ridge, with a decent view of activities at the waterhole. It was fun to sup wine on the verandah, watch the waterhole and to locate animals elsewhere on the plain through binoculars. Facing East as we were, there was a spectacular dawn in the morning, watched in the company of dassies (rock-hyrax) on the boulders behind the chalet.
Our chalet location also resulted in a fairly long trek along the central walkway, up the hump of the ridge, then down, to reach the restaurant and bar area. Because there is no perimeter fence to keep out animals, guests wishing to use the walkway after sunset are requested to telephone for a shuttle (also used to chug guests and luggage to and from the car park at the Southwestern foot of the ridge).
For dining, we were directed to one of the two restaurants (we never learned whether there was any distinction of food or style). Most of the seating here was concentrated around a communal dining table, where we enjoyed a reasonable dinner (from a three course set menu, with choice from 3 or 4 main courses), attentive waiter service and conversations with the cheerful, younger, multilingual Swiss and German fellow-guests around us.
We were able to settle our food and drink bill by credit card - but only on the fourth attempt. The guest in front of us had given up, in impatience, and paid with cash. As the service-maid charmingly put it to us: "Our telephone line is unwell today!"
Overall, our stopover at Dolomite (en route from Galton gate, towards Etosha East) was very pleasant. It enabled us to experience Etosha West, which provided some excellent chance encounters, both on the road and at some of the waterholes, visited as we drove towards the lodge (there was, by the way, no petrol station at the lodge or at Galton Gate, so travelers coming from the South and going our way should consider topping up at Kamanjab). However, we found the game-viewing experience, generally, to be less intense than that in Etosha East - and the viewing at the lodge is limited by the positioning of the waterhole and the absence of floodlights thereon. The contrast was well worth the experience, but we were content with just a one night stay.
Only time will tell!
This is a new "premium camp" in a remote part of Etosha and there are some issues with the camp, which will need to be addressed. Firstly is it built on a hillside and the access routes are steep and not easy to walk. The answer to this is to use electric golf buggies and very narrow paths with sharp corners - this is a disaster waiting to happen.
The signage is poor with no direction to reception. The other points are minor such as staff eating meals at the desk and having their gatherings in the bar during the day.
The last issue is petrol (diesel less so) as if you want to spend a couple of days here and then drive on, there is no petrol available so fill up before you go into the park as the only option is a 150km round trip outside of the park.
The food is very good, but the game can be sparse although this could be the first white elephant sighting for a long time.
You need to be fit at Dolomite Camp!
There can be no doubt this camp is in a stunning location but there seems to be no system in place for meeting arriving guests. The camp is built on top of a high ridge and the car park is at the bottom. You cannot drive up to the reception. There was no-one around when we arrived so we walked up the steep hill, which was quite exhausting after an 8-hour drive. There really needs to be some sort of communication between the car park and reception; a bell, for example!
The means of transportation around the camp is by a motorised 4-seater cart. Two are normally provided but one was out of action on our visit, which caused some problems. Upon checking in we were welcomed with a glass of orange juice. The glass was chilled but the juice wasn't! We were taken by cart back down to our car to collect our luggage, then taken futher up the hill to our room.
We had one of the deluxe chalets (no. 19) which had a private patio and plunge pool. (Lovely!) The chalet itself was very secluded as it was located away from the main pathway, down some steps at the end of a private path. The view, high up on a dolomite ridge looking out over the vast savannah below was absolutely stunning. From our balcony we could see a large herd of elephants making their way through the trees. We could also see giraffe and zebra. You couldn't ask for more.
Well, actually you could because although the location was wonderful the design of the chalet was poor. It was split level with the large double bed taking up most of the lower level and a narrow kitchen area above. We found that we were always getting in each other's way when moving around! The shower and toilet were behind the kitchen area. There was a fridge as well as tea and coffee making facilities along with a hairdryer.
Dolomite Camp is unfenced and (despite protection from its height) you are not allowed to wander around after dark without being accompanied by a member of staff. As the path down to the restaurant was steep, we had to ring reception to ask for the cart to take us to dinner and we found this aspect of our stay rather tedious. It was also a very long walk to the car park so when going out for the day you have to be reliant on the cart, unless you don't mind a long walk with whatever you are taking with you. (Incidentally, a toot on the horn when parking the car later on got the attention of the cart driver!)
There was a waiter service for dinner and we were free to dine at any time between 6:30 and 9 o'clock. The food was quite good with a varied choice of main dishes but we found the main course on our first night was not particularly hot. In fairness, though, on the second night the meal was piping hot but the service was slow due to a large group being catered for in the second of the two restaurants. Unfortunately tea or coffee was not offered at the end of the meals, no doubt guests are encouraged to visit the lounge bar afterwards. When you want to go back to your room, you have to arrange for someone to go with you. We again wanted the cart and it took some time to organise, then when it turned up another couple suddenly appeared and jumped on too, which was rather annoying.
However, not wanting to dwell on the negatives, if you have an east facing chalet and you happen to be awake just before dawn you will be able to watch the first glimmer of a new african day beginning without even having to get out of bed. (There's no need to draw the curtains at night as nobody is going to be able to see in!) Just before sunrise I put the kettle on and to be able to sit up in bed sipping tea watching the sun slowly rise over the vast sweeping savannah stretching out below us was just incredible. I would go back to Dolomite Camp for that experience alone!
We enjoyed a lovely lunch during our full day at Dolomite. The choice was Greek Salad or Spaghetti Bolognese. Both were absolutely delicious. On the day we left we had pre-ordered packed lunches and for N$50 each they were exceptionally good value, consisting of a cheese and ham sandwich, a boiled egg, a cold sausage, a breaded chicken breast, an apple, a packet of peanuts & raisins and a small carton of juice.
Overall, yes, this is a good place to stay but the paths around the camp are steep so you need to be fairly fit. Perhaps Dolomite should be fenced so that you are not reliant on that damned cart!
The newest camp in the park
Though we have been to Etosha before we were looking forward to visiting this new camp. The reviews from other guests raised our expectations of this camp but in reality were only partially met. The first impression is that the camp is set in a beautiful location. This is both an asset and a draw back. The setting is stunning, though as other guests have pointed out the amount of walking and the gradient of the paths make it difficult if not impossible for some visitors to use. We were allocated to the room we requested, room 14 which did indeed have a distant view of the waterhole from the balcony but it is also at the extreme end of the camp.
In theory there is a golf cart available to take you up and down to the restaurant and car park but this was not always available. Carrying several kilos of camera equipment in temperatures up to 33 was challenging and made a quick visit back to room from the restaurant, unrealistic. At the time of our stay one cart was out of action and with all tents occupied there was much competition for the transport.
In our view the pathways were badly designed being only just wide enough for the golf cart. There was insufficient room for guests and cart to pass each other. To compound the situation the cart driver a gentleman called Natalwie was often surly and on one occasion plain rude. If I had been able to establish who exactly was in charge I would have made a formal complaint.
That said the other staff we met, Maria in the restaurant, the barman and Moo were superb and seemed to take responsibility for things that rightly belonged at higher level. Whilst we had a formal welcome we never established who was actually in charge. The camp seemed lacking in leadership.
Given the amount of space available we found the rooms surprisingly small. Most of the space was taken up with a double bed with just enough room for us to walk round it. The balcony was nice and the views of the bush superb.
The facility of having access to the private part of the park should not be understated. There are several waterholes near by that provide superb viewing opportunities. We had to learn the hard way what they could offer as there was no information available nor anyone to ask about how to get the best out of the area and the wildlife sightings.
Whilst many of our comments are negative this should be balanced with the potential this camp offers, which is huge. There could be many reasons why we encountered some problems but I hope the comments might help to ensure they are addressed for the future.
Dolomite Camp review
Jaw droppingly amazing location - up on the hill looking across the plain. I had a lump in my throat when I saw our room - it was so very beautiful - well appointed, comfortable, characterful. The camp is very small - just 20 rooms or so - and we felt very lucky indeed that Expert Africa had managed to get us a night there. The pool was warmer than others, and surrounding it were day beds, oversized beanbags and sunloungers. Attentive bar staff, lovely 'lounge tents' with soft chairs and sofas. The place is stunning.
There was no messing about with the $500 key deposits or booking formalities.
The restaurant was very efficient, the staff took pride in their work and they had reason to be proud.
Staying here gives you access to the West of the park, and it was an amazing place, away from other people and cars, The wildlife seemed suprised to see us.
Dolomite Camp review
What a beautiful camp on top of a little hill! The idea of staying in the middle of an unfenced park is amazing. The rooms or tents are very comfortable and are tastefully decorated. Ours was viewing the western part of the hill, so that we could enjoy the beautiful sunset. To get to the restaurant after dark, we needed to be picked up for security reasons, as any animals could roam around...
We just stayed one night, which I think, is enough as a starting point to the Etosha Park. Unless you want to spend a day relaxing at the beautiful swimming pool, there is nothing else to do really up there.
The Dolomite camp in Western Etosha was just magical.
The lodges were amazing with views out over the Etosha and its animals. The staff were kind and helpful and the food was exceptional. Highly recommended.
If there in June, make sure you bring thermal underwear. The nights are cold!
We enjoyed our stay at the camp and wish that we had been able to get the extra night that we initially tried to book rather than having the extra night at Okaukuejo.
It is worth noting that this camp is probably not suitable for anyone with mobility difficulties.
The game viewing in this newly opened up section of the park is more interesting than the eastern section as the game is not yet used to the presence of vehicles.
The camp is the new NWR camp in Etosha which is much more up market and smaller than the other two camps in the Park. The rooms were not huge but perfectly formed with a fantastic view over the large open plain below. A nearby waterhole can be seen from the camp and we saw our first elephants there, a herd. The food was great.
After dark you had to ring for an escort to walk from your room to the main building for dinner as the lodge was not fenced in, this added to the atmosphere. As this side of Etosha is only accessible to guests staying here traffic was sparse but the wildlife was not as plentiful as on the east side of the Park.
We travelled across the whole width of Etosha from the Galton Gate in the east and only only stopped at Dolomite for one night on route through, you could spend more time here and chill in this lovely camp.
A very different NWS camp in Etosha
This a new camp in the Western side of Etosha and very different from the other government run camps in the park that we have been to.
The accomodation is excellent but we do not think that guests with mobility problems would be too comfortable. There is a golf buggy to take guests from the car park but there are a lot of steps to reception then the restaurant and bar. The bungalows are then very spread out and the paths are steep in places and quite uneven.
However the setting at the top of the hill is lovely with great views as you would expect. The staff are very enthusiastic and quite different to our previous experience at the older camps.