Halali Camp is a good central base from where to explore Etosha National Park.
Halali Camp: Our full report
Strategically located in the middle of Etosha National Park, Halali is one of the three government-run camps inside the park. The others are Okaukuejo and Namutoni.
Halali stands beside one of the very few hills in Etosha, and is the smallest and quietest of these restcamps – although it's much, much larger than most camps in Namibia. In many ways it's like a small village – with its own chalets, restaurant, swimming pool, shop and fuel station – all linked by a small network of roads and footpaths.
As part of the 100th anniversary of Etosha National Park in 2007, all three restcamps underwent an extensive upgrading process and are now called 'camps'. All now have rooms which are pleasant and modern, and all are much, much more expensive than they used to be prior to 2007. However … they're also much nicer than they used to be; they're still less costly than most private camps in the area; and they are located inside the national park.
Halali can be very booked-up, and so booking in advance is essential. When you check in here, you have to furnish a N$500 deposit per room/chalet – against any breakages or losses from it during your stay. You'll find a tick-list of what's there, which is checked when you arrive, and also when you leave.
The rooms here are split into four categories:
Halali has two family chalets, each with two separate bedrooms with twin beds in each. These chalets are spacious; each has a separate lounge, kitchen and a bathroom. The kitchen is equipped with a limited selection of crockery and cutlery, a small oven, a fridge, a kettle and tea and coffee sachets! Outside is a shaded entertainment area with built-in braai (bar-b-que), table and chairs. These chalets are the closest to the waterhole.
Halali has 10 two-bedroom bush chalets. Each of the chalet's two bedrooms has a pair of twin beds, and these shares a shared bathroom (with a shower in it) and a separate toilet. The combined lounge-cum-kitchen is not very big – and has two sofas, a small fridge, a tea/coffee station, and an assortment of crockery and cutlery. Outside there is a plastic table and chairs, and a built-in braai (bar-b-que). These chalets are smaller than the family chalets, and usually further from the waterhole.
Halali has 10 one-bedroom bush chalets. The chalets are small, and don't have separate kitchens or lounge. They have one bedroom, with a very small, separate bathroom with a shower and toilet. These rooms have a sliding glass door that leads to an open patio with a floor of pebbles. One side of this is screened, so you can sit out – although there are no braai (bar-b-que) facilities here.
Halali has 39 double rooms - each of which is about the same size as a one bed-room chalet, but it lacks the patio doors and small outside area. The en suite bathroom in the double rooms is just as small, but these rooms do come with a small sofa in one corner of the room.
All of these chalets and rooms have air conditioning, lamps, a tea/coffee station and a mini-fridge (always empty on your arrival). The beds have with mosquito nets above crisp white bedding and very comfortable pillows. In the bathrooms, you find complimentary shampoo, soap, hand and body lotion provided, as well as soft towels.
As with Etosha's other restcamps, Halali has a campsite – which is often popular.
Also like Etosha's other restcamps, one of Halali's big attractions is its floodlit waterhole. This can be viewed at any time of day or night, from a rock terrace which is on one side of the camp – visitors just wander over when they feel like it, and stay as long as they like.
Although the game sightings at Halali's waterhole aren't quite so predictable as the phenomenal sightings at Okaukuejo, they are generally very good – and particularly notable for black rhino. Further, whilst Okaukuejo's waterhole is right next to the camp, and can be disturbed by noise from the camp, Halali's waterhole is set away a little – and so is much quieter and feels more natural. The seating area here was renovated, along with the rest of the camp, in 2007, and extended a little also.
Around the camp are signposted walkways, which are lit at night – and you walk yourself around. Unlike most small, private safari camps, Etosha's restcamps are fenced. Whilst these fences don't always exclude all the game (and you'll often see honey-badgers and black-backed jackals raiding the camps' bins at night) large, dangerous game, like lions or elephants, are never generally found within the camp. So guests should expect to walk themselves around at night – but as the lighting is low, and the signposts often small, visitors are strongly advised to bring a good torch with them.
The restaurant at Halali is big and open plan with sliding doors on either side. The walls are light-coloured with animal paintings and tables are set out individually – although the space hasn't been used very well. On one side of the restaurant is a small bar, and from there a kiosk window opens to sell snacks during the day.
Halali's restaurant is very much a canteen, but it's very good value. All meals are served buffet-style, standards are mediocre, and the opening and closing times are often closely adhered to – so it's important that you check these when you arrive, before you plan your day. See further down this page for more details of the meals.
Halali's swimming pool is one of the best swimming pools that you'll find at any camp in Namibia; it's very much like a large, open-air municipal pool. Last time we visited, in late 2007, it was being re-constructed, but we remain sure that when it's back in use, it'll be excellent. Do expect a huge pool; don't expect to have it to yourself!
Until recently, no activities were offered by any of Etosha's restcamps. Now, following the changes to all these camps, there are both morning and afternoon guided 4WD safaris available, and also night drives – which were impossible previously. All use modified Land Rovers. None can be guaranteed, and all must be booked locally, when you arrive at camp.
Because self-driving around the park is not allowed when it's dark, if you're arriving or leaving at the park, or leaving from it, then you must do this during the day; the gate shuts firmly at night!
We think that wise travellers should view Halali primarily as a base for their own game drives. They might also consider taking an organized night-drive for extra fun, or even try to arrange the odd day-drive if they feel like it. However, we would advise against relying on the camp's guided game-drives.
Our ViewHalali is a restcamp – and that is very, very different from most of Namibia's private lodges; it's unfair to even compare the two. Don't expect much personal attention here – you'll be left to yourselves. Don't even expect friendly, helpful staff – as sometimes you'll be disappointed; standards of service and food can be very variable.
Do expect an amazing location, right in the middle of the park. Do expect a great floodlit waterhole; sitting down with a bottle of wine and a few glasses whilst watching the antics of elephant and black rhino is unforgettable.
Do come if you are interested in the experience of the park, and can ignore quibbles about comforts and service – but better seek out one of the higher-end private lodges (perhaps Ongava Lodge, Etosha Aoba Lodge, Mushara Lodge, or Onguma Tented Camp if these issues are likely to upset you.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: B&B
Food quality: We found breakfast here expensive by Namibian standards. That said, it's a pretty substantial buffet of different cereals, yogurts, fruits and cold meats – plus a variety of breads, cheeses and cold meats, and an option for a cooked breakfast.
The restaurant does not serve lunch. However, then there is a kiosk open, where you'll find basic meals including toasties and chips.
Dinner is more formal and you can expect the chef to stand in the front of the restaurant preparing the evening meal; anything from a stir-fry to carvery. For desert there are normally cakes, pudding and or ice-cream.
Many of the chalets here have their braai facilities (bar-b-que), and you can buy wood and charcoal from the camp's shop. Hence many visitors prefer to organise at least some of their own meals here. If you want to do this then we'd always advise you to buy food before you enter the park – there's a much wider choice (especially of fresh vegetables) than you'll find at the shops in the restcamps.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: No drinks are included at Halali, but there is a cash bar here – and the shop sells a limited amount of alcohol.
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome with their parents
Generally recommended for children: Yes – and because the camp is large and fenced, it's better-suited to children than many private camps.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There is some mobile reception at Halali. There are no phones in the rooms, but there is a public pay-phone if you need to make a phone call. (Purchase phone cards from the shop!)
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio in the rooms, but piped music is played in the restaurant!
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: The closest doctor or hospital is in Outjo, about a 2-hour drive away.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: There are security guards at the restcamp.
Fire safety: There is a fire extinguisher outside each chalet/room.
Disabled access: In Place
Laundry facilities: There is no laundry-service here, but there's space to hand-wash items yourself if you need to.
Money: Currency exchange is not possible at the restcamp