Camp Kipwe: Our full report
Built to an unusual design, Camp Kipwe fits harmoniously into its rocky surroundings.The small camp lies in Namibia's Aba Huab valley within the Twyfelfontein Conservancy, in easy reach of Damaraland's varied attractions.
Dotted among the boulders at Camp Kipwe are a series of innovative igloo-shaped bungalows and a suite, some of them covered in pretty pink and red bougainvillea. Constructed of stone with distinctive curved roofs, they are designed both to blend in with the environment and to maintain an even temperatureto cope with the extremes of Namibia's climate.
Each of the nine bungalows overlooks the dry riverbed and faces the sunset, with its own shaded veranda to appreciate the view – although not all of these are completely private. Inside, the circular bedrooms are modest yet comfortable, their neutral tones enlivened by brightly coloured accessories. Twin or double beds on wooden bases are covered by crisp white linen and, in keeping with the natural look of Camp Kipwe, the bedside tables and lamps are made from tree trunks. Despite the simplicity you can still expect plenty of mod cons, from air conditioning and fans to hairdryers and digital safes..
Two of the bungalows have an area at the back where a dome tent, pitched between two boulders, can sleep two children in twin beds.
The en-suite bathrooms, which are open to the stars, are cleverly designed around large boulders. You may find your shower placed between two rocks, and the toilet around the back of a boulder. Although the bathrooms are lit at night, it is easier to use the shower during the day.
The luxury suite, popular with honeymooners, is a short distance from the rest of the camp for extra privacy. It has its own separate lounge area with a TV, and a large private deck with comfortable furniture and a sun umbrella. The open-air bathroom also has a separate bath with a view.
Steps lead up to Camp Kipwe's main area, raised up on a deck, where you'll find comfortable sofas and armchairs in a lounge area decorated with splashes of vibrant pinks. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are usually served in the large, open-fronted dining room with a separate balcony, although for the winter months, there's also a small indoor dining area, from which guests can see into the kitchen and watch their meals being prepared. A small curio shop and reception complete the picture.
Tucked away between two rocks is a sparkling rock pool with some shaded sunloungers. It's a secluded spot, which is often frequented by various brightly coloured lizards too.
Behind the main area, a footpath leads up through the rocks to a viewpoint built high among the boulders, overlooking Camp Kipwe and the surrounding plains. Sundowner drinks and snacks are served up here, allowing guests to admire the sunset and the beautiful Damaraland landscape. Do note that while it's not a difficult climb, it's uneven and could be tiring if attempted quickly.
Like its nearby sister camp, Mowani Mountain Camp, Camp Kipwe is well placed for exploring the attractions of Damaraland by yourself. Alternatively, the camp offers a variety of activities – though note that some of these can be taken only by those who have booked on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis.
In the morning, elephant nature drives, lasting 3–5 hours and costing NS730/£45 per person, explore the surrounding area with a guide, in search of Namibia's remaining 600-or-so desert-dwelling elephant. During the rainy season your chance of seeing the elephant are slimmer, so please check with the lodge before booking this activity.
In the afternoon, there is a 2–3-hour excursion to the rock engravings at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein, costing about N$375/£25 per person. Guests are advised to wear comfortable walking shoes as they will be walking for around an hour over rough terrain to see the engravings. The drive also takes in the Burnt Mountain and the Organ Pipes.
When a guide is available, it may also be possible to take a guided nature walk around Camp Kipwe, lasting about 1–2 hours, and at a cost of N$160/£10 per person.
Camp Kipwe is a relaxed, good-value and attractive lodge set among the boulders of Damaraland with beautiful scenery. It offers interesting excursions to Twyfelfontein's remarkable cultural sights, as well as adventurous trips in search of Namibia's roaming giants, the desert-adapted elephant.
- Damaraland, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- Two nights would be ideal to explore the Damaraland area.
- Camp Kipwe is situated in the Twyfelfontein area along the D2612, opposite the entrance to Mowani Mountain Camp; the closest towns are Uis (130km to the south) and Khorixas (130km to the east), and Windhoek is about 550km (5½ hours' drive) away. The nearest airstrip is at Twyfelfontein, approximately 15km from Camp Kipwe.
- Accessible by
- Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Half Board
- Food quality
- Camp Kipwe has fixed mealtimes, although these vary slightly according to the season. Breakfast is served at 7.00am (6.30am in winter, April–September); lunch at 1.00pm (winter 12.30pm); afternoon tea at 4.30pm (winter 4.00pm) and dinner at 8.00pm (winter 7.00pm).
Although we were only able to visit Camp Kipwe on our last visit, and were unable to stay for a meal, we’ve eaten here on several previous occasions, and we’ve always found the food to be innovative and tasty.
For breakfast on a previous visit we had a choice of Matthews Breakfast Stack – toasted bread topped with bacon or ham, poached egg and mushrooms, or Kipwe Open Sandwich – toasted bread with lettuce, cream cheese, bacon, fried egg and camembert cheese, or an egg of your choice with mushrooms, bacon and cheese as well as tomato and onion. There was also the usual selection of cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurt and fruit juice.
Unfortunately we did not have lunch on this occasion, but dinner was delicious! We started with an amuse bouche – a small portion of chunky tomato and olive soup – followed by bacon and mozzarella cups, filled with tomato and herbs. The main course was a choice of pan-fried chicken with a parmesan crust, or sirloin chasseur, both served with roast butternut squash and seasonal vegetables. Dessert was a lemon cheesecake.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Private dinners can be served to guests in the honeymoon suite.
- Drinks included
- No drinks are included at Camp Kipwe. Sparkling wine costs N$260–320 (£13–16) a bottle, white wine N$155–285 (£7.75–14.25) a bottle and red wine N$190–360 (£9.50–18). Cocktails are available at N$45–70 (£2.25–3.50) and beers cost about N$20 (£1).
The water is filtered and suitable for drinking but may have a slightly saline taste.
- Wildlife safaris
- The desert-adapted elephant, found only in the north-west of Namibia, can be spotted on game drives from Camp Kipwe, although sometimes the distances can be quite long.
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- Attitude towards children
- Children are accepted at Camp Kipwe.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Camp Kipwe has no age restrictions.
- Special activities & services
- Special meals for children are available on request. Books and games are available in the main area.
- An extra bed can be added to the rooms for a child, and a cot is available for babies. For the more adventurous, two of the rooms have a tent pitched next to them, suitable for two children.
- Generally recommended for children
- Camp Kipwe has a relaxed style, and children – especially where there are two travelling together – should especially enjoy staying in the rooms with a tent outside.
- Because of the rough terrain and unfenced pool, parents are advised to watch their children closely at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Camp Kipwe
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Camp Kipwe have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- There is a back-up generator if the mains power fails. Hot water is from a wood-fired burner outside each room.
- Cellphone reception is available, and the lodge also has a central phone that guests can use. There is no WiFi here.
- TV & radio
- There are no TVs or radios in the camp.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- All bathrooms have plumbed-in basins and showers, with hot and cold running water, and flushing toilets.
A small garden with herbs
Benefitting from a chameleonic design, Camp Kipwe is well-hidden in the heart of the Twyfelfontein Conservancy. One of its environmental claims revolves around sourcing food from nearby villages - an opportunity to contribute to the local economy while delighting guests with fresh, organic ingredients. A variety of indigenous plants were planted and are carefully harvested around the lodge. More recently, the chefs at Kipwe started a small picturesque herb garden on-site, with future plans that include harvesting vegetables. The scale of the project is monitored to ensure purchases from Dimab will continue supporting the local community. Local farmers are also offered the chance to partake in workshops on how to develop more sustainable agriculture techniques and manage their crops as good as possible.
The results are promising as the restaurant at Camp Kipwe is recognised as a top venue in Twyfelfontein Conservancy and winner of the Best Safari Cuisine Award 2016 – pleasing gourmands and gourmets from all around the world.
See more great sustainability projects in Namibia
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The nearest doctor is in Khorixas. In a medical emergency, patients would be flown to Windhoek.
- Dangerous animals
- Moderate Risk
- Security measures
- There are guards on site day and night.
- Fire safety
- Fire extinguishers are located in all rooms and in the main areas.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Due to the lack of water in the area there is no laundry service available at Camp Kipwe.
- Each room has a digital safe.
- Accepted payment on location
- Camp Kipwe accepts cash payments in Namibian dollars and South African rand, as well as credit-card payments by Visa and Mastercard.
Other lodges in Damaraland
Alternative places to stay in this same area.