Camp Kipwe

Camp Kipwe: Our full report

Rooms
9 bungalows, 1 suite
Traveller's rating
Excellent (96%) From 63 reviews
Children
Best for ages 5+
Open
All year

Camp Kipwe is an eco-friendly lodge set within the Twyfelfontein Conservancy in Damaraland, about 550km from Namibia's capital city, Windhoek. It is built to an unusual design around the base of a rocky kopje, with views of the Aba Huab valley.

Formerly known as 'Francolino Fly Inn', Camp Kipwe was extended, fully refurbished and reopened under its new name in 2009. It's the sister camp of the nearby Mowani Mountain Camp, and of Onguma Camp in eastern Etosha − all run by the Visions of Africa Safari Company .

Set 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, they are designed to keep temperatures level to cope with the extremes of Namibia's climate and also to blend in with the surrounding boulders.

Each of the nine bungalows has its own shaded veranda with deck chairs, although not all of these are completely private. Inside, the round bedrooms are simple yet comfortable, their neutral tones enlivened by the occasional brightly coloured accessory. Twin or double beds on wooden bases are covered by crisp white linen with bright throws. In keeping with the natural look of Camp Kipwe, the bedside tables and lamps are made from tree trunks, but you can still expect plenty of mod cons, from air conditioning and fans to hairdryers and digital safes, as well as space to hang clothes, mosquito repellent, and an air horn in case of emergency.

One of the bungalows has an area at the back where a dome tent is pitched between two boulders, with twin beds able to sleep two children.

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, and a large private deck with comfortable furniture and sun umbrella. The open-air bathroom also has a separate bath with a view.

Camp Kipwe's main area, rebuilt in 2012 following a fire earlier that year, is raised up off the ground on a deck, with steps leading up to it. Here you’ll find a comfortable lounge area with sofas and armchairs, some of which are on a balcony. 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 food being prepared. There is also a small curio shop and reception.

Tucked away between two rocks is a sparkling rock pool with some shaded sunloungers. This secluded spot 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 & breakfast basis.

In the morning, elephant nature drives, lasting 3–5 hours and costing NS650/£30 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/£19 per person. Guests are advised to wear comfortable walking shoes as you will be walking for around 20–40 minutes 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/£8 per person.

Our view

Camp Kipwe is a relaxed, good-value and attractive lodge set among the boulders of Damaraland with stunning 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.

Geographics

Location: Damaraland, Namibia

Ideal length of stay: 2 nights is ideal to explore the Damaraland area

Directions: Camp Kipwe in 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 (5.5 hours' drive) away. The nearest airstrip is at Twyfelfontein, approximately 15km from Camp Kipwe.

Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Visions of Africa Safari Company, Namibia

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).

On our last visit in November 2015 we found the food to be innovative and tasty.

For breakfast 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 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

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £10-15

Drinks included: No drinks are included at Camp Kipwe. Sparkling wine costs between N$260 –320 (£13 - £16) a bottle, white wine from N$155 to N$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.

Further dining info: Available in the honeymoon suite.

Special interests

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 more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Namibia

Children

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.

Equipment: An extra bed can be added to the rooms for a child, and a cot is available for babies.

Notes: Because of the rough terrain and unfenced pool, parents are advised to watch their children closely at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Mains Electricity

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.

Communications: 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: Borehole

Water supply notes: All bathrooms have plumbed-in basins and showers, with hot and cold running water, and flushing toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Khorixas and in an emergency patients will be flown to Windhoek.

Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk

Security measures: There are guards on site during the day and night.

Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are located in all rooms and in the main areas.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Due to the lack of water in the area there is no laundry service available at Camp Kipwe.

Money: 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.