Etendeka Mountain Camp

Etendeka Mountain Camp: Our full report

Rooms
10 tents
Traveller's rating
Excellent (96%) From 73 reviews
Children
Best for 10+
Open
Closed 7–31 January

Etendeka Mountain Camp is a small, rustic camp, located in a private 500km² concession area (effectively a private reserve) in the foothills of the Grootberg massif, which stands in stunning scenery amidst the ancient Etendeka lava flows of northern Damaraland. Here the basalt rock has been slowly eroded over millennia, leaving scattered boulders lying upon dramatic flat-topped mountains. One of the first 'real' safari camps in Namibia, Etendeka opened around 1993 and has been run since then by Dennis Liebenberg, ably assisted by his head guide, Bonnie.

Etendeka Camp has ten walk-in tents under canvas roofs, with a couple of chairs at the front. All are relatively simple, furnished with twin beds, a small table, a table lamp and two luggage racks. Next to the tent, but not en suite, the bathroom is open to the sky, but enclosed at the sides. Here you'll find a washbasin with hot and cold running water, a fun and surprisingly good bucket shower, a flush toilet and electric lights.

The camp's focal point is the open-sided dining area, with its small, fully inclusive 'bar'. Here Etendeka 's guests congregate for meals, sundowners around the campfire, and after dinner to learn about the cosmos with Dennis. The camp’s latest addition to the main area is its sparkling blue swimming pool, complete with a faux-grass surround and sunloungers. The pool is enclosed on three sides, so it is sheltered from the wind and is also fairly secluded.

Both Dennis and Bonnie know this part of Damaraland like the back of their hands and are passionate about the area, the geology and the wildlife that inhabit this harsh landscape. Activities from the camp are included in the rates – and major on nature/game drives and guided walks, at which Etendeka excels. The area's geology is especially interesting, and travelling on foot can be fascinating. The 'Quartz Walk' is littered with amazing quartz and agates – although the guides are strict that these are for viewing only! The guiding here is excellent, and Bonnie can tell you all sorts of facts about the local environment as well as Namibian history and sociology. It’s worth noting, though, that there isn’t much flexibility with activities as there are only two vehicles at Etendeka, and when the camp is full (a maximum of 20 guests) they feel a little crowded.

Etendeka isn't a place to come just for the game; it's better to treat sightings as a great bonus. The reserve has good populations of Hartmann's mountain zebra, oryx, springbok and giraffe, as well as occasional desert-adapted elephant, and very occasionally even black rhino, lion and leopard. On our last visit in June 2014 we had some good nature drives and walks, and saw plenty of giraffe and zebra, as well as other more common animals such as springbok. Even on the transfer into camp, which takes one-and-a-half hours, you gain a good introduction to the area; we were very lucky to be held up for about 40 minutes by a herd of desert-adapted elephants taking their time in the riverbed that we needed to cross!

With a fantastic, brand-new telescope in house, evenings are also a time of interest, learning about various constellations and the universe. On our last stay, Dennis arranged for some stargazing after dinner, when he explained all about the galaxies, stars and nebulae visible in the clear night sky. This was a fascinating experience, offering the opportunity to see the moon and some planets from an entirely new perspective.

Etendeka Mountain Camp is particularly conscious of their environmental impact, cooking meals over a fire and using alternative energy sources such as solar power. The staff also take great care to remove any litter and rubbish from the area.

Our view

Etendeka is relatively simple by the standards of modern safari camps, and is exceptional in being owner-run for around two decades – a major achievement. What's even more impressive is that Dennis and Bonnie have retained their enthusiasm, and still manage to make sure that their guests have a really individual experience. Etendeka's fairly small size, communal dining and simple but excellent home-cooked food combine to make this a friendly and relaxed camp. It will appeal strongly to those who love solitude, great scenery and walking – whilst the wildlife which is increasingly visible here comes as a real bonus!

Geographics

Location: Damaraland, Namibia

Ideal length of stay: 2–3 nights

Directions: Self-drivers should head west along the C39 from Khorixas or the C40 from Kamanjab, then continue north along the C43 north towards Sesfontein. Follow the signposts to the pick-up point, which is the carpark of Palmwag Lodge. Guests leave their vehicles here, and are transferred to the camp by 4x4. Pick-up times are currently around 3.30pm in winter and 4.00pm in summer.

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

Key personnel

Owner: Dennis Liebenberg

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Breakfast at Etendeka is a self-service continental buffet, consisting of breads, cereals, yoghurts, as well as cold meats and cheeses.

Both lunch and dinner consist of good, wholesome, home-prepared food, with the evening meal being two courses. Dinner is often cooked over the campfire, and ours in June 2014 was delicious: chicken roasted in foil on the fire complete with stuffing, roast butternut squash and lyonnaise potatoes, followed by malva pudding for desert.

Afternoon tea is also provided, as is a full bar. A small snack is provided on the morning walk.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: All drinks available at Etendeka are included, but this does not include such things as champagne and premium whisky.

Further dining info: No

Special interests

Walking: Etendeka is a great base for walking in Namibia. A normal day at the camp might include a 2–4 hour walk, an afternoon game drive, and possibly a short hike up one of the area's mountains.

See more ideas for Walking in Namibia

Children

Attitude towards children: Etendeka welcomes children of eight years and upwards.

Property’s age restrictions: No children under eight years

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: There are no plug sockets in the tents, but there is a charging station in the main area for guests to use.

Communications: There is very patchy cellphone reception, and no internet at Etendeka; you are very isolated here.

TV & radio: None

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: The shower is a simple bucket shower, where you fill a bucket from hot and cold taps, and then hoist it up above you. Quite fun and very effective! There is a normal flush toilet.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Patients in need of medical assistance would be driven back to Palmwag Lodge, or in an emergency flown to Windhoek, which would take about four hours.

Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk

Security measures: Because of the camp's isolated location, there are no security guards at Etendeka.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers just outside each tent.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: Laundry cannot be done at Etendeka due to the short supply of water here.

Money: There is a safe in the office if you’d like to lock valuables away.

Accepted payment on location: No money is needed here as your stay is fully inclusive.