Etendeka Mountain Camp

Etendeka Mountain Camp: Our full report

Rooms
10 tents
Traveller's rating
Excellent (96%) From 87 reviews
Children
Best for 10+
Open
Closed 7–31 January

Etendeka Mountain Camp is a small, rustic eco 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 1991 and has been run since then by Dennis Liebenberg, ably assisted by his head guide, Bonny.

Etendeka Camp has ten walk-in tents under canvas roofs, with a couple of chairs and a table at the front. All are relatively simple, furnished with twin beds, a small table, a table lamp, two luggage racks and a metal clothes rail. 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. A curved stone wall beside each tent adds some privacy from the neighbouring tents.

Sandy pathways wind from the tents to the camp's modern, spacious but minimalist main area. This is open-fronted, with walls built out of gabions, using the local stone. The open-plan lounge has modern wicker furniture and a rustic wooden cabinet containing nature books. There is also a telescope used for stargazing in the evenings with Dennis: an interesting time learning about various constellations and the universe. The dining area, whose terracotta walls are hung with large prints of photos taken in the vicinity, has a long table surrounded by directors’ chairs and a bar tucked in the corner.. This is where Etendeka 's guests congregate for afternoon tea, sundowners around the campfire, and meals.

The camp also has a swimming pool, complete with a faux-grass surround and sunloungers. The pool is enclosed on three sides by stone gabion walls, so it is sheltered from the wind and is also fairly secluded.

Both Dennis and Bonny 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 focus on 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 Bonny can tell you all sorts of facts about the local environment as well as about 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. However, at the time of our visit in December 2015 Dennis was in the process of training another guide to assist when the camp is full.

Etendeka isn't a place to come just for the game; it's better to treat wildlife sightings as an added 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 December 2015, we had good sightings of springbok, oryx, zebra and giraffe during our transfer into camp, which takes about one-and-a-half hours, and on our way out the following day we were very lucky to see two lion under a tree. We were only at Etendeka long enough to do a morning walk with Bonny and the other guests but found the surrounding area and his knowledge fascinating.

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 takes 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 Bonny 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 combines 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 in the car park of Palmwag Lodge. Guests leave their vehicles here, and are transferred to Etendeka by 4WD. Pick-up times are currently around 3.30pm in winter and 4.00pm in summer. Etendeka also has an airstrip so its possible to also stay here on a fly-in trip. The airstrip is about 30 minutes drive from the camp.

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 and yoghurts, as well as cold meats and cheeses.

Lunch is served after the morning activity at about 12.00. On our most recent visit in December 2015 a buffet of salads and freshly baked bread was available, as well as a selection of cold meats and cheeses.

Dinner was roast chicken cooked in foil over the fire by the chef, watched by guests as they enjoyed a drink. The smell was amazing! This was served with a selection of fresh vegetables and a salad. Desert was a very tasty malva pudding – a South African sticky sponge pudding.

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, except for champagne and premium spirits which cost extra.

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

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: None

Notes: The camp is not fenced and wildlife often wanders through camp. Parents need to supervise their children at all times

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. WiFi is available in the main area.

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. There is an airstrip about 30 minutes’ drive from Etendeka.

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: On Request

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

Money: There is no currency exchange here. There is a safe in the office if you'd like to lock valuables away.

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

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