Reviews of Etendeka Mountain Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Far from the madding crowd
Etendeka is a true bushcamp and remote enough for one to feel really 'out there'. Especially given its remoteness and, therefore, time taken to get there (90 minutes by truck from Palmwag), we feel it is well worth a minimum of three nights. On our two full days, we did a morning walk and an evening drive each day with the excellent Bonnie as our guide.
The mammal range is impressive - including elephants and black rhinos (another group saw lions as we were on our way to the camp). And the area also has a good bird proposition. That said, some readers may be surprised to learn that the highlight for us was a pair of very habituated elephant shrews warming themselves on the rocks outside our tent of an afternoon!
Even if the mammals and birds were fewer, the area would be well worth a visit simply for the landscape which is truly wild and beautiful.
Dennis is an excellent host at the camp and the new communal area is very well appointed. He is also something of an expert on the night sky, which was totally undisturbed by pollution (anyone for a post-dinner sight of Saturn's rings?!).
All in all, very enjoyable and strongly recommended.
Etendeka Mountain Camp review
This was our favourite place of the whole trip. Dennis and his wife are wonderful hosts and we really enjoyed their company.
Although the camp was full and we all ate at the same long table, we felt like privileged guests enjoying the undivided attention of our hosts. The communal dining sessions helped us to get to know other guests, many of whom we bumped into at other destinations forming a community of Etendeka "graduates" who were keen to find out where we had been and what we had seen since leaving the camp.
Dennis has lived in the area for many years and we enjoyed hearing about the environment, wildlife, local people and their often conflicting needs. The guided walks and sundowner drives helped us to enjoy the fauna, flora and rugged landscape. Most of the wildlife was nervous and it was not possible to get too close but, even so, we saw a lot, including desert elephants on our drive in to the camp on the first evening.
The tents were comfortable, although some people might not be happy about having to leave the tent to go to the toilet or shower. The outdoor bucket shower helped create an impression of rustic camping even if the illusion was spoilt by the presence of solar heated hot water and comfortable accomodation.
The real bush camp experience
Etendeka is the real wilderness, not to compare with other luxury safari camps. Accomodation is simple but very comfortable, the bucket showers are a real experience. At night you hear the hyena cry in the distance...
Dinner is together with the other guests, which can be very interactive. Food is excellent, certainly if you realise that the closest shop is more than 100 km away!
The morning walk gets you as close as can be to the stunning scenery, Bonnie must be one of the most experienced guides in the country. It is not only about the wildlife, but also about geology, plants and the people of Namibia. Very informative with special attention for the kids.
In the evening, Dennis gets you gazing at the stars through his telescope. We never got closer to the real Namibian wilderness than in Etendeka.
Etendeka a real camp
Palmwag lodge a good place to have a drink while awaiting transfer. We were met South of the Vet. gate by Etendeka staff but as we were early they led us to Palmwag lodge where we left car.
I don't think we would have attempted drive to Etendeka even in 4WD although others did. Lovely setting, wilder, more spartan with "real" tents, outside bathroom etc. Still very comfortable. Bucket showers and emphasis on conserving water.
Very sociable: all ate together and went on drives in 2 vehicles. Friendly knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff led by Dennis and Bonny who are legendary. Very international guests but everyone else spoke English (we are so lazy).
Dennis gave us an astronomy lecture with excellent view of Saturn's rings after supper. Not a place to come if you want a holiday camp with a swimming pool (stay at Palmwag), but we loved it as it was real Namibian wilderness.
Etendeka Mountain Camp review
Better than expected. We saw amazing wildlife, including a pride of 7 lion, an Aardwolf, a black mongoose, black rhino and large herds of Eliphant, giraffe, zebra and antelope.
Dennis is a great chap but a bit of an eyore, he has more at Etendeka than he is really willing to use or let on about.
Etendeka Mountain Camp is awesome
Every thing about this camp is awesome - the location, the isolation, the hosts, the sky, the wicked shower......We stayed two nights and wished we'd stayed for three so we could have also done the longer walk up into the hills.
Dennis breathes Etendeka out of every pore and Ivan is a superb companion in interpreting the area - just don't believe all his tall tales.
Etendeka is a great wilderness experience
As a wilderness experience Etendeka is absolutely brilliant and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The freshly home-cooked food deserves a mention too.
Just a couple of comments:-
(1) The small jeep is not really adequate to be used on a game drive for six people - it was really most uncomfortable
(2) Having contacted Etendeka ourselves prior to the trip to advise a birthday of one of our party while staying there, they were kind enough to lay on a bottle of celebratory sparkling wine at dinner, but the surprise rather back-fired as the guide let the cat out of the bag by mentioning this on the drive in to the camp, but was muddled up about whose birthday it really was which spoiled the occasion somewhat.
Close to nature at Etendeka
We waited for more than an hour and a half after the designated meeting time for a couple who never arrived which was a little frustrating but it meant that we traveled the 14 km to the camp as the sun was setting so in better light conditions.
That was the only minus point in an excellent three days. We were taken out by Denis Liebenberg himself as he had given his normal guide a few days off. And as entertaining and informative a guide as you could ever wish for. His knowledge of the area is encyclopaedic but even he was surprised to see a group of Eland; an animal had had never seen there in all his twenty years of holding the concession.
The day is organised with a trek in the morning and a drive in the afternoon. One day' stay would be too short, two days just right but if you were there for three days then I think you would probably be repeating the terrain you covered on day one. The area is full of animals and birds including the rare long beaked lark and a walk up the mountain with the ground covered in semi precious minerals and crystals was an eye opener.
Dining is at a long able with other guests including during our time there Denis, his wife and son. It was a time to discuss the day's activities and to learn more about the country and its people. Denis claims that his he only has four day's worth of menus so was a little worried as an English couple,father and daughter, had booked in to spend a week there so he was looking for three more recipes! When you think that his nearest shop is 140 km away he has to make sure that nothing is forgotten on his weekly shopping trip.
Accommodation is extremely comfortable in safari tents with an outside bucket shower and one goes to sleep with the sound of zebra chomping outside or the mournful cry of a distant hyena. On first morning we woke to find that a there had been a leopard kill a few yards from the complex so the second night Denis set a camera trap and the following morning we were treated to images of a large female leopard devouring the hind quartets of a springbok.
I don't think that one could get a better understanding of the geology and wildlife of Northern Damaraland anywhere else.
Etendeka Mountain Camp review
The facilities, food & activities were all great, however, felt the overall experience was slightly less brilliant than other experiences.
Would, perhaps, have liked more interaction with all the staff
Etendeka was a real highlight of our trip
Our visit to Etendeka was one of the highlights of the trip. We were there for 2 nights, and could happily have stayed longer.
Etendeka has probably the smallest human footprint of anywhere we have stayed outside back country campgrounds. But Dennis and his team provide everything their guests need, with gentleness and good humour.
Dennis' long-term knowledge of the area was illuminating, and we appreciated being able to quiz him on the local environment and culture. Ivan is also an entertaining and knowledgeable guide. I doubt we will ever forget what we learned about oryx droppings... (and I mean that in a good way).
We loved the design of the new communal areas, minimal but restful, and making great use of the local rocks. And we enjoyed the simplicity of the bedroom tents (with views of the Hartmann's mountain zebras in the distance). The outdoor bucket showers are liberating!
Oh, and Dennis mixes an excellent gin and tonic.