Palmwag Lodge

Palmwag Lodge: Our full report

Rooms
32 rooms
Traveller's rating
Good (83%) From 28 reviews
Open
All year

Palmwag Lodge sits in an attractive location next to a palm-lined spring in the Uniab River, which often flows with water and draws elephants close to the lodge. This is one of northern Damaraland’s oldest lodges, and it’s able to accommodate a significant number of people. The main area was renovated in 2014/15 and the original rooms revamped. Four new bungalows and five tented chalets were also added bring the total number of rooms to 32.

The lodge is the gateway to the vast Palmwag Concession, which covers an area of about 4,500km². Damaraland as a whole supports Africa’s largest free-roaming population of black rhinoceros, of which the Palmwag Concession hosts around 70%. This semi-desert area is also home to a healthy population of rare desert-adapted elephant, as well as a variety of other game including kudu, springbok, oryx, giraffe, Hartmann’s mountain zebra and ostrich. Lion and hyena are also occasionally spotted. However, because it is so arid, wildlife densities in this area are much lower than in the reserves further east, which receive higher rainfall.

Palmwag's rooms differ slightly in construction but all have broadly similar facilities and space, and all cost the same. Typically they are simply decorated with white-washed walls and crisp white linen sheets on the beds. All the rooms have mosquito nets over the beds, power points, a safe, and either a ceiling fan or standing fan, plus insect repellent and an emergency alarm.

Each room has a functional and clean en-suite bathroom with shower, washbasin and toilet. Hot and cold water are on tap but no toiletries are provided except for soap.

Broadly speaking, Palmwag Lodge has two main styles of accommodation. There are:

  • 19 stone and thatch bungalows the majority of which are located closed to the main area. This includes two family units which can sleep five and which share a small pool, garden and picnic table.

  • 13 tented chalets.of which four are next to the central area. The remaining nine chalets are built slightly further away and overlook the reed beds of the Uniab River. These nine chalets are elevated on stilts and each has a raised wooden veranda at the front, with a table and chairs, where you can sit and watch birds and animals come for a drink at the spring below.
The focal point at Palmwag Lodge is the large, thatched open-plan central area, incorporating the restaurant, lounge and bar, and with two large verandas looking over the reedbeds of the Uniab River to the mountains in the distance. Here you can while away the hours watching a variety of birds flit in and out of the reed beds, or observe the elephants that regularly come to the spring.

The big, friendly Uniab Restaurant, with its wooden tables and a buffet bar for breakfast, is decorated with beautifully woven baskets, African bush drawings and masks. In the adjacent small lounge area, a big sofa has large comfy cushions and a few reference books on Namibia. On cooler winter evenings, seek out the tall wood-burning heater between the dining room and the lounge. A small, well-stocked bar is constructed partly of natural tree branches.

The lodge has two swimming pools: one with loungers under shady palm trees; a second with a pool-side bar (where, bizarrely, they won't serve you drinks by the pool). This is near to the campsite, and so sometimes gets a lively crowd. Palmwag's curio shop is open 6.30am–8.00pm.

Because of the number of people that can be based here and the number of groups that pass through, the lodge can feel quite busy at times, and service can be a bit hit and miss.

You can use Palmwag Lodge as a stopover, or stay for longer to take part in some of the activities offered here. These include daily morning and evening scenic nature drives; guided walks to Two Palms which can take approx. three hours. Half Day Rhino tracking activity which can last up to six hours and Full Day Rhino tracking activities which can last up to ten hours. Information about the activities offered can be found in the reception area.

With advance booking, there are also various full-day game-viewing and cultural excursions. The adventurous might consider the option of an 'under canvas' sleep-out within the Palmwag Concession, which explores the breathtaking landscapes and spends the night in comfortable dome tents with rustic bush facilities (although no showers) and nature all around you. Many of our travellers enjoy a night based at Palmwag Lodge, followed by a night camping in the wilds, but these trips can last as long as you wish.

There is a petrol station at Palmwag Lodge where diesel and Unleaded 95 petrol can be purchased (however please note that this is only payable in cash) using NAD and ZAR.

Our view

Palmwag Lodge has a lovely setting and following recent renovations to the rooms and main area, it offers a comfortable, convenient and affordable base for guests on a self-drive holiday to explore the rugged beauty and captivating wildlife of Damaraland. The option to spend a night relaxing at the lodge, followed by a night or two camping on the Palmwag Sleep-out, may also appeal to adventurous travellers looking to feel more connected to this pristine wilderness.

Geographics

Location: Damaraland, Namibia

Ideal length of stay: 2–3 nights

Directions: Heading north on the C43 signposted Palmwag, not far past the junction with the C40, you reach the veterinary fence. Some 500m past this on the left-hand side you will see the sign for Palmwag Lodge. Note that if you are driving from the east, the route via the C40, over the Grootberg Pass, offers great views of the Damaraland landscape.

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

Key personnel

Owner: Fritz Schenk and Brigitte Kriess

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Half Board

Food quality: When we last stayed at Palmwag Lodge in June 2014, the standard of food was good.

Breakfast is served between 6.30 and 9.00am, and consists of a large buffet offering cereals, fruit, yoghurt, breads, cheese, meats and hot options.

Lunch and other meals are available from 10.00am to 10.00pm at the Makalani pool bar, where there is a short menu offers a variety of salads, pasta and burgers with prices ranging from N$80 to N$170.

Tea and coffee are available in the restaurant area throughout the day, with cake being provided from 3:00pm.

Dinner is 3 course buffet which is served in the restaurant from 7pm, and should be booked before 3pm. An a la carte menu is also available at the pool bar

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Drinks included: Tea and coffee are included in the rates; all other drinks are extra.

Further dining info: No room service available.

Special interests

Photography holidays: Set in the dramatic scenery of the ancient Etendeka lava flows of northern Damaraland, Palmwag Lodge not only offers great landscape photography but also the opportunity to photograph the desert-dwelling elephants and black rhino and lion that wander this semi-desert region.

See more ideas for Photography holidays in Namibia

Wildlife safaris: Palmwag is one of the last wilderness areas in the world outside of a national park. You can see a variety of game including, with a bit of luck, free-roaming black rhino, desert-adapted elephant and lion, all in the most spectacular landscape far off the normal tourist routes.

See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Namibia

Children

Attitude towards children: Palmwag Lodge has a very good attitude to children – and two special 'family units' that share their own plunge pool.

Property’s age restrictions: None

Special activities & services: Palmwag Lodge do not offer any special services for children.

Equipment: One small bed and a highchair and are available for guests' use.

Notes: Parents should be aware that the camp is not fenced and that dangerous big game often passes through (elephants are pretty regular visitors).

Infrastructure

Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: There is a backup generator in case of a power cut.

Communications: There is a central phone, fax and email. There is cellphone reception and you can also purchase phone cards which can be used in the public phone. There is no WiFi available.

TV & radio: No

Water supply: Borehole

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Khorixas. Nurses are available closer and there is a medical kit in the lodge. Medi-rescue is also available.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: There are five guards on site and they each carry a deterrent against animals.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in every room and in the central areas.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: There is an extra charge for laundry of between N$3 to N$15 per item.

Money: The lodge will exchange cash in US dollars, euros and British pounds, but not travellers' cheques. Each room has an electronic combination safe.

Accepted payment on location: They accept payment by Visa and MasterCard, as well as in cash (US dollars, euros and British pounds).

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