False Travel Namibia 39 n Wild Dogs have returned to Mudumu National Park in the Caprivi Strip, according to guides at Lianshulu Lodge – the only lodge inside the park. The dogs have just successfully raised a litter of six pups and are a welcome and important addition to the park’s eco- system. Also in the Caprivi Strip, Islands of Africa’s Susuwe Island Lodge, reports elephants starting to return to the area, and a hippo has taken up residence in front of the lodge. n Namibia Tracks and Trails has increased the frequency of its mobile safaris into the northwest of Namibia. The trips ( both tailormade and scheduled departures) range from two nights searching for elephants and black rhino to longer trips for eight nights. Many of the shorter trips are perfect for people wanting to spend a couple of nights close to nature in the complete wilderness with a highly experienced guide. n Two Namibian hotels and two lodges are going to be revamped following a deal with one of the world’s oldest luxury hotel chains. Kempinski plan to redevelop The Strand Hotel in Swakopmund, King’s Den Lodge in Caprivi, Mokuti Lodge close to Etosha and a hotel in Windhoek. n Mushara Lodge has opened an outpost on the bank of a dry riverbed. Mushara Outpost sleeps 16 and each en suite tent is on a wooden deck giving great views into the surrounding bush. The Outpost’s cool main area is built in the style of an old farm house with high walls and a corrugated iron roof with a large wrap around veranda that offers plenty of shade. Owners Marc and Mariza Pampe say they want to create a ‘ lived- in feeling’- friendly, warm, extremely comfortable, with a homely atmosphere. n Boulders Camp, the newest property in the exclusive Wolwedans Collection, has opened deep in the heart of the NamibRand nature reserve. Boulders accommodates guests in four spacious Travel updates rooms that are sited around the base of a rock strewn mountain. It is private in the extreme. There are no well- trodden paths here, just thousands of square hectares of the oldest desert on the planet. Boulders Camp is seasonal and is open from Easter to October, the prime desert months. n Okonjima Bush Camp – the home of AfriCat – has added a wheelchair friendly room to its accommodation. Okonjima is famous for its cheetahs but, a couple of years ago, adopted some wild dog puppies. The pups’ progress was followed in the BBC’s Wild in Africa programme. They are now happily settled in a new large enclosure. n A new pile of rocks at the entrance to the reception of Cañon Village replicates numerous similar piles that can be found in many parts of Namibia. They are usually next to ancient paths and passes, or sometimes in the vicinity of watering places. Among the Nama people they were known as Haitsi Aibeb, the grave of Haiseb, a deity. If you come across a Haitsi Aibeb you are meant to add a stone or a twig and ask for Haiseb’s blessing for your journey. FROM THE TOP: AfriCat wild dogs, Namibia Tracks and Trails, Mushara Outpost, Boulders Camp, Cañon Village.
False Xxxxx Olweendo 40 Travel Namibia n HOTELS, PENSIONS, LODGES AND CAMPS The hotels here are without exception fairly clean and safe. Unless you choose a really run- down old- style place in one of the smaller towns, you’re unlikely to find anywhere that’s dirty. Establishments are licensed by the local authority as hotels, lodges, restcamps, etc, according to their facilities, though the distinction between a hotel and a lodge depends on its location – a hotel must fall within a municipal area; a lodge will be outside. Similarly, a guest farm must be a working farm, otherwise it will be classified as Accommodation guide So you know when you want to go and what you want to see. But where will you stay in Namibia? Do you fancy camping in the wilderness, the warm welcome of a family- run guest farm or wallowing in the luxury of a top lodge? Chris McIntyre, author of The Bradt Guide to Namibia, runs through what’s available. a lodge. They are also graded by stars, from one to five, but the system is more a guide to their facilities and size than the quality or service. The ‘ T’ that appears alongside the star rating indicates that the place has been judged suitable for tourists, while the number of ‘ Y’s reflects the type of licence to serve alcohol ( three ‘ Y’s being a full licence). Most bush camps and lodges are of a high standard, though their prices – and atmosphere – vary wildly. Price is a guide to quality here, though not a reliable one. Often the places that have better marketing ( ie: you’ve heard of them) cost more than their less famous neighbours which are equally good. n GUEST FARMS These are private farms which host small numbers of guests, usually arranged in advance. They are often very personal and you’ll eat all your meals with the hosts and be taken on excursions by them during the day. Most have some game animals on their land and conduct their own game drives. One or two have interesting rock formations, or cave paintings to visit. The prices at guest farms vary, but are rarely less than N$ 450 per person – and usually nearer N$ 750. They generally include all your meals, and often some trips around their farm. n CAMPING Wherever you are in Namibia, you can usually find a campsite nearby. In the more remote areas, far from settlements, nobody bothers if you just sleep by the road. The campsites which are dotted all over the country generally have good ablution blocks, which vary from a concrete shed with toilets and cold shower, to an immaculately fitted- out set of changing rooms with toilets and hot showers. Prices are frequently per site, which theoretically allows for ‘ a maximum of eight persons, two vehicles and one caravan/ tent’. In practice, if you’ve a couple of small tents you will not often be charged for two sites, so travelling in a small group can cut costs considerably. n childrenchildrenchildrenchildrenchildrenchildrenchildrenchildren Many of Namibia’s hotels, lodges and camps offer special rates for children, which can range from discounts to free accommodation to those sharing a room with their parents. Some go out of their way to cater for children, too, perhaps with a family room that has loft accommodation. Conversely, a few venues are not suitable for youngsters. It’s always worth checking for any special deals when making your initial enquiries, as well as ensuring that your chosen location is safe for your family. Chris McIntyre is also managing director of Namibia specialists Expert Africa. A room with a view: camping in Namibia Mushara