So what exactly is a sleepout?
If you’re considering paying about a hundred (Aussie) dollars per person for a night’s sleepout “under canvas”, you’re probably wondering what the experience entails. Well, at Palmwag, it’s basically a fully serviced overnight camping excursion to a site in the middle of the African bush. With a lengthy game drive on either side. On our way there, we saw a baby giraffe get eaten by a lioness – you could be just as lucky.
So can you do this yourself, given that you’ve got a fully equipped vehicle? Sure, but you might be setting up camp in a spot considered dangerous (such as a riverbed) or just mere metres from where a lion took down a baby giraffe. The lion might be full, but what about her pride or scavenging hyena?
Our guide, Fritz, took us to a really scenic location at the base of a hill, set amid camelthorn trees and nefarious milkbushes, the latter which only selected animals can stomach due to their milky white toxic sap. This spot was also very secluded, and had everything set up for us, including a bush toilet. If you’ve never seen a bush toilet, this is a basically a deep hole with a plastic toilet seat set up over the hole. When you’re done, you just grab the shovel and cover what you’ve made with sand. A low-tech but very effective way to get rid of the sight, the smell and flies!
Another benefit of a sleepout is that everything, from the pitching of tents to hot water for washing up and all the catering is looked after by your camp crew. All you have to do is sit back, enjoy the campfire and the generous spread. Oh, and did I mention the stars? The night skies were unbelievable. Aside from constellations to identify, there were also various night sounds to decipher.
Inside our tent, which was about 100m from our friends’, had two thick sleeping mats with very warm sleeping bags and extra blankets. The tent was also high enough I could stand up comfortably in it. This is probably not true for a 6 foot person, but it was plenty high enough for me. Also in here was mozzie spray but I’d recommend just keeping it zipped up to stop creepy crawlies getting in.
Next to our tent was a large canvas washbasin, which Fritz filled with warm water in the evening and then again in the morning. Perfectly fine for washing faces and brushing teeth in. There were also towels and an assortment of toiletries in the tent – convenient, but I didn’t use them as I had brought my own. There were no showers by the way.
For dinner, Fritz put pork chops, potatoes, stuffed squashes on hot coals and there were also two pre-prepared salads, rolls and butter. The stuffed squashes and pasta salad were there because we’d stated that three of us were vegetarian (a choice Namibians consider absolutely crazy, as it happens). They were delicious and very filling. There was also a large selection of cold drinks in an esky, from beers and soft drink to classic cocktails, such as GnTs which he obligingly mixed.
There wasn’t much to do after dark, so we decided to go draw “light pictures” a few metres away from the campfire. I wouldn’t recommend wandering off from the site or even to the bathroom at this stage. Bring a friend and a torch if you have to!
The following morning, he pulled out a massive fruit platter, cheese, cold cuts and there was of course, rusks, cereal and toast as well as coffee and tea. After a our meal, we headed back to Palmwag Lodge at a leisurely pace, meandering through the landscape in search of wildlife.
For tips on driving in Namibia, read this post:
We review our vehicle here:
Our entire three week self-drive safari is chronicled on these pages: