Wolwedans Private Camp: A fine end to our Namibian adventure
To cap off three weeks of exploring, we splurged on a night at Wolwedans Private Camp in the NamibRand Nature Reserve, around two hours south of Sossusvlei.
Having had a flat tyre that morning driving into Sossusvlei, we had to stop in at Sossus Oasis’ service station once again for a patch. Luckily this time, that’s all that was required and set us back 100NAD plus a 20NAD tip.
The road to Wolwedans was pretty poor – rocky but fortunately not too corrugated. But wow, the landscapes around it sure were varied and very pretty. From mountains formed by layer upon layer of pastel rock to rolling blond savanna punctuated by the odd flat-topped acacia under which a lone oryx or herd of zebra browsed, it was classic Namibian scenery all the way.
Pro tip #1: Check out my post about driving in Namibia. Admiring the scenery might well increase your chances of a flat!
When we pulled into the entrance to Wolwedans, we were greeted by plenty more handsome oryx, herds of zebra and majestic ostriches. All of a sudden, the lodge appeared in the distance and we were greeted by our effusive and enthusiastic host, David.
He loaded us and our bags into the open gamedrive vehicle, then we rumbled down a track to the three-bedroom Private Camp, staffed by our very own House Manager Saki, and personal chef, Michael. Throughout our short stay, both men helped make our visit perfect.
Overlooking a mountain and a waterhole frequented by antelope and Namaqua doves throughout the day, we also were steps from a small but lovely pool. Smaller oryx ousted by larger members of their herd often drank from said pool, so I kept well away when this happened.
Pro tip #2: Lodges hardly ever speak of this but if animals get too comfortable with guests and could potentially cause injury (for instance, buffalo, elephant or oryx), the beast is destroyed. Think about this before you feed or closely approach a wild animal to get your ‘selfie’or whatever.
Another highlight was the yellow mongoose Hans, who scuttled about while we had lunch on our private patio. Apparently “allergic to cold weather and waking up early”, we only saw Hans at lunch time.
After an invigorating dip in the pool, we set off on a horseback riding excursion. Led by an experienced and friendly young guide from Croatia (I believe her name to be Maida?), we were fitted with helmets and assigned two quiet, obedient horses.
As the afternoon sun slowly burnt itself out, we trotted up to a crest and admired magical fairy circles as well as the spectacular colourful mountains of the NamibRand Reserve. Another truly memorable activity for us.
When we returned, Saki was prepping our dining room. He had intimate knowledge of the game that inhabited the area, and regaled us with interesting stories of zebra calves and resident owls. As dusk fell, he mixed drinks and lit us a blazing fire. Only Palmwag and Hoada could challenge Wolwedans for the best night skies. As part of a Dark Sky Reserve, the stars here were something to behold.
To keep nights dark, hurricane lanterns were employed indoors, and this soft light was what bathed us as we devoured a delightful six course meal made to suit our dietary requirements by a smiling Michael.
Pro tip #3: Vegetarians were well catered for at Wolwedans and pretty well accommodated at most restaurants in Namibia, contrary to my belief that no one in the country didn’t eat meat! In our experience, there was always at least one veg dish on the menu even if just a humble cheese and tomato toastie.
That night, we returned to our canvas-walled suite to find our bedroom turned down, with wispy white mosquito netting let out and a warm, fluffy blanket laid at the foot of the incredibly comfortable four-poster bed. Four pillows, thick doona…heaven!
The following morning, I had the best shower of the trip in a bathroom larger than my bedroom at home. Plus it had a view!
Then, it was time for our Bushman’s walk. Led by Buti, a Bushman who hailed from Namibia’s lush panhandle, this gentle meander would take us barely a kilometre away from Private Camp to scrub-covered dunes. Yet it revealed a multitude of secrets.
Buti taught us how to differentiate between the sexes of oryx based on their droppings and also how to tell if the animal was healthy. In the soft sand, he pointed out different tracks which opened our eyes to the many, many animals that inhabited this area, from mole to gerbil and lizard.
Finally, he blew on sand to magically uncover the nests of two trapdoor spiders. Incredible!
Pro tip #4: If there was anything this walk taught me, it was that the desert is bursting with life. In fact, almost every part of Namibia was, despite appearing harsh and uninviting. It was mind-blowing what you saw once you really looked, listened and paid close attention.
Then, sadly, after a fresh, delicious breakfast and cheeky final dip in the pool, it was time to go.
The road to Windhoek was 450km away, so we departed Wolwedans by 10:30am. By this stage, we thought we would’ve seen it all yet there were still dramatic gorges and haunting, abandoned homesteads that prompted us to stop and have a closer look.
In Mariental, we even came across a small foodstore at the petrol station with a wonderful collection of antiques plus maps with pins indicating the origin of visitors who had passed by.
It was also here where three scrawny street urchins under age 10 asked us for food. We promptly offloaded all remaining camp food to them, from dry pasta to stale bread.
Pro tip #5: Nothing goes to waste here so think before you throw away anything, from half opened packets of uncooked foods to old clothing. Unlike the western world, Namibians have little or no access to cheap Chinese goods. They also earn very little compared to what things cost.
We learnt later from our Airbnb host in Windhoek that locals suffered from what must be the same problem across every growing major capital – soaring property prices. The two bed, two bathroom apartment we occupied cost over 2 million NAD. Eye watering when you considered that a coffee and beer set you back just 15 and 30NAD respectively. What must the waiter be paid??
Pro tip #6: Tip generously if you received good service. As an Aussie, I know tipping is an awkward subject but it’s also how Namibians make a living as wages are shamefully low. Rule of thumb: 10-20 percent of the total bill for taxis and restaurants, more for guides.
We returned our rental car the following morning, then headed to the airport for our long flight home. I left a little piece of my heart behind in Namibia and it is my fervent hope that in 20 years time, the country and it’s people will not have lost the charm and wilderness that define it.
To read about our trip, the entire three week self-drive safari is chronicled on these pages:
For handy tips on driving in Namibia, read this post:
We review our vehicle here: