Bucket Showers & Dawn Strolls
Etendeka Mountain Camp
Under 'Other Experiences Nearby', Google Places has listed 'Southern Africa' - rather a broad category I feel, but then again when has Google ever steered me wrong? For all those not getting the attempt at humour, google 'recursion'. In any case, none of this really matters, the Etendeka Mountain Camp is about an hour or two from the nearest dirt road, and the turn-off from that road is about 6 hours from Windhoek. You are truly in the middle of nowhere, and that is the beauty of it all.
The words 'Nature' and 'walk' when combined in a sentence, usually conjure up a set of less than desirable associations: bird watchers (sorry, 'Ornithologists) warbling about waxwings; geography field trips; or some experience you'd rather forget involving a desert and some mescaline. Regardless of whether or not any of the above strikes a chord, I can assure you that this pleasing tip-toe through the tulips is refreshing and devoid of dullness. You wake up around dawn, drink hot coffee and make soft mewing sounds as you stare at the rising sun burning off the morning mist. If you are hardcore, and brought your little nordic ski-pole supports you can stroll to your hearts content, and the friendly guides will keep pace and explain the intricacies of the landscape and the plant life you encounter along the way. If you are not hardcore, you can stroll in a pair of shorts and some trainers (that's 'sneakers' to you Yankees) and you will be fine. You will also enjoy the edifying force of the guides, which only goes to show that you do not necessarily need some little zip-off trousers and ski poles to listen to someone far more knowledgeable than you chat about Nature.
After a charming lunch, hop into a van and go for a spin on the reserve. The Etendeka Mountain Camp actually sits on its own private reserve (500 square kilometers). You might be so lucky as to encounter some wildlife (the very lucky might see a black rhino, or a lion), or maybe a Snake Eagle (and the ornithologists GO WILD). In any case, safaris are a sort of natural form of roulette, so any screaming children intent on 'seeing an ELEPHANT' may be deservedly disappointed. However, regardless of whether or not your lucky number comes up, the drive - like the walk - will be educational.
The camp attempts to be as eco-friendly as possible, whilst this does not translate into a rough three days spent bivouacking in a survival bag, it does means that a few sacrifices are required. Most of the electricity in the camp is provided by solar panels, which means that the lightbulbs in the dining room tend to take precedent over the charging of your phone. Granted it doesn't really matter either which way, as you are in the middle of a game reserve. What? You think you have signal? Guess again. There is running water in the camp, and it is plentiful, however, it is not necessarily hot....Thus, when you return from the game drive, the water (held in solar-heated tanks) will be warm enough to wash in. However, do not think you can get greedy, and just splash about, each of the tents is equipped with a bucket, with a spigot welded to the bottom. A simple winch-system raises the bucket above you, and...well I assume if you can read you can infer the rest. This is one of the greater showers in the world (comparable certainly to the Laotian shower in Bokeo). There you are: naked as a jay, in a semi-open stall, with a panoramic vista of the scrub before you....and an oryx strolls by.
When the sun drops in Namibia there is a delightful tradition, which involves sitting in a chair, mewing at the vistas, and drinking generous amounts of local liquor. Dennis will regale you with a few amusing tales of life at the camp, and before you fall off your stool someone will relieve you of that fist of local scotch and you can stroll to the table.
You can, once the sun sets, retreat to your tent and sleep till dawn, or....
Dennis and Bonnie will keep a fire going late into the night, and you can pull up a chair, warm the cockles of your heart next to the embers and listen, whilst the duo will point out the constellations struck across the sky. Yes this does sound lame, but honestly, once you lose all that light pollution of the cities, and you stare into that celestial beauty, it will knock you off your chair far faster than your sundowner.
I would stay at: Etendeka Mountain Camp
The camp has been run for years by Dennis Liebenbergand and his family, and a charming set of guides, cooks and staff. The camp has a maximum capacity of 16, and kids under 8 are not allowed....all of which serves to preserve the peace and quiet of the camp. Rates are fully inclusive of room, board & activities: US $236- Per Person Sharing US $297- Single