With good facilities, attractive construction, well-selected sites and luxuries such as hot water, taps and flush toilets, community camping in Namibia is hardly roughing it. Rather, amenities have been whittled down to the necessities, providing all you need for a positive and pleasurable experience.
The outdoors does the rest. Starlight, moonshine, animal and insect sounds and beautiful landscapes provide the settings for good experiences and great accommodation at affordable rates.
The proceeds for the community endeavours and establishments return to the communities, conservancies or local craftsmen, rather than private enterprises, thus directly benefiting the people of Namibia.
A visit to the four north-central regions, formerly called Ovamboland, provides an opportunity to meet the Oshiwambo-speaking people, who comprise approximately half of the Namibian population.
The Nakambale Museum and Restcamp in the village of Olukonda, 14 km south-west of Ondangwa. Accommodation is available in five tented huts, the traditional huts of the homestead, or as camping. A craft shop displays and sells crafts produced in the area.
The Ombalantu Baobab Tree Campsite is situated on community land behind the brightly painted open market in Outapi. It is a heritage site with a large baobab tree at the centre of the small, well-organised campsite. Four sites surround the sacred tree, enabling guests to enjoy its shade.
Hippo Pools Campsite, 12 km west of Ruacana, has ten shady campsites situated under leadwood and mopane trees, three with superb views of the Kunene River. On offer is a 3–5-hour walk to the Ruacana Falls for the fit and energetic, the shorter option making use of the road on the return route.
The Uukwaluudhi Traditional Homestead in Tsandi, the former home of King Josia Shikongo Taapopi, is an opportunity for guests to visit a traditional palace. Worlds apart from European palaces, the royal homestead is a typical Owambo homestead, surrounded by a mopane-pole palisade.
The Khomas Region in central Namibia contains Windhoek, the capital city. The city has everything a modern capital has to offer – good shops, restaurants, historical buildings and craft shops, such as the comprehensive Namibia Craft Centre for authentic Namibian craft.
Penduka offers six bungalows, and a backpacker’s unit for large groups. Penduka was established to provide work for physically challenged, hearing-impaired and rural women.
The Spitzkoppe massif, a group of rounded granite mountains situated 60 km north-west of Usakos en route to Swakopmund, is both a climbing and a camping favourite. Nestled between the huge boulders in the magnificent mountain world of the Spitzkoppe in the Gaingu Conservancy is the Spitzkoppe Rest Camp.
The Dâureb Mountain Guides offer excursions from the base of the Brandberg to view the White Lady painting in the Maack’s Shelter overhang. The paintings that can be seen on the massive Brandberg are estimated to be between 2 000 and 4 000 years old.
Omaheke, meaning ‘sandveld’, describes the cattle-farming region in central-eastern Namibia.
Kambahoka Restcamp, situated next to the Aminuis saltpan, 180 km south-east of Gobabis, consists of seven campsites, each with a table and barbecue area, and basic facilities. Visitors are informed about cultural aspects such as the significance of the ‘sacred fire’, an essential facet of the traditional Herero household.
For a good Bushman/San experience, Sãa Ta Ko in the extreme east close to the Botswana border, is situated a short drive past the Corridor 13/Motsomi town.
Boiteko Campsite is another community campsite in the Omaheke Region, situated in the Epukiro Roman Catholic Mission or Epukiro RC, as it is known. The simple campsite, positioned at the top of the hill, is part of a Tswana village, Metsweding. Guests are given information on how the Tswana people, the smallest ethnic group in Namibia today.
For those travelling to Bushmanland and the Tsumkwe area via Gam, Kaumbangere Restcamp located 5 km south of Otjinene makes a good stopover. Kaumbangere offers a cultural tour to Otjinene where guests are able to see how the local people live, including how they prepare their food and make the sour milk they favour.
The Otjozondjupa Region is bordered in the north by the Kavango Region, in the south by the Khomas Region, in the south-east by the Omaheke Region and in the east by Botswana.
IMPORTANT: If travelling towards Tsumkwe, be sure to fill up with petrol at Grootfontein and Tsumeb and also carry extra jerry cans of fuel, as there are no petrol stations in the area. It is also recommended to stock up with provisions and to carry extra water.
Situated off the C44 87 km on the way to Tsumkwe, Omatako Valley Restcamp is a !Kung Bushman/San community campsite offering bushwalks on which traditional bush food and medicines are pointed out and tracking knowledge is shared.
Added attractions are a village tour visiting houses around the campsite, and viewing traditional singing and dancing.
Tsumkwe is situated in the middle of the Nyae Nyae Conservancy, where residents have the right to manage their wildlife and natural resources themselves. South-east of Tsumkwe is the Djokhoe Camspite, situated near the Holboom Baobab, and further east is the Mukuri Camspite. The area has a number of pans that attract birds and wildlife.
Kavango and Caprivi
Campsites in the Caprivi and Kavango are situated in national parks in unfenced bush surroundings with riverbank scenery.
Animals often walk through the camps and the birdlife is spectacular. At night hippos can be heard grunting from the waterways and in the morning fish-eagle calls ring through the air.
For a good start to the journey, Mbamba Campsite 40 km from Rundu begins the bush-camp river vacation. This gem of a campsite has reed-walled lapas situated on the banks of the Shamangwe rivulet of the Okavango River, with the campsites positioned under large trees.
N//goabaca Community Campsite is situated next to Popa Falls, a series of rapids in the Okavango River.
N//goabaca, meaning ‘boiling water’ in the Khwe Bushman/San language, is a good base for day journeys into the Mahango and Buffalo core areas of the Bwabwata National Park.
The two campsites situated in the Bwabwata National Park and on opposite sides of the road before you reach the village of Kongola, are the Bumhill Community Campsite and the Nambwa Community Campsite. Permits (obtainable at the Susuwe ranger station further down the Bumhill road) are required to enter these campsites. Both are accessible only by 4×4 vehicle, have elephant visitors at night and are positioned on the Kwando River banks.
Heading east, Salambala Community Campsite, approximately 50 km south-east of Katima Mulilo on the way to Ngoma and the Botswana border, is a good stop either en route to or returning from Botswana. Situated in the Salambala Conservancy, in mopane woodland next to a small pan and waterhole, Salambala is a peaceful and pleasant bush retreat. Elephant paths surround the area, with the pachyderm giants skirting the four campsites on their way to the pan.
Mafwe Campsite, another community campsite of the Living Culture Foundation, is situated in Caprivi, overlooking the Kwando River.
Situated in Kongola next to the B8 that passes through Caprivi, 118 km west of Katima Mulilo, Mashi Tourism Hub is well stocked with the beads, baskets and woodcarvings for which the talented Caprivi craftspeople are known.
Situated 65 km north of Tsumeb and 130 km east of Etosha’s Namutoni Camp, Treesleeper Camp is an easy and enjoyable stop along the way to Etosha or en route to Rundu and Caprivi.
The Hardap and Karas regions
Although southern Namibia is not entirely flat – it includes areas such as the majestic Fish River Canyon, the Huns Mountains, and, in the west, the Naukluft Mountain massif .
One of the most beautiful areas is around Aus on the border of the Namib-Naukluft Park, featuring fields of grass interspersed with streaks of orange sand.
A journey from Windhoek towards the Namib-Naukluft Park or Sesriem takes you past Rehoboth and into Baster territory.
Ten kilometres from Berseba, Brukkaros Campsite offers camping in beautiful mountain surroundings. With minimum facilities, and no running water, the attraction is the scenic landscape.
The attractive and modern Aus Information Centre, owned by the Aus Community Conservation Trust, is positioned just off the main B4 road, as you drive past the small town of Aus towards Lüderitz.
In the very south of the country, Warmbad Hotsprings Lodge is an interesting historical and cultural stop if you’ve already visited the Fish River Canyon and are exploring other areas of Namibia.
A number of new community campsites and information centres have been built in the last three years.
The following campsites have basic facilities, Snyfontein Camp with eight sites overlooking an appealing section of the Fish River; ¹Nudi Campsite with seven sites amongst quiver trees and dolerite rocks; Ganigobes Campsite, situated north-east of Tses; Goamus Campsite, situated in the striking mountain landscape of Gibeon; //Hai-Sores Campsite, with six sites and several demonstration Nama huts; and Hoachanas Camspite, 53 kilometres from Kalkrand on the C21. The Asab Tourist Centre, positioned on the side of the B1 road in Asab, 36 kilometres south of Gibeon, provides more information.
The north-western corner of Namibia has been well travelled, yet retains its wonderful wildness.
Pristine unfenced land and gravel roads impart a sense of freedom that is appealing and rare in today’s world.
Excursions are offered with local community guides from the Twyfelfontein Information Centre to view the 2 000-plus rock engravings at Twyfelfontein, a site declared a National Monument in 1952 by the government of the time, and as Namibia’s first World Heritage Site in 2007 by UNESCO.
En route to these features is the Aba-Huab Campsite, a busy, bustling campsite located 9 km from the Twyfelfontein engravings.
Two enchanting campsites are Doro !Nawas Granietkop Campsite, 20 km south-east from Twyfelfontein off the D2612, and Hoada Campsite off the C40 Grootberg Pass, near the town of Kamanjab. Each has three campsites nestled among the granite boulders, with showers and toilets sheltered by the rocky features.
For those visiting Purros along the Hoarusib River, the Marienfluss/Hartmann valley surroundings, Opuwo or the Epupa Falls via Sesfontein, there are several community campsites in the area. Perched on a hill surrounded by mountains with a river running below, the Khowarib Campsite, 33 km south of Sesfontein, is a well-positioned and attractive community facility consisting of four private sites.
IAt the Epupa Falls Campsite, spread out under makalani palms, water rushes toward the falls and fine mist sprays into the air. The campsite is within walking distance from the falls.
For those continuing on to Purros, a four-wheel drive vehicle is necessary for the sandy roads. The Puros Campsite is positioned on the banks of the Hoarusib River, home to the desert-adapted elephants, which often wander through the campsite.
Close to Puros Campsite is the Puros Bush Lodge, which offers accommodation to travellers who do not want to camp.
At the Puros Traditional Village striking Himba women of varying ages dressed in traditional attire and covered with red ochre are willing to show you the various Himba rituals, offering snippets of interesting Himba information and intriguing demonstrations.
In the remote Marienfluss valley along the Kunene River, the Okarohombo Campsite is situated under giant ana trees, with the mountains of Angola looming on the other side of the river.
Situated approximately 200 km from Opuwo, the Marble Campsite is an attractive and well-equipped facility that is a veritable oasis on the rough roads of the area.
A joint venture between the Orumpembe Conservancy and local entrepreneur and artist, Trevor Nott, House on the Hill is a self-catering stone cottage situated on the hill adjacent to the Marble Camspite.
The first and only mobile safari operation partnering with conservancies for real benefits, Conservancy Safaris – Namibia (CS-N) enables the discerning traveller to Namibia to make a real difference by improving the future of five remote communities which collectively own the local company and which receive all profits.