Palmwag Campsite

The remote and arid region between Hoada and Palmwag felt like a different world – dry, extremely dusty and almost forbidding. The road wasn’t particularly smooth, and there were very, very few people or even animals about.

We spotted various signs for nearby lodges as well as a couple of ochre-skinned Himba hitchhiking by the roadside. After passing the security checkpoint at the Palmwag reserve gate, two traditionally dressed Himba women greeted us. Selling traditional crafts and jewellery, they were happy to take a couple of apples and a few Namibian rands in exchange for a carved bracelet made out of a plastic ag pipe! 

While this was probably the most basic of the five campsites we stayed at, the staff at Palmwag did us a great service by allocating us a campsite (no. 12 if my memory serves me) that could have accommodated up to four separate groups. This meant that the shared ablution/bathroom block (which was separated into “men’s” and “women’s” was basically our own. Inside the women’s block were two showers, two toilets and two handbasins. I managed to wash my hair just fine in the shower here as the water pressure was good.

Each site in the neatly raked sand had its own “lamp post” controlled via a light switch. On this timber post was a power point. There was also a bin, barbecue and tap. We used water from this tap for cooking and drinking – no issues. To one side of the site was a tree, under which we pitched our tent. This turned out to be a good decision because it got really, really hot in the afternoon and the shade was very welcome.

Through the brush that separated the sites, our neighbours were partly visible, while we could clearly see and hear other campers across the dried riverbed that separated the main lodge area from our “wing”.

In this central area were a number of guest chalets, two shared swimming pools, a restaurant and the thatched Makalani Bar where both campers and lodge guests were welcome. The staff mentioned that a big bull elephant named Jimbo visited this area regularly for the makalani palm nuts; unfortunately, he didn’t make an appearance while we were there.

Waiting for Jimbo to make his appearance in the coldest pool yet! 

The landscape around the campsite was spectacular.

Activities changed daily and wildlife sightings were written up on a whiteboard in the reception area. We did two game drives (one in the morning, one in the evening) and a sleepout – both experiences were very, very memorable. Palmwag was where we saw some of the most amazing sunsets, the darkest night skies, a baby giraffe taken by a lion and the rare Hartmann's mountain zebra. 

Other options included nature walks and rhino tracking. If you’re keen on meeting the Himba, viewing local wildlife and taking a chance to see the last truly wild elephant and rhino on Earth, I’d recommend staying multiple nights here. I spent just two nights at Palmwag (one camping on our own, the other on an organised “sleepout”) and definitely regretted that decision!

Our opinion: Palmwag's campsite was very comfortable and had electricity, water and a nice, big bathroom block. Our stay was great because we had a site meant for more people to ourselves. However, if it was busier, the experience might have been less pleasant. The tented suites looked like a better option if you wanted privacy. Don't let this stop you from visiting though - the landscape and wildlife experiences are well worth it!