Palmwag Sleepout

Our sleepout tent - we arrived at the site near dark.

If you’re already on a camping trip, but curious about what the sleepout activity at Palmwag entails - read on! 

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 could 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 where you might be exposed to flash flooding) or just mere metres from where a lioness took down a baby giraffe. The lioness might have a full tummy, but what about the rest of her pride or a pack of scavenging hyena?

Also, Palmwag is HUGE - like 5,500 km2 huge - so the guides at the lodge are best placed to know where to find wildlife and such!

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 chair set up over it that looks like a toilet seat. 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!

Palmwag's landscape is scrubby and dotted with toxic milkbushes.

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.

Our guide, Fritz, preparing dinner

Inside our tent, which was about 100m from our friends’, there were 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 (although I hadn't seen a single mozzie) but I’d recommend keeping your tent zipped up tight to stop creepy crawlies getting in.

The Milky Way from our campsite

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.

Our sleepout site

For dinner, Fritz put pork chops, potatoes and stuffed squashes on hot coals. There were also two pre-prepared salads, fresh baked 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 away from the site or even to the bathroom at this stage. Bring a friend and a torch if you absolutely have to go!

The following morning, Fritz pulled out a massive fruit platter, cheese, cold cuts and there was of course, rusks, cereal and toast as well as coffee and tea. So decadent! After a huge morning meal, we headed back to Palmwag Lodge at a leisurely pace, meandering through the landscape in search of wildlife.

So...was it worth the hundred or so Aussie dollars per person? For us, definitely - just the game drive alone was worth the cost given what we saw. We also heard the whooping of hyenas and roaring of lions throughout the evening (fighting over the baby giraffe?) while we enjoyed a delicious meal and drinks neither of which we had to make ourselves! 

Our safari vehicle

A lone kudu