Far away from everything but with the ones we cherish the most,
Lost in magnificent landscapes,
By total strangers whom have gone through unbelievable journeys,
We share with you in this post our top 5 bush camps among the 70 nights or so that we’ve spent under the stars in Namibia.
#1: In a ghost Himba village (our best one)
We’ve left the last village behind hours ago. We’ve been driving into a dry riverbed, looking for the desert elephants: not a soul around, no tracks anywhere, just us…. And an amazing encounter with some giraffes an hour or two ago…. The sun is already going down.
It is now time to look for a place to set up camp for the night. Marie suddenly spots a Himba village on the left of the riverbed. Decision is made quickly: we will head to the village and see if we can spend the night there. But getting closer, we find out that it is actually a ghost settlement. The traditional huts in wood and cow droppings, the cattle kraal in the middle are still in a very good condition. Before long the village comes back to life with our kids Louison, Léontine, Oscar and Achille playing in it.
In the meantime, we set up our tent and before we know it we find ourselves in the middle of that Himba ghost village, looking at the sunset coloring the mountains standing in the background of the riverbed. The moon is rising. It is a huge full yellowish / orange disk that soon lights on the whole place. We’ll go to sleep listening to the music of the bush.
GPS coordinates: Latitude: 18° 44.097’S / Longitude: 12° 56.581’E
Wild bush camp
#2 : In a remote farm lost in the bush (Mbakondja river campsite)
That sign on the side of the dust road is very rusty… But we can still read something about a campsite 6 km away, most likely in the middle of nowhere… We turn left on start a driving on a very rocky path. The temperature is above 40°C.
Every now and again, some zebras run away from us. An anti poaching unit operating in the area told us that few rhinos could be seen around so everyone in the car is searching for them..
Instead, we find few huts and a young man and a young woman come to great us. They own the campsite and give us directions: it is located a couple hundred meters down the hill, in the middle of fields where the family grows food.
While we’re setting up the camp, Philippine, an old Damara woman calls Oscar from the nearest field and gives him an enormous watermelon!!! She’s the mother of the family. Everyday, she comes to water the crops and plants. The water is coming from a borehole built by hand by her husband, a Herero named Nicholas. How did the man find the water? Well his grandmother of allegedly 115 years old told him exactly where to dig, as she knew about those things…
Year after year, they built up pipes, showers and toilets to create a campsite. Thanks to the money they are making out of it they could send their 7 kids to school.
Ablutions: shower and toilets made out of cow droppings, shower with a view on the field, toilets with a view on the stars at night (no roof). Hot water at the end of the day (thanks to the sun). Very local and romantic in a certain way (despite this description)
Very warm family welcoming. We loved the discussions and the interactions with the family (which you don’t get in big campsites). We learned on the country! Plus we knew we were really helping out the local community.
GPS coordinates: Latitude: 19° 30.065’S / Longitude: 13° 49.160’E
Tel (Jacky) : +264 816 641 440
#3 : Under a giant Baobab, in a San village
A baobab with a trunk of more than 30 meters, it shouldn’t be hard to find. That’s what we’re thinking when we leave the main track, looking for this monster. But the first monster we encounter is not the one we thought. He has big ears and a tromp. We almost forgot that the elephants wander around freely here… We have to wait almost 15 minutes for him to move out of the way. Some people have traffic jam, we have the elephants.
A few curves further down, still no sign of our Baobab, but we find a San Village. These nomads are among the first inhabitants of Africa. They still hunt using a bow and poisoned arrows. Luckily, one of them speaks english. We decide to follow him, an old woman and a hunter (with his bow, of course) in the bush. They teach us which plants we can use to eat, which ones are good medicines. They show the kids how they make fire with two wood sticks. And they even let Oscar try the bow !
A few hours later, we finally found our tree and just settled our camp under it. Thanks to the San, the kids can climb up the tree in a little tree house. Louison, Léontine and Oscar love it ! They even take their shower up there, enjoying an amazing view and… a few mosquitoes bites.
Make sure you don’t stop under the wrong Baobab to camp. The area around the first two isn’t ready for camping. And avoid the ablutions ! The toilets are very dirty and there is no shower. Be aware of the elephants, you may feel very small if you get across one of them by foot !
GPS coordinates: Latitude : 19° 40.635’S / Longitude : 20° 37.106’E
#4 : The clearing before the Van Zyl Pass
A track far from any civilization ! Make sure you are self sufficient : enough water, food and petrol as you won’t find anything on the way.
We exit the last village after filling up our jerricans with a weird looking petrol and we follow a nice little track getting deeper into the bush. The landscape is enchanting, with little hills and forest around us. As we drive, we encounter a few dry river bed, some very sandy. But the more we drive, the thicker the bush around us. It’s impossible to leave the track to settle camp. All the sudden, on top of a hill, we find a way between trees. There, a nice opening in the bush, just far enough from the track not to be seen ! We settle there, keeping noise and fire as low as possible. We were told that a few kilomètres away, there is a cattle Kraal were the Himba get payed in beers when they sell their cattle.
We do our « bush » schooling the next morning, in the middle of this opening in the bush, looking over flowers…
GPS coordinates: Latitude: 17° 28.548’S / Longitude: 13° 5.607’E
#5 : Spitzkoppe riverbed wild bush camp
You really enjoy camping with a million flies around and on you? And you’re fine paying a fortune for that? If no is the answer, then this wild bush camp is made for you.
You just have to leave the main gravel road a few kms before the site of Spitzkoppe ; then follow a riverbed for 4 or 5 hundred meters and find a good spot behind big bushes. Make sure you’re at a safe distance of any potential flash floods that could disturb your peace during the night and pitch up your tent.
The view on the mountains of Spitzkoppe is just breathtaking in the sunset with dark clouds and showers of the raining season all around.
GPS coordinates: Latitude: 21° 46.397’S / Longitude: 15° 14.206’E