Travelogue Namibia 4: Palmwag

PALMWAG
29-30 September 2021

Banking on a relatively short (3 or so hour) next leg on our journey, there was time for a run along the beach and a hearty steak (Oryx), egg (scrambled) and hash potatoes (imitation of the night before) breakfast.

We pointed the car toward Henties Bay and began to drive the requisite 70km along the Skeleton Coast.

We stopped to view a shipwreck, grounded as recently as 2008; surprisingly recent given the assumption of modern nautical navigation technology as well as the dilapidated state of the rusted remains that bear testament to the brutal weather that probably drove the ship ashore in the first place.

We had little to do in Henties Bay with no sights or excursions to speak of – and not ready to eat again yet. However, it was a good opportunity to pitstop (last loo for 200km of dirt road, and we knew from firsthand experience that you never know what might happen on these treks) and stock up on roadtrip essentials (water and biltong for the drive; beers for arrival).

There was precious little to see and do on our route, so big ups to Chris for planning ahead for a lunch break in Uis, which was more or less halfway through the 420km we needed to do for the day. And was a “blink and you’ll miss it” town, at best.

Brandberg Rest Camp was modest and welcomed in equal parts; allowing a leg-stretch around the terrace and a laugh at the novelty decor (including an L-shaped pool table) while we waited for our toasted sarmies.

The second half of our drive seemed to stretch on and on, slowed as we navigated the mountains, with their narrower roads, uneven surfaces and twists and turns that we hadn’t had to negotiate on the flat, straight, endless desert roads. During our planning, we had read on several reviews that drivetimes are guesswork at best and it’s always advisable to add 1-2 hours allowance on each leg. True story!

We arrived in the Palmwag Lodge camp at around 17h30, much later than we had intended, thinking we’d arrive mid-afternoon and lounge around in the pool, to beat the heat.

Nevermind though, our glamping tents were spacious and comfortable, each with a table and benches on its private patio, and fully-kitted for self-catering, including steel wine glasses, which was all the sign we needed to open our bottle of red to accompany the sunset.

Palmwag is famous for the elephants in the surrounding area, so it was hardly surprising but still delightful when all it took for elephant-spotting was to walk into the open-air dining room for dinner!

The thatched A-frame had clearly been designed to provide for a panoramic view, with no more than a wooden bannister across the far end. The few diners already seated were watching as a herd of elephants casually made their way across the veld, with a perfect orange ball of sun setting over the silhouetted horizon behind them.

Dinner in the restaurant was a multi-course affair with wine pairings, which was beyond our current appetite so we opted for the a la carte pool bar restaurant instead. A far better fit, with wraps, burgers and melt-in-your-mouth Oryx steaks.

Thankfully, we’d already seen the elephants so there was no pressure get up early to go on a game drive, so we could lounge at the pool area after all, with a few beers and shooters to loosen up after a long day in the car.

The glamping tents offered the best night’s sleep! Equipped with anything and everything you’d expect in a hotel building (including a portable aircon), the beds were every bit as comfortable, with light duvets, warm blankets and soft pillows that worked with the dead-of-night darkness and middle-of-nowhere silence for optimal slumbering.

I was very surprised when a gardener pointed out some footprints, showing that elephants had walked through the camp the night before! They must have tip-toed for us not to hear them…