This is a story of my husband, who previously loved staying in Hotels, B&B’s & Guesthouses. He appreciated the luxury these offered him. In 2019 we decided to plan a camping holiday in Namibia and purchased a 2nd hand Tentco rooftop tent to “test the waters” and if he didn’t enjoy it, we would book into other accommodation and sell the rooftop easily. After 31 continuous days of rooftop tenting through Namibia, we arrived back in Cape Town and immediately went searching for a trailer with a rooftop as he had enjoyed it so much we decided to upgrade immediately. One day later, we purchased a Bushbaby trailer ready for more adventures.
Where did we stay – our favourite place is Orange-ville Guesthouse/Camp. A private property, grassy, shady camp area overlooking neighboring horse pastures and stunning views of the mountains. A simple, clean ablution with hot water, electricity, pool and the best wifi we’ve ever experienced camping.
Fortunately, our job working at a Game Lodge allowed us to take a week break after every 21 working days so we could easily get away and explore/relax. We were then sent on an assignment in Botswana/Namibia and decided to rather drive up from Eastern Cape and explore at the same time. During a stopover in Randburg, we popped into 4×4 Megaworld to purchase a new cover for our rooftop. We walked out with a fullhouse rig from Alucab – Generation III Rooftop, 270 degree shadow awning, a drawer system for our clothes and “things” including the slide rail for the refrigerator and sold our rooftop later that day.
Let me tell you more about our “rig”. We are the proud owners of a VW Amorak 2 litre TDI which, of course, has been mapped for extra “assistance”! We have a bar/kitchen setup on the left side of our canopy which were both built by Ledfly, with a safe place for “Jack” and my red wine too. We also have the RSI slide in table in our canopy. On the right side we have a hot water geyser and Alucab shower awning. We also installed 2 solar panels which give us more than enough power every day. Much more, at this stage, we don’t need and wherever we go, we raise eyebrows especially when setting up camp and people can’t resist to come and inspect our set up.
During one of these times, we were camping at Elephant Sands in Botswana and our neighbours were watching us with great interest as we set up camp. They had a Conqueror Commander and also showed off their rig with enthusiasm. My comment was “One day when we grow up, we will have one of these”! The owner commented that he was looking at purchasing another caravan after their Botswana trip. And my husband said he would take it after their trip! He must’ve thought we were stark raving mad at the same time handing him our business card to contact us when he decided to sell one day. The next day we said our goodbyes and left for Kasane/Impalila Island.
3 months later, my husband asked me if I had the Conqueror owner’s details which I didn’t. Murphy’s law, the very next day the Owner contacted us and asked if we still wanted to buy it. We immediately climbed into our Amorak and set off from Sedgefield to Nelspruit. He could not believe when we arrived the next day, did a bank transfer and hooked up our new toy to drive back home.
We have rigged our Conqueror Commander to be comfortable enough to longstay anywhere. Amongst that is an icemaker, nespresso porta potty, TV, shadow awnings for both the front and back of the caravan and shower cubicle.
February 2020 – We were then transferred to a Lodge job on Impalila Island, hooked up our Conqueror and drove back to Kasane. We have stayed at Thebe River Lodge several times and find Camp 4 very homely with its own sheltered thatch roof and close to the ablutions too. The sounds of hippos at night give you a real “Äfrican feeling”. Their recently renovated restaurant also produces possibly the best pizzas in Botswana!
Our new work schedule would allow us 3 weeks off after 3 months shift, great for experiencing more of Africa. We left our caravan in Kasane and took our vehicle across the Chobe River on a barge to Impalila Island where we were based. Then Covid-19 struck together with the annual flood plains rising by the day. Borders closed and we could not get back to our caravan or get our vehicle off the island back to Kasane either. The Lodges had closed and we needed to make a plan to get back home so we put our Amorak on a barge at Impalila and cruised down the Zambezi River at 5km/hour for 18 hours until we arrived in Schukmansburg, Namibia.
Aerial views of the Zambezi floodplains
in full flood
Next day, 1300km drive to Windhoek. Fortunately, we had our Alucab rig always ready for camping and whilst we were waiting for our repatriation visas back to SA, we could explore Namibia again. BUT before we set off, we had to stop at Leather Connection in Windhoek to each buy a pair of Seal Leather Vellies which have also become a subject on their own as people enquire about our smart shoes!
We used the Gondwana Membership Card to visit several of their properties. They offer SA Residents a 45% discount on accommodation and a special of “stay 2 nights, get the 3rd free” to especially promote tourism to locals. We also stayed at :
A rehabilitiation centre offering guided bushman trails, tracking leopards & cheetahs. A beautiful campsite with private kitchen & ablutions.
Xhorixas Rest Camp in Damaraland
A great stopover when visiting Etosha National Park. Stunning camping sites under the mountain overhang, hot water especially prepared for you with a “donkey” and day trips to see rock engravings.
Daureb Isib Camp – Cactus & Coffee Shop
A highly recommended stopover if you have come from Skeleton Coast/Henties Bay. The camp offers exclusive areas with bathroom/kitchenette/table & chairs, electricity and a sheltered verandah for your caravan. The coffee shop is delightful and suggest you try as much as you can from their tasty menu!
Spitzkoppen Tented Camp
Rustic camp site with your own zinc “khaya”ablutions with stunning views of the Grosse & Kleine Spitzkoppe mountains known for it’s natural beauty & archaeological heritage. Water & a power point available. Swimming pool and wifi too.
Then Windhoek went into lockdown and forced us down to the Orange River to wait at the border for a repatriation visa which took us 6 weeks.
Camping during these months during Covid-19 was challenging in an isolated sense as lodges/camps were closed and we were the only ones on site – we actually felt that the world had ended and they had forgotten to fetch us too !
While we were staying at Amanzi River Adventure camp, we explored the Richtersveld and Fish River Canyon area, following the Orange river flowing from our camp right into the sea at Oranjemund. We spent a night at Gondwana’s The Roadhouse. Even the cat was most welcoming, clearly missing the tourists and stayed with us the entire night. Campsite are very sand but good ablutions and very interesting collection of antique memorabilia.
Six weeks later we received the go ahead to get through the Border and quarantine at Springbok Caravan Park. We were blessed with the best Namaqualand flowers on exhibition in many years. The caravan park was very busy compared to the isolation we had experienced for 6 weeks. Electricity & water is available and Springbok surprisingly offered everything a person would need.
Eventually Botswana borders opened on 1 December 2020. We didn’t waste any time and got straight into our dear Amorak and headed to Kasane to fetched our Conqueror and bring her back home 3 days later, 2 Covid-19 tests later as well.
And that’s the story of my husband, a happy camper and always ready for another adventure, fully rigged and comfortable. The funny part is that we are more comfortable than any hotel room can offer us at this stage. Comfortable with our own “stuff” and enjoying the benefits of camping, meeting amazing people along the way, appreciating the fresh air, sunrises, sunsets & amazing views and relaxing fires presented to us at the end of every day.