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Where Rhinos Chase Lions – Northern Namibia, April 2024

5 min read

Updated 07 May 2024

Desert-adapted elephant in Damaraland, Namibia
Picture of Karen Sharpe

By Karen Sharpe


*A version of this article originally appeared in Special Edition #2 of the Bush Telegraph newsletter, published in May 2024. You can read our recent newsletters and sign-up to receive these in your inbox on our Bush Telegraph newsletter page.

As a Namibian living in the UK, it’s always lovely to catch some African sun while waiting for spring to arrive! So I jumped at the opportunity to head back to Namibia during April, ahead of the high season.

April is usually one of Namibia’s quieter months, though this year I noticed more travellers from abroad than in previous years. I’m not surprised: this time of year offers a great balance between enjoying the best that Namibia has to offer, but still paying the best value prices.

My visit had many highlights, but there are a few standout experiences.

Exploring Etosha

The trip couldn’t have had a better start – the first full day was at Onguma Tented Camp, which has recently been refurbished as a classic tented camp, with an added sprinkling of luxury. It’s in a private reserve bordering Etosha National Park and arriving after a long drive the attentive staff, including a butler, helped me to settle in and relax. I squeezed in a sunset drive to end the day which immersed me back into the African bush, and a state of mind that often eludes me in the UK. Bliss!

A shout-out here goes to Onguma’s lovely little water-hole hide which fits up to six guests at a time. After a day seeing other camps, the team here really made an effort with a lovely spread of drinks and snacks. Both white rhino and lions visited whilst I enjoyed my G&T and the sunset – a fantastic way to end my stay.

Onguma Tented Camp

Onguma Tented Camp

Onguma Tented Camp

Etosha Oberland

Etosha Oberland

Ongava Lodge

Ongava Lodge

Ongava Lodge

As I moved from eastern Etosha to the southern side, seeing various places on the way, Etosha Oberland Lodge, near Andersson Gate, stood out as a real hidden gem. Set in its own private 50km² reserve, with just 20 tented chalets, including three family chalets, it has a spacious, exclusive feel. For me this paired perfectly with a stay at an old favourite, Ongava Lodge, which perches on a small kopje with phenomenal views of a waterhole and its surrounding plains below. It’s a particularly spectacular location for dinner – and I could keep a watchful eye on the wildlife below between bites.

I rounded off my time at Etosha with a stay at Andersson’s at Ongava. For Namibia aficionados, this is the reincarnation of Andersson’s Camp – it’s smaller and more exclusive, and now has a ‘research centre’ incorporated into the camp, to bring guests into better contact with wildlife researchers. The highlight of my stay though was an exceedingly well-appointed sunken hide. This was reached by quite a smart, hidden tunnel which gave me an amazing opportunity to watch an interaction between a black rhino and a lion at very close quarters!

Delving into Damaraland

Heading south-west, into Damaraland, my next stop was the beautiful and quirky Camp Kipwe. Long a favourite of our travellers for its great value and amazing location – this camp is stunning! I loved the unusual igloo-like accommodation, but I’m left with a longing to return for some relaxing ‘me time’ in one of their two new suites, built on a small mountain – one facing sunset, the other sunrise.

Camp Kipwe

Camp Kipwe

Camp Kipwe

Onduli Ridge

Onduli Ridge

Onduli Ridge

Damaraland is especially well known for its desert-adapted elephants, and Doro Nawas proved an excellent base for seeing them and indeed for exploring the best of the rest of Damaraland. I squeezed in a sundowner drive from Doro Nawas and was really pleased that we caught some time with a small family group of these resilient beasts.

With its boulder-like roofs and cool curves, Onduli Ridge was a very stylish way to end my trip. I loved the design – with the different parts of the lodge dotted amongst the granite  outcrops, Onduli Ridge makes a real effort to blend into the landscape. Even the swimming pool is hidden among the rocks, giving you a sense of privacy while still being in the wild. With just six suites it felt very exclusive: the perfect spot for the end of my trip, where the team opened up the side of my room and rolled my bed out for a night sleeping under the stars!

Stars don’t get much better than that!

Should you visit Namibia in April (or even May or June)?  

I found April a great time to visit northern Namibia. Although still fairly hot, the temperatures are lower than I’d expect in late September and October. It was wonderful to enjoy the heat after a cold British winter and to spoil myself with the odd dip in a pool after a morning game drive.

Few of the camps were full and this gave me a lovely sense of privacy and exclusivity. Hospitality seems to have generally got even better in the last decade and I was impressed by the high level of service and attentiveness which was the norm at the various lodges and camps that I visited. I didn’t have time on this work trip for all the game drives that I would have liked, but on the drives that I did have, the wildlife sightings felt much more private than during the high season.

If you’re looking for last-minute travel for 2024, then late May and June this year are still great options, with June in particular better for wildlife sightings ahead of the high season.

It’s also the perfect time now to start planning that ‘winter sun’ escape early. Namibia from late November through to New Year’s is a great option – perhaps twinned with a short visit to Cape Town to round it off. (It’s peak season then in Cape Town, but there is still good accommodation availability this year.) Although it is then the ‘rainy season’ in Namibia, in recent years we’ve noted that, around this time, many travellers will only have the occasional afternoon thunderstorms and perhaps some light rain showers in the evenings, leaving the air cool and fresh.

The classic Namibia circuit is always an option at this time of year, and I’d recommend looking at our Caracal Self-Drive Safari or Hoopoe Fly-In Safari itineraries for some great ideas of where to go.

If you’ve been inspired and want to find out more, give us a call or enquire now to speak to an expert.

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