If you don’t want to read it all: our favourite lodge was Erongo Wilderness Lodge. Every minute there is special! (walking, the room or eating).
Erongo Wilderness lodge
As said before: it was our favourite one. The room was very good, the service, guided walks, food was very good, afternoon tea, etc. Only one thing: expect to see a lot of birds but not a lot of “big animals”. We saw some rock hyrax (very photogenic!), kudus, dick dicks but not many other mammals. Birds: many, and very pretty.
We stayed there 3 nights, and we could have stayed a few days longer: at least one more day in the lodge and then 2 or 3 extra days for one-day trips we could have taken.
They have a waterhole for birds. So it is important to take the binoculars with you when having breakfast or lunch… And the camera of course! One day it rained and then in the evening thousands of termites came to the restaurant lights! It was amazing! We could even see a lizard eating termites.
The walks were very interesting. Our main guide, Emanuel, knew the birds and their behaviour very well.
Stiltz in Swakomund
I thought that in Swakomund we would be in a Bed & Breakfast style accomodation or some kind of hotel. We found the Stiltz in Booking.com and it was different to other accommodation. The view of the pelicans was very nice, the room was very good, etc.
URL: http://thestiltz.com/ (we booked this one on Booking.com)
We had our favourite night safaris there! Actually they were so interesting that we repeated (obviously the animals were different). Even if they didn’t explain many things the night safaris in Toko Lodge were our favourite ones: slow type, not feeling “in a hurry” like the Etosha ones. In Toko Lodge they didn’t need to cover big distances so they could take their time to see things, stop and watch instead of just spotting.
The swimming pool was clean, and the room was big. One of the mosquito nets wasn’t big enough for the bed though.
The food was good and we had to share a table with other people. I had the opportunity of giving Marmite to some non-British people who said that they love London (I mean, Marmite was a topic of conversation else I wouldn’t give Marmite to random people for the sake of it). Giving Marmite is awlays a hard-to-forget experience! (specially for the ones trying it for first time). By the way, they had a jar of Marmite, I didn’t bring mine.
They have a Himba village nearby, just a 10 minute walk. It was really good that one of the people working at the hotel lived there and he was our guide there. I didn’t feel like I trespassed into someone elses property and was spying but I felt that I was invited by someone to explain what was happening there.
Somehow this place missed some of the enchantment of the Erongo Wilderness Lodge but the night drives were good. I’d say that 2 nights is enough there: we stayed 3 nights but one day we went to Etosha and came back: we could have stayed in Etosha that day.
Note that on the Internet there is lots of information about Etosha and you could read it for ages. But I found that the information is a bit pessimistic. I agree that Etosha lodges are not the best but I found them much better than I was expecting. And the eating experience was good (perhaps not amazing but they always had good salads). It probably was not as bad as described on the Internet because it was low season.
We visited Etosha Dolomite camp just for a lunch. It seemed really nice and cosy, but sadly we didn’t stay there (we planned initially to stay in Etosha Halali and Okaukuejo). Etosha Halali was very good, we stayed 2 nights and we could have stayed longer. The waterhole was accessible from the camp site which was very handy and nice, I could have been sitting there for ages looking at the animals (usually they come and go very slowly). It’s relaxing to see them!
In Etosha Okaukejo was good but note that we were there in low season. I can imagine that it’s very crowded in high season (the restaurant and all the places). At the waterhole… there is WiFi! Sit down there, relax, copy some photos, answer some emails all while looking at the animals. Excellent!
Last but not least the Okonjima Nature reserve. The leopards and cheetahs have collars so they can be found more easily. Note that the collars are not sending GPS signals as I initially thought would be, but they just transmit some beacons and then, if the guys are lucky can be heard using a walkie-talkie and a directional antenna. I thought that, even if the technology helps, it still has some level of explorer (if they sent the precise GPS coordinates would be perhaps too easy and would not be as interesting as it was)
Leopards and cheetahs cover very big areas so it’s very unusual to just bump into them, specially the leopards who like sitting under a tree or on a tree and not be seen much.
Lots of people go there to make sure to see at least some leopards and cheetahs in Namibia (there are wild dogs as well). Our guide was really good and explained many interesting things about the nature reserve, what they want to do, how they build it, etc. very recommendable!
They also have tracks for visitors to walk, up to 5 Km. if I remember correctly. They have an inner area so it’s possible to walk without being eaten by leopards and cheetahs. Then outside they have all the dangerous animals. Inside there are water-hogs and other interesting animals.