Where to stay in Tsumkwe
On the way east to Tsumkwe there's one community restcamp beside the road, although this is quite limited in scope. If you are not travelling in a self-contained expedition, then Tsumkwe Lodge is the only real option in or near Tsumkwe. Fortunately, it's an excellent option.
Omatako Valley Restcamp
(Omatako San Community Project) No telephone here, or other communications, so advanced bookings are not possible.
On the way to Tsumkwe, about 88km east of the B8, is a restcamp run by one of the local Bushman communities. Driving into Bushmanland, it is hard to miss, in a dip immediately on the right of the road 13km past the veterinary control.
If you are heading for Tsumkwe then stop here for cool drinks. A small craft shop sells locally made crafts with a good selection including beads, necklaces (around N$15), spears, various tools and baskets (around N$20–30).
If you stay, then the community have built a few basic mud and thatch rondavels for sleeping in (with your own bedding and mosquito net), and a camp site with a good shower and one toilet. There's firewood for sale, lamps for hire at N$5 per evening, and sometimes a whole variety of things to do are possible, all arranged and guided by the local people. These include guided village tours (half-day for N$60), horseriding (N$30 per person per hour) and bush walks (half-day for N$70) for game viewing or birdwatching. The more adventurous can also have bush food cooked and prepared for N$10, or attend a 'traditional magic dance evening' costing N$150 for a small group. However, all of these activities are dependent on which of the villagers are around when you are; so none are at all guaranteed.Rates: N$10 per person camping.
Bushmanland Safari Camp
radio number 2080, via Walvis Bay Radio (tel: 064 203581)
At time of going to press, this is a brand new place providing campsites, and also pre-erected, furnished tents. I would welcome more news of it, but believe that it's been set up in some old saw mills, about 80km west of Tsumkwe. They only have a radio-telephone at present and so can be reached, with some difficulty, by booking a call via Walvis Bay radio.
(9 bungalows and camping) PO Box 1899, Tsumeb; tel: 067 244028; fax: 067 244027; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; web: www.tsumkwel.iway.na
Run by Arno and Estelle Oosthuysen, this is the area's only lodge. It is well signposted a kilometre or so from the centre of Tsumkwe: just turn right at the crossroads, then right again opposite Nature Conservation. It is the best place to base yourself for visits to surrounding Bushman villages. At the lodge you'll find five large wooden guest bungalows with solid stone floors, and four brick rooms with solar-powered lights. Their floors have rugs on them, and there's also chairs, a table and wardrobe, with sliding glass or netting (for ventilation) windows, and twin beds surrounded by large mosquito nets. Each has an en-suite bathroom with a powerful shower, a toilet and a washbasin; they are simple but comfortable and very spacious.
The main building has a relaxed dining room/bar area, and adjacent is a small swimming pool. The team of Damara-speaking women at the lodge cook some wonderful food. However, the lodge's attraction lies in its activities, as Arno has been running trips into this region for years. He knows the local people well and has a very sensitive attitude to working with them and introducing tourists.
The lodge is also surprisingly good at taking children, as Arno and Estelle have two of their own. It's also fascinating that when visitors go to villages together with their own children, the local youngsters will relax and start playing with the young visitors very quickly – integrating far more easily than the adults. So if your children are active and not shy, expect to have difficulty dragging them away from Tsumkwe when it's time to leave.
If you do stay here before venturing into the bush, then it is often a good idea to tell Arno and Estelle where you are planning to visit, and when you'll be back. Then at least someone will know if you go missing. The lodge will organise trips, including trips into Khaudum National Park, and visits to a Ju/'hoan village. These cost N$1,800 per day and are usually arranged in advance. Camping out overnight is sometimes possible.
Rates: single N$345; double N$285 per person for accommodation only; single N$520; double N$460 per person including all meals.