About 87km north of Palmwag Lodge, on the way to Sesfontein lies Warmquelle, a small settlement situated on the site of a spring. In the early years of this century the spring was used in an irrigation project, for which an aqueduct was constructed. Now only a few parts of the old aqueduct remain, together with a small Damara settlement and quite a large school.
Near here there are two locally run campsites, both just off the D3706. Khowarib and Ongongo were set up with the help of the Save the Rhino Trust and the Endangered Wildlife Society, and both aim to channel most of their income back into their local communities.
Where to stayKhowarib Camp
The turn-off for the Khowarib campsite is signposted about 75km north of Palmwag, 32km south of Sesfontein, on the D7306. The track to the camp is suitable for 2WD vehicles and runs for about 3km east from the main road along the Khowarib Gorge.
The campsite sits on the banks of the Khowarib River and consists of seven basic huts, built by the local villagers using local materials to traditional designs. Some are rounded and mud-clad, Himba-style, and others are thatched. There are also five campsites for pitching tents. Bucket showers and bush toilets are provided and, with notice, simple local meals can be arranged.
The local community runs the camp. Guides can sometimes be arranged for walks around the area. (Note that a Save the Rhino base camp, sited just next to this visitor's camp, has long been one of the bases for their camel-mounted anti-poaching patrols around the region.)Ongongo Campsite
About 11km further along the (D3706) road is the turn-off northeast for the Ongongo campsite. To reach this, turn at Warmquelle and watch for the signs (if there are any left). You will follow a water pipeline for about 6km, heading roughly northwards. The road is rough and very rocky in parts, sandy in others, and at one point you cross the dry bed of the river, before turning right to reach the site's office hut. A 2WD will usually just make it – depending on its ground clearance.
The main attraction here is the Ongongo waterfall, where a deep, clear pool is sheltered by an overhang of rock. Few resist the temptation to strip off and swim here, which isn't surprising given the temperature. The Ongongo community now administers the camp and several shaded huts are available to camp under, but bring all your food and equipment as nothing else is available.