When I was a child and our family visited Namibia, we just packed our camper van and camping gear, left Cape Town one morning and headed north for the border. That seemed fine in those days and we mostly found a place to stay for the night. Although I do remember us all having to sleep in the car near the Fish River Canyon because we arrived too late to find somewhere to stay. I remember it well, because it was very cold out in the desert that night! Since then tourism in Namibia has increased significantly and with the demand for accommodation near major tourist areas, and one really can’t leave things to chance.
We started booking our accommodation about three months before our trip, making use of The Cardboard Box Travel Shop. This greatly simplified booking and paying for accommodation. Paying for accommodation, the year we were there, meant doing direct bank transfers – resulting in additional foreign exchange fees. So the fewer transactions one had to do, the better. Besides doing most of our accommodation bookings for us, they provided useful travel information and told of about the Gondwana Card system.
The Gondwana Card allows Namibians and residents of other Southern African countries discounts on travel, meals and accommodation in Namibia. As explained on their site “Average income in Namibia and the SADC countries is significantly lower than in Europe or North America. With the Gondwana Card we want to enable more people from Namibia and the region at large to travel the country – in order to increase awareness within society of the value of nature and its gentle utilisation for tourism.“.
Travelling around in South Africa, Willie and I were used to going the self-catering cottage/chalet route. Meaning we had to take all our food with us. We could also eat when and what we liked – including having a braai or barbecue (a national pastime in South Africa!). The Namibian model of tourist accommodation includes breakfasts and dinner in the package. At first we found this odd, but soon came to appreciate the concept. Travelling distances in Namibia are huge and there was often not time or opportunity to go food shopping. With there being no other restaurants in remote areas, it was convenient to eat at the lodge or camp we were staying at.
Gondwana Canyon Village
Gondwana Canyon Village (situated near the Fish River Canyon) was the first place we stayed at in Namibia. The camp is set at the foot of a rocky hill and in amongst huge granite boulders. It has beautiful views of the surrounding plains. Although not as luxurious as our Naries mountain suite, it is neat and comfortable. Each cottage has its own bathroom, and meals are served in restaurant in the main camp building. There is also a little shop in the main building which sells local arts and crafts.
It was a really peaceful place to begin our Namibian journey.
You can see more photos of the Canyon Village here.