[Road Trip 2013] Part 3 – Ngepi Camp, Namibia

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Ngepi Access Road Sign

Ngepi Access Road

Day 2

The access road to Ngepi Camp was not the nicest road of all, not when you’re expecting easy access. It was incredibly bumpy and there was lots of deep, soft sand. After having almost been stuck already, we saw the above sign which I’m sure many of you have seen before, especially on Facebook.

That being said, Ngepi camp was amazing! It had a very distinct beach vibe to it, with the decorations, staff uniforms and vegetation. Just down from reception in the river they had a large cage type of swimming pool. This is to allow guests to swim in the river without the fear of crocs or hippos, brilliant idea!

Ngepi Camp is located on the western edge of the Caprivi Strip in Namibia on the banks of the Okavango River. Over our three nights there we saw it was a very popular destination for travelers heading both towards, and away from, the Zambian border further down the strip.

We decided on Jaffles for dinner and managed to get a few bags of wood from reception for only N$12.50 (R12.50). I was sceptical at first, for half the price of wood in JHB I didn’t have high hopes for it, yet that was some of the best wood I have ever made a braai with!

Back at camp we pulled out the chairs, had a snack and a beer before setting up camp for the first time on the trip. It didn’t take long at all and while we would have preferred the campsite next door, made our camp very cozy and a good place to call home for the next few days.

We lit the fire, prepared our tuna and cheese jaffles and enjoyed a lovely evening with beer, brandy and the sounds of hippo grunting not too far off.
Sitting around the fire we looked over the Okavango River as a full and very bright moon rose over the far bank. Incredible! No city lights to dampen the stars yet this massive, white, glowing ball sitting in the sky made sure we didn’t need torches or lights to get around the camp site.
The calls of the hippo were loud and sounded very close, yet they seemed too regular, one of us made the joke of it being a recording placed to scare people plunging in the hippo pool.

Day 3

After a good night’s rest we were woken by the distinct sound of a gas bottle being lit and we knew Jason was at work making the morning coffee. Time to get up…
Day 3 was a lazy day, roughly 1,600km under our belts, and one of the main reasons for chosing Ngepi Camp, we spent the day around camp and later in the day found out there was wifi at reception! We spent some time messaging family and catching up on the happenings back at home.

We made a trip into Divundu to see what supplies the local supermarket had. We found meat, sort of. As desperate for a proper braai as we were we decided to chance the braai pack we found in the freezer. We had no idea what meat it was exactly, but in the end we’re sure there was lamb…hopefully.

We took a slow walk just up the road to see where Jason had camped last year when he was at Ngepi Camp. Turns out “just up the road” meant a good long hike as he camped a lot further up than he originally thought!
Up on Poopa Falls Jenece had a run in with a spider that was making use of the same ablutions she was and there was a very pale face that emerged from behind the door.

Ngepi Poopa Falls

Poopa Falls

 

Towards the end of the day we were certain the hippo (who we’d named Harvey) calling was nothing more than a recording. No signs of hippo as of yet.
That night we had a braai using the braai pack we bought in Divundu and still, we think those were lamb chops! We also set about making a loaf of pot bread. Before the trip we bought some Cheese Bread dough from Outdoor Warehouse and after preparing it decided not to use the bread pot we’d bought specifically for this, but instead used the potjie pot. Shew, not a great idea.

Picture the shape of a potjie pot, it’s a lot narrower around the top than at the base. Our bread was a little over done and as a result had a very hard crust (not bad for a first attempt though) and it took some creative genius to get it out of the pot in more-or-less on piece. Next time, bread pot for sure!

Jenece retired early that night as she was feeling ill so Jason and I made good use of the excellent fire wood and yet more brandy.

With the brandy working very well and the fire keeping us warm, Jason and I were telling tales of…well, I cant remember, when I looked over at Jason and from behind him emerged a dog. I have never had such a fright in my life and as he rounded Jason, Jason too had an underwear-changing moment!
He earned the nickname of Stu and spent the rest of the evening around our fire keeping us company and asking for the occasional scratch behind the ear.
Waking up on day 4, we found he’d spent the whole night at our campsite.

Day 4

We woke up late again, around 08:00, and made our way to reception for some more wifi time and also had a good old time at the souvenir shop. We also discovered that Stu was named Toes and as we got to reception he ran straight to the kitchen for his Kudu steak and garlic potato breakfast.

That day was spent at the campsite bird watching (shudder!). We’ve never really been that into bird watching and identification but it would have been such a waste if we hadn’t. Considering the sheer numbers of birds and the variety of species we had many hours with the iPad trying to identify the birds that visited the tree over our campsite. We saw everything from Bee-Eaters to Fish Eagles and Crakes.

Ngepi Hippo

Sunset Cruise

 

Finally we saw a hippo! The mystery of the recorded hippo calls was solved and we watched Harvey bob his head up and down on the far side of the river directly opposite our camp. While watching Harvey, very casually and out of nowhere an Elephant emerged on the far bank of the river, and then another, and another. So then we were watching birds, hippo and elephant all from our comfy (and safe) camp chairs.

Jenece made her way to the ablution block and upon her return there were two very pale faces staring back at her. Not long after she left there was an intense rustling of the reeds about three meters from where Jason and I were sitting. The rustling was followed by a shimmer of scales and a Water Monitor lizard made it’s way into the river. There are crocodiles in the Okavango and it took a moment for us to realise this was not, in fact, a croc. Jason’s expletive upon seeing the movement ended up being the monitor’s new name and unfortunately, there is no way I can publish that name in this post…the kids, you know.

We had a late lunch of burger and chips at the restaurant before going for a sunset cruise on the river. Truly magical! We had many opportunity to disprove the recorded hippo call theory and spent ages watching all the hippo on the river. Some with young, some with mouths wide spread to show their dominance over us and some just chilling as we floated past.

We saw a few Cape Buffalo on the banks downstream and at the turn-around point found a young croc relaxing on a palm tree that had fallen down. The monitor lizard came immediately to mind. We looked with disdain at an elephant hunting camp while on our boat trip.

Back at camp we spent the evening around the fire listening to the sounds of the Okavango at night. There was a lot of hippo activity and even heard the crack of their teeth smashing together when at least two decided to have a bit of a scuffle not too far downstream from us.

An overlander truck pulled it that evening and they spent the night having a massive party. That kept us up most of the night but we had solace the next morning when seeing the grumpy, hungover faces.

 

Day 5
Jenece woke early as she wanted to take some pictures of the sunrise before we left for Tsumeb. While sitting alone at the hippo pool taking pictures she took the opportunity to add a notch on her belt as “Swam in the Okavango River” which she did and thoroughly enjoyed.

While breaking camp we had the misfortune of discovering the elephant camp was in use as the crack of rifles echoed up and down the river. That was by far our worst experience of our stay at Ngepi Camp but on the whole, that is a magic campsite and we will definitely return!

One of the very nice things about Ngepi Camp is how green they are. Not just the grass that is getting constant attention but everything, from the hot water to the campsite electricity, is solar powered. The power is off from 10 pm to 10 am each day to conserve power.

Another big plus, alcohol (and wood) are CHEAP!

Have you stayed at Ngepi Camp before? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

Ngepi Sunrise

Ngepi Sunrise

 

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