Erindi guests share their experience.
Namibia is such a dramatic and vast country. Known as the second most sparsely populated country in the world, with only two million inhabitants, it is quite easy to see why it has such unspoiled natural landscape. It’s an incredible place to soak in the culture, history, and sightings. Any African species you wish to see, Namibia is your one-stop destination. But while there are the national parks like Etosha, there is definitely a bonus to visiting a private game reserve. And there is only one place that stands out from the rest: Erindi Private Game Reserve.
We set off for Namibia in April, a month where the weather is transitioning from summer into the cooler winter months. We flew from Cape Town International Airport to Walvis Bay, where we jumped onto a shuttle and headed for our destination via Swakopmund. Driving from west to central Namibia illustrates a cacophony of different terrains. It literally changes every few hundred kilometers – from desert to bushveld, savannah plains, and tall mountains.
Entering the gates at Old Traders Lodge excites the butterflies in your stomach. By now, you’re ready to get out into the fresh air and explore the camp. Erindi means “place of water”. The waterholes and lakes are humongous. A good water supply benefits the vegetation and wildlife immensely. While other farms and towns looked dreary on our drive, Erindi was a welcome surprise with its thick green bush and signs of life. The roads, parking, and entrance are neatly maintained. Being escorted from the bus to reception for check-in was a simple process. Our luggage arrived via porter at our respective suites.
Erindi has a reputation for offering outstanding accommodation at reasonable rates. The suite was adorned in tasteful pieces including a large wooden headboard, two leather armchairs, a mini-bar and coffee station cabinet, small library and coffee table with complimentary sherry.
Our group gathered at the Old Traders Dining Hall for our first nourishing meal after a long day’s journey. Traditional Namibian food wafts through the air as you find your seat. There is not enough space on a large dinner plate to hold all the delicious offerings in one serving. Several trips to the buffet table are necessary to taste everything. The chef prepares your meat to your preference. Organic game such as Gemsbok and Springbok were culinary highlights. Then there are homely comforts such as sweet potato mash, curried grain salad, and a selection of freshly baked desserts.
Besides the amazing cuisine, the action happens at the Old Traders Deck which wraps around the dining hall. From here, guests can recline on armchairs for hours as the elephants frolic in the giant waterhole. The crocodiles lie on the banks like dead trees, and the hippos gurgle from below the water’s surface.
Morning game drives start early, and they are fresh. Super fresh. But fortunately for the ill-prepared, all the game viewers are kitted out with individually bagged ponchos. These fleecy blankets are heaven-sent. Once you’re bundled up appropriately, you head out into the reserve in search of a golden sunrise and the possibility of a great sighting. Erindi’s guides are such well-mannered and humble people. Their day starts even earlier than yours, as they need to travel in from Otjimakuru, a neighbouring farm, where they reside. They load up their custom-built Land Rover Defenders with beverages, snacks, and a rifle – this is more a precautionary measure (and to put you at ease) in the case of a threat. Lighter measures would be attempted before having to use it, thankfully. No animals are to be harmed unless completely necessary. The guides will stop at a viewpoint to make coffee-choco-Amarulas, which is the speciality drink to warm up croaky throats and frozen fingers. Dunking a rusk into this brings great pleasure. The guides continuously offer interesting facts about Namibia’s fauna and flora without even having to ask. They are a wealth of knowledge and understand the importance of conserving their precious Namibian resources better than anyone. It’s fascinating to hear the lengths they have gone through to protect the wildlife.
The landscapes at Erindi are breathtaking. Sitting in the game viewer as a cool breeze rustles through the golden grass of the savannah is like being in a parallel universe. The sun beats down on wary creatures seeking refuge from the midday heat. Shadows are cast from the trees. Bushman Mountain stands proud, enveloping the space around the Vlei. Inselbergs stretch as far as the eye can see, in a giant semi-circle. They have a history of their own, dating back thousands of years when tectonic plates shifted underground. Then the sounds of hooves pounding the ground grab our attention. A herd of Oryx dart through the dense bush just ahead. Necks crane to see the action. Next, a herd of giraffe gallops past. Their long front legs and shorter hind legs make their strides look awkward. Life is continuously happening around you. You’re the one looking into their mysterious world; the outsider. We venture up to the Saddle on Vlei Berg. As we approach, an eagle takes flight, leaving his nest, to soar across the valley. Our guide sets up a generous table of beverages for sundowners. The sun dips behind heavy clouds. Night draws closer. The temperature starts to plummet. The sound of the wilderness around us is
Erindi is renowned for their personalized bush activities. Our group had some unbelievable experiences. These included tracking a cheetah coalition who had just been released into the reserve, plus finding a pangolin hiding in long grass, and hiking through the valley to see the ancient San engravings that date back as far as 20,000 years. We even found a termite mound covered in Omajova – a giant edible mushroom and Namibian delicacy. However, the highlight was seeing Erindi’s pack of wild dogs devour an entire adult gemsbok in less than 20 minutes. Covered in blood, the dogs seriously started to stink. But having seen the most trafficked mammal in the world (the pangolin) and a critically endangered mammal (the African wild dog), you realize how blessed you are to visit this conservation site.
For those who haven’t been, Erindi is essentially a well-oiled machine. Each cog fits into place and, combined, this place runs at full steam. Both Old Traders Lodge and Camp Elephant experience 90% occupancy throughout the year. Pulling into Erindi for a romantic weekend, a family retreat, or just some quiet time is exactly what one needs from time to time.
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