Mowani Mountain Camp

near Twyfelfontein, Damaraland, Namibia Book from

A hauntingly beautiful eco-lodge sculpted atop a rocky outcrop with soaring views across the Abu Haub valley
Beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder but let me state my case: there are few places to stay in the world that can match the natural setting of Mowani. It seems right that the camp takes its name from the Swahili for 'Window on Heaven'.

This masterfully crafted eco-lodge wraps around a high granite koppie, amidst the vast savannah of Damaraland. Its design was a triumph of bush architecture, creating a near seamless union between the camp and its natural environment. The pod-like buffalo-grass roofs of the main lodge echo the gargantuan granite boulders of the hillside whilst graceful, stilted tents with rust-red fly sheets mirror the colours of the surrounding veld.

All aspects of the lodge are above the commonplace: its food superb, the staff friendly and attentive, and the tented accommodation as spoiling as any we've seen in Africa. It would be worth the journey here just to experience the isolated beauty of Mowani, which brings you close to the pulse of Namibia's ancient landscapes.

Highs

  • The beauty of this part of Damaraland borders on the surreal: you can't help but be moved to hyperbole
  • The stilted tents have been positioned to guarantee each a maximum of privacy and a large slice of view
  • Sundowners served at a viewing point atop a high boulder are never to be forgotten
  • The standard of guiding at the camp is first class and your chances of seeing elusive desert elephants as good as anywhere in the country
  • Night skies at Mowani, with one of the lowest counts of light pollution on the continent, have to be seen to be believed

Lows

  • Be prepared for long game drives if you plan to go in search of the desert elephants
  • The only activity included is a guided nature walk; safari drives and the trip to Twyfelfontein are extra
  • Being at the camp is as much about landscape as it is about game viewing although you will certainly get to see amazing bird and reptile life close to the camp

Best time to go

When you choose to visit Mowani will probably be influenced by the game viewing season in Etosha and other parts of the country rather than the weather in Damaraland. July to mid November is generally considered the best time of year to be in Namibia because of the increased activity around the water holes. That said, Mowani is an amazing place to be at any time of year due to the ineffable beauty of its situation: this is a place that you visit for landscape as much as for wildlife.

From December through to mid February be prepared for high (mid 30s+) temperatures whilst the rainy season generally lasts from January through to the end of March, though the rains can begin as early as late November. Bear in mind that if you visit at this time of year you're going to need a fairly sturdy 4x4.

Bear in mind, too, that even if daytime temperatures are high throughout most of the year they can rapidly descend at night so pack accordingly.

Our top tips

Pack a star chart; you'll earn kudos with your fellow guests if you can point out Venus, the Southern Cross and Orion's Belt. If you wear contact lenses, bring glasses in case of dust irritation. Keen birders will want binoculars.

Great for...

Eco
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Safari Lodge
  • 10 tents, 2 suites
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Plunge Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Mowani's 12 guest tents and 2 suites fan out around the thatched lodge amidst the hilltop's massive boulders and commiphora trees. Each is positioned at a good distance from the next: there's no issue with privacy when you shower or chill out on your deck.

These are the best East African-style tents, hoisted atop a stilted deck with low-slung fly sheets: they provide protection from the heavy winter rains and piercing summer sun whilst their terracotta colour ensures they sit perfectly within the mineral landscapes of Mowani. The same sensitivity to context is mirrored in the tents' furnishing, which is Afro-ethnic without any superfluous details. Each has a kingsize double bed, campaign-style furniture, hanging kuba cloth flanking hide-backed bed walls, simple gourd lampshades and woven reed mats atop decked floors. On arrival you'll find the tents' canvas flaps rolled up above their mozzie-netted window and door openings: we left ours open to the night, the morning sunrise and the breezes that blow in across the Abu Huab valley.

Bathrooms, which double as small dressing rooms, feel just as 'bush' and are perfect in their pristine simplicity: handmade ceramic sinks with brass taps sit atop a zinc surface top, there's a single big mirror, a wrought iron rack for your towels, a simple cotton-sided wardrobe and a rack for your suitcase. You'll find a range of natural bath products in chunky bottles - hand and body lotion, handwash, shampoo and conditioner - as well as mozzie spray and repellent, a safe, and a thermos of chilled water atop the small butler's table to one side of your bed. Out on the deck the twin directors chairs are all you need to gaze at that other-worldly vista of rock, savannah and distant mountain.

If you've got a special event to celebrate you might consider booking a suite, a thatched banda secreted away beneath the lodge. You get an outside tub, private dining area, sat TV and DVD player, your own butler and design-mag-memorable decor. But personally I'd go for one of the tents. Of these, 1-4 have the very best views (out west), 5-7 are also amongst the most elevated with a northeasterly aspect whilst 8-12 look east and are plenty large enough to take an additional single bed. Number 9 is set aside for honeymooners: it has the added luxury of an outside tub-with-a-view in addition to the extra space.

Features include:

  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Mosquito net
  • Plunge pool
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries

Eating

We had some of the best food of our Namibian odyssey at Mowani. A big part of the pleasure in dining in the camp's high-ceilinged, pole and thatch lodge was the interaction with the waiting staff who were attentive, never fawning and seemed to take tangible pleasure in looking after us. And it was a relief not to be subjected to the background music that is becoming such a feature of lodges in southern Africa: who needs it with the sounds of the African veld all around you?

Your Damaraland day gets off to later start than at some lodges: experiencing landscape, rather than early morning game drives, is Mowani's raison-d'être. Breakfast is a big buffet with homemade breads, a selection of fresh fruit salads, a big choice of cereals, yoghurts, cold meats and cheeses as well as the cooked breakfast of your choice.

Lunches tend to be served back at the lodge - the most popular excursion to Twyfelfontein tends to be an afternoon event. They stick to a simple 3-course structure of soup, a main course of fish or white meat with salad, and a homemade desert. You're also treated to tea and homemade cake at 4pm.

But what you'll most remember most will be the dinners magicked up by Mowani's trained team of chefs. These begin with drinks and delicious snacks served at the camp's high, rock-top view point: watching the sunset dipping behind the Brandberg mountains whilst a rainbow fell down to meet the horizon is a sight that will always stay with me. After the generous range of snacks a 3-course dinner felt just right. Ours began with a seafood parcel as starter, then a choice between 2 mains: grilled fillet of oryx served in a merlot sauce or pan-fried fillet of pork with honey and mustard sauce, both served with rice and a choice of seasonal vegetables. A dessert of banoffee pie ended our meal on an indulgent note.

The lodge's small wine list highlights bottles from the Fair View Estate in South Africa. We loved having our waiter talk us through the listings and followed his advice when it came to making our choice. Another nice touch was an appearance by the chef to talk us through that night's menu. All in all it was an evening to remember.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Head out in the company of one of the lodge's expert guides to track desert elephants

  • Chill out on a lounger next to Mowani's natural rock pool, which is sculpted between the hilltop's enormous granite boulders

  • Take a guided nature walk straight out from camp or explore the extraordinary surroundings on your own. The area is home to udus, oryx, springbok, steenbok, cheetahs and leopard

  • Climb up to the camp's view point for one of the most memorable sundowners of your life

  • Train your binoculars on the camp's waterhole, where there's always some kind of feathered activity going on: ruppels korhaan, white crowned shrike, black chested snake eagles and Monteiro's hornbill all gather here

  • Take a half day trip to Twyfelfontein to see bushmen's rock engravings and paintings: it's one of the few places in Africa where you find both at a single site

  • Chill out at the main lodge where you'll find plenty of books on Namibia as a camp shop selling safari gear and handicrafts

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wildlife

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome at Mowani but parents of toddlers should bear in mind that there are a lot of steps and steep access down to some of the tents. Tents 8-12 are all big enough for extra single beds to be added. 0-3 stay free of charge.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Our guests' ratings...

This hotel has not yet been reviewed by guests

Rates for Mowani Mountain Camp