Omatako Valley Rest Camp – finding the camp…

On my first visit to Bushmanland (Namibia) going to support someone doing her research thesis, we did not know if there was any place to stay in the village we were going to… and we were told that it would be a very long drive to arrive there, especially the last 200 km of gravel/sand road. However, we heard of a Rest Camp about 60 km from where we were going. This is a community rest camp, and so we decided that we would stop there regardless, supporting the community, and giving us time the next day to work out our camp situation in the other village…

We had to stop on our way from Windhoek, and so we took two days to reach this rest camp in the afternoon.

On arrival, we found an abandoned camp, broken ablution blocks, broken windows… and no one around… we did stay for at least 30 min, looking at the camp, but also checking Maya’s engine as her fan belt just got damaged a few kilometres earlier… Seeing no-one, and being in the afternoon, I hoped that the fan belt would held for another 60 km and we set-off to Mangetti Dune, our final destination. Luckily, the fan belt did hold and there was no issue with camping in Mangetti: so we had plenty of time to set-up camp nicely.

But I was “annoyed” with this abandoned community rest camp – it is ideally situated on the road to a National Park and to Botswana. The income generated by tourism would really help this community. So it stayed on my mind, wondering why this rest camp was closed and why they could not re-open…

As we are driving around the different villages of the area for the research, we drove past it a couple of times and so I asked our local researcher about this camp: “it is a shame that it is closed!” To which he answered that it was not… really???

So we did stop one day, to meet with the community and know a little more about what was happening… they had missed the opportunity of the income for 2 persons for a night on that first day when we stopped… What was happening there?

From there, I came back to have a better idea of the current conditions and spoke with the community about the issues they had, why it was like that, what was their plans and what would they need for support, if any….

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