*This section is due to be revamped with additional pages containing general information and images which will hopefully be of interest to anyone planning to visit.*
Following a leisurely breakfast at Camp Kipwe in Damaraland we set off for Vingerklip Lodge, a 2hr 30m drive to the east, with a long section of tarred road which was a pleasant change after so long on dust-cloud generating gravel. The lodge is named after Vingerklip (above) a dramatic 35 metre-high pillar of rock with what appears to be a finger tip pointing skyward.
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Roadside picnic areas like this one passed on the way to Vingerklip, are dotted throughout Namibia at regular intervals.
For the first time during our journey we passed through terrain dotted with numerous termite mounds, many of them huge.
We thought that the location of Camp Kipwe was fantastic but Vingerklip Lodge is even more remarkable - the scenery is absolutely stunning! More information and images can be found on the Lodge`s own website: www.vingerklip.com.na.
The Reception block (above & below left) is where meals are taken.** The landscaped gardens are packed with cacti, exotic plants and interesting sculptures. (The shot below isn`t a self portrait!).
The above view was taken at the bottom of the pillar looking back towards the Lodge which lies in the dip between the two flat-topped mountains.
Ugab Terrace Lodge, close to Vingerklip Lodge where we were staying, also has an excellent outlook.
Although Vingerklip Lodge doesn't offer any excursions there are several nature trails of varying length which start at the entrance including one round the base of the pillar itself. Mountain Bikes are also available and, with the area supposedly predator-free, they allow energetic guests to explore the surroundings with ease. Walkers and cyclists are understandably discouraged from approaching Vigerklpi Lodge`s waterholes as they would spook the animals which could prove dangerous. There are three feeding stations and waterholes, albeit quite far off, dotted around the complex which are regularly visited by antelope species including Kudu, Hartmann's Mountain Zebra, Giraffe, Warthog and Baboons. The small turkey-like birds are Helmeted Guineafowl.
Although there is plenty of game in the area, the only elephant visitors are likely to see at Vingerklip is this metal one at the entrance. A large flat-topped mountain, towers over the main reception building (below). The sheer rock face looks like a mini Vingerklip pillar when seen end-on from the complex. The main pillar stands just 1km from the hotel dominating the landscape known as the Ugab Terraces.
This is the latest batch of grub about to be dropped off.* The main waterhole is floodlit at night and although nowhere near as hectic as the world famous Okaukuejo waterhole in Etosha National Park, it was a privilege to be able to sit back under the stars with binoculars and watch the animals come and go.
This Ruppell`s Parrot, photographed in the Lodge grounds posed quite happily. These birds are endemic in southwestern Africa from central Namibia to southwest Angola. They live in savanna where there are trees, or in dry woodland and they favour terrain near streams or rivers. African Red-eyed Bulbul (right), also found throughout south-western Africa, prefer similar habitats but are more widespread.
We could have easily spent another day here as it's a great spot to unwind after so much time behind the wheel. It was the first place we visited on our first trip to Namibia where there were plenty of birds, even though late summer is the worst time of the year for birdwatching. Just after the rains would be ideal when the transformed, lush landscape acts as a magnet for numerous species.
Vingerklip has a couple of restaurants, one at reception and the other, The Eagles Nest, perched on top of the nearest massive, towering block of rock. It takes its name from the Verreaux`s Eagles which have bred on the cliffs and ledges here. The huge birds, also known as Black Eagles, prey mainly on Dassies, or Rock Hyrax, small guinea pig-like mammals that thrive in these rocky habitats.
Dining at the `Nest is certainly not for the faint-hearted - as well as the steep path, the last 25m is via a gantry of steps bolted onto the sheer cliff face. Definitely the most bizarre approach to a restaurant I've ever made!
The hike to the summit is well worth the effort though as the views, particularly at sunset, are superb. Dinner is buffet-style with a good selection including Springbok sausage and Gemsbok steak. This guy probably featured on the menu a couple of years ago!*
The chef working at the Eagle`s Nest must be the fittest one in the whole of Southern Africa! He`s seen here heading back uphill after sprinting down to the main restaurant for essential supplies. Above: A view of the cliffs from the steps. Not even out of breath - he must be a Marathon Runner! The view from his kitchen is hard to beat!
After an excellent meal and a few drinks, it was reassuring to discover that the descent route is fairly well-lit. Potentially still a challenge though, especially if you've had more than just "a couple'.
From Vingerklip it's less than a 3 hour drive to Etosha National Park's Anderson Gate. * (Link)*
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