As elsewhere in Africa, Namibia hosts many wonderful lodges. Scattered in remote areas throughout the country, these various lodges provide exceptional service, incredibly friendly staff, and superb guides. Most lodges offer unique activities where you can track rhinos on foot, search for desert elephants and learn about the strange plants and animals inhabiting the world’s oldest desert. I’ve only visited a handful of all the lodges, but here are a few of my favorites.
Damaraland is in north west Namibia, a region of rocky hills and beautiful desert scenery. This arid and mountainous environment is home to a variety of desert adapted wildlife, include elusive herds of elephant that roam the ephemeral river valleys in search of food and water. Damaraland Camp is located in the vast Torra Conservancy and is surrounded by the rugged beauty along the northern slopes of the Huab River. This small camp of only 10 adobe-style thatched units offers stunning silence, beauty and tranquility.
As Damaraland Camp is largely run by the local community, your tourist dollars go directly into conservation projects and provide jobs for the nearby villages. One morning we enjoyed a "bush breakfast" on top of a hill with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. We chatted with the camp employees about their lives and the impact of tourism on this region of Namibia. One of the women told us she grew up in a small village but with her job at the camp she now has money for her children's school fees and is learning valuable skills helping manage the camp.
The camp serves as an excellent base from which to search for desert adapted elephant and other game that frequent the local dry river beds. Damaraland has a healthy population of elephant and during your stay the guides will take you into the valleys and riverbeds searching for these elusive animals.
Perched on the rim of the Grootberg Plateau, Grootberg Lodge offers unsurpassed views over the Klip River Valley below. Each of the charming en-suite rock and thatch chalets gaze out over the gorge, where black eagles hunt just below the level of your private deck. The lodge main area with restaurant, bar and swimming pool are also designed to maximize the stunning views.
Grootberg is one of my favorite lodges because of the dramatic views and the incredibly warm and welcoming staff. This pristine wilderness can be explored either on foot or by vehicle to encounter the inhabitants of this remote biosphere. Desert adapted elephant, black rhino, giraffe, kudu, oryx and lion are just some of the animals that roam this area.
Located on the #Khoadi //Hoas Conservancy in north west Namibia, Grootberg Lodge is a landmark in Namibian tourism as it is the first middle-market establishment in the country that is 100% owned by the conservancy and the local community. It's clear that the staff takes great pride in this fact as the lodge has had a significant impact on the local people. Our guide, for instance, grew up in the area and has had no formal education. Yet he started working at the lodge tending the gardens and worked his way up, eventually learning 4 languages (all self taught by interacting with guests) and obtaining his guides license.
Grootberg is an excellent place to track the rare black rhino. We spent a morning searching the valley below the lodge for a rhino and her calf. It was an exciting few hours as we walked with our trackers through the desert landscape keeping upwind of the rhinos as they rested in a thicket of trees. After watching the rhinos, we ended the day with a drive on the summit of the plateau. I felt like we were on the moon as we drove among the boulder fields. On the edge of the plateau we enjoyed some wine and watched the sun set over the vast, empty Namibian mountains.
Desert Homestead Lodge
The Desert Homestead Lodge is located in central Namibia, on the border of the enormous Namib-Naukluft Park. It is ideally located only 18 miles from Sesriem, the gateway to the park and the dunes of Sossusvlei. It's an excellent base for visits into Sossusvlei or for exploring the Namib-Naukluft. Accommodation is in comfortable thatched en suite chalets, designed with little touches in mind that characterize the Homesteads homely hospitality. Meals can be enjoyed within the indoor dining room complete with candles and fireplace, or alternately on the traditional wide farm verandah with lanterns and stars adding to the ambience. There is also an inviting swimming pool to cool off and a guest lounge and library. For keen horse riders morning and afternoon rides can be arranged.
What I enjoyed about our stay at the Desert Homestead was the hiking opportunities available. After a long drive I like nothing better than to leave the confines of the vehicle and head out and explore for a few hours. There's a fantastic trail starting at the lodge that climbs one of the surrounding hills. One of my clients and I decided to hike up the nearby summit to watch the sunset. The hike was steep but the trail obvious and easy to follow. The views were stunning as the setting sun cast a soft glow over the desert landscape. Alternatively, you could simply explore the grasslands that stretch out from the lodge. There are no lions or elephants in the area but you may see some springbok, oryx, and zebra.
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