I’ve stayed in some memorable accommodation on my travels around the world – and some of the most spectacular places I’ve stayed have been lodges in Namibia.
In major towns like Windhoek and Swakopmund, there are a range of hotels and guesthouses like in many other cities. However, in the countryside, Namibia hotels are typically ‘lodges’: small compounds or camps with a number of cabins or chalets and a central building used for catering and administration.
In this post, I will share five of the most delightful lodges in Namibia, all of which I have stayed in myself. I will give you my honest assessment of them and I will include information on what you can expect there.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. These are links to products or experiences I recommend and if you were to buy something after clicking on them, I might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Any earnings go towards the upkeep of this blog, which I appreciate.
Table of Contents
Why Stay In Hotels Or Lodges In Namibia Vs Camping
Lodges are a comfortable accommodation option when you’re driving around Namibia: they typically have private cabins with en suite bathrooms and good catering options. And they normally offer a choice of excursions into the local area (which they charge extra for of course).
The most common alternative to staying in lodges in Namibia is camping. There are lots of campsites around Namibia which can be used for tents, or for cars with rooftop tents, which are very popular in Namibia.
There are two main reasons I chose to stay in lodges in Namibia, rather than camping:
- I’m generally not fond of camping. I’ve done a fair bit of it since I was a kid, and I understand it can be a good way to explore cheaply, but I don’t like it very much
- I hadn’t been anywhere like Namibia before (ie with wild animals wandering around!) and I felt like lodges would be an easier and more comfortable way to experience it for the first time.
And I was blown away by the experience of so many of them!
5 Delightful Lodges in Namibia
OK, so I’ll talk you through the five best places I stayed in Namibia with my husband, what’s good about them and why you might consider them.
I’ll also describe the proximity to wildlife that I experienced at each of these lodges. This was something I was nervous about before setting off on my road trip in Namibia: I couldn’t get my head around the fact that these lodges may have no fences to keep wildlife, including predators, out… In the end, I had no problems, but I’ll share my experience of the wildlife at each one.
1. Grootberg Lodge, Damaraland
Grootberg is a place I saw pictures of and immediately knew I wanted to go there. Mostly my Namibia road trip route was determined by landmarks I wanted to see and landscapes I wanted to wander in. But Grootberg Lodge was a place I wanted to stay at. I actually built it into my itinerary and route, stopping here for a couple of nights between Swakopmund and Etosha National Park.
The reason? Grootberg Lodge has stunning views over the Klip River Valley. It’s situated on the edge of the Etendeka Plateau, facing directly down the middle of the canyon valley. Oh, and it has a freshwater pool on the cliff edge so you can soak in the water, whilst taking in those views.
It is also unique in that it is the first middle-market establishment to be wholly owned by a conservancy. The hosts and staff at Grootberg Lodge are members of the rural community and conservancy in which the lodge is located and its revenue streams provide direct benefits to the community.
Reasons To Stay At Grootberg Lodge
Those stunning views, plus the epic pool. It really is one of the most picturesque lodges in Namibia.
Level Of Comfort
High. Each room is a private rock chalet with an en suite bathroom. You’ll have your own view over the stunning canyon to wake up to. There are only 16 chalets, so it won’t feel crowded ever. The staff here were amazing and looked after us really well. The food was great, too.
Just off the C40 road in Damaraland. The road up to the lodge is tricky, so there’s a parking place lower down the hill. Staff will pick you up from there.
Things To Do At Grootberg Lodge
- They offer Rhino and elephant tracking experiences, like many lodges in Damaraland.
- We did a sundown canyon drive, which was great.
- I also had a massage there, which was vigorous!
- But do make sure you set aside some time to dip in that pool (warning: it’s cold!)
Heads Up On Wildlife At Grootberg
Spiders may be in the thatched roof of the huts…. I’m pretty sure I saw some big ones on our second night, which made sleep rather difficult that night!
In addition, there’s no fence around the lodge and there have been big cats (lions and leopards) in the area. When I was there, staff told us they’ve been known to drink from the freshwater pool! For this reason, the staff make sure guests are accompanied back to their rooms after dark. I didn’t see any big cats around Grootberg, but I did see a few little lizards and a small snake trying to get away from me on one of the paths.
Overall, though, I felt perfectly safe in my chalet (though I definitely wouldn’t have left it after dark!).
Booking Grootberg Lodge
You can book using my Booking.com affiliate link for Grootberg Lodge. At no extra cost to you, I earn a commission on any bookings made, which is one of the ways I pay for this blog.
2. Boulders Camp, NamibRand Nature Reserve
This is one of the most remote lodges in Namibia.
Staying at a Wolwedans lodge was an extravagance because their lodges are more high-end and expensive than many others. But I was seduced by the idea of the Namibrand Nature Reserve and the far-flung location of Boulders Camp – literally in the middle of the desert and only accessible by crossing a large sand dune system. It has a ‘where we’re going, there are no roads’ kind of vibe.
Elsewhere in the Namib desert, I was in and around big sand dunes, but the Namibrand, while it does include a sand dune system, also has plains and mountains and rocks. And being slightly more expensive, Boulders Camp doesn’t attract crowds. In fact, it only has five cabins.
Reasons For Staying At Boulders Camp
Getting away from it all. Literally, getting a very long way away from civilisation!
This is definitely the most remote place I’ve ever slept. And in addition to the camp being remote, our cabin was a little further away from the others in the camp, so I couldn’t actually see much of the camp from our cabin. It really felt like I was in the middle of nowhere!
The Namibrand Nature Reserve is also incredibly beautiful, varied and peaceful. I loved my time there.
Level Of Comfort
Pretty high. You stay in something like a cross between a tent and a cabin: they have sturdy log frames and sturdy canvas exteriors. Ours was fully furnished with everything you’d expect in a hotel room, so it was definitely glamping, not camping.
Heads up: the bathroom is outside though: I had to leave our room to go into the bathroom, which was right next to our cabin, but separate. Not knowing what animals were around in the dark made me a little scared when I needed the toilet at night!
The staff were amazing at Boulders: so helpful and flexible, plus the food was really top notch.
Dining is family style, in that all guests eat together at the same table. When I was there, one guy was a member of the House of Lords in the UK and another was a South African businessman telling stories about hanging out with Nelson Mandela. I felt like I was a little out of my depths in the dinner conversation!
Boulders Camp is located near a massive pile of boulders on the plains of the Namibrand Nature reserve. It’s not near a road or a town, but I’ve put a map at the end so you can find it in the middle of the desert.
But don’t worry too much about getting there, because Wolwedans have an office/centre that is not so remote, where you’ll park your car. They’ll then drive you over the sand dunes to get to Boulders. I wish I could tell you where the meeting place is, but when I went, we drove to the wrong one (they have two). Some kind person on staff ended up driving us the long way to Boulders. If you book, ask them for detailed directions to the meeting point.
Things To Do At Boulders Camp
- Unlike other camps and lodges in Namibia, all activities are included in the price at Boulders. So you can do as many as you like, including sunrise drives, game drives and sundown drives around the Namibrand Nature Reserve. The drives were all led by incredibly knowledgeable and expert guides. I’ll never forget watching the sunrise over the dunes and acacia trees of the Namibrand
- There is a small pool, but I didn’t try it – I was too busy exploring the desert!
Heads Up On Wildlife At Boulders
There’s no fence around the camp and you will likely see animals on the plains in front of the camp – though they may not come very close. We saw zebras, ostrich, springbok, oryx and jackals out front regularly. There are baboons living in the boulders that the camp is next to, so you are very likely to see them, too.
I was told that there are leopards in the area, but because they are so solitary and stealthy, there’s only a 20% chance you’ll see them – while there’s an 80% chance a leopard can see you!
The thought of leopards hanging around outside my canvas cabin did play on my over-active imagination – I didn’t get much sleep the first night, imagining every creak and movement of the canvas was a big cat. But on the second night, I was too tired to worry about that.
For more info about the wildlife you might see on a game drive in the Namibrand, check out my post about safari in Namibia.
Booking Boulders Camp
You can book Boulders Camp by getting in touch with Wolwedans directly. NB. It has a 3-night minimum stay.
3. Okonjima Plains Camp, Okonjima Nature Reserve
Okonjima Plains Camp is a great place to stay if you are interested in big cats because the Onkonjima Nature research has several cheetahs and leopards that you have a good chance of seeing. The reserve is also home to the Africat Foundation, whose focus is ecological research focusing on a variety of rare and endangered species, including leopards.
There are also as well as many other animals at Okonjima, including giraffe, zebra, hyena and (if you’re lucky), you might even see pangolins.
Reasons To Stay At Okonjima Plains Camp
There are other accommodation options at Okonjima, including actual camping facilities and more exclusive villas, but I loved the Plains Camp for its wide savannah views and a very comfortable, spacious cabin.
Level Of Comfort
Very high: this was probably the most luxurious interior out of all the lodges we stayed at in Namibia. The cabin was large, with huge panoramic windows and a very spacious, high-spec bathroom. There was also a coffee machine and little extra comforts that I didn’t expect.
The food here was amazing too – probably the best breakfast I had in Namibia, with lots to choose from in the buffet and lovely views of a waterhole and savannah. Watching warthogs while you eat your breakfast is pretty special!
Okonjima is 10 km off one of the major roads in Namibia, the B1. I stopped here for a night after spending time in Etosha and before heading back to Windhoek to fly to South Africa.
Things To Do At Okonjima Plains Camp
The main thing to do here is safari drives or walks to try to see leopards. Some of the cats have radio collars, so they can be found relatively easily (although they’re not 100% precise).
We did a sundown drive and were lucky enough to see two cheetah brothers – it was amazing to see them fairly close up. We were toying with the idea of doing a morning drive in the hope of also seeing leopards, but we realised we would not have time, due to the timing of our flight the next day.
Sadly, though, they had to stop releasing cheetahs into the reserve due to competition from leopards and hyenas, so now the only cheetahs there are welfare animals, kept separate from the main reserve.
Heads Up On Wildlife At Okonjima
There is a secure fence between the part of the reserve where the big cats are and the accommodation, which is in a ‘wilderness’ area, so I wasn’t worried about predators.
There will be other wildlife wandering around though: on the road to camp, I saw several giraffes and I remember a family of warthogs trotting past the window of my cabin. I felt like I was in the Lion King!
Again, I have a post about wildlife safari in Namibia, if you’re keen to know more.
Booking Okonjima Plains Camp
You can book using my Booking.com affiliate link for Okonjima Plains Camp. As before, at no extra cost to you, I earn a commission on any bookings made, which is one of the ways I pay for this blog.
4. Kulala Desert Lodge, Namib-Naukluft National Park
Kulala Desert Lodge is one of several lodges near Sossusvlei, which is probably the most popular destination in Namibia, and one of the best things to do in the Namib Desert.
It’s an area of dried-up marshes with left white clay pans and twisted black trees surrounded by huge red sand dunes – it feels almost like another planet!
Reasons To Stay At Kulala Desert Lodge
I chose Kulala Desert Lodge over the other lodges in the area primarily due to its proximity to Sossusvlei. Sossusvlei is within Namib-Naukluft National Park, which does not allow overnight stays and opens at sunrise, but Kulala Desert Lodge is close to the park entrance. This means you have a good chance of catching the sunrise in Sossusvlei if you travel in from here, rather than somewhere further away.
Level Of Comfort
It was good: my thatched chalet with en suite was perfectly comfortable. I had a view over the gravel plains and I could see sand dunes in the distance. I also liked that the chalets are eco-friendly, with water heated by solar panels on each chalet.
The staff there were also very helpful and one of them spotted that our car’s tire looked low. It turned out that we had sustained a slow puncture on one of the gravel roads in Namibia, which they fixed for us – so we were very grateful for their vigilant eyes!
Kulala is located just off the C27 road, southeast of Sesriem.
Things To Do At Kulala Desert Lodge
There are various things to do around Kulala, the most common one is to explore the Sossusvlei area.
The main way to do that is to drive into the park, which you can do yourself or with a guided tour. When I was there, there were a number of tour options at different times of the day and doing different things. My husband and I did an early drive that included climbing Dune 25 and exploring Deadvlei, the most iconic of the vleis.
For more ideas about things to do in and around Sossusvlei, I do into more detail in this article about things to do in the Namib desert.
If you’re feeling extravagant, you could also consider seeing the desert from above. I saw several hot air balloons in the sky at dawn, and helicopter tours are also available. I chose a scenic flight over the Namib desert in a Cessna plane, instead – it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget!
Heads Up On Wildlife At Kulala
Kulala Desert Lodge is within the Kulala Wilderness Reserve and I don’t believe there are fences around the camp. I’ve heard ostrich, springbok, oryx and hyena have been seen there. However, I didn’t see nor hear of any exciting wildlife during my time there: I only saw little jackals running around the outskirts of the camp.
Booking Kulala Desert Lodge
5. Okaukuejo Resort, Etosha National Park
If you’re considering a safari in Namibia, you must get to Etosha National Park, a vast reserve which is home to a huge number of species of wildlife, including elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes and zebras.
Okaukuejo Resort is the main camp in Etosha, and it has a number of accommodation options including lots of camping space, but also a number of chalets. Some are quite luxurious with views of the nearby waterhole where animals come to drink.
Reasons To Stay At Okaukuejo Resort
The main reason to stay in Etosha is the access to the park to see wildlife, and the main draw of Okaukuejo Resort is the waterhole, I think.
The camp is right next to a large waterhole that attracts wildlife from the surrounding area. So you can sit in the safety of the camp (behind the wall), but see the animals as they come to drink. I saw hundreds of animals, including herds of elephants every day I was there – it was mesmerising.
Level Of Comfort
Good. I stayed at a mid-range ‘Bush Chalet’ chalet in the middle of the camp (no view of the waterhole). It was not luxurious like some of the other lodges in Namibia, but it had everything I needed: a big bedroom with a mosquito net (northern Namibia can have a risk of malaria), a bathroom, a small kitchenette and an outside BBQ. And it was just a short walk to the waterhole.
Etosha National Park is in northern Namibia, and Okaukuejo Resort is the western-most camp, about 17 km from the southern entrance to the park.
Things To Do At Okaukuejo Resort
It’s all about wildlife at Etosha and you have three main options for seeing wild animals:
- Guided safari drives, where a guide takes a small group out in a truck. This is a good option, as the guides know the best spots for finding animals.
- Self-drive safari through the park, where you drive in the park in your own vehicle (whatever you do, don’t get out of the car!)
- Wildlife observation at the waterhole.
You can read more about these options and Etosha National Park in my post on safari in Namibia.
Heads Up On Wildlife At Okaukuejo
The whole point of being in Etosha National Park is to see wildlife, but the animals all outside the camp. The camp is walled and has secure gates, so I was not worried about predators roaming around the grounds.
Booking Okaukuejo Resort
You can book Okaukuejo Resort from Namibia Wildlife Resorts.
Map: 5 Delightful Lodges in Namibia
Here’s a map showing the location of these 5 delightful lodges in Namibia.
How To Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left-hand corner of the map to view the layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each one. If you click the star next to the map’s title, it will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu, go to ‘Your Places’ or ‘Saved’, then click Maps and you will see this map in your list.
I hope I’ve inspired you to consider exploring Namibia and staying in one of these lodges! They really are some of the most lovely places to stay in Namibia.