Grootberg Lodge is set high up on the Grootberg pass.
Grootberg Lodge: Our full report
Grootberg Lodge is located on a large private concession in the remote northwest of Namibia, part way between Damaraland and Etosha National Park. Perched on the edge of the Etendeka Plateau, Grootberg probably has the most spectacular views of any lodge in Namibia – and a range of activities from rhino-tracking to walks and interactions with the local communities.
Grootberg was built in 2005 in conjunction with the local #Khoadi//Hoas community, and is believed to be the first middle-market lodge in Namibia that is 100% owned by the community. Building was funded by a big donation from the European Union, through the Development Programme of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
Friendly and helpful staff drawn from the community are being trained to run and manage the lodge, with the aim for Grootberg to be completely run by the local people within the next ten years.
The entrance to the main building is through a long, arched hallway, its whitewashed walls adorned with just a few photographs and batik paintings. This leads into a large room with very relaxed and cool feel. The lounge area has a large central fire and comfortable sofas in neutral colours with casual throws. There is a small bar here, too, while at the other end of the room are classic wooden tables and chairs for dining. Tea and coffee are available all day for guests to help themselves.
Outside, from tables and chairs on the wide decked veranda, you can enjoy the sun and the most stunning views across the valley. Although the veranda has a balustrade, this has gaps in it, so because of the very steep drop below it, we'd advise parents with young children to be very careful indeed here.
The veranda stairs leads down to a stunning infinity pool which, like many areas of Grootberg, has a spectacular view of the Klip Valley unfolding below it.
The 16 en-suite rock chalets at Grootberg Lodge are built from local rock, and from the outside appear to be almost dry-stone walls topped by thatched roofs. Inside they are uncluttered, with whitewashed walls beneath the open thatch. Simple paintings brighten up the walls and small branches are tucked in corners as part of the décor. Furniture is all of light wood, with some interesting carvings. Each chalet has a desk with a tea/coffee station but hot water must be requested from reception and will be brought to you in a flask. Although the chalets have no air conditioning or ceiling fans, mostly they remain cool.
Sliding doors lead to a small, private deck with two chairs from where seemingly endless views over the Klip River valley can be enjoyed. The bathroom is not big but it is practical, with a shower, washbasin and separate toilet – and a big window that allows good views from the shower! Hot water, heated by a wood-burning stove outside the chalets, is available on request.
14 of the chalets have twin or double beds (but no mosquito nets), and there are also two family chalets. These are much larger with a shared entrance/living space and two bedrooms, one double and one twin, with a shared bathroom in the middle. Otherwise they are similar to the twin and double chalets.
For some pampering and relaxation, Grootberg has a small and simple massage room close to the pool offering a variety of treatments.
Activities from Grootberg Lodge include visits to a Himba village, tracking of desert-adapted elephants, following black rhino on foot and scenic drives down the Klip River. There are also hiking trails which you can explore with a guide from the lodge, as big game is occasionally in the area.
That said, most visitors here will be on self-drive trips. Grootberg Lodge fits really well into a trip between Damaraland and Etosha, but we'd concur with our travellers that it's worth spending two of three nights here; one night is really not enough.
Our viewAfter our most recent visit here, in June 2014, we remain most impressed. Grootberg has a very homely and welcoming vibe – partly due to the managers and partly due to the community involvement here. Its location is amazing and its generally excellent activities make it a very good choice in Daramaland.
Ideal length of stay: At least two nights are needed here, and preferably three or even four if you want to get the most out of the full range of activities.
Directions: Grootberg Lodge is about seven hours' drive from Swakopmund, about 90 minutes' drive from Twyfelfontein, and perhaps four hours from Etosha's Andersson Gate, south of Okaukuejo. The lodge is just off the C40 road, up a steep, narrow and rocky track. This should only be attempted if you have a good 4WD, and are an experienced and confident driver. Most visitors park their car at the bottom, where a security guard is stationed; he'll then radio up, and you'll be driven up to the lodge. For fly-in visitors the nearest airstrip is 25km east of Grootberg.
Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Grootberg Lodge is owned by the local community through the #Khoadi //Hoas conservancy and is managed by Journeys Namibia.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Half Board
Food quality: Mealtimes at Grootberg are flexible - when we visited we didn’t eat here – but this is what we understand about the meals on offer:
Breakfast is a buffet with the usual choice of cereals, yoghurts, breads and fruit; as well as bacon and eggs cooked to order.
There is a choice of light à la carte lunches, such as salads.
Dinner is normally a three-course set menu served at around 7.00pm.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are not included at Grootberg Lodge.
Further dining info: Room service may be possible on request.
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Grootberg Lodge.
Property’s age restrictions: There is no age restriction at Grootberg
Special activities & services: There are no special activities at Grootberg Lodge for children. They can go on a walking trail with their parents but considerable care should be taken as the area is very rocky. The rhino-tracking trip is not suitable for children under the age of 12, both for safety reasons and as the walk is very strenuous in places.
Equipment: Not available
Generally recommended for children: Yes, but only for sensible older children who cope well with walking on uneven surfaces, and can understand the dangers of the raised platforms on which the main building and chalets are built.
Notes: Parents should constantly supervise children, especially when they are joining activities, as the area is very rocky, and the patio and pool areas are very steep.
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: There are no plug sockets in the rooms but travellers are welcome to charge items in the main area.
Communications: There are no phones in the chalets at Grootberg, and there is no cellphone reception There is sporadic WiFi in the main area that is free for guests to use.
TV & radio: There are no TV's or radio
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: We understand that the borehole water at Grootberg is safe to drink.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The closest hospital is in Outjo, about three hours' drive away.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: The lodge is relatively remote, with no guards on site at night. During the day there are guards on the gate, keeping an eye on the cars parked at the bottom of the driveway.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the chalets, and in and around the main buildings.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is available for guests staying more than one night at extra cost.
Money: The doors to the rooms at Grootberg don’t have locks, but there is a safe in each chalet to store valuables.
Accepted payment on location: Grootberg Lodge accepts cash payments in Namibian dollars and South African rand. Visa and Mastercard may be used without commission, but no other credit cards are accepted.