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. Perched on the edge of the Etendeka Plateau, it probably has the most spectacular views of any lodge in Namibia!
The lodge has been built in conjunction with the local # Khoadi //Hoas community. It is believed to be the first middle-market lodge in the country that is 100% owned by the community. A big donation by the European Union, through the Development Progamme of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, funded the building of the lodge.
Local staff (and members of the local community) is being trained to run and manage the lodge by Charmaine, with a little bit of help from Eddie the dog. The aim is for the lodge 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. The walls are white-washed and the décor uncluttered with only a few photographs or batik paintings on the walls. This leads into one large room with a lounge area, which has a few comfortable sofas in neutral colours with casual throws. There is also a small bar and at the other end of the room are classic wooden tables and chairs for dining. The place has a very relaxed and cool feel to it. Tea and coffee is served here all day – on a 'help yourself' basis.
Outside, the wide veranda has tables and chairs and from here you can enjoy the most stunning views across the valley. Although the veranda has a balustrade, this has gaps in it; 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 the swimming pool. Like many areas of the lodge, this has a most amazing view of the Klip Valley, which unfolds below it.
Each of the 16 en-suite rock chalets here are built from the local rocks that occur around Grootberg; from the outside appear to be almost dry-stone walls topped by thatched roofs. Inside they are uncluttered, and have white-washed walls, beneath the open thatch of the roof.
The furniture is all wooden (pine or similar – with some quite interesting carvings on it). Twin beds, simple paintings on the walls and small branches tucked in corners are part of the décor. There is a desk with a tea/coffee station but no kettle; hot water is to be requested from reception and will be brought to you in a little flask. The cottages have no air-conditioning, ceilings fans or mosquito nets, yet mostly remain cool.
Sliding doors lead to a small, private deck with two chairs from where the endless views over Klip River Valley can be enjoyed. The bathroom is not big but it is practical with a shower, washbasin and separate toilet. The shower has a big window that allows good viewing! (Hot water for the rooms is heated by a wood-burning stove outside the chalets; you can request when you want these to be ready – but they're not usually on for 24-hours per day.)
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 on your own, or as part of a guided trip.
That said, most visitors here will be on self-drive trips, and Grootberg Lodge fits into a trip really well between Damaraland and Etosha. We'd concur with our travellers that it's worth spending two of three nights here; one night is really not enough.
After our most recent visit here, in October 2010, we remain most impressed. Grootberg have a very homely vibe – partly due to the managers and partly due to the community involvement here – and the location of the lodge is completely amazing!
Ideal length of stay: 2 nights would be ideal, and if you're using this as a stop-over, then try to spend more than one night here.
Directions: Grootberg is about seven hours' drive from Swakopmund, about 90 minutes' drive from Twyfelfontein, and perhaps four hours from Etosha's Anderrson Gate, south of Okaukuejo. Grootberg Lodge is just off the C40 road, and to reach the lodge itself, you have to traverse a steep, narrow and bumpy 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. Alternatively, for fly-ins the nearest airstrip is 25km east of Grootberg. Guests who choose to come by a chartered plane should arrange their arrival and pick up times with the reservations office of the lodge in advance.
Owner: Grootberg Lodge is owned by the local community through the #Khoadi //Hoas conservancy and is run by Charmaine.
Staff: The staff at Grootberg is very friendly and helpful.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Half Board
Food quality: Meal times at Grootberg are flexible. Breakfast is a buffet with the usual choice of cereals, yoghurts, breads and fruit. There is a choice of light lunches such as salads. Dinner is normally a three course set menu served around 19:00.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are not included at Grootberg Lodge.
Attitude towards children: Children with parents 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 but they can quite happily go on a walking trail with their parents but should be careful as the area is very rocky and children can fall and hurt themselves. The Rhino tracking trip is only suitable for children over the age of 12, as the walk is very strenuous in places.
Equipment: Not available
Generally recommended for children: Yes – although we'd only recommend it for sensible older children who cope well with walking on uneven surfaces, and are not likely to fall off any of the raised platforms on which the lodge 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
Communications: There are no phones in the rooms and there is no mobile reception (but MTC is planning to have mobile reception in the area in the near future). The reception has slow internet and fax facilities but these would be for emergency use only.
TV & radio: There are no TV's or radio
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The closest hospital is in Outjo, about 3 hours' drive away.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: At night there are no guards on site, which is relatively remote. During the day there are guards on the gate.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the rooms, and in and around the main buildings.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is available for guests staying more than one night.
Money: It is not possible to exchange foreign currency at Grootberg Lodge. There are no safe deposit boxes in rooms, but valuables can be stored in office at reception. No travellers' cheques are accepted.
Accepted payment on location: Grootberg Lodge accepts Visa and Mastercard and do not charge a commission. It does not accept other credit cards.