Reviews of Grootberg Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
One of the top places we stayed in Namibia
Grootberg Lodge rated very highly for us; partly because of the amazing position on the rim of a deep, almost circular, valley; partly because the guides were extremely knowledgeable and keen to explain what was happening, and probably because we were interested in the whole community set-up. As you know, Grootberg and the Conservancy it is in, are owned by local people, with an arrangement whereby a (sympathetic) consultancy has been training staff into management positions, on the basis they will gradually withdraw.
We never saw any of the consultants, possibly because it was the post Xmas quiet season, but the staff were noticeably more confident and open towards guests (well, us anyway!) than in some camps. Some of the young women in particular were very impressive and the senior guide who took us out was an ace.. Of the three main activities we took part in, the rhino tracking was a highlight of the trip. The trackers were very skilful (and I've worked closely with trackers in another part of the world) and were either foolhardy or, as we preferred to decide, so knowledgeable about rhino that they were completely confident - I still identified a large rock I was going to drag my partner behind if the two rhinos stopped displaying anger and actually charged us.
The other trip, to a Himba village, I was much less certain about as there were aspects that I felt were exploitative of the Himba women, though as my partner was probably less concerned than me I might have been over-sensitive. The Lodge staff were very clear that it was a key part of the support that the Conservancy provides to these remote communities. The drive there was also very interesting and the guides excellent.
On one trip we picked up other guests from the Hoada camp site and clearly there has been investment and improvement since the last edition of Chris's book (p.350!), and it is now staffed. The couple who were camping there were happy with the conditions though were mainly full of how they had woken up in their tent on top of their van, to find an adult male lion asleep on the ground beside their vehicle!
When we left Grootberg we diverted a bit north to Palmwag, in order to fill up with petrol at the station across the veterinary fence/ disease control point (and ended up giving the daughter of the control point gateman a lift back to school, about 40 km south).
Excellent location on top of plateau with magnificent views of the valley below which extends for several miles. However can be very windy.
Unfortunately the chalets are very small with virtually no veranda and almost sheer drop from chalet entrance. No where to hang/place clothing, no room in shower/basin area (very cramped space) to place toiletries except on floor. Light but no power available. Laundry bag but no price list. Not a wide range of food available - below average quality. Horse riding not mentioned as being available. Good Wi-Fi in main lodge.
Would not return.
Worth it for the view alone
Small cabin with an awful shower (small cubicle, trickle of water), but the bed was very comfortable, and the view from the room and terrace just spectacular.
The reception and dining areas are ok, but a nice bar area with a fireplace and enjoying a drink on the outside terrace with that view was pretty special. Very friendly staff, nice welcome drink on arrival, tea & cake provided in the afternoon - all nice touches.
Dinner the first night was not really very good at all, with nothing extra for the Vegetarian Husband so another night of salad & veg, but lovely pesto bread rolls. Second night dinner was much improved all round - a delicious kudu goulash a portion of breaded mushrooms for VH. And the staff sang 5-6 songs - great!
Up at 5:15am for the black rhino tracking. Very cold, but hot breakfast, blankets provided in the jeep and an excellent guide who had very impressive 4WD skills along tracks that looked impossible. We saw mother & baby rhino quite close, and lots of other wildlife e.g. Hartmann zebras in the distance, eagles, kudu. Good packed lunch provided, back at 1pm. Although this was a great experience we did feel that it was the most expensive game drive of the holiday.
Nice trails around the lodge for walking & photographs. All in all, really liked this place even though it had the worst shower and the smallest room.
A windy mountain-top!
This lodge is situated at the top of a mountain and as we didn't have a 4 x 4 vehicle we had to leave the car at the bottom and be transported in a safari truck - not easy to get into at our age! The accommodation is in individual chalets situated overlooking a fantastic view of the valley far below. Considering the difficulties of providing services of electricity and water at the top of a mountain, Grootberg does very well! Our room was fairly basic but obviously lovingly looked-after and it was possible to have a reasonable shower. We had a small balcony overlooking the valley but unfortunately there was a gale force wind blowing all the time we were at Grootberg (we were told that this was most unusual) so we didn't sit out on the balcony.
The main building housed the restaurant and we were pleasantly surprised by the high standard of cooking. The way back to our chalet in the dark was extremely hazardous down an inadequately-lit stony path and unfortunately we weren't provided with a torch that first night which resulted in a fall. The next night we had a guide with powerful torch! The local people who part-own the lodge and provide most of the staff are friendly and helpful and the whole atmosphere is one of happy involvement. A very pleasant and interesting Interlude!
We opted to go on the rhino tracking trip and we set out before sunrise in a safari truck with open sides and tiered seating. We were on the third tier which meant that we were subjected to a bitingly cold wind whistling round our ears and, even though we were provided with snuggly blankets, it was freezing! I really thought my last moments had come. The driver and trackers were in the front row protected by the windscreen so they had no idea that their passengers were fighting to stay alive! What a relief when the truck slowed to a halt and we were deposited in a valley now warmed by the rising sun.
The trackers set off to follow footprints which, amazingly(!), they had found and soon we were on the trail! We followed the guide on foot over quite difficult ground for about an hour and then, suddenly, there was a female rhino with a youngster only about 10 yards away. What a thrill, and all memories of freezing to death in the truck evaporated. After studying us for a few minutes, the rhinos turned round and moved off. After some time the truck had caught up with us and meanwhile the trackers had observed the route taken by the rhinos and our guide then suggested that anyone who was able should track over a distant ridge to find the rhinos again. Because we had reached our limit, we opted to stay in the truck while the other six much younger participants carried on.
I would say that the rhino tracking is well worth going on as I am sure that you are virtually guaranteed a sighting as evidently rhinos are creatures of habit and so the trackers know the areas they frequent. We are not fit at all but we managed to trek over the stony bumpy ground and the end result was well worth it, so have a go even if you are old and decrepit!
Anouther old favourite
We could not wait to get to this place as it was our best chance to see rhino on foot
The whole team here made our stay memorable The Food ,The Staff ,The location All first class
The tracking team led by liberty got us very close to a female rhino and here calf
Sustainable tourism at its best
We were a little daunted by the vertical ride up the side of the mountain (in the Lodge's 4x4 vehicle), but when we reached the top the view was spectacular. The restaurant terrace ends in a sheer drop over the side of the mountain and from our cabin we had a similar vertical drop from our veranda. But you can watch eagles circling below.
We went elephant tracking on the first afternoon and after a long search managed to locate one elephant. The second day we tracked rhinos and were fortunate to find a mother and baby as well as father lurking close by. The guide and trackers were very knowledgeable and explained how the local community has come together to work to increase the number of rhinos in the surrounding area.
The Lodge is run by the members of the local community under guidance at present but that will gradually reduce until 2015. Staff were very friendly and helpful. Nothing was too much trouble. Food was good and plentiful and much to our surprise we had Wi-Fi in the lounge areas.
On our last day we found our car had been cleaned for us. En route to our next destination and not more than 3 km from the entrance to the Lodge we to wait whilst 7 elephants (mothers and babies) crossed the road in front of us. Could have saved all that time tracking had we known!
Grootberg Lodge review
Although we had booked a triple room, since the family rooms were booked up already, the room allocated to us was too small for a teenager for three nights. However, the next day the manager arranged for our son to be moved to a guide room (although very basic it had plenty of space and all necessary services) a few minutes walk from our newly allocated room.
Considering that Grootberg is a community project and that many of the staff are new to the hospitality industry, the camp functioned very well. The staff were friendly and eager to please. We especially enjoyed the Grootberg choir during dinner one evening.
We were fortunate to see two bull elephants during our elephant safari with our guide, Gerson, as these wildlife sightings can of course not be guaranteed. The rest of the drive was enjoyable, although not as interesting as it could be, since the guide and tracker were talking to each other almost incessantly.
Grootberg Lodge Review
Excellent overnight stop, limited wildlife but outstanding views.Read more about the whole safari
Location, Location, Location
It's all about location! Unless you have a 4x4 (and some experience) you leave your car in a secure parking area and you and your luggage are transported 1.5km to the top of the mountain, where the lodge sits on the rim with stupendous views of the Klip River Valley below.
Accommodation is in stone and thatch chalets. All are detached with the exception of numbers 3 and 4 which are attached to each other. As we stayed for 3 nights (rather than the 1 or 2 which seems typical) we were annoyed to be allocated number 3 which was small, and although we have been married for an awfully long time, we would have preferred a door on the toilet! We were let down by Expert Africa on this occasion as they could and should have been aware enough to have requested one of the detached units (ask for number 13 or 14 which are new).
There is a pool which gives the term 'infinity' a whole new meaning, perched on the edge of the terrace before the sheer drop into the valley. I wouldn't think the lodge was suitable for young children at all. Staff were uniformly friendly and eager to please and the food at dinner was very good (and in the context of the location, excellent). Note that water is heated by solar panels and so in the colder months showers are best taken in the afternoon/evening.
There is 24 hour electricity but no sockets to re-charge batteries, though you can take them to a central point for that to be done. There are no room keys and so it is not possible to lock it at any time. There is a room safe with a returnable deposit for the key. Room cleaning was not as impressive as the restaurant service. Those with walking difficulties may find the rocky nature of the site and paths to rooms a bit of a challenge.
Activities are, frankly, expensive based on what we saw elsewhere. Elephant and rhino tracking are key attractions, though looking for the rhino may be considered arduous for mature guests. There is also a visit to a village of the Himba people and walks. Overall we had mixed feelings but the magnificent location probably conquers all and for that unique experience it is worth considering, probably for 2 nights.
What a view !
The climb up the Grootberg pass from the west is spectacular, with zebra and oryx grazing in the valley below the summit. Having parked our 2WD vehicle at the lodge gate at the top of the pass we were driven up the steep rocky path to the lodge itself on the plateau overlooking the Klip Valley.
Our chalet was conveniently close to the main lodge, and was simple, but clean and comfortable. Hot water is provided by individual solar panels on the roof of each chalet and we were advised to have our showers in the evening in case the hot water ran out, but in fact there was still planty left in the morning.
We had arrived in the early afternoon, hoping to take a short self-guided walk on the plateau, but two lions had been spotted the day before and walks were forbidden. Instead we spent a leisurely couple of hours sipping coffee on the terrace in the sunshine, writing postcards, photographing the pigeons as they flew in to drink the water from the swimming pool, and ourselves drinking in the views of the valley, the light and shadow constantly changing with the shifting of the sun.
The set dinner was excellent, served by smiling friendly staff who rounded off the evening with an exuberant sing-song.
We wished we had stayed another night and taken the opportunity to track rhino or visit a Himba village.