Eningu Clayhouse

Eningu Clayhouse: Our full report

Rooms
9 cottages
Traveller's rating
Good (87%) From 39 reviews
Open
All year

Eningu Clayhouse Lodge stands in the Kalahari amidst bush savannah, a little over an hour's drive south-east of Windhoek's main international airport. This 65 hecatre farm is owner-run by Bettina Spoerndli and her sons Alex and Timon, and quite a distinctive lodge – as it’s all built from handmade terracotta-coloured bricks which blend into the surrounding red sands of the Kalahari.

Eningu Clayhouse Lodge has nine rooms, and all use terracotta and reds extensively, both inside and out. From the outside the walls are almost Mexican in appearance, with a red adobe finish and soft, curving lines topped and thatched roofs.

Inside the theme continues, and here molded-stone furniture (bed and seats) is topped by cushions and coloured fabrics. Look hard at the red floor and you’ll find hand-painted porcupines - outside each room are a few sculptures, befitting for a lodge that was started by two artists some years ago. The room feels fairly sparsely furnished, and includes a built-in bench in one corner of the room, a writing desk and a bed with twin mattresses on a single, large concrete base – surrounded by a large mosquito net. Above is a ceiling fan, although there’s also an electric wall-heater for the chilly winter nights.

All the rooms have an en-suite bathroom with a hot shower (maroon tiles blend in remarkably well here), a wash basin and a flushing toilet. Towels and liquid soap are provided.

Quite a few fixtures and fittings in the rooms at Eningu Clayhouse include old or recycled elements, like the pipes used in the bathroom’s towel rails, or the tin-can surround to the bathroom mirror. However, the room’s most unusual piece of furniture is a small, triangular table, which houses the tea/coffee making facilities. It’s unusual for being suspended between three wooden branches, connected together rather like an extended tripod.

Some rooms have a thatched shared porch, set with wooden table and chairs, and often adorned with a sculpture or two.

There’s a choice of lounge and dining areas at Eningu Clayhouse Lodge. Inside the lodge’s main building is a small lounge with an adjacent library area. This is next to the main restaurant, which is fairly small and intimate. Here the walls are decorated with many paintings, and at one end a wine-rack, supported by a triangle of natural branches, is used for a bar. A crackling fire in one corner is used for those cold winter nights.

Stairs leads from here lead to an open-air rooftop terrace, a popular spot for sundowners, although the surrounding trees significantly obscure the view. Meanwhile outside the building, under the veranda is a shaded ‘stoep’ (the local word for a veranda) – where the walls are covered with an artistic assortment of photographs of people.

Away from the main building, there is a ‘lapa’ area – and open-walled structure with a thatch roof – which is used for outdoor dining during the summer. This is partially sunken, and built around many existing rocks in the ground; these help to keep it nice and cool during the day. There are a few plants dotted amongst these rocks, and stairs here lead to a good selection of 500-1000 wines in the climate-controlled underground cellar.

There is a strong emphasis on the environment at Eningu, with much of the waste being recycled, including water. The left-overs from the kitchen are fed to the local porcupines.

When the weather allows, Eningu is a good place for activities - many of which are delightfully original. There is equipment for archery, volleyball and badminton, all outdoors, and the large, sparkling swimming pool comes complete with a warm Jacuzzi.

The lodge has a small ‘hide’ for watching birds, and the staff leave food out at night – and guests can usually see porcupines visiting.

Eningu has three marked hiking trails that you can either explore on your own, or with a guide from the lodge. It’s even possible to take their ‘Botanical Hiking Trail’ which leads through different zones of vegetation – each marked by an explanatory information board – and to take a lovely picnic lunch with you.

If you stay for a few days then visits to local craftspeople and a nature drive around Eningu’s own slice of the Kalahari are availale, as well as a tour of a nearby farm.

Our view

Eningu Clayhouse Lodge is often used as a first or last night on a self-drive safari around Namibia, although we think that it’s certainly worth two nights.

It is one of Namibia's more unusual and arty lodges, and Bettina’s warm hospitality and the total silence of the Kalahari that surrounds you are just fantastic. We like the rustic but comfortable atmosphere, the good fresh food, and the beautiful hand-painted touches in the rooms.

However, don’t come here expecting big game on the drives (if you’re lucky you’ll see kudu and steenbok!), or any real schedule of activities. Think of Eningu as a place to relax and unwind.

Geographics

Location: Southern Namibia, Namibia

Ideal length of stay: Eningu can be used for a one-night stop, at the end or beginning of your trip, but two nights is a better length of time to spend here.

Directions: From Windhoek International Airport: From the airport, turn left onto B6 towards Gobabis. After 3km, turn right, and after 60km turn right into the D1471. After about 1km you will see the farm entrance on the left. Follow the driveway for 5km to the lodge. From Windhoek: Take the B6 towards the airport, and after 42km turn right on to the M51. After 60km, turn right. The turn off to Eningu is signposted to your left after 1 km. The lodge is 5km from this turn off. If Eningu is your last stop before flying: Please note that the last petrol station on your route is in Windhoek. It is possible to fill up in Dordabis, but this is a longer and less comfortable route to the lodge. We would therefore recommend filling up in Windhoek before driving to Eningu.

Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Eningu Lodge is run by owner Bettina Spoerndli

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Half Board

Food quality: Breakfast consists of fresh fruit, coffee/tea, cereal, yogurt, various meats and cheeses and fresh homemade bread. Eggs and bacon are available on request.

The lunch menu includes a selection of salads. We recommend the smoked meat and horseradish salad – very tasty!

Homemade cake and teas and coffees are served in the afternoons.

Dinner is a set three course meal served from 19:00. On our last visit here we had homemade ravioli, followed by steak with mushroom sauce and roast potatoes and vegetables followed by pannacotta with Amarula. The food was all delicious.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Drinks included: Tea and coffee are complementary, everything else costs extra. A glass of wine costs around N$20-25, and a bottle costs around N$105 - 380. A coke costs N$15 and a beer N$20.

Further dining info: No

Children

Attitude towards children: Children with their parents are welcome at Eningu Lodge.

Property’s age restrictions: There is no age restriction

Special activities & services: No special activities and services as such for children but the lodge has a badminton, archery and walking trails that children can enjoy, of course under adult supervision.

Equipment: Baby cots are available on request.

Notes: Children must be under parental supervision at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Communications: There is good mobile reception at and around the main building of the lodge. The lodge offers free wireless LAN in good quality (video skyping is possible).

TV & radio: Eningu Lodge does not have TVs or radios in their rooms.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The closest doctor or hospital is in Windhoek, and there is a first aid box at the lodge for minor complaints.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: There are no security guards at Eningu Lodge.

Fire safety: There is a fire extinguisher in every room.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: There is a laundry service available, at an extra cost.

Money: Currency exchange is not possible at Eningu Lodge. There are no safe deposit boxes in the rooms, but valuables can be stored in office at reception.

Accepted payment on location: Eningu Clayhouse Lodge accepts Visa and Mastercard. There is no extra surcharge on credit card payments.