Hakusembe River Lodge

Hakusembe River Lodge: Our full report

Rooms
22 chalets, 2 family rooms, campsite
Traveller's rating
Good (85%) From 73 reviews
Children
Best for aged 8+
Open
All year

Situated on the banks of the Kavango River, Hakusembe River Lodge is a substantial but established lodge, which has been extended in recent years. It's a peaceful spot, about 12km west of the town of Rundu at the gateway to Namibia’s Caprivi Strip (or Zambezi Region). The lodge is set in lovely well-kept gardens, with roses and other colourful flowers planted in lawns that lead down to the river. Ample shade is provided during the heat of the day by acacia trees, beloved of the resident bird population.

Hakusembe is a Gondwana Collection property. As with its sister properties in northern Namibia, Namushasha Lodge, Etosha Safari Lodge and Etosha Safari Camp, it is on the larger side of properties in the area and can feel a little less personal than other options. This said, it is in a fantastic location and offers good value.

Hakusembe has a range of guest accommodation, from en-suite chalets and family rooms to an unusual floating chalet and a good campsite.

  • Dotted across Hakusembe’s neatly mown lawns are 21 en-suite chalets, each quite sparsly decorated and furnished with twin or double beds – though some of the chalets have a third bed in the corner for young children. Colourful throws and pillows enliven the bedroom, which is kitted out with mosquito nets, air conditioning, a ceiling fan, a mini fridge, tea/coffee station and an electronic safe. At the back of each chalet is an en-suite shower and separate toilet. A small veranda outside has its own sitting area.

    Half of the chalets here face the river, but the others are set back from the river so don’t enjoy the view. On our last visit in December 2016 we were lucky enough to stay in river-facing chalets and found them to be comfortable, albeit a little dark and lacking in character.

  • A second option at Hakusembe is one of the two family rooms, each sharing a bathroom but with a separate toilet. The chalets differ in design and layout, but both are split over two levels, and both come with,an outdoor braai area, a microwave, mini fridge and kitchenette. One of the family rooms has a small lounge area with the children’s room on a mezzanine floor above their parents’ room. The other is large with a children’s room upstairs that has enough space for four single beds.

  • There is also a floating chalet, built on a pontoon and furnished with a huge double bed, a corner bath and a chemical toilet. Sliding doors lead to a private deck with great views of the river. This private chalet is situated some distance from the lodge (approx. 150m) and has parking outside. Guests staying here often choose to divide their time between the chalet and the main area for meals and activities.
  • Finally, set back from the river, is Hakusembe's campsite, with eight individual pitches.
Hakusembe River Lodge's sprawling main areas include a thatched reception with a curio shop, a large thatched bar with a small seating area, and a restaurant. That said, and weather permitting, dinner is sometimes served on the deck outside the restaurant. In the garden there is a sparkling swimming pool with a few sunloungers and its own changing rooms.

The range of activities from Hakusembe River Lodge includes champagne sunset cruises, sunrise cruises, fishing or birdwatching boat trips and visits to a local village.

One of Hakusembe's real attractions is its tranquil riverside setting where you can watch the birds, hear the locals on the other side of the river laughing as they wash their clothes, and listen to the lapping of the water against the banks.

The downside of this proximity to the river is that during heavy rains (January-March), much of Hakusembe floods. Where possible the lodge will say open, with guests leaving their vehicle in a local village where they will be collected and transferred to the lodge by boat. During such times, guests are also ferried about the lodge by boat, as the walkways can be up to a metre underwater.

Our view

Hakusembe River Lodge is in a fantastic location and setting. Despite its size it serves as a good-value and relaxing staging platform for a trip along the Caprivi Strip. It would also be a good base for keen anglers.

Geographics

Location: Caprivi Strip, Namibia

Ideal length of stay: Most travellers are in transit and spend only one night at Hakusembe, but two nights would give more time to appreciate the peace and quiet and enjoy the river. Anglers in search of tigerfish may want to stay longer.

Directions: Hakusembe River Lodge is about 12km west of Rundu.

Accessible by: Self-drive

Key personnel

Owner: Gondwana Collection

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Half Board

Food quality: At the time of our visit in December 2016, and on previous occasions, the food at Hakusembe River Lodge was generally good and hearty. Many vegetables are fresh and sourced from the lodge's own garden, and vegetarian meals are available.

Breakfast, usually served between 7.30am and 9.00am, was fairly standard, with fruit, yoghurt, cold meats and toast, plus juice, tea & coffee. A cooked breakfast is also available.

Lunch is available on request, usually between midday and 2.00pm

A buffet-style dinner is usually served between 7.00pm and 900pm. In December 2016 we enjoyed game carpaccio followed by soup, a selection of salads, mashed potatoes, couscous, steamed veg and a choice of kudu steak or hake fillets. Dessert was a lemon cheesecake.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £10-15

Drinks included: No drinks are included in the rates at Hakusembe Lodge, except for bottled water in the rooms. Typical prices for drinks are Coke/mineral water N$12–13 (75p); beer N$16 (£1); glass of wine N$16–18 (£1–1.20); bottle wine from N$100 (£6.25); gin and tonic N$23 (£1.45).

Further dining info: No

Children

Attitude towards children: Families with children of all ages are welcome at Hakusembe River Lodge.

Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions.

Special activities & services: There are no special activities at the lodge, but most children will love the large garden and the pool.

Equipment: None, but there are two large family rooms.

Notes: Crocodiles and hippos are periodically seen on the lawns that run down to the river so children should be supervised at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: The electricity supply in this area is notoriously unreliable, especially in the rainy season; there is a back-up generator for use in the event of a power failure.

Communications: There is cellphone reception at Hakusembe River Lodge and phone and fax facilities can be requested from reception.

TV & radio: None

Water supply: Other

Water supply notes: Water is pumped from the river and filtered. This is fine for washing but is not fit for human consumption. There is hot and cold running water in the rooms and flush toilets throughout, with the exception of the floating chalet.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The closest doctor and hospital are in the town of Rundu, just 12km from the lodge.

Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk

Security measures: There are guards onsite 24 hours.

Fire safety: Each chalet at Hakusembe River Lodge is fitted with a fire extinguisher.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: A daily laundry service is available at extra cost, excluding weekends and public holidays. It costs about N$5–15 (30–95p) per item.

Money: No currency exchange is possible. Each of the rooms has a small electronic safe.

Accepted payment on location: Payments may be made by Visa, Mastercard and Maestro, as well as in cash using Namibian dollars or South African rand.

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