Hakusembe River Lodge: Our full report
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 20 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. Although we didn't get to stay on our last visit in June 2017 on previous visits we have stayed in the 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.
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. Because of this flooding the track which leads from the main road to lodge was in quite a bad state of disrepair in June 2017 and we would recommend approaching this with caution.
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.
- 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.
- Hakusembe River Lodge is about 12km west of Rundu.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Half Board
- Food quality
- At the time of our last stay at the lodge 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.
- 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.
- None, but there are two large family rooms.
- Generally recommended for children
- Hakusembe welcomes children, and there is a family room, so there’s no problem to bring children here, although there is not a lot to keep them entertained.
- Crocodiles and hippos are periodically seen on the lawns that run down to the river so children should be supervised at all times and the pool is also unfenced.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Hakusembe Lodge
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Hakusembe River Lodge have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- 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.
- There is cellphone reception at Hakusembe River Lodge and phone and fax facilities can be requested from reception.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- 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.
Funding a new kindergarten in a nearby village
Comprising of 20 chalets in an oasis along the river, Hakusembe River Lodge is committed to operate following the principles of sustainability. Funding the construction of a nearby kindergarten is just one of the many examples of the lodge’s determination of building a close link with the surrounding communities.
Paukeni Kindergarten was officially opened in 2017, following the complete reconstruction of the previous building which was badly damaged during the previous rainy season. Moreover, a jungle gym was constructed for the kids inside the fenced school yard. The construction was made possible through Hakusembe Community Development Fund, which the mother company, Gondwana Collection, established when it took over Hakusembe River Lodge in 2012. Through the fund, the lodge supports projects in its vicinity using a percentage of each guest fee. These range from education and youth development to access to potable water and sanitation facilities.
Additionally, two more projects by the Hakusembe Community Development Fund were inaugurated on the same day as the kindergarten - a new borehole hand pump, providing clean water to the entire village, as well as a new fence around the Ru-Rumwe Primary School to improve the children’s security.
The lodge’s uppermost sustainable practices were recognized by the Namibian Tourism Board which awarded the lodge with a sustainability certification of four desert flowers in 2016 Eco Awards.
See more great sustainability projects in Namibia
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Other lodges in Caprivi Strip
Alternative places to stay in this same area.