Hobatere Lodge: Our full report
Situated between Damaraland and Namibia’s Etosha National Park, but somewhat off the obvious route, Hobatere ...... Lodge was re-opened under community ownership in April 2015, having been closed for some years. The lodge is set on its own 88km² concession, and is approximately 18km from the Galton Gate into the west of the park.
Hobatere was for many years under private ownership, but following refurbishment it is now 100% community owned through the #Khoadi //Hoas Conservancy. It is managed by the same team as at Grootberg Lodge, Desert Breeze Lodge,The Stiltz and Fish River Lodge.
Accommodation at Hobatere consists of 12 rondawels and bungalows, all of which have been refurbished since the lodge was taken over. A further two family rooms were under construction during our last visit in November 2016.
- The six rondawels, with terracotta walls and thatched roofs, are quite small, but large low windows make the bedroom nice and light, and there are net curtains for privacy. Each room has twin beds; the design of the rondawels means that they cannot be made up as doubles. There is a built-in cupboard for storing clothes, a luggage rack, and a built-in table with insect spray, and tea and coffee; a flask of hot water is provided on request. Plug points offer a selection of sockets for charging batteries, and there’s a ceiling fan, which works only while the generator is on. Between the beds, a door leads into a small tiled bathroom with a toilet, single basin and walk-in shower. Shower gel and shampoo are provided.
- The six terraced bungalows are closer to the main area and are larger than the rondawels, each with a double bed and some with an additional single. Concrete floors are dotted with rugs and bright African prints hang on the walls. Large doors lead out onto a private patio with two comfortable chairs and a glass-topped table, and views onto the surrounding bush. The bathrooms, each with a toilet, single basin and walk-in shower, are slightly larger than those in the rondawels but still not large. Although these rooms would be our first choice of stay at Hobatere, we thought that the proportions were slightly wrong, with large, fairly sparsely decorated bedrooms and bathrooms that felt a little cramped.
- Two new family rooms, we under construction on our last visit and plans were still very much in the early stages. We hope to update our write up once we know more but in the mean time please ask us about any further developments.
The newly built main area at Hobatere Lodge is large, modern and airy, with floor-to-ceiling windows and doors on three sides. This L-shaped open-plan thatched building houses a reception desk and curio shop, alongside a large lounge area furnished with comfortable leather and fabric sofas and armchairs. Cowhides are scattered on the polished concrete floors and brightly painted sculptures of animal heads hang on the walls. A large V-shaped wooden bar, flanked by bar stools, separates the lounge area from the dining area, where individual tables and chairs are placed both inside and out on the patio. On a large serving counter at the back, you'll find tea, coffee, cake and biscuits all day.
Sliding glass doors lead out onto two covered verandas, separated by a fire pit surrounded by modern canvas chairs. There's a waterhole some distance away from the main building, where with the aid of binoculars you can watch the wildlife that frequents it. We were lucky enough to see a steady stream of plains game as well as elephant and lion coming to drink or hunt.
Plans to move the waterhole closer to the lodge are taking a frustratingly long time, as this can only be done with the agreement of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. For those who want to be closer to the action, however, the lodge has built a hide on stilts overlooking the waterhole. Guests may be driven out to the hide on request, and left with a radio to contact the lodge and an agreed pick-up time. We were there when the wind was in the ‘wrong’ direction after a rather old lion kill, but this would normally be a great experience!.
Beside the main area is a small swimming pool surrounded by a grassed area and a raised stone deck with sun-loungers and terracotta coloured towels.
The environment around Hobatere is similar to that of western Etosha, and activities from the lodge (at additional cost) take place on the increasingly prolific reserve. These revolve largely around game drives in open-sided 4WD vehicles with a canvas canopy. Morning drives, from 6.00am to 9.00am, return in time for breakfast, while those on afternoon drives, taken between 5.00pm and 7.00pm, are back in time for dinner. Night drives are also available, leaving at about 8.30pm and returning to the lodge at around 10.00pm, depending on the time of year. Nature walks can also be arranged on request.
Although Hobatere no longer offers drives into Etosha, guests may drive themselves, accessing the park through the Galton Gate, some 18km from the lodge.
Hobatere may be slightly off the main tourist route, but it is well worth the effort to reach it, and we have really enjoyed our last few stays. Accommodation is comfortable, the food is good, and there's plenty of space, with a pool to relax by. It has been fantastic to see the game densities increase since the lodge’s re-opening. Game-viewing opportunities here are now back to a high level, making it an ideal place to stop between Damaraland and Etosha, or to base yourself to explore the western side of the park.
Country manager: Namibia
- Etosha National Park, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- Two nights is ideal for exploring the Hobatere reserve, but you might consider a third if wanting to exploring the western side of Etosha.
- Hobatere is 18km west of the Galton Gate into Etosha.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Half Board
- Food quality
- During our most recent visit to Hobatere, in November 2017, the food was very good.
A buffet breakfast, usually available 6.30–9.30am, consists of cereals, yoghurt, fresh fruit and freshly baked bread, along with fruit juice, fresh filter coffee and tea. You can also indulge in a cooked breakfast with a selection of eggs of your choice, bacon, sausage and tomato.
Lunch is à la carte and is served between 12.00 and 2.00pm. We had a choice of Greek salad, Hobatere open sandwich, tuna salad, grilled or fried fish and chips, or gemsbok or oryx schnitzel served with chips and salad. Those driving themselves into Etosha can arrange a packed lunch to take with them.
Afternoon tea with a freshly baked cake can be enjoyed before the afternoon game drive.
Dinner is a set three-course menu, served 7.00–9.00pm. On our first evening, we started with a roast vegetable filo parcel with sweet chilli sauce, followed by stuffed chicken breast served with beetroot, mixed vegetables and roast potatoes. This was finished off with malva pudding. The following evening, pea soup was followed by steak with mixed vegetables and sweet potato, and rounded off by a milk tart.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Drinks included
- Drinks are not included, with the exception of a flask of drinking water in each room. The tap water is not suitable for drinking as it is not filtered and has a high saline content.
- Attitude towards children
- Children of all ages are welcome at Hobatere.
- Property’s age restrictions
- There is no age restriction.
- Special activities & services
- There are no special activities for children, although there are a few board games in the main area, and there’s a small pool.
- Two family rooms were under construction in 2017. There are currently no cots or highchairs.
- Generally recommended for children
- With the lodge open to the reserve in 2017 (although a fence was being erected) and unfenced access to the swimming pool, we recommend Hobatere for children aged 8 years and over who will understand the safety implications.
- The lodge is presently not fenced and dangerous game wanders through day and night. Parents must supervise their children at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Hobatere Lodge
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Hobatere 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
- Although the generator is usually switched off after the last guests have retired for the evening, the lodge charges batteries during the day to power the lodge overnight, so there is 24-hour power.
- Complimentary WiFi is available in the main building, and the lodge has a cellphone signal.
- TV & radio
- There is no TV at Hobatere.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- All the rooms have hot and cold running water, plumbed showers and flush toilets.
A Lions’ Sanctuary and a Chance for the Community
With a unique location, Hobatere is the getaway into the Western Etosha Park and offers travelers privileged access to the heart of Damaraland. Hobatere, meaning ‘find me’, invites visitors to discover how a fully community-owned conservancy lodge is committed to economically benefit locals. The goal is to make them, in return, act as ambassadors for reducing human wildlife conflict and promoting conservation of the area.
Hobatere is involved in a range of wildlife conservation projects such as the Namibian Elephant and Giraffe Trust, as well as the study of the black mongoose. The game density, especially of lions, is high around the lodge and as a result, Hobatere works alongside ‘AfriCat North’ to actively protect the desert-adapted lions and the local people affected by the lions’ presence. The lodge is also part of the Kunene Lion Project, among others, which aims to track and monitor local lion populations.
To financially support the local community, 100 percent of the staff is made up of local Namibians. Impressively, 80 percent of them have been working for the Hobatere Lodge for over 10 years. The lodge also provides a curio shop which sells local crafts as a way of generating vital income for the community, especially women.
In 2016, the Hobatere Lodge was awarded five ‘desert flowers’ by the Environmental Initiative Eco Awards Namibia. This represents the highest score, and is given to only a limited number of exclusive lodges committed to operate entirely according to eco-friendly principles.
See more great sustainability projects in Namibia
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- Most of the staff have had first-aid training. There is a doctor and clinic at Kamanjab, 84km away by road. In an emergency, guests would be flown to hospital in Windhoek.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Guests are free to wander around the lodge grounds on their own during the day but must be escorted to and from their rooms after dark by a member of staff. This may change once the fence is completed.
- Fire safety
- There is a fire extinguisher in each room as well as in the main area.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is not offered here.
- There are no safes in the rooms. All valuables should be handed in at reception to be stored in the main safe. There is no currency exchange at the lodge.
- Accepted payment on location
- Cash is accepted in Namibian dollars, South African rands, US dollars, pounds sterling and euros. Payment may also be made with Visa and MasterCard.
Other lodges in Etosha National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Set within Etosha National Park, Okaukuejo Resort is a large camp with a productive, floodlit waterhole.
The smallest of Etosha's erstwhile restcamps, overlooking its own floodlit waterhole, Halali has a superb location near the centre of Etosha Pan.
Mushara Bush Camp
The family-friendly Mushara Bush Camp offers great value and is an excellent base from which to explore Etosha National Park.
With fantastic views over a private reserve bordering Etosha, the smart Ongava Lodge offers driving and walking safaris on the reserve, and guided drives in Etosha.
Ongava Tented Camp
Set around a waterhole on a private reserve, the small Ongava Tented Camp combines understated comfort with activities that include walks and night drives.
Onguma Tented Camp
Onguma Tented Camp is a lovely, little tented camp which centres around an attractive waterhole a short drive from the Von Lindequist Gate to eastern Etosha.
Opened in 2011, Dolomite Camp allows visitors access to the far west side of Etosha National Park, which was previously off limits to most visitors.
Close to the eastern entrance to Etosha, the comfortable Mushara Lodge is well-placed for exploring the park in your own vehicle or on a guided drive.
Centred on an old fort, the government run Namutoni Camp is located just inside Etosha National Park, close to Fisher's Pan.
Onguma Bush Camp
For great wildlife viewing without breaking the bank, the affordable and understated luxury of Onguma Bush Camp could be perfect.
Intimate and luxurious, Mushara Outpost is well-placed on a private reserve to explore nearby Etosha National Park on your own or on a guided drive.
Onguma Camp Kala
For a bird’s eye view across African bush, the stilted rooms at Onguma Camp Kala are truly special.
Onguma The Fort
The Fort is the jewel in the crown of the Onguma lodges, and arguably the whole of eastern Etosha.
At the heart of the private Etosha Heights Reserve, Safarihoek Lodge offers comfortable accommodation and excellent game-viewing.
Onguma Forest Camp
From its woodland setting on the Onguma Reserve, Forest Camp is within easy striking distance of Namibia’s flagship national park.
Taleni Etosha Village
Only 4km from Etosha's southern entrance, Taleni Etosha Village is an affordable base from which to explore the park.
Etosha Safari Lodge
A short drive from Etosha National Park's southern entrance, Etosha Safari Lodge is a convenient base from which to explore the park.
The beautifully located and luxurious Little Ongava is a stunning place to stay in order to explore Etosha National Park and the private Ongava Reserve.
Etosha Safari Camp
Funky, low-key and very original, Etosha Safari Camp is well placed for visiting Etosha National Park on a self-drive or guided safari.
Andersson's at Ongava
With game drives on both its private reserve and in Etosha, Andersson's at Ongava also offers access to the Ongava Research Centre.
Mokuti Etosha Lodge
With 106 rooms, child-friendly Mokuti Etosha Lodge is more like a hotel than a lodge. Facilities to include a gym, spa, tennis courts and even a snake park.
In the heart of the private Etosha Heights Reserve, the family-friendly Mountain Lodge offers game drives and bush walks within an exclusive environment.
Vreugde Guest Farm
Vreugde Guest Farm is a delightful owner-run and working sheep farm where you can expect a warm welcome and charming hospitality.
Offering luxury on a peaceful private reserve close to Etosha, Villa Mushara is a great choice for honeymooners & those wishing to indulge themselves.
Etosha Garden Hotel
Safari in Etosha National Park Namibia, whilst based at the nearby Etosha Garden Lodge.
Etosha Oberland Lodge
A short drive from Etosha National Park's southern entrance, Etosha Oberland Lodge is a very comfortable base from which to explore the park, with excellent food.
Safari in Etosha National Park Namibia, whilst based at Etosha Gateway Lodge.
The private Safari House on the Etosha Heights reserve is a great option families or friends travelling together.
Onkoshi Camp is owned and run by Namibia Wildlife Resorts. Built on elevated wooden platforms it overlooks Etosha Pan.
Etosha King Nehale
A short drive from the national park's northern entrance, Etosha King Nehale Lodge is an interesting and comfortable base from which to explore the park.