Reviews of Hobatere Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Hobatere has lots of birds!
Overall we had a wonderful time at Hobatere and would happily visit it again. Tobias and Martin were outstanding guides. We saw eland, giraffes, oryx, zebras, springboks, a pride of lions, bat-earred foxes, jackals, even a zorilla! A lion passed under the treehouse in the middle of the night when we camped out there.
Food was fabulous, even the picnic that we took with us to the treehouse. Sean and Bettina are doing a great job on behalf of the family operation.
Our only beef was with the fact that the treehouse floor and deck railings had been treated with creosote just before we got there, so the smell significantly affected our enjoyment. Apparently the creosote is needed to deter termites but we recommend it is applied in the off-season only!
Eden beyond Etosha
We had a large room in a terrace but with somewhat cramped shower/toilet facilities ~ the doors had been removed to give a little more space. The food was rather ordinary but well prepared. This was the only place where we were either not provided with a kettle or tea and coffee were not available during the day.
The grounds were planted with local indigenous plants ~ pity they were not named. Steve was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about local natural history. Night drives were available when we saw smaller and more unusual wildlife, e.g. aardvark, owls, etc.
Superb in every way. Can't fault it!
Driving through the gateway and along the 16 km road with the open grasslands, rocky kopjies and riverbeds I just didn't know what to expect - arriving at the reception to be met by both the chorus of bird song and the warm friendly welcome of the owners was a perfect start to the most wonderful overnight stay in the Treehouse.
On arrival, I was informed that the Desert Elephant were at the waterhole and was bowled over at the teriffic views that were available over the waterhole and surrounding area to just sit quietly and watch the various animals just wandering back and forth. The whole lodge and surrounding landscape was glorious and a real haven for the amzing variety of birdlife. This will most definitely be a place I will retun to again.
I spent the night in the Treeehouse on my own and what an awesome experience. The completey stillness of th surroundings was profound and mesmerising and just sitting watching the animals lazily making their way down to the waterhole was a very precious and special experience. The whole experience was capped when three lion cubs came plodding into sight, and started to play chase with the guinea fowl before settling down to lap water from the pool of water, and then a few minutes later two lionesses came sauntering into sight and joined the cubs drinking. As the light faded, the lions moved into the bushes behind the treehouse and a herd of elephant then came down to drink- with the only evidence of their presence being the quiet shuffling of feet in the dust, the occasional rubbling tummy and the odd cracking of branches. To spend a night under the clear skies with the stars and these animals for company, was an unique lifetime experience and I would certainly recommend it.
This lodge is situated in a stunning location, beautiful surroundings with abundant wildlife. When we arrived we were greeted by a cheerful young lady then pointed in the direction of the accommodations and told that we could the drive the car to it. Small and gloomy rooms, strange bed arrangements. Really bad single beds which were too soft and very low standard to any other lodges we stayed in, in Namibia except for another B&B. Mosquito net was full of holes and we spent a quite sometime patching them up with Elastoplast before going to bed! Later, spent a quite sometime slapping the mosquitoes, which got through the holes in the middle of the night, in torchlight!!
The game drive is in an ex-army type hi- wheeled vehicle that can carry about 20 people which wasn't a major issue itself, since it wasn't full. It was conducted on a well-worn circular route with stops just pointing at common animals and birds (that's an Oryx there's a hornbill, etc). The guide never looked down to check for any spoor in the sand but just drove on and hoped animals would be there.
Very little thought went in to explaining the life of fauna and flora. We drove over many dry riverbeds but the guide never thought of telling us anything about them, e.g. when did it last flow; what it is like when they flow. I didn't need a geography/ botanical lecture but would have loved to know how things survive and adapt to live in such a harsh environment.
Next morning there were some lions and 3 or 4 cubs were seen beyond the waterhole but quite far away on the ridge. We tried to organize to get someone to take us there and have a look at the lions but all they said was the lions have now left the ridge. At least they could've said, “let's go and have a look”. Similarly, the pervious evening, when we saw a couple of cheetahs in the distance we asked the guide whether he could get a bit closer to them. He said that he wasn't allowed to go out of the tracks and would get in to trouble. I didn't understand the reason for this. What is stopping you getting close to an animal within a safe distance in a private game reserve, especially with a guide? Most other private lodges take you within a safe distance close to the animals.
Steve Braine may be a top-notch wild life expert and well regarded in his field and always ready to share his enthusiasm but then perhaps he should utilize that knowledge and give a few good tutorials to his guides on how to improve their skills. Dinner was good but breakfast service was very haphazard. We didn't feel the warmth of welcome or enthusiasm at Hobatere. Although the lodge managers were present, this was the only place they didn't come to meet us.
There is no doubt that Hobatere has one of the most magnificent locations and beautiful surroundings with abundant wildlife BUT it is not one of the best or most comfortable lodges in Namibia. I was so looking forward to staying here. However, it turned out to be the biggest let down of all.
Expert Africa comments
Hobatere Lodge has recently undergone refurbishments and tell us that this is the first complaint about any of the rooms being small and gloomy. They comment that whilst this may be the case when compared with other lodges visited by these travellers earlier in their trip, in Botswana and Namibia, they don’t feel that this is entirely fair as many of their earlier destinations were more costly lodges.
Perhaps we, at Expert Africa, should have gone to greater lengths to flag up to our travellers to expect smaller rooms at Hobatere than at their previous lodges – and emphasise how different this lodge is from the previous ones in their itinerary.
Similarly, Hobatere wanted us to make the valuable point that the ‘rules’ of a game drive in Namibia are very different from those in a private wildlife reserves in Botswana. The latter restrict the number of visitors into their private wilderness reserves but then charge much, much more to cover the operational costs. When relatively few visitors come into an area of wilderness it is possible for guides to ‘off-road’ for a closer look at something of interest. Namibia’s drier climate and even more arid landscape mean that the ecosystem more fragile there – and ‘off-read driving’, for example, is often not done for ecological reasons
Hobatere Lodge commented that they are always willing to help where they can, or to explain why if they can’t. However, they can only do this if the guests voice their concerns to the staff immediately. The mosquito nets in the rooms are new, but get used daily and inevitably they do get holes from wear and tear.
The game drive vehicle mentioned seats 16 with the idea that this allows plenty of space for photographic opportunities. Had the guests requested a smaller vehicle then Hobatere says that this could have been discussed and arranged.
Hobatere also comments that their guides are all local guides who have had no formal education and often don’t have long term experience in imparting their knowledge as a teacher might. They are trained in house and this is an ongoing process. The guides know a lot about their surrounding environment and its flora and fauna so should any guest need more information about any aspect, then all they need to do is ask the guide the relevant questions. The guides enjoy having questions thrown at them; this inevitably leads to further dialogue. Should the guide not be able to expand then the lodge staff would be able to help once guests are back at the lodge. Having said that, Steve Braine of Hobatere says that he has taken note of the comments and plans to apply this to ongoing training.
Hobatere notes that there appears to have been some confusion over who the lodge managers were. Although Steve Braine and his wife own Hobatere, they employ managers to help them. The lady who showed these guests to their room was the manageress. Steve is often available to meet guests himself. However, on this occasion he had just returned from Windhoek where his wife had just undergone an operation and was taking a little time out with her.
Hobatere the ultimate game lodge.
The drive to Hobatere was the best of the trip and the new tarmac road from Kamanjab heading North is wonderful, We did not see a single vehicle from Kamanjab to Hobetere!
The new accommodation and public buildings are very well done and an improvement on an already very nice facility.Steve and Louise Braine were so welcoming and all the staff were excellent, so nice to see Martin again who is an excellent guide. Steve,of course, is a mine of information and always ready to share his enthusiasm. Extraordinary range of wild life with two hides to watch it from,early morning bush walks with Martin,day time game drives seem almost superfluous.To complete the picture the food was the best we had during our holiday.
We will return.
Just the best !
We thoroughly enjoyed our three night stay here. Steve and Louise were great hosts. The waterhole and hide were an endless source of entertainment ,the result was some great wildlife photographs !
we were pleased to have stayed three nights here as it was not as crowded as Etosha .
Enjoy a quiet location
Very quiet and very welcoming. Very good night drives. The hide in the middle of the "plains" was a good experience.
We had a nightime visitor in the lodge in the form of an elephant but did not cause too moch damage!
Hobatere Lodge review
This is a lovely place to stay and relax for a night or two. The birds in the garden provide hours of entertainment.
The staff were particularly helpful in trying to locate a new tyre for our rental car - thanks very much.
Very pleasant relaxing place to stay
Didn't see much game here, but enjoyed the guided morning walk. Very friendly relaxed atmosphere, good food, and very comfortable lodge.
Electricity was provided by a generator which went off quite early in the evening, and could perhaps be left on a bit longer.
A sense of humour is essential if you are to stay at Hobatere Lodge. Elctrical Power is only available between 1700 and 2200 hours, the rooms
were probably designed by Basil Fawlty or Mr.Bean. A huge branch of a tree is positioned on the bed head at the exact position to render one
unconscious should one sit up quickly.
The Tree House looks as though it was constucted by a troop of baboons, during our stay a couple who had booked the "Tree House"
refused point blank to stay there.
A coach party arrived on our last day, and this did not improve matters.
The highlight of Hobatere was the waterhole, superb photo opportunities, Elephant, Oryx, Kudu, Hartmann,s Mountain Zebra and many more,
Expert Africa comments
We were sorry to hear that the rooms at Hobatere were not what these travellers would have liked, but we were delighted to hear that the photo opportunities made up for this.
We are aware that the Tree House at Hobatere is very, very basic and consequently only offer this to the ‘right’ people. We fear that the people who were supposed to stay there when these travellers were at the main lodge, had not been briefed fully on its ‘rusticness’ by their agent.