Safarihoek Lodge: Our full report
Set on a hill within a private reserve, Safarihoek looks across a small waterhole towards Etosha National Park.Also marketed as Etosha Heights Safarihoek Lodge, and opened in its current form in 2016, it’s a smart, contemporary place from which to explore the 600km², wildlife-rich Etosha Heights Reserve, which shares a 65km fence with Namibia's premier wildlife park.
Safarihoek is newer and more modern than its sister property, Mountain Lodge, which is also found on the reserve. Both are about two hours' drive from the national park's Andersson Gate.
We enjoyed our stay at Safarihoek in May 2022, enhanced by staff who were consistently friendly and attentive. In terms of décor, we felt that a few splashes of colour could add character and warmth to the modern style of the large rooms and high-ceilinged main area. Although, each of the 11 thatched chalets features a mural of its namesake native tree species on the bedroom wall a little more art would help bring these rooms to life.
All the chalets come with twin beds or a king-size bed with a mosquito net, air conditioning, a seating area, small writing desk, minibar, coffee station, and en-suite bathroom. Outside each there's a private deck with a table and chairs offering spectacular panoramic views; this is a great spot for a morning coffee, something stronger before dinner or simply to relax with a book between activities.
The chalets are divided into three types:
- Two “standard” chalets, closest to the main area, are also wheelchair-friendly.
- One dedicated family chalet, also close to the main area, has a small living area separating the master bedroom from the children's room, making it perfect for families looking for a little more space.
- Eight “luxury” chalets are larger and more private, being better spaced and further from the main area; they also come with an additional outdoor shower. Two of these chalets connect with an inter-leading door, allowing conversion into a family room on request.
Along with a swimming pool there’s a second outside seating area and fireplace where you can enjoy the sunset with a drink, discuss your safari with other guests or admire the stars with a nightcap after dinner. An impressive wine cellar/lounge is occasionally used for more intimate private dining on special occasions. There’s also a small curio shop by the reception desk.
Although the Etosha Heights Reserve, one of the largest private reserves in Namibia, shares a border with the national park, activities at Safarihoek take place on the reserve itself due to the distance to the nearest park gate. (There are plans for access into Etosha from the reserve in the future, but this is a way off.) Options include morning and afternoon game drives, night drives, and bush walks with a focus on the smaller things; bush meals and picnics can be arranged on request. There are no organised trips to the national park, and while guests are welcome to drive the 70km or so themselves, this isn't generally recommended. The trip takes about two hours each way and as driving in the dark is prohibited, travellers would miss the prime wildlife-watching hours around sunrise and sunset.
Fortunately, on our visits we have enjoyed some great sightings on Etosha Heights, including several black rhino, elephant and giraffe, as well as general plains game and numerous interesting bird species – with a pygmy falcon standing out as a particular highlight. However, it is worth noting that animal densities here are not as high as in Etosha, especially in the rainy season (November to April) when much of the wildlife will migrate into the national park. Neither the reserve’s fence nor the National Park’s one pose much of a barrier to elephants, who don’t care for artificial restrictions on their range. As such, elephant-sized holes are a regular feature in these barriers making them porous for wildlife of all sizes.
For keen photographers or simply those who want a more relaxing activity, Safarihoek has a photographic hide. Accessed by vehicle or a short, escorted walk, and built over two levels, it was designed in collaboration with a Namibian wildlife photographer to give the best views of the animals and birds visiting the waterhole – which is floodlit at night – without disturbing them. Due to its orientation, the hide is best visited in the afternoon, as the glare off the water in the mornings can make it hard to see the animals, let alone photograph them. This said, once the sun had moved to the north the hide offered us a unique perspective on the wildlife that came to drink and provided a thoroughly enjoyable way to while away a couple of hours.
Safarihoek is a solid, modern lodge on a private reserve. While it isn't a base to visit the national park, it normally has a high density of wildlife and provides additional flexibility when it comes to activities, including the options of walks and night drives. The excellent photographic hide is also a real bonus. If you are considering a two-centre safari in the vicinity of Etosha, then Safarihoek would be a great option.
Country manager: Namibia
- Etosha National Park, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- 2-3 nights to make the most of the hide and activities on offer.
- Safarihoek is on the Etosha Heights Reserve, approximately 70km west of the Andersson Gate to Etosha.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- On our last stay in May 2022, we were generally impressed by the food here. The ever-friendly staff were attentive and, with advanced notice, can cater for most dietary needs.
Breakfast takes the form of a typically Namibian safari buffet of cereals, juices, toast, muffins, fresh fruit, yoghurt, cold meats and cheeses. Omelettes and other egg dishes, along with bacon and sausages, are cooked to order.
We didn't have lunch on our most recent visit, but on a previous stay we were treated to a bush picnic while watching elephant frolic in a waterhole on the reserve. Roasted vegetable frittata came with a selection of cheese, cold meat, bread, droewors and crackers, and was followed by fresh banana bread.
Dinner is served as a three-course meal. We enjoyed a Caprese salad starter with fresh bread rolls. Our main was a grilled beef steak with peppercorn sauce, served with rice, steamed broccoli and mashed pumpkin. The meal was rounded off with a malva pudding and ice cream. We chose to finish the evening with an Amarula by the fire – a wonderful way to relax after an afternoon bumping around in a safari vehicle.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Private dinners in the wine cellar on request.
- Drinks included
- Soft drinks, local beer, house wine and house spirits are included in the full-board rate. Due to the high salinity of the borehole water here, bottled water is provided during your stay.
- Family holidays
- In the private Etosha Heights Reserve, Safarihoek Lodge is unusual amongst safari lodges in offering discount rates for children up to the age of 18. This makes it (and its sister properties on the reserve) great value on a family holiday to Namibia.
- See ideas for Family holidays
- For many, the draw of the Etosha Heights Reserve is the chance to see some of Namibia's larger animals. However, with a superb split-level hide and expert guides, Safarihoek Lodge also offers some very rewarding birdwatching.
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- Photography holidays
- Safarihoek Lodge boasts a spectacular split-level hide overlooking a pumped waterhole. Designed by a Namibian photographer in conjunction with the lodge, it allows for superb close-up photography of the reserve's animals and birdlife.
- See ideas for Photography holidays
- Walking safaris
- Safarihoek Lodge offers guided walks for more adventurous guests. Begin with a short drive from the lodge before the fun starts as you experience a whole new way of finding and viewing Namibia’s animals big and small.
- See ideas for Walking safaris
- Attitude towards children
- Safarihoek welcomes children of all ages.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Families with children under the age of 12 must book a private vehicle for game-viewing activities.
- Special activities & services
- An additional bed can be requested in advance for families with young children.
- Generally recommended for children
- While Safarihoek has no age limit, the feel here is distinctly adult. We wouldn't recommend the lodge for families with young children.
- There are numerous balconies and drop-offs, and an unfenced, unguarded pool, so children must be supervised at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Safarihoek Lodge
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Safarihoek 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
- There is a generator backup system.
- Unlimited WiFi is available in the main area.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- All the en-suite bathrooms have hot and cold running water and flush toilets. Note, though, that water is heated by a solar geyser so isn't endless, especially early in the morning.
Creating a safe haven
Safarihoek is an active participant in the Etosha Rand Lion Conservation Project. Dedicated to mitigating the human–wildlife conflict and to protecting the now-threatened African lion, the organisation is monitoring lions both within Etosha Heights and other reserves to establish the best ways to manage this iconic species.
In addition, the lodge also works with the Namibia National Cheetah survey, which researches and monitors cheetah populations across the country and aims to implement measures to reduce the decline of the species.
Away from the big cats, a local team has also developed a vulture-feeding programme at Safarihoek’s hide to help attract vultures away from farmlands, where poisoned carcasses left out by farmers for carnivores that threaten their livestock are inadvertently contributing to the birds’ population decline.
See more great sustainability projects in Namibia
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The camp managers are trained in first aid. The nearest doctor is in Outjo. In a medical emergency, a traveller would be flown during daylight hours to Windhoek.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- The lodge is in a remote part of the Etosha Heights Reserve, which is fenced, and there are security guards at the reserve gate. An air horn is provided in each chalet to attract attention in case of an emergency.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers in each chalet and around the main area.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- A full laundry service is included. Items are usually collected in the morning and returned in the evening, weather permitting.
- There is a small safe in each chalet. The lodge does not offer any currency-exchange facilities.
- Accepted payment on location
- Mastercard and Visa debit and credit cards are accepted by the lodge. Cash payments may be made in Namibian dollars, South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars and euros.
Other lodges in Etosha National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.