Fish River Lodge

Fish River Lodge: Our full report

Rooms
20 chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (93%) From 59 reviews
Children
Best for 12+
Open
All year

Perched on the western rim of Fish River Canyon, Fish River Lodge lies within the Canyon Nature Park, a privately owned reserve of 450km2 which includes a 75km stretch along the canyon's edge. The lodge's dramatic location gives spectacular views across the Fish River Canyon.

Surrounded by a grove of quiver trees, the lodge offers 20 spacious rooms with stone walls, flat roofs and an almost entirely glass front, which gives fantastic views of the canyon and its intriguing rock formations. The rooms all have large, uncluttered en-suite bathrooms with his-and-hers washbasins, and indoor and outdoor showers, which must give one of the best views from any shower in Namibia!

The high ceilings of the rooms have a strip of glass running around the very top, which help the room to feel bright and airy and there is also a corresponding pole to open these out-of-reach windows, if needed. The colour scheme is quite dark and dominated by the concrete features in the room as well as the browns and greys of the walls. However you probably won’t want to spend too much time in the room given the view from the veranda. With a couple of chairs, a stool and table it is perfect for watching the sunset over the sheer cliffs beneath. With it’s unique location on the canyon rim the lodge comes with many advantages however it is also at the mercy of the winds, which can whip across this part of the canyon. For this reason earplugs are provided when you check in and are often needed.

When not exploring the park, you can relax in the stylish communal area of the lodge. This is in the middle of 10 rooms to either side and consists of a dining area to one end and a bar and a comfortable seating area at the other, surrounding an impressive fireplace. The manager’s office is placed between the two, which doubles up as a small curio shop. However, no doubt you will be drawn outside and a veranda runs the length of the main area to make the most of this space. The un-heated pool is well worth a refreshing dip in the heat of the day. Dinner is often served inside however on warmer evenings it will be served outside, by candlelight with the impressively bright stars glistening over the shadows of the canyon.

Activities offered from Fish River Lodge include an evening scenic drive to watch the sunset over a glass of champagne, and a full-day canyon drive. This guided excursion starts at 7am, involves descending a very bumpy route into the canyon by 4WD to have a picnic lunch by the permanent rock pools on the Fish River and back to the lodge around 2pm. Although this is quite a lot of time in the car, during our last visit in April 2018 we thoroughly enjoy this activity and the drive down to the canyon was especially exhilarating at times- certainly not one for those with vertigo.

It is also possible to do a similar route on foot, hiking from the sundowner spot, near the lodge, the 10km down to the canyon floor. On our trip a few of the hikers hitched a lift back to the lodge, not fancying the walk back, but please note that this is dependent on space in the vehicle. A ‘half day’ version of this walk is also on offer, where you only walk half the way and do not get down to the canyon floor.

For those less inclined to spend the whole day on foot but like the idea of stretching your legs, there are also a few short walks available from the lodge. On our last visit here we did a short walk (about 45 minutes there and 45 minutes back) along the canyon rim, and found it to be very enjoyable with lots of photo opportunities. These are well marked and perfectly easy to do self-guided, however if you would like to learn a little more about the surroundings, then you can take a guide with you for around N$385. However, guests hoping to visit the view points on the eastern side of the canyon rim will find these a very long drive from Fish River Lodge – if you wish to visit these it is better to stay at one of Canyon Village, Canyon Lodge or Canyon Roadhouse.

For the serious walker Fish River Lodge offers guided camping expeditions into the canyon for between 1 and 4 nights. The lodge will provide all of the equipment, including your own own private guide and chef and normally you will spend a night at either end in the comfort of the lodge. Your guide will point out the most interesting features of the canyon and the plants and animals found there. However because of the high temperatures that the canyon can experience and the potential for flash flooding these treks only take place during winter time (April-September). What better way to recover from a lengthy walk or bumpy drive than to have a massage, which are also on offer at the lodge, varying in cost and length.

As well as the spectacular scenery, it is also possible to spot wildlife in the park, although as you may expect it is quite dispersed. You might expect to see mountain zebra, kudu, oryx, springbok, steenbok, klipspringer and baboon and many species of bird, including raptors like black eagles and fish eagles and the Ludwig’s bustard.

Our view

For its location on the edge of Fish River Canyon, Fish River Lodge is unrivalled. While the minimalist style of the lodge may not be to everyone's taste, the views are spectacular, there are photo opportunities aplenty, and the chance to explore the canyon itself is an added bonus.

Geographics

Location: Fish River Canyon, Namibia

Ideal length of stay: 2–3 nights, or up to 5 nights if hiking into the canyon

Directions: Fish River Lodge is located on the rim of the western side of the Fish River Canyon and around 90km south of the B4 which runs between Keetmanshoop and Aus.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Journeys Namibia

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Half Board

Food quality: We found the food at Fish River Lodge to be generally of a good standard.

Breakfast is served between 6-9am and is a buffet of cereals, bread, jams, juice, tea and coffee was served, with hot dishes made to order. If you let staff know hot flasks are also delivered to the your room in the morning to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee from your room, maybe as the sun peeks above the horizon.

The lunch menu consisted of a choice of light meals such as salads, frittatas and light pasta dishes.

Tea, coffee and cake are served at between 3-5pm.

Dinner is a three-course set menu. On our last visit in April 2018 we enjoyed a starter of a smoked salmon and cream cheese crepe, following by a grilled Oryx steak served with a brown onion sauce and basmati rice, butter sweet corn and stir fried green beans. The desert was a poached pear in a red wine butterscotch sauce. .

Fish River Lodge have a slightly odd set-up of numbering the tables and telling you where to sit,. You also tip the waiters separately here (unlike most lodges where they are included in the main staff tips) so you can expect exceptionally friendly and enthusiastic waiting staff!

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £5-10

Drinks included: Drinks are charged extra.

Further dining info: Not available.

Special interests

Honeymoons: If you’re after solitude, jaw-dropping views and activities that can fuel your sense of adventure – or spa treatments to pamper yourself on your Namibian honeymoon – look no further than Fish River Lodge, perched right on the edge of Fish River Canyon.

See more ideas for Honeymoons in Namibia

Photography holidays: Fish River Lodge’s catch phrase, “on the edge of eternity”, alludes to its spectacular location on the rim of Africa’s largest canyon. With such a natural wonder literally on its doorstep this is truly one of the most photogenic locations in Namibia.

See more ideas for Photography holidays in Namibia

Walking: For those after more serious walking in Namibia, Fish River Lodge offers a 74km guided canyon hike during between Apr– Oct. With an experienced guide and chef, the first night is spent at the lodge, with 3 nights camping and 4 days hiking.

See more ideas for Walking in Namibia

Children

Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Fish River Lodge.

Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions to stay at the lodge but only those aged 16 or over are able to participate in hiking activities.

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: Cots can be organised by pre-arrangement and there is a family room which consists of a double and up to two single beds.

Notes: Expert Africa does not recommend Fish River Lodge for children under 12. It is located very close to the edge of Fish River Canyon, with no fences or barriers between the lodge and the edge, and it thus presents a serious safety risk. The lodge also has a very quiet adult atmosphere.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Communications: There is good cellphone reception at Fish River Lodge, and WiFi in the main area (although not a great connection).

TV & radio: None

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: Plumbed, hot and cold running water, although not between 11pm and 5am as the pump is solar powered and there is not enough pressure at these times.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: No

Medical care: The nearest hospital is in Keetmanshoop, which is most quickly reached by plane. A first-aid box is available at the lodge.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: The lodge is remote so there are no guards or gate, but there are safes in the rooms.

Fire safety: A fire extinguisher is located in every room.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A laundry service is available for an extra charge. It is quite expensive due to the limited water availability.

Money: No currency exchange facilities are available. There are safes in every room.

Accepted payment on location: Visa and Mastercard are accepted for card payments whilst South African rand and Namibian dollars are accepted currencies for cash payments.

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