Hoodia Desert Lodge...
Hoodia Desert Lodge: Our full report
Named after a flowering cactus, Hoodia Desert Lodge, opened in 2008 and is owned and managed by Thomas and Henreza Becker. The lodge is set at the foot of the Namib-Naukluft Mountains overlooking the ephemeral Tsauchab River, and backed by plains that seem to go on forever. From here, it's an easy 22km drive to Sesriem, the gateway into Sossusvlei.
As you approach Hoodia Desert Lodge, you are greeted by a row of 11 tented chalets, well spaced out, with the mountains towering above. Each of these lovely thatched chalets has an en-suite bathroom, plus an open-air bath and shower, and a shaded veranda. Inside, windows on three sides of the bedroom admit plenty of light and afford superb scenic views from the bed. The décor is in warm shades of brown with white bed linen and a scattering of colourful cushions, while facilities include a tea- and coffee-making station, air conditioning, a small fridge (filled on request) and a safe, as well as a mosquito net over the beds. All the chalets face either the river or the plains and far mountains, perfect for watching the sunset, but the best for uninterrupted sunset views is chalet no 1, which is the last in the row.
Both the indoor and outdoor bathrooms at Hoodia are decorated in a warm terracotta colour with decorative mosaics on the walls and copper taps. The indoor bathroom has a powerful shower, two handbasins, and a separate toilet. Double doors lead to the outside bathroom, which also incorporates a changing area, and is designed so that guests can see out without being seen from nearby chalets. Guests are provided with complimentary toiletries and large fluffy white towels.
Hoodia Desert Lodge has a large lounge built under thatch that doubles as a reception area. The furniture is a fairly eclectic mix of styles and splashes of colour, arranged into separate sitting areas; we think the result is quite stylish! But it was the artwork – beautiful paintings by an artist friend of the owner – that really caught our eye on our most recent stay in February 2015.
Down a few steps from the lounge is the restaurant, which offers superb traditional and international cuisine accompanied by a wide selection of South African wines. The service at Hoodia is great, and attentive staff are on hand to advise on the best wine to suit your meal. Wooden chairs and tables are arranged around a large central fireplace that doubles as a barbecue in summer, while glass doors and windows allow for fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. These open up onto the outside terrace, overlooking the Tsauchab River: a good spot for birdwatching, as well as for sundowners or drinks after dinner. A short wooden walkway leads down some steps to a small swimming pool set in a raised deck and sculpted into natural rock.
Hoodia Desert Lodge offers a range of guided activities at an extra cost, including hiking in the Namib-Naukluft Mountains, sundowner drives and scenic drives, and they can organise ballooning trips. Hoodia also offers guided trips to Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, with a picnic lunch (beautifully laid out) and a stop at Sesriem Canyon before returning to the lodge. When we last did this in February 2015, we were really impressed by the quality of the guiding. You’ll stop every so often along the way to look at the vegetation and wildlife of the dunes, such as lizards and spiders, which really enriches the experience. Alternatively, self-drive guests can drive themselves to Sossusvlei and Seriem Canyon; it's just 22km from the lodge to the entrance at Sesriem.
Our viewHoodia Desert Lodge's friendly staff offer attentive service and delicious food in a beautiful setting. The atmosphere of the lodge is tranquil, and it feels quite luxurious without being stuffy. So although it's not the closest lodge to the dunes, travellers looking for these particular attributes should find it an excellent base from which to explore the Sossusvlei area.
Ideal length of stay: We recommend at least two nights at Hoodia to fit in a visit to the Sossusvlei dunes and Sesriem Canyon, especially if you plan to take the guided excursion that they offer as it returns to the lodge about mid-afternoon. You'll need a day or two longer if you plan to go on a hot-air balloon flight or a day trip into the Namib Naukluft Mountains to do some hiking.
Directions: Hoodia Desert Lodge is located on the C19, half way between its junction with the D854 and its junction with the C27. Turn off from the road then follow the track 6km towards the mountains.
Accessible by: Self-drive
Owner: Thomas and Henreza Becker
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Half Board
Food quality: The meals we've enjoyed at Hoodia Desert Lodge have been delicious. The lodge can cater for special dietary requirements, as long as they are informed in advance.
A buffet breakfast features a selection of cereals, bread, fruits, yoghurts and pastries. Hot breakfasts, such as bacon and eggs, are cooked to order.
A light lunch is available at extra cost, or is included as part of the Soussesvlei excursion.
Dinner On our most recent visit in February 2015 we really enjoyed our meal. Starter was a lovely leek and bacon quiche. For main course we had tasty kudu and bell-pepper kebabs, with some fresh broccoli and cous cous. Desert was panna cotta, which rounded of the meal nicely!
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are not included. We are told that the water is fine to drink, but bottled water is available from the bar, and there are usually a couple of complimentary bottles of water in each room.
Further dining info: Yes
Attitude towards children: Children over the age of five years are welcome.
Property’s age restrictions: Hoodia Desert Lodge accepts children over the age of 5.
Special activities & services: None
Generally recommended for children: While children over five are welcome at Hoodia Desert Lodge, there is little to keep them occupied here when not on excursions or participating in activities. On our most recent visit, we also felt that the lodge had a very adult atmosphere and would be unlikely to suit a family with younger children.
Notes: The pool is unfenced and there are no depth markings, although we were told it's around 1.7m at its deepest point. Children must be supervised at all times.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Power supply notes: There is a back-up generator in case the mains power fails. There are plug points in all the rooms and adaptors are normally available to borrow, on request.
Communications: Due to the lodge's location, cellphone reception is very weak and intermittent. They have installed a booster in the main area, so that's usually where you'll get the best reception. There is complimentary, but very slow, WiFi available in the main area.
TV & radio: There is a television with satellite in the bar area of the main building, but on our most recent visit this wasn't working and was awaiting repairs.
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: The indoor and outdoor showers, as well as the outdoor bathtubs in all the rooms are plumbed in. The lodge has flushing toilets.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: No
Medical care: The lodge is 220km from the nearest hospital in Windhoek; but there is a nurse based at Sesriem for any minor ailments and the guides at Hoodia are first-aid trained.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: All buildings are locked at night, but there is no guard. Each chalet has an air horn, which can be used to attract attention in an emergency.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers and hoses are situated in the main building. There is also a fire extinguisher outside each chalet.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Available for an extra charge. In 2015, laundry costs ranged from N$15 for a pair of trousers to N$2 per item of underwear. Laundry is usually returned the same day if collected in the morning, but this is weather dependent.
Money: Currency exchange is offered in an emergency, but Hoodia can only manage smaller amounts. There is a small safe in each room to store valuables.
Accepted payment on location: Cash payments in SA rands and Namibian dollars are accepted, as are Visa and MasterCard, but travellers’ cheques are not.