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.
On arrival at Hoodia Desert Lodge you are greeted, often by Thomas or Henreza, with a refreshing cold towel and a glass of homemade iced tea, followed by a welcome talk before being shown to your room.
Mountains tower above the row of well-spaced tented chalets under thatch, each boasting both indoor and outdoor bathrooms, a shaded veranda and a personal parking area. 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 incorporates a changing area as well as an open-air bath and shower, 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.
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 in the restaurant is great, with attentive and knowledgeable staff always on hand. 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 activities, at extra cost, from around £19 per person for a tranquil and rewarding sundowner on a nearby mountain to around £90 per person for a full-day guided excursion to Namib Sand Sea. This trip takes in Sossusvlei, Deadvlei and Sesriem Canyon, and is a real highlight of any stay at Hoodia. The knowledge and quality of the guides really adds to the experience. We particularly enjoyed the ‘living desert’ section of the trip where you are shown some of the unique desert-adapted creatures of the Namib, such as spiders and lizards, and the geology of the area is explained. After a morning exploring the dunes, a beautifully presented picnic lunch provided a welcome stop to refuel in a truly stunning setting before finishing the day off in Sesriem Canyon.
Alternatively, self-drive guests can drive themselves to Sossusvlei and Seriem Canyon; it's just 22km from the lodge to the entrance at Sesriem. Guests who do this should be aware that due to the volume of traffic on the roads leading to the park the surface can be severely rutted and corrugated, so extra care should be taken when driving this stretch.
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 their guided excursion 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 for 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.
Between 06:30 and 10:00 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 is served from 18:30 onwards and on our most recent visit, dinner was well presented, delicious and filling. Our starter was a lovely leek and bacon quiche. For a main course we had tasty kudu and bell-pepper kebabs, with fresh broccoli and couscous. Dessert was pannacotta, which rounded of the meal nicely!
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £5-10
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 12 are welcome.
Property’s age restrictions: Hoodia Desert Lodge accepts children over the age of 12.
Special activities & services: None
Generally recommended for children: While children over 12 are welcome at Hoodia Desert Lodge, there is little to keep younger guests 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. The room lights are run using solar power.
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: Laundry is available on request. This is charged per item in accordance with a list found in the rooms, and will be returned with in 24 hours.
Money: There is a small safe in each room to store valuables.
Accepted payment on location: Cash payments in South African rand and Namibian dollars are accepted, as are Visa and MasterCard, but travellers' cheques are not.