Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch

Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch: Our full report

Rooms
20 rooms
Traveller's rating
Excellent (90%) From 183 reviews
Children
Best for aged 8+
Open
All year

The tranquil, owner-run Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch stands in the red Kalahari dunes between Hardap and Stampriet. Initially a sheep and cattle ranch, it is around a 2½-hour drive south of Windhoek and makes an ideal stopover between the capital and the Namib-Naukluft National Park or the Fish River Canyon area.

As you approach Bagatelle, its chalets appear to be balancing on a typical Kalahari sand ridge. But come closer, and you’ll see other rooms scattered among the dunes that dominate this spectacular landscape.

It is the Dune chalets that line the ridge, making up six of Bagatelle’s 20 en-suite rooms. These vary slightly in position, size and facilities, but each has air conditioning, an electronic safe, minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities and mosquito nets around the bed.

  • Four Dune chalets are raised up on stilts atop a red dune, affording a great view over the inter-dune plain. The chalets are constructed of wood, and the furniture is mostly wooden too – very much like a ski chalet in feel – with plenty of storage space and a small writing desk. The Dune chalets also have both a shower and a bath.
  • Two Exclusive Dune chalets, also termed the honeymoon suites, are very similar to the Dune chalets but each has a more extensive outside deck with its own plunge pool and hot tub.
  • Eight Savannah rooms (previously termed straw bale chalets) are constructed using thick hay bales to insulate the walls, helping to keep the rooms cool in summer and warm in winter. They are slightly smaller than the dune chalets and set lower down, so lack the expansive views. Two of these rooms are family rooms, with four beds.
  • Two Pool rooms are much closer to the main area – and the pool. At the time of our last visit this semi-detached building had been recently redone and looked very smart. Boasting a similar spec to the Savannah rooms, they were a little fresher and felt more spacious given their higher ceilings.
  • The future of four Garden rooms, in one thatched block close to the main area, was in the balance when we last visited, although as far as we know they are still in use. These are our least favourite room type.
The lodge's main area is beautifully decorated in rich warm tones, much like the red Kalahari sand dunes, mixed with shades of brown. It has a well-stocked curio shop, lots of seating and a reading lounge. Open fireplaces in the winter add to the cosy, homely feel. Meals are usually enjoyed on the patio, under a vast, twinkling Namibian sky, but a sizeable indoor dining area dotted with individual tables comes into its own in the winter months, when the weather less reliable. We dined under a covered area on the patio that was sheltered from the rain.

The extensive patio also encompasses a decent-size swimming pool with a couple of adjacent lapas, one housing a poolside bar and the other a shaded area for sunloungers. A new feature on our most recent visit, in Aprul 2018, was a stone-built platform dubbed the “Bagatelle Observatory”, complete with a computerised telescope. Although we didn’t have a chance to try it out, the dark skies in the Kalahari should provide the perfect backdrop for stargazing.

Activities at Bagatelle include nature drives on the property as well as sundowners, a Bushman walk, cheetah watching, and stargazing after dinner. There is also a spa with a number of relaxing treatments available.

Although we were left with little choice of activities, as we arrived quite late in the afternoon and organisation with the reception staff was a little chaotic, we did enjoy our nature drive, albeit mostly for the scenery rather the guiding. We were unable to experience the Bushman walk with San guides to a demonstration village, where they discuss their traditional use of the environment and its flora and fauna

Bagatelle has two captive cheetahs in large enclosures, kept here in association with the Cheetah Conservation Fund. You can watch the cheetah being fed, but we cannot condone the practice of encouraging guests to stroke the animals as they are feeding from their bowls.

Our view

Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch is set in a beautiful part of the vegetated Kalahari desert and has a nice homely atmosphere. We think it works particularly well for a night to break the long journey south from Windhoek to Fish River Canyon.

Geographics

Location: Southern Namibia, Namibia

Ideal length of stay: 1-2 nights

Directions: Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch is around 260km south of Windhoek.

Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Half Board

Food quality: During our last visit in April 2018 we enjoyed the hearty, home-style food served at Bagatelle. The lodge can cater for various dietary requirements if advised in advance; they can also organise children meals on request.

Breakfast, served 7–10.00am, combines a good choice of cereals, fruits, cold meats, cheeses and breads with the option of a full cooked breakfast.

Lunch – a choice of salads, toasted sandwiches or pasta dishes – is available until about 2.00pm, and is usually an optional extra, paid for at the lodge.

Afternoon tea is usually served between 2.00pm and around 3.30pm. We enjoyed a lemon meringue pie and milk tart with a choice of teas and coffees.

For dinner, we had a choice of starter, either kudu carpaccio with coriander pesto and grana padano or cream of butternut soup with freshly baked rolls. The main was a buffet of various salads, oryx fillet, stuffed Namibian beef fillet and angel fish, accompanied by coconut rice, sweet carrots and Brussel sprouts with bacon. Dessert was either a vanilla panna cotta crowned with a berry coulis or a chocolate and strawberry fondant with cream. When there are fewer guests, dinner is a plated service rather than a buffet.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £5-10

Drinks included: Drinks are at extra cost, payable direct at the lodge.

Further dining info: Room service is not available.

Special interests

Photography holidays: Around December, January and February – during the rains – the area around Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch is carpeted with beautiful yellow devils' thorn flowers. These bring colour and life to the Kalahari, further enhancing the stunning scenery for photographers visiting Namibia.

See more ideas for Photography holidays in Namibia

Children

Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Bagatelle.

Property’s age restrictions: None.

Special activities & services: None.

Equipment: Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch has cots, but no highchairs. Extra cushions can be added for a child to reach the table.

Notes: The presence of dangerous wildlife, and the unfenced swimming pool, mean that parents must keep their children under constant supervision.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: Bagatelle has a back-up generator in case of power cuts.

Communications: There is a landline and WiFi in the main area, but no cellphone reception.

TV & radio: In the main area There is a TV in the main area, so guests may watch big sports events on request.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: Each room has a flush toilet, and hot and cold running water.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: No

Medical care: The closest doctor is in Mariental, about 45km away.

Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk

Security measures: There are no security guards here. Staff are generally up until quite late, and 2–3 staff members are always on duty.

Fire safety: There are no fire extinguishers in the rooms, but there are fire breaks along the side of the fence, a fire tank is always ready and they have fire sweepers.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: There is a laundry service if you are staying for a few days – for which there is an extra charge.

Money: There is a safe in every chalet. No currency exchange facilities are available.

Accepted payment on location: Visa and Mastercard are accepted for card payments. Cash payments may be made in South African rand and Namibian dollars.

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