Eningu Clayhouse: Our full report
The distinctive Eningu Clayhouse Lodge stands in a bush savannah environment of the Namibian Kalahari.A little over an hour's drive south-east of Windhoek's international airport, the 65-hectare farm is owner-run by Bettina Spoerndli, its handmade terracotta-coloured bricks blending in to the surrounding red sands.
The terracotta and red theme runs throughout the nine rooms at Eningu, most of them set up in pairs in low buildings topped by heavy thatched roofs. Some share a thatched porch, set with a wooden table and chairs, and often adorned with a sculpture or two – befitting a lodge that was founded by two artists. Don’t miss the red floor inside, too, where you'll discover hand-painted porcupines.
The rooms themselves are spacious if fairly sparsely furnished, their moulded-stone bed frames and seating topped by cushions and coloured fabrics. Twin mattresses sit on the large bases, enveloped by a mosquito net, and a built-in bench could double as a bed for a small child. A ceiling fan comes into its own in summer, and an electric wall heater for chilly winter nights.
In each en-suite bathroom, with a hot shower, washbasin and flushing toilet, maroon tiles continue the theme of the Kalahari sand that runs through the lodge and its surroundings. Quite a few fixtures and fittings feature old or recycled elements, like the pipes used in the towel rails, or the tin-can surround to the mirror. However, the most unusual piece of furniture is back in the bedroom: a small, triangular table suspended between three branches, connected rather like an extended tripod, and housing the tea/coffee-making facilities.
The ninth room at Eningu is a stand-alone family room sleeping up to five people: two adults and three children. As well as being larger than the other rooms, it is much more private, with its own sitting room and even a little garden area with hammocks.
Guests at Eningu Clayhouse have a choice of lounge and dining areas. The main building, hung with paintings, incorporates a small lounge with an adjacent library area, and an intimate restaurant, where a wine-rack supported by a triangle of natural branches is used as a bar. In the winter months, a crackling fire is lit to stave off the cold.
Stairs lead to an open-air rooftop terrace, a popular spot for sundowners, although the surrounding trees significantly obscure the view. Outside,you’ll find a shaded "stoep" or veranda, its walls covered with an artistic collection of photographs of people.
During the summer, you can dine in the partially sunken thatched "lapa". This has open sides, and is built around the rocks, which help to keep it nice and cool during the day. More stairs lead down to the climate-controlled underground cellar, which houses a good selection of wines, mostly from South Africa.
The lodge has a small bird "hide" and a waterhole, where kitchen scraps are left out to attract the local porcupines. Eningu places a strong emphasis on the environment, with much of the other waste, including water, also recycled.
Eningu is well suited to families, with activities such as archery, volleyball and badminton on site. There is a large, sparkling swimming pool too, and a small hot tub connected to the main pool which, when we last visited in April 2018, we were told is turned on in the winter time. Inside there are books and board games, and a few pairs of binoculars for guests to use.
Away from the lodge, you can explore marked hiking trails on your own, or with a guide from the lodge. Among these is their botanical hiking trail, which leads through different zones of vegetation – each marked by an explanatory information board – and makes a good day out with a lovely picnic lunch.
A must for those interested in art is a visit to the sculptor Dörte Berner, whose home is about a 15-minute drive away. Bettina can arrange for a private tour of her exhibition, which is well worth it. If you stay for a few days then visits to local craftspeople and a nature drive around Eningu's own slice of the Kalahari are also possible, as well as a tour of a nearby farm.
Eningu Clayhouse is one of Namibia's more unusual and arty lodges, and Bettina's warm hospitality and the total silence of the Kalahari that surrounds you are just fantastic. We like the rustic but comfortable atmosphere and the beautiful hand-painted touches in the rooms. Although it’s often used as a first or last night on a self-drive safari around Namibia, we think that it's certainly worth two nights if you have the time.
However, don't come expecting big game on the drives (if you're lucky you'll see kudu and steenbok!), or any real schedule of activities. Think of Eningu as a place to relax and unwind.
Country manager: Namibia
- Southern Namibia, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- Eningu can be used for a one-night stop, at the end or beginning of your trip, but two nights is a better length of time to spend here.
- Eningu Clayhouse is about 70km south of Windhoek International Airport, or 110km from the centre of Windhoek
- Accessible by
- Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Half Board
- Food quality
- Although we did not get a chance to eat at the lodge on our last visit in April 2018, the food at Eningu has been consistently delicious on our previous stays.
For breakfast we have in the past been served fresh fruit, coffee/tea, cereal, yoghurt, various meats and cheeses and fresh homemade bread. Eggs and bacon were available on request.
The lunch menu included a selection of salads, from which we particularly recommend the tasty smoked meat and horseradish salad.
Homemade cake is served with teas and coffee in the afternoon.
Dinner is a set three-course meal served from 7.00pm. In May 2016 we started with deep-fried couscous and salad, followed by oryx stroganoff, and rounded off by apple puff pastry.
- Attitude towards children
- Children with their parents are welcome at Eningu Lodge.
- Property’s age restrictions
- There is no age restriction
- Special activities & services
- No special activities and services as such for children but the lodge has badminton, archery, a swimming pool, and walking trails that children can enjoy, of course under adult supervision.
- Baby cots are available on request.
- Generally recommended for children
- Children must be under parental supervision at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Eningu Clayhouse
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Eningu Clayhouse 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
- The lodge uses a combination of solar and mains power.
- There is good cellphone reception at and around the main building of the lodge, and free WiFi in the main area.
- TV & radio
- Eningu Lodge does not have TVs or radios.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The bathrooms have flush toilets, and hot and cold running water.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There is a first-aid box at the lodge for minor complaints. The closest doctor or hospital is in Windhoek.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- There are no security guards at Eningu Lodge.
- Fire safety
- There is a fire extinguisher in every room.
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- There is a laundry service available, at an extra cost.
- Currency exchange is not possible at Eningu Lodge. There are no safe deposit boxes in the rooms, but valuables can be stored in the office.
- Accepted payment on location
- Eningu Clayhouse Lodge accepts Visa and Mastercard, as well as cash payments in South African rand and Namibian dollars.
Other lodges in Southern Namibia
Alternative places to stay in this same area.