Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge: Our full report
The unusual Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge stands in its own private game reserve some 70km north of Mariental.A very convenient stopover between Windhoek and the Fish River Canyon, it's made up of attractive individual houses set around a dry lake and surrounded by the classic vegetated dunes of the Namibian Kalahari Desert.
NB In 2021 there were extensive floods in the Kalahari region which inundated Kalahari Red Dune Lodge. As such the property is closed until June 2023 for refurbishment and upgrades. Speak to the team for more information and alternative options.
We have always experienced very friendly staff and a homely, unforced management style at Kalahari Red Dunes and you are likely to feel this straight away upon reaching the lodge, having weaved your way through the shrubland from the main B1 road.
Named after various species of wildlife, the 12 houses remind us traditional rondavels with their circular shape and heavy thatched roofs. They are well spaced for privacy, and screens and gates made from wooden batons and gum poles add to the traditional and rustic feel, although the path that links them does run quite close to the back of some of the houses.
In front of each house, looking towards the dry lake, is a semi-circular outside sofa, adorned with bright cushions, and a table and chairs. On our last visit in April 2018, the lodge was supplementing the diet of the local wildlife and we saw plenty of eland, zebra and wildebeest taking advantage of the additional fodder.
Inside, each room feels spacious though the feel is warm and homely rather than modern or luxurious. Animal skins are laid on the floor and dark-wood tables, dressers and wardrobes dominate the room, along with a large bed beneath a mosquito net. Tea- and coffee-making facilities are included, as is a minibar (which is payable), but perhaps at odds with the terracotta walls and the heavy furniture is a modern steel woodburner – though we wouldn’t be complaining on winter nights when temperatures can really drop!
At the back of the room, we really liked the colourful bowl, which constitutes the bathroom sink, set on a large slab of rock and fed by taps made from copper pipes. There is an inside and outside shower and another small room houses the toilet. One of the houses, designated the “honeymoon suite", also has a small private pool, and two inter-leading houses can be used for families or couples travelling together.
Stone paths that continue onto raised wooden walkways lead to the thatched main area, where you’re met by a big circular bar made from stone and corrugated metal encompassing an old tree. Arranged around this are comfortable sofas, perfect for tucking yourself away with a book or to make the most of the WiFi. A small curio shop fills another corner and a stylish fireplace provides warmth on cold winter mornings and evenings. The restaurant sprawls from the end of building to an ample terrace, so you can eat outside if you want to. At the very end is a good-sized swimming pool, offering a much-needed refreshing dip in the middle of a hot day.
Activities from Kalahari Red Dunes, to explore the Kalahari environment around the lodge, include hiking, mountain-bike hire and even jogging trials for the very energetic! Guided and self-guided hikes vary from a few hours to a two-day guided trail (which must be pre-booked). This involves an early start (so you need to spend the first night at the lodge) for a full day of walking, followed by an overnight stay at a two-room bushcamp and a shorter walk back to lodge the next day. Having seen these walking camps, we'd expect this to be a fantastic experience for keen walkers – even if we haven't yet had the time to try the whole walk ourselves.
Less energetic are 4WD game drives and sundowner drives although with only two guides and vehicles we’ve found that the vehicles can get quite crowded. On the plus side, we saw a decent variety of wildlife on our most recent drive, especially considering that this is such a dry environment, the highlights being bat-eared foxes and a cape cobra.
Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge is a comfortable and well-designed lodge, with friendly staff and lovely views. We think it makes a good stop-off to break the journey on the way to Fish River Canyon, but do be aware that quite a large number of people have to fit into the vehicles for activities.
Country manager: Namibia
- Southern Namibia, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- 1-2 nights
- Kalahari Red Dunes is just east of the main B1, about 197km south of Windhoek, and 70km north of Mariental.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Half Board
- Food quality
- Over various visits, most recently in April 2018, the food at Kalahari Red Dunes has been generally really good.
Following a good breakfast buffet of cereals, breads, meat and cheeses, you can request a hot breakfast cooked to order.
For lunch there is a choice of light bites and dishes ranging from sandwiches to burgers and pasta.
We really enjoyed our five-course set dinner on our last visit, After an amuse-bouche of a deep-fried prawn tails served with a slice of lemon, the starter was a mixed vegetable soup served with fresh bread, followed by a palate cleanser of guava granite. The choice for the main course was beef steak with a mushroom sauce or slow-roasted pork neck with a curry sauce, both served with sweetcorn, potato wedges and broccoli. Dessert was a baked coconut pudding drizzled with natural yoghurt.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Drinks included
- No drinks are included. Water from the taps is not suitable for drinking but drinking water is supplied.
- Perhaps the best way to explore and understand an environment is on foot. Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge offers a range of walking experiences in the Namibian wilderness, from short self-guided trails to the guided, overnight “Trans-Kalahari” trail.
- See ideas for Walking
- Attitude towards children
- The lodge welcomes children.
- Property’s age restrictions
- No age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- They can put extra beds in the rooms for children.
- Generally recommended for children
- There is not a lot to entertain children at Kalahari Red Dunes, although for those with an interest in the natural world there is plenty of space and areas to explore. It also has quite an adult feel so would probably suit older children rather than little ones.
- Parental supervision would be essential at all times. There are walkways connecting the rooms with the main area, and the lodge is also completely open with quite a lot of wildlife wandering around.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Kalahari Red Dunes
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge 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
- Back-up generator
- There is WiFi in the main areas.
- TV & radio
- There is no TV.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- All rooms have plumbed-in showers and hand basins, and flushing toilets.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- Closest doctor in Mariental, about 70km drive
- Dangerous animals
- Moderate Risk
- Security measures
- There is a security guard patrolling at night.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers in each room and in the central areas.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is available, at an extra cost, for those guests staying two nights or more.
- Every house has a safe, but no currency exchange facilities are available.
- Accepted payment on location
Other lodges in Southern Namibia
Alternative places to stay in this same area.