Kanaan Desert Retreat

Kanaan Desert Retreat: Our full report

Rooms
8 tents
Traveller's rating
Good (90%) From 2 reviews
Children
Best for 12+
Open
All year

Deep in the Namib Desert, and bordering the Namib-Naukluft National Park, Kanaan Desert Retreat sits on a 300km2 private reserve. From the guest perspective, the emphasis is on luxury in the desert – but that is firmly linked to the lodge’s conservation and research work into the mitigation of human–wildlife conflict.

The drive to Kanaan is an experience in itself. Variously dubbed the “Dream Road” and “the most scenic road in Namibia”, the D707 access road does without doubt offer exceptionally beautiful scenery, and it’s well worth lingering over the 45km stretch that leads to the lodge.

Kanaan Desert Retreat itself is no less impressive and – befitting the organisation behind the lodge, which aims to conserve the “land, wildlife and cultures of Namibia” – it blends well into the surrounding landscape.

Built on the slopes of one of the low rocky hills that are a feature of this stark environment, its eight traditional safari tents are spread out in a shallow semicircle, following a contour of the hill and facing roughly west towards the setting sun. Stilts at the front level the tents against the gradient, thus allowing a good view of the surrounding desert from the table and chairs on each of the small decks. Our only slight criticism is that the canvas walls allow sound to carry quite easily between the tents.

Inside, the décor and furnishing are quite simple: double or twin beds surrounded by mosquito nets; a couple of wooden benches; a desk and chair; and a wardrobe with a nice tree outline that adds some character to the room. There is no air conditioning, but a fan helps to cool the tents, and you’ll also find tea- and coffee-making facilities. In the en-suite bathroom are a flushing toilet, shower and washbasin.

At the top of the hill, above the tents, the main area is also stilted, giving a high vantage point from the deck that runs around the front of the building. For days when it is too cold or too windy to eat on the deck, tables are set up indoors. We really liked the décor and the thought that had gone into this compact but functional area when we stayed in April 2018. Black-and-white photos adorn the walls, a telescope faces the seemingly endless desert scenery and a large light-feature in the centre of the room reminded us of the round nests of the southern masked weaver. We found the service to be relaxed but always helpful and on hand when needed. Grab a drink from the bar and take a seat on one of the comfortable sofas to peruse a book or the fact file on the ongoing research taking place on the reserve.

On the other side of the hill to the tents, there is a small office and curio shop – the only place at Kanaan where WiFi is available. The lodge is active in the conservation and research of the surrounding landscape and its inhabitants, and this is also the coordinating point for volunteers based elsewhere on the reserve.

Activities include sunset or sunrise drives, a longer scenic dune drive, walking trails and horseriding. (Note that the number of horses is limited, so it’s worth asking about this in advance.) The lodge is also home to two rescued cheetah which cannot be released back into the wild; they are housed in a large enclosure and are fed every afternoon, allowing for great photo opportunities. Experiencing the magical morning light glinting off the pristine dunes on our sunrise drive was very special, and when we’d tired of trying to capture the spectacle through a camera lens we enjoyed coffee and rusks in the splendour of the reserve before heading back to the lodge.

Our view

Kanaan Desert Retreat is a lovely choice for anyone doing a trip around southern Namibia. Spend a night here to break up the journey between Lüderitz and the Sossusvlei region or – better – spend a couple of nights and soak up the beauty of this simple but memorable lodge and its little visited reserve.

Geographics

Location: Southern Namibia, Namibia

Ideal length of stay: 2 nights

Directions: Kanaan Desert Retreat borders the Namib-Naukluft National Park, around 70km due west of Helmeringhausen.

Accessible by: Self-drive

Key personnel

Owner: Naankuse

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Half Board

Food quality: When we last stayed in April 2018 we thoroughly enjoyed the hearty meals that we had at Kanaan.

For breakfast there was a delicious buffet selection of meats, cheeses, muffins, fruits and cereals, with cooked dishes available to order.

We did not get a chance to try the lunch menu but understand that it includes a light dishes such as sandwiches, salads and pasta.

For dinner we tucked into a chilled ginger and butternut soup, followed by a succulent oryx fillet with crispy parmesan potatoes, roasted carrots and feta cheese. Dessert was the Namibian favourite of Malva pudding, this one served with a delicious Amarula custard.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £5-10

Drinks included: The cost of drinks is not included and should be paid locally. Water in the room is not suitable for drinking but bottled water is available.

Further dining info: Room service is not possible.

Special interests

Riding holidays: To explore Namibia’s pristine deserts on horseback, look no further than Kanaan Desert Retreat. Bordering the Namib-Naukluft National Park, Kanaan has the same distinctive red sand as at Sossusvlei but with far fewer people, accentuating this wilderness location.

See more ideas for Riding holidays in Namibia

Children

Attitude towards children: Kanaan welcomes children

Property’s age restrictions: None

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: Camp beds can be added to rooms for children under 12 and cots are also available.

Notes: Strict supervision of children would be required because of the layout of the camp and the raised structure of the rooms.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Communications: WiFi is available in the small reception.

TV & radio: None

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: Each chalet has flush toilets, hot and cold running water.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: No

Medical care: The nearest hospitals are in Lüderitz and Mariental, but for anything serious you would need to be transferred to Windhoek or even Johannesburg.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: The lodge is remote, with no fences, and there are no guards.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the tents and in the main areas.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry is possible at an additional cost.

Money: No currency exchange facilities are available. There are safes in all the tents.

Accepted payment on location: Visa and Mastercard are accepted for card payments, with South African rand and Namibian dollars in cash.

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