Omaanda: Our full report
Opened in 2018, Omaanda is a luxury lodge on a private nature reserve north-east of Namibia's capital, Windhoek.It's the fourth property of the Zannier Hotels Group – a small, smart group with strong celebrity links, whose other boutique hotels are in France, Belgium and Cambodia. The emphasis is on a comfortable, unpretentious stay, with very high standards of hospitality, conveniently close to Namibia’s international airport.
The lodge is set on the 90km2 former Onderkaremba cattle ranch at the edge of the Kalahari, now renamed the Zannier Reserve by N/a’an ku sê. It was purchased through a collaboration between the Zannier family and the N/a’an ku sê foundation and is situated half an hour's drive from Windhoek International Airport. The aim of the reserve is to release animals that have been rehabilitated in the N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary into the wild habitat that the Zannier reserve can offer.
The lodge itself starts with a graceful, thatched and open-sided lounge, reception and dining area, leading out to the attractive deck area and heated swimming pool (an exceptional rarity in Namibia, where most pools are unheated and unfeasibly chilly between May and September). There’s plenty of comfy seating, open fireplaces and serene views to the southwest, where gaunt mountains rise in front of the flight path of the occasional plane from the airport – the only reminder for most guests of a link with home and days less relaxed than this.
On arrival you’ll be welcomed and briefed (the lodge is unfenced) and then escorted along one of Omaanda's raised wooden walkways to your 'hut’. They should really find a more stylish word to describe the guest accommodation here, but it is in keeping with Arnaud Zannier’s vision of a truly unpretentious hotel.
The 12 huts are built in a style that tries to echoes the traditional architecture of the Ovambo people. Outside, the walls are ochre with each hut crowned by thick, cooling thatch. Inside, the walls are white, on a swirling, heavily textured base that gives the interiors a mood that is both elegant and playful. Eight of the huts are designed for two guests sharing and configured with a large double or twin beds (as requested), while two further double rooms have king-size double beds and two others are linked as a family unit of two separate en-suite rooms between which is a well-furnished lounge.
Furnishings and equipment include a writing desk and a comfortable armchair; a large TV with bluetooth connectivity (play your own tunes); fast and reliable Wi-Fi (particularly impressive here); European-fit 220v sockets and USB charging points; a tea and coffee set and Nespresso coffee machine; a well-stocked fridge; and snacks and a chopping board.
Behind the bedroom area, there’s a spacious, walk-in dressing and clothes storage area, complete with a digital safe in one of the drawers.
Each hut has a large, stylish bathroom with a walk-in shower with clever swing doors that activate the lighting, double basins, a bathtub, bath robes, high-quality toiletries and a beautifully presented vanity set. A fireplace, set with firewood (they’ll ask you if you want it to be lit), opens onto both the bathroom and the living room side, allowing you to enjoy a fire while having a soak – a nice prospect on a cold Kalahari night. For the hotter months, each hut is air-conditioned.
At the front of each hut, a shaded terrace with comfortable, squishy seating looks out across the dam (on a previous visit we sat and watched wild dogs playing at the water’s edge) and in the distance to the brown heights of the Khomas Hochland plateau.
A portfolio of wildlife activities is available on Omaanda’s Zannier Reserve, from Rhino Tracking to Cheetah Tracking on Foot. On our visit in May 2019 a highlight was the Meerkat Manners experience. We set off at dawn to see the meerkats emerge from the den and start foraging. Despite being distracted by a lion sighting en route and the meerkat's skittish nature we found two of the reserves families are slowly becoming habituated and with a little patience we got some great photos. Among the mammals released on the Zannier Reserve are white rhinos, two young bull elephants and lion relocated from the Skeleton Coast - although big cat sightings, including lion, leopard and cheetah, are rare.
During the course of any drive or walk, you’re likely to see plenty of the reserve’s original inhabitants - plains zebras, giraffes, kudu, eland, waterbuck, oryx and baboons with the headline species present but sometimes elusive. On our early visits to Omaanda we felt that they were promoting wildlife activities that couldn't easily be experienced and were rather concerned that the two orphaned elephant bulls released in 2017 at the ages of 5 and 7, might become problematic. Although seldom seen, regular sightings of elephant dung show they are managing on their own in the bush, they are much too young to be living in the wild outside the company of mature elephants and are likely to cause trouble in the future. This said, on our last visit we felt that things were much improved and that as the wildlife become more used to their surrounding and people we hope that the reserve will continue to improve, although we are still a little concerned about the elephants.
Most travellers staying at Omaanda, will spend a lot of time with a book or tablet by the pool and there’s a handy, self-service pool bar nearby. If you want further pampering, a small spa offers massages and treatments at extra cost, aided by aromatic oils and ground herbs.
As you’d expect, Omaanda has a small shop selling bags, fashion items, local crafts (all extraordinarily expensive) and nice souvenir crockery from the Zannier group collection.
We can't help but think that Omaanda's combination of luxury, hospitality and convenience will combine superbly with its sister property Sonop nestles deep within the Namib Desert.
On our stays here we have been consistently impressed by the warmth of the welcome, the outstanding food and the sheer attention to detail in every aspect of our stay. On both occasions we stayed at the end of a two-week trip through Namibia and we'd recommend you do the same, saving this gem of a lodge as a final treat before your return flight. While Omaanda offers some wildlife activities, they can't yet match the experience of a game drive in Damaraland or Etosha. This is primarily a place to relax and restore.
Country manager: Namibia
- Windhoek, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- Two or three nights at the end of longer trip would be ideal
- Omaanda is about 40km northeast of Windhoek. Access to the nearest airports is:
Windhoek Hosea Kutako Airport (international and domestic flights, 30–40min), or
Windhoek Eros Airport (domestic flights, 45min–60min).
- Accessible by
- Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- Omaanda offers a varied and creative cuisine designed and prepared by the talented food and beverage manager (one half of the management team) Annelie Maes and her enthusiastic team. Annelie's watchword is seasonality, which in Namibia requires real versatility and confidence. With sufficient notice any dietary needs can be catered for.
Breakfast is à la carte and features several stand-out savoury dishes every morning (for example poached eggs, avocado and spinach, or English muffin with spinach, salmon or bacon, or poached eggs and hollandaise) or the option of pancakes with banana, pecan nuts, honey and whipped cream, as as well as the usual items you would always expect – bacon, eggs in your chosen style, sausages, waffles, etc.
Lunch is a light, meze-style board on our visit in May 2019 this consisted of a selection of fresh breads, grilled prawns, breaded pork, falafel, baba ganoush and other feshly prepared dips.
By contrast dinner is a three-course plated meal. We relished our visits to the dining area during our stay in 2018 as Omaanda's kitchen produces some of the very best dishes we have ever had the good fortune to taste while travelling in Africa. The accompanying wines were very good, too.
When we stayed, our dinner started with a green bean and calamari entrée. Then there was a choice of springbok filet with pepper, or grilled seabass, or butternut squash stuffed with quinoa. Sautéed spinach and roast sweet potatoes were served on the side. This was followed up with a fresh take on the South African classic, Malva Pudding. Similarly inventive and (we would guess equally delicious) menus are served on a six-day rotation.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Room service isn't offered
- Drinks included
- All local soft and alcoholic Namibian drinks are included.
- Omaanda is located on a private reserve but wildlife isn’t the sole focus here. The lodge has an on-site spa and a stunning pool, and the food is some of the best we’ve ever had on safari. Where better to start or end a Namibian honeymoon?
- See ideas for Honeymoons
- A picturesque infinity pool and a spa offering treatments aided by aromatherapy oils make Omaanda the perfect place to relax and unwind at the beginning or end of your Namibian adventure.
- See ideas for Wellbeing
- Omanda's warm hospitality, excellent food and extra touches such as the heated swimming pool or spa treatments make it one of the most easily accessible and most rewarding places to paper yourself with some luxury on your Namibian safari.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- Omaanda welcomes children aged six years and older. The outdoor pool is 1.8m (6ft) deep.
- Property’s age restrictions
- No under-6s are accepted and some activities are not suitable for under-16s.
- Special activities & services
- Generally recommended for children
- Omaanda is an adult focused lodge and given the restrictions on the age of children on some activates we would recommend it to families with children aged 12+
- As the camp is unfenced and there are potentially dangerous animals on the reserve we would recommend that any children are kept under adult supervision at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Omaanda
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Omaanda 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
- Omaanda operates 30% on mains with NamPower and 70% using a hybrid solar system.
- Wi-Fi is available throughout the lodge.
- TV & radio
- There's a large bluetooth TV in every hut, allowing you to play your own music from your phone or tablet.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The fridge in each hut is stocked with bottled water
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There are many doctors and hospitals in Windhoek, approx. 35mins' drive away.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- There are teams of anti-poaching units patrolling the reserve, which is surrounded by an electrical fence.
- Fire safety
- Fire hose reels are located outside next to every hut.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Included in the room rate is the cost of laundering three pieces of laundry per person per day. Any items on top of this or for express service will be an extra charge.
- A digital safe is provided in each hut.
- Accepted payment on location
- MasterCard and Visa are accepted methods of card payment. South African Rand, Namibian Dollars, Euros and US Dollars are all accepted methods of cash payment.
Other lodges in Windhoek
Alternative places to stay in this same area.