Namibia is a vast country with diverse landscapes, from red sandy deserts in the south to huge trees and small hamlets in the Zambezi region. The size of the country means that travellers must drive long distances between destinations, often on challenging roads. But this also means that when you arrive at your lodge, you’ll be treated to splendid isolation from the noise, stress and distractions of home. This is why Namibia is popular with couples seeking a romantic getaway.
The best lodges for couples offer more than just a double bed: they also have intimate surroundings, and a location that stimulates all the senses — sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Here is a selection of lodges that meet these criteria and are perfect for couples seeking a bit of romance.
Southern Namibia, Around Fish River Canyon
Canyon Lodge: You can stay on both sides of the breathtaking Fish River Canyon, although the western side allows for a closer view of the canyon. On the eastern side, opt for Canyon Lodge. A combination of silence, granite rock and peacefulness is what I loved about this lodge. The thatch-roof chalets, built from stone are dotted amongst heaps of huge round boulders. West-facing chalets have breath-taking views when the setting sun turns rocks into shades of pink, orange and red. Showers are set in natural rock and beds look out onto the surrounding landscape. There is a large pool, horses for riding and absolute silence. Food is simple, hearty and well-prepared and served in buffet format. Game dishes and salads are the chef’s speciality. Free sunset hikes to the top of a hill are included in the rate. Tips: Climb onto a boulder and just sit. Enjoy the silence. Ask for chalet 28
Fish River Lodge: On the western side of the canyon, choose Fish River Lodge. The ultra-modern stark main building is a paradox of styles. Angular and linear structures are softened by organic inventions – an ostrich shell chandelier or a half-moon shaped leather couch. The 10 rooms are square structures set on the edge, a sheer drop into the canyon. Painted in dark greys, the rooms have enormous bathrooms with two walk-in showers (inside and outdoor) and beds with a view into the canyon. Rooms have private terraces in front and a yoga platform which doubles as a summer bed when guests prefer to sleep under the stars. A pleasant combination of architecture and nature is pleasing to the eye as well as the primitive soul. Tips: Book a massage. Shower outside. Even in winter, this is a surprisingly good experience.
Moon Mountain Lodge: I arrived at night at Moon Mountain Lodge. It’s located on an incline so steep it can only be managed with a 4×4 vehicle. Then, you’re led to a lantern-lit reception area with ice cold refreshments. Unsure about your footing, you follow a torch to your room…Waking up to the view the next morning will leave you breathless. To the east, the sun rising over dark blue mountains and below grassy plains, rippling in the morning breeze. Moon Mountain Lodge has wooden and canvas tents built on stilts into the flanks of Moon Mountain. Clinging to the slopes, the rooms have huge beds with en-suite bathrooms, romantic mosquito nets and a small plunge pool at each room. Apart from excellent food (manager Alexa is a master chef) the lodge also offers hikes, day trips and sunset drives. Tip: Do a day-trip to Sossusvlei.
Damaraland in the mountainous north-west of Namibia is appreciated for unique rock formations, desert elephants and the hardy people living in this harsh environment. Around Twyfelfontein, there are a few exclusive options perfect for solitude and relaxation.
Camp Kipwe is a very unique lodge, with dome-like thatch-roof chalets blending in amongst the dome-like boulders. Natural elements are incorporated everywhere, from the wood-fire stoves to provide warm water to the rock-hewn showers covered with mopani branches. The stone-built honeymoon suite consists of two rooms with bedroom and a lounge area. The open bathroom is set in rocks with a view over the landscape from the bath. Tip: If the budget allows, choose the honeymoon suite.
Mowani is the sister camp of Kipwe, located a few kilometers away. Even more exclusive, its 10 rooms are set in thatch-roof canvas tents built on platforms. The open-plan rooms with huge beds spill out onto the wooden deck, perched on top of giant boulders overlooking a rock-strewn landscape below. The view is phenomenal and the service equally impressive. The lodge has a rock pool, small curio shop and offers nature drives, walks and day trips to see the desert elephants and Twyfelfontein area. Tip: Choose a west view room to enjoy the sunset or the mini-suite with its outside shower.
Further north lays Etendeka, an eco-lodge some two hours into the remote Grootberg Mountains. A tiny lodge with only 10 tents, it is only accessible with a high clearance 4×4 vehicle and offers a full-board retreat in a pristine wilderness area. You will sleep in a sturdy permanent tent on quality linen with a separate open-air solar-heated bucket shower. Home-cooked meals (lamb stew and fire-roasted whole chickens) are served at a communal table. Game drives and hikes into the mountain are led by a local guide and informal star gazing sessions are done on dark nights. Later on, you will fall asleep to the sound of zebras galloping and hyenas calling…Tip: Climb the small hill behind the lodge at sunset for private sundowners.
The Okavango and newly renamed Zambezi region (previously known as the Caprivi) is lush and green compared to the south of Namibia. Stretching along the Kavango River, the landscape is characterized by huge trees and small villages with subsistence farmers, cows and donkey carts. A few smaller national parks are located in this area and there are many options to explore the activities around (and on) the Kavango River.
Near Rundu, the best option is Hakusembe River Lodge, with chalets situated on the Kavango River. It has more of a resort feel than an intimate lodge, but room amenities and the riverside setting can make a romantic break from a long drive. Recently renovated, the new luxury rooms (triples) are excellent; good bathrooms, quality beds and quaint classy touches in interior decorating. A floating cabin is available for honeymooners. There is a pool, a deck overlooking the river and a variety of activities are offered: fishing, boat trips, game drives and bird watching. Tip: Watch the sunset from the deck.
Further along the “arm” of Namibia you will find Riverdance, a fully self-sustaining boutique lodge. Rooms are cocoons of wood and glass almost suspended in the huge trees above the Kavango River. Open showers and baths overlook the river and bedrooms open up onto wooden decks almost in the trees. A choice of pillows, bio-degradable toiletries and extra-length beds are thoughtful touches that enhance the welcome feeling. A most romantic hideaway, Riverdance can be a base to explore the Mahango National Park or the Pupa Falls. Tip: Spend at least a whole afternoon reading in the puffy chairs in the lounge.
Driving down into the “fist” of the Zambezi region, Nkasa Lupala is a small tented camp almost inside the Mamili National Park, now renamed to Nkasa Lupala National Park. The unfenced camp is set on an island amongst the crystal clear channels of the Kwando-Linyanti river system. Tents are built on wooden decks overlooking the channel and bush and have small verandas, good beds and a tiny bathroom. The more spacious honeymoon suite has an outside bath on a wooden deck and overlooks the bush below. The lodge offers night and game drives, walking and boat safaris and village tours. Tip: Ask for the honeymoon suite, same rate as a double tent.
To book a guided trip through Namibia, go to Elefant-Tours.com. The company also offers self-drive safaris and can arrange rental vehicles, lodges and excursions.