Huab Lodge

Monte Carlo, Damaraland, Namibia Book from N$4,020

The best of conversation and conservation at an award-winning lodge, with family-friendly bungalows, in the Huab Private Reserve
Jan Van de Reep is a leading light in Namibia's nascent conservation movement. He lived and worked in the Etosha Park for two decades before helping to create the 8,000 hectare Huab Nature Reserve. Three farms were linked, fences removed and game introduced, thus creating a buffer zone at the edge of Damaraland. And in doing so, its best known residents - the so-called 'desert' elephants - were given a big new slice of Lebensraum.

Jan and his wife Suzi and the lodge's friendly staff welcome you as part of their extended family to the high, thatch-and-pole lodge which remains their home nestled along the river bank. You eat with them at one table, are accompanied by them on game drives and get to learn a whole lot about Namibian wildlife and the threats that it faces. Hot springs rise just yards from the lodge, cool off in the swimming pool overlooking the Huab River. Experience the Huab Sound of Silence: nature undisturbed by artificial noise as here there's no TV, radio, mobile phone reception, nor white noise from refrigeration (these run on paraffin or gas). We felt privileged to stay at a place with an inclusive (rather than exclusive) ethos: if eco has become the buzzword amongst lodges, in this part of the world Huab remains the pioneer and the one whose ethical commitments run deepest.

Highs

  • The 'one table, one family' ethic means you get the chance to eat with your hosts and learn all about the creation of Huab and its goals
  • There's plenty of opportunity to relax between game viewing - you can soak away your aches beneath a star-filled sky in the hot springs or have a massge in one of the treatment rooms
  • There's a small pool - keep an eye out for passing wildlife as you laze on a lounger
  • Both the lodge and its large guest bungalows are homely and comfy, and family friendly
  • Huab's eco commitment runs deep (electricity comes from solar panels) and profits are ploughed back into conservation projects; Huab has won three flowers from the prestigious EcoAwards
  • The wonderfully friendly staff can't do enough for you

Lows

  • Jan and Suzi are amongst the country's top guides and are occasionally away leading tours; try and time your visit to coincide with them
  • Be prepared to share all meals with Huab's resident staff as well as with your fellow guests; a big plus for us
  • Bear in mind you'll have 32kms of (increasingly scenic) dirt track to negotiate en route to the lodge, which although easy to drive on with a 2WD means the journey will take longer

Best time to go

The peak season at Huab is from July through to mid November when game viewing at the Reserve, as well as in other parts of the country like Etosha, offers the richest rewards. Christmas and New Year are also popular with guests as well as the period coinciding with the Easter break in Europe.

From December through to mid February be prepared for high temperatures (mid 30C+), whilst the rainy season generally lasts from January through to the end of March. Access can be more difficult at this time of year and we were obliged to wade across the river to reach the lodge (although this was after a winter of exceptionally high rainfall).

Our top tips

Jan and Suzi are the heart and soul of this place and a visit to Huab would never be quite the same without the chance to meet them. So check at the time of booking that they aren't going to be away.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Safari Lodge
  • 8
  • Communal dining
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Board games
Room:

Rooms

Guests stay in one of 8 stone and thatch bungalows, which stretch out to the west along the banks of the Huab river (expect it to be dry unless you are here between February and March). The sinuous form of their thatched roofs and the use of natural stone has ensured the buildings feel in synch with their natural setting, a sensation enhanced by their glass frontages that bring the beauty of the surrounding mopane savannah in to meet you.

The decorative style echoes that of the main lodge: chunky pole furniture of Rhodesian teak, bold earthy-coloured patterns on bedspreads and curtains, vibrant colours inspired by nature's bounty, polished stone floors and stacks of objets like Herero dolls, watercolours and chunky lamps, as well as collections of river pebbles. The vibe is both homespun and homely and each bungalow has space aplenty for twin queensize beds, a writing table and a pair of planter-style chairs. All have a big sweep of private river-facing terrace where you'll find wooden chairs and a table.

There are ceiling fans to cool you, nets to protect you from mosquitos and for romance (this is a malaria-free zone), handy luggage racks and plenty of hanging space in the fitted wardrobes. And on return to your bungalow you'll find a thermos of boiling water next to your tea- and coffee-making gear.

Bathrooms feel a whole lot less 'bush' and their floor-to-ceiling white ceramic tiling imparts a rather clinical look. But you do benefit from twin sinks, loads of surface space and invigorating water pressure in your gas-heated shower which has valley views. Expect plenty of terracotta-coloured towels, bathrobes, a hairdryer and a full range of soaps, gels and shampoos as well as a bag for your laundry.

In addition to the 8 bungalows there's a Hide for honeymooners further up the hill. Built on 3 different levels, it has masses of additional living space and the added elevation means you're treated to a panoramic view out over the surrounding mopane woodlands and ephemeral river bed.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee tea making
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Mosquito net
  • Plunge pool
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Huab's single dining table - which comfortably seats up to 22 - is what defines the character of life at the lodge. Your hosts make it their business to get to know each of their guest's names and to introduce everyone. Listening to their tales of the creation of the Nature Reserve gives a fascinating insight into the country and its wildlife management.

All dining is buffet style and begins with a big, hearty breakfast spread at 8am (by which time you may already have been out on a nature walk). Guests are treated to 4 types of homemade bread and muffins in addition to fresh fruit salad, freshly squeezed orange juice, cereals, porridge, cold meats and cheeses, a choice of yoghurts, some kind of salad like sliced avocados and tomatoes, and eggs and bacon to order.

Light and delicious lunches also tend to be eaten at the lodge. Expect plenty of salad accompanied by pasta, chicken or fish and a homemade dessert. Lunchpacks can also be arranged for the day of departure. A tea and filter coffee bar is permanently set up with a biscuit selection if you're feeling peckish at any point.

Dinners, which normally kick off with drinks round the bar, follow a similar formula, though once the candles are lit along the table, the mood feels more celebratory. Your hosts introduce the excellent wines for the evening which, along with soft drinks and beer, are included in the room rate. There is a white, a rosé and a red from lesser well-known estates in South Africa which are ceremoniously presented in Huab tradition and served à volonté. After hors d'oeuvres have been served, the cook is introduced and runs through what's on offer that evening in the local Damara-Nama language, with its four different click sounds. This is translated by a waitress into whatever languages are spoken at the table as far as possible.

Help yourself to your main course. You'll be offered a choice between some kind of game meat like oryx, kudu or zebra or best Namibian steak or lamb, or a homemade oxtail or a delicious stew, and a white meat dish which might be pork or chicken, or fish. This is accompanied by a choice of 3 different types of veg, a salad, and rice or potatoes.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Communal dining
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Travel by 4x4 along dry river beds to the heart of the stunning Huab Reserve in search of desert elephants
  • Take a nature walk straight out from the lodge to Canon Hill for spectacular sunrises and sunsets and hike as long as you like
  • Soak in the hot springs which well up yards from the lodge, then treat yourself to a massage or reflexology session by Haub's resident spa therapists in the BushSpa
  • Relax by the hot pool under the thatch roof and listen to the birds, or stargaze at night while lying in pH-neutral hot mineral water
  • Start your day with 'Huab Morning Greeting' yoga or QiGong class overlooking the Huab River valley
  • Bird watch at a hide looking over the birdbath: there are over 200 species to be found in the Reserve, including 9 which are endemic. The African Hawk Eagle may nest within view of the lodge and can be observed through the scope
  • Relax at the homely main lodge, where you'll find masses of comfy sofas and chairs, piles of books and magazines, some games, an honesty bar and a curio shop with a great selection of books and safari gear
  • Head out with your guide to see the ancient rock paintings on the reserve

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga

Kids

Children are welcome at Huab (no liability is accepted for them) and the absence of malaria and big cats in the forest surrounding the lodge means you'd feel relaxed about bringing younger members of your family here. With such a wealth of inspiring wildlife around you, not to mention distinguished and entertaining guides, outdoors-loving children will be captivated.

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

All 8 bungalows have 2 queen sized beds and space for an extra bed or cot (bring a travel cot if needed), so you can sleep up to 5, depending on whether 2 children will be happy to share a double bed. All have a shower, not bath.

Babysitting:

Free babysitting is available on request.

Baby equipment:

  • Night light
  • Bottle warming

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

All meals can be tailored to children's tastes. There's a special kids menu and half portions of adult mains are available; you can also eat out nearby or ask for an early tea when necessary. Meals are normally taken together around a communal table.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pool
  • Toys and books

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Guided walks
  • Guided nature drives
  • Hot springs
  • Bird watching
  • Visits to ancient rock paintings

Families Should Know:

There are no shops nearby. There are unprotected drops and an unfenced pool.

Distances:

  • Airport: 545 km
  • Doctor: 2 hours
Kid Friendly:

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