Spoiled in Namibia

Posted on 15 April 2024

Head to Namibia and you could go camping, get eaten by mozzies, and choke back baked beans over a Cadac. But haven’t we earned a bit of pampering? Book one of these top spots for ultimate memories and endless brownie points.

Words and photos by Peter Frost

Platbakkies Guest Farm


Actually, a Namibian desert pamper begins in South Africa. Up the N7 from Cape Town, the draw of Namaqualand is strong, and a diversion to Platbakkies Guest Farm is a very good idea. The farm stay on the Namaqualand/Bushmanland border is run by Dawie and Lizelle Burden and comprises an entire farmhouse (once the home of Dawie’s parents) so privacy is guaranteed. The tranquillity of Bushmanland, the design and attention to detail in the guesthouse, the warmth of welcome. And it’s cool, literally – Platbakkies is at 1060 metres, so it doesn’t get ridiculously hot. In fact, the cooling Namaqua ‘air-con’ blowing from the West Coast makes it very pleasant. It’s the perfect start to a Namibian trip.

  • Rates: R1 000 p n (single room)
  • Location: Platbakkies, South Africa
  • Website: platbakkies.co.za
  • Contact: +27 828087083

Fish River Lodge


Driving to the Fish River Lodge, on the Western edge of the famous canyon is to leave Earth and explore another planet. Fantastic, but nothing as spectacular as the lodge itself.

Read: Edge of Heaven

Operated by Journeys Namibia, it comprises 19 chalets literally hanging off the edge of the canyon rim. Over on the eastern edge, the popular Gondwana properties are far back from the rim – this is the only property where guests can fall asleep in chic, contemporary chalets and wake up to unforgettable vistas at the foot of their bed. North and south of the lodge are trails that follow the canyon edge, meaning every walk offers up stunning outlooks. It’s also possible to do the trails by mountain bike or book an excursion down onto the canyon floor by safari vehicle.

  • Rates: R4 388 p n (single room at high season)
  • Location: Fish River Lodge, Seeheim, Namibia
  • Website: fishriverlodge-namibia.com
  • Contact: +264 61 228 104

Alte Villa, Lüderitz

Lüderitz, on the cold Atlantic coast, is an odd little town, famed for Kolmanskop on its outskirts, the abandoned mining town that once drew thousands of diamond prospectors. Lüderitz’s ‘gründerzeit’ architecture, German colonial edifices that were meant to trumpet the owners’ wealth and importance in the same diamond rush, make for a delightfully quirky coastal enclave, buildings such as Krabbenhöft & Lampe, the Felsenkirche and Hans Goerke’s nouveau riche diamond palace seemingly at odds with the remote location. Like most of the diamond palaces in town, the sophisticated Alte Villa guesthouse was built to lend its 1909 diamond rush owners a certain cache – in this case, merchants from Hamburg. It’s been beautifully restored and extended (the loft suite especially, with its unique views over Robert Harbour) and the antiques are spot on for the period. Best of all is the biggest bathroom this side of the Kavango, though the bath may be a luxury too far; surrounded by sea, Lüderitz has no potable water of its own.

  • Rates: R1 384 p n (single room)
  • Location: Klippen, Luderitz, Namibia
  • Website: altevilla.na
  • Contact: +264 811 29 5259

Little Kulala, Sossusvlei


The dunes of Sossusvlei at sunrise are one of life’s must-dos. Head through early and climb Big Daddy, one of the world’s highest dunes before it gets too hot, or just wander across Deadvlei, marvelling at the ancient, rock-hard clay patterns and famous dead trees.

Little Kulala, Wilderness’ exclusive Sesriem property, is on Sossusvlei’s doorstep, part retreat, part gateway to the dunes. Renovated just before Covid, it’s contemporary but cosy, and well integrated into the landscape. Huge, spacious chalets set apart from each other offer views across the empty plains of the lodge’s reserve and there’s an excellent spa to boot. Tour the reserve by safari vehicle, electric bike, or on foot (day and night), or take a hot-air balloon early one morning. But really the lodge’s point of difference is its staff, experts on the area’s history, geography, and culture. The privilege of having your own walking encyclopedia can’t be overstated – learn all about the deepest recesses of a sociable weaver nest, the geomorphology of the elephant skin boulders, and how the shepherd tree beats the drought.

The Strand Hotel, Swakopmund

Swakopmund, or Swakop as it’s fondly called by everyone, is a delightful higgledy-piggledy disarrangement of architectural styles, antiquey junk shops, promenades, hidden courtyards, excellent restaurants, and the cold Atlantic, which lends it a curiously European flavour. Much of the time the chilly onshore affords the town a temperate, if not downright chilly ambiance. It’s popular with the Second-Life Refugees, German émigrés in colourful headscarves tanning themselves paper bag brown on the town’s central beach.

Anchoring the entire town is The Strand Hotel, prominent on the Swakopmund mole, a promontory in the bay. It’s something of an institution, the obvious choice for well-heeled travellers. And yet it’s a pleasant surprise, suffering from neither the anonymity nor complacency that bedevils so many corporate hotels. It’s a solidly excellent proposition, the design and decor first-rate, quality materials used creatively. Suites all have excellent views of the town or ocean and there are a good many 5-star hotels that could learn from its breakfast space and offering.

  • Rates: R5 850 p n (standard room)
  • Location: Molen Weg, Swakopmund, Namibia
  • Website: strandhotelswakopmund.com
  • Contact: +264 64 411 4000

The Stampriet Historical Guesthouse


The stretch to the South African border down the main B1 bisects both Mariental and Grünau. Mariental’s star turn is the indefatigable Padlangs Padstal, a place of music, alpacas, killer koeksisters, and a petting zoo. It’s also close to the Stampriet Historical Guesthouse. Most people stay over at Gondwana’s very good Canyon Lodge, but Stampriet has its own charms. The guesthouse has huge apiesdoring trees, G&Ts on the even bigger veranda, and a very good, double-volume restaurant. Lamb chops with everything. The rooms themselves are fairly simple motel-style units, strung out behind the old homestead, nestling in the fabulous gardens. Each has a stoep, ideal for private sundowners. Family and single units are available.

Note: Rates may be subject to change. Please visit the respective accommodation’s site for detials

ALSO READ: Edge of Heaven

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