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“A hidden gem: a rare combination of Namibian wildlife and San culture, in comfortable surroundings and a wild setting.”

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N/a'an ku se Lodge and Wildlife Sanctuary
Certificate of Excellence
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
34 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 77 helpful votes
“A hidden gem: a rare combination of Namibian wildlife and San culture, in comfortable surroundings and a wild setting.”
Reviewed 21 December 2013

Naankuse is a hidden gem, in my estimation. It’s easy to overlook because it’s close to the airport — just a 30-minute drive over dirt roads — and yet it has as much to offer as many of the bigger, more flashy, exclusive, heavily promoted guest farm/conservancies up north.
I stayed for five days over four nights in mid December. I noticed that many visitors just stay the one night — to or from the airport — and there are a fair number of day visitors from the capital Windhoek, to look at the captive orphan cats and perhaps see some of the surroundings, which is a shame: One night is clearly not enough to appreciate what Naankuse has, and a quick day visit seems almost like a waste of time.
First, off: The accommodations. Naankuse is small, half a dozen or so chalet-style rooms, set out within easy walking distance of the main reception area, but designed in such a way that one has one’s privacy.
The rooms themselves are cleverly designed; they appear to be bigger than they are, but one never has the sense of being crowded. The shower is a pit area in the centre of the room, and won’t appeal to everyone’s sense of privacy. But for a solo traveler or a couple comfortable in each other’s company, the idea is unique and actually kind of original. Everything is designed for ecological efficiency — the water from the wash basins (two basins, both with a private mirror) runs off over rocks and stones for recycling.
There’s a small private veranda, air con (if needed) and plenty of ambient light. Skylight windows are built into every corner of the room, even the small cubbyhole toilet, so one rarely needs to use lights, except at night of course. I was there during a full moon, and at night the light through the skylights was almost strong enough on its own to serve as a light in its own right. Nice touches: Proper towels, big and downy. Two big, downy bathrobes — that seems an obvious perk, but even big hotel chains get that wrong. The beds are separate, large and hard without being uncomfortable. Large pillows, not the wimpy kind favoured by hotel chains. The housekeeping staff, from the nearby San Bushman community, keep the rooms spotless: Naankuse, on top of all its other attributes, appears to be kept very clean..
Smoking is not permitted, but inevitably some visitors will insist on smoking, despite the written notices. While the chalets are private from one another, they are in close enough proximity that the air can carry from one veranda to the next. Didn’t bother me too much, but it did bother me enough that I noticed it.
The food is delectable. The dinner menu is not a la carte — you’re given a choice of one of two main dishes — but the meal itself is prepared to your individual specifications. I prefer my food plain — I’m somewhat unusual in that regard — and the cooks caught on to that after a while.
The Internet is wifi and is limited to reception and the main dining area, as well as a small bar-and-library. The Internet speed is intermittent — fast one minute, slow the next — but is complimentary. It’s Africa, after all, and technically part of the Kalahari, even if it is half-an-hour from the airport.
The cost runs about $180 USD per night. That’s a lot for a backpacker, but for guest farm/conservancies in Namibia, it’s actually middle-range. There places in the north of the country where you’ll pay much more. Two people can comfortably sleep in the room (shower privacy aside), and I think the lodge can make arrangements for a children’s sleeping area as well, if you have young kids. Three adults, though, would be pushing it, in my opinion.
In terms of the conservancy itself, there’s a lot to see. One can go walking with the San bushmen in the afternoons (pre-booking necessary), take in San bushmen campfire tales late at night (also pre-book); and see the conservancies orphaned predators during feeding time. Naankuse is home to numerous problem predators (cattle killers and the like, that otherwise would be killed) and a number of orphaned animals and rescue cases that can never be released back into the wild. One three-legged cheetah, for example, lost her fourth leg to a poacher’s leg trap; she would have died a slow painful death, or been shot, if not for Naankuse’s intervention. Other captive animals include wild dogs, leopards, caracals, lions (raised by hand from cubs but much too habituated to people to ever be released safely back into the wild) and, curiously, baboons, which seem everywhere in Namibia but which, in this case, were orphaned and alone.
Naankuse also runs what seems, from my outsider’s, amateur eyes, to be a fairly extensive volunteer program, where visitors, mainly young people from Europe and South Africa, help out with the animals, help in a small San Bushman school and help the staff run what looks like a large, potentially unwieldy operation. The owners, Marlice and Rudie van Vuuren, were away on a family outing when I was there, but I understand one of the planned activities is a “behind the scenes” tour with Marlice. Naankuse has been the focus of a number of wildlife documentaries and short films, made mainly for the HD cable channels, and so it’s reputation is gaining all the time.
Jodi and Rona held down the fort during my stay, and they proved both helpful and attentive — pleasant company all around.
I’ve been to Namibia several times before, but this was my first visit in three years.
Naankuse is fairly new — it was established as recently as 2007, in its present incarnation — and so it won’t appear in any of the older guidebooks. It’s easy to overlook, as I say, but worth looking out for. Ideal for families with children. Friendly, attentive staff, and reasonably priced. (I don’t know how they do it but they insist that they’re a non-profit: 100% of the funds they raise through accommodation, excursions, activities etc. is directed right back into the conservancy.)
Naankuse is unusual, too, in that it combines two elements: Wildlife conservation, and the indigenous San Bushman community and their culture. Most, if not all, similar places in Namibia focus on one or the other.
I understand this may read a little like PR or an infomercial but, to be quite honest, I tried to think of a single negative and couldn’t come up with one.
Actually, I can think of one. If you’re looking for noise, wild parties, late nights and dance music blasting through the night, this is not the place.

Room Tip: There are five chalets, but other than the walking distance from your chalet to the reception/dining...
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled solo
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7 Thank MzunguPhotographer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 December 2013

Just finished a wonderful trip and conservation medicine course supported by all the staff at Naankuse. Beautiful lodge (if you're looking for the perfect honeymoon: find it here), fantastic food, great projects run by great people. Truly inspirational.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled on business
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1 Thank NensvA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Colchester, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
25 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 November 2013

I volunteered at the wildlife sanctuary for two weeks. There were people from all over the world and a variety of ages, though the majority were under 25 years old. My accommodation was in a very adequate tent in the bush, sharing with another girl, we felt completely safe. There were hot showers each day after work and plenty to eat (lots of carbohydrates) and I put on weight despite the often physical work!
The big attraction is working with the animals. The baby baboons need body warmth and a parent at night. The 'babies' are cute in their nappies, falling asleep as they have their bottle but a good nights sleep cannot be guaranteed. The staff are very good both knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Volunteers are put into small groups with one person as leader. The leader system is a weak point of an otherwise well run programme. Leaders are often youngsters who have been there a week longer than you and who sometimes lack the social skills and empathy towards older members of their group.
I loved the farm with all its orphans, I loved the variety of work from walking the enclosure fences to feeding carnivores to nursing baby baboons. The little school is a delight to assist in. All in all there were very memorable, wonderful experiences!

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled solo
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Helpful?
3 Thank Jean D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lisbon, Portugal
Level Contributor
24 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 October 2013

If you are in Windhoek and want to get to the wild without having to travel a long distance, the Na'an Ku se Lodge is the perfect choice. Beautiful chalets with simple and modern decoration and very comfortable. Big windows make you feel integrated in the landscape and allow you to observe the ocasional hierax or baboon, and to be woken up by singing birds or the lodge's friendly cat. The lodge offers an interactive experience with live wild animals, such as the karacal, and you can see cheettah, lion, leopard, wild dog and baboon at close range, kept in their large enclosures. Many people (including me) find it depressing to keep these rescued animals within fences but when they have no conditions to be set free in the wild where their alternative would be to die of hunger because they never learnt how to hunt or be killed by humans because they invade their farmland, it becomes a lot easier to accept.
The food is absolutely great and the staff is very welcoming and efficient.

Room Tip: if you are travelling with friends, try to stay in one of the houses in the property.
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank patricia1955
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
10 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 October 2013

We stayed at the lodge for two days. It is a 30 minute drive from Windhoek of which 20 minutes are on a gravel road. The reception was very nice and always willing to help with questions or requests we had. The reception, bar and restaurant are in one building and big glass windows give you a view of the surroundings. Outside is the pool and next to it is a small canyon which was full of wildlife while we were there. Just go sit there in the afternoon when the sun goes down and watch the action.
Dinner was included and tasted good and breakfast was good as well although a bit limited.
The bungalow we had was nice and clean. At night just listen to the animal sounds coming from the bush and enjoy. There was only one chair though to sit outside, a table and more chairs would be nice. Overall it gives you a feeling of being in the bush with comfort.
I can definitely recommend the trip with Marlice which is about 5 hours. Marlice founded the reserve with her husband and she is full of energy and enthusiasm about the whole project. You get to walk with the caracal, cuddle with the baby baboons and have a photo taken with the cheetah and much more. If you don't mind getting up close and personal with animals then this is a highlight of your trip.
Overall a very nice experience and a big thanks to Marlice.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank arihonderd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 October 2013

I did stay at N/a'an ku se Lodge for 4 days and this was 3 days too many. The good parts: rooms were clean but no comfortable chair to sit on the terrace. (I had to carry one from the pool-area). The food was good at the beginning but average buffet-style at the end. The reception was polite but very impersonal. The absolute highlight was the house-cat who was visiting the rooms and was omni-present. But apart from this lovely animal, there is not much to see but a few baboons and wart-hogs if you are lucky. The "game-drives",( one has to pay extra for), turns out to be feeding of some lions and leopards in enclosures who come when called but this one can see in every zoo for much less money. The walk with the bushmen was not available due to lack of interest and I did this already in Erindi where it was offered without charge. (A tip was recommended but left to the visitor) while at N/a'an ku se there was a charge for it like for everything else like drinks or laundry. If the purpose of the visit is charity for rescue of some abandoned animals, it is a good thing to do, but my advice: take a good book with you to pass the time.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank Gloria20132013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
UK
Level Contributor
17 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 September 2013

so so so so pretty! Fantastic room, clean, posh & worth more than paid!
Stayed a night before volunteering & was great to rest off to the plane. The food was just brilliant!
Loads to explore. The massive blankets were amazing, missed if when moved on site!

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Elstra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about N/a'an ku se Lodge and Wildlife Sanctuary

Property: N/a'an ku se Lodge and Wildlife Sanctuary
Address: Farm Frauenstein 277, Windhoek, Namibia
Region: Namibia > Khomas Region > Windhoek
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 78 Speciality Lodging in Windhoek
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3.5 star — N/a'an ku se Lodge and Wildlife Sanctuary 3.5*
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The N/a’an ku se Lodge & Wildlife Sanctuary is near the Airport and central Windhoek, on a 3.200 hectare big reserve. We offer Carnivore Feeding Tours, Bushman stories and stargazing dinners, Cheetah experiences and a “Behind the Scenes with Marlice” tour. Choose to stay in one of our six individual chalets or one of our eight exclusive holiday homes. We offer a dining area with award-winning cuisine, stunning views, bar and swimming pool. A delightful blend of rich ethnicity and modern luxury. The N/a’an ku se Lodge is the only Charity Lodge in Namibia, all profits from our lodge are returned back to our charitable projects. N/a’an ku se supports the local San community and activities are led by the local San. Volunteers looking to help with conservation can join the Volunteer Program offered on the N/a’an ku se Wildlife Sanctuary. The program offers volunteers the rare and exciting opportunity to work closely with and actively participate in the conservation of African wildlife. Volunteers can stay from 2 weeks to 3 months and will have the unique experience to care for our wildlife including a number of lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, caracals and baboons and many more, kept at the Sanctuary because they can unfortunately not be released into the wild again. Both experiences will leave you with great memories of Namibia while aiding in our conservation efforts which better the lives of the local San Bushmen and our animals. The N/a’an ku se Lodge & Wildlife Sanctuary is the ideal place to stay at the beginning or the end of your journey through Namibia. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Naankuse Lodge And Wildlife Sanctuary Hotel Windhoek

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