If you ask me about my favorite lodges in the world, I could probably count them with just one hand. The Kalahari Anib lodge is one of them. The beautiful setting in the Namibian Kalahari, the fantastic service, the affordability of the rooms, and the cozy lodge makes the Gondwana Kalahari Anib Lodge one of our favorite lodges in Namibia. Are you ready for some Kalahari magic?
The lodge is conveniently located 30km northeast of the town of Mariental, in the Namibian Kalahari. In 2016 the lodge was given a facelift and we were excited to see how the lodge looked. And it didn’t disappoint! It is right at the edge of the Kalahari.
If you are doing a big self drive safari and are on route to Etosha NP from the Kgalagadi Transfontier Park, then this is a perfect good overnight stop (although I’d stay longer!). It is only a four hour drive from the Mata-Mata entry gate in the Kgalagadi. That gives you time to do a short morning drive to look for hyenas and cheetahs in the park and still make it in time for lunch at the Kalahari Anib Lodge. Which is what we do every time we stay there. And you can drive there on a sedan car!
Staying at the Kalahari Anib Lodge
When you arrive at this Kalahari lodge you are with welcomed with a cold refreshment. You will be then given a tour of the lodge and escorted to your room. This is also the perfect time to arrange your activities (check for rates on their site or when you get here). We definitely recommend both the sunset drive or the sunrise drive. If you are only staying for one night, then I’d say do the sunrise drive. Nobody seems to like to get up early for a drive, so you’ll be by yourself. Plus the morning light is way more magical than sunset light.
Past the restaurant and the bar, you’ll arrive at a beautiful shaded courtyard with a swimming pool. The lodge’s 30 standard rooms are arranged around this courtyard. Continue down the path and you’ll find the 21 freestanding chalets that have been converted to the lovely comfort rooms, both double- and family rooms. The comfort rooms (our favorites) overlook the Kalahari savannah and watering hole, which is lit throughout the night. Watch the Kalahari colors come alive at late afternoon from your room. Do you know what I love the most about the new decor? The lamps resemble ostrich eggs!
These 21 rooms are set slightly apart from the standard rooms have a separate swimming pool and incredible panoramic views of the savannah from your private veranda. The rooms have everything you need, air conditioning, coffee facilities, luxurious bed linen, free toiletries, en suite bathroom. The local local herd of eland are also frequent visitors of the pool area as they are fed and watered right in front of it. Did you know that eland is the largest antelope in Africa?
Activities at the Lodge
One of the reasons we love the Anib is that you can either sit back and relax or you can join their activities that could keep you busy all day! It is also perfect for individual travellers as there’s always something to do. Here is what you can do while at the lodge:
- Sunrise drive
- Sundowner dune drive
- Electric fat tire bike self-guided adventure
- Relax at the large swimming pool
- Self guided nature trail (free of charge)
Game Drives and the Shy Five at the Kalahari Anib Lodge
Each morning and evening the lodge organizes a game drive through the property. We strongly recommend you take both. Remember that no drive is the same and you will also experience different light. While sunset light is magical, there is nothing like a good Kalahari sunrise! And one of the secrets of the lodge? You can see some of the Shy Five!
Who are the shy five?
Not as famous as the Big 5, the Shy Five are the five animals that are difficult to spot during a safari as they are very secretive. The Shy Five are the meerkat, the bat-eared fox, the aardwolf, the porcupine, and the aardvark.
We have been successful and have seen a few of these at the lodge. It was here where we had one of our best bat-eared fox sightings we’ve ever had. We were taking a sunrise drive when we encountered a bat-eared fox that was very busy feeding without being disturbed by us. It was also here where we saw not just one aardwolf, but two aardwolves! We had seen an aardwolf before while visiting the Central Kalahari years ago and we couldn’t be more excited to see this pair! Unfortunately, they got spooked when they saw us and the sighting only lasted a few seconds. With all the excitement all we could get was a very blurry photo!
It does not matter how many wildlife drives you go on, there is always something new to learn. We learned about the geology of the Kalahari and the different types of sand found in this desert. We did also learn why pigmy falcons nest on the gargantuan nests of sociable weavers, and about nest sharing in ostriches.
On one of our drives we stopped by an abandoned ostrich nest and our guide showed us how strong the eggs are. He stood on top of the eggs and they didn’t crack. Did you know that ostrich eggs are the biggest eggs in the world?
One of our wildlife surprises during one of our drives was to find a large group of marabou storks at the lodge’s natural waterhole. We have never seen so many of these wading birds hanging out together. Marabu storks are one of the animals that together with wildebeest, warthog, vulture, and hyena form the Ugly Five. I don’t think any of these deserve to be in this group, but there you go! When we visited during April the waterhole was pretty full as it was during the rainy season but when we visited in January, the natural waterhole had disappeared. I would expect this waterhole to start filing up by February, depending on when the rains arrive.
Other wildlife we spotted during our Namibian safari at the Anib was zebra, springbok, wildebeest, steenbok, giraffes, gemsbok, scrub hare, kori bustard , and even a pearl spotted owlet! The lodge property does not have any big predators, but remember that leopards do go everywhere. You never know who has jumped the fence that night and who you might see on your drive. This would be a fantastic place to re introduce cheetahs as without other predators I bet they would do extremely well here. We were told they have no plans on introducing predators because they would have to fence the lodge for safety issues.
During the drives you are driven to the top of a red dune to have either morning coffee or sundowner drinks and watch the Kalahari sky change color. This is a perfect time to walk barefoot and feel the red sand of the Kalahari between your toes!
Electric fat tire bike self-guided adventure at the Kalahari Anib Lodge
The lodge has a few electric fat tire bikes available for guests. You are given a helmet, a small map of the property and off you go! The grounds just outside the Anib lodge are a bit too gravelly and it feels a bit bumpy but once you get to the dunes, you are sailing! Try going down a red Kalahari dune!
These electronic bike tours are a great activity to get a little exercise during your safari adventure as, even if it is an electric bike, you have to do some pedaling! But the views from atop of Kalahari red dunes are totally worth it!
Relax at the Pool
After your fat tire bike adventure you won’t want to do anything else but to enjoy a dip in the small pool while sipping a cold drink. And you deserve it! I am no joking when I say this is my favorite pool in the whole world. I’ve even driven from South Africa (about 3 or 4h away) to stay here just because of this pool.
Self-guided Nature Trail
Grab your water bottle, hat, and sunglasses and head out on a self-guided nature trail to see and experience the Kalahari on foot. We recommend that during the summer months you do this right at sunrise.
The restaurant at the Kalahari Anib Lodge
The restaurant at the lodge has everything you need. Cozy ambiance, waterhole views, incredible food, and a beautiful tree that is lit at night. Breakfast and dinner are a self-serve buffet with a vast number of choices, cold and hot.
We loved the outdoor dining area. If you are lucky, the resident owl will be perched on a branch above you. This was one of the highlights of our dinner. It landed on one of the palm trees in the outdoor dining area and stayed with us for most of the meal. There is a small waterhole by the restaurant terrace which is lit at night so you can actually have a meal while watching the wild residents get a drink.
A Kalahari Eco Lodge
It may seem that placing a lodge in the middle of such fragile ecosystem like the Kalahari desert would be harmful to the habitat. The Kalahari Anib Lodge takes responsibility and has taken measures to minimize its impact on the environment. These are some of the eco-friendly measures:
- Waste water is recycled to be used in the garden. The recycled water covers all the garden needs.
- Shower heads and toilets are designed for maximum water efficiency
- Since the renovation, a water station has been added, so you can actually fill your water bottle with filtered water for a small fee. It encourages to reuse your bottles and not buying plastic bottles.
- Kitchen waste is composted or fed to the pigs.
- Animal waste is used to fertilize the garden.
- Waste is sorted into paper, glass, plastic and metal recycling.
- Energy-saving bulbs.
- Air conditioners have a timer so the guests can choose not to use them all night.
- Gas stoves in the kitchen.
- Water heaters are equipped with timers to prevent continuous reheating.
Kalahari Anib Camping2Go safari tents
The Kalahari Anib Camping2Go is a step up from regular camping.
A total of four safari permanent tents await for you at the Anib. Each has 4 beds, a private bathroom and a fully kitted kitchen. They also come with outside braai facilities, fire pit, and terrace.
Camping at the Kalahari Anib Lodge
If you come from South Africa and the Kgalagadi Transfontier Park you might be familiar with the “luxury campsites” that are found in the region, such as the ones at Nossob (in the Kgalagadi Transfontier Park) or the ones at the Kgalagadi lodge (just outside the park in the South African side). These might be “luxury” but they don’t have privacy, or a picnic table, or shade. Plus you don’t need a 4×4 to access the Kalahari Anib campsite, we drove in with our tiny rental! It is also a perfect stopover if you are on your way to Etosha. The nearby town of Mariental has supermarkets and cashpoints, so you can do all your shopping and get some money out before your Etosha safari.
The campsites at the Kalahari Anib lodge are a true luxury Kalahari camping experience. Just check out what you get for your money.
The three private campsites come with all the amenities you would have when staying the main lodge including access to the swimming pool, restaurant, and bar (which grants you free wifi access!). This is top Kalahari camping! Each site has its own private en-suite bathroom facilities, shower, sheltered picnic table, and a brai. Plus, by staying in your own tent, you get to enjoy the magical sound of the Kalahari nights. The yapping of a lone jackal, the hoot of an owl, or the ‘barks’ of the barking geckos, replacing the small talk of other guests at the lodge.
If you think it cannot get better you just need to check out the view from the campsites. The view of the open Kalahari savannah from your site!
This is how we make the most of our camping days at the Anib. We have breakfast (not included in the camping price and it’s an additional charge) at the lodge. Their breakfast is pretty outstanding and whenever we eat there we are not hungry until dinner time. We then spend some time either working on our computers on at the swimming pool. Instead of lunch, we have a piece of cake from the bar, and for dinner we have nachos from the bar. That’s if we don’t want to cook dinner at the campsite.
The Kalahari Anib Lodge has quickly become one of our personal favorite places to stay in Namibia, for its convenient location, its warmth, the amazing views, and for the crystal clear swimming pool. Seriously, this is my favorite swimming pool in the whole world.
If you can’t make it deeper into the Kalahari, stay at the Anib for a taste of Kalahari!
To learn more about the Kalahari Anib Lodge and other Gondwana Collection accommodations, visit their website.
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Zoologist and wildlife photographer. She has worked in the field with jackals, wolves, cheetahs, & leopards. She serves on the Board of Directors of SEE Turtles, a non-profit sea turtle conservation organization.