Luxury safari lodge Omaanda is under an hour from bustling Windhoek, but its rustic looks and savannah-swathed surroundings make it feel far more wild. The lodge lords over a 20,000-acre reserve founded by the Zannier Group – the hoteliers behind fellow Smith stays Phum Baitang and Le Chalet – and the Naankuse Foundation, a team of conservationists who run an on-site wildlife sanctuary. Echoing traditional Namibian houses, the 10 huts have conical thatched roofs and earthy exteriors that chime perfectly with the landscape. That said, their simple design belies the level of luxury found inside: king-size beds, built-in sound systems and soaking tubs with views are standard. When you’re not on game drives, cool off in the savannah-facing infinity pool, sample a massage with Namibian botanicals or sip South African wine in the boma, which moonlights as a star-gazing platform after dark.
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A welcome gift; Smiths staying two nights or more will also get one 60-minute spa treatment each (available for over-18s only)
Double rooms from £371.50 (NAD7,960), including tax at 15 per cent.
If you’re on the all-inclusive rate, you’ll have return airport transfers, all meals and drinks (except premium spirits and champagne), twice-daily excursions and laundry included. The regular rate includes breakfast, dinner and select drinks.
At the hotel
9,000-hectare game reserve, open-air lounge, free WiFi, laundry service. In rooms: open fireplace; flatscreen TV; sound system; minibar; Nespresso coffee machine; tea kit; free bottled water.
Our favourite rooms
All 10 huts are built in a traditional Namibian style, with smooth, circular walls and a conical thatched roof. The styling is simple and earthy, echoing the local preference for all things natural and handmade. Among the more indulgent features are the king-size bed, built-in sound system and oversized windows facing the savannah – at night, they’ll give you stellar views of the starry sky. If you have children in tow, book one of the two-bedroom huts. Couples who want to hide away can ask for one that’s a little further away from the lodge.
The 15m infinity pool overlooks the scrubby savannah and distant slate-grey hills. It’s on the edge of the large sun deck near the lobby, and has a line of sunloungers running along one side. In the midday heat, retreat to the shady boma with an iced tipple from the pool bar.
The rustic, open-sided treatment rooms overlook the Khomas Hochland plateau, giving them as relaxing and inspiring a backdrop as you could hope for. The treatments are inspired by Namibian wellness culture, with the therapists incorporating techniques that have been handed down over the centuries. The oils and spa products are made by local specialists and are full of indigenous botanicals like the Marula tree, which produces a skin-enlivening oil that’s high in antioxidants, essential fatty acids and amino acids. Try the Touch of Namibia massage – the perfect complement to a day’s safari.
Your most powerful camera lens and a sharp eye.
The hotel’s layout and the wild terrain mean it isn’t well suited to wheelchairs.
Children over six are welcome (younger Smiths can't stay for safety reasons); rates available on request. The two-bedroom huts are well suited to families, but the hotel does have a fairly grown up feel. Walking excursions are only suitable for over-16s.
The lodge is on the Zannier Group’s private reserve, created so that the local wildlife can flourish. The buildings themselves were built with techniques that minimise their impact on the land, and all wastewater is treated before being channeled into the onsite watering hole. The staff recycle wherever they can, too.
In the warmer months, you can’t beat the tables that are closest to the open air; in winter, you may want to position yourself near the fire.
You’re in the Namibian veld, so there’s no need to stand on ceremony.
Ambo Delights is in a tall circular hut with a wood-burning stove at its centre. On the savannah-facing side, solid walls have been replaced by rolls of canvas, enabling the staff to furl up each canopy and open the dining room to the elements. The kitchen is helmed by Belgian Annelie Maes, who leads a team of local chefs. The emphasis is on local produce, showcasing some of the region’s best suppliers – the tender meat is often a highlight. Lunches consist of delicious mezze-style sharing plates and salads; the dinner menu changes daily and always runs to four courses. There’s usually a meat, fish and vegetarian option for main, but the chefs are happy to tweak the menu if you give them advanced warning. Because the morning game drives get going early, guests often have a light breakfast – a pastry or granola, say – before heading out, then have something heartier from the à la carte menu when they return.
Drinks can be ordered anywhere in the lodge, but you can also perch at the wooden bar hut by the pool. Namibia and South Africa are well represented, not just in wine but beer and craft spirits, including gins made with African botanicals. If you’re in the mood for a cocktail, try the Kalahari Sunset, made with black rum, Pineapple juice, rooibos syrup and a splash of devil’s claw liqueur. After dinner, guests often move from the restaurant to the deck, where there’s an alfresco lounge area and open fire.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 11am, but the staff can arrange a light bright for particularly early risers. Lunch and dinner are flexible within reason, and you can order snacks between meals.
Omaanda is on a 9,000-hectare private reserve to the east of Namibia’s capital, Windhoek.
Windhoek Hosea Kutako Airport is the best place to touch down. From the UK, the best way to get there is to fly via Cape Town or Johannesburg OR Tambo. Or, hop on a flight to Frankfurt or Amsterdam, both of which offer direct flights to Windhoek. Private transfers for two are included in the all-inclusive rate; otherwise, they’re NAD1,500 each way.
If you want to drive yourself, hire a four-by-four at the airport. Exit the airport and turn right onto B6 road to Windhoek. After 9.5 km, turn right onto the D1510 (a gravel road). After another 8.45 km, take another right onto M53 at the Four Ways intersection. Travel along this track for 9 km and you’ll reach Omaanda’s gate.
Worth getting out of bed for
At Omaanda, it’s the call of the wild that gets you out of bed in the morning. Sunrise is one of the best times for spotting wildlife as all manner of species head out to find something to eat. While you’re out, you’re in with a chance of seeing rhinos, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, leopards, ostriches, black-backed jackals, warthogs, antelopes and many types of bird. Most guests do a game drive in the morning and another in the afternoon, relaxing at the lodge when the sun is at its peak. This downtime is the perfect time for a dip in the savannah-facing pool, sampling a Namibian spa treatment or flicking through one of the photography books while sipping a G&T. Alongside the game drives, the reserve offers more specialised excursions like carnivore tracking or spending the sunrise with a meerkat clan.
A small pocket of the reserve is given over to the Shiloh Wildlife Sanctuary, a collaborative project between the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the N/a’an ku sê Foundation. The 10-hectare site is a safe haven for orphaned and injured wildlife, and has on-site vets and a research centre. The co-founder of N/a’an ku sê, Marlice van Vuuren, leads tours of the sanctuary, which includes an introduction to members of the anti-poaching unit.
You’re in the Namibian Savannah, so you’re unlikely to be eating out during your stay.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this luxury safari lodge in Windhoek East and unpacked their small mountain of 35mm film, a full account of their Namibia safari break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Omaanda in Windhoek East…
With the opening of Omaanda, it seems the Zannier Group can do no wrong. They’ve already won a loyal following at their Khmer hideaway, Phum Baitang, and nailed alpine sophistication with Le Chalet Zannier. Now they’ve brought their winning formula to the wilds of Namibia, becoming joint founders of a private reserve in the process. Spread over 9,000 hectares of unspoiled savannah, the reserve was originally marked for urban development until Zannier and their conservation partner, the N/a’an ku sê Foundation, submitted a better proposal. Equally pleasing is the fact that it takes under an hour to drive there from Windhoek Airport, making the hotel ideal for starting or ending a safari trip.
Like other Zannier properties, Omaanda is very much in keeping with the local style, borrowing the circular walls, thatched roofs and earthy colour scheme of traditional Namibian houses. The overarching aesthetic is the same, but these huts have been spruced up with floor-to-ceiling windows, king-size beds and soaking tubs with savannah views. It’s the same story in the restaurant, where the simple interiors are the backdrop for gourmet meals, craft cocktails and fine wines from France and South Africa.