(30 twin bungalows) PO Box 80205, Windhoek; tel: 061 230066; fax: 061 251863; email: email@example.com; web: natron.net/canyonlodge or www.natron.net/canyon
Cañon Lodge is one of several accommodation options that lie within the 102,000ha Gondwana Reserve. The reserve, which borders on the national park, was established by Mannie Goldberg and Peter Wilson in 1996 from seven commercial sheep farms. Their aim: to reclaim the land from overgrazing and return it to its natural state. Close to the canyon's northern viewpoints, the lodge is just 2km off the D324, which itself is 7km south of the junction with the D601, near Hobas.
The lodge centres on an old farmhouse, built in 1904, which has been restored and now functions as the reception, well-stocked bar, coffee and restaurant area. Adjacent is an open terrace where tables are shaded by an old false pepper tree (the seeds of which must have been imported with horse feed for the German Schutztruppe).
All around the lodge are stone kopjes – small hills made from bare stone boulders. Amongst these, ingeniously spread out, are beautiful bungalows, containing double or twin beds, an en-suite toilet and shower or bath, within raw stone walls under thatched roofs. These are rustic, but comfortable and surprisingly cool during the heat of the day.
Both guests and day visitors are catered for in the large but intimate restaurant, which in summer spills out on to the terrace, but on chilly winter evenings is warmed by blazing open fires. Meals are substantial, with considerably more choice than you might expect in such an out-of-the-way place. Much of the reason for this lies in the lodge's self-sufficiency project, for a hefty proportion of the fresh food consumed comes from their own farm.
Already, the place produces almost all its own bacon, milk, eggs and salad vegetables, not to mention fresh herbs, and homemade bread and salamis, thus obviating the necessity to bring in expensive and tired products from markets as far away as South Africa. While a significant aspect of trial and error lies behind this success, there is no doubting the value of the achievement, both in terms of local employment and the environment – not to mention the taste!
In addition to the obvious attractions of the canyon itself across the plain, there is plenty to do while here, and some visitors stay for several days. Climb up a kopje (which is easy) and you'll find a spot for a sundowner drink, overlooking a wide plateau and, 20km away, the main viewpoint of the canyon. Stay at the bottom, and you can spend time watching the colony of dassies on those same rocks as they bask in the evening sun.
Guided walks and drives are offered around the reserve at various times of day, and, for the more adventurous, there are flights down the canyon as well as guided horseriding trips (hard hats are provided). There's even a small swimming pool set a short distance from the lodge itself where you can relax in complete privacy.
The owners of the Gondwana Reserve have plans to start work in 2003 on a small, exclusive lodge with just seven rooms. The new lodge will be about 7km from Cañon Lodge. Each room will be air conditioned, and guests will have their own meals prepared on the premises. For details, contact Cañon Lodge.Rates: N$655 single, N$495 per person sharing, including breakfast. Dinner is N$130, lunch N$70, lunchpacks N$55.