Zebra River Lodge
(7 twin rooms) PO Box 11742, Windhoek; tel: 063 293265; fax: 063 293266; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; web: www.zebrariver.com
Run by Rob and Marianne Field, Zebra River has established itself as one of the friendliest, most welcoming places in Namibia. It is situated in its own canyon in the Tsaris (aka Zaris) Mountains, reached by turning south from the D850 (between the D854 and the D855). Note that their driveway is several kilometres long, and crosses a sand river which, in exceptional years, flows across the road.
The guest rooms lead off a wide veranda around the plunge-pool, with a green garden around. All have en-suite shower and toilet, and plenty of space – apart from the 'honeymoon' suite which has a large stand-alone bath, a huge king-size bed, and even more space.
Marianne's cooking is superb, and the atmosphere is very relaxed and unpretentious. Everyone sits around the large table for dinner, with both wine and conversation often lasting late into the evening.
ZRL can be used as a base for driving yourself to Sesriem or the Naukluft, but don't ignore the lodge's own area. There are several clear trails around the canyons, two of which lead up to freshwater springs. Whilst they are only a day's hiking away, you can arrange to walk part of the way and have Rob drive you the rest. There were resident black eagles and rosy-faced lovebirds in the canyon on the author's last visit, and a day spent hiking here was a perfect introduction to the longer, and so more challenging, hiking in the Naukluft.
Alternatively, Rob loves the Sossusvlei area – that's what attracted him here first – and leads excellent 4WD trips to Sossusvlei. These last a full day, including a trip into the Dead Vlei, Sesriem Canyon and a picnic lunch, and cost N$520 per person (minimum 2 people). Book these in advance, when you make a reservation with the lodge.