Kanaan Desert Retreat: Mountains & Meerkats

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Kanaan Desert Retreat

If you are looking for somewhere to stay on the D707 in Namibia, then Kanaan Desert Retreat is a fantastic option.

We camped there for two nights, and not only do you have panoramic views across the desert plains to the Tiras Mountains, but you may also be treated to an encounter with the local meerkat colony.

meerkat stood up near sandy track with mountains in the background at kanaan desert retreat
Meerkat on alert at Kanaan Desert Retreat

Overview of Information for staying at Kanaan Desert Retreat

If you’re in a rush, here are some quick pointers to help you in your trip planning:

  • You’ll find the Kanaan Desert Retreat just 8 km from the turn-off from the D707 in southwestern Namibia
  • Book a luxury tent on Booking.com here or on Expedia here
  • To book a Campsite call +264 81 681 74 22 or email: [email protected]
  • Facilities include a restaurant, swimming pool, free wifi
  • Activities include sunset and sunrise drives, horseriding, blokarting and a hiking trail
  • There is a meerkat colony at the Kanaan Retreat
  • Hiring a camper in Namibia? Get a Camper Quote here
  • Or looking at a car rental? Get a great deal with Discovercars here
  • Have you arranged Travel Insurance? We use World Nomads

For all the fine details and lots of pics (and a cute meerkat video) — browse on.

sunrise shot of mountains and desert plain at Kanaan Desert retreat
Sunrise at Kanaan
Sunrise landscape photo at Kanaan desert retreat with sun hitting reddish mountains and a few trees in the background
Tiras Mountains surround the Kanaan Desert Retreat

 “We’re staying at Kanaan Desert Retreat”, said my husband.

My mind conjured up visions of a palm tree oasis. Guests in yoga poses, vegetable juices promising to cleanse my colon, and luxurious lounges, adorned in brightly coloured animal prints for me to rest my weary head.

But that’s not what Kanaan Desert Retreat is about.

If you are looking for solitude, and a chance to experience the Namib Desert as it is, then this place will quieten your mind and immerse you in the natural beauty of one of the world’s oldest deserts.

This area is also a photographer’s delight.

But above all, if you stay here, you are contributing to the Naankuse (N/a’an ku se) conservation and humanitarian effort.

lars with camera taking photos fo the landscape beside the camper at Kanaan desert retreat namibia
Lars capturing the golden light at sunrise

Video: Meerkat Encounter While Camping at Kanaan Desert Retreat

Mingling with Meerkats in Namibia

About Kanaan Desert Retreat

Kanaan Desert Retreat is owned by Naankuse (N/a’an ku se meaning God will protect us ), a charity and wildlife sanctuary started by Namibian-born conservationist Marlice van Vuuren and her husband Rudie.   

Their profits go towards wildlife conservation and humanitarian efforts of the Naankuse Foundation.

The N/a’an ku se Foundation projects include:

  • Wildlife conservation
  • Welfare aid to the marginalised indigenous San people
  • Mitigation of human-wildlife conflict
  • Protection of the elephant and rhino populations in Namibia
  • Creating sustainable plant nurseries as part of a global deforestation project

The organisation is also a partner of the Shiloh Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which was started by Hollywood film stars, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in honour of their Namibian-born daughter Shiloh. 

safari-car-in-sunrise-landscape
Sunrise drive at Nankuse Kanaan Desert Retreat

Kanaan Desert Retreat Ecotourism Project

The retreat is an ecotourism project that provides campsites as well as glamping tents for those wanting to experience the solitude of the Namib Desert.

Covering an area of 35,000 hectares, the Naankuse Kanaan Retreat creates a haven for the local wildlife and protects the sensitive ecosystem of this part of the Namib Desert.

The fences that used to form part of the farm area bought by Naankuse, have been removed to enable the wildlife to roam freely across the desert plains and the Tiras mountains.

Additionally, there is an ongoing project to remove all the remaining boundary fences to enhance and expand the free movement of endemic animals.

Oryx in the setting sun light with Tiras Mountains in the background
Oryx (gemsbok) at sunset

Other Ecotourism Projects By Naankuse

Along with the Kanaan Desert Retreat, Naankuse also operates the following:

  • Naankuse Lodge in Windhoek
  • Naankuse Bush Camp
  • Neuras Wine and Wildlife Estate
  • Harnas Wildlife Sanctuary
  • TimBila Nature Reserve
  • Naankuse @ Utopia
  • Naankuse Travellers Inn

The Naankuse Lodge, and its wildlife sanctuary near Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, look after orphaned, injured and conflict animals (those who are a problem to humans). If possible, those that are rehabilitated are released back into the wild. 

Many meerkats digging in the soil at Kanaan
Meerkats looking for breakfast at Kanaan Desert Retreat

Accommodation at Kanaan Desert Retreat

There are three accommodation options available at Kanaan Desert Retreat:

  • Self-catering camping,
  • Partially catered glamping canvas tent or
  • Fully catered volunteering

There is a restaurant on-site, with a terrace overlooking the glamping tents, the desert plains and the Tiras Mountains. Campers can also use the restaurant; the three-course set dinner costs N$420 per person.

Free wifi is available at reception and the restaurant.

💡Note: There isn’t any network signal at the campsite section

sunrise-over-camp
Kanaan Retreat Campsites

Camping at Kanaan Desert Retreat

There are eight Kanaan Desert Retreat camping sites, and they all look out over the desert plains towards sand dunes and the Tiras Mountains.

Each Kanaan camping site has:

  • Its own shade-cloth shelter,
  • Outdoor shower,
  • Flushable toilet,
  • Metal sink and
  • Braai (BBQ).  
  • A windbreak to one side provides privacy and each site is approximately 30 metres apart.

Solar power provides lovely hot water for the shower, and the water is drinkable. 

The campsite is about a kilometre away from the restaurant, swimming pool, glamping tents and volunteer/staff accommodation, on the opposite side of a set of rocky outcrops.

To book a Campsite call +264 81 681 74 22 or email: [email protected]

jackal walking past the campsites at Kanaan Desert Retreat
Black-backed jackal walking past camp

Luxury Tents at Kanaan Desert Retreat

The Kanaan luxury canvas tents are a huge step up from our rooftop tent, so if you are looking for some fresh clean white bedlinen and an ensuite bathroom then they would be just the ticket.

There are eight canvas tents, all with a gorgeous vista across the desert plains towards the Tiras Mountains.

⭐️⭐️⭐️
Kanaan Desert Retreat
✔️ Breakfast and Dinner
✔️ Free Wifi

The Kanaan Retreat website mentions that the tents overlook a waterhole. They do, but it might not be what you imagine. It is only small as you can see in the photo. 

Each glamping tent has an ensuite shower and toilet and the bedroom door opens out onto a deck.

If you are considering booking just be aware that an uneven jagged stone pathway leads towards the tents so we wouldn’t recommend it for anyone not stable on their feet.

You will also need to carry your baggage from the car park at the top, so if you have suitcases on wheels, you will have to carry them.

Kanaan Desert retreat luxury tents overlooking the desert plains
Kanaan Desert Retreat Luxury canvas tents overlooking the desert plains

Volunteering at Kanaan Desert Retreat

If you want to get involved in helping the Naankuse foundation, they run volunteer programs ranging from two weeks to three months.

The primary volunteering happens at Naankuse Lodge in Windhoek, but once there, you can sign up for at least a week at Kanaan Desert Retreat.

The cost of volunteering includes all meals and accommodation.

view-from-restaurant
View from restaurant

Prices at Kanaan Desert Retreat

The prices at Kanaan Desert Retreat change depending on the season. The low season is from October to March and the high season is from April to September.

⛺️ 2023 Kanaan Campsite Prices

  • Low Season: N$185 per person, per night
  • High Season: N$225 per person, per night

🛖 2023 Kannan Luxury Tent (Breakfast and dinner inc.)

  • Low Season: N$ 3154 per person, per night
  • High Season: N$3950 per person, per night

👉 Book a Luxury Tent here

Our Experience at Kanaan Desert Retreat

 We left Luderitz on the Namibian coast around eight in the morning, taking a leisurely drive north towards Kanaan Retreat. 

On the way, we stopped at Garub Pan and were lucky to see a few of the Namib wild horses in the distance. 

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Driving the D707

The next part of the route took us along the much-touted scenic D707, with desert sands and red mountains lining the way. Others had told us not to miss Namibia’s dream road, so our expectations were high.

Too high.

We decided that our impression of the road was affected by the fact that we live in Australia. We have miles and miles of landscapes that look very similar.  So, although many are blown away by the D707, I have to say our enthusiasm, especially after its big build-up, was rather lacklustre.

But don’t let our lack of gusto for this section of Namibia deter you — the popular opinion is that the D707 is tremendous. To be fair, we haven’t driven the whole route yet, so maybe it will redeem itself on the next leg to Sossusvlei.

(Added Note… it didn’t. Though the D707 is spectacular compared to the road from Sossusvlei to Walvis Bay, which is very barren and not at all scenic.)

The turn-off to Kanaan Desert Retreat, off the D707, is marked and informs you that you only have another 8 km to go.

Sign pointing towards Kanaan Desert Retreat
Kanaan Naankuse Desert Retreat Sign

Arriving at Kanaan Desert Retreat

Hues of yellow and brown along with all their golden cousins in between, envelop you. The Tiras Mountain range and miles of red dunes are broken only by swathes of desiccated grass and a dry river bed.

A scant line of low trees is the only inkling that a river may occasionally flow here. Though this year, with no rain as yet, and almost at the end of the rainy season, the area was parched.

The reception sits alone on the hill to the left-hand side of the main trail on the drive in.

They say silence is golden. And sitting with our cuppas, gazing out across the desert plains towards the Desert mountains, tranquillity radiated from the swathe of pale-yellow grasses.

sunrise-over-tree-stump
Landscape at Kanaan Desert Retreat

Sunrise Drive at Kanaan

The next morning Lars, was up at the crack of dawn … well, way before the crack actually, stars still littered the sky when he was picked up for the sunrise safari drive at 5.30 am.

The light in the morning is one of the best times to capture the golden hues of this impressive landscape. And as he is our number one photographer, I wasn’t compelled to join him.

Rather, I stay in camp and watch the sunrise with a blanket wrapped around me and a cup of hot coffee in hand.

lars sat by table by guide vehicle on a sunrise driving tour at Kanaan desert retreat
Lars enjoying the sunrise drive with Kanaan

That first morning was freeeezing!

We had temperatures in the low 30s (DegC) during the day but that was the first morning on our trip where the cold weather gear had to come out.

You can’t self-drive around the Kanaan Desert Retreat, so there isn’t much to do in the day other than sit back and enjoy the scenery. Which we did until the sunset drive in the evening.

Sunset Drive at Kanaan

On the sunset safari drive, the most popular activity at Kanaan Desert Retreat, we were lucky to see some bat-eared foxes digging for bugs. We also learnt a little about the Nama culture, from our Nama guide, Hendris.

As the sun set, we stopped for drinks and snacks watching the day fall behind the red sand dunes of the Namib Desert.

sunset-drive-and-snacks with kanaan Desert retreat
Sunset drive with Nankuse’s Kanaan Retreat

Setting off towards Sossusvlei the next morning, we were, as it turned out, just as unimpressed with the remainder of the D707.

 But we were happy to have spent time camping beneath the stars, mingling with meerkats, watching the sunrise across the desert plains and contributing to the Nankuse Foundation by way of our ecotourism.

Kanaan Nankuse Desert Retreat was the perfect stopover for us between Luderitz and Sossusvlei.

sunrise sunflare through a dead tree with Tiras Mountains in the background
Sunrise at Nankuse Kanaan Retreat

Wildlife at Kanaan Desert Retreat

The wildlife in the surrounding plains and mountains around this Nankuse Desert Retreat include:

  • Black-backed jackal
  • Bat-eared foxes
  • Gemsbok
  • Meerkats
  • Aardwolf
  • Spotted hyena
  • Brown hyena
  • Leopard
  • Ostrich

From the campsite, over the two days we were at Kanaan, we saw gemsbok (oryx), springbok, a black-backed jackal and ostrich.

On our sunset drive, we saw bat-eared foxes, gemsbok and ostrich.

4-bat-eared-foxes-on-plains at Kanaan desert Retreat
Bat-eared foxes on the desert plains

But we have to say our favourite wildlife encounter was with the meerkats.

Meerkats at Kanaan Desert Retreat

The meerkat family at Kanaan originally started with two. One was rescued as a pet and the other was being sold on the side of the road. From that male and female, the meerkat colony has grown to around nineteen of these much-loved little creatures.

meerkat-in-grass
A meerkat watching out for birds of prey

We came across them on the road between the campsites and the reception area.

As with all wildlife, it’s best not to approach them and signs around Kanaan will tell you so. You must also not feed them.

We sat watching them from a distance, but they moved towards us as they were digging and searching for beetles in the sand. They moved around us as if we weren’t there and even sat in the shade of our legs for a few moments to rest.

meerkat close up at Kanaan
How adorable is this little face?

This was our first experience of seeing meerkats in Southern Africa and it was a delight to be able to sit amongst them for about an hour.

meerkat-laying-down in the grass
Inquisitive meerkat checking us out
4-meerkats-in-burrow-
Just chilling at home

Kanaan Retreat Activities

Activities at Kanaan Desert Retreat include:

  • Safari drives
  • Hiking trail
  • Swimming pool
  • Blokarting
  • Horse riding
landscape-view-from-pool
Swimming Pool at Kanaan Nankuse Desert Retreat

The type of safari drives available at Kanaan Desert Retreat are:

  • Sunrise drive — N$780 pp
  • Sunset drive — N$780 pp
  • Photography safari drive – You choose two out of a sunrise, sunset or star photography (depending on moon phase) N$3500 pp
  • Professional Photography Tour — a professional photographer guides you on settings and composition for your desert shots. (Price on request)
sunrise-game-drive-snacks on table and vehicle and guide stood behind
N/a’an ku se Game Drive Vehicle at Kanaan Desert Retreat

The hiking trail starts at the car park, up near the restaurant. It’s a circular trail that takes about an hour and takes you through the hills and by the dry river bed.

Horse riding is available for one or two hours (two hours costing N$730 pp.)

Blokarting is an activity for the adventurous. It is a three-wheel cart with a sail attached and is only available when the wind is strong enough. Safety equipment of helmet, elbow and knee pads are provided. 

2-meerkats-in-burrow
Keep an eye out for these cute little critters

Where is Kanaan Desert Retreat

The Kanaan Desert Retreat is about halfway along the legendary D707 road in Namibia. It shares a boundary of about 35 km with the Namib Naukluft Park, in the Karas region, and is a popular stop-over point for travellers.  

If you are driving north towards Sossusvlei or south towards Lüderitz or Fish River Canyon, then this is the perfect stopover on a Namibian road trip.

Distances to Kanaan Desert Retreat from nearby towns:

  • Kanaan to Luderitz – 270km / 3.5 hrs 
  • Kanaan to Sossusvlei – 240km / 3 hrs 
  • Kanaan to Aus – 150km or 2 hrs 
  • Kanaan to Windhoek – 550km or 6 hrs 
  • Kanaan to Fish River Canyon – 455km or 6 hrs 

Best Time to Visit Kanaan Desert

The most popular time to visit Kanaan is from April to September as the winter daytime temperatures are cooler than other times of the year.

However, in the winter months, although daytime temperatures are pleasantly warm, the nighttime and early morning temperatures can be sub-zero. The winds can also be much stronger in winter, and sandstorms are more likely.  

We camped there at the end of March and the daytime temperature was in the high 20s. Mornings were pretty nippy but warmed up quickly once the sun was up.

The landscape doesn’t change too much over the seasons, so whatever time you visit, the spectacular desert views will be similar. 

community-weavers-nest-in-tree-2
Sociable Weaver’s Nest in the Kanaan Landscape

Interesting Facts we Learnt at Kanaan Desert Retreat

  • 90% of the tourists that visit Kanaan are international tourists.
  • The Nama people used to make beer using the guano of the sociable weaver bird to make it stronger. If the guano had red in it — even better — because it was from the Cape Cobra droppings, making the beer even stronger. 
  • Meerkats eat venemous scorpions – so handy to have around a campsite!
Kanaan Desert Retreat Pinterest pin

Kanaan N/a’an ku se Desert Retreat… That’s a Wrap

A stop over at Kannan Desert Retreat is ideal for those of you who are:

  • Looking for a halfway ‘ish stopover between Luderitz and Sossusvlei
  • Want a great place to stop on Namibia’s D707
  • Have the desire to camp in the desert wilderness with scenic views
  • Mad about Meerkats and want to see them in the wild

👉 NEXT PLANNING STEPS:

  1. Hire a camper or a car
  2. Book a flight— use Skyscanner to find a great deal ✈️
  3. Book a luxury tent here or send an email to book a campsite at Kanaan: [email protected]
  4. Arrange your Travel Insurance — Try World Nomads or Safetywing
  5. Arrange for someone to look after your pets: 🐾 We love Trusted Housesitters.

🤎 Enjoy and Happy Travels

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