A few Fridays ago, my partner and I managed to make a trip to the NWR’s (Namibia Wildlife Resort) Ai Ais Hotsprings Resort. Leaving the comfort of your home to experience something new is always a good idea. I had high expectations about this place to be frank because the website really sold it to me. Have a look at the website yourself: https://www.nwr.com.na/resorts/ai-ais-hot-springs-spa The drive there was eventful considering we cut through desert and drove next to the Orange River to get there. There was also an amazing wine farm town that we passed along on our journey.
Upon arrival I was a bit underwhelmed because the facilities are quite ancient. It was by no means untidy; it was just really rusty and a little bit dusty. Turns out this place has been operating since the 80’s so it’s a gem in all it’s not fancy appearance. Also, because it is the resort closest to the Fish River Canyon, a lot of tourists from around the world only come here to camp and hike the trail in the Fish River Canyon. To some degree I would recommend it more to those who like to camp. The camp site is next to a nice looking mountain range and a few essential facilities (look at the website – we did not camp), unfortunately the communal bathroom situation isn’t ideal but considering its preparing you for a week long hike in the Fish River Canyon where there is no bathroom it’s bearable.
The rooms were nice, 2 star standard in my opinion but it was somewhat cozy – my rating is based on the Popa Falls Resort, which is also a NWR resort that my family and I went to a few years back. The Ai Ais rooms are pretty standard, there was a little lounge area and a balcony. A fridge and two showers. Air conditioning and a high ceiling. Are you sold yet?
There are two pools – an outdoor pool and an indoor pool. The outdoor pool was massive. We tried both and yes, they are both heated. The warm water is quite therapeutic I might add. I get cold quickly, so it was quite a treat. But I also get dizzy from too much warmth so I did not enjoy the warm waters very long as I imagined I would. I can imagine that its perfect for the winter season for those who would love to swim.
We had a look at the hot springs. It heats up to 65 degrees.
It is the source of the heated pools and the extremely hot water in the
showers. I was expecting more but there was just a small well looking area
with water and stones.
The food was amazing. The breakfast was complimentary — a wonderful buffet set up with delicious options for everyone. For lunch and dinner, I had the grilled chicken breast with cheese sauce and the deep-fried fish over and over again because it was just that good. The consistency of the chef was impressive. The food was so good I have no pictures of it.
The surrounding area of the national park are mountainous and the resort itself is green with a hint of dry air.
The second day of our stay we decided to head to the Fish River Canyon – for sightseeing and not hiking because no one has time to hike for a week in the canyon. Did I mention that our Fish River Canyon is the second largest in the world? Now you know if you didn’t. It was a 90 km drive from the resort and the journey through the desert was pure bliss. Before reaching the start point you see the canyon for at least half of the journey there. And the Canyon is surreal, its massive and just a sight to see. I would visit the canyon yearly if I could.
Overall, I would recommend the resort. But bring a lot of your own supplies, food, snacks and even drinks. There is a convenient store but its pricey because you are in the middle of the desert. I also think it’s a great place to visit with a bunch of friends. It’s a bit rustic and a group of boys would enjoy it so much more than a group of girls. There is a spa, which I didn’t explore but it was amazing according to him. The staff at the resort were pleasant, they were easy to speak to, ask for help and have a general conversation with.
To make the most of our budget, we applied for a NWR Nam Leisure Card a week before making the trip, which cost N$400. It meant our accommodation was 50% off; and meals and activities are 25% off when you are a cardholder. Apply for a card here and see https://www.nwr.com.na/namleisure-cards