Wolwedans. Wow.

Wolwedans. Wow. #1
Wolwedans. Wow. #2

In danger of being over-rated Wolwedans - a suite of safari lodges in the NamibRand Nature Reserve - needed a re-vist. We discovered instead a place that cannot be rated highly enough.

Danie minded the office on his own last weekend as the entire team drove through the rain-transformed desert to visit the Namib National Park and Sossusvlei. Mission: inspect the Wolwedans bouquet of boutique lodges and the new Sossus Dune Lodge owned and managed by parastatal Namibia Wildlife Resorts.

The road was long. Edward had strict word to stick at 80km/h and the exceptional rains playing havoc with the usually smooth gravel roads. And we stopped off to inspect the Namib Desert Lodge and the Namib-Naukluft Lodge, both great value and in prime locations on private land near the Petrified Dunes of Sossusvlei.

Wolwedans is quite a bit further beyond Sossusvlei, heading south away from Swakopmund. With several delays waiting for flooded rivers to subside we arrived late in the afternoon, tired, hungry and thirsty. Marius, manager of Wolwedans Dunes Lodge, had kept a light lunch of quiche and chardonnay waiting for us. We dispatched both in an instant but Olga's aversion to all things porcine was to plague her throughout the trip.

Having driven (what felt like) all day there was a pregnant pause when Ben, our guide for the duration, offered us the sundowner drive activity. Refreshed by a dip in the pool (with amazing view and a story itself) the idea began to appeal. A gentle drive through the grass-covered dunes dotted with graceful gemsbok, more at home in the Kalahari than the Naukluft, took us to a view of the most gin-and-tonic inspiring proportions ever encountered. I went mad with the camera, stopping only to sip my sunset homage and replace memory cards.

Spirits revived, tissues fortified and mood elevated we jabbered our way back to a five-course dinner with wine hand-picked from the musty cellar below. Timy, our charming and genial host, joined as at table. Gamely she tried to match our ebullience but she sees sunsets like that every day, lucky fish.

The rooms at Dunes Lodge are huge. While adequate, our bathroom was yet to receive its makeover, the new ones out-sizing the old by several squares and improving on the luxury fittings ten-fold. The morning view from the large infinity deck was sensational and cause for yet more happy snapping.

We had a peek at the suite – fantastic; has honeymoon written all over it with a private chef, private dining and personal host; Wolwedans Dune Camp – intimate and casual, also receiving major renovations; and the Wolwedans Private Camp in the valley - Brangelina stayed there.

Conclusion: Wolwedans is a destination to rival Sossusvlei. The variety and scale of this silent land is staggering. The solitude is complete. The accommodation is comfortable, on the luxury side with an impressive commitment to the environment that calls for a few easy sacrifices like charging your batteries at the main lodge and living without air conditioning.

Re-tracing our route back to Sossusvlei, via the charming Desert Homestead, we stopped at Le Mirage Desert Lodge and Spa and Kulala Desert Lodge and it's well-heeled mate Little Kulala in the Kulala Private Reserve. No surprises but for the rain-scored road into Kulala and the Tsauchab River flowing in front of Kulala Desert Lodge creating a swampy scene more like Zambia's South Luangwa than the Namib Desert.

By Ian Rowett

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