The closest town is Solitaire and describing this as a small place is a bit of an understatement. It's pretty much the only bit of civilisation between Sossusvlei and Walvis Bay. You'll be an hour and a half north of Sossusvlei and could easily spot oryx, jackal, ostrich and zebra. It's an 18km drive from the gate to the lodge and you'll be glad of a 4x4, although it's not essential. It should take about half an hour and once you arrive you'll see the acacia wooded valley, blue mountains and hidden canyons. The ancient red dunes are right there and it's clean, friendly and family-run.
Tsondab Valley Lodge is still home to the people who built it. As such, they make a big effort to make your experience match their dreams. The man in charge describes himself as a 'bush pilot, do-it-yourself handyman, passionate perfectionist.' He's Hans Schreiber and sounds as though he's the one to go to if your fan belt breaks. He's also a man with a unique travel industry background. He was the first person to bring the tourism potential for Epupa Falls to life - he saw it whilst flying and ending up building and running the first fly-in camp on the banks of Kunene River. He also developed a guest farm on the edge of Etosha National Park. The woman in charge is Kristin Schreiber, born and raised in Berlin, she's been in Namibia for nearly 20 years. The couple will happily join you for dinner at the long dining table and regale stories and histories of the German South-West African experience - it goes back three generations for Hans.
Best of all, after dinner you can have a night under the stars - in elevated bliss. Your bed can be put outside - actually on top of your bungalow - so you can lie back and star gaze. This has got to be up there with the best of glamping (we saw the pun, we ignored it).
They're an eco friendly couple and Tsondab Valley provides its own electricity and water supply.
There are five bungalows with 10 beds. They have high ceilings and thick outer walls which shield against the heat and strong winds. You'll have a living room with two beds and a bathroom with shower and toilet. You'll also have dune views and a roof terrace which is ideal for private sundowners - you reach it by using a staircase outside. Breakfast, afternoon coffee & cake and a 3 course dinner are included. You can expect fresh game meat from the farm.
There are also three campsites complete with rock showers. They're hidden inside overhangs of rock along the edge of the valley so you'll get a view of the savanna as you lather up.
Firstly, just explore where you are. They have a 50m deep hidden canyon on the property - this is made up of petrified or ‘fossilised’ dunes and are ancient remains of the world’s oldest desert. You can also reach the ‘Blue Marble’ mountains.
You can walk or hike on your own or as a guided tour called Climbing Panorama Mountain. It's best to climb early or in the evening to avoid the heat and you'll get a 360° view of the desert. It takes a couple of hours and you'll reach an altitude of approx 150m. You could also do the Hidden Canyon half day tour. You'll walk across million year old petrified dunes and see fossilized roots, eggshells of ancient ostriches and prehistoric stone tools. The canyon is 50m deep and approximately 2km long and there is shade. Near the end of the canyon there is an exit route where you can find your own way back to the lodge over the red Namib dunes. A map and GPS co-ordinates are available at the lodge. If you like you can book the Canyon Shuttle which will take you to the entrance of the Canyon or fetch you, or both. This reduces the Canyon hike to approx. 2 hours, saving on the 4km hike from the lodge. Another hiking option is the Camelthorn Valley below the lodge. Here, hundreds of ancient trees cover an area reaching northward into the red dune-fields. You can choose your own route and explore the dunes and the canyon. You can always see the lodge so you can't really get lost.
There are guided tours by car or plane on offer too. There is strictly no self-driving on the property. The Sundowner Tour is in a vintage, open Landrover. This lasts an hour and a half and you'll drive through the dunes to the sundowner spot. There you'll find a table set with a white tablecloth, snacks and drinks of your choice. You could also do the Hidden Canyon & Sundowner Tour which takes a bit longer depending on how long you spend at the canyon. This is also in the old Landrover and is all quartz ridges, blue marble, canyons, dune valleys and Camelthorn trees.
Or go flying. The Scenic Flight Tour goes over the Namib Desert & Diamond Coast (Sossusvlei, Tsondabvlei, Kuiseb Canyon, Eduard Bohlen shipwreck etc.) You travel in a single engine Cessna 210. This trip is for a maximum of 4 people but for safety reasons they will need to know how much you weigh beforehand. The trip is also subject to availability.
There are 4 potential routes:
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