Magical Destination Weddings at Wolwedans Collection of Camps

Imagine standing on top of a dune next to your loved one, your toes caressed by the warm and soft dune sand and your eyes set on endless plains covered in a shimmer of silver grass. For this special moment this kingdom is yours. At Wolwedans you can realize what many couples dream of: A small and intimate wedding, set in one of the most visually spectacular places on earth.

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I just wanted to say a massive thank you for all that you did for Paul and I in the run up to the wedding. Our stay with you at Wolwedans Dune Camp could not have been more perfect. Everything was absolutely magical from the second we entered the gates to the second we left. We both really appreciate everything you did and all the many questions you answered over the months. Again, such a big thank you. Our expectations were high but Wolwedans exceeded them :)  

Marianne & Paul Craik

peartree.co.za | paul & marianne | wolwedans, namibia

You can celebrate your special moment along with your family and friends. At Wolwedans we can accommodate wedding parties from two to forty in numbers. Guests can be booked into the sophisticated Dunes Lodge or the slightly more rustic but equally charming Dune Camp.

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The Wolwedans team will glady go the extra mile to make your wedding extra special by adding those personal touches. Be it the three tiered wedding cake, your choice of flowers, personalized decorations or any other wish that would make your wedding even more memorable!

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We have a number of qualified marriage officers that we can call upon who will marry you according to your wishes. This could be by means of a spiritual ceremony, a religious service or by civil ceremony. The ceremony could be in the early morning (recommended during summer) or in the late afternoon. We can arrange everything from air charters to the bridal bouquet and a lovely four-course wedding dinner or champagne breakfast in the dunes.

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For a designer ceremony contact Dr. Willem Moore – a Namibian registered Officiant of Rites of Passage Ceremonies who provides clients with the opportunity of completely individualised and tailor made religious, inter-religious, non-religious or gay/same-sex marriage/civil union ceremonies. He has been conducting weddings in the almost spiritual environs and breathtaking landscapes of Namibrand since 1995 and is the initiator of a unique approach to relationships and love that also provides couples that once married, or entered into civil unions at Wolwedans, with the opportunity of successive rites of passage ceremonies such as initiations (baptisms) and confirmations.

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The NamibRand Nature Reserve in the Namib Desert is one of the most unique venues in the world for a wedding, and certainly the most remote. After almost a decade of facilitating such dreams for a privileged number of fortunate couples from all over the world, we would be delighted if the next wedding at Wolwedans was yours.

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“Wolwedans is an amazing wedding venue. The breathtaking location and beautiful camp was complemented by a friendly, welcoming and caring team, not to mention the charming priest. It was the perfect start for our life together.” 

Paul & Helen Jackman

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Destination weddings at Wolwedans have become a regular feature at our lodges and camps and the Wolwedans team has grown well accustomed to treat wedding couples to an extra warm welcome.

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To speak the words ‘I do’ out into the colours of the wild, to truly experience a magical union with both your loved one and nature itself, is a unique and utterly romantic idea.

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As the bride and groom however, we suggest that you spend your wedding night at the idyllic and remote Wolwedans Private Camp, romantically set in an enchanting valley and probably one of the most private places you will ever discover.

peartree.co.za | paul & marianne | wolwedans, namibia

Alternatively, your special night could be in the elegant and stylish Mountain View Suite, a private chalet adjoining the Wolwedans Dunes Lodge with magnificent views over the Chateaux Plains.

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Wolwedans Boulders Camp is the latest addition to the Wolwedans portfolio of camps and lends itself to intimate wedding parties of up to eight people.

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Selma’s Story: From strength to strength after leaving Desert Academy

wolwedans foundation logo - text - SmallMy Name is Selma Simaneka Benjamin and I was born 13 December 1986 in the Northern part of Namibia at a small village called Onawa in Owamboland. I later grew up with my grandmother at Omaalala where I spend a great deal of my childhood.

I never dreamed of working in the tourism industry. Busy with my job of presenting the breakfast show on base fm one morning  when an advert in the local daily newspaper caught my attention: ’we are looking for young people with the fire in the belly’. I took it upon myself to apply to the Desert Academy, the vocational training program run by the Wolwedans Foundation - teaching young Namibians all aspects of the hospitality industry before helping to launch them into the industry. I had already forgotten I applied, when the phone call came. The interview process was out of this world, little did I know then that taking part in the pilot project would change my life forever – I got bitten by the tourism bug!

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Being enrolled at the Desert Academy for six months was amazing, my head was buzzing with a whole lot of information – not only from the theory. The books hardly did justice to the practical experience I received.

The Wolwedans team was extremely dedicated to passing on the practical skills to us – whilst still having to focus on doing their job really well as not to compromise on the quality of service offered to guests.

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The whole experience was amazing; from theory to practical all was well organized and I believe if I had studied somewhere else the result would not have been precisely the same.  The uniqueness of the Desert Academy from all other institutes is that you are exposed 1st hand, as you step out of the theory classes you step right into the practical lessons, making it so much easier to understand and grasp all information learned.

I will forever be grateful for the opportunity given to me back than in 2007 with the DA as it has paved the way to the industry for me and made me into the bulldog I’m becoming today.  Although things are always slightly different, when you are working for other companies (each has their own policies on how they operate at the end of the day), quality in service delivery towards guests is something all establishments have in common. I have worked for a number of top lodges in Namibia and I must give credit to all my colleagues and my managers for the mentorship as they have contributed towards my growth and skills in the industry.

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I must also admit to get where I’m today it has not been a walk in the park. You have to work hard and sacrifice a lot – from your beauty sleep, to family and friends and your social life sometimes goes out the window, but all this can be gained back once you find your rhythm and balance and execute your time wisely.

With tourism I learn that you have to be passionate about working with people. It can be quite a challenge, but also lots of fun as you meet a lot of great people from all walks of life. My advice to other newcomers to the industry: ‘never take information for granted, never stop learning, stay humble, be friendly, be honest towards yourself and others, work hard, always go the extra mile for yourself and guests, challenge yourself, be yourself, never be afraid to grow as a person as opportunities are always there, maintain a good reputation and allow your work to speak in volumes and pave ways for your growth within the industry.’

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Now with my 1st management position at Ongula Village Homestead & Lodge, it’s a huge challenge as the smooth operation of the lodge is all dependant on me making the right decisions. Thanks to a supportive team and management, I’m also happy to be promoting cultural tourism in my region and help educating the community to understand the importance of tourism making them benefit from it all in terms of job creation and bringing better infrastructure.  The best part of all this Owamboland is always buzzing with energy and this is definitely the heartbeat of Namibia.

Exploring Wolwedans from Horseback

You love the wide open spaces, dunes and vistas of NamibRand – and Wolwedans in particular? This month a long awaited dream has become reality: Wolwedans launches its Horseback Safaris – in association with Namibia Horse Safari Company.

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Now imagine the sensation of freedom when experiencing this magnificent landscape and it’s wild inhabitants from horseback. Other than walking, there can hardly be a better way to get up close and personal with nature. A brand new activity launched at Wolwedans Collection of Camps from September 2013, the Wolwedans Village is now complete with horse stables and a resident  professional horse guide. 

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The horseback safaris offered at Wolwedans can be tailored to suit each guests riding ability. Different options (always on a first come first serve basis) include a two hour mid-morning ride around the village, three to four hour morning or sunset rides with breakfast, or respectively, sundowners in the dunes, as well as day-rides (5 – 6 hours on horse back) with a picnic lunch served in the field (normally at Jagkop mountain).

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The horses range from gentle souls to more lively rides, once again dependant on each guests level of experience. For more information, please have a look at the different options for rides and feel free to enquire with your guide or our camp management.

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Introducing Megan – your resident Wolwedans Horse Guide

‘I did all my guiding training with Andrew Gilles as well as doing a lot of self study – I believe there is always more to know when you are a guide and I learn new things every day.

I have been working in the Namib for two years now, managing the horses as well as guiding all the safaris, including Sossusvlei and the Naukluft mountains.  I was also involved on camping trips, where I guided as well as cooked dinners and breakfasts on the fire.

I enjoy guiding as it gives me the opportunity to work with people from all over the world.  I get to learn about their cultures and I get to share my knowledge of the area I work in with them.  There are few things that make me happier than having a satisfied customer at the end of their safari with me.  I feel that the combination of horse and nature gives guests a different perspective and feel of our country and I thoroughly enjoy seeing them experience it first hand and at the same time falling in love with the horses.’

Wolwedans Guiding Diaries Part 2

 

lucas mbanguThe True Desert Master

compiled by senior field guide Lucas Mbangu

 

On a walking safari in the morning of 10 May 2013, I spotted one of the true desert masters. Living in such a inhospitable environment, the Namaqua chameleon’s body and behavior have evolved to keep it from overheating. It digs holes in the sand to reach the cooler sand beneath or may hide in burrows built by other animals. All chameleon species are capable of colour change, which is not only for camouflage as generally assumed. Chameleons may also change colour in response to other chameleons, when fighting or mating, temperature fluctuations and their surroundings.

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Mating can take place up to times a year producing 6 – 20 eggs in each clutch. The eggs incubate for three to four months in the sand. Chameleons start reproducing between five and seven months old.  Their nasal glands are adapted to excrete salt, allowing the Namaqua chameleon to reabsorb water as much as possible.

The chameleon’s life span is relatively short, with the female’s life span shorter than the male’s. Female chameleon live between three to five years, while males live between five and eight years.

 

Wolwedans chosen to feature among Africa’s Top 50 Truly Sustainable Safari Camps

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Wolwedans Collection of Camps has been handpicked to feature in ‘Africa’s Finest‘, a brand-new coffee table book celebrating the most sustainable safari lodges and camps in Africa. Taking a deeper look at what it really means to run a sustainable and eco- friendly safari operation in Africa, the authors aim to simultaneously celebrate both the beauty of those camps that are run right and thereby add value to the preservation of their environment and its people, but to also expose the beast of the safari industry: ’the safari eco-pirates, cowboys, money launderers, green-washers and fence-sitters’.

Colin Bell, the cofounder and former CEO of the pioneering African travel company Wilderness Safaris, and now Great Plains’ CEO, along with environmental scientist David Bristow have teamed up and launched a revolutionary new book: Africa’s Finest. The book is the result of over two years of field work and writing. Illustrated with photographs taken by over 50 of Africa’s top photographers and in collaboration with a group of independent environmental scientists it is part reference, part coffee-table book.

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What this means in effect is that with Africa’s Finest’ a critical study of tourism in African has been undertaken resulting in an eye-opening book – which educates and delights at the same time. The book includes a check-list of sustainable practice, alerting the novice to look out for environmentally unfriendly practices – literally the other side of the coin often found hiding behind the shiny facades of glamorous lodges praising themselves as being premiere ecotourism destinations.

Bell & Bristow on what they hope Africa’s Finest will achieve:

‘We hope it will become a game changer in the safari tourism industry in helping to reverse many of the negative trends and declines in Africa’s wildlife. We believe Africa’s Finest will become a valuable tool for travel consultants who sell Africa and for potential travellers to Africa to help them decide where they should stay’

17699-TechHouse Through the book’s outstanding photography & field work it tells remarkable stories about Africa’s remaining untouched wilderness, but among these is a more sombre tale;  the book’s foreward by Morne Du Plessis, WWF South Africa’s CEO, points to the cover photo of a giant tusker: ‘this very elephant is dead (probably from a poacher’s bullet), and possibly all large-tusked elephants in the wild will be shot out in the not-too-distant future along with all wild dogs and possibly most free-roaming lions and cheetahs’.

The book’s intention is to give hope and solutions for conservation, ways in which we can all contribute to the changing world to conserve what’s left of Africa’s wilderness.

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‘If Africa’s wild places, and the people associated with them, are to be there to greet our children, their survival can be positively affected by business, specifically a transformed, nurturing, all-inclusive safari and wildlife industry. The operations that follow sustainable and renewable tourism models and partnerships, will be the ones that secure a future for the wildlife, the extraordinary cultures and people living in or around game reserves, as well as the very land on which all this depends.

 

Family Friendly Private Camp

Reading Tip: Condè Nast Traveller 'I had a house in Africa'
Wolwedans Private Camp is located in a quiet and idyllic valley. This splendid suite caters for four guests exclusively. It is the perfect getaway for families, honeymooners or individuals seeking uncompromising privacy and solitude. 

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Private Camp is a safe, private retreat in the desert and makes for a perfect family getaway. Menus and special requirements for the children can be discussed with the designated staff, including a private guide and private chef. The villa has its very own waterhole, allowing for exclusive game watching all day long…

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Guided activities such as scenic drives, scenic flights, hot-air ballooning and nature walks can be arranged either exclusively for you (at an extra charge) or to be shared with other lodge or camp guests.

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Private Camp is your special home at Wolwedans. It demands nothing much of you, but to relax and enjoy the ever-changing colours of the desert.

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Private Camp offers two spacious en-suite bedrooms, a ‘Sala’ where one can laze away siestas, various decks and the central lounge, combining a study, living room, a dining area and a fully equipped kitchen. Its open-plan design allows uninterrupted views of the surrounding nature.

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Family Hux: ‘My family of four (two boy ages 2 and 4) stayed at Private Camp which was perfect. We didn’t have to worry about disturbing other guests and our daily activities were planned around our needs. We had a chef (who cooked child-appropriate food on request), maid and guide. The guide, Felix, was the best we have experienced to date: extremely knowledgable, very friendly and fantastically patient with the children. The camp was situated in front of a waterhole set in stunning wilderness. I felt it was a safe environment for the children and we didn’t come across any big bugs in the camp. Sand-dune walks with the kids highly recommended. They also came on drives for 3 hours and were fine. If you are at all worried that the ‘children are too young’ – don’t be. We all had a trip-of-a-lifetime which will be remembered one-way-or-another buy all of us.’

Namib Sand Sea declared a world heritage site

It’s official. Bated breath turned to utter relief in the early morning hours of Friday, 21 June, when it was announced that the Namib Sand Sea has been declared as a natural World Heritage Site. This is the second UNESCO World Heritage site for Namibia.

Namibia-2009-1361Namibia’s delegation to the 37th Session of the World Heritage Committee meeting held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, cheered at the announcement and eagerly began spreading the happy news this morning. This is a wonderful feat for conservation in Namibia.Namibia-2009-1029

The Namib Sand Sea (as the Southern Namib Erg) was identified as a potential World Heritage site in 2002. Preparation for the nomination of the Namib Sand Sea started in 2009. The dossier listing the criteria needed for World Heritage inscription was compiled during 2011 under the leadership of Dr Mary Seely of the Gobabeb Research and Training Centre. The dossier was presented to the World Heritage committee in 2012.

IMG_0018The 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage makes provision for sites to be inscribed as cultural, natural or mixed (having both natural and cultural values).

Namibia’s first world heritage site, Twyfelfontein, was inscribed in 2007 as a cultural site. The Namib Sand Sea is Namibia’s first natural World Heritage site. NamibRand Nature Reserve and Wolwedans are proud to be bordering on this brand new World Heritage Site!

Wolwedans Guiding Diaries – Part 1

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A GOLDEN MOMENT for Wolwedans Guides

compiled by senior field guide Lucas Mbangu

On 14th June 2013 Wolwedans Guide Jonathan Nangombe chanced upon the near impossible. While on a sundowner drive one hour before sunset he spotted a little animal… when he got closer for inspection, it was the Namib endemic golden mole!!! This is a rare sighting, as this precious little animal is very hard hard to spot! 

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Jonathan did not hesitate to bring the mole back to a group of Wolwedans guides, of which 99% asserted that this was the first time they saw one in their guiding experience. Jan Friede, an experienced pilot guide who has been guiding for over 20 years also admitted that was his first time to have a golden mole in his hand!

This small mammal fits in the palm of your hand and does not have eyes to see. The golden mole is not a relative to mouse as many people assume, it belongs to a super order Afrotheria, which includes elephants, sea cows, elephant shrews, hyrax and aardvark.

golden mole tracksGolden moles have got a very impressive trail, in most cases the trail is seen from grass to grass, this is their way to harvest termites which are found to the roots of the grass. It has broad hollowed-out clans to dig in the sand.

Golden Moles do not construct burrows, they do however take refuge about 50 cm below the surface of the sand,where it is a cool 25 degrees during the dry day.t swims underground to get around and protect itself against nocturnal predators, such as owl and jackals. Breeding is believed to occur between October and November, with a gestation period of 4 to 6 weeks. In return 1 to 2 live young are born. Interestingly, not popular in some of the mammal books, hence little is known about this fascinating little desert dweller.

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Special thanks !!!!!

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for this extraordinary sighting to Jonathan Nangombe (Wolwedans field guide) and another special thanks to Jan Friede pilot guide and photographer of African profile safaris who was at Wolwedans Collection of Camps at the time

 

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit chooses Wolwedans as their location for 50 year anniversary edition

Wolwedans has been chosen as a location in Namibia for the 2013 Sports Illustrated Swimwear 50 year anniversary edition. Shot on 7 continents, two of the Swimsuit models were photographed in and around Wolwedans Dunes Lodge.Wolwedans-7sen as a location in Namibia for the 2013 Sports Illustrated Swimwear 50 year anniversary edition. Shot on 7 continents, two of the Swimsuit models were photographed in and around Wolwedans Dunes Lodge. Cintia from Brazil and Adaora from the US make beautiful ambassadors for Wolwedans… the photography is outstanding, thanks to top photographer Kayt Jones, and the jewel coloured bikinis make a wonderful contrast to the stark beauty of the NamibRand Nature Reserve. The team spent 10 days at Wolwedans Dunes Lodge and had a blast with the wonderful light conditions, where shooting is easy throughout most of the daylight hours. Wolwedans would once again like to thank the amazing team under Chris Stone and MJ Day for the amazing exposure that Wolwedans will enjoy with the publication of the 2013 edition on Feb 12, 2013. Wolwedans-61 Wolwedans1-266x400 Wolwedans51-284x400

Cheuk and Mary get married at Wolwedans

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from China chose Wolwedans as their venue of choice to say the “I do’s” over Easter 2012. Captured by Wil Punt of Peartree Photography who traveled especially from South Africa to capture this very special moment for the couple. The photos speak volumes about moving away from the pressures and expectations of getting married in a modern world. Cheuk and Mary came all the way from the other side of the world to find silence, a most awe-inspiring backdrop and a friendly, attentive, but discreet Wolwedans team, to make their special day just perfect. Cheuk and Mary’s wedding photos are set against the perfect backdrop of ethereal desert scenery, the only audience being some dung beetles, perhaps a lizard or two and some Oryx watching from the dunes in the distance….

and a stunning wedding gown....

Fairy Circle Love....
True glamour in the desert:

It's a done deed...now it's time for the honeymoon....and we don't even have to travel anywhere. Wolwedans is just perfect!