Vol. 14 No.1 2010
Heart-stopping landscapes and exquisite stillness await in the NamibRand
Words Emma Wright
Namibia beautiful. It is an unusual beauty, otherworldly almost and, because so much of this perception lies in what affects internally, must be experienced to be known. There is peace, a shedding of the details that fill days elsewhere and a subsequent ability to be present. Nothing interferes with the sweep of grass to the base f the mountains and the constant transformation of the landscape played out like tides. In such a vast, still and empty place, it is light that renders the changes, turning the landscape to purple, brown, blue and then blush, exposing the incredible detail in a dune and then leaving it alone in shillouette.
Wolwedans Mountain View Suite at the Dunes Lodge, set in the wilderness of the Sossusvlei region of the NamibRand Nature Reserve, is an ideal place from which to experience this extraordinary spectacle. This private honeymoon house is set apart from the main camp, backed by terracotta Dunes and overlooking a vast plain and mountains. The interior is in keeping with the updated colonial feel of the rest of the camp - an elegant mix of dark woods, worn books, leather couches and romantic white mosquito nets. There is a sublime yet simple veranda with a double daybed perfect for stargazing and a hammock strung up in the shade for afternoon naps or daydreaming. The semi-tent structure means that the canvas bedroom walls can be rolled up, creating a very romantic open-air sleeping platform for two. There is also a generous lounge with great big windows and beautiful views, not to mention the very indulgent services of a private chef, who makes cooking up feasts in the desert seem like the easiest thing in the world.
Mornings and evenings are magical times in Namibia so it is worth waking up while the sun is still hidden behind the mountain and the light is soft. The grass is a gentle shade of cream at this time, it's quiet but for the expectant sounds of birdsong, and the slow ascent of the sun's impact on the landscape - ending with a dramatic interplay rays shining over the mountaintops - is a sight to behold. Should you wish to leave the sanctuary of your lodge, there are daily drives around the reserve where you can see fauna uniquely adapted to the desert at play. Meerkats, side winder snakes, shovel-nosed lizards (that literally dive into the sand) and gemsbok are some of the highlights. There are many beautiful stop-off spots around the reserve if you choose to stay out for a lunchtime picnic. Noon to 5 pm is harsh and hot, and the lodge's guest pool is a good antidote to this - the water temperature hovers at an icy 10 degrees. Alternating between a lounger in the hot sun and the cool water is profoundly relaxing, something of a sauna and ice experience in reverse, and a very good way to while away an afternoon.
As evening approaches, the friendly and passionate staff hang lanterns along the walkways signaling that it may be time to wander back for sunset drinks. The lodge is solar powered, so much of the light in the evenings is supplied by these lanterns. There is something very soothing about the absence of electricity and the gentle glow of lamplight which allows for a more immediate connection with the environment. Of course the stars shine brighter too and there can be little better than sitting side by side under the stars in the middle of the desert to end your day.