Our sense of adventure and love of the bush and animals, together with our policy of exploring one country in Africa per year, led us to a novel concept: Desert Safari
We decided on the andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in the Namib Desert in Namibia. A few reasons: it looked great; no malaria in the area and relatively easy to get to.
We left on the two hours 06.15 flight from Joburg to Windhoek and then met by an andBeyond representative who assisted us with our luggage. We chartered a small plane directly to the lodge. This was isolation at a new level!
The brunette squealed and our 6 seater tin can took to the African skies with nothing but arid desert and semi desert terrain below us.
Just before touchdown a foreign animal hopped across the airstrip which I later learned was an Oryx- a magnificent antelope. We touched down in what looked like a moonscape or mars-scape(this is my imagination since I've been to neither, but in my mind this was it).
George was at the end of the airstrip. Smiling. Friendly. Professional. George would be our greatest ally in the next 4 days. He welcomed us with a delicious home made lemonade (lemons, sugar, water - boiled to reduce then served chilled) with a wedge of lemon and beautifully chilled large face towels.
A quick unload of 3 impossibly heavy bags (I didn't realize when packing that the lodge offers a same day complimentary laundry service). Moments later we were on the 6 minute drive to the lodge.
We arrived at the lodge, positioned at the base of a mountain overlooking the semi desert. The vista an impossibly large plain of almost no trees with dunes in the distance and flanked to both sides with massive mountains - a slight blackness due to the black granite deposits.
The area is about 70 square kilometers of flat...the distances are deceptive and virtually impossible to gauge. Colours that rival Rajasthan: red, pink, ochre, rust, terra cotta, orange and gold. That's just the dunes and mountains. The number of blue hues that the sky turns is indescribable in its beauty. They change almost by the minute and the slow minute hand ticks by and the pace of life screeches to a virtual halt, measured not in time, but how many gin and tonics have passed since the last meal...We were greeted by some of the friendliest and most professional hotel staff I've ever seen.
It was like an old family reunion.
The lodge is beautiful. Compact - there are only 10 suites with a Maximum of 20 people at any one time. The suites are wonderful and the absence of TV corresponds to the zero cell phone access. The peace and quiet is both novel and welcoming.
The decor is sublime. Calming tones of greys, creams and whites with whitewashed twig chandeliers and huge comfy sofas. All centered around a mirrored bar inside, and an infinity pool outdoors.
Ushered to our suite, a unique and beautiful element was the skylight above the bed giving you spectacular access to the African night sky: wall to wall with stars. At this juncture you are introduced to your butler for the duration of your stay.
Your complimentary in house mini bar is stocked to your heart’s content and continuously refilled with all your favourites, including snacks.
Activities at the lodge are both fun and healthy: hiking through the desert, hiking up the dunes and rolling down, hiking to bushmen drawings in the caves; desert safari (in closed, airconditioned vehicles) ; quad biking up the dunes; visiting the nearby canyon. This is an active break.
While the big game is not exceptional, the insect and other game is quite remarkable to completely different to what we are accustomed to.
Upon each return to the lodge, you are waited upon with ice (or warmed) face towels, and either a refreshing cold beverage or a warm comforting one.
In down time, we played Scrabble and Pictionary with the kids. Bliss...
Nights bring on the stars and the resident astronomer is on hand with a computer controlled telescope giving you unrivaled views of the night sky. The resort is the first Dark Sky resort in Africa - sensitivity to light and environment are pivotal. Walkways are illuminated by red light only which cuts light pollution and doesn't attract unwanted snakes and scorpions.
Food at the lodge is excellent. Simple food, but beautifully prepared and delicious. Staff are almost too obliging and nothing is too much of a problem.
The in-suite massages are sublime, while being pummeled, you enjoy the views of the desert vista.
This is a place that regenerates the soul and you leave here with an unrivalled sense on calm.
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