Reviews of Sossus Dune Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Great views at Sossus Dune
Sossus Dune is part of NWR and does feel a bit more "National Park" rather than privately run establishment.
Upon arrival, our host talked to us about facilities and activities on offer. It would have been helpful to have had this in writing to refer to later - as at the end of a long drive, you don't always take everything in.
All the staff were friendly and helpful, but our exchanges with them felt a bit stiff and formal, as if they weren't really relaxed in the service they were providing. The notable exception was when the staff came into the restaurant on our first evening to sing a couple of songs. Then they seemed to have a great time!
The room was great, with lots of space and places to put things, plenty of power sockets and cellphone coverage. However, neither of the two doors to the room worked smoothly - both jammed on the wooden floor (although one was eased during our stay) and using the lock was a challenge and it usually took several attempts to get the front door unlocked.
We took a trip to watch the sunrise in Sossusvlei and to visit the Dunes. Clearly this trip included a trek up the Dunes, although that had not been made clear and wasn't actually what we wanted to do. This resulted in us waiting around for some time while the other group members climbed the Dunes with the Guide. Some more explanation, and discussion about what is involved and what people want to do / are able to do physically would be beneficial.
Upon returning to our car after 2 nights stay at the Lodge, we found our car had a flat tyre. The member of staff that was with us kindly helped us change the tyre before we set off to get it repaired at Sesriem.
Real bonus being inside the Park gates
We actually had a bit if trouble finding it because we knew it was inside the park gate and we believed there was only one road in the park BUT you don't go through the gate to get to it!
We loved Sossus Dune Lodge, the layout ,the location, the rooms ,the people , everything. The only comment we would make is that, despite everyone trying really hard to provide 5 star treatment there is just a slight feeling of it all not being quite co-ordinated at the top somehow. However it is still early days for them and we wish them every success.
Sossus Dune Lodge review
As a camp I have to say this is wonderful, the location within the dunes is brilliant, the rooms are first class. We did however arrive with no staff in sight, no suggestion where to go and it took nearly 20 minutes before anyone appeared. Whilst very apologetic about this, the fact that the dreaded golf cart is supposed to meet you and didn't meant we were wondering around like lost souls.
Also activity information was poor and trying to get from staff instructions on how to self drive into the dunes before sunrise proved near on impossible, we had 4 different versions of what was required and all turned out to be wrong.
You don't need a permit and just turn right before you get to canyon, along track on front of camp. Simple, but no one can explain it.
Sossus Dune Lodge review
Excellent in all categories.
Would have liked to have been told (though I guess I should have known) that we could drive ourselves to Sossusvlei; I gained (perhaps mistakenly) the impression from our introduction that a 4 by 4 was needed.
Particularly impressed by Namibian staff, here abnd at all the other lodges we stayed at.
Crickets abound at Sossus Dune Lodge
Fits incredibly well into its surroundings and evey staff member was helpful, cheerful and happy to have you as their guest.
The snack provided with the sundowner was a meal in itself and easily the best provided by anywhere that we stayed in Namibia!
Our guide on our trip to the dunes - George - was incredibly knowledgable and considerate of two out of shape people trying to climb the dunes at sunset (see snacks above).
Would love to come back in another season to see how the landscape changes (we were here in May). Also would be nice to go at a time when there weren't so many crickets on the walkways (they have to be seen to be believed and are only around whilst there's vegetation).
Signposting for the lodge at the Sesriem gate is not as clear as it could be. Need to add the lodge to the sign for the canyon.
Wow - what a great place
Hard to know where to begin here but this place is truly spectacular. It's new and has been extremely well integrated into the landscape. From a distance you can hardly see it. It has been built and designed firmly on eco principles. The impact on the local environment is minimal, so much so that a golf cart-style buggy service is provided to shuttle guests between the car park and the lodge.
Wooden walkways run above the desert floor so desert animals are unimpeded. Lighting at night-time is minimal, again to reduce the impact on the desert environment. The accommodation here is of a very, very high standard, as is the service. The rooms are in independent chalets and are generously proportioned. Our bathroom was huge! We had a lovely big balcony looking out onto the desert.
The dining room is fantastic, all wooden/straw/canvas construction. Food is first rate and the service very attentive. We visited Sesriem Canyon, which is only a short drive from the lodge. The canyon is amazing and full of birdlife. The only thing we weren't keen on here were the bus-loads of tourists, who spoil the atmosphere in the canyon somewhat.
We made the obligatory pre-dawn trip to Sossusvlei, and it was certainly worth it. With a 2-wheel drive vehicle you get most of the way but have to stop at the end of the road. You then pay for a 4x4 shuttle service to bring you on from there - if you're bothered. We weren't! For a start we couldn't have even if we wanted to as there was no service at that hour (half five or so). But even if there had been, there was simply no need - the 2x4 car park area is spectacular enough as it is. Nor did we stop at Dune 45. Instead we avoided the tourist traps and went to Dead Vlei, doing our own little self-guided walk. We were the only ones around.
The sunrise was spectacular. If you have a camera (and frankly you shouldn't go there without one!) you will find yourself taking pictures non-stop, that's how beautiful it is. And it's easy to take lovely pictures. Just beware that it can be a little chilly at those very early hours. We saw some wildlife on the way back, including jackals. Note that the petrol station in Sesriem is liable to run out of fuel, we were caught out but thankfully still had half a tank. We were able to fill the tank when we went back the following morning. The lodge offer trips to Sossusvlei but it's very expensive and there's no real need, you're better off going under your own steam.
Sossus Dune Lodge review
A superb new development, very well designed and excellent for dawn drives to the dunes. Staff trying their utmost to please, attitude excellent.
Very enjoyable evening dune ride with 'Rambo' , at his suggestion as an alternaive to our plan - he is also expert with sundowner G & T !
A pity you can't wheel the bed out on to the terrace to sleep.
Sossus Dune Lodge
This is a new camp (first year) and there are still a few rough edges (literally) requiring polishing. This is a big lodge with 25 double rooms, but works very hard on being friendly, with good food and enthuastic staff. The downside, is the very rough access road (5km) and the most impractical shuttle service from the parking area to the camp. Electric golf buggies on a one way path - not great. The rooms are fantastic with the largest bathrooms possible.
The big plus and it is a big plus is being inside the park at sunrise (well an hour before sunrise) which make preparation for photographers/walkers perfect. Would definitely stay here again, mainly for the latter point
Balloon Flight - This is an experience which should not be missed, even if you think you have a fear of hieghts. After two years, i ended up with the same pilot and as ever Eric was on top form - make the effort to request being in Eric's basket so to speak.
Great views, great breakfast, great experience.
luxury thatched huts overlooking the desert - we sat on our balcony watching the sunset with a cold beer - fantastic
very relaxed atmosphere with helpful and attentive staff
the rationale to be inside the national park for an early start before sunrise does not really hold and there were plenty of other cars in before us - partly because our guide was unkeen to leave earlier and also because others can come in from the campsite etc.quite easily before dawn.
the service and food was excellent - the billing slightly chaotic (NB they did not ask for a deposit which Expert Africa had said they might) they could do with more shaded areas to sit outside especially by the bar and swimming pool
Sossus Dune Lodge review
Sossus Dune Lodge is gleamingly new, and for our two nights, there was only the three of us plus a German couple with two young children staying.
The accommodation is very good, the situation superb at the foot of a big kopie looking out to the distant dunes, and the staff were also keen to please, and charming, with good food, and a pleasant little swimming pool.
We took the morning drive to Sossusvlei, having asked questions of the customer relations manager about the trip, because it was an expensive one (over $900) and we had our own 4x4. We decided to take the guided trip because a) we knew that the last 5km could be difficult through the sand without more 4x4 driving experience, and b) we know from experience that a guide usually adds so much to understanding and enjoyment.
Our guide Felix was very good at his job, both in terms of cheerful and excellent information and careful and skilled driving, and in most ways the trip was a very successful one. But not in one respect: we left soon after 5.30. but by sunrise at 6.40 I was very unhappy with the trip, because by then we had not even reached the viewpoint at the first red dune.
I had expected, from everything I had read in the Bradt Guide, in Expert Africa's brochure, and everywhere else, that we would head at speed for the tar road and Sossusvlei so as to get down right among the dunes, and preferably to Sossusvlei itself, for sunrise.
I have a new, expensive digital SLR, and deluded optimism about my photographic skills, so this was a real disappointment. After that, as I say, the trip was very good, but the light for photography down there was flat, as my pictures now show.
Felix was great (went and found the sunglasses I dropped a long way back at one point). The reason we were so slow was that the road taken from the lodge to the tar was out over the plain (and through the river channel below Sesriem Gorge), only joining the tar about 10km or more from the gate.
Aware that I would be among the first of your clients giving feedback to you on the new lodge, I asked to talk to Felix later, with two of the managers (including the senior one) also there, so that I could try to get across all the positives as well as explaining my disappointment/frustration, and giving them a chance to give their point of view.
We talked for half an hour, and what seemed to come out of it was that the trip had been more tuned to the other family with children than to my photography.
I made the point that the evening before I had tried to find out about leaving time and getting down to the dunes, but had not had a clear answer, and obviously there was a gap in the communication between that member of staff and Felix.
However, I still can't see for the life of me why the lodge does not, as standard practice, drive the 5 minutes round the back of the kopie to the start of the tar road, and go fast to the middle of the dunes at least, or to Sussusvlei with a really early start.
That is what Sabina (quite understandably) expected to happen, and why she recommended this lodge to us, being inside the national Park so that they don't have to wait till later for entry.
It's what I did myself the next morning at 5.30. Sadly, just as sunrise was a minute away, the cloud came down, and I never got the red dunes at dawn which I wanted …. So, at the least, I think you should tell future clients to insist that the morning trip does make speed, if that is what the client wants, and to ask very pointed questions the night before to make sure that it will.
Expert Africa comments
We are awaiting clarification from NWR about hiow their trips into Sossusvlei work, so that our future travellers can decide for themselves if these trips are right for them or not.