Reviews of Wolwedans Dunes Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Luxury in the middle of the desert
The location is amazing - 20km from the road over a sandy one-track road. We stayed in the Mountain View Suite which is huge (5 rooms plus outdoor bed!) and very colonial - dedicated cook and maitre'd - but the food and service were excellent and very attentive, respectively. The guided tour was brilliant, with an extremely knowledgeable and friendly guide. The plane flight over the Namib was very special too. Amazing stars at night.
Waking at dawn with Oryx sliding down the red dunes just outside the bedroom and desert crows singing (!) from on top of the tented lodge is an experience we will remember for a long time.
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge review
Wolwedans is of course the touchstone against which other lodges in Namibia are judged and it is in the most stunning position. The whole business of administering the arrival of guests is very impressive although it felt just a tiny bit like being 'processed'! This was the busiest lodge we stayed in during our trip and it was clear that it was geared up to receiving quite large parties, taking them in, looking after them and deftly delivering them out the other end - it was very impressive.
Everything was very well done although our earlier comment about the tendency of lodge decor to verge on colonial nostalgia probably reached its epitome here - the extent of shelves of elderly books verged on Hay on Wye, but this is not to detract from the smoothness of the overall operation and the professionalism of the staff - all impeccably done.
We suspect that a combination of the fact we reached here after a fairly long trip that took us to a good number of varied camps plus a bit of experience of other parts of southern Africa made us slightly blase, but although the experience was very good, for us it was maybe just a tad too over the top - but still all very well done, and if people have a limited time in Namibia and want to experience the desert, the this is the place to go.
Woolwedans Dunes Lodge
Woolwedans Dunes Lodge proved an excellent starting point in a spectacular location after our delayed BA flight from London. The food was outstanding and a lot more sophisticated than you might expect while on safari though possibly more than was really necessary.
Abner proved to be a charming and helpful guide
Big Disappointment with Wolwedans
As photographers, we wanted to be in good landscape locations with the prime early morning and late afternoon light. We were told, and our voucher clearly stated we were to have a private guide and vehicle. Wolwedans would not honor this, stating their office in Windhoek knew nothing about it. Our guide, informative talkative Trecious, was very apologetic, but it was beyond his control. I felt Wolwedans has a very standard set of activities/locations, and absolutely no desire to accommodate personal preferences, but would rather sell you an extra activity--horse, plane, balloon rides, etc.
The food was very good, but a late-starting 5-course dinner makes for a very late evening, and everyone at our table the first night had early morning activities, so we were all a little anxious about getting enough sleep. They heavily promote their conservation: never driving off-road--even a little to stop or park--making it very difficult to watch or photograph the wildlife, as there is quite a bit of traffic considering it's a single lane road; charging a per item laundry fee and limiting each guest to 50-liters of water per day, yet it took a very long time for me to get hot water. A recommendation to not shower for more than say 2-minutes, would be much preferable than saying our water will cut-off at 100-liters; how am I to know just how much water is coming out the faucet or showerhead? Maybe each room could have a small solar water-heater? Would save a lot of water.
Wolwedans is located in a very beautiful reserve, though everything seemed to be a fairly lengthy drive from the lodge. We'd originally intended to visit during the rainy season, but were told it was worth visiting both during the rainy and dry seasons. I would like to visit the reserve again, but certainly not through Wolwedans.
The service overall was very disappointing: our request for our room's canvas walls to remain up was ignored, though we appreciated the hot-water bottles placed in our bed; we arrived at 6:45 for a supposed 6:30 breakfast to find the place sealed up, unzipping a wall and yelling 'Good morning' into the black cavern, did bring voices emerging from the depths (the girls were then most pleasant, shivering in the cold), to having to 'check-out' where they seemed very disgruntled shuffling through papers again and again, before agreeing there was nothing additional for us to pay. We were given a packed lunch no problem, as we'd arrived after lunch on our first day. I overheard the others at our table, who'd all eaten lunch on their arrival, initially refused a packed lunch, but then agreed to if paid for. I can understand if they're working on that tight of a budget, but it left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, when all the other camps we stayed with were always trying to give us more food.
We were disappointed in the activities because we expected to be in good locations during the prime light of early morning and late afternoon. The Namibrand Nature Reserve is beautiful, with many animals traversing through. Wolwedans made a supreme effort to tell and show us how this unique ecosystem works, and of their efforts to conserve the natural resources, which we value and appreciate very much. But when the light is good, and the shadows are long, we'd prefer to be shooting landscapes and larger animals (though I did get some interesting shots of beetles), and not quite so much time with their pumps and watering systems. There was a definite time-table for our full-day excursion, and we often felt hurried through areas where we would have liked more time, while spending time in areas we'd have preferred to skip, even when all the vehicle's occupants agreed.
Expert Africa comments
These travellers received an apology that their booking wasn't processed correctly by the Wolwedans booking office, and the request for a private vehicle and guide not passed on to the lodge. They received a full refund for this service.
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge also responded with the following comments to the travellers:
Please accept our sincere apologies regarding the poor service delivered to the guests during their stay.
Punctuality and general care towards satisfying the needs of guests is considered to be a priority at Wolwedans. Our staff is trained to cater to, as well as anticipate the individual needs of each visitor. Hence, the Management was rather disappointed to learn of the guests negative experience as relates to service. The matter has been taken up and measures have been put into place to minimise the likelihood of a similar situation arising in the future.
With regard to the private guide and vehicle, my colleague Litungeni has been in communication with you, and although, the events of the past cannot be erased, we hope that our efforts to make amends were well received. Since that time, we have briefed the guides at Wolwedans on the special needs of photographers, media representatives and other interest groups. Without causing harm to the fragile desert ecosystems and while adhering to the rules of the Reserve, all guided drives since then have been modified to specifically satisfy the interests of the client. In the event that more than one party of guests happens to share a vehicle, the median preferences are considered so as to accommodate as many members of the group as is possible.
In terms of water consumption, our guests are encouraged to use water sparingly. Given our extremely arid surroundings and heavy dependence on ground water, I’m sure you can appreciate the need for prudent water use. That being said, there is no enforced water quota for guests at Wolwedans. Indeed, in the past, promotional material on site did hint towards a limit on the amount of water available to each guest. However, this limit has yet to be imposed and the actual “rule” itself no longer exists. To date, no other clients have complained of, nor have their ablution activities been hampered as a result of insufficient water. We trust that the same proved true in the case of these travellers.
As for water heating, each chalet is fitted with an individual photovoltaic panel for every geyser. Depending on the levels of sunlight and the time of day at which hot water is used, there is a possibility that the pipes heat up at varied rates. This process is beyond the control of Lodge employees and is largely dependent on both the climate and the technology that translates solar power into electrical energy. Should the guests have experienced prolonged lag periods between the time at which faucets were turned on and the time that adequately-heated water proceeded from the pipes, then please accept our apologies for the inconvenience caused.
On the point of late dinners, it has been our experience that guests returning form sundown drives look forward to a hearty meal upon their return. By definition, the drive requires that participants in the excursion return to the Lodge after sunset. Hence, any meals offered would often be presented after dark. Visitors are always welcome to request an earlier service to match their habitual routines. Unfortunately, the team at Wolwedans was unaware that the couple would have preferred to be served earlier. Had this wish been expressed, arrangements would have been made to cater to the couple’s preference. If team failed to communicate the time at which dinner would be served in advance, then we apologise for our lack of communication.
Once again, we cannot emphasise enough our sincere regret at the poor service delivered to these travellers. Given the Management’s efforts to mitigate the effects of those experiences, it is our hope that the couple’s stay at Wolwedans will be remembered for the helpful guide, delicious food, charming accommodation and beautiful surroundings.
We wish the couple numerous happy travels through Namibia in years to come.
Amazing views from Wolwedans Dune Lodge
We thought the location and scenery at Wolwedans was breathtaking, the food excellent and the guided walk with the Bushmen fascinating. We didn't find it as relaxing and welcoming as Kulala - but you can't have it all!Read more about the whole safari
One of the Most Beautiful Places on Earth!
Our second visit to Wolwedans to enjoy the breathtaking scenery and relaxed atmosphere. We returned with high expectations and if anything we enjoyed it even more than we had hoped for. The food was excellent (although perhaps excessive in quantity), and the lodge should be commended for growing some of their own produce.
The guiding is very good, but on arrival we could have benefited from more dialogue about tailoring the activities to our particular interests.
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge review
Just a wonderful experience - everything we had hoped for and more.Read more about the whole safari
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge review
Spectacular setting. Orynx' sleeping next to our porch. Great food and service. Probably our favorite lodge.
Drive from Windhoek is long with no facilities along the way. Some people might find that excessive if it's their first day. But it was worth it.
Although the area isn't as game-rich as Etosha, we saw plenty whilst here, and really enjoyed our activities. The sundowner locations were breathtaking, particularly one where we were perched on a hill overlooking the plains below. We also had a really good drive to remote waterholes where we saw the animals playing out the politics of the waterhole - zebras never drink while oryx are drinking and vice versa - and our guide also showed us much of the smaller wildlife:- tok tokkies, spiders, scarily massive crickets, geckos and such like which was really interesting.
The accommodation here was the sort I was hoping for - effectively glamping of the highest order - and the view from the room was breathtaking, especially at sunrise. We also loved how the oryx took shelter under the tents (which are on stilts) for the shade. The tents were hot though although plenty of outdoor seating and loungers were provided for use during the day - in the shade!
We didn't think the communal dinners worked - primarily because we were the only non-Germans there when we visited and as our German doesn't much extend beyond 'Where is the Town Hall' and 'Where is the tram stop' we were somewhat sidelined - if it wasn't for a charming German couple with perfect English, we would have felt rather lonely. We would therefore much have preferred to sit on our own. Additionally, we really weren't fans of the overly formal 5 course dinners - whilst the food is not bad, it isn't quite as good as Wolwedans likes to think and one day were were served still frozen carpaccio.
Finally, and whilst this would not stop us recommending Wolwedans, I'm sorry to report that we had quite a lot of money stolen from a locked bag whilst we were here and I would urge Expert Africa to lobby Wolwedans into providing safes in the rooms.
Expert Africa comments
Great to hear most of these comments, but we were very concerned about the theft. Such events, at Wolwedans or any other lodge that we feature, are thankfully rare on our trips; in the 18 years that we have been booking travellers to Africa, we have only had a handful of such incidents.
Although of little consolation to these travellers, the camps team investigated this incident speedily, and the owner has been in touch with these travellers directly.
Every Dune Lodge chalets does have a safe for valuables, in the bathroom cupboard.
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge review
A great location and very friendly and helpful staff who worked hard to make us feel welcome
Great scenery and drives