Wolwedans Dunes Lodge above the dunes...
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge: Our full report
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge is situated on the private NamibRand Nature Reserve, a vast area of 2,100km2 located in the Namib Desert in southern Namibia. Built along the top of a dune plateau and overlooking the desert in all directions, this is the most substantial of the Wolwedans Collection. The other camps include Wolwedans Dune Camp, Wolwedans Private Camp and the luxurious Boulders Camp.
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge is one of four camps in the Wolwedans Collection, the others being Wolwedans Dune Camp, Wolwedans Private Camp and the most recent addition, the luxurious Boulders Camp.
Each of the nine wooden chalets at the Dunes Lodge is built on stilts above the dunes. The bedrooms are stunning: solid wooden beds draped with mosquito nets and made up with high-quality linen. Canvas blinds, which form the wall panels, can be rolled up to reveal magnificent views of the surrounding desert. Stargaze from your bed, then wake to a front-row view of the sunrise! Alternatively, you can request for your bed to be moved onto your veranda so that you can sleep under the stars. The spacious room is also kitted out with a luggage rack, writing desk and comfortable seats. Surrounding each chalet is a wooden split-level deck, with in-built benches, relaxing sunloungers and canvas directors' chairs.
Each chalet has an en-suite bathroom with a shower, flush toilet and twin handbasins. Complimentary soaps, lotions and small vanity kits are thoughtful extra touches.
One chalet, the Mountain View Suite, is located further from the others, making it more private and secluded, but maintaining the same level of comfort and style. Further benefits of this slightly more costly suite include a private guide and vehicle, as well as a private valet. There is a small kitchenette where meals can be prepared, so guests can choose to dine in their suite if they prefer, rather than at the lodge.
Sandy paths and walkways over the dunes connect the chalets at the Dunes Lodge to the hub of the camp, a collection of canvas-and-wood rooms built up on a large wooden platform and open to the surrounding desert. Here you’ll find a comfortable bar and lounge with leather armchairs, a separate library and two dining rooms. Meals are usually hosted in the dining rooms around large communal tables, although individual tables are sometimes set up or can be requested. The dinner menu is often presented by the chefs in their mother tongue, followed by the English translation and sometimes a traditional song. The food is excellent. A special feature of Wolwedans Dunes Lodge is the chilled, subterranean wine cellar which houses a selection of really good wines, and is also used for wine tasting.
A variety of 'sundowner' decks surround the main complex. Sundown is particularly memorable here, as the evening light hits the Losberg Mountain across the dune plains in front of the camp and turns it a magnificent red. There is a tea deck where guests are welcome to help themselves to tea, coffee and cookies during the day, and in front is an open deck with a fireplace, which – as we discovered on our most recent visit in June 2014 – makes a cosy spot on a chilly evening for a bit of stargazing after dinner. In 2012, the NamibRand was designated as a 'dark sky reserve' by the International Dark-Sky Association, with little or no light pollution, so the stargazing on a clear night is excellent.
There is also a swimming pool, set in another large wooden deck built up on stilts to the rear of the camp. Comfortable sunloungers and hammocks shaded by canopies are the perfect place to unwind after a refreshing swim. In fact, the variety of recreational spots at Wolwedans Dune Lodge makes relaxing here a wonderful pastime without feeling anyone else is invading your space.
Activities at Wolwedans Dune Lodge focus on exploring some fascinating facets of the Namib – the world's oldest desert. A two-night stay usually begins with an afternoon nature drive, which leads into sundowners. This is followed by a full-day excursion to explore the further reaches of the reserve, and includes an alfresco picnic lunch and nature walks. Alternatively, there is the option of a morning and afternoon drive split by time at the lodge for visitors who'd just like to sit back and take in the magnificent surroundings. On our last visit, our guide was excellent and knowledgeable, with a real passion for the area, and succeeded in bringing the desert alive for us.. He seemed to know when to share, and when simply to allow us to enjoy the tranquillity, scenery and space.
For an extra cost, the lodge also offers massages, and can book scenic flights and hot-air ballooning. Wolwedans Dunes Lodge also offers weddings – as witnessed by the wedding photos displayed on the walls in the lounge.
Our viewWolwedans Dunes Lodge feels very luxurious and we've enjoyed superb food on our visits over the years. The lodge's open design allows visitors to get the most out of the spectacular views from its perch atop the dunes, both during the day and at night. But for us the real luxury of Wolwedans is the sense of space and tranquillity, which is only enhanced by exploration with a passionate, knowledgeable guide.
Ideal length of stay: We recommend at least two nights at Wolwedans Dunes Lodge in order to fully explore and appreciate the desert surroundings.
Directions: The NamibRand Nature Reserve is situated about 400km southwest of Windhoek. From the main gate of the reserve, follow the signs to the Wolwedans reception at Wolwedans farmhouse, about 20km from the gate. Your guide will transfer you the short distance to the lodge after you've checked in. There is an airstrip at the farmhouse for those on a fly-in trip.
Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Stephan Bruckner
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Cuisine is a big part of any stay at Wolwedans, and a matter of pride for their chefs. On our most recent visit in June 2014 it was very difficult to find fault with the meals, which were always beautifully presented.
A substantial breakfast is available before heading out on the day's activities. Guests are invited to select as many items as they would like from the menu. On our last stay the choices included cereal, fruit salad, yoghurt, bread rolls and toast, cold meats, cheese, pancakes, and oats or porridge, as well as a hot cooked breakfast. Drink options included fruit juices, hot chocolate and cappuccino, in addition to coffee and tea.
Lunch is usually a picnic laid out in the desert while on a full-day activity. Lunch at the lodge is typically two plated courses. We were served a tasty onion quiche with an enormous green salad, followed by a light dessert of fruit salad in a pastry cup.
Dinner is served at the lodge at around 8.00pm, although this could be as late at 9.00pm in summer. We sat down to a four-course meal which started with a delicate olive tapenade with roasted peppers and pesto, followed by beef roulade with aubergine and horseradish sauce. The main course was fillet of fish served with ratatouille, and it was all rounded off by a delectable white and dark chocolate mousse served in a homemade pastry basket. The portions were very reasonable, not too big, and the whole meal was delicious!
Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Most drinks are included at Wolwedans Dunes Lodge. The exceptions are premium-brand or imported spirits and vintage wines/champagne, which will cost extra and are paid for locally.
Further dining info: No
Honeymoons: The dramatic landscapes of the NamibRand desert seem to inspire romance and a sense of wellbeing. It's easy to steal some time alone in this spectacular remote setting, especially in the secluded Mountain View Suite, all while being very well looked after.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Namibia
Attitude towards children: Wolwedans Dunes Lodge welcomes children over the age of six years old.
Property’s age restrictions: The minimum age limit is six years old.
Special activities & services: None
Equipment: None. However, the lodge will put one extra bed in a chalet for a child aged 6–12 to share with his/her parents.
Generally recommended for children: Wolwedans Dunes Lodge has quite an adult atmosphere and would suit older children with an interest in the natural environment. We believe that families are likely to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the Wolwedans Private Camp more, because meals and activities can be tailored to suit the whole family.
Notes: The pool is unfenced. Children must be supervised by their parents at all times.
Power supply: Solar Power
Power supply notes: There are no plug points in the rooms, but there is a communal charging station in the main area. Visitors will need to bring their own adaptors.
Communications: There is intermittent cellphone reception at Wolwedans Dunes Lodge, but otherwise there are no telephones or internet available in camp. There is a telephone and WiFi in the main reception building.
TV & radio: None
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: The showers are plumbed in, and Dunes Lodge has flushing toilets.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: No
Medical care: The closest doctor is in the town of Mariental. In a serious medical emergency, guests would be flown by light aircarft to Windhoek.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: Wolwedans is largely protected by its remote location, but a team of staff members sleep on site (near the main area) at night and an air horn is provided in the room to attract attention in case of emergency.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are strategically placed around the camp and at the entrance to each chalet, as well as in the bathroom.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is available at an extra charge.
Money: The lodge does not offer a currency-exchange facility. A safe is provided in each chalet for storing valuables.
Accepted payment on location: Cash payments in Namibian dollars and South African rands, as well as Visa and MasterCard, are accepted at Wolwedans.