Reviews of Wolwedans Dunes Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge review
Arrived mid afternoon, long drive in (24km) welcomed by David at reception, then driven to Lodge Camp. Helena gave us Rock Shandies, fantastic.
Room 7 has an amazing position as do the rest. Went for Sundowner with guide Bravo, we drank whilst he changed a tyre!! Good 5 course dinner seated with other guests. Breakfast good.
All day game drive with Bravo (120km) not much to see for first hour but numbers of Oryx, Springbok, Giraffe & Ostrich grew from then on. Wonderful views across the plain. Picnic lunch and back by 5.00pm. Pool lovely and cool. Laundry well ironed but had to pay N$95? Very good dinner and breakfast.
Great place to stay in stunning location. Photographers dream.
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge review
Excellent location and food.Read more about the whole safari
Over-rated. Food OK, rooms OK, location good - but that goes for many places in Namibia. Service too intense. Don't bother with the 'sundowner'
The two San guides on the morning walk with the bushmen were both really good.
Tents a bit 'slack' which does not help sleep.
The fixed dinner at 2000hrs was not. By the time everyone arrived and we sat through a comic introduction to the chef it was easily after 2100hrs. Too late.
Wouldn't recommend or return
Views, accommodation and food excellent
As above activities were OKRead more about the whole safari
Luxury desert lodge
We really appreciated the excellent layout of both the main area and rooms. The main area spans several zones and has plenty of places to sit, so there was always somewhere to sit regardless of the time of day, desired view or degree of desired privacy. Our room was beautiful and also had many places to sit, both within itor on its wrap around deck. Early in the morning they left a tea and coffee tray so we could have a hot drink whilst watching the sunrise.
The food here was very excellent, and the evening meals were particularly impressive, with five courses! There were many very tasty breakfast options (excepting the toast- not the best bread we had in Nambibia) but these had to be ordered from a menu, rather than a buffet, which may not be everyone's preferred way of doing things in the morning. The tea and coffee station was accompanied by a particularly noteworthy cheesecake..yum.
We paid for a massage and facial and the masseuse visited our room to carry this out, which was very nice. Although many guests stay here on 'all inclusive' basis, a visitor should be aware that several activities available would need to paid for - e.g. not surprising that hot air ballooning and flights are not included, but also horse riding is not included. So, depending on what you plan to do, going all inclusive may not be great value.
Each guest is assigned a host/guide. This is designed to allow personalised service but for us this was not very satisfactory. We did not really feel we had much choice of activities - basically we were offered a choice between an all day drive or 2 half day drives. Our guide was also assigned to another (very nice) couple and - as he told us several times - it can be difficult for him if we want to do different things. The guide seemed to spend a lot of time telling us about the various activities and accommodation options at Wolwedans, and tipping arrangements, rather than telling us about the features of the animals, plants and landscape around us. Also, he repeatedly addressed only one of us - the husband - and never asked questions of the other - the wife. Perhaps this was just because he could only remember one of our names, but it became quite annoying for the wife! At one point, when one of us asked a question, he scolded us for not listening to what he told us earlier.. when in fact he had not listened to us and misunderstood my question. Some of our gripes might relate to communication problems - our guide's English was not perfect - but we did not have this problem with any other guides we encountered during our trip in Namibia, and we expected a better at Wolwedans.
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge review
Beautiful place, spectacular scenery with excellent service. Nice formal communal dining too, a chance to meet others which made it more interesting.
The only place where we got some (brief) singing and dancing which we thought other lodges might introduce. Good guides for the activities too.
The one slight worry is the start of the road into the camp which is a bit of a rocky horror.
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.