Wolwedans Boulders Camp: Our full report
Wolwedans Boulders Camp is built at the foot of a granite boulder mountain in the remote south of the private ...... NamibRand Nature Reserve. A small, exclusive retreat, it is reached by 4WD, a scenic transfer during which, we have often see ostrich and several species of antelope.
Boulders shares the reserve with its three sister camps, which lie about 45km further north: Wolwedans Dune Camp, Wolwedans Private Camp and Wolwedans Dunes Lodge.
The four tented chalets at Wolwedans Boulders Camp are built on raised wooden decks with boulders rising up behind them, and seemingly impossible views across open grass plains to the Gorassis Mountain in the distance. Three of the chalets are located in a row to one side of the main area, whereas one sits on its own amidst rocks on the opposite side. Constructed of canvas stretched across simple wooden frames, the chalets are simply but beautifully decorated, each with a large four-poster bed in the centre, elegantly draped with white mosquito netting, and flanked by a dressing table and smaller coffee table and chairs. Roll-up canvas blinds allow air to circulate freely, and open onto a veranda with a couple of loungers and benches – a perfect spot, as we have found over the years, to soak up the views. That said, the path to the chalets passes in front of them, so be sure to roll the canvas down if you are concerned about privacy.
During the winter months, the chalets can get quite cold at night, so the hot-water bottles placed in the beds are a thoughtful added touch. As the wind whips across the plain the tents can also rustle and shake through the night, so each guest is also provided with a pair of ear plugs.
Each chalet has a private bathroom which, although not en suite, is across the deck and less than three metres away from the bedroom. These are fairly big with a shower, flush toilet, double basins and Moroccan lanterns. You can even roll up the bathroom window to admire the views while brushing your teeth or having a shower. Bathrobes, body lotion, shampoo and small guest soaps are provided.
The main area at Wolwedans Boulders Camp consists of a dining tent and a lounge tent built on a vast wooden deck, with the kitchen set between them. The lounge interior is furnished with plush leather couches and a small library and is tastefully decorated in earthy colours with old German furniture, books and lanterns and even a gramophone. In the dining tent, a communal table is set under a rustic lantern chandelier, although weather permitting, dinner may be served on the deck under the stars.
To one side of the main area, set in a semi-circle of boulders, is an open fireplace. On a cool evening on a previous visit in late June, this was a lovely spot to gather before dinner and exchange stories. At the other end of the deck, a small but very inviting poolsits in the wooden deck, surrounded by loungers and making the most of the views over the NamibRand Reserve. It’s also a great spot for sundowners as each day wanes.
Although the camp itself is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the surrounding vistas, guests at Wolwedans Boulders Camp will explore various aspects of the 2,100km2 reserve. Activities comprise two- to three-hour guided walks, usually in the morning, and 4WD scenic drives in the afternoon. Do note, however, that unlike other camps in the Wolwedans collection, Boulders does not offer environmental walks with a Bushman.
The NamibRand is not primarily a wildlife destination, but the vast reserve is home to gemsbok, springbok, kudu, Hartmann's and Burchell's zebra, giraffe, klipspringer, steenbok and hartebeest. Visitors may also be lucky enough to catch sight of leopard, spotted and brown hyena, black-backed jackal, bat-eared and Cape fox, caracal or one of the cheetah that have been introduced here as part of a conservation programme.
On our last visit in October 2016, the harsh but spectacular setting was the backdrop for many, many oryx, springbok, both Burchell’s and Hartmann’s zebra and a large herd of red hartebeest. Our guide also gave us some brief but informative explanations on points of interest such as sociable weaver nests and the camelthorn acacias, although further information on the geography and geology of the area would have been well received. On a previous visit, in June 2014, we were not only stunned but also very lucky to spot no fewer than ten aardwolves and eight black-backed jackals on our afternoon nature drive. Even our guide was excited about these sightings, though he was quick to point out that we were luckier than most!
For the ornithologist, there are over a hundred species of birds to be spotted, albeit at quite low densities. Our birding highlights included the endemic dune lark, Rüppell’s korhaan, greater kestrel and lappet-faced vulture.
The NamibRand Nature Reserve is also one of the best places in Namibia to see high densities of the mysterious fairy circles, with whole hillsides pock-marked with these intriguing spots. Theories abound on the formation of these circles, from underground termites living in a circular nest and chewing the roots of the grass, to toxic plants poisoning the ground or a competition for resources by the grasses – but the jury is still out.
Visitors should note that it is not practical or possible to visit Sossusvlei from Boulders Camp. For those who want to make the most of Namibia's desert we recommend two nights at one of the lodges in the Sesriem area followed by two special nights at Wolwedans.
In a remote and beautiful corner of the NamibRand Nature Reserve, the high-quality Wolwedans Boulders Camp feels quite open and in touch with the landscape – making it an exceedingly peaceful place to relax, whilst doing a little gentle exploring on foot and by 4WD. Let any game be a bonus; come here for the magical ambience and the luxury of privacy and space.
Country manager: Namibia
- NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- Three nights minimum stay is required at Boulders Camp, with arrival day on either a Monday or Thursday.
- Wolwedans Boulders Camp is situated within the NamibRand Nature Reserve. Drive past the entrance to the Wolwedans farmhouse/reception on the C27 until you reach the D827. Keep right and continue for a further 13km. Turn right at the gate 'Aandster', and drive a further 9km to Aandster Farm. After checking in here you will meet your guide then take a 4WD scenic transfer of about 15km to the camp. There is also an airstrip next to Aandster Farm for those guests on a fly-in.
- Accessible by
- Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- As at all the camps in the Wolwedans Collection, food is a very big part of a stay at Boulders Camp. When we stayed here in October 2016, we found the meals to be generally very good with beautiful presentation.
The day starts with a gentle 'Knock, knock, good morning!' as one of the team delivers a flask of hot water so you can make a cup of tea or coffee at the coffee station in your chalet.
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 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. In addition to coffee and tea, there were fruit juices, hot chocolate and cappuccino.
Lunch is usually three courses, but despite that we found it was quite a refreshing, light meal. We started with baked camembert, which was followed by a fresh seafood salad and rounded off with almond cheesecake.
Dinner is served at around 8.00pm, although this could be as late at 9.00pm in summer, and is sometimes a barbecue. We sat down to a five-course meal, which started off with a description of the menu in both English and the local Nama language, after which the team broke into some enthusiastic singing. We thought it was really fun!
Our first course, a very simple appetizer of smoked salmon on a green salad, was followed by a delicious mushroom, tomato and melted cheese stack. A delightfully creamy cauliflower soup followed this with an added crunch provided by sunflower seeds. The main course was fillet of oryx served with a red wine sauce alongside red cabbage, basmati rice and vegetables. A poached pear with a hint of cinnamon made for a simple, sweet ending to the meal.
- Photography holidays
- The NamibRand Nature Reserve is one of Africa's largest private sanctuaries. The diverse landscapes, from huge red sand dunes to vegetated inter-dune valleys, gravel plains and imposing mountains makes for spectacular photography in Namibia.
- See ideas for Photography holidays
- Attitude towards children
- Wolwedans welcomes children over the age of six years old.
- Property’s age restrictions
- The minimum age limit is six years, but younger children can stay here provided the whole camp is booked exclusively for the family.
- Special activities & services
- None, although the camp will put one extra bed in a tent for a child aged 6–12 years to share with his/her parents.
- Generally recommended for children
- Boulders has a particularly adult atmosphere and part of its appeal is the remoteness, peace and tranquillity. It would work for families with older children who have an appreciation of these qualities and a love of the natural world. If you plan to travel with younger children, either the Mountain View Suite at Wolwedans Dunes Lodge or Wolwedans Private Camp might be better options.
- There are no railings around the raised decks in camp. Children must always be under the supervision of their parents.
- Power supply notes
- There are no plug points in the chalets, but there is a small charging station in the main area, next to the kitchen. Adaptors are not available on our visits and we recommend that travellers bring their own.
- Boulders Camp has radio communication with the operations office at the main reception, about 45km away. There is no cellphone reception here and there are no phones in the chalets. There is also complimentary WiFi in the main area,
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The showers in each tent are plumbed in and the camp has flushing toilets.
Adopt-a-fairy-circle with Wolwedans
Re-defining the ‘off the beaten track’ experiences, Boulders Safari allows guests to balance out the privacy and silence of a remote camp with adventure-filled activities. One example is the opportunity to take a fairy circle hot-air balloon ride over the NamibRand Nature Reserve. Perhaps one of the most creative and innovative initiative for conservation in the entire Namibia is Boulders Safari’s ‘adopt-a-fairy-circle’ programme.
Found only along the edge of the Namib Desert, the mysterious bare circles in the sand have got the name fairy circles, as no one holds a clear answer as to how these circles are formed or what is they purpose. Boulders Camp encourages guests to ‘adopt’ one of the fairy circles, and therefore benefit conservation programmes ran by NamibRand Conservation Foundation where 100% of the proceedings go.
In return, the foundation directs 30% of the money towards environmental conservation and education research ran by NamibRand Desert Research and Awareness Centre. Another 30% of the funds go to Namib Desert Environmental Education which aims to teach children about the importance of the natural environment through practical, hands-on activities. The remaining 40% is allocated for supporting other conservation projects in the southwestern Namib region.
The ‘adopt-a-fairy-circle’ initiative is a proof that creativity and innovation work hand in hand with conservation at Boulders Camp, who in 2015 has received Eco-Awards Namibia’s highest accreditation of five desert flowers.
See more great sustainability projects in Namibia
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The guides are first-aid trained, but the closest doctor is in the town of Mariental. In a medical emergency, guests would be evacuated by air to Windhoek.
- Dangerous animals
- Moderate Risk
- Security measures
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers in the main area and also by each tent.
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- There are no laundry facilities at Boulders Camp.
- There is a safe in each tent. Boulders Camp does not offer any currency- exchange facilities.
- Accepted payment on location
- Wolwedans accepts cash (Namibian dollars or South African rands), and Visa and MasterCard. They do not accept American Express or travellers’ cheques.
Other lodges in NamibRand Nature Reserve
Alternative places to stay in this same area.