Wolwedans Desert Lodge: Our full report
Wolwedans Desert 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 property in the Wolwedans Collection.
Wolwedans Desert Lodge, formerly Wolwedans Dunes Lodge, is one of four camps in the Wolwedans Collection, the others being Wolwedans Dune Camp, Wolwedans Plains Camp and the luxurious Boulders Camp.
Accommodation at Desert Lodge is made up predominantly of wooden chalets, one suitable for a family, but there's also a separate and more secluded suite.
- Nine wooden chalets are built on stilts above the dunes, surrounded by wooden split-level decks, with built-in benches, relaxing sunloungers and canvas directors' chairs. 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 seating.
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.
- The family chalet is in the same style as the other wooden chalets, but has two bedrooms sharing the bathroom and other facilities. The second bedroom is separated from the master room by a canvas wall, which would make it ideal for families with small children.
- The larger one-bedroom Mountain View Suite is located a little away from the others, making it more private and secluded. Further benefits of this slightly more costly suite include a private guide and vehicle, as well as a private valet. Guests here also have a small kitchenette and their own chef, so they can choose to dine in their suite if they prefer, rather than at the lodge. The suite also comes with its own private plunge pool.
A special feature of Wolwedans Desert Lodge is the chilled, subterranean wine cellar, which houses a selection of really good wines, and is also used for wine tasting or – on request – candlelit private dinners, perhaps for a honeymoon or anniversary.
Sundown is particularly memorable at Desert Lodge, as the evening light hits the Losberg Mountain across the dune plains in front of the camp and turns it a magnificent red. Taking advantage of this are the various 'sundowner' decks that surround the main area. On the tea deck, 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 one stay in June – 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 relax after a refreshing swim.
Activities at Wolwedans Desert Lodge focus on exploring some fascinating facets of the Namib – said to be 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, for visitors who'd just like to sit back and take in the magnificent surroundings, there is the option of a morning and afternoon drive, split by time at the lodge. On our last stay, our guide was excellent and knowledgeable, with a real passion for the area; he really succeeded in bringing the desert alive for us, knowing when to share, and when simply to allow us to enjoy the tranquillity, scenery and space. There is also the option of an early-morning Bushman walk, lasting around 1.5-2 hours and guided by members of the Khoisan people. Although we have not done one of these walks, we gather that they are entertaining trips, with the guides explaining their interpretation and use of the environment around them.
For an extra cost, Wolwedans Desert Lodge also offers massages, which can be even taken in the dunes. Scenic flights and hot-air ballooning can booked, too, although the distance involved to the hot-air ballooning launch site makes for a very early start. The lodge also offers weddings – as witnessed by the wedding photos displayed on the walls in the lounge.
Wolwedans Desert Lodge feels very luxurious and we've enjoyed superb food here 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, enhanced by exploration with a passionate, knowledgeable guide.
Country manager: Namibia
- NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- We recommend at least two nights at Wolwedans Desert Lodge in order to fully explore and appreciate the desert surroundings.
- The NamibRand Nature Reserve is situated about 400km south-west of Windhoek. From the main gate of the reserve, follow the signs for about 20km to the Wolwedans reception at Wolwedans farmhouse. Your guide will meet you here and 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
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- 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 October 2016 we only had the chance to sample the lunch, but on a previous stay, in June 2014, we found it very difficult to find fault with the meals.
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, which 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 filter coffee and tea.
Lunch is usually a picnic laid out in the desert during a full-day activity. When we had lunch at the lodge in October 2016 we had three plated courses: a tasty cheese and onion spring roll, followed by a light chicken and couscous salad, and finished by a fluffy chocolate mousse in a filo pastry cup.
A four-course dinner is served at around 8.00pm, although this could be as late at 9.00pm in summer. On our last stay we 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
- Further dining info, including room service
- Drinks included
- Most drinks are included at Wolwedans Desert Lodge. The exceptions are premium-brand or imported spirits and vintage wines/champagne, which will cost extra and are paid for locally.
Water is drinkable from the taps.
- The landscapes of the NamibRand Reserve seem to inspire romance and a sense of wellbeing: perfect for a honeymoon in Namibia. It's easy to steal time alone in this spectacular and remote setting, especially in the secluded Mountain View Suite.
- See ideas for Honeymoons
- Riding holidays
- For those keen to explore part of Namibia on horseback ,Wolwedans Desert Lodge is a fantastic option. Approach herds of oryx, climb sand dunes and soak in the vistas of the NamibRand Reserve with an expert guide.
- See ideas for Riding holidays
- Cultural experiences
- It's hard to comprehend survival in the wilderness of the NamibRand without refrigeration or water on tap. But take a guided walk from Wolwedans Desert Lodge, and learn how Namibia’s Khoisan peoples and their culture thrived in this desiccated landscape.
- See ideas for Cultural experiences
- The food at Wolwedans Desert Lodge is outstanding and can be enjoyed at charming indoor and outdoor dining areas with lovely views on the surroundings. A pool with shady sun loungers and a comfy outside lounge are terrific locations to enjoy a luxurious safari experience.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- Wolwedans Desert 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
- Cots and highchairs can be provided on request. The lodge will also put an extra bed in a chalet for a child aged 6–12 to share with his/her parents. The family chalet offers accommodation suitable for a family of four.
- Generally recommended for children
- Wolwedans Desert 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.
- The pool is unfenced and as the lodge is mostly raised on stilts there are some unfenced drops. Children must be supervised by their parents at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Wolwedans Desert Lodge
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Wolwedans Desert Lodge have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- There are no plug points in the chalets, but there is a communal charging station in the main area. Visitors will need to bring their own adaptors.
- There is a telephone and WiFi in the main reception building, and intermittent cellphone reception.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The showers are plumbed in, and Desert Lodge has flushing toilets.
Offering organic dishes from farm to plate
Comprising of nine chalets, each with a private verandah offering panoramic views of the Namib Desert, Wolwedans Desert Lodge provides all the comforts of a permanent establishment, whilst maintaining the feeling of an authentic tented camp. Owning and carefully managing its own organic garden reveal the lodge’s dedication to nature conservation and staff training.
Picked daily straight from the desert garden, Dune’s organic home-grown fruits and vegetables do not only enhance guests’ culinary experiences but also significantly reduce the lodge’s carbon footprint. Additionally, Dune is committed to enhancing its staff’s employability skills, and therefore sends its gardeners at the Namibian Institute of Culinary Education where they receive professional training. A firm believer that the cost of education should not be a barrier to education, the lodge offers the training for free or requires the participant to pay only a small fee, with the majority of the costs being covered by external grants or donations.
Looking into the future, Dune Lodge plans to start producing its own eggs, increase the crop variety, and hire an executive gardener. The final aim is to turn the garden it a self-sustaining business, therefore increasing employment opportunities and financial benefits for the local community.
See more great sustainability projects in Namibia
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The closest doctor is in the town of Mariental. In a 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 sleeps on site (near the main area) at night and an air horn is provided in each chalet 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.
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- A laundry service is available at an extra charge.
- The lodge does not offer a currency-exchange facility. A safe is provided in each chalet for storing valuables.
- Accepted payment on location
- Payments in Namibian dollars and South African rands, or by Visa and MasterCard, are accepted at Wolwedans.
Other lodges in NamibRand Nature Reserve
Alternative places to stay in this same area.