Wolwedans Dunes Lodge set on a ridge…
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 property in the Wolwedans Collection.
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge is one of four camps in the Wolwedans Collection, the others being Wolwedans Dune Camp, Wolwedans Private Camp and the luxurious Boulders Camp.
Accommodation at Dunes 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.
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 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. Dinner is usually hosted in the dining rooms around large communal tables, although the individual tables used for breakfast and lunch can be requested for dinner as well. 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 or – on request – candlelit private dinners, perhaps for a honeymoon or anniversary.
Sundown is particularly memorable at Dunes 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 Dunes 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 Dunes 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.
Our viewWolwedans Dunes 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.
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 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
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 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
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. Water is drinkable from the taps.
Further dining info: No
Honeymoons: The dramatic 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, 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: 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 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 and as the lodge is mostly raised on stilts there are some unfenced drops. Children must be supervised by their parents at all times.
Power supply: Solar Power
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.
Communications: There is a telephone and WiFi in the main reception building, and intermittent cellphone reception.
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 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.
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: Payments in Namibian dollars and South African rands, or by Visa and MasterCard, are accepted at Wolwedans.