When you think of Namibia, you’ll likely conjure up images of its iconic red sand dunes, white clay earth speckled with black trees and barren, beautiful landscapes. In which case you’re most likely picturing the photographer’s paradise that is Sossusvlei, we can think of few places that offer such jaw-dropping vistas. The name actually translates as ‘dead-end marsh’ or ‘no-return marsh’ and whilst it is a harsh environment, a select few animals have adapted so well to it that they now thrive. Here you can expect to see wild oryx, springbok, zebra and ostrich and if you’re lucky, maybe even a jackal!
But while the animal safari offering might not be as varied as other areas of Namibia, the sky safari you’ll see at night is almost incomparable. With no light pollution and dark, dark, skies as far as the eye can see, this is the place to gaze upon the sparkling milky way and to spot shooting stars as they whiz across the sky.
So where in this vast expanse of sand dunes and beautiful landscapes should you stay? We’ve put together our top five lodges if you fancy taking a Sossusvlei safari (and why wouldn’t you?!).
Of course Sossusvlei itself is beautiful enough to tempt a visit but pop a luxury five star lodge in the heart of that vast desert expanse and it becomes even more appealing! Currently closed for renovation, &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge will be reopening in October 2019 to show off its brand spanking new facelift. A spectacular masterpiece of glass, rock and steel pavilions, this glamorous lodge wouldn’t look out of place in a James Bond film! An oasis in the heart of the barren landscape and as with all of the brand’s properties, here you will truly want for nothing. Welcome each morning with views across the vast and arid landscape, don your desert boots during the day and trek across this desolate earth, cool off in the pool once you return and spend the evening enjoying impeccable food and wine under that sky full of stars. One of our team was lucky enough to visit and said ‘The 3 nights we spent here were among the most special ones we’ve ever had whilst travelling.’ If all that doesn’t sell you, we don’t know what will!
Kulala Desert Lodge
Found in the 210-square-kilometre private Kulala Wilderness Reserve, Kulala Desert Lodge can be found at the foot of those beautiful red dunes you’ve been dreaming of. It’s impossible to not feel in awe of nature in this location as you stare up at the huge imposing landscapes that surround you. It’s the closest lodge to the famous sand dunes and has a private entrance to the Namib-Naukluft National Park meaning you can be one of the first people to witness these feats of nature. The lodge is made up of 23 chalets, each constructed from canvas, wood and thatch so they blend beautifully into the surroundings. As it’s an eco-friendly lodge, each of the rooms are raised off the ground to allow a breeze to flow through, thus negating the need for air con! Great views, environmentally sound and giving you access to one of the most photographed landscapes on the planet? Sounds like a win, win, win to us.
You’ve guessed it, Little Kulala Lodge is the smaller sister of Kulala and whilst she might not compare in size, she certainly makes up for that with style and glamour. On the outside it might just look like red clay and thatch, but once you’re inside you’ll see it for the boutique bolthole it really is! Think designer furnishings, floor to ceiling windows to appreciate that view and even a remarkable wine cellar and library! Like its bigger sibling, Little Kulala Lodge is made up of a collection of chalets (just 11 here) and each has its own private pool where you can lounge your day away. If that wasn’t enough, each chalet has its own rooftop terrace with a luxurious star bed set up so you can fall asleep gazing up at the vast, twinkling heavens.
If you’re looking for a Sossusvlei spot that fits nicely within a midrange budget and has the feel of home, then Hoodia Desert Lodge might be right up your street. Understated luxury is the name of the game here, think muted earth tones, sweeping mosquito nets, and chalets with indoor and outdoor showers to rinse off the desert dust. And if you’re looking for a cracking sundowner spot, this is the place. Sit and enjoy a G&T or a glass of wine as you watch the sun slowly sink behind the surrounding Namib-Naukluft Mountains and the sky morph from blue to mauve to pink. Whilst a bit further away from the dunes, guests can easily arrange a tour with a knowledgeable guide and if visitors want to explore alone, the lodge can even pack up a romantic picnic to enjoy on the adventures.
Another great mid-range option, Sossus Dune Lodge, is an excellent spot to explore the area from and boasts something that no other lodge can – it’s actually set within Namib-Naukluft National Park. Although this property might not have all the bells and whistles that others in the area enjoy, it’s the only one that’s inside the park and as such it can offer guests access to the dunes earlier and later than any others. Visitors can explore the dunes in peace and ensure they’re around for prime photographic hours – the best time is sunrise so set those alarms early! Private and relaxing with a sociable main hub, this is the perfect lodge for anyone visiting the area for the first time and with the access it affords, the only place for keen photographers!