So, your New Year’s resolution is to travel more, to explore more, to seek new horizons? Good on you, after all, travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. If you have remote lands in mind, we might have a suggestion: Kwessi Dune Lodge in Namibia.
The new lodge will be opened by Natural Selection in March, offering access to the vast 215,00-hectare NamibRand Nature Research, as well as Sossusvlei’s iconic dunes.
An Ancient & Spectacular Landscape
The NamibRand is a vast place of awe-inspiring beauty. One of the largest private reserves in southern Africa, it was the vision of Namibian farmer Albi Bruckner in the 1980s and was created from the integration of several livestock farms and the removal of the fences which divided the land. The barbed wire Bruckner removed was in fact long enough to stretch from Cape Town to Windhoek at just under 1,500 kilometers. The result was a protected wilderness area that today is a model of conservation success. For Natural Selection, it was the perfect location for their sixth Namibian property and an exciting opportunity to contribute to the conservation of this fragile eco-system for generations to come.
Starry Starry Night
But the rooms at Kwessi Dune Lodge really come into their own after the sun sets. Each room has been designed with a special “star gazer” room and every night there is the option to sleep outside, under the African night sky. In 2012 the NamibRand Nature Reserve was selected by the International Dark Sky Association as an official dark sky reserve on account of its low light pollution and cloudless night skies. It is one of the best places on earth to stargaze and enjoy spending the night under a canopy of twinkling stars. The guides at Kwessi Dune Lodge will help guests to tell their Southern Cross from their Orion’s Belt but if that all feels like too much hard work then counting shooting stars is a wonderful way to fall asleep.
The view from the lodge is spectacular and the glass windows and doors at the main area look out onto the undulating landscape that only ends when it meets the mountains, far in the distance. Inside, there’s a well-stocked bar, library area, and several seating and dining areas. When the sun rises in the morning, the campfire is the perfect place to enjoy a cup of tea and in the heat of the day, the swimming pool is the only place to be.
More Than Just Good Looks
The days at Kwessi Dune Lodge are about discovering the subtle charms of the desert and the area can be explored on guided nature drives, nature walks and by quad bike. The NamibRand has long been famous for its “fairy-circles”, mysterious patches of grass where nothing grows. Theories range that they are the result of poisonous fungi, termites or even meteor showers, however, no one really knows.
Although the semi-arid desert may seem inhospitable, it is still home to an extraordinary variety of species who have found a way to survive and thrive. Take, for example, the gemsbok with their white bellies that reflect the heat of the sand and their sophisticated vascular system that cools the blood around the brain. Or the bat-eared fox whose giant ears help to amplify the sound of their predators approaching. Gemsbok, springbok, kudu and steenbok, can be found in most corners of the reserve, silhouetted against the red sand, whilst elusive leopard and spotted hyena are occasionally seen.
A day trip to the iconic red dunes of Sossusvlei is not to be missed, in particular, the chance to climb “Big Daddy” before dawn. Afternoons can then be spent exploring Deadvlei, an extraordinary pan of fossilized trees that stand against the startling red backdrop of the dunes – quite simply, a photographer’s dream. For a completely different perspective of this extraordinary landscape, take to the skies in a tranquil hot air balloon ride as the sun rises.
As with all Natural Selection’s projects 1.5% of turnover will go straight back to conservation projects which directly impact the area. The new lodge will also make use of the latest clean and green technology, ensuring that it leaves as light a footprint as possible on the fragile environment.
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