Sleep under the stars (luxury)
Could only afford 1 night here, as we were booked elsewhere near Sossuvlei, but 2 nights are probably better.
Stunning views of Sossusvlei dunes and mountains. Superb sunrise, sunset, moonrise (plus Venus and Mars) - no light pollution here!
Food, drink and rooms are high quality. Good shop for souvenirs. Beds looked comfortable, but didn't use them (see below). Has own private gate into Namib Naukluft park so allowing very early entrances to, and late exits from, park. (Get there before the "crowds").
Luxury chalets, with flat roof which allow special experience of sleeping under the stars (and planets). Comfy bedrolls supplied.
Quite eerie to be woken by passing hyena howling (it couldn't climb the ladder).
Woken later (5am) by fellow guests zooming off to be first up dunes at dawn. Breakfast alone at 8am. Blissful
On the edge of the desert
This is a great place to stay on the edge of the Namib desert. It's in a really good location, with its own entrance to the National Park so you can get in there early and be ahead of the crowds. We went on a guided tour and had our excellent guide, Francis, to ourselves. He took us to lots of great places and each time we seemed to get there just before most of the other tourists, and be leaving just as it got busy!
The rooms are really special - built half of canvas and half adobe, and all with lovely views of the desert (although don't expect red dunes here). The only draw-back is the food which wasn't as good as elsewhere in Namibia. But there's a lovely bar with a terrace overlooking a waterhole (quite distant) and a cozy log fire. The adobe half of each room has a flat roof, and if you ask they'll make up your bed there and you can sleep under the stars - we chickened out as the nights were really cold!
While staying at the Kulala Desert Lodge we arranged to visit Sossusvlei with one of their guides, Francis. He was an excellent guide and made sure we got to the best photo stops ahead of the tour groups (although that did mean a very early start to the day, of course!)
The highlight was visiting Dead Vlei. We parked the jeep and walked across several dunes. As we came over the top of the last, Dead Vlei was spread before us. It's an amazing sight and if you're a photographer you'll love it - the contrast betwen the white dried-up clay, stark black trees and surrounding red dunes is out of this world! See my travelogue for more images.
Namibia: beautiful empty space
"Southern & Central Namibia"
Having been to Etosha twice before, we (Annie & I) felt we'd like to explore less popular places in this beautiful country. Although quieter in terms of numbers of tourists, the scenery was no less stunning and the welcome was even more friendly, as Namibians appreciated that we weren't just there for the big game.
"Windhoek - Fish River - Luderitz - Namib - Swak"
Our route was Windhoek - south through the edge of the Kalahari, to Fish River Canyon. Then west to Luderitz, through the Forbidden Zone. Retracing our steps we then turned north along the D707, skirting the Namib Nuakluft Park.
We stayed around the Park for about a week, then had 3 days in Swakopmund, before crossing the Namib once again to Windhoek.
"Places we stayed"
Eningu Clay House - Volker and Stephanie. Wonderful food and unexpected German humour from Volker. Beautiful rooms.
Intu Afrika - Zebra lodge. A bit too luxurious for us (air-con, 2 bathrooms), but staff friendly. Kalahari scenery interesting as was Bushman walk.
(Fish River) Canyon Village - New, spacious, eco-friendly.
Nest Hotel, Luderitz - Great position and views. Seemed a bit "business"-like after desert places.
Klein Aus Vista - great views; great hospitality fro Peter and Johan. Wild horses thrown in.
Zebra River Lodge - again excellent hospitality. Welcoming hosts, Rob and Marianne, and efficient staff Jana and Linda. Tranquility.
Kulala Desert Lodge. Slept under the stars on the roof. Sublime.
Tok Tokkie trails - Marc Durr excels at guiding in the Namib. Fascinating walking, with beautiful camps at the end of hot days. Find out about the smaller creatures: scorpions, snakes, crickets, moles - up close (in your boots!).
Brigadoon, Swak - comfy, clean, convenient. What more do you want?
Eagle's Rock, nr Windhoek. Quiet, but fascinating insight into how young Namibians are being taught skills for the future.
Ballooning in Sossusvlei
For me, one of the real highlights of Namibia was the Namib Desert -
- and one of the highlights of our visit to the desert was an early morning flight in a balloon.
If you ever get the opportunity to do this, seize it - you won't regret it.
The trip starts at dawn so you need to be up early, but trust me, it's worth it.
The flight departs just as the sun is about to rise over the dunes
AT TAKE OFF
You'll be glad of all this hot air - it's often below freezing this early in the morning!
JUST AFTER TAKE OFF
We drifted over Kulala Desert Lodge where we staying.
It was fun picking out our own cottage - but our attention soon turned to the desert beyond.
SHADOW ON THE DUNES
As we approached the area of the highest dunes the balloon's shadow travelled in front of us.
We could see impala and springbok below, but they ran away when the pilot tried to get us closer for photos
THE NAMIB DESERT FROM ABOVE
The Namib is desert as you've always imagined it, and only from above can you get a true impression of its scale.
It's an awesome sight.
SKIMMING OVER THE DUNES
The pilot's control of the balloon was impressive.
Several times we dipped low enough for the basket to just scrape the top of a dune!
The flight ends with a champagne breakfast at the foot of your own exclusive dune.
Good Places to eat in Namibia? and anything else
We are going to Namibia in mid January for almost a month and will be self-driving from Windhoek to Etosha and down to Swakopmund, Walvis Way, the dunes and prehaps to Fish River Canyon if it is open. We would love some advice on great places to eat and any must-see sites, based on your experience.
Re: Good Places to eat in Namibia? and anything else
Due to the remoteness of most places there is not a lot of choice in much of Namibia. That said, I've never had a bad meal. However, Windhoek and Swak are exceptions. Joe's beer house in Windhoek has the menu on the walls - everything you'll see in Etosha is on the menu.
In Swak, the Tug is excellent - right on the ocean, but there are several other very good places - depends whether you prefer seafood or game.
Away from these places, it depends if you are in a small town, lodge, or camp-site. Most lodges create amazing meals in the middle of nowhere. One I would make a detour for is Huab Lodge near Damaraland (good stop between Etosha and Swak). It has won many awards for its food, wine and hospitality. Another where the hospitality etc is good is Zebra River Lodge, near (60km) Sesriem. Both these places have excellent guides.
Must see? Etosha (staying inside the park overnight, if possible. It will be heavily booked but you may get a cancellation).
Sossusvlei, either at dawn or dusk (not forgetting the gates open at 7am and close at 7pm and its about an hours drive to the car park. Staying at a Wilderness lodge like Kulala Desert Lodge means you have a private gate and can beat the "rush".
One of the highlights of our recent trip was Sandwich Harbour - a day trip with Turnstone Tours (don't try to go there without a guide. It sounds easy, but its not). The solitude, pelicans and flamingos, plus the drive over the sand dunes were all breath-taking.
A highlight of another trip was watching desert elephants in peace (not chased by 4x4s) in the Huab valley. Huab lodge have a private reserve. No fences and the animals are returning after having being hunted by former owners.
Other great highlight this year was a walking trail with Tok Tokkie trails. 2 nights sleeping under the stars, with expert guides Marc Durr and Franz showing us snakes, moles, scorpions, stars, planets, oryx, etc. Its in the Namib Rand reserve which is about the size of Belgium and has about 50 people on it. You feel on another planet.
Re: Good Places to eat in Namibia? and anything else
At Swakopmund: go to "the Kelder´s"
small, but very good restaurant.
(also look at my travel pages about namibia)
greetings and have a good time ther (you will!)