Whether you’re visiting for the desert landscapes, the stark coastline or the enigmatic tribes, there’s never a shortage of reasons to hop across the border to Namibia. And if you think you’ve been there, seen it all and got the T-shirt — here are three unforgettable new lodges to tempt you back.
There are, of course, no wolves in Namibia, but that hasn’t stopped the Wolwedans Collection from putting Namibia firmly on the map when it comes to creating memorable desert adventures.
Set in the heart of the 200,000 hectare NamibRand Nature Reserve, Wolwedans has since 1994 set the bar for immersive adventures in the wide open semi-deserts of southwest Namibia. And while the pandemic hit business hard, owner Stefan Brückner — whose father Albi established the NamibRand — has used the quiet time to revamp the iconic lodges in the collection.
After being shuttered for two years, Dune Lodge has reopened with a new name – Desert Lodge — and a striking new look and feel. What remains is the ethereal sense of floating above the ochre sands and waving grasslands. It’s a wonderfully spacious lodge, with quiet lounges, sundowner decks, pool area and secluded library offering plenty of ways to soak up the silence of the desert. Looking for a true getaway? Book the remarkable Mountain View Suite, which offers utterly private accommodation along with a dedicated guide and vehicle.
Desert Lodge is also home to the Wolwedans Desert Academy, which provides invaluable hospitality training to students from across Namibia. Also look out for a new-look Dune Camp and Plains Camp opening in June 2022.
Onguma Camp Kala
Set on the eastern border of the world-famous Etosha National Park, Onguma Nature Reserve stretches across 34,000 hectares of Namibian wilderness. The reserve is currently home to four lodges, but from November will welcome a luxurious new addition in the shape of Onguma Camp Kala.
While drawing inspiration from the colour palette of the Etosha Pan, “Onguma Camp Kala’s design has been inspired by the termite mounds so prolific in this part of Namibia,” says Onguma managing partner Fritz Vorster. “We have brought in some of the best architects and interior designers to ensure the new camp is truly exceptional, has a light footprint on the earth and celebrates our incredible location.”
That light footprint sees the entire lodge elevated on wooden stilts, with raised boardwalks linking the central guest area –complete with ‘show’ kitchen and all-day pantry – to just four exclusive suites.
And you’ll certainly be tempted to burrow down in your suite for the duration. Interiors are by Fox Browne Creative, so look forward to inspired décor channelling the textures and tones of the landscapes, while each suite boasts its own wood-fired hot tub, king-size outdoor day-bed and private fire-pit. But, of course, don’t stay in. Game drives on both the private reserve and into the Etosha National Park are a daily highlight, while interpretive bush walks and time in the water-level photographic hide offer plenty of diversions.
Okahirongo River Camp
International hospitality brand Sanctuary Retreats has unveiled two new additions to its portfolio, introducing travellers to the remote north-western corners of Namibia. Alongside Okahirongo Elephant Camp — which offers access to the wonders of Kaokaland and the Hoarusib River – Okahirongo River Camp occupies a truly remarkable setting overlooking the Kunene River. Guests flying in to this luxurious tented camp enjoy unique perspectives on the pristine Marienfluss Valley, while private decks — and the welcome pool terrace – deliver superb views across the river to the emptiness of southern Angola.
It’s an intimate camp, with just five under-canvas suites and a private family suite, ensuring a highly personalised discovery of this under-visited corner of the country. Days are filled with visits to Himba villages, or searching for crocodiles and birdlife on river cruises. But for a true sense of the scale, and silence, of the landscape a dawn walking safari offers a truly visceral desert experience.