One of Namibia’s lesser-known treasures is the NamibRand Reserve, a massive 202,000-hectare tract of wilderness on the edge of the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Half the size of Belgium, the NamibRand is unbelievably beautiful: imagine rippling red sand dunes and mountains that turn purple at dusk flanking vast plains of silvery grass dotted with gemsbok.
Out of the handful of places to stay on the vast NamibRand Nature Reserve, Wolwedans is the most impressive (looking through the guestbook, it seems Charlize Theron, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt agree). Wolwedans offers five stylish camps that blend into the environment spread out across the property: Dunes Lodge, Dune Camp, Boulders Camp, Private Camp, and Mountain View Suite.
The most affordable of the five, Dunes Lodge has nine canvas tents that open out onto private verandas with sweeping views of the desert plains. Dune Camp is positioned on the edge of a 250-meter-high dune, with tents on wooden platforms and a deck for sleep-outs on warm nights. In the south of the reserve, Boulders Camp offers four tented bedrooms, a dining and lounge tent, breakfast deck and open fireplace, and a spectacular sundowner spot – the top of a rock plateau, while Private Camp and Mountain View suite are exclusive two- and four-sleeper camps.
Which ever camp you choose to stay in, days at Wolwedans pass with the same rhythm: the best sunrises in the world (watched from the comfort of your bed with coffee and cookies delivered to your door), morning and afternoon game drives with excellent, knowledgeable guides, walks into the reserve (there are no big predators so it’s safe to walk on your own) and refreshing dips in the swimming pool.
For the best perspective of this amazing landscape, take to the skies: Wolwedans offers scenic flights, which range from 45 minutes to full-day trips. You can also go hot air ballooning in the reserve: it’s a lot to pay for an hour in the sky but it’s definitely worth it. Looking down at wildlife and dunes at dawn from a floating balloon is one of the more memorable experiences of my life. Further afield, you can do a day trip to famous Sossusvlei (a salt pan surrounded by towering dunes) and Dead Vlei (a white clay pan of petrified trees), which are 40 miles’ drive away in the Namib-Naukluft National Park.