After arriving at the airport and then picking up our rental vehicle, we proceeded to our guesthouse to get some much-needed rest. We were only going to spend one night at Terra Africa in Windhoek and then head out first thing in the morning.
We were warmly greeted by the owner (Sandy) and were shown to our room. It is a very comfortable guesthouse in the south end of Windhoek and we were treated very well by the staff – we would gladly stay here again. The price was reasonable ($N 1,080.00 or $USD 134.00) which included breakfast.
We decided to have an early dinner and the restaurant Am Weinberg was highly recommended to us by Sandy. After dining there I can see why: beautiful interior, excellent service and a sumptuous menu. It was a fantastic meal and very reasonably priced: dinner for 2 which included starters, main courses, dessert, mineral water and a great bottle of South African red wine came up to $N 716.00 ($USD 89.00) with tax and tip. I don’t think we could ever get a meal like that in Canada for less than twice the price. A bargain.
We were also told that Joe’s Beerhouse was an African institution and not to be missed – and we missed it. We just did not have enough time in Windhoek to visit both of these restaurants. Next time we travel to Namibia, Joe’s is definitely on our list.
After a good night’s sleep we were ready to make the long journey to the Namib Rand for 2 nights. We were staying at Wolwedans and it was a high end (read extremely expensive) resort in the Namib Desert ($N 6,150.00 or $USD 764.00 per night which includes all meals, drinks, snacks and nature drives for two people).
Our Nissan 4×4 had two gas tanks in it so we could store up to 145 litres of diesel fuel for a range of about 900 kms. That was good to know, as you can drive for a long time in Namibia without finding a gas station.
The gas station attendant had trouble filling our empty tanks with fuel … he would put a litre (or so) into the tank, but we would have to wait for the airlock to disappear before putting more fuel in. It took 45 minutes to fill up with 110 litres of fuel (and 5 litres of that ended up spilled on the ground). As we were to find out over time, we had an issue with our fuel tanks and filling up our vehicle in the future was going to be a very painful experience.
We purchased our Namibian cell phone and plenty of bottled water – we were now ready to start our Namibian driving safari.
Here we are on the map:
Starting off in Windhoek, were now heading to the Namib Rand (Wolwedans) where the large red star is on the map. With the directions given to us by our travel agent, we were told it would be a 5 hour drive. Given that we were restricted by the vehicle rental company to no more than 60 km/hr on the gravel roads, it took us 8 hours (with no stops) to get to the Namib Rand. It is a good thing the countryside is beautiful.
The NamibRand Nature Reserve was created when several farmers concluded that sheep farming was no longer a viable business in this area. The founder suggested that the farms be amalgamated and that the flora and fauna be preserved and protected. It is about 172,000 hectares in size.
The son of the founder created Wolwedans – an exclusive resort right in the middle of the nature reserve. We were staying at Wolwedans Dune Camp, but there was also a lodge in the nature reserve that was even more expensive. Yikes.
We eventually found the turn off for Wolwedans from the highway and made our way to the parking lot, 20 km away along a very narrow and bumpy road with sharp rocks. Thank goodness we had the 4×4, we would have shredded the tires on a regular sedan.
We were greeted by Daniel (our guide) in the parking lot who had been expecting us. He gave us a warm welcome and loaded our luggage into his Land Rover to drive us to the camp, which was another 5 km away. Where exactly were we going?
I also wondered what kind of a tent we would get for $N 6,150.00 ($USD 764.00) per night? As you will see in the next few photos, we were “camping” in one heck of a tent!
There are 6 tents in the camp for a maximum of 12 guests. Our “tent” (more like a 5 star room) was built on a permanent wooden platform and had all of the creature comforts of home: our own deck, a comfortable bed, hot water, lights (solar powered) and an elegant bathroom. You could open/close the flaps like a regular tent, but this beyond anything I had expected.
There was also a main building in the camp where we had our meals.
Dinner that night was unbelievable – 5 star cuisine in the middle of the desert. The chef was excellent and the service was fantastic. This place with its service and setting is very unique and special.
It was time for bed – it had been a long day and we were still suffering from jet lag. There was a canvas roof structure above the tent to keep it dry. There was a problem though when it was windy at night – the canvas roof continually flapped and made a lot of noise. Given that I am a very light sleeper, it kept me up most of the night. To Wolwedans credit, they do supply you with earplugs, but they did not help.
As the sunrise started, I went outside to see it. The front of our tent faced the mountains and this is the view we woke up to:
The morning light is usually quite beautiful, but it was an amazing experience to wake up to a view like this.
After breakfast, Daniel collected us for our morning nature drive. He was extremely knowledgeable about all of the flora and fauna and was extremely professional. He seemed quite happy that we were curious about everything and happily answered all of our questions.
Here is Daniel driving the Land Rover:
We were told that they had received a lot of rain this year in the desert and that the grass was growing everywhere – even on the sand dunes!
We stopped several times to explore certain areas and Daniel talked about everything we found, including some of the insects he discovered along the way:
There was plenty of wildlife on the nature reserve – and some of the animals were not afraid of humans. This Oryx seemed to like the area behind our tent and we found him relaxing in the mid afternoon sun:
During our evening drive, we continued to see a lot more wildlife, including many more Oryx.
There were also plenty of Springbok to be found:
There is a wonderful tradition in southern Africa, which I really love – it is called a “Sundowner.” Just before sunset, you stop what you are doing, have a drink and take in the sunset. It was one of my favourite times of the day when we were on safari – just relaxing and enjoying where you are.
Daniel made sure that we had plenty to drink 🙂 and that we were well looked after:
There is nothing like an African sunset – you must see it to believe it. It is my favourite time of the day and everything washed in that warm light just comes to life. My only wish is that it could last longer.
When photographing landscapes in the evening light, set the white balance on your camera to “cloudy” (about 6800 degrees Kelvin). You will get warm, beautiful images by doing this.
We had a really lovely time at Wolwedans. The staff are very professional and friendly, the service is incredible, the “tent” was very comfortable and the food, excellent.
It would have been nice to have a power outlet in the room to charge our batteries, etc. At first, I thought this was because the camp is located in the middle of nowhere. It turns out that other places we stayed at were just as remote, but had power in the rooms. Small point, but given how much we were paying, it would have been nice to have.
I am glad we had the opportunity to visit Wolwedans. The NamibRand Nature Reserve is extremely beautiful and I would visit it again in a heartbeat – but I don’t know if we would stay at Wolwedans in the future given its price. Of course everything was first class, but that is to be expected when you pay steep rates.
Overall, staying at Wolwedans was an extremely pleasant experience even though value for money is not its forté.
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