For over twelve hundred kilometers, from the north to the south, along the west coast of Namibia, the Namib Desert has been arid for more than eighty million years
We leave the capital Windhoek – its corners bring to mind the architecture of the Bavarian cities for neo-baroque houses, a legacy of German colonialism that has been over for a century. For over twelve hundred kilometers, from the north to the south, along the west coast of Namibia, the Namib Desert has been arid for more than eighty million years. In the language of the Nama people, the name Namib means “open space” or “vast” – from here, Namibia.
The off-roader sways climbing through the bushes, on the red sand dunes. We begin to understand what it means to have arrived at the Wolwedans Dunes Lodge and to understand the intuition had by J.A. Brückner in founding this nature reserve in 1984 to build an eco-sustainable resort within the Namibian desert. Perched on the top of a dune plateau, the six camp tents overlook the two hundred thousand hectares of the Namibrand Nature Reserve, one of the largest reserves in the southern part of the African continent, created to protect and conserve the ecosystem and wildlife of the desert . The reserve is bordered to the east by the Nubib mountains and to the west by the Namib-Naukluft National Park, and is characterized by an uneven landscape: from plains of pebbles and gravel, to mountain ranges, to end in a desert of sand. The shapes of this wind-sculpted sand give a feeling of solitude.
A group of oryx and cudu heads towards a pool of water to refresh themselves after the day. We sit around an oval table. Chenin Blanc wine is produced in neighboring South Africa. The unknown flavors on the palate – the chef uses native ingredients. A game dish with local spices and Kalahari truffle, a mushroom, less noble than our white truffle, with an intense flavor of cheese that grows inside the desert of which it is named. A second wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon from the South African vineyards of Stellenbosch. The fire of the brazier and the taste of amarula, caramel-flavored liqueur made from the fruit of the marula plant.
The resort respects the International Dark-Sky Association’s policy to preserve the natural brightness of the skies. The entire structure, devoted to eco-sustainability, works thanks to solar energy and night lighting comes only from the few torches of fire present. The nearest villages are about a hundred kilometers away and light pollution cannot disturb us. We fall asleep with a hot water bottle nearby, imagining the next day. A horseback ride, a balloon flight or a hike with the bushmen guides to learn about the ecosystem – discover the mystery of the fairy circles of the Namibian desert.
Text Agnieszka Faferek
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge, Namibia