A stone’s throw from Solitaire
by Ron Swilling
I was pleasantly surprised to discover the attractive Soft Adventure Camp set between two granite hills above the Namib Naukluft Lodge, close to Sossusvlei.
The newly built camp resembles a more upmarket establishment and has a large well-designed sitting/dining area positioned on a hill above the rooms.
Nestled into the granite boulders and affording superlative views, this middle-market accommodation facility is ideal for groups, campers who want a bed for a night or two, and for individual travellers.
Owned by Friedolf and Barbara Sturm and established twenty years ago, Namib Naukluft Lodge is one of the first establishments in the area. Two adjoining farms were bought over the years, transforming the surroundings into the 23 000-hectare private nature reserve.
The bright new addition has fifteen rooms that hug the granite boulders and blend in with the golden-red rock. The solid, spacious brick structures have canvas tent windows and en-suite bathrooms trimmed with netting to let in the air and the landscape. Two camping chairs, a ceiling fan, and an air-conditioner complete the simple, yet appealing, ‘tented-camp’ style room. A short walk away is the open-sided dining area with optional canvas flaps for cooler weather. The Soft Adventure Camp has a central cooking area where the chef prepares delicious dinners, a corner bar counter and solid wooden tables and chairs, making- this a prime place to sit, dine and enjoy superb sunsets and scenery. A small pool with a view, built among the rocks next to the dining area, is an enticing place to soak up the sun in warm weather.
An abundance of activities
The Soft Adventure Camp is perfect for guests wanting their own space, but with the lodge facilities close at hand for those choosing to join the lodge activities, all of which must be pre-booked. The Sossusvlei Excursion is recommended for its convenient and ease as a guided trip to the famous dunes. Breakfast packs are enjoyed at picnic tables after guests have climbed the Big Mama dune for the outstanding photographic opportunities it offers. Another option is the 5–6 hour Nature Drive, giving guests the opportunity to explore the nature reserve from a game-viewing vehicle, beginning in the Tsondab catchment area and including a drive towards Springbokvlakte.
Lunch is served in the Moringa Forest, with sundowner drinks later atop Marble Mountain. The sundowner drive to Marble Mountain for drinks and snacks while the sun dips behind the horizon is a shorter option and worth undertaking during a camp sojourn for a taste of the landscape and a fill of desert beauty. For those wanting to experience the area on foot, I recommend the three-hour guided Zebra Trail, following an old mountain-zebra track into the hills. A gentler and shorter alternative for those not as energetic is the stroll from the lodge to a small waterhole where springbok and sandgrouse drink. The first hole of the sand golf course begins here, providing a novel experience for golf enthusiasts.
African Extravaganza offers a choice of tailor-made tours, incorporating a shuttle service from Windhoek or Swakopmund/Walvis Bay with accommodation at the Soft Adventure Camp or Namib Naukluft Lodge. The tours include a three-day Sossusvlei Shuttle, a four-day Desert Dream Tour and a five-day Desert and Coast Tour with an overnight stop at a pension in Swakopmund. Guests are offered the opportunity to enjoy the Sossusvlei area without the costs or complications involved in hiring a vehicle. This option is especially suitable for guests who are pressed for time.
Only 17 km from Solitaire and 58 km from Sesriem, the Soft Adventure Camp is a new and sparklingly fresh accommodation option in the area. The setting in the granite hills and overlooking the open plains provides pure delight and a balm for the soul. At night it is a pleasure to have the celestial roof of stars above. Early in the morning the sound of Namaqua sandgrouse on their way to the waterhole floats through the air, a quintessential sound of arid Namibia.
African Extravaganza also offers a shuttle service to their camps in the Sossusvlei area.
This article appeared in the Dec ‘11/ Jan ‘12 edition of Travel News Namibia.