Namibia ideal for Third-Age TravelAugust 31, 2012
Authentically NamibianAugust 31, 2012
by Maggi Barnard
Setting a new standard for luxury camping
During the day the Namib is almost always hot, but in November, just after midday, it comes close to boiling point. Or that is what it feels like when driving across an endless desert plain where the shimmering heat waves create beautiful mirages of blue, refreshing water on the horizon.
With each passing kilometre, that inviting oasis stays just out of reach – that is until you reach the Sossusvlei Desert Camp.
Initially it’s not that easy to appreciate the perfect location of this new facility with its spectacular desert view, because once again there is a cool, blue oasis lurking… and you’ve never been as ready to dive right in.
Once you’ve recovered from marvelling at the rejuvenating effects of water, your brain cells have cooled down and your senses are sharp again, you can start appreciating your surroundings and the fascinating stories told by Anita Tschirpig, Acting General Manager of Sossusvlei Lodge.
Only four kilometres from the Sesriem entrance gate to Sossusvlei, the Desert Camp is situated on a 40 000-hectare private game reserve. The 360-degree view from the pool and from each of the 20 luxury safari tents is as good as only the desert can offer. Across the plains are the Roter Kamm and Naukluft Mountains, with the Tsaris range further in the distance. Within walking distance to the west lies Luiperdkop, which you can explore by hiking trail.
The ‘must-do’ Sossusvlei visit among tourists has led to an ever-growing demand for accommodation close to the entrance gate. As a result, Taleni Africa, the holding company of Sossusvlei Lodge, decided to create this facility for self-catering families.
Trees are hard to find in this part of the world, but at the Desert Camp architect Neil Crawford made sure to partner centuries-old camel-thorn trees with the luxury tents. He was also responsible for the design of the well-known Sossusvlei Lodge.
Self-catering at its best
The 20 luxury tents (of which two are equipped for disabled visitors), ten on each side of the reception area, pool, bar and communal boma with wash-up facilities for larger groups, are not only practical, but also tastefully decorated with the relaxing and soft hues of the desert.
Each tent has double roofing – artfully supported by a collection of gum poles – a spacious en-suite bathroom with the toilet separated from the shower by ‘cowboy’ swing doors, twin beds and granite tiled floors. Keeping its promise of ‘self-catering at its best’, the compact, lock-up kitchen situated on the side of the concrete deck outside is ingenious, to say the least. Fully equipped with a two-plate stove, refrigerator/freezer, wash-up facility and all kitchen utensils, this is five-star camping par excellence.
Naturally, the unit would not be complete without a braai facility, while shaded vehicle parking completes the picture.
Taking five-star camping even a step further is a service offered to overseas tourists. Prospective guests can order a starter pack of food on the Internet by simply clicking on what they would like. “When they arrive, the starter pack is in the fridge!” Fresh bread is also available from the lodge on a daily basis.
For those not too keen on the self-catering option, the restaurant at Sossusvlei Lodge is open to Desert Camp visitors, while the lodge will provide meals for large groups that have booked the entire camp.
The lodge offers a selection of activities to the Desert Camp guests. These include trips to Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei, sundowner and nature drives on the 44 000-hectare Taleni Africa private nature reserve, scenic flights, hot-air ballooning, eco-friendly quad-biking and bush dinners.
Thanks to the extraordinarily good rains last year, the Namib is in a state of extreme beauty, a sight that no desert lover can afford to miss. As much as 400 mm of rain fell in the past season, compared to an average annual figure of 40–60 mm.
If the average summer temperature of 40 degrees Celsius sounds too extreme, remember there is always the Desert Camp’s pool. It won’t disappear on you like a mirage, and will keep you going for many kilometres on those shimmering, dusty, desert roads.
This article appeared in the Feb/March ‘07 edition of Travel News Namibia.