“An isolated 6-tent camp in southern Namibia, set against a high sand dune with heart-stopping desert and mountain views”
Wolwedans Dunes Camp celebrates that glorious feeling of space. Whilst its canvas and pole lapa feels as intimate and authentically bush as any we've come across in Africa, the vista out to the red sands of the Namib and the dragon-like spine of the Losberg mountains are expansive in the most inspirational sense of the word. Add to this a team of highly skilled guides, superbly designed tents and gourmet cuisine created before your eyes by the camp's acclaimed cooks, and you begin to sense why to stay here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
- The spare decoration of the tents seems perfect given that there's beauty in great measure all around you
- Guests eat at one table where sharing great food, along with the buzz of simply being here, are perfect touchstones for easy camaraderie
- The camp has a great team of guides as well as a fleet of superb 4x4s
- Wolwedans has its own light aircraft offering the chance to fly over some of southern Africa's most extraordinary landscapes including Fish River Canyon
- Talking around the boma with James and Chester, the camp managers; get deeper beneath the skin of this fascinating country
- Although you're in a wilderness area, don't expect to see masses of game: the Wolwedans experience is more about landscape
- There's no pool, internet or taped music to entertain you but do count on stars and a soundtrack of birds and myriad insect life
- It's far from civilisation (a 6.5-hour drive down from Swakopmund or Windhoek), but that's half the point
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Safari Camp
- 6+ welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
The 6 guest tents, crafted by South Africa's top manufacturer, are raised above the Namib's dark red sand on big planked decks, which have space aplenty for a 25sq.m stretch of mountain-facing terrace. All window and door openings have protective netting with drop down flaps, but a lack of desert nasties and high summer temperatures mean you can keep your flaps rolled up and doors pulled aside: this way you profit from the cool night breezes and get to enjoy the spectacle of dawn breaking over the desert and distant Losberg mountains.
When we visited in spring 2009, each 2 tents had a shared platform slotted between them, with twin back-to-back shower rooms. These were large enough to double as dressing rooms with a simple hanging space for clothes, a rack for your suitcase and a safety deposit box tucked beneath additional shelf space. There were double sinks and rain showers with hot water supplied by individual solar-heated tanks. This arrangement is to be given a makeover: by now we'd expect that the shared central platform will have gone and each tent to have an attached shower room thus increasing your sense of privacy and the proximity of your ablutions space.
All tents benefit from extra-long twin beds, which are slotted together as big doubles between wooden bedsteads, chunky night tables and a big trunk at their foot. You're provided with a torch as well as solar lighting, a thermos of chilled water and will find three towels per person neatly rolled up on your bed along with a bar of tea tree soap; there are big bottles of gel and shampoo in your shower room. Linen is of the best and embroidered with the camp's twin oryx logo. You're also provided with tea- and coffee-making essentials: a thermos of boiling water will be delivered to your deck shortly before daybreak. I'll always remember that first cuppa with the lunar-esque forms of the Namib gradually emerging from the night.
- Coffee tea making
- Extra beds
- Safe box
One of the most special things about Dune Camp is relaxing and eating at its beautiful pole and canvas lapa which, as well as a small living space with a collection of books (mostly in German), binoculars and games, is home to the open-plan kitchen and the cosy dining space where guests dine en famille. The small team of cooks have all been trained at the N.I.C.E. school in Windhoek (The Namibian Institute for Culinary Education), and as well as looking the part - white chef's hat, jacket - they work wonders to produce gourmet cuisine in the remotest of settings.
You can expect a big buffet breakfast, laid atop a shining wooden counter as of 7am: there's no need to get going early in the Namib though you'll probably have awoken to watch the dawn with your bed tea. As well as cereals and yoghurts, a big choice of cold meats and cheeses, homemade bread and pastries and a big fruit salad, any variant on a cooked breakfast can be fried up before your eyes. Lunches stay light after such a big early feast. Sandwiches and salads, perhaps an omelette or quiche, can be fashioned according to your wishes: just let James or Chester know at breakfast what you fancy.
But it's dinner that's the main culinary event of your Wolwedans day. This is served late-ish, around 9pm, leaving plenty of time for a relaxed apéritif with your fellow guests. The menu for that night's supper is presented by your chef in one of Namibia's 'click' dialects, with James or Chester translating to English: it felt a suitably ceremonial entrée to what turned out to be a delicious supper. Our meal began with an amuse-bouche of smoked duck with blackberry sauce followed by cream of vegetable soup served with melted camembert. After a perfectly grilled kudu steak and a rich chocolate mousse our meal ended on a perfect note with coffee and stargazing round the banda which is always lit during supper.
Drinks are included in the price of your stay. The house wines are first class - you can choose between an excellent cabernet or a chenin blanc - or if you prefer there's a choice of more renowned bottles, which are paid as extra.
- Coffee tea making
- Head out in one of the Wolwedans Landrovers to explore the NamibRand reserve: vehicles take a maximum of 5 so you'll never feel the squeeze
- Bird watch with a guide: pale chanting goshawk, hawks and eagles are common, as is the dune lark, which is endemic to Namibia
- Drive to the top of the dunes for an unforgettable sundowner in the company of your guide
- Walk straight out from camp in search of oryx, springbok, kudu and zebra: it's safe to do so alone if you prefer your own company. Look down too, and you'll see wedge-snouted lizards and perhaps puff adders and spitting cobras!
- Take a balloon flight over the NamibRand Reserve or a longer light aircraft flight over the Sossuvlei Dunes or Fish River Canyon
- Pamper yourself with a massage in your tent by the camp's excellent masseuse, Emma
- Walk barefoot to dinner through the fine red sands surrounding the camp: you'll feel a long way from home
- Drink in the beauty of the Namib and the Losberg mountains from your huge area of planked deck
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Hot air ballooning
- Private guided tours
- Well being
Kids over 6 are welcome at Dunes Camp and they'd love the easy, intimate feel of the place. Parents could also feel relaxed about bringing them here and wouldn't need to worry about desert nasties if they wandered off to play in the dunes. Extra beds can be provided and menus adapted to meet kids' own likes and dislikes.
Children (4-12 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
Extra Beds Available