The exterior of andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge.
Courtesy of andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge
Courtesy of andBeyond
The sustainably designed andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge on the edge of the NamibRand Nature Reserve captures the raw beauty of the world’s oldest living desert. The otherworldliness of the environment has been consciously translated into every aspect of the experience. The off-grid design factors in the extreme climate and harsh elements, and the desert’s forms, colors and textures are reflected in sculptural stone and steel lines that give way to soft, organic shapes. Throughout, glass walls slide away to amplify the big-sky views. The 10 guest suites are self-sufficient, solar-powered private retreats, each generating ample energy to run on photovoltaic power for everything from the AC and the deep swimming pools to the water harvesting and recycling systems.
Activities include climbing the world’s highest dunes at Sossusvlei or e-biking along gravel trails to caves with rock art by the desert’s earliest inhabitants. Back at the lodge, dishes that reflect Namibia’s cultural history include venison and Kalahari truffles and fresh seafood from the Atlantic Ocean. With close to zero light pollution, the Namib is one of the best dark sky locations in the Southern Hemisphere. The best way to end any evening is in the lodge’s observatory. You can also fall asleep counting stars, thanks to a skylight above your bed.
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia
Safari outfitter andBeyond reopened 10 stone-and-glass villas in 2011 after a complete redesign. The night skies here are so pure, the area has earned status as an International Dark Sky Reserve. An astronomer leads stargazing sessions at the on-site observatory. The world’s most ancient desert lies just outside the lodge, with famous dunes that can be explored by four-wheeler or on foot. Springbok, kudu, and 26 varieties of homemade sorbets and ice creams are featured on the dinner menu.
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge From Above
After arriving into Windhoek International Airport from O.R. Tambo (Jo’burg) we were one final leg from our destination. Varinka, our pilot for the final flight, met us in the Arrivals lounge. After weighing our luggage (and ourselves) we quickly boarded our Scenic Air Cessna 210 for the 1.5hr flight to &Beyond’s Sossusvlei (Sus-sus-vlay) Desert Lodge. As we flew into the valley you could see the lodge spread in a thin line below. 10 private suites extending with the main lodge in the middle. Out in the distance extended the sea of orange sand for which this corner of the world is famous. The scenery was breathtaking. We landed on the private airstrip and were greeted by our personal ranger, Siegfried.
A Desert Villa with a Breathtaking View
This photo instantly reconnects me with the majestic energy of the oldest living desert in the world. I remember spending parts of my day taking in the view from the comfort of my couch, the covered veranda, and even the private outdoor shower (incredible experience--have to do it!). You can see for miles here and the view changes with time. You can’t help but feel the power of this place. At night i slept with the windows completely open and then stared up through my perfectly placed skylight. The stars were turned to an intensity that I had never seen before and the Milky Way was mistaken for a cloud band. I lived like a king for 5 days. Laundry done without question, fridge full of whatever I wanted, views undisturbed for miles, and the luxury of time to just chill and ponder.
Namibia at Dawn and Dusk
The early morning and early evening light in Namibia is magical. It brings a peace and serenity much missed in today’s modern world. Every day I made it a point to experience those moments. You could just sit and stare and think or not. I loved being in the present--a true highlight of my trip.
ATV into the dunes...guided of course
One of our favorite activities during our time at the lodge was heading out into the dunes with our guide/ranger on ATV’s. We spent several hours on the narrow trail carved into the dunes. This literal sea of sand captures the imagination and exploring the area on ATV is such a fun way to do it. The terrain is challenging and chances are you’ll get stuck in the sand at least once. Cold beers are waiting after the adventure.
Sundowner at Sunset
On the way back to the lodge after a game drive on the 445,000 acre NamibRand Nature Reserve, our ranger Siegfried asked if we wanted to stop, watch the sun go down, and have a true African sundowner. For my brother and I it was a spontaneous gesture, but Siegfried had the moment planned all along. From the back of the truck he pulled out a table and cooler. We snacked on nuts and bilton (beef jerky) while sipping on Johnny Walker and ginger ale. Not a bad life thanks to a thoughtful guide. It’s a moment I’ll always remember--spending the sunset with my bro in Namibia.
Amazing meals in Namibia
The food at andBeyond’s Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is impressive. Combine it with the setting and you are easily in the category of “Most Memorable Meal Ever.” Over the course of our days at the lodge we had some of the most incredible meals with locally sourced meats including Springbok and Kudu. The breads and pastas were top notch and I was blown away by the freshness of the produce. There was enough complexity with the dishes to be interesting but they never overdid it. And to top it off, we were surprised on several occasions to have meals in the desert under the shade of a tree or the lights of the stars.
Adventure in the Desert
&Beyond’s location in NamibRand Nature Reserve is perfectly situated for exclusive access to the concession and a close journey to the massive dunes of Sossusvlei. Pictured here is the lodge’s pool at the crack of dawn which overlooks a waterhole and the vastness of the veld. I met more Americans here than at any other location in my travels in Namibia. I made friends with a charming South African couple and we climbed the dunes at daybreak. Afterwards our guide prepared a sinful breakfast on location. You can also quadbike around the dunes of NamibRand, but honestly I chickened out and opted for more safari drives to see the animals.