NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia

Photo: Wolwedans
Photo: Wolwedans

You’re usually not a sunrise person. It’s not that you don’t enjoy watching the gray sky change from purple to blue as the sun peaks over the horizon. It just happens too early. Way too early. But this morning, you don’t have much of a choice. A fireball is starting to rise directly in front of your bed. It’s so bright that you’re trying to remember where you left your sunglasses last night. You place your feet on the floor, grab your shades, and quickly return to your comfortable bed. You may feel—and probably look—ridiculous, but it was either this or hide your head and attempt to go back to sleep. And now that you’re awake at 6:00 am, there’s no way you’re going to miss this beautiful sight.

This stunning wake-up call is courtesy of the Wolwedans Dunes Lodge in southwestern Namibia. It sits atop a dune plateau and offers panoramic views of the never-ending desert. Even from your chalet. You arrived yesterday to find a split-level deck with built-in benches and sun loungers outside of it. Inside, the spacious chalet has a solid wood bed draped with mosquito netting, a cute writing desk, and a sunken leather chair. The canvas blinds were left open, so you would feel like you were sleeping under the dark sky and the twinkling stars. It was a gorgeous night. A gorgeous night that probably would have ended a little sooner if you realized how quickly the morning would come.

The Dunes Lodge is in the NamibRand Nature Reserve. The private nature reserve, which is located 400 kilometers southwest of Windhoek, is sustained through tourism. The Nubib mountains lie to the east, Namib-Naukluft National Park sits to the west, while the entire reserve is part of the Namib Desert. The world’s oldest desert stretches from Angola, through Namibia, and into South Africa. It’s here that you find the second-largest sand dunes in the world, a petrified forest, and house-sized boulders.

Photo: Marco w at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Marco w at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
After moving into your chalet yesterday, you went on an afternoon nature drive, during which you saw a baby zebra and thousands of oryx as you moved across the dry land. You returned to the lodge to swim in the pool and rest in a shaded hammock during the hottest part of the day. You watched Losberg Mountain, across the plains, turn red and sipped sparkling wine as the sun began its descent. You feasted on a six-course dinner—during which each course was presented first in the area’s mother tongue, then in English, and finally in song—and drank wine from the subterranean wine cellar. You watched sparks fly from a fire pit on one of the wide decks. Then you retired to your chalet and snuggled in bed as the stars lit up the dark sky.

So now that you’re awake this morning, what’s your plan for the day? Follow the sandy path back to the main building for a breakfast of porridge, yogurt, and fruit salad. Head away from the lodge on a full-day excursion to see Big Daddy dune (the tallest dune in the area), 280-million-year-old tree trunks that have turned into stone, and a herd of springboks. Eat an al fresco picnic lunch at the “Hard Rock Café” near huge boulders. Go on a nature walk to watch more oryx frolicing in a waterhole. And look forward to returning to the lodge for another sundowner, gourmet dinner, and evening under the starry sky. Just don’t stay up too late tonight—your wake-up call is already set for the morning.

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