December 9th, 2017

10. Just be

Quite simply, just be. Be present in a place that hasn’t changed for millions upon millions of years. Relax and savor the blissful silence. Apart from birdsong, you won’t hear anything else and it’s wonderfully refreshing. Surrounded by nature and solitude, it is the perfect place for yoga, meditation or simple quiet reflection. Just breathe… ____________________________________________________________________________________________   ____________________________________________________________________________________________  

11. Traverse the dunes on a quadbike

Just like running down the side of a sand dune, I have to admit that exploring the dunes on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. With the warm sun casting its afternoon glow, we set out – with unflattering helmets and all – and let the adrenaline kick in. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ The vehicles are automatic and you can go at your own pace. Either stick to the straight, but scenic, path below or take the winding path and venture up into the heart of the undulating dunes. You’ll pass oryx in the distance and you’ll witness the extraordinary desert sunset. You can’t help but smile like a kid on Christmas Day, it’s so much fun. I’ll never forget the words of 17-year-old guest Addy, who lived out her dreams that day. As we all dusted ourselves off and toasted the sunset, she exclaimed that it had been the best day of her life, that nothing could possibly top it, not even her wedding day or birth of her first child. Addy, you made me smile. ____________________________________________________________________________________________   ____________________________________________________________________________________________

12. Dust off your camera and capture the beauty of the desert

Take photos of, well, everything! The Namib Desert is a photographer’s dream. There is so much indescribable beauty to capture, from the landscape and wildlife by day, to the impossibly starry sky by night. I’m still of the belief that no photos can really do this place justice, but bring your camera and give it a go. ____________________________________________________________________________________________  

December 6th, 2017

7. Ponder the unsolved mystery of the fairy circles

A largely unexplained phenomenon, the Namib Desert is populated by mysterious, grass-ringed patches called fairy circles. Puzzlingly scattered across the stark desertscape, these curious circles not only appear to be evenly spaced, but they also never overlap. There are countless, some even laughable, theories, from underground fire-breathing dragons and dust-bathing ostriches, to armies of ants and termites, underground gases and plants simply competing for water. Fairy circles remain an unsolved mystery, and perhaps what we love about them the most, is that they are the perfect size and setting for romantic, lantern-lit dinners-for-two under the stars. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________

8. Wander aimlessly amidst 900-year-old tree skeletons

____________________________________________________________________________________________ At the foot of Big Daddy is the hauntingly beautiful Deadvlei, or ‘dead marsh’. Thousands of years ago, the Tsauchab River flooded, creating temporary shallow pools of water that encouraged the growth of these camel thorn trees. Centuries later, an unforgiving drought killed the trees and the relentless hot sun scorched them black. It is a picture perfect, yet haunting, graveyard of eerie tree skeletons that poke out from the most picturesque, cracked white clay. A forest frozen in time, you simply have to see Deadvlei in person. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________

9. Celebrate every magnificent sunset

____________________________________________________________________________________________ Enjoy unforgettable sundowner stop on the dunes, be sure to stop and watch as the colors constantly change and the sun casts its golden amber glow on the russet dunes. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________

December 5th, 2017

4. Float over the dunes at sunrise

If you want to ponder how insignificant we really are, then hop into a hot air balloon and quietly absorb the unparalleled 360° view of eternal beauty that is the Namib Desert. Awake just before dawn and venture out to the launch site before sunrise, then float up peacefully into the sky as the sun peeks over the horizon. Get a bird’s eye view of the jagged mountain tops that emerge from shifting dunes and soar over a landscape that remains unchanged for millions of years. __________________________________________________________________________________________ After a gentle landing amidst the amber dunes, as is customary with any balloon flight, you’ll enjoy a champagne toast, followed by a hearty breakfast. We’re talking fresh bread, buttery croissants, pancakes, fruit skewers, smoked salmon, a selection of cheeses and of course some piping hot coffee to get your day started. Though I must admit, not much can really top a morning like that – it was one of the most incredible, soul-enriching and humbling experiences and I cannot recommend it enough. __________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________

5. Conquer some of the world’s highest dunes

____________________________________________________________________________________________ The Namib Desert boasts some of the world’s highest sand dunes, some of them reaching nearly 400 metres in height. Surrounded by countless dunes of differing heights, you really can take your pick, however most people flock to the world-famous Big Daddy and Dune 45. Whether you’re six years old or sixty, you can choose to climb the highest peak, or hike partway and slide down the side, or simply wander around the vlei below admiring the cascading dunes in all their glory. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Sliding down the side of these towering dunes takes you right back to your childhood. You’ll hear the contagious giggles of delight as people bounce down the dunes with reckless, childlike abandon. I dare you not to smile as your feet disappear deep into the dunes, your shoes fill with sand and you glide down to the vlei as if you’re walking on a cloud. It’s so much fun! ____________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________

6. Gaze up at a gazillion stars

____________________________________________________________________________________________ The NamibRand Nature Reserve was officially declared Africa’s first International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR) in 2013. It also became the world’s first IDSR to be awarded Gold Tier status, declaring it an environment with exceptionally little to no impact from artificial light. With the nearest town situated 90 miles away, the reserve is not only free of light pollution, but also boasts one of the darkest skies ever measured. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Situated within this IDSR, &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge boasts a high-tech observatory that is equipped with a Meade LX200R 12-inch telescope (one of the largest in the southern hemisphere) using Autostar II technology. Under the guidance of an expert resident astronomer, guests can get a closer look at the planets and constellations of the enchanting Namibian sky. ____________________________________________________________________________________________

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