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3 Namibian destinations for a scenic & secluded escape

Namibia’s expansive scenery, sparse population and gentle pace make it the perfect escape

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By House & Garden South Africa | January 11, 2022 | Travel Leisure

Wide open spaces, safety, and peaceful surroundings all rank high on our travel wish lists – the desire to escape stress a need rather than merely a desire. And Namibia’s scarcity of people, wild, natural beauty and ease of access (especially for South Africans) make it the ideal destination to venture to right now.

And as varying as the terrain, which morphs from savannah to desert and stark otherworldly coastline the further you head along the highway, so too are the types of lodges open to guests. Better still, plan a long, lazy stay and experience a variety as you explore the vast empty roads.

andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

Best for: elemental x-factor

Image courtesy of andBeyond

andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge reimagined in 2019 by Fox Browne Creative has scooped copious awards, and it’s not hard to see why. A celebration of the elements and positioned with staggering views of the desert and lilac mountains in the distance, this cluster of structures fashioned in rock and rusted metal are at one with the russet tones of their surroundings but remarkable in their own right.

The architecture and interiors are a masterclass in contextual but contemporary design, and find the perfect balance of standing out and blending in. The contrasts – rounded versus angular forms, linen juxtaposed with mirror – is a subtle reminder that that this luxurious space is in one of the most primal places on earth.

Suites are self-contained universes, with their own deck and pool, staggering bathroom views and spacious living areas (complete with work and lounging areas and a fireplace for the desert winter). Sustainable features invisible to the naked eye keep the lodge as light on the earth as possible – with 85% power supplied by solar, and water filtration on taps to circulate water back into the system. Aside from the striking architecture and sophisticated glamor of the interiors, it’s a service showstopper. Subtle, seamless and polished, the team is gracious and intuitive, and the food and wine offering exceptional (ask to dine in your group in the private ‘cellar’).

The newly reimagined lodge not only received a facelift however. Its activities were revised to offer a unique and immersive experience of the desert. The spa and gym, above the main lodge have arguably the best views, making wellness a memorable experience, and excursions abound - from quad biking through the dunes, to visits to San rock art sites, outdoor dining like sundowners or a breakfast picnic in the desert and geological excursions to learn about the ancient rock formations.

Great features:

Electronic skylight above the bed

Excellent in-room bar showcasing local gins

Star observatory with telescope to stargaze

Zannier Omaanda

Best for: authentic escapism

Picture: Supplied

Understated in the extreme as you enter, but opening up onto panoramic elevated views over the bushveld to the Khomas Hochland plateau in the distance, this beautiful traditionally-inspired lodge, nestled into the vegetation was designed featuring elements of Owambo architecture.

The low-key elegance continues throughout. The main lodge, open entirely to the elements, offers an immediate sense of place. The celebration of earth tones, organic forms and textures, and scheme featuring beautiful fabrics, precious artefacts and authentic ceramics is a discrete and understated expression of luxury that keeps you constantly connected to the cultural heritage and natural beauty of the setting.

Picture: Supplied

Traditional round rush-thatched huts offer sanctuary-like spaces, each with a private terrace, spacious dressing- and bathrooms. With all the mod cons needed for a seamless stay, but the escape from modern life we all need, they offer a real sense of rest.

A pool bar and heated rim-flow heated pool are the ultimate space to breathe out during the day and for sundowners, and meals are served with views in the welcoming restaurant which focuses on seasonal organic produce. Spa treatments once again ground guests in the landscape, with ancient Namibian therapies that use local roots, herbs and spices. Fires are lit in the restaurant and the boma at night, a daily ritual synonymous with being in the bush.

If you can tear yourself away from the peaceful surroundings of the lodge, daily game drives will give you a glimpse of the natural riches of the landscape. Because, aside from the hospitality experience it offers Zannier Omaanda is also a story of rebirth. When founder Arnaud Zannier acquired a piece of land, with the N/a’an ku sê Foundation, set aside for cattle breeding he created a 9 000-hectare conservancy dedicated to preserving the natural beauty and heritage of this part of the world.

Picture: Supplied

We loved:

Quick and easy transfers to Hosea Kutako International airport (a rare thing in such a vast country)

The beautiful sharing mezze-style lunches

Wilderness Safaris Little Kulala

Best for: remote romance

Picture: Little Kulala, Sossusvlei, Namibia. Photo by Teagan Cuniffe

A romantic and uplifting destination that’s luxurious but unpretentious, Little Kulala’s immersion in the desert and warm service is a tonic. Situated along the dry Auab riverbed in the Kulala Wilderness Reserve, it’s an unexpected oasis. Once farmland used for subsistence farming, as recently as two decades ago the region had very little indigenous wildlife, but in 1996 Wilderness Safaris stepped in to rehabilitate the area and today the landscape reflects the natural biodiversity.

Designed to echo the scenery and merge with the surroundings – pastel tones, organic shapes and natural textures – it’s soothing from the moment you step inside. Designed with rounded rooms and curved walls and furniture, there are not hard or harsh edges, giving the space a gentle cocooning effect.

Picture: Little Kulala, Sossusvlei, Namibia. Photo by Teagan Cuniffe

The 11 thatched suites, situated along a raised boardwalk that’s lit up at night, offer total seclusion while being open to the expanse of the desert. A comfortable living area, generous bathrooms (with the obligatory outdoor shower) and practical dressing area make it effortlessly comfortable to spend time in. Each has a spacious outdoor area, walled from view, with a starbed that’s set up for you each night to sit and enjoy the night sky in comfort. A small refreshing plunge pool, and private dining deck allow you to enjoy the sanctuary of the desert in total privacy, just some of the reasons this lodge is a perfect couples’ and honeymoon destination.

Sundowners on the deck as the desert turns tones of pink, and dining by candlelight at night serves to further celebrate the setting. As far as excursions go, there are plenty to choose from. Daily game drives, and guided walks – both night and day – will acquaint you with the area’s animal, bird and plantlife and quad biking will satisfy those with a need for adventure.

We loved:

The starbed on your private deck

The fully kitted-out library/reading room

An in-suite art kit with colouring book and pencils

Eco-friendly sustainable touches