Natural Selection will open their next Namibian property, Kwessi Dune Lodge, on March 1 2020. The new property will be set in the vast 215,000 hectare NamibRand Nature Reserve, with easy access to Sossusvlei’s iconic rusty red sand dunes and the photogenic Deadvlei.
The NamibRand is a vast place of awe-inspiring beauty. One of the largest private reserves in southern Africa, it was the vision of Namibian farmer Albi Bruckner in the 1980s and was created from the integration of several livestock farms and the removal of the fences which divided the land. The barbed wire Bruckner removed was in fact long enough to stretch from Cape Town to Windhoek. The result was a protected wilderness area that today is a model of conservation success. For Natural Selection, it was the perfect location for their sixth Namibian property and an exciting opportunity to contribute to the conservation of this fragile eco-system for generations to come.
When Kwessi Dune Lodge opens on March 1, it will bring Natural Selection’s low-key style and quirkiness to southern Namibia. The ten thatch and canvas rooms measure 88 square metres inside and out, and will feature vintage four-poster beds, striped canvas walls and a beautiful map mural feature wall. Each bedroom will also have an ensuite bathroom with both indoor and outdoor showers and a shaded, outdoor veranda. High thatched roofs and air-conditioning will keep guests cool during the hot desert days.
But the rooms at Kwessi Dune Lodge really come into their own after the sun sets. Each room has been designed with a special “star gazer” room and every night there is the option to sleep outside, under the African night sky. In 2012 the NamibRand Nature Reserve was selected by the International Dark Sky Association as an official dark sky reserve on account of its low light pollution and cloudless night skies. It is one of the best places on earth to star gaze and enjoy spending the night under a canopy of twinkling stars. The guides at Kwessi Dune Lodge will help guests to identify their Southern Cross constellation from their Orion’s Belt, but if that all feels like too much hard work then counting shooting stars is a wonderful way to fall asleep.
The view from the lodge is spectacular and the glass windows and doors at the main area look out onto the undulating landscape that only ends when it meets the mountains, far in the distance. Inside, there’s a well-stocked bar, library area and several seating and dining areas. When the sun rises in the morning, the camp fire is the perfect place to enjoy a cup of tea and in the heat of the day, the swimming pool is the only place to be.
The days at Kwessi Dune Lodge are about discovering the subtle charms of the desert and the area can be explored on guided nature drives, nature walks and by quad bike. The NamibRand has long been famous for its “fairy-circles”, mysterious patches of grass where nothing grows. Theories range that they are the result of poisonous fungi, termites or even meteor showers, however no one really knows. Although the semi-arid desert may seem inhospitable, it is still home to an extraordinary variety of species who have found a way to survive and thrive. Take, for example, the gemsbok with their white bellies that reflect the heat of the sand and their sophisticated vascular system that cools the blood around the brain. Or the bat-eared fox whose giant ears help to amplify the sound of their predators approaching. Gemsbok, springbok, kudu and steenbok, can be found in most corners of the reserve, silhouetted against the red sand, whilst elusive leopard and spotted hyena are occasionally seen.
A day trip to the iconic red dunes of Sossusvlei is not to be missed, in particular the chance to climb “Big Daddy” before dawn. Afternoons can then be spent exploring Deadvlei, an extraordinary pan of fossilized trees that stand against the startling red backdrop of the dunes – quite simply, a photographer’s dream. For a completely different perspective of this extraordinary landscape, take to the skies in a tranquil hot air balloon ride as the sun rises.
As with all Natural Selection’s projects 1.5% of turnover will go straight back to conservation projects which directly impact the area. The new lodge will also make use of the latest clean and green technology, ensuring that it leaves as light a footprint as possible on the fragile environment.
Dave van Smeerdijk, co-founder and Director of Sales and Marketing at Natural Selection says, “With its iconic dunes and sprawling landscapes, this is one of the most spectacular desert areas in the world. The cool and comfortable lodge has a light footprint and is set on a vast private reserve to ensure exclusivity and close to Namib Naukluft’s iconic Sossusvlei.”
Rates at Kwessi Dune lodge start at NAD$ 6500 per person per night.