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Namibia - some questions about the Sossusvlei sand dunes

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Aug 7th, 2004, 11:06 AM
  #1
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Namibia - some questions about the Sossusvlei sand dunes

Is there a company that operates short trips form Windhoek to the Sossusvlei sand dunes? I prefer not to camp. Also, is it worth visiting the sand dunes, I would appreciate opinions for fodorites who have been to Sossusvlei. Thanks.
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Aug 8th, 2004, 11:07 PM
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Hi RJames,

Most of the companies that do trips from Windhoek to Sossus. by road are camping outfitters, but there are also quite a few companies that fly there daily and you can stay at any of the lodges in the area.

If you're looking for something more upscale, Wilderness Safaris has a few lodges there (Kulala Desert Lodge, Kulala Tented Camp & Sossusvlei Wilderness Lodge) and Leading Lodges of Africa just opened a new lodge & spa called Le Mirage. I don't think the website for Le Mirage is finished yet, but you can look at the website for their other lodge, Epacha, near Etosha, which will be similar as far as service/quality is concerned www.epacha.com

If you prefer a more rustic lodge, then I'd recommend Zebra River Lodge (www.zebrariver.com) however that is located in a canyon 90km from the entrance of the park, so the day you visit the park you'll have to rise before the birds do.

Definitely a worthwhile trip, it's a beautiful area and the dunes are really stunning.

Best regards,
Kristin
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Aug 9th, 2004, 07:37 AM
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The dunes of the Namib Desert are spectacular. Miles and miles of wind-sculpted red sand under deep blue skies.

The dunes at Sossusvlei are particularly high, hence it being the centre of dune tourism in Namibia. It's also interesting to see the current vlei (water pan) and the dead vleis (previous water pans which were closed off when dunes shifted and are now populated with dead ghostlike trees).

To experience the wonderful red desert in a more remote way you can stay at one of the Wilderness Safari lodges which are slightly further from Sesriem (where the rest of the hotels/ campsites are) and really get a feel for the remote beauty of the region.

If you're taking a flight from Windhoek 5 minutes extra in the plane will get you to Wolwedans in the NamibRand Nature Reserve - it's a magical place.

In an idea world I'd suggest 2 nights at Wolwedans and then a night near Sossusvlei.

On my last trip there I booked through Wilderness Safaris and I think they used the Namib Travel Shop or something like that to handle local arrangements with Wolwedans.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 06:21 AM
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Cardboard Box Travel arranged a trip for us by van from Windhoek to Sossusvlei. We were picked up at our B&B and taken with one other passenger by road to Namib Naukluft Lodge. On the way the driver stopped for us to look at birds, birds' nests, turtle, kudu, klipspringer. We also stopped at the edge of the Namib desert, on a high cliff overlooking the desert, where the view was breathtaking. I'll bet it's equally awesome from a plane.
The driver picked us up in Windhoek at 1 PM, and we got to the lodge in time for drinks before dinner, so I guess it was about a 4 hour drive.

The dunes were definitely worth a visit; Kavey has described it well. The Namib Naukluft Lodge is a few kilometers from the park; in order to be at the park gates at opening time, the vehicles left our lodge before dawn. The excursion was run from the lodge, and was very well done -- we climbed the dunes, saw them in both early morning and mid-afternoon so we could appreciate the different effects of the sun,and went to Sesriem canyon. The trip included a breakfast picnic too.

Namib Naukluft Lodge was nice, but not a luxury place. We spent two nights there, and then were driven back to Windhoek.

I don't remember how much the whole thing cost, but it was moderate.

Cardboard Box has a web site that gives the details.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 04:45 PM
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The Sossusvlei dunes are definitely worth a visit. You can engage a company in Windhoek. I stayed at the Namib Naukluff Lodge and, while it was comfortable and gave a sense of being in a remote area, it was about an hour from the main dunes. Were I to do it again, I would stay at the upscale camp (whose name I cannot tell you right off) that is by the park and has entry through "the back door." There is a camp at the main entrance that is highly touted, but appeared extremely unattractive. Perhaps you can deciper all of this from your travel literature. I highly recommend an aerial view. I took a flight out of Swakopmund, but you can probably do it from other locations. ZZ
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Aug 12th, 2004, 11:23 PM
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Hi there,

Just to add to what Zambezi said, the lodges with the 'back door' are the WS camps (Kulala & Sossusvlei Wild. Camp). The other 'unattractive' one at the entrance, Sossusvlei Lodge, has recently been taken over by new owners and is supposed to be quite good now. And Le Mirage, which I mentioned in a previous post is only 21 km from the entrance. The website isn't finished yet, but you can see what it looks like at www.lemiragelodge.com

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Aug 13th, 2004, 01:41 AM
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Sossusvlei Lodge is where we stayed, it was owned by Movenpick back then. The accommodation was perfectly nice, the half stone and half canvas individual chalets were quite charming. The pool area and bar areas etc were also nice.

For me the negatives were a) the sheer size of the place which lead to a lack of intimacy(and I suspect the new owners are unlikley to reduce the number of beds), b) the lack of interest from staff and the somewhat disinterested service (this could be improved easily) and c) the fact that food was so variable - one the night when they were reasonably full they made huge efforts and put on a marvellous buffet, there was plenty of choice etc. On the other night when they were only 1/3 full there was no choice at all and quality was lower too.

It was also a problem that they did not include any activities. Our agent had said activities were included and hadn't told us that this was not the case at this camp. Had they done so we would at least have been able to book in advance. As it was we arrived and the reception basically said nothing was available and that was that. We were stunned. What the heck would be the point of visiting Sossusvlei and NOT being able to get to the dunes at all? We made various calls and left it to the local operator to resolve and they were eventually able to find a local tour guide with private minibus who took us into the park for a half day tour. This did mean that we wasted the previous afternoon racing back and forth to reception to take calls rather than being able to relax. I think the problem was mostly down to my agent not informing me activities were not included and partly down to complete lack of interest of hotel staff in helping us find someone who could do a tour for us.
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