6 July 2008, Le Mirage Desert Lodge & Spa, Namibia
This will be my first attempt to start a useful blog for travelers. Being in the travel industry since 4 years, I think it’s about time. My passion is travel and in particular for the Southern African region. My vision is to bring 5 000 guests to this area by 2010. And my speciality, you might ask – finding you a home-from-home, speciality experience in a country that you will never forget! As a life member of the XL Results Foundation I also aim to contribute and leverage 10% of my gross profits to charitable organisations in an attempt to lessen poverty and environmental degeneration. Causes for 2008 included www.malealea.com and www.theartofliving.co.za. The cause for 2009 is the Chaeli Campaign.
I look forward to sharing my experiences with you.
At the moment I’m spending 3 nights at Le Mirage Desert Lodge & Spa in the Namibian desert, the Naukluft. It’s almost surreal, staying in this Arab-style castle in Southern Africa. My friend, Fiona Sacks, is joining me on this trip.
After arriving in Windhoek at 11h35 with SAA from Cape Town we picked up our rental car and were on the road at 12h30. Knowing Namibia a little bit I know we were going to be pressed for time. Le Mirage Desert Lodge is about 400 km from Windhoek. I wanted to arrive before the sun went down. It’s not fun driving on gravel roads in the dark. We arrived at 18h30. Only half an hour we were driving in the dark. Gravel roads in Namibia are quite good though.
Looking forward to a gourmet dinner, we quickly checked-in and moved towards the dining room. The setting is absolutely beautiful but we missed a big fire. Temperatures last night we close to 0° C so a fire would have been an absolute treat. Never mind, we just moved on to the wine list. We opted for a glass of red house wine. I wish I could say something positive about dinner but the food was rather disappointing. The 5 course gourmet dinner consisted of: a mushroom with spinach, tomato soup, baby marrow topped with brie, Springbok fillet and baked pear as desert. The Springbok was the toughest meat I ever tasted and I actually couldn’t finish it. The rest was all a bit mediocre. Don’t get me wrong: we felt that the staff was making a huge effort but they were making things unnecessarily complicated. Just keep the food plain and simple. It must be quite a challenge though to get food to this part of the world. We didn’t complain because everybody was extremely nice and friendly and we were just tired from a long day of travel and couldn’t wait to get under the duvet. The rooms are very spacious with a lovely little terrace and the beds are very comfortable with beautiful linens. We didn’t quite understand why we have a shower in the basin. I still have to find out from Jan, the General Manager.
After a good nights rest and a scrumptious breakfast we were ready to explore Sossusvlei and the Namib Desert. I was SO glad I bought a warm beanie at Cape Town Airport because the mornings are freezing cold. Beautiful blue skies, crisp but freezing.
Sesriem is only 20 km from Le Mirage. At the offices of Namibian Wildlife Resorts you pay the entrance fees and then it’s still 45 km until you get to Dune 45. The gate currently opens at 6h45 and it’s best when you go in as early as possible to get most of the sun rise (changing of the colors and shades). We were already a bit late (breakfast was good!)
In the park you drive on a tarred road and we were lucky to spot springbok, ostrich, gemsbok and a jackal. The drive is beautiful with rising red sand dunes on both sides.
Climbing one of the dunes is a must although some might not be fit enough. We saw people taking off their shoes and that might be the best way to go up. I decided to leave my shoes on and up I went. A little bit of exercise to work off that omelet was just what I needed. I had visited this place also in 2003 and 2005 but for me these huge sand dunes are super special and I can keep coming back here. For Fiona it was the first time to see them and she absolutely loved it.
Some 15 km further than Dune 45 you can make another stop and visit Dead Vlei. If you don’t drive a 4×4 you need to leave your car and take a taxi to the Vlei. Another surreal place and paradise for photographers. See the pictures.
Looking forward to a lazy afternoon around the pool at the lodge we headed back and got totally lost!! Instead of driving 20 km, we drove about a 100 km before we were back at the lodge. Jee, these kind of things always bring me in a bad mood. I was nervous that we would miss lunch because they said lunch from 12 – 2pm. Not to worry, as soon as we arrived a delicious lasagna and tomato, mozzarella salad were prepared for us and got me back into my good mood. Yes, food IS important! We also decided on a balloon safari for tomorrow and obviously got totally excited that this was maybe one of these once-in-a-lifetime adventures and NOW was the time. Will report on this tomorrow but it will be absolutely beautiful!