By: Karel Swanepoel
Regardless of how well I know certain places, it seems that for some of them the romance never vanishes. Maybe it’s the immenseness of the place, or the intrinsic mystery of its surroundings, but the Namib is such a place for me.
I start in Swakopmund, bustling heart of the Namib, at Ocean House B&B, newest of Daosa Arica’s manifest dreams. I came in late and am pleasantly surprised to find an ever-smiling Moses, the floor manager, still waiting for me. My room is one of fifteen spacious, yet cosy and well-equipped rooms. With glimpses of the ocean throughout the property, one never loses sight of the Atlantic’s splendour. I hit the hay, tired, having had a long road filled with garage pies, soft drinks and traffic.
The salty smell of the ocean and the lull of the waves eases me out of my slumber and the scrumptious breakfast waiting for me is the exact thing my body needs to get over the previous day’s slow poisoning. As I eat, my excitement blossoms over my journey ahead. Moses gets a fist-bump and intrepidly I set off into the waiting desert.
From Swakopmund the C14 road ambles through the desert to the tiny hamlet of Solitaire where I sooth the bumps from the road with a lekker apple strudel and cream and hop onto the C19, eventually passing the entrance to the world renowned Sossusvlei and its surrounding dune-sea. 370 Km from my coastal start I reach my destination and Daosa’s next marvel, Desert Hills Lodge.
Perched on a rocky outcrop above the desert floor, the main building and its 18 chalets are magnificently luxurious, welcoming you with their grassy domes. The chalets feel ancient in design, maybe a nod to the historic nomads which used to roam these lands in previous epochs. Within they contain all the indulgences befitting a modern traveller and have an aesthetic essence about them which instantly ignites my city-numbed imagination.
Each stone ensconced thatch chalet gazes out towards the West, allowing the tendrils of the setting Namib sun to flood my room and my being. Desert Hills is the perfect place to use as a base for exploring the area or spending time in its serenity and think the thoughts you’ve forgotten to think. Sossusvlei is a stone throw away but having visited numerous times I stay put for delectable cheese and wine in their cellar and a heavenly sundowner, topped off with glorious dining, and I sleep the kind of sleep Morpheus would be proud of.
After a classic buffet brekkie I leave towards my next destination, I pass ancient camelthorn trees with their spread branches, cradling social weaver nests, while underneath oryx graze lazily in the waving grass, far in the distance beckoning mountains competing for the most beautiful hues of blue summoning me to their mysteries.
My final destination lies to my right, a big gate welcomes me, a portal to my closing adventure. We Kebi Safari Lodge. Oldest of the lodges now under the Daosa Africa banner, We Kebi has a special familiarity to it, like visiting a loved one you haven’t seen for some time.
Fourteen chalets are spread out on both sides of the lodge and stunningly crisp blue pool. My time here is filled with more mouth-watering food, sharing stories with fellow travellers, and staring into the middle distance, far too relaxed for intent! Waiting for dinner I watch as eland, zebra and lechwe take turns at the waterhole. A small family of white rhino grace us with their presence. They have clearly come to roll in their mud pool and share the waterhole with the likes of me, one of their many adoring fans sitting on the deck, crisp drink and camera in hand. Knowing I must leave the next day for the everyday humdrum of my modern life I raise my drink in a grateful salute to the rhinos, ‘till next time’.
Daosa – my new panacea