By Jason & Lyndon Duplessis
After all the difficulties we had with Delta during our previous trip together, we had zero issues this time. We recommend some noise cancelling headphones for these long international flights. All Fish Eagle Safaris employees use Bose QC15 headsets which are just amazing. We did arrive in JNB early enough to enjoy our favorite restaurant, Ocean Basket, in the Emperor’s Palace complex. The Metcourt Suites were very nice as usual. Just a 5-10 minute shuttle away from the airport and free shuttles back to the airport at any time you need. Our flight in the morning departed very early, at 6:15 AM, but we were able to request a shuttle to arrive at 4:15 for our pickup.
Once we arrived in Windhoek, we were introduced to the rest of our group and our Safari Wise guide, Mark. Our group consisted of a couple of ladies from California, two from Poland and one that lives in JNB. We were given some nice arrival documents including our itineraries, brochures for multiple camps, and a road map which would help us later during our self-drive. We almost immediately set off for Windhoek where we had a quick tour of a few landmarks in town. It seemed like we had all day to get to Sossusvlei, but we would need the whole day as we found out later.
About two hours into our drive to Sossusvlei Lodge, we turned west toward a town called Aub and quickly experienced our first (but not our last) flat tire in Namibia! There wasn’t much drama though, Mark quickly changed the tire and we were on our way once more. After 4-5 hours of driving we arrived in Solitaire, a common stop between Windhoek and Sossusvlei. Solitaire is well known for apple crumble, which we would try later on during the trip.
We left Solitaire running quite late. The flat tire and some slow travel over gravel roads had us moving quite slowly. We had no way of knowing, but only 10 minutes from our destination we had our second flat tire! This one took a little longer to change, and by that time (roughly 4 PM) it was very hot. We finally arrived at Sossusvlei Lodge about 3 hours later than expected, but the lodge quickly took our mind off the long drive.
Sossusvlei Lodge has a large open outdoor eating area surrounding an open plain with a man-made water hole in the distance. There is a tall observation tower that helps you see for miles. The tower itself looms over a nice pool area and the bar. Speaking of the bar, Namibia has quite a lot of German influence in the country which has led to some very nice beers. If you enjoy beer, you can’t go wrong with the local brews in Namibia.
The rooms at Sossusvlei Lodge are quite big. Each room comes with an AC unit, which can help during the hot months. The lodge also had one of our favorite dinner buffets. Not only did they have the basic buffet selections including hot or cold appetizers and salads, but for your main course you can choose and of 9 local meats including oryx, springbok and ostrich. If exotic meats aren’t your thing you can always choose more common cuts including beef, chicken, fish and pork. Not only do you get to select your meat, but the chef cooks it for you on a very nice outdoor grill. All this talk about meat might have some vegetarians or vegans worried, but the buffet has a huge selection of vegetables and starches. You can even have another chef create a stir-fry with ingredients (including sauces and seasonings) that you select.
Activities were quite nice at Sossusvlei Lodge as well. Our choice was obviously to go into Sossusvlei / Dead Vlei and see the dunes. If you were to spend more time in the area the lodge offers many other activities including ATV rides, nature walks and even archery. We left quite early for our dune trip as you’re allowed in the park just at sunrise. Most tourists like to stop at Dune 45 to climb it, but we stopped just for a quick look. It’s a lovely area and an iconic spot to climb but if you aren’t there very early the crowds are immense. We drove on to Dead Vlei which was just stunning. The colors of the sand and the sky paired with the dead trees and salt pan were amazing. Jason tried to recreate a few iconic photographs of the pan and we think he did a decent job. After Dead Vlei we drove on to Sossusvlei for a lunch in the shade. Even in the shade it was quite hot, so once again get there early! You don’t want to be halfway up a dune when the temperatures get too high. Our final activity was a quick trip into Sesriem Canyon. The canyon has been carved out by water over millions of years. You can actually still see some spots where debris has been deposited during extremely high tide. It was very hot later in the day though, so we only stayed for a short time at the canyon.
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