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Author: Mishka Ramdas, Digital Copywriter
Travel will teach you that the perfect Instagram picture is less about filters and more about the thrill of the experience. Many people tend to overlook the Namib Desert and we get it. The heat is undeniable and coupled with the harsh terrain and dust, it doesn’t really scream ‘wanderlist experience.’ Some days, the breeze feels like a hair dryer on the hottest setting and other days there isn’t a breeze at all. But what it lacks in its sheer appearance, it compensates for by being a truly adventurous desert. It’s like you’re a kid in an ice cream store, looking at all the flavours, thinking…”I just have to try them all!”
The perfect base to try all these magnificent adventures would be the architectural masterpiece that is the andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge. Once you arrive and take in all the breath-taking views of this stunning lodge situated in the middle of a larger-than-life sandbox, do yourself a favour and chat to the Experiences Manager who will walk you though the fantastic adventures on offer.
#1 The Star Dune
The renowned terracotta dunes of Sossusvlei are among the highest in the world and climbing them will surely get your heart rate up as it is quite the challenge. If you don’t enjoy crowds this is the perfect little adventure for you. As you tower up the long dune’s winding tailbone without any other people in sight, you will be completely enthralled and ecstatic to have this mighty star dune all to yourself.
#2 Float Among The Clouds
Trust me when I say that waking up at the crack of dawn for a hot air balloon experience is certainly worth it. As you approach the launch site, you will see these massive balloons being inflated by bursts of fire, once ready for lift-off, all signs of fatigue will leave your body as you drift into the clouds. Sounds poetic, doesn’t it? As the sun starts to defrost, you will be transported by the oldest form of transportation, and you will come out feeling as though you have truly touched the sky.
#3 Explore the Big Daddy
The Namib Sand Sea is the largest dune field in sub-Saharan Africa and home to the world-famous Big Daddy sand dune. It is a steep 45-minute climb to the top of Big Daddy but you will certainly be rewarded with the most extraordinary 360 degree view of the forever-shifting sand dunes as far as the eye can see. The really fun part about this adventure is getting down. Many run, skip or roll down the 350m slope. At the foot of Big Daddy you will find the beautiful, yet haunting Deadvlei or ‘dead marsh’. Centuries ago, the Tsauchab River flooded which created temporary pools of water that allowed a surprising growth of camel thorn trees. But, a drought later followed and the heat scorched the trees.
#4 Decipher San Rock Art
Fancy a bit of a history lesson? Namibia is packed with an abundance of rich history that many travellers have yet to understand. For those who are seeking a more educational adventure, head to the nearby cave on foot or hop onto an e-bike. These 200-year old rock paintings tell a story that needs to be heard. Your guide will also show you tools and relics that were discovered at this heritage site.
#5 Unforgettable Stargazing
The night sky when you are in Namibia just ‘hits’ different. Sossusvlei neighbours the pristine NamibRand Nature Reserve which is the continent’s only international Dark Sky Reserve. While staying at Sossusvlei, you will meet the resident astronomer who is stationed in the lodge’s state-of-the-art observatory. You will be completely mesmerized just by looking up with the naked eye, but with the use of the Meade LX200R 12-inch telescope, it will feel as though you can grab the stars with your hand.
#6 Soar Over the Desert in a Helicopter
If you thought the hot-air balloon was the end of your air adventures, you are totally wrong. The helicopter experience is a lot more intimate than the hot air balloon as there are a maximum of five guests permitted. You will literally have your own, personal window seat to the most spectacular views. The scenic helicopter flight offers you varying landscapes, and you can opt to have the doors taken off for a completely uninterrupted view. Take extraordinary clicks for the gram as your overlook rocky mountain tops, sand dunes and star dunes.
#7 Cycling Through the Land
I know it seems daunting, who wants to cycle through the heat of the desert? But hear me out, the e-bikes at andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge are fantastic and it won’t leave you feeling like you have just come from a spinning class. Each bike is battery-powered and given a little extra throttle; you will be able to get through tough inclines with ease. At first, you may find that you are more focused on trying not to fall off, but once you lift your eyes, the views will leave you utterly astonished. There are two trails of varying lengths and if you are nervous, you can always be accompanied by one of the guides.