Natural Selection will open Kwessi Dune Lodge in Namibia. The new property will be set in the vast 215,000 hectares NamibRand Nature Reserve, with easy access to Sossusvlei's iconic rusty red sand dunes and the photogenic Deadvlei.
The NamibRand is a place of awe-inspiring beauty and one of the largest private reserves in southern Africa. It was the vision of Namibian farmer Albi Bruckner in the 1980s and was created from the integration of several livestock farms and the removal of fences that divided the land. The barbed wire Bruckner removed was long enough to stretch from Cape Town to Windhoek. The result is a protected wilderness area that is a model of conservation success. For Natural Selection, it was the perfect location for their sixth Namibian property and an exciting opportunity to contribute to the conservation of this fragile ecosystem for generations to come.
When Kwessi Dune Lodge opens, it will bring Natural Selection's low-key style and quirkiness to southern Namibia. The ten thatch and canvas rooms measure 88 square meters inside and out and will feature vintage four-poster beds, striped canvas walls, and a beautiful map mural feature wall. Each bedroom will also have an ensuite bathroom with both indoor and outdoor showers and a shaded, outdoor veranda. High thatched roofs and air-conditioning will keep guests cool during the hot desert days.
The rooms at Kwessi Dune Lodge come into their own after the sun sets. Each room has a unique star gazer design, and every night, there is the option to sleep outside, under the African night sky. In 2012 the NamibRand Nature Reserve was selected by the International Dark-Sky Association as an official dark sky reserve on account of its low light pollution and cloudless night skies. It is one of the best places on earth to stargaze and enjoy the night under a canopy of twinkling stars. The guides at Kwessi Dune Lodge will help guests to tell their Southern Cross from their Orion's Belt. If all that feels like too much hard work, then counting shooting stars is a wonderful way to fall asleep.
The view from the lodge is spectacular, and the glass windows and doors in the central area look out to the undulating landscape that only ends when it meets the mountains far in the distance. Inside, there is a well-stocked bar, library area, and several seating and dining areas. When the sun rises in the morning, the camp fireplace is the perfect place to enjoy a cup of tea, and during the heat of the day, the swimming pool is the only place to be.
The days at Kwessi Dune Lodge are about discovering the subtle charms of the desert, and the area can be explored on guided nature drives, nature walks or by a quad bicycle. The NamibRand is famous for its fairy-circles - mysterious patches of grass where nothing grows. Theories range that they are the result of poisonous fungi, termites, or even meteor showers; however, no one really knows. Although the semi-arid desert may seem inhospitable, it is still home to an extraordinary variety of species who have found a way to survive and thrive. Take, for example, the gemsbok with their white bellies that reflect the heat of the sand and their sophisticated vascular system that cools the blood around the brain. Or the bat-eared fox whose giant ears help to amplify the sound of their predators approaching. Gemsbok, springbok, kudu, and steenbok can be found in most corners of the reserve, silhouetted against the red sand. Elusive leopards and spotted hyenas can also be occasionally seen.
A day trip to the iconic red dunes of Sossusvlei is a must, in particular, the chance to climb Big Daddy before dawn. Afternoons can be spent exploring Deadvlei, an extraordinary pan of fossilised trees that stand against the startling red backdrop of the dunes - quite simply, a photographer's dream. For a completely different perspective of this extraordinary landscape, go up in the sky in a hot air ballon to see the sunrise.
As with all Natural Selection's projects, 1.5 % of the turnover will go straight back to conservation projects which directly impact the area. The latest clean and green technology will also be in use, ensuring that it leaves as light a footprint as possible on the fragile environment.
Dave van Smeerdijk, co-founder and director of sales and marketing at Natural Selection, says: "With its iconic dunes and sprawling landscapes, this is one of the most spectacular desert areas in the world. The stylish and comfortable lodge has a light footprint and is set on a vast private reserve to ensure exclusivity and close to Namib Naukluft's iconic Sossusvlei."
Rates at Kwessi Dune Lodge start at NAD$ 6500 per person a night.
ABOUT NATURAL SELECTION
Natural Selection may be a newish safari company, but its roots in the African safari business run deep. Devoted to the simple premise that safari tourism, when done right, can be an incredibly powerful tool for conserving and protecting Africa's last great wild places. As such, Natural Selection partners with local communities and governments to help protect and even expand protected areas and critical wildlife habitat through the development of gold-standard ecotourism projects across Southern Africa. Natural Selection donates 1.5 % of its turnover revenue annually to conservation. This deep commitment to protecting nature is matched only by our devotion to providing guests with genuinely extraordinary safari experiences.
Botswana: Meno a Kwena, Jack’s Camp, San Camp, Camp Kalahari, Mapula Lodge, Sable Alley, Hyena Pan, Jackal & Hide, Skybeds and Tuludi
South Africa: Lekkerwater Beach Lodge
Namibia: Hoanib Valley Camp, Shipwreck Lodge, Etosha Mountain Lodge, Safarihoek, Safari House and Kwessi Dune Lodge