Revealing the best of Africas astonishing Dark Sky Reserve
In Sossusvlei when the light hits the dunes, every hour of the day is like you are in a different place. It is like watching a movie! And with some of the darkest skies on earth it affords stargazers some of the most dramatic stargazing experiences possible.
Situated in the NamibRand Nature Reserve, one of Southern Africa’s largest private conservation areas and the continent’s only Dark Sky Reserve, Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is set to become one of the world’s leading luxury desert escapes following its recent revamp.
“Although forward-thinking for its time, the original lodge is now more than 20 years old,” explains Joss Kent, &Beyond CEO. “It was time for us to reimagine the lodge’s design using modern technology to blend it even more seamlessly into its natural environment. In keeping with our lodge refurbishment plan, we have made some bold design choices for the new &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge that celebrate the beauty of its environment and imbue it with a strong sense of place.”
The updated design ethos pays homage to the surrounding untouched desert landscape and maximises the scenic opportunities for guests while leaving as light a footprint as possible. The new building comprises a series of glass, rock and steel pavilions built to withstand the extreme elements while providing the ultimate in guest comfort.
Clever use of space almost doubles the size of the lodge’s guest areas, where design elements play on light and shadow. The silhouette of the guest area is transformed using perforated steel structures that let 2 in dappled light and shade, creating a sense of privacy. A new gym and spa area offer elevated views over the desert, with the spa boasting its own skylight. A central island bar made of massive slabs of local granite brings new life to the heart of the guest area, while an interactive kitchen inspires guests with the theatre of food.
The ultimate in desert luxury, each suite has its own private plunge pool, as well as a sophisticated water recycling system, which will recycle more than 100 000 litres of grey water a month, helping to offset the 50 000 litres of water that will evaporate from the pools each month. Each suite also acts as its own solar power plant, with discreet roof panels that power the air conditioning, water treatment and recycling systems.
USD 600 000 has been invested in state-of-the-art sustainability initiatives, including the addition of a water bottling plant. By bottling water on site and using recycled glass bottles, the lodge saves a significant amount of CO² per month, absorbing the carbon footprint of the delivery truck that used to bring in bottled water and eliminating more than 45 000 plastic water bottles. All cleaning products used at the lodge are environmentally-friendly and 100% biodegradable; the monthly energy and water usage are strictly monitored; and the lodge undergoes an annual sustainability audit to determine its environmental impact. &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is currently closed and will re-open in
Guests can choose from a selection of activities, ranging from the traditional bucket list desert adventures to the far more obscure and exclusive experiences that will take them beyond the expected.
Each evening guests are invited to join resident astronomers as they unlock the mysteries of Namibia’s skies in the lodge’s state of the art observatory, complete with a Meade LX200R 12 inch telescope. The nighttime environments have little to no impact from light pollution and artificial light, with the nearest town 140 km (87 miles) away. Following the stargazing experiences guests have the luxury of retiring to their suites bedecked with large skylights set into the ceiling above their beds.
While day trips to the world-famous Sossusvlei dunes, Sesriem Canyon and Dead Vlei can be arranged, guests are encouraged to delve deeper into the desert experience to enjoy its solitude. Carefully-curated excursions highlight the area’s natural beauty and allow guests to explore on their own.
From scenic nature drives, quadbike excursions, guided or non-guided walks and mountain biking, to hot air balloons (available at an additional cost) and hikes up to ancient San rock paintings, there are options to suit all ages and interests. A definite highlight is the dune ecology experience, which is guided by a specialist guide and showcases the small wonders of the desert.