Gondwana Collection – Â The Desert Grace
The gentle hues of the descending sun set the towering mountains in the east alight. Another breath-taking Namibian sunset in another equally stunning destination. Though this one is exceptional on many levels. To the west the gentle slopes of red sand dunes are visible. Here, on the very edge of the Namib Desert, the astounding beauty of Namibiaâ€™s most iconic exhibition begins. Iâ€™m sitting on the fringe of the oldest desert in the world. Where the picturesque mountains of sand stretch to the horizon. Some 60 km west lies the Atlantic Ocean, where the sea of sand slopes down to the pristine beaches along its cold waters. As I slowly sip a drink at what is possibly the most original of sundowner spots I have come across in this land of endless horizons, the setting sun bathes the landscape around me in pastel shades. And all around me, I realise, the world has turned the softest shade of pink…
With a slushy machine at the reception desk to create your welcome drink, swings around a dining table, a Bluetooth Marshall speaker in your room to pump some tunes, a private splash pool in front of every room with views to die for and every accent toned pink (breathe in deeply), Gondwanaâ€™s new Desert Grace is on fleek! Excuse the millennialism.
Set in Gondwana Namib Park, a private nature reserve that borders Namibiaâ€™s Natural World Heritage Site, the Namib Sand Sea, this new hotspot has all the flare and affluence needed to become an iconic desert destination. With all the comforts of so many others in the area, there seems to be a certain jeÂ neÂ saisÂ quoi that sets it apart.Â
ExcitingÂ momentsÂ aroundÂ theÂ nextÂ bend
I ventured south from the countryâ€™s capital for a weekend escape from the hustle and stress that is the year-end season. A three-and-a-half-hour drive (in my books not too far by any measure) brought me to Gondwanaâ€™s newest brainchild. From the start we were enthralled. â€œExciting moments around the next bendâ€, reads the sign at the entrance. â€œA quick pit stop?â€ enquires the next. And so began a wonderfully refreshing visit to the desert.Â
The Desert Grace makes no excuses. Its design and charisma screams: â€œItâ€™s hot here in the desert, and so are we.â€ And they fly their young-and-hip flag loud and proud. From the indulgent opulence of the reception area to the cool and laidback atmosphere at the bar, every design detail has been attended to with the utmost precision. Every nuance communicates the tone The Desert Grace sets: â€œWe are on point and we know itâ€. In our room a wicker basket, stocked with sarongs and towels, is ready for us to take out to our private plunge pool. And everything, absolutely everything, is pretty much pink. They found the pink in the surrounding mountains. A hue that radiates at sunset when the soft pastel pink glows from the landscape, making everything beautifully ethereal. Now I see pink everywhere. The rocks, the sky, the horizon. After popping a bottle of champagne from our mini-bar we took a dip in the reviving water and then headed back to the â€˜pit stopâ€™ we had passed on our way inâ€¦
SlowÂ downÂ forÂ foxÂ sake
We take heed of the signageâ€¦ A gentle morning cruise on electric fat-bikes takes us on a trail traversing rocky paths, riverbeds and over the red sand dune belt stretching out in front of the lodge. Gemsbok and springbok watch as we glide by, bored expressions on their faces, not too interested in these strange creatures exploring their home range. A hearty breakfast is followed by a day spent lounging by our private pool, sipping slowly on whatever liquid is at hand and later soaking up the ethereal glory of another pink Namibian sunset on a nature drive through the dunes.
After dinner that evening, where we had fun building our own pizzas, we head off on a Scorpion Walk adventure with our guide Albert. The glow of the tiny creatures reminds me of the sign behind the bar back at the lodgeâ€¦ â€œOne night in Namibiaâ€ flickers in pink neon lettering, and I think to myself: This place is a breath of fresh air in the desertâ€¦ Yes, definitely… if I only had one night in Namibia.Â
This wonderful destination encapsulates the stunning beauty of the desert as only Namibia can offer with the comfort and luxury of a dream lodge.
This article was first published in the Summer 2018/19 edition of Travel News Namibia.