Outside it’s all Namibian desert – sand, wide blue skies, red dunes, black-backed jackals and springbok. Inside are Hollywood touches that would make Zsa Zsa Gabor or Marilyn Monroe feel at home. Think pink ostrich feather ‘trees’, pink neon lights in the bar, and rose quartz lamps. This is The Desert Grace, one of the most stylish Sossusvlei lodges. Here’s why you’ll love it.
You’ll find the Gondwana Collection’s Desert Grace between Solitaire and Sesriem in south-western Namibia, about 50km from the entrance gate to the famous dunes at Sossusvlei. The outside walls of the lodge are brown to merge with the surrounding sand and dunes, but inside there’s an unexpected riffle of grey and pink. Pink pouffes, a pink hall stand and umbrella in the room, and pink wrought iron chairs on the entrance stoep all give stylish life to grey wallpaper, floor tiles and throws. Pink-shirted staff with broad smiles will welcome you with a delicious pink slushy, a welcome treat in the heat of the day.
A large sculpture depicting the four elements dominates the main area, its wooden beams soaring to the sky and returning to earth, place for a fire in the centre. There’s a curio shop with a tasteful collection of clothes and beaded jewellery, a luxuriously pink-curtained changing room that begs you to duck inside and pretend to be a Hollywood diva.
Given the hot daytime temperatures in early May, my two favourite things about our room were the aircon and the plunge pool on our front deck. A close second were the outdoor shower and the loo with a view, encouraging us to listen to the shifting sand and the chirp of birds and crickets. The bathroom was a symphony of marble, double antiqued brass basins and aromatic, Africa-inspired Rain toiletries.
1. Enjoy an early morning walk before the heat of the day takes hold. Each trail is named after an endemic creature: the 3km Beetle walk after the flightless orange dung beetle, the 5km Gecko walk after one of my favourite little desert creatures, and the 7km Lark walk after the dune lark, which you’re sure to see on your walks around camp. This is a chance to slow down and see the tiny trails of beetles, birds and scorpions in the sand, leaving news from the previous afternoon and evening. You can do these walks at any time because they’re self-guided but for my taste early morning is best, when the air is still crisp. As writer Mary Davis said, ‘To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.’
9. Enjoy a meal in the restaurant or on the deck for a view out over the dunes and camel thorn trees. Listen to the call of the Namaqua sandgrouse at breakfast, keep watch for passing springbok at lunch. At dinner you’ll find everything from pizzas and stirfries to curries and venison steaks, with enough veggie options to keep the non-carnivores happy. Don’t forget to choose your favourite flavour from the ice cream cart after dinner. We had espresso, prickly pear, and papaya sorbet on our first night, with sprinkles and maraschino cherries too. And don’t miss a drink in the bar with its pink neon signs, or on its deck at sunset. Order one of the signature pink cocktails to really get into The Desert Grace vibe.
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Soar in a hot air balloon over Sossusvlei in Namibia
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