Extended before 2020 grew to become the yr of social distancing, Namibia was the ultimate place for distant luxury. New homes are at any time additional significant-conclude, and at any time far more non-public. Some are grand desert hideaways for only two friends, who share infinite desert horizons with no other people (besides possibly the committed chef and driver, who appear only when summoned). 

We retreated with anticipation to be the initially at the Desert Whisper, far into the Namib Desert, just as Namibia was making ready to open up once more to international holidaymakers. Designed by the locally dependent Gondwana Selection Namibia team, which has used extra than two many years perfecting its 20 Namibian offerings, this one is the pinnacle. 

The Whisper is like a intimate asteroid flung down into the far reaches of the rock hills, with the desert unspooling into infinity all close to. Exterior it blends into character, while within it is flooded with pure light and retains the best-stocked bar we have noticed outside the house New York. 

A 19th-century colonial German architecture in the city of Swakopmund on Namibia’s Atlantic coast. // Photo by Sharri Whiting De Masi 

In this bean-shaped luxury pod is a entire kitchen, loaded with clean ingredients for breakfast, lunch, aperitivo, dinner and candies. Guests may well opt for to prepare and provide by themselves or sip a cocktail on the terrace though the chef makes and serves the food. (The chef and driver are posted at reception, about a few miles away). The visitor restrict at The Desert Whisper is two people, with a least age of 13.

Outside of the kitchen area is an open dwelling/bedroom house with various sofas and easy chairs, a king-sized bed guiding a 50 % wall, a huge glass shower enclosure, and a non-public bathroom. There are guides about Namibia and the rest of the universe, a huge basket of domestically manufactured bathtub facilities, and a telescope. (Be aware: Of course, there is air conditioning). The scenery is at any time shifting as the sun moves throughout the desert — spectacular sunsets are a offered, together with the darkest of evenings punctuated with some of the best star-gazing in the globe.

The Desert Whisper, with its distinctive rusted exterior, supplies the greatest in social distancing. // Photo by Sharri Whiting De Masi 

The Gondwana Reserve below is surrounded by national parks, including the Namib-Naukluft, wherever the world’s highest pink dunes encircle the eerily vacant salt pan, Sossusvlei. This Namib Sand Sea was declared a Environment Heritage web-site in 2013. This aspect of Namibia is recognized for its special geological formations and incredible dune landscapes. We’ve viewed oryx (gemsbok), giraffes, antelopes, mountain zebras, ostrich, wildebeest and dozens of smaller desert denizens from the ground and from a balloon.

Just one thought for a excellent day could be to just take off in a scorching-air balloon more than the dunes at dawn, have breakfast in the middle of the desert, get a swim in The Desert Whisper’s non-public plunge pool ahead of lunch, have the chef put together lunch, take a restorative nap in the afternoon before your driver picks you up for a sundowner generate through the broad reserve, with a halt for an aperitivo in the desert as the sun turns the grass silver. Then, back to the Desert Whisper for a impressive sunset and meal less than the stars. (Or, just sit by the pool all working day, sipping a thing chilled and reading Wilbur Smith). 

Eating at The Desert Whisper, with a perspective of the world’s oldest desert. // Photo by Sharri Whiting De Masi 

About 20 miles away on the reserve is The Desert Grace. Right here, the luxurious chalets have personal plunge swimming pools overlooking the view there are some family members rooms, a whole restaurant and a bar/lounge. From the Grace, it’s achievable to just take personal or guided walks or e-bike excursions, nature drives, excursions to Sossusvlei, or sign up for the creepy and pretty well-known Evening Scorpion Stroll, in which UV gentle reveals scorpions hiding out in the darkness. The Grace may be an solution for households or couples touring alongside one another or for a vacation spot wedding day group, with the bride and groom staying at The Desert Whisper. There is a private airstrip which serves the reserve.

This Namibian itinerary could start out or close at Walvis Bay, wherever there is a modern-day airport with flights to the worldwide airports in Windhoek or Cape City, or, as section of an unbiased or guided driving tour. Possibly way, it genuinely ought to consist of a cease at the aged German city of Swakopmund on the Atlantic coastline, just 50 % an hour from the cruise port at Walvis Bay. Established in the late 19th century, it is now an lively and diverse community, wherever Bavarian architecture, open-air craft marketplaces, eco-friendly parks, seashores, dining places and boutiques mirror the several cultures of the nation. We love side outings, such as to astounding Sandwich Harbor (with Sand Waves, [email protected]), Tommy’s Tiny 5 tour of the dunes (www.livingdesertnamibia.com), Mola Mola’s dolphin tour of the Walvis Bay Lagoon (www.mola-namibia.com), or a drive up to Cape Cross to see the seals and have lunch on the ocean at the Cape Cross Lodge. (Trace: Viewing hundreds of thousands of seals dwelling on one rocky outcrop is phenomenal, but it smells basically awful. You’ll have to have to mask up for this encounter).

The 1,000-mile Namibian Atlantic coast is acknowledged for its oysters and fish. Swakopmund is entire of good seafood eating places, as well as people that provide wild sport and other meat. We like The Jetty and The Tug on the water, Kucki’s Pub and Gabrielle’s Pizza. A entertaining favored is Fork n Pleasant, the yellow college bus up Strand Road on the beach, the place the takeaway includes terrific calamari and chips. The three extremely very good dining places at the four-star Strand Hotel forget about the Atlantic alongside the mole, exactly where locals like to swim in the chilly sea. There’s a foodie strolling tour in city (www.swakopfoodtours.com) and the laid back Goanikontes Oasis (www.goanikontes-oasis.com) a couple miles away in the Moon Valley, a variety of Luckenbach, Texas, in Africa.

The plunge pool for two at The Desert Whisper. // Photo by Sharri Whiting De Masi 

From Swakopmund’s small airport it is possible to charter a flight to the rest of Namibia. We like to e book non-public flights with Westair, which also has scheduled flights all above the nation and to South Africa. We suggest preparing a excursion to Etosha National Park, which is about the measurement of Belgium and crammed with free of charge-ranging animals: elephants, lions, cheetahs, rhinos, zebras, springbok, ostrich, oryx, kudu and a lot more. There are loads of luxurious lodges that ring the park, as very well as a selection of destinations to stay within. Gondwana’s most recent property, the 40-room Etosha King Nehale, has unique personal obtain to the Ontalelo Outpost, a waterhole essentially inside the park.

Functional Data You Need to have to Know

To start with and foremost, Namibia has taken care of the pandemic incredibly well and now has safely opened its borders to global vacationers. In accordance to Vera Salt, vice chair of the Affiliation of Namibia Vacation Brokers, “Namibia’s wide measurement and its little population [under three million] can make it the great location. Our infection costs have been really reduced and the government has carried out strict and controlled COVID-19 suggestions for travelers moving into the country.”

As aspect of its Tourism Revival Initiative, Namibia has released a “visa on arrival” possibility for tourists from some nations, although other people could apply for a visa in advance by a journey company, these as Rennies Vacation Namibia. Now, arrivals with a negative COVID test a lot less than 72 hrs aged do not have to quarantine and might continue immediately to their locations within the region. 

The chalets at The Desert Grace are manufactured from indigenous Namibian constructing elements. // Photo by Sharri Whiting De Masi 

Masks, get in touch with tracing, temperature checks, and obligatory provision of hand gel at each business institution have been in area because Spring 2020. Travel in remote places, in which there are couple people today and broad-open up spaces, is a gain for these wishing to have a break from some of these prerequisites. 

We questioned Jacky Ebenau ([email protected]), income director at Rennies, about how U.S. travelers really should approach their journey to Namibia. She stated that the most direct alternatives are Lufthansa/Eurowings and Ethiopian Airlines, which fly from Europe instantly into Hosea Kutako Global Airport outside Windhoek. From there, vacationers may possibly consider scheduled flights somewhere else in the nation, decide on up a rental vehicle from significant vendors, or meet up with their tutorial/driver. The different would be to fly to Cape Town or Johannesburg, South Africa, and decide on up a often scheduled flight to Windhoek or Walvis Bay, Namibia, on Westair or Airlink. Jacky famous that the return vacation to the U.S. on Lufthansa/Eurowings calls for an overnight stay at a German airport, mainly because the flight from Windhoek is a working day excursion. 

For updates, go to na.usembassy.gov or check out with Jacky at Rennies.

A personal plunge pool reflects the sunset at a Desert Grace chalet. // Photo by Sharri Whiting De Masi 

Where by to Store 

Blue skies, large panoramas, hundreds of species of animals and birds, and very good meals/wine/beer do not preclude the delights of shopping in Namibia. Each lodge has its own present store, showcasing domestically manufactured things, and nearly just about every city has an open-air current market, exactly where suppliers promote souvenirs made from every thing possible, from phone wire to seeds. 

The nation is recognized for its diamonds, gold and gemstones, including tourmalines, amethysts, and quite a few other folks. Jewelers, quite a few gemologists and designers properly trained in Europe, market patterns incorporating area stones and will generate on get for customers. Our favourite is Sebastian Klein ([email protected]) in Swakopmund, who skilled in Germany and apprenticed with the effectively-identified Horst Knop, in advance of opening his individual studio downtown. A good supply for gems and stones is the Kristall Gallery.

The lounge/bar at The Desert Grace brings with each other regular Namibian décor with modern day African design. // Photo by Sharri Whiting De Masi 

Other very large excellent Namibian merchandise contain ostrich and other skins, which are normally exported to Europe. They can be discovered at Nakara in Swakopmund and Windhoek, among other locations and are extremely reasonably priced as opposed to Europe and the U.S. Karakul rugs, handwoven from karakul sheep wool from Namibia and the Northern Cape of South Africa, are distinctive whether accomplished in pure or brilliant shades. Coming from the exact animal, the Swakara pelts used in coats, baggage and gloves are equivalent to Persian lamb.

Our favorite stores offering both equally souvenirs and large-high quality décor products and linens are !Ikhoba on Sam Nujoma Avenue, Meme !Ikhoba on Tobias Hainyeko, Summer season Salt on Daniel Tjongarero Street by Bojo’s Espresso Store, and Make Waves in the open up-air Arcade off Sam Nujoma Avenue. All offer hand-embroidered linens from the !Ikhoba Job, started in 1963, as very well as soaps and lotions working with Namibian plants. Gentle and comfortable kudu leather-based sneakers and boots, a favourite of each men and women, are obtainable all-around the nation we like the kinds from Sibold in The Arcade since of the more arch help. Oscar & Olive, also in The Arcade, sells kudu sneakers and boots for kids, as very well as linens, blouses, dresses and abnormal sneakers for ladies.

A king-sized bedroom in a luxurious chalet at The Desert Grace. // Photo by Sharri Whiting De Masi 

We questioned Jacky at Rennies if travelers experience harmless traveling to Namibia. Her answer:

“Yes, certainly they nonetheless really feel protected. Their main worries are that all the suppliers, i.e., airways, automobile rental organizations, and lodging establishments, adhere to the basic safety requirements. Social distancing is adhered to at all the establishments, specifically these out of the principal towns and cities.” She went on to say that self-drives keep on to be a superior choice to travel through Namibia, even though very first-time people may well desire to mix non-public air journey with guided journey by car or truck.

A chalet at the new Etosha King Nehale has a front-row seat to activity viewing on the edge of the vast national park. // Photo by Shawn van Eeden

We say go for it. Now is the time for Africa, in particular Namibia.

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