In this weekly EXTREME NAMIBIA blog series we explore some of our country's extremes, and share with you practical information on how you can come and discover them for yourself.
We think of travel as going in search of something - we are lured to a destination because of all that exists there - the wildlife, culture, events, restaurants, monuments, museums... And yet Namibia draws visitors for precisely the opposite reason. They literally travel here in search of... nothing.
Namibia is the second least densely populated country in the world, second only to Mongolia. It covers a vast 825,400 square kilometers yet has a population of just 2.1 million - an average of two people per square kilometer - which leaves space for a mind-boggling amount of nothing. Those who choose to fly over the empty expanses - oceans of dunes, endless deserts, fog-draped coastlines, barren rocks and mountains - will realise just how little there really is here. But many of Namibia's world-class lodges and camps have used this vacant space to their advantage, and played with their isolation and 360-degree empty views to create truly spectacular overnight experiences. Here are some of our favorites.
Wolwedans has four lodges, all in the remote NamibRand Nature Reserve. The NamibRand is so empty that is is considered to have the darkest sky in the world - no small achievement! Each open-sided cabin faces out into the red dunes of the reserve, so you can sit outside on the cool desert evenings and enjoy the sunsets and passing oryx from the privacy of your own deck.
Located in one of Namibia's bleakest regions, Damaraland has neither dunes nor fairy circles to break up the nothingness. But what it does have is this spectacular community-owned lodge, with its charismatic owner Maggie who, along with her charming staff accompany your meals and drinks with wonderful singing performances in their native click language. Spontaneous bush breakfasts and desert sundowners in the middle of this wilderness really do make you feel like you are the only people on the planet.
With its Flintstones-esque surroundings and cabins perched on a cliff overlooking a boulder-strewn valley, settings don't come much more dramatic than this! Mowani's cabins are so private that some of the suites even have outdoor baths and showers - soak up the scenery in wonderful isolation.
From outdoor baths to... a loo with a view! The luxurious, glass-fronted bunglalows of And Beyond's Desert Lodge each face out into the surreal scenery of the Namib Desert, with its bizarre conical hill. An artificial waterhole attracts herds of oryx and zebra day and night - a thrilling, live television subsitute that you can even enjoy from the secluded glass-fronted bathroom!
The Ongava Game Reserve borders Etosha National Park, but this private reserve receives fewer visitors. Ongava covers around 325 square kilometers, yet contains just two small lodges and a camp. The endless views from the clifftop accommodations are deceptive though. These mopane woodlands are anything but empty - and at night visitors wil be treated to a floodlit theatre around the waterhole, with rhino, giraffe and bushbuck among the many nocturnal visitors. Little Ongava is the most isolated of the lodges - lucky guests can hang out on the cliff edge in their own secluded pool.