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Giacomo Pianta
Zurich, Switzerland
Incredible place
Review of Wolwedans
5.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 18 Oct 2019
We stayed in September 2019 and only are disappointed with one thing: our stay was too short!
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge is simply perfect: it is surrounded by a vast desert in a private reserve (stargazing was unbelievable), where you will make no encounters except for the hotel staff and other guests. You will receive an amazing treatment and you can decide to simply stay at the structure (beautiful rooms and common areas, swimming pool available) or go for one of the activities. We chose to go for a scenic drive with sundowner (incredible) and a bushman walk in the morning: both are highly recommended. The food is great and you will eat at separate tables for breakfast and lunch, however dinner is usually organized around big tables where you have the chance to meet other guests. We found this a good idea, but you can always ask to remain separate from the others if you wish so.
Last comment for those who need such information: Wi-Fi only works in the common areas.
Date of stay: September 2019
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Reviewed 4 October 2019 via mobile

I've read other reviews of Wolwedans and on balance I've decided to take everything said with a pinch of salt.
Our room was delightful with a stunning view to wake up to in the mornings. Fantasticly comfortable beds and warm duvets.
It was windy, particularly at night. The tent did flap considerably, maybe it needs tightening? There is a lot of sand/dust, it's the desert! I learnt very quickly not to leave anything out so didn't unpack. It was only for two nights! Plus I didn't fancy coming across any unexpected creepy crawlies in my clothes.
We totally understood the lack of water required managing so had no problem conserving as much as possible with showers and toilet. It's not rained for years. It must be hard.
Given this lodge is miles from the nearest food supply we also didn't mind the lack of menu choice. It makes it so much easier when you are just catering for numbers not variety. I can't imagine the logistics of food supplies!!
It was lovely to laze by the pool between drives.
The drives consisted mainly of the stunning scenery which did constantly change due to the shadows, with the occasional animal. But it was really the scenery and colours we wanted and got.
The staff we lovely, kind and considerate. They all attend the 'catering school' in the village so 'in training'. Everyone has to start somewhere! They are learning so some slack is needed at times but it wasn't a problem for us.
WiFi was only in the communal space (as with just about every lodge we stayed in). It didn't bother me personally, but given that this is 21stC and most of the people who can afford this sort of holiday/accommodation I think extending the WiFi to all rooms woul be useful.
I would give this lodge 4/5. Not 5 only due to lack of WiFi and flappy tent. If it hadn't been windy I probably wouldn't have noticed.

Date of stay: September 2019
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
Thank Walkinghomemaker
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 27 September 2019

What a jewel! The surrounding landscape is absolutely magical!!! Wake up to gorgeous sunrises with antelope strolling by your balcony. Enjoy gorgeous sundowners and starlit skies. Don't miss the nature hike with a bushman. The food, friendly service and accomodations are exceptional considering the setting.

Date of stay: September 2019
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank alan s
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 7 September 2019 via mobile

We stayed at the Dunes Lodge for 3 nights where we enjoyed all the facilities including horse riding - all inclusive.
First class guides attending just us was very much appreciated.
Scenery and wildlife were just outstanding and the whole experience flawless.

Date of stay: September 2019
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
2  Thank NubianLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
NamibRand-Safaris, Public Relations Manager at Wolwedans, responded to this reviewResponded 10 September 2019

Wow! Your review is received with appreciation and thanks! Indeed our flagship property, Dunes Lodge is many peoples favorite. It appears you have also stayed for the perfect time (3 days) which allows so much time for activities, relaxation and a good digital detox. Thank you so very much for taking the time to review your stay with us and we will surely forward your comments of appreciation onto our guides.

2020 will be an exciting year for Wolwedans as we complete our renovations and upgrades and for this, we hope to welcome you back to Wolwedans soon again. This time, please try our awesome 3-day itinerary at Boulders Safari Camp in the south of the reserve where magical moments, distinctly different landscapes and a world of pampering awaits.

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Reviewed 2 September 2019 via mobile

We stayed at Wolwedans Dunes Lodge for 3 nights. We are a family of 4 (parents plus two late teens), very experienced safari-goers. We came here from Serra Cafema in the North and following two spectacular camps in Botswana. We understood that we were NOT coming to Soussouvlei and that this was a dry desert environment with modest game (lots of gemsbok, other buck, zebra, black backed Jackal, cape fox, selected birds including ostrich and a (photo) hunt for a leopard)

We had two units - the Mountain View Suite (MVS) and the double room nearest to that. We took most of our meals (except the first night) in the dining room of the MVS, which comes with its own butler and chef, both of whom were excellent. We did try the main restaurant but we vastly preferred the private dining option - the restaurant was charming and atmospheric but the service was a little haphazard (eg lots of beautiful wine glasses etc on the table, but when I asked for a tonic water, I was just given an unopened can!). It was also quite loud and noisy as there was a large family group with young children.

I struggled greatly with how to rate this lodge. Aspects of it were a low 3. Other aspects were a high 4. The quality of the experience in the MVS was very different to just having a room ... it all makes for quite a challenge to review. We would NOT have been happy just to have rooms. The fact that we had the MVS “made” the experience for us. In the end I rated it 3 essentially on a relative basis, relative to all the other upscale African lodges I have stayed at (probably close to 30 in total).

The MVS is large and quite comfortable, but it is rather faded. The bathroom is distinctly old and not easy to use (eg the shower is on wooden slats, the door doesn’t open or close easily, the taps are haphazard. Personally I like some sort of door on the WC versus a rather flimsy curtain to the main bedroom, and it would be easy to do. Even a zipping tent flap works. I understand that the bathroom is slated for updating - it does need it. The MVS generally has an air of slightly faded expedition style. It was annoying that despite a large bedroom and some quaint furniture, there was nowhere to hang any clothing. Shelving was open, which meant that everything gets really dusty (something with doors would be great ....) Its furnishings could do with being updated / upgraded to match up to the best that newer arrivals on the lodge scene are now delivering. That said, it’s clear that the outside of MVS has recently been redone, with nice landscaping, freshly painted decking with stunning views, a little plunge pool that was very welcome, and a lovely fire pit to have sundowners around and watch the stars (which are truly stunning). The inside needs updating to match. Hopefully it is on the agenda.

This was the only lodge that we have been to for many years where we did not have some sort of choice of menu. We were given no choice for lunch or dinner. We don’t mind being asked to choose in advance - it’s not that we want a huge menu. But we did miss having some sort of choice, which had been the case at every other lodge we visited, especially so that we could ask for something small and light at lunchtime. The food was very well prepared and cooked, but heavily game focused. They were excellent at adhering to allergies etc. It’s possible that this lack of choice could be temporary, as we noted they were building a new main lodge kitchen. Also, compared to the “best of the best” elsewhere, the service is a bit weak. No face towels or little refreshing drinks offered when you return from a drive. No afternoon tea as such. Laundry charged (first time this holiday). Just little things but these are what determines whether a lodge is at the top of its game or not.

The camp infrastructure also feels a bit tired / passé. The vehicles are Defenders, really quite old versus the Toyota Landcruisers that most camps now have, which are much, much, much more comfortable. Ours was churning out black smoke and there were a couple of really quite daunting moments on slopes when we really thought our vehicle might not make it. We think the vehicles should also be on the updating list.

We arrived to find that the camp had hot water, but apparently for the few days beforehand it had not. That would have prompted a major sense of humour failure on our part so we were very relieved it was fixed. Things like that / strength of solar generation etc again feel like they need a bit of investment so as to be robust. Note - no hairdryers; not a problem for us but one guest we overheard was pretty fed up not to have been told about it in advance.

The thorny topic of Wi-fi. At Wolwedans, it is only available in the communal areas of the main lodge building. In our view, at least the MVS should have its own Wi-fi. It’s a fact of life that most people can’t totally disconnect ... our own experience at all the other camps this year (and which we preferred) was to have Wi-fi in the rooms, and NOT in the common areas. Then, if you want to check email in bed (or rearrange your travel plans as we had to) you can, without disturbing your lunch and dinner times, and fellow guests etc. There was an element of everyone in the lounge being on devices which rather defeated the object of a communal area. Certainly having own Wi-fi in the MVS would make sense and save the longish, hot schlepp on sand to the common areas. This lodge does NOT have boardwalks and so it is a hot, dusty tramp from the outer rooms to the common areas.

The kids liked their room, though they came to MVS a lot to hang out with us.

Generally, this is not a high activity lodge. There is a pool and lovely views, and this is more a R&R place. Driving is spectacular but the miles are hard and there is only so much that you want to do. There is horse riding in the afternoons, and e-biking, if you can work up the energy. We had done so much in other places that we were content to rest in our sizeable suite and relax.

A note on the weather. AUGUST IS THE WINDY MONTH. And Wolwedans is right on the top of the dunes, and my goodness, it was REALLY REALLY WINDY. We were lucky that we had a day or two of relative calm (we were there for 3 nights) but on our last night, we didn’t sleep for more than 10 mins and were mildly concerned that the lodge would take off (of course it didn’t, but the noises of the canvas slapping etc are .... spectacular). The kids had the same in their room. With the wind, comes the DUST (naturally enough, but it does get everywhere, and I mean everywhere). It wasn’t as cold as in other parts of Namibia or Botswana, but the wind does make it difficult to enjoy (eg) sundowners and drives etc quite so much. And a sandstorm prevented our little plane from landing, necessitating a rapid drive to another airstrip where they could get to so that we could leave and catch our international flights. The lodge was calm and helpful with that.

In summary: a nice R&R lodge, with not a huge number of activities, but enough for a few days of dramatic scenery and relaxation. The MVS was lovely, if a bit faded inside. Service was patchy and overall we felt that this grande dame of Namibian desert retreats may need to up the game a little to stay at the top.

Date of stay: August 2019
Trip type: Travelled with family
2  Thank 63CarolineS
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
NamibRand-Safaris, Public Relations Manager at Wolwedans, responded to this reviewResponded 6 September 2019

Thank you very much for this detailed review and response. We are always so grateful when guests take the time to prepare such kind and generous feedback, which invariably helps us to use this valuable feedback to assess and review our services as best we can to improve the experience of our guests.

Indeed you are right, the year 2019 has seen many changes, which remain ongoing at Wolwedans. Besides some of the improvements you saw at Mountain View Suite, we have embarked on bold plans to upgrade all of our accommodation and interiors.

We are very excited about the future and we hope to complete our refurbishments by early 2020. We are indeed very aware of our need to spruce up our experience for guests and each and every word in your review has been considered to assist this process. Thanks once again for taking the time to liaise with us. We will certainly heed your advice and input.

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Reviewed 20 May 2019

We stayed at Wolvedans for two nights with our children and two other couples, and we had an absolutely magical time.
The lodge is set in the middle of the desert on top of sand dunes and the scenery is stunning, as are all the installations. Our suite was comfortable and spacious with two rooms and a lovely terrace to watch the desert life go by.
The common areas are beautifully decorated, and the pool is a welcome gathering place during the warmer hours. We loved the old-school decor and the 360 degre views everywhere.
Service was excellent throughout, from the lodge staff to the dining room to our guide. Yes there is sand everywhere (it's the desert...) and the road here is long and rocky, but it is a place of wonder and it is one of my top places in Southern Africa to stay at.

Room tip: Families should ask for the family room at the very end of the row, it has a "all alone in the world feel"
Date of stay: April 2019
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Wanderlust_SAB
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
NamibRand-Safaris, Public Relations Manager at Wolwedans, responded to this reviewResponded 21 May 2019

Thank you @wanderlust_SAB for your beautiful review of our property, the Wolwedans Dunes Lodge. Its quite fitting that in 2019, we should receive a review that applauds our unique style and way of doing things, as we have been in operation for a stunning 25 years this year. Although we work hard, at Wolwedans we believe, that our work is never done - and as I write this response, we are busy with refurbishments and renovations celebrating our 25-year jubilee. We hope that you will have another opportunity to visit, not only Wolwedans again, but indeed our beautiful Namibia, where conservation, eco-tourism and a love for our fauna and flora are evident in all we do. Thank you once again, on behalf of the entire team for taking the time out to write this review. We are indeed grateful for your kind words.

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