Location, location, location - Sossusvlei Lodge
If there is one thing that every traveller to Namibia puts on their must-see list of places, it is a trip to the Sossusvlei area, and the breathtakingly vivid visuals that is Sossusvlei's Deadvlei.
And with good reason. It is one of those truly unique places that cannot be fully comprehended until it is experienced in person.
As with much of Namibia though, it requires a bit of planning. Sossusvlei itself is an hour from the nearest accommodation, and even then, there are only a limited number of lodging options to choose from. Many of them in and around the blink-and-you'll-miss-it town of Sesriem.
Location being a key consideration for us, as we wanted to get to Sossusvlei in the early morning before the worst of the day's heat, we opted to stay at the Sossusvlei Lodge, which as the lodge's own website describes it, is 'Luxury lodge accommodation at the entrance gate to Sossusvlei'.
The latter part of that statement is certainly accurate - the location is perfect. The lodge is located literally 30 seconds' drive from the entrance gate to the Namib-Naukluft Park and the start of the road to Sossusvlei.
As a result, it is also less than a 10 minute drive from the Sesriem Canyon. A visit to this canyon is well worth it, and will take less than an hour even at a gentle stroll.
Given the great location of the lodge, we could visit the canyon late-afternoon on the day of our arrival, as the temperature started to cool, which left us with the entire next day free to dedicate to Sossusvlei's attractions.
The lodge itself is a large-ish one, with 55 units, and is a popular hotel choice for travellers to the region.
We were welcomed at Sossusvlei lodge with a cool drink, given our room key, and after a bit of a wait a hotel porter to help with the luggage. Which was useful, since we were given one of the units furthest away, and it is a few minutes' walk back and forth to the main areas.
The rooms in the lodge's units are comfortable. However, in our opinion, calling them luxury would be a bit generous. And given that the standard units' starting price even in low season are around £200 for a couple, this lodge accommodation does not come particularly cheap.
Presumably we are paying to stay this close to the entrance gate, in addition to the lack of any other luxury hotel options nearby. (By comparison, the exemplary Desert Grace lodge, while located a little further away and also a little more expensive, is a truly lovely hotel experience and well worth a splurge!)
The rooms at the Sossusvlei lodge do all have air conditioning, which is welcome given the 35-degree September weather we are having on our trip. There is a small bar fridge available, as well as a safe and a simple open clothes rack with hangers.
The en-suite bathrooms are comfortable and large, including both a bath and a shower. Wi-fi is available at the lodge, though only in the hotel's common areas around the bar and swimming pool.
Dinner, Bed and Breakfast at Sossusvlei lodge
The rates at the Sossusvlei lodge are half-board, which does make it a bit better value. And so together with the other residents we set off to the hotel restaurant for the included dinner as the sun is setting.
Dinner is served al fresco, and in the balmy night air is an amiable atmosphere of laughter and glasses clinking, as fellow travellers swap stories of their Namibian exploits.
The buffet comprises starters and desserts, and it is generous, bowls overflowing with different kinds of salads, soups, breads and cheeses, as well as tarts and cakes.
For the main course, there are 3 outside barbecues, where your choice of fish, poultry or meat (including some exotic local wild game varieties) is made to order, together with some vegetable accompaniments.
Here the setup breaks down a little as the 3 stands, each with just a single cook, can't quite cope with the demands of over a 100 guests, and the waiting line at each stand is a good 10 minutes before being able to move on to the next.
Nevertheless, it is a fun way to spend an evening dining in the remote Namibian countryside, and we head to bed in anticipation of our Sossusvlei outing the following day.
Up bright and early the next morning, the sun just peaking up over the horizon, we make our way to breakfast.
The Sossusvlei lodge is equally happy to put together a breakfast pack to take away, for those who would like a little lie-in and to hit the road straight away. But we opt for the self-service buffet, which is much like any other breakfast buffet, ubiquitous in hotels across the planet.
Stomachs filled, and sleepy early-morning heads caffeinated, we check-out of the lodge and make our way to the gate of the Namib Naukluft National Park, the highlight of our Namibian trip awaiting us just a short drive away!
Would we recommend the Sossusvlei Lodge?
In a word, yes.
Writing a review of the Sossusvlei lodge in Namibia is a bit tricky, because it does some things well and others a bit less so. The location of the hotel accommodation is hard to beat for a visit to Namibia's Sossusvlei and Deadvlei (unless you opt to stay in the one or two options available inside the park gates - however what you gain in location, you will lose in comfort).
The restaurant meals included in the lodge rates are good - though slightly chaotic - affairs, given the numbers of visitors. And the accommodation itself is comfortable, but far from plush.
All in all, in our estimation the price is slightly steep for what you get, presumably because you are paying for the excellent location itself, and the lack of other luxury hotel options around.