All is Well at Kwessi Dunes

The manager at Kwessi Dunes has never seen anything like it.

He has worked in tourism for over 25 years but he has never experienced weeks rolling over into months without a single guest. He has never walked by such stubbornly empty rooms or looked out at the heat shimmering road praying for Covid-19 to end, the season to begin and the people to come visiting.  

When we arrive, driving slowly over the soft sand of the Namib Desert, we are only Kwessi Dunes’ second group of guests. 

The Natural Selection lodge, which dots the desert in a curve of 12 vintage chalets, fringed by a deep red dune belt below the eternal Nubib mountains, first opened in March, only to shut down a few days later as Namibia entered its Covid-19 state of emergency.

Since then the sparkling new lodge waiting patiently in the heart of the majestic NamibRand Nature Reserve has quietly gone on.

The bright white stargazer beds ready for a magical night below shooting stars. The spacious, cool rooms with thatched roofs, striped canvas, yellow maps, four-poster beds, large porch and wicker rocking chairs luxuriously poised for family and friends. 

When the lodge manager and his team see us coming, their smiles – hidden below surgical masks – reach their eyes. 

The tourists have returned and it is cause for a welcome drink and celebration, but first there is some pandemic housekeeping. Temperatures to check and forms to fill out on a large wooden deck overlooking the desert rolling out and away as far as the eye can see. 

With Covid-19 protocols observed, the private lodge is all ours and it’s a good thing that it is. 

We have come world weary and pandemic worn and wellness experts Liezl Hoving and Melissa Mukaiwa have booked the entire property for a New Moon Vision Quest.

A wellness retreat interspersing yoga, meditation and energy healing as well as cacao and fire ceremonies in between those deep breaths one naturally takes in the calming nowhere of the wilderness and under the seemingly infinite spray of stars.

Though many will visit Kwessi Dunes as a base from which to experience Sossusvlei, to join hot air balloon excursions, scenic drives, helicopter flights, horse riding or quad biking, the vision questing arrive to heal, share and recalibrate in the space. 

Yin yoga is done beside the lodge’s clear blue pool mirroring the watering hole where oryx and zebra watch curiously and drink. 

Fire ceremonies are held at a runic site where the worst is released in a drop of paper and a flash of flame while meaningful conversation murmurs late into the night from the lodge’s library, plush parlour and bar. 

The ability to make the space one’s own is perhaps the great beauty of places as remote and exclusive as Kwessi Dunes. One can appear from the long but beautiful road with beloved family and cherished friends, kindred spirits or sisters of the soul and craft a private getaway, a team-building or wellness retreat in a place that – for all its quirks and character – still lends itself to one’s wildest inspiration.

Kwessi Dunes – elevated by its delicious food, generous splashes of wine as well as its unwaveringly kind and friendly staff –  is what you make of it. 

The desert dazzles. The adapted animals are a marvel. The incredible photos practically take themselves and the feeling of having wandered into a painting is incessant but beneath all this there is only and always you.

Free, for the moment, from the pandemic and the grind, thinking simply, truly “all is well”. 

For more information about Kwessi Dunes visit 

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