26 July 2015

Gecko Ridge | An Oasis In The Heart of The Namibian Desert

Have you ever seen the sun set, and the moon rise? All in one night! Well Namibia gave me that gift last year, at Gecko Ridge. Our own little oasis in the desert. I have always believed that where you stay when you are on a holiday or an extended road trip can make or break a holiday. Staying in the busy, noisy and hectic parts of a city when you travel doesn't do your search for rest and relaxation any justice, nor does staying so far away that it makes exploring difficult. My African vacation last year saw my boyfriend and I explore Zambia, before driving to Botswana for his first African safari vacation, then extending our road trip to Namibia's dessert dunes. This was of course where we were going to be doing the sand boarding in the desert dunes, the thing that bucket lists are made of.  It's been on my bucket list for a long, long time. My brother who now lives in Botswana, joined us for this part of the trip too, which also made things easier as we could take turns to drive the long distances. If you are a lover of road trips I would highly, highly, recommend driving in Namibia! The roads are endless with beautiful backdrops of mountains and desert landscapes. There are many stops for markets, small townships along the way, not to mention the road sides have small tables and seats built for pit stops for a break from driving or just a stop for lunch. It's great to see that the road sides have designated stops, almost as if to encourage resting between long drives.

With a hectic and packed itinerary, I wanted us to have peaceful and comfortable places to stays. Having driven 10 hours from Maun in Botswana, we landed in Windhoek, Namibia late in the night. With a few hours to explore Namibia's capital the following day, we then set off for the Skeleton coast, but based ourselves in Swakopmund. People almost always assume visiting Africa is expensive. Its not! The main expensive thing is the flight but even that these days, if you know where to look you are in for an adventure. You will find most of the hotels typically available in Europe and most come with an even better view of nature than a view of the concrete jungle. Our stop in Windhoek for the night cost well £100. So you will get more for you money too. That's for a small suite, and a double room, all including breakfast for the 3 of us. This was also a last minute booking because we couldn't find the hostels we thought we were going to stay in,  having arrived so late and me getting a little bit on the hungry and cranky side. This was very much last minute of the next available place I could find.

With only a day to explore the capital we set of for Namibia's Skeleton Coast. This is the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean and stretches up towards Angola. The local people refer to it as "The Land God Made In Anger" while the Portuguese sailors apparently refer to it as "The Gates of Hell", because whale and seal bones as well as the many shipwrecks that litter the shore. We based ourselves in Swakopmund. A town that seems as if it had been plucked right and of Germany and dropped in Namibia. Architecture and language spoken is mostly German. As beautiful as the town is with its gorgeous beaches on one side and sand dunes on the other. I wanted a low key and quiet spot. I found Gecko Ridge Guesthouse in Swapomund. The owner an architect who made a deal with the land owner to be paid in land for helping the owner of the land to divide the acres of desert lands he owned. His portion of the land he builds this beautiful guest house which also comes with private chalets on the grounds. For more options on where to stay in Swakopmund, check out this list of hotels and guest houses in Swakopmund.

One of my reasons for choosing this place was because I knew it would be away from the small town's light pollution. This give me ample opportunity for a diamond lit skies that I was looking forward to. The thing that Rhianna's "Shine bright like a diamond" are made of, but even better. My boyfriend and I had a  chalet, basically a fully kitted out one-bedroom house with lounge, kitchen and private back yard perfect for summer barbecues. My brother had a double room in the main building. The house and chalets were all designed and built but the owner. All modernly decorated.  The pool is definitely one of the house's main features. The breakfast room opens up to the pool area, this is also where one of my favourite features is. An onsite garden with peacocks roaming the grounds. The whole place is tranquil and idyllic.

As the chalets are almost in the middle of the desert, we had uninterrupted views from either side. This has I witnessed the sun setting and the moon rising. I had sat by the window which gave way to the view of the sun setting - this huge, boldly orange bulb lowering into the horizon. It looked so beautiful and mysterious at the same time. I ran out side, it was once I got outside that I saw that as the sun was going down to my right, to my left the moon was rising. It is one of the most amazing sights I have witnessed. I had to run back in and get my boyfriend and my brother to have a look, and of course my camera! From a picturesque and hypnotising sunset to a moon rising all in one beautiful evening. I was so hypnotised that I fumbled my way through camera settings, being more interested in actually enjoying it that capturing Instagram worthy shots. They don't call this place a "haunting beauty" for no reason. Below are some of my shots from our stay at Gecko Ridge, our memorable little oasis in the desert. I can't believe it's taken me this long to write about this place. If you are in Swakopmund, make sure you stop by. If you are travelling with family or pets the chalets are perfect as they are just like having your own little holiday home. Who knows, you might just be lucky enough to witness the moon rising as the sun is setting. While we were in town we also explored a bit more Swakopmund's vast area of rolling sand dunes, desert-adapted animals, as well as heading over to Walvis Bay where we spotted dolphines and a sea of pink flamingos. Note that if you need advice on activities in town they can help arrange that. Thankfully the host was on hand to help us arrange the sand boarding with Desert Explorers, who also picked us up and dropped us back at the guest house.

A collage of some of the shots taken of the moon rising after the sun had gone down. By the time we had gone by in the chalet the moon had risen as high as a mid day sun.
This shot was the view of my right side - you can see the golden-orange blend left from the sun set. The above collage was my left handside with the moon rising.

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  1. My parents went to Namibia last year for their 25th wedding anniversary and couldn't get over how magical the place is. I love the photos on this post, especially the sunset. Keep up the good work.

  2. Its absolutely beautiful! If you havent been, you should definitely check it out. I have a few more posts on Namibia.

  3. My goodness that is a beautiful guesthouse, the architect did a marvelous job. I love your multiple shots of the moon rising.

    1. Thank you. The pictures don't really do it justice.