22 Sep 2020
After entering Gondwana Namib Park, a trail of pink-rimmed road signs leads to The Desert Grace, like a map leading to treasure.
“Slow down, for fox sake!”
“Time for a quick pitstop?”
“Take a photo and grab a drink.”
The first treasure chest is in the shape of a pink fridge standing sentinel over the desert. This exact site has featured in several Instagram posts, making it one of the most Instagramable spots. When the photo creativity kicks in, the real fun starts and the long road is already forgotten, even more so when you pull a refreshing drink from the fridge.
La vie en rose
When pink hues envelop the Namib landscape, the scorching desert heat has already been forgotten. It peacefully announces happy hour, as its magic turns realists into dreamers, while fast-paced rat-racers fall into the most relaxed state of mind. It’s a place where you can wear your rose-coloured glasses without guard. It is la vie en rose!
It is exactly this natural setting that inspired The Desert Grace’s interior design – lavishly yet simplistically decked out in salmon pink. This is in stark contrast with the harsh surrounds.
Where the four elements meet
Energy forces of fire, water, air and earth converge at The Desert Grace. This symbolism is portrayed through the sculpture that makes an artistic statement in the courtyard behind reception. The artwork unearths the heart of the lodge – a harmonious unification of opposing forces that tie together in a delicate balance.
The entire piece was inspired by the four natural elements. Water features in the shallow pond, earth in the soil and pebbles around the pond, fire through the flames at the centre of the piece, and air in the open circle (called the eye) at the top of the design.
The curved legs of the sculpture were inspired by the architectural element of the roofs of the property. Interestingly, the four beams that extend from the eye at the top of the sculpture symbolise the four geographical directions. Despite the deep symbolical meaning of the sculpture, the design reflects the simplicity of the location.
The Desert Grace offers a grounding experience in that it has been entirely constructed out of bags filled with Namib sand. Moreover, the layout of the rooms imitates the natural lines of sand dunes. Every component of this lodge has been meticulously considered and thought through.
There are many ways to connect with the earthy side of this location – a hike on the reserve, an e-bike excursion, and a sundowner game drive following a relaxing toes-in-sand happy hour. The rose-coloured conservation stories of Gondwana Namib Park are enough to make you believe in treasure. This area saw declining game numbers as recently as 15 years ago. Now it boasts healthy fauna populations, with abundant herds of gemsbok and springbok grazing the plains.
Those interested in the smaller, less conspicuous desert critters might consider a scorpion walk where a guide will expertly lead you into their world. A UV light at hand will give away their hideouts, as scorpions emit a vibrant blue-green glow under this light.
With so much fresh air to breathe, it will be no wonder that you feel more relaxed.
All operations are led from an environmentally friendly philosophy, for example the above-mentioned environmentally friendly construction method that involved no transportation or brick manufacturing. It directly reduced pollution and thereby resulted in cleaner air. With very little atmospheric and light pollution, stargazing is a favourite activity here at night.
When it comes to fire, it’s more than just the shooting stars one so clearly observes.
The desert is automatically associated with the main source of heat and light – the sun. Walking barefoot on the hot desert sand brings its own kind of fire. This element is portrayed in the courtyard sculpture when the fire at the centre is lit at sunset. Then there is the blazing pink light in the bar “One night in Namibia” – and you know that one night will never be enough, but each night here is pure bliss.
In direct contrast to fire is water.
Water in the desert may be rare, but rich underground sources exist, although not visible to the eye. These life-giving veins sustain life in the desert. Then there is the minimal amount of annual rainfall that is just enough for golden grass to shoot from the ground and become nourishment for critters and creatures.
Guests can enjoy this element in their room’s private splash pool. It’s a highly recommended way to spend your day after your desert adventures or an excursion to Sossusvlei or Sesriem Canyon.
Nature is talented at just doing its thing, “unknowingly”, or rather unboastfully, creating so many treasures that we have the pleasure to enjoy. What a beautiful planet we get to call home.
That’s why a visit to The Desert Grace is so replenishing and grounding, leaving travellers with renewed soul food and fuel. All I can say is, I hope visitors find the truest treasure of all when replenishing at The Desert Grace in the world’s oldest desert – which could be anything from the realisation that one should never take more than one can give back to putting one’s problems in perspective after seeing the interconnectedness of existence.
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