Fort at Fisher’s Pan,Onguma Safari Camps

Namibia’s wilderness—a land of
volcanic mountains and epic dunes—is also the backdrop for a growing number of
stylish hideaways.

Namibia came onto the
pop-culture radar three years ago, when Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt stayed at
a beach resort on the country’s Atlantic coast here while awaiting the birth of
their third child. For many, it was the most they had ever heard about this
southern African locale, which, it turns out, has a lot more going for it than
a brush with Hollywood celebrity.

Namibia has been quietly coming
into its own for more than a decade. In addition to spectacular landscapes—vast
deserts with thousand-foot sand dunes and a coastline strewn with bleached
whalebones and ancient shipwrecks—Namibia has some of the biggest yet
least-known game parks in the world. The fourth-largest country in Africa (it’s
twice the size of California, which means a flying safari is the best way to
see its wonders), Namibia has one of the continent’s smallest populations but
one of the highest literacy rates—and most stable democracies.

The country is delightfully
unspoiled, and the government wants to keep it that way. Tourism here is
low-key: the emphasis is on small, well-designed, environmentally sensitive
lodges in remote areas of the country. The last decade, especially, has seen a
number of exciting new properties make their debuts in remote areas of the country.

For instance, the Namib
Desert—the second largest on the planet after the Sahara—runs for 1,200 miles
along the entire Atlantic coast of the country. A decade ago, adventure-travel
company Wilderness Safaris acquired a 90,000-acre spread adjacent to the
colossal Sossusvlei sand dunes to create the Kulala Wilderness Reserve. Today,
this private park contains three small lodges—the newest of which is Little
Kulala, which offers 11 stylish, thatched-roof villas, each equipped with a
rooftop terrace for stargazing.

Kaokoland, in Namibia’s
northwest corner, is greener than the Namib and is home to many Himba, a
nomadic people numbering 12,000 who are scattered throughout northwestern
Namibia and southern Angola. The Serra Cafema Camp here features a main lodge
sitting on stilts, offering stunning vistas of an oasis of green albida trees
above the Kunene River.

 Whether your preference is for
a tented resort in the desert or a casbah-style fort on a zebra-filled reserve,
Namibia has a safari lodge that is worth the trek.

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