I have been conspicuously absent from blogging of late, so please accept this post with my apologies dear Spruce reader. As Ilaria mentioned here, 2016 has, for both of us, been a whirlwind of a year so far – and for me, will only get that much more crazy with the arrival of my little human creeping up rather quickly. Thankfully, though, Sean and I managed to squeeze in a week away in the last week of June for our babymoon.
Babymoon – noun – “A new, douchey, word created by women that refers to a vacation before an expecting child is born. ” (Thanks urban dictionary, hahaha)
My first choice of a destination had been the Amalfi coast in Italy; I had visions of me tanning (my pre-pregnancy size body with the addition of only a bump) in a cute pregnancy full cossi overlooking an azure coastline. Unfortunately, plan A was scrapped based on Sean’s work schedule meaning the last week in June would be the only the realistic time we would be able to get away… and I would be into my third trimester by this point. That is – flying eleven hours was probably not going to be a great experience. Option two: the Seychelles. Again, visions of me in cute pregnancy wear sipping mocktails, working on my tan lines. Except: humidity. And did I really want to be seen in a costume at this point? You can guess the answer.
Instead we decided to do something we might not be able to do with a small person around: a desert adventure to Namibia. I didn’t need to do any research of where to stay – the andbeyond lodge in Sossusvlei had caught my eye a few months back and basically required no effort on my part in arranging (besides organizing flights into and out of Windhoek).
We started our ‘babymoon’ off with a weekend in Cape Town – doing as we usually do – eating out at fabulous restaurants (this time including the Test Kitchen which was just too spectacular to sum up into one sentence) and catching up with friends or family. We caught an early flight into Windhoek on Monday before our internal transfer – via a charter flight – to the desert. I have always held the notion that this type of travel was very glamorous but the truth is that it is anything but that. Our six-seater airplane felt rather squashed (regular economy class is probably more spacious), could fly no higher than altitude of 9,000 feet (meaning you feel the turbulence way more) and is very, very noisy. Thankfully, the flight was over in seventy-five minutes as we landed in the middle of nowhere.
And I quite literally mean nowhere. My eyes scanned the landscape for miles without seeing a thing besides the lodge.
There really are no words to describe the setting we found ourselves in – desolate, bone-dry and the most serene silence I have ever experienced in my life. I felt completely isolated from the outside world and all its madness; the exact definition of “off the grid”.
In contrast to visiting most other andbeyond lodges (game lodges) the aim is not to spot wildlife during dawn and sunset game drives. We were up early two mornings – one for a hot air ballooning experience for Sean, which unfortunately I was not allowed to join on given my pregnant state – and for an expedition into the National Park to see Dead Vlei and walk up the Big Daddy dune. I was beyond envious seeing that balloon go up – having experienced it last year in Cappadocia being one of the highlights of 2015 – as they sailed over the desert dunes. At least, I did manage to capture some fairly beautiful photos of the hot air balloon lifting off against the morning and could enjoy the post-ride feast, perched on a ridge overlooking the arid landscape.
The most memorable experience, for me, however, was our trek along the Big Daddy dune the following morning. The dune – at 325 metres – is the highest in the Sossusvlei area. Finding the right words to describe the moments I experienced trekking up the burnt-orange sand (barefoot) dunes is not easy; perhaps it is better summed up by this photo:
This photo is my favourite of the holiday – it was taken by an American couple from our lodge – that shows Sean, me and our guide slowly making our way up the dune; and nothing else around besides sand and true-blue skies.
We couldn’t reach the top of the dune – it was too much for me to handle (as much as I hate admitting defeat) – so we descended from the dune to Dead Vlei; another opportunity to marvel at the natural and barren beauty of the area: blackened acacia trees in the dead-white of the clay pan, red sand dunes rising from the seemingly flat surface.
I think the photos are able to paint a better picture than my words can – the scenery we saw was breath-taking. Unfortunately, no camera we own could do justice to the night time star gazing of the desert; the lodge comes equipped with a very powerful telescope as well as a resident astrologer who explains what is “on show” that evening. At night, crawling into bed after another gourmet 3-course meal, you can look up into the inky, starry sky with the opened skylight.
Our 3-night stay at the lodge was the perfect amount of time – enough time away to really contemplate life and spend quality time with each other before our quiet existence of just two changes. I’m so glad we chose to make this location our final place for a holiday as just a married couple – Seychelles can wait for the children 🙂