Love, love, love this place. After Etosha, it is sheer luxury! I will come back here again and again.
The drive here was painless. After the park’s eternal flatness, suddenly we had a pimpling of rounded wooded mounds which grew into sizable hills sprouting rock spines and boulders. Ahead, a looming stone barricade of bands and ridges (the Ugab plateau), and in the distance, Vingerklip powering into the sky against a backdrop of mesas. It felt like we were back in Utah’s Monument Valley. From our angle, the rock finger was looking pretty precarious! It appears to tilt ever so slightly, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in order to correct the undercutting of its increasingly reduced pedestal. And then we were at the towering sentinel, a giant conglomerate pillar that looms large over Vingerklip Lodge, overlooking the Ugab Terrace.
Only when a stick figure stands beside the rock finger (spot Keith & Hirsh?!)
do you get a sense of its immensity.
The lodge is filled with master-craftsman wood-sculpted statues, carved and beaded craftwork, and masks from all across the continent. Throughout the bar and dining complex, recognisable shapes of birds and wild animals emerge from tortured and twisted pieces of wood … here an elephant, rhino and giraffe (in one single piece!), there a vulture suspended from the roof, over in the corner a monkey. The sheer ingenuity is breathtaking. This lodge has a real feel of stylish Africa.
BELOW Left In the front, an elephant, at the back, a rhino, giraffe & an antelope! Below A masterful vulture.
The place is all glass and light, there are two deep-blue pools and open-sided lapas with views that render you speechless. From a high point you look over a sweep of plains with free-standing hills, mesas, and flat-topped barricades staking out the horizon. Elegant thatched cottages, separated very discreetly from one another, are filled with their own carved pieces. After Etosha, it’s all positively luxurious. And an army of staff is constantly busy, rearranging the furniture, sweeping, buffing and polishing. Amazing what a well-run establishment can achieve. Italians seem to like it too.
Lunch at the pool.
It’s a tough life.
The bedrooms are beautiful, the bathroom ultra-modern, the carved tribal art fascinating.
It’s all in the details, right down to the embroidered linen.
A pre-sunrise start to the day had us setting off on the short walk — me on my first run in weeks (halleluja!), the boys a little more sedately — to Vingerklip to watch the sun peep over the horizon and gild the stone for photographs. I climbed the stairs to the rock finger, oxygen pumping through my lungs, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” pumping in my ears, thanks to my iPod. How did it know to play this song at this precise moment???
View to Vingerklip from the lodge. BELOW Now tell me that’s not an Olmec or an Aztec profile on Vingerklip’s flank? Look at that forehead, eye, nose and protruding tongue, making fun of us!
Thereafter, a day of rest. Gathering strength for the lamp-lit winding trek up the side of the cliff this evening to dine at Eagle’s Nest, the restaurant on top.