After hour eight-hour marathon drive, complete with minor breakdown, we could feel the adrenaline start to melt away as we finally pulled into the drive. The manager was waiting out front for us when we pulled up, called us by name. He brought us each an ice-cold washcloth and glass of tea sweetened with passionfruit juice.
It's interesting how many times in life there are small tipping points. Another sharp rock, another punctured tire, and we would have been spending the night in our fleeces looking up at the stars from the bed of a very dusty pickup truck, deep in the desert, wondering how to get a spare fixed in the morning. No sharp rocks? You get to spend the night in a little slice of paradise, a big soft bed and down comforter, cool washcloths, sweet tea, and sweet restful dreams.
While a visit to Namib-Naukloft was a critical part of our plans, Le Mirage was actually a bit of an accident. We weren't planning on staying here until some other plans fell through a few weeks before we left. We'd scheduled a two-night stay. The lodge, and nearby Namib-Naukloft National Park, were so beautiful we ended up staying for four.
We spent most of our time in the nearby Namib-Naukloft National Park, hiking the dunes of Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, and exploring the depths of Sesriem Canyon. On our last afternoon, however, we decided to take them up on the offer of a quad bike tour. We ended up being very glad we did. The two or two-and-a-half hour tour covered 50+ kms of amazingly beautiful and remote desert, with opportunities to see Fairy Circles, an African Moringa tree, and to watch the sun set from a nearby, windswept peak.
When we went over to the restaurant for dinner, one of the waitresses, Audrey, stopped us outside. We'd eaten inside the first night and outside the second. "Tonight you will not eat inside. Tonight you will not eat outside. I have something special planned for you. Is that okay?"
"Uh, ... sure," we replied, suspecting that "special" meant dinner in a closet in the back since we had just spent two hours banging through the desert on ATVs and were still covered head-to-toe in dust. Instead, she lead us around to the other side of the restaurant, to where candle-lit stairs led down to the restaurant's wine cellar.
"Is this okay," she asked.
Yes. Very, very okay. Thank you, Audrey!