Wolwedans has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1995 with four igloo tents pitched atop a dune plateau on wooden platforms... Our journey since then has been one of continuous adaptation and we can safely say that we are regarded as one of Namibia’s forerunners when it comes to sustainability in tourism. We must not become complacent though; the good work of the past needs to be scaled up and there is still much to do, taking action today for a better tomorrow.
Wolwedans has chosen to do this through the ambitious Wolwedans Vision 2030 – a vision that will be brought to life through the actions of The AridEden Project. It is the culmination of our sustainability efforts, to date, and goes beyond to inspire and empower others to embark on their own path to be the change that is necessary for our planet and its people to thrive. It is a product of our past and our present, and will define our future…
The past: What used to be a barren sheep farm with one house, a water reservoir, a shed, some zinc shacks for the sheep herders, and five trees has become the Wolwedans Village, an outpost in the middle of nowhere yet the ‘heart’ of our operations and ‘home’ for our team. And from those original four igloo tents, we have grown into what is now the Wolwedans Collection, comprising a range of camps and some 56 beds.
Over that time, we have generated substantial revenues for the running of the NamibRand Nature Reserve. In fact, this was the original purpose for bringing this tourism offering to life – a private conservation project pioneered by Albi Brückner in the early 1980’s.
In parallel with running a tourism operationthe Wolwedans Desert Academy – the flagship project of the Wolwedans Foundation – has, to date, trained and graduated 250 young Namibians in the field of hospitality and tourism.
Sustainability has been ingrained in the Wolwedans DNA from the get-go and in 2008 Wolwedans became a founding member of “The Long Run” (www.thelongrun.org), a global network of travel and conservation-driven enterprises committed to sustainability.
By the end of 2019 – after years of constant tourist arrivals resulting in handsome profits – Wolwedans (including its Foundation) was in a healthy financial position, enabling it to invest into sustainability even more than it had done before.
The present: Coinciding with its Jubilee year in mid 2020, Wolwedans had set its sights on re-focusing itself during what was to be a historic workshop. Scheduled for late March 2020 and entitled “Changing into 5th Gear”, it was a platform to strategise and prepare for the 25 years ahead.
Then COVID19 struck and tourism operations – our lifeline – went into forced hibernation with no end in sight. Everything had come to a grinding halt. However, in this time of unprecedented pause, humanity has been afforded the unique opportunity to reflect, accept, adapt, prepare, and ‘reboot’. And we at Wolwedans have done just that.
The future: This is what The AridEden Project is all about: Wolwedans’ vision for a better tomorrow and a plan of action to get there by 2030 (and beyond).
For a very detailed and personal account of the challenges and opportunities of this journey, compiled by Stephan Brückner (Founder of Wolwedans) during the lockdown in 2020, refer to "Life is a bridge".