Reviews of Kulala Desert Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
An "Interesting" place in the desert
Kulala is certainly ' different', it is exactly what you would expect if you had studied Web photographs of the place. The rooms are very well appointed with great views of the dunes. The restaurant is a great place to view the wonderful scenery whilst dining ( as long as there isn't a raging dust-storm going on).
Our visit was made even more 'different' by the arrival of a dust-storm on our first evening, which covered everything in brownn dust, and then solid cloud cover in the morning, when we should have been viewing the sunrise! On the positive side, not many people can claim to have climbed the sand dunes in the rain. In no way do we blame the owners for these two events.
Our only criticism is that there is totally insufficient shade in the pool area, unless you are on your own, you swim or fry.
You could not ask for better service from the cheerful, smiling staff.
Sossusvlei - The star
Excellent location and conveniently close to the Sossusvlei area. The private gate is a real advantage to step into the Namib-Naukluft National Park early in the morning.
The Camp itself is nicely located and perfectly fits into the surroundings.
Servicewise, although good, has lost the character of a small "private" camp, and one could sense some mass tourism. Sometimes people seemed fatigued of running the same activities everyday.
Balloning with Namib Sky Ballon Safaris (Eric) was enjoyable and very professional.
Kulala Desert Lodge review
Wonderful experience. Stunning scenery from our chalet. Management (especially Chris) very helpful and informative.
Balloon flight over desert: The expertise of the Pilot Paul and his ground support team were amazing. The flight and champagne breakfast were excellent. A truly wonderful experience which will last for ever in our memories.
Kulala Desert Lodge review
Great location - very sympathetically integrated into the landscape. The food/wine was great but more communal eating might have been pleasant.
The guides on some of the activities were not so good - for example, on the visit to the dunes the guide did not explain what was going to happen next, did not explain the sand dune walk in terms of condityions, walking techniques, what do do if not coping etc. Pretty basic health and safety stuff!
He also did not check during the walk that the whole party was coping with the sand dune walk and spent his time after the walk chatting with the other guides. The cooling system was not very good in the rooms - the fan just circulated hot air - so it was not very easy to sleep. However, the rooms were nicely decorated and comfortably furnished.
Kulala Desert Lodge
Kulalas best feature is it's private access to Sossusvlei. This meant that being there for sunrise was not too arduous.
The lodge diid feel a little impersonal. This may have been due to the lodge being managed by one person whereas in other camps there always seemed to be a couple. Having said that the manager couldn't have been more helpful when one of us was feeling unwell.
The waterhole was too small and too far away to be of interest.
Kulala Desert Lodge review
Unfortunately we were disappointed with Kulala, very surpised we were put here rather than Little Kulala which seemed much more in line with our budget etc.
Food was good but it was very rushed, dinner was over in about 45 mins
They sang at night but noone told us so we missed it the first night!
Manager pleasant but always running around
NOt a a tranquil place at all.
Staff pleasant but a bit distant, talking over the room at each other, there was no sense of calm or serenity here at all
Rooms ok but nothing special which is what we had asked for so felt let down here.
Desert trip - annoying as we kept stopping on the way in so got there fairly late! Our guide Nanguei was very pleasant though all the way through.
Expert Africa comments
We always go to great lengths to explain the options in detail to our travellers – so that they can make the right decisions about their trip: where to stay, how long to stay, what to do, etc…
Kulala Desert Lodge was in line with the budget of this trip; it was one of the more costly places included. If we’d included Little Kulala, that would have been by far the most expensive place on the trip. However, we have apologised for not discussing Little Kulala with these travellers in more detail before their trip was decided upon. Everything we do is tailor-made … so we don’t usually ‘put’ anyone anywhere.
We’re naturally concerned about the comments on the management and staff here, and have passed them back to head office, and the camp.
Great location - awful service
This lodge was our first experience of Wilderness Safaris and the experience could not have been worse. On arrival, we checked that the lodge had received an advance copy of my wife's dietary requirements and they said they had. However, when my wife tried to run through this in more detail she was told quite abruptly that there was no need for this - "we know what she wants" - and the reception staff were more interested in getting our signatures on the disclaimer forms. It was quite obvious from the start that this was a badly managed lodge - in fact the (sole?) manager was away.
Our room was also not very clean with quite a lot of sand about and large balls of fluff and dirt in the wardrobe.
However, this was only the beginning. At dinner my wife was served the only 2 vegetables she does not eat as her main course. We then had to wait a long time while the restaurant staff then went through my wife's dietary requirements in detail! Eventually we were served an acceptable meal but by then it was getting quite late.
Because of the problems the previous evening, my wife and I did not get "brunch" at Sossusvlei at the end of our dune excusion and instead were taken back early to the lodge for lunch there which consisted of a greek salad (less feta cheese and cucumber!!!) - ie an olive and lettuce salad with a few tomatoes. As a final insult the lodge tried to charge us for 2 beers with the lunch which were freely available at no cost on our dune excursion, not to mention the complimentary glass of wine which they gave us the night before while we waited 2 hours for our dinner!!
It is also worth noting that having been on holiday in Southern Africa for 23 days, this was the ONLY lodge/B&B which served tinned fruit salad at all mealtimes when fresh fruit was freely available.
At lunch on our final day, we sat down with the staff and wrote out again a list of my wife's dietary requirements which we asked them to pass on to Doro Nawas and Wilderness Zambia.We also discovered that the list Kulala had received from Wilderness was considerably shortened and while this would normally excuse them a little, the fact that they refused to run through the detail on our arrival was Kulala's fault alone.
Overall this stay was very disappointing and very poor value for the money we paid.
Expert Africa comments
Kulala Desert Lodge has apologised to the clients for not taking the time to chat through their dietary requirements with them on arrival. They have said that changes will be made to their systems to ensure that a similar instance doesn’t occur in the future. Expert Africa has also noted ways of ensuring details of any special requests are fully noted by the lodges.
By way of apology the lodge has refunded the cost of the morning excursion to the dunes at Sossusvlei.
Welcomed by pale chanting goshawk
Very welcoming reception, staff very charming, dinner fairly good but packed lunches were great, we were eating the contents for days.
Great location overlooking dry river bed and convenient for driving yourself to Sesrium Canyon and the dunes. Accommodation very good, safe bolted to wall.
Lovely setting, stunning dunes
Being greeted with a welcome drink and a smile set the scene for this beautiful place.
We enjoyed the morning dune drive, JJ our guide was a wealth of knowledge & great fun, unfortunately one of our party was ill and missed the morning drive, but JJ went out of his way to make up for this with our afternoon nature drive when we were all fit and healthy again, this was a real highlight, to see the dunes in different lights was quite spectacular.
The accommodation was excellent, unfortunately too cold at night to want to sleep under the stars (next time) and northing was too much bother, we felt quite pampered. The chocolate tart was the best pud of the trip.
stunning desert lodge
Kulala seemed more slick than Zebra River Lodge. We had more formal greetings and it is a bigger lodge in the Wilderness Safari company and so we signed forms on arrival and it felt more impersonal. However, we soon realised it had its own beauty and a location which was amazing and we had the most informative of Namibian guides Christoff who took us on an early morning excursion to the dunes and we climbed (crawled!) Big Daddy with him. He gave us an unforgettable picnic under an acacia tree with everything as a safari lunch should be - please can Christoff see my words and know how much we appreciated his conversation and his kindess. HOpe the owner can let Christoff read this.
We asked to sleep outside on our roof and in a twinkling bedding was set up - all noiselessly and with great politeness. Shooting stars and clear skies and I woke at dawn to see the balloons floating off in the distance. The catering staff did an impromptu dance and songs one evening which we loved. This broke the formality. Great idea to have the tea station from 3pm onwards as children can get hungry at that time. Really appreciated the welcome drinks on arrival all done in great style and on arriving back from the dunes too.
We felt the balloon trips were very expensive so didnot do one. Would have loved to have more dancing/singing from local staff as this is one of the few chances to see local Namibians do their own thing. Staff were so polite and attentive to us. LIked the rooms too. Perhaps they should emphasise more the chance of sleeping outside on roof as it really is special!