The Kulala Wilderness Camp, a lovely place to stay near the Namib-Naukluft National Park.
Kulala Wilderness Camp: Our full report
STOP PRESS! Kulala Wilderness Camp closed permanently on 2nd July 2012. Take a look at Kulala Desert Lodge, located on the same reserve, for a similar alternative.
Kulala Wilderness Camp is situated 40km south-east of Sesriem, on a private reserve which borders the Namib-Naukluft National Park – and was known for some years as Kulala Tented Camp.
Kulala Wilderness Camp shares a 'welcome area' with Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp that is just off the road after the entrance gate onto the private Kulala Wilderness Reserve. This consists of small thatched hut (complete with a guest toilet), staffed by a usually-smiling member of staff with radio communications to the camp. Driving yourself into the lodge, you'll be met and then swiftly waved off in the direction of the camp!
It's then a well-signposted 7km drive to the camp's parking area – where you'll find Kulala Wilderness Camp scattered on different levels, up the side of a small mountain.
The main area of camp is constructed of timber and canvas under thatch, and built on two levels, with steps leading up from the gravel pathways. The lower of the two decks has the camps' inviting turquoise/blue swimming pool, surrounded by a wooden deck with a few sun loungers shaded by a low thatched roof.
The upper deck houses the indoor dinning area; usually the venue for indoor meals, when guests are seated at one long table in comfortable wood and leather chairs. This area extends to an outside deck – and during summer, meals are usually served here outdoors, with guests dining at individual tables.
There is a tea/coffee station set out in the corner, for guests to help themselves during the day. The bar area in the opposite corner is simply decorated with tree trunks, and in front of this is a line of wooden bar stools.
An area of this main upper area is partitioned off to form the camp's curio shop with long sticks (much like the sticks used to form a traditional kraal in the rural areas).
The lounge area is also here, with lots of comfortable leather sofas set around low wooden coffee tables. Here there are some brochures, magazines and coffee table books relating to Namibia and the Namib-Naukluft National Park for guests to browse through.
The rooms at Kulala Wilderness Camp are 10 spacious tents, joined by gravel pathways lined with rocks. It's a very rocky and uneven area of the desert; a good pair of stout shoes are recommended, even just to walk between your room and the main area. The rooms are built of thatch and canvas, with an en-suite bathroom built of stone. The interiors of the rooms are decorated simply but comfortably with dark wood furniture.
Each room has twin beds pushed together with a pedestal next to each bed and a reading lamp. When we last visited Kulala Wilderness Camp, the rooms were pleasantly cool inside, as all the doors and the windows where closed, and the beds where nicely made up with light bedding and a wooly pastel green throw. The pillow cases had bright, bold African prints on them, adding a little splash of colour to the room, and there was a mosquito net draped above the two beds – exclusively for decoration!
In the corner of each room, next to the bed, is a wooden wardrobe, and there's also a low wooden luggage rack, a small writing desk with a stool, a comfortable arm chair and a rotating electric fan.
These tents have windows with meshing to keep out insects, with roll-up canvas blinds to close at night if you wish. Note that it can get quite windy here, as the chalets are in the open with nothing shielding them.
Each of the rooms has two wooden doors: one to enter the tent, and another leading out onto your private verandah, where you can sit looking out onto the open plains below, with a beautiful back-drop of mountains.
Each tent's en-suite bathroom is built of stone with tiled stone floors, a shower, and a flush toilet with a view. (There is a large window directly in front of the toilet, with wonderful views of the mountains in the distance and flat plains below.)
Several travellers have commented that the cost of add-on activities here, purchased directly when at the lodge, is high. So we suggest that you check the latest charges before booking yourself any excursions here.
Ideal length of stay: 2 nights is typical
Directions: Fly-in or self drive
Owner: Wilderness Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Half Board
Food quality: Because the activities from the Kulala Wilderness Camp can be long, meal-time and venues depend on these.
If you go on an early morning activity, like an excursion to Sossusvlei or a balloon trip, then you'll usually have tea, coffee and rusks before you leave the lodge – typically a little before dawn!
If you're not heading out early, then breakfast starts at 08:00 – and it's a buffet is laid out in the lodge's dining area with various dishes from freshly baked scones to hard boiled eggs, cold meats to a variety of cheeses and cereals to yoghurts. There is also the option of a cooked breakfast, made to order.
If you do go out early for a 4WD excursion to Sossusvlei, then brunch is usually served at a fully-laid table set under the shade of camelthorn trees in the desert. The same tempting choices are included here, with the exception of the cooked breakfast.
If you're at the lodge over lunch, then there's normally salads or a buffet served – on our last visit to Kulala Wilderness Camp, lunch was a colorful bean salad, with pasta and a pork sausage, and freshly-baked bread.
In the evening, dinner is a 3-course affair, served either outside on the verandah at individual tables by candle light, or indoors at one long table, depending on the time of the year. Our starter was tasty - a lovely pumpkin soup with freshly baked bread rolls. This was followed by a main course which, for me, was vegetarian: spicy fried rice with beetroot, green string beans with a lovely rich sauce. For desert we where treated to a delicious chocolate mousse, followed by a tea and coffee.
We last visited Kulala Wilderness Camp in April 2007, and found the food to be very good and also well presented.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: When staying at Kulala Wilderness Lodge on a DBB basis, drinks are not included. However, if you are booked on a Full Board basis, then beers, house wine and soft drinks are included in this rate. Note that champagne, imported wines or premium brand spirits are never included in this rate; they are paid for separately at the lodge.
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at Kulala Wilderness Camp.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions for visitors to the lodge. Families with children that are 12 years or younger must book a private vehicle for any activities.
Special activities & services: None
Equipment: Kulala Wilderness Camp has one sleeping cot available on request for young children.
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: Although there are few really dangerous big game animals here, children will always need constant supervision in any wilderness camp or area – and this camp is no different.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: Radio communications
TV & radio: There are no TVs or radios here for use by guests.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: No
Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Mariental. In cases of emergency during daylight hours, guests can be airlifted to Windhoek. No night time evacuations are possible. The camp management has first-aid training, and a doctor is on call (on the phone) 24-hours to advise if necessary.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: There is a guard during the day at the 'welcome area', at the main gate onto private reserve.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers inside each room.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A complementary laundry service is available for guests who have booked at the lodge on a 'full board and activities' basis. This laundry service is available at an additional charge to guests booked on a DBB basis. Each room also has a small pot of washing powder for guests who want to do their own items of hand washing.
Money: Yes travellers cheques can be exchanged.
Accepted payment on location: Visa, Mastercard and travellers cheques are all accepted, but American Express cards are not.