Little Kulala

Little Kulala: Our full report

Rooms
11 Chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (100%) From 28 reviews
Open
All year

The stylish Little Kulala is the most luxurious of the accommodation options on the 210km2 private Kulala Wilderness Reserve, just south of Sesriem. Gravel plains and low rolling sand dunes stretch out in front of the lodge, with the iconic dunes of the Namib Desert in the distance and the Namib Naukluft mountains to rear providing a dramatic backdrop to this convenient base for exploring the area.

The lodge fits in suprisingly well with its environment and the red clay exterior belies the stylish and somewhat modern interior. Built over three levels, the main central area has a high thatched roof with four peaks and spacious interior in neutral earthy tones and white washed wooden floors, apparently designed to mimic the white clay surface at Dead Vlei.

Through the reception area, curved stone walls open up to reveal the open plan indoor dining area, bar and lounge. There are very few sharp angles, giving the space quite an organic feel and full-length mirrors adds to the feeling of space. Large glass doors open out onto a partly thatched deck, parts of which have been built around existing camelthorn trees, incorporating them into the overall design. Meals are often served out here, although during the colder winter months (about July to August) dinner is usually taken inside, where a crackling fire is lit in a large stone fireplace for added warmth. The lodge has a well stocked wine cellar, with a good selection of fine wines, which is also on occasion a setting for private dining.

The top level of the main building is devoted to the library. Clay pots, sculptures and hand-woven baskets of various shapes and sizes sit amongst scatter cushions, bean bags and a rather unusual shaggy-wool chaise lounge. There’s a selection of reference books, board games and a couple of computers with internet access for guests to use. This is also the area of the lodge where the WiFi signal is normally the strongest.

Round the side of the main building, just off reception, is a small pool and pool deck. Comfortable cushions under thatch provide a welcome retreat from the harsh sun. If requested, it also makes a romantic spot for dinner when the weather is fine.

Sandy pathways lead from either side of the main area to Little Kulala's 11 well-appointed chalets, or ‘kulalas’ (meaning ‘to sleep’). One of these is a family unit, with two separate en-suite bedrooms linked by a shared deck. All are raised on white-washed wooden decks; a bamboo stick fence and gate bounds each one, making them very private.

Each chalet has a private deck with a thatched open-air lounge area, a table with chairs for private outdoor dining, a couple of sun loungers and very small plunge pool. Steps lead up onto a rooftop terrace where, if you wish, it’s possible to sleep out under the stars.

Inside each spacious, air-conditioned bedroom, double or twin beds stand in the middle on a small raised wooden platform, with views through the large glass doors of the surrounding desert. A lounge area to the front of the bed - also decorated in light earthy and white tones - has a comfortable sofa and a writing desk for when inspiration strikes. The colours are all pale - earth tones in harmony with the desert outside.

A tall cement bed-head, with small pebbles ‘cascading’ down strings, also serves as a room divider, directly behind which is a tea and coffee making station, as well as a stocked mini-bar/fridge. This leads to the en-suite bathroom with twin shower heads and hand-basins, as well as the seperate toilet. In a private courtyard out back is also an outdoor shower. Bathrobes, a hairdryer and lotions and potions are thoughtfully provided.

Most activities are included at Little Kulala, and there is a choice. The main activity here is an early-morning excursions to Sossusvlei. The lodge shares a private entrance gate to the Namib-Naukluft National Park with it’s less opulent sibiling, Kulala Desert Lodge. This is used to enter the park just after sunrise, bypassing Sesriem, and thus allowing you to make the most of the early morning light on the dunes. If visiting Sesriem Canyon on the same excursion, then these trips can last up to around eight hours, including a picnic lunch.

Much shorter afternoon nature drives are offered on the reserve and the guides know some spectacular spots to watch the sunset with a drink. If you’d like to stretch your legs, guided walking trails are possible as long as a walking guide is available.

Early-morning balloon excursions over the dunes are also a possibility and while some might argue, we think they’re worthwhile. These are always weather-permitting and are an extra cost; it can be prearranged or organised while at the lodge.

Our view

Little Kulala’s design is original and interesting; we think it’s stylish interiors are very pleasing to the eye. It makes a very comfortable and, due to it’s location and private entrance into the Namib Naukluft, also a very convenient base from which to explore the area; if you can tear yourself away from it that is.

Geographics

Location: Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia

Ideal length of stay: We recommend you stay at least two nights to visit the dunes at Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon. Three nights is recommended if you want to fit in a hot air balloon flight.

Directions: The entrance to the Kulala Wilderness Reserve is approximately 17km south Sesriem. It is then a further 8km along a well-signposted route to the lodge. There is shaded parking near reception.

Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Wilderness Safaris

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: We popped in to Little Kulala for a visit in June 2014 and had a superb lunch - usually served around midday - out on the deck. Our three course meal started with a selection lentil and chikpea, butternut and green salads. This was followed by a filo pastry chicken and mushroom pie served with roasted vegetables. For dessert, we had scoops of homemade chocolate ice cream - a real luxury in the desert!

Sadly we didn’t get to sample any other meals during our visit, but if lunch is anything to go by then we’d expect meals of a high standard.

For those staying at the camp, a substantial breakfast is served before departing on the morning activity and a three course dinner is served at around 8pm.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Soft drinks, house wine and local spirits are included at the lodge. Fine wines, champagne and imported spirits and liqueurs are not included and are charged as extras.

Further dining info: Yes

Special interests

Honeymoons: Little Kulala can be a very romantic destination on your honeymoon to Namibia, with each room having lots of privacy, it's own plunge pool, and a private terrace. Stay here and enjoy romantic dinners on your private deck, taking in the stunning views of the surrounding desert.

See more ideas for Honeymoons in Namibia

Photography holidays: The Namib Desert and Sossusvlei are a photographer's dream: huge apricot dunes with knife-edge ridges beneath a blue sky. Little Kulala stands in the desert with breathtaking views: a forest of camelthorn trees in front of its main area, and mountains and dunes in the distance.

See more ideas for Photography holidays in Namibia

Children

Attitude towards children: Yes children are welcome.

Property’s age restrictions: Children ages 8 years and above are welcome

Special activities & services: There are no baby sitting services

Equipment: None

Notes: Little Kuala is a very stylish, up-market, tranquil lodge – dotted with interesting design features and unusual furnishings. Young children could cause costly damage here, and the environment here isn't very child-friendly.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Communications: There is reception for mobile phones in each of the chalets – but not (apparently) in the lodge's main area.

TV & radio: There are no radios for TVs for guest to use.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: No

Medical care: In an emergency, a traveller would be flown out to medical attention in Windhoek – although air evacuations can only happen during daylight hours The camp management is trained in first aid and a doctor is on call (on the phone) 24-hours to advise in necessary situations.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: Little Kulala is in a very isolated location on a private reserve in the desert; there is no additional security here.

Fire safety: Each of the chalets has fire extinguisher.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: A complementary laundry service is included in the board basis.

Money: Guests can exchange their travellers cheques at the lodge.

Accepted payment on location: All major credit cards are accepted as a method of payment, except American Express cards.