Reviews of Kulala Desert Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Kulala Desert Lodge review
Lodges were beautiful with a great view of the red dunes. The dining was excellent, the staff was friendly and professional. We enjoyed sleeping on the roof at night.
We enjoyed an early morning guided tour into the park, entering through Kulala's private entrance. However, we would have benefited from driving into the park ourselves and staying a liitle longer to climb the dunes.
Overall, great experience.
The service was very good and the rooms and atmosphere were lovely. The views were spectacular. We were slightly disappointed with the trip into Sossuvlei because we were delayed and left late.
The guide himself was very good and informative but in hindsight we would have preferred to drive ourselves in order to get in a bit ealier and also to have more time to do walking and explore the dunes - being with a group made it a little restrictive.
Kulala Desert Lodge
This had a wonderful setting at the edge of the dunes and situated in the "big landscapes" which we came to Namibia to see. All the staff were very helpful and polite. I had a puncture there and the staff had it repaired in no time at all.
We would recommend the evening trip to the dunes. Whilst we explored ourselves by day, Koala's location meant that a sunset trips on the dunes was very accessible and a wonderful experience.
Very happy with our visit there.
Kulala Desert Lodge review
Larger than Wolwedans but still fairly personal, despite an overnight 20 plus busload, somewhat voluble, as may be expected from a big group. Slightly disappointed that our Room was the furthest from the main complex but guess someone has to be there. The pool was not in use due to lack of water.
Our guide for two days, Hans, was extremely personable and his two years working in England gave him a great understanding of our culture and priiorities. He was polite but ambitious and we wish him well in his career! The camp has the advantage of a quick access to the Soussusvlei Dune area, good enough reason on its own to make this your base for exploring the famous red dunes, a number of which face you across the desert from your room . You can enjoy their particular splendour at sunrise and sundown without moving from your balcony!
Best if you can get your guide to take you out to "Big Daddy" and "Big Mummy" early in the morning before the bus crowds arrive through the Sesriem Park Gate. You'll then be able to walk up the Daddy Dune ridge and helter skelter down barefoot into the dead Acacia "Lake" in peace and with maximum fun! Further wandering and picknicking in the "fertile" Soussesvlei area is a must! Vestiges of greenery give promise to the beautiful tranformation of this location when the rains come.
Wouldn't we, like many, love to return and see it again in its multi splendour with the birds, dragonflies, animals and coloured flora and fauna! Jonathan our general camp manager told us his phone rings constantly when rain is forecast, so many wnating to share in the spectacle. The Sesriem Canyon is worth a viisit, if only briefly as an overture to the unforgettable spectacle of s Sundowner among the Red Dunes.
Hans took us on a long day's excursion to the Naukluft Mountain Park, a very memorable contrast to the Namib Desert. An hour or two's walk up into the mountains in and alongside dry riverbeds cheered on our way by families of fig eating baboons and enlightened by real tumbling water and colourful flora we "discovered " a series of beautiful tumbling rock pools. Too much for Hans. "Hallelujah"! He was in and savouring something the dry Camp pool could not offer.. We felt gratified to have experienced the Namib and Naukluft in one stay! To be recommended!
dissapointing service at kulala desert lodge
This was the only place where we have negative comments, we received a lacklustre welcome, which we may not have commented on had it not been that everywhere else we were greeted with a cooling drink, smiles and details of the lodge and activities. We were not told about the activites etc and had to go and find someone after dinner to find out details for our morning balloon ride, i had to go to the kitchen several times to ask for the hot water thermos to be filled up and the place seemed deserted most of the time. The morale there seemed low, staff disinterested and hard to track down.
It is a shame as the location is so close to the dunes and the morning drive with albert was fabulous (once we had tracked donw a guide to find out what was possible) - as was the breakfast as sossouvlei but i would not recommend staying here
Expert Africa comments
Subsequent to these comments and others made by recent visitors to Kulala Desert Lodge, Expert Africa has corresponded with the lodge owners and reserve managers and are awaiting details on proposed improvements to the lodge, the service and food.
Disappointment in the desert
I completed a detailed evaluation sheet including the points below and discussed them in outline with the management before we left. They represent a fairly unsatisfactory experience of what is described in your brochure as a distinguished establishment.
(i) The food was badly prepared and presented. Vegetables were overcooked and distasteful, often cold and even unrecognisable - a pat of rice, grey and lukewarm, for example; meat was either tough or unattractive; puddings were ordinary, obviously frozen, and unappetizing; one first course, described as 'bruschetta', two pieces of sponge slopped with plum sauce, was inedible. We have never experienced anything quite as awful as this in a public restaurant, let alone one that was so fulsomely written up.
Both my wife and I were, on different occasions, quite seriously ill with clear symptoms of food poisoning; the manager put it down to a change in drinking water ('even when I go to Swapokmund I get a stomach upset through drinking a different kind of water') and this despite his earlier assertion that his water was entirely safe. It's never easy to link eating habits with food poisoning and we can only suspect; contenders as potential culprits were warmed rice and inadequately stored cream. So, a suspicion that this menu was not only unappetising but potentially dangerous. Our symptoms persisted long after leaning Kulala.
Kulala's problems stem from poor management. Causes for concern, beyond the kitchen:
(i) Security; there is no sign of this; we complained twice, without any response, of a forced and broken bolt on one of our room doors. We asked about locks on the doors, again a question treated with indifference. This may seem an odd enquiry since we subsequently stayed in 'tents' without even walls let alone doors. There, though, there were in force clear security precautions. And, anyway, I wonder how an insurance company might respond to a claim for lost or apparently stolen goods from an unlocked room. This may not be the point; but it's crucial that if guests have concerns of this sort that at least they sould be addressed. Risk has to be managed not ignored. One of the toilets in the public area was without any sort of lock.
(ii) Early calls were either late, very late or entirely ignored. In the latter case, this happened before a ballooning trip which was the responsibility of another organisation some distance away. We might have missed our booking had we not woken independently - once bitten.
(iii) There were three organised trips. Two of these were very expensive and poor value for money. The dull visit to the Sesriem Canyon, a long way with a dull subject and an uninformative guide at that, and the nature drive in the evening which constituted a drive round the lodge's estate, were both glorified excuses for the statutory sundowner. The third, Sossusvlei visit was potentially more interesting though here our guide was equally disenchanted. Me: 'Do you take this trip often.' He: with an onvious sense of boredom: 'Yes; every single day.' Management could have helped with some coordination and education - we never had the same guide so three diferent individuals rehearsed the same tired, and already well known, facts about the acacia tree, the habits of the termite and the sociable weaver.
So, charming staff who had little idea what they were supposed to do and how; poor, floundering, management. In almost every way this was not an acceptable stay. I would be concerned not only for the reputation of Wilderness Safaris - they're big enough and well enough represented elsewhere to cope, anyway - but for Expert Africa; I would strongly recommend that until you have assurance that these issues have been addressed, you should not recommend this lodge to your clients. Have you heard this sort of thing before?
Expert Africa comments
Wilderness Safaris - as well as oursleves - are very sorry that these travellers had a bad experience at Kulala Desert Lodge. Wilderness have apologised for this, and assure us that they have taken these comments very seriously.
After several adverse reports from our travellers, they advise us that the service and food at Kulala Desert Lodge is getting their full attention . They have made several changes and they are now sure that these problems are on their way to being rectified. There has been a change in the management couple, a new chef is in place at the Lodge and a newly appointed a food & beverages manager.
There is an on going training programme for all the staff and Wilderness assure us that they will continue to monitor things and hope to improve all guests’ experiences at the Lodge.
Not ideal for landscape photographers
We wanted to be able to be in position within the sand dunes before sunrise. Although the lodge has its own gate, by the time we entered the area the sun had risen. It would have been better to stay closer to the main gate, which was apparently a 45 minute drive from the lodge.Read more about the whole safari
Expert Africa comments
It’s important that these comments be taken in the context of this traveller’s general comments on their trip. To read these, please see the page entitled: ‘The Holiday from Hell’.
In our experience, it probably would not have been better for these travellers to stay in a lodge closer to the main gate. Quite the contrary, as delays in opening the gate and then in physically issuing the permits mean that this is often frustratingly slow. So whilst departure times for shared trips from Kulala Desert Lodge can’t be guaranteed, booking a private vehicle from here for the morning drive could be one way for keen photographers to get the best possible chance of the shots that they want.
The hot air ballooning trip, though expensive, was an absolute must - out of this world!Read more about the whole safari
A dune experience
The trip to the dunes was very good but an enclosed vehicle needs to be used by the lodge. Uncomfortable return journey due to wind and sand.
A great location for the lodge. Welcoming and helpful staff.
Expert Africa comments
The dunes around Sesriem and Sossusvlei have experienced some exceptionally windy conditions this year; winds gusting as high has 96km/h were measured at one of the camps in September!
As the result of their experiences this year, the Wilderness team (who run Kulala Desert Lodge) tell us that they are in the process of replacing all their 'open' vehicles at their camps in the Sossusvlei area with 'closed game drive' vehicles. This will obviously take time, but when they're all changed it'll help our travellers to avoid being quite so sand-blasted when the winds are high!
There's also been a new management couple installed at Kulala Desert Loge, Darryl & Elaine. We're optimistic that they will improve the lodge's standards even further, and are keeping a keen eye on our traveller's comments - particularly about the food!
Great welcome at Kulala Desert Lodge
Staff outstanding. Extremely well-managed Lodge. On arrival and return from trips we were greeted with drinks before entering Lodge. Chalet very comfortable with amazing views.
Sessriem Canyon a little disappointing after Fish River Canyon!
Trip to the dunes amazing but unfortunately very windy that day. Deadvlei well worth a visit although we found the walk very tiring, but we are not the fittest people in the world! Early morning balloon flight the next day highly recommended. Previous day's flights cancelled because of the wind. Champagne breakfast by the dunes a memorable experience.