Reviews of Kulala Desert Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Sprawling camp which lacks character
Despite its excellent location overlooking the majestic dunes, this camp has grown out of all proportion (now it has 23 rooms), and is a far cry from a tranquil desert experience, nor does it any longer have any sense of a luxury retreat. There was one giant party of 17 Americans during our stay, and it was all a bit too much like a Disney theme park.
The resort’s attempt to emulate Moroccan-style huts doesn’t come off and the camp is rather ugly. The central area is large and airy, with a big deck overlooking the little waterhole. You can take meals out here on warm nights, which is very pleasant (although the food is no more than serviceable). Oddly enough, the resort makes little of the waterhole, which is poorly illuminated at night, and the terrace too hot to sit on by day. This is a shame as we saw many jackal, a kudu and the African wild cat during our stay.
Rooms are simple but mosquito precautions are effective. Sleeping on the roof is a bit of a gimmick – it would be very uncomfortable, really cold and you’d be eaten alive by the insects. The camp was very hot in the daytime (40 degrees), and there is a small and icy-cold swimming pool to help cool you down. Drinks are included, as is laundry. Service is friendly and quite efficient.
Activities are arranged like a military campaign, but are largely unsatisfactory. The early morning trip to the dunes is by far the best thing, and the camp is located perfectly for an easy entry to the park, ensuring that you are up on the dunes by 8.00 am before it gets too hot – and before the hordes arrive. But it is quite crowded nonetheless. The other trip, to Sesriem Canyon, is a bit of a waste of time, and the sundowner game drive quite boring (until you get a drink) as there is so little game here. Our guide was clearly totally jaded and fed up with the tourist routine, and could hardly bring himself to smile. He compounded this by forgetting the milk for our breakfast stop on the dunes, so a cup of horrible black instant coffee was all he had to offer.
Overall, we felt that this lodge has grown too big to offer a genuine luxury desert experience, and there will undoubtedly be better options in the area.
Expert Africa comments
We passed these comments on to the Kulala team, who were sorry that these travellers did not wholly enjoy their stay. KDL has grown in recent years, and it is now on itineraries for larger groups. The team there are sorry if a group inconvenienced these travellers and are reviewing ways to mitigate such issues in the future.
The water hole is on the opposite side of the river and sometimes it is difficult to see the wildlife there, especially at night. The camp doesn’t publicise this so as not to raise unreasonable expectations; wildlife is scarce in this desert area – despite these travellers having some lucky sightings here. A floodlight does give some illumination, but there is concern over moving this closer lest it disturbs the wildlife.
The dunes at Sossusvlei are the major draw card in this area, but can sometimes get busy. The guides here try hard to avoid the busiest parts … but that can be challenging.
We were very sorry to read about dissatisfaction with the guiding; this is a relatively unusual comment here. The guide in question is meeting with the Guide Trainer and the Regional MD to discuss how to make improvements to his guiding – and the provision of food and drink on activities.
Sleeping on the roof can be a great experience, but this is weather-dependent. These travellers visited when nights were cold – then whilst some brave the roof with a hot water bottle, but most will choose to sleep inside. By contrast, when it’s hot several of our team members have loved sleeping on the roof – the stars are magical here!
Stunning location and excellent guide
Luxurious accommodation in a beautiful setting with views of the distant dunes and mountains.
We enjoyed the facilities between a wonderful trip to the dunes and Dead Vlei and a spectacular mountain top sunset and sun downer. The early morning walk was made very special by the sensitive and informative guide. Food was excellent and all the staff were friendly and attentive.
Staying for three nights gave us time to enjoy all the facilities and activities as well as having time to relax.
Kulala Desert Lodge review
Good accommodation and food. Location was good as close to the entrance of the dunes but there were a lot of people seemingly in the valley before us. Not sure whether there are camps within the Park etc.
The trip to Sousselvlei and Deadvlei was great as early and we were there before many others. Climbed Big Daddy which was hard but great for the views. It was very busy when we came down with many tourists. Good trip. Went to Sesriem canyon in afternoon which was quite interesting.
Had a good evening trip out for sundowners seeing an Aardwolf among other game. Very bleak landscape.
Kulala Desert Lodge review
In a magic location and beautifully designed. Very friendly staff.
The long driveway across the desert to such a location was stunning, you really felt you were somewhere very special.
We had a lovely personal trip to the dunes with some head office staff riding along, very memorable, and saved the long drive round to the main gate.
Kulala Desert Lodge great
We had a great stay here. We arrived late at dusk and appreciated the welcoming drink and cool flannel. The staff were welcoming and always helpful, the food was good, the room and the view were great. We did the dawn trip to the dunes with guide Immanuel and thoroughly enjoyed this.
The only issue was finding the place! The instructions we were sent indicated that it was signposted from the C27 road but the map on p260 of the Bradt guide showed the route going from Le Mirage and so we thought we had missed the turning. We stopped at the place advertising ballooning to ask and the woman there directed us so we did eventually join the usual route from the C27. It was after sunset and so were starting to worry a bit but all was fine in the end.
And when we left a couple of days later we did see the sign from the C27, we just hadn't gone far enough.
Kulala Desert Lodge review
Superb location with views to die for. Slight mix up with rooms was rectified immediately and the manager Petronella didn't charge us for our trip to Sossusvlei which more than compensated for the minor inconvenience.
Very Eco friendly hotel which was great and hot water bottles in bed (it was close to zero degrees Celsius at night when we were there) highlighted the attention to detail. Lovely communal area with a roaring fire. Standard of food was excellent with particularly good breakfast. Early morning trip to sand dunes lived up to expectations but if you visit in July ,as we did ,bring down, merino or fleece as it's very cold for the first few hours. It was also refreshing to see black Namibians in management roles.
All the staff were excellent and great with kids (one young man played chess with Tom our 8 year old boy)
Amazing location, but poor overall. It is all "not quite right" in terms of expectations. It just seemed that little care was taken. Dinner was poor. Breakfast was an exercise in getting us out as fast as possible. No atmosphere in the lodge. Rooms were OK, maybe a bit better than OK, but we thought soulless.
They seems to cater for people without their own transport and charge a ludicrous amount to drive to the dunes through a "private entrance" which guests who self drive are forbidden to access. Do NOT waste your money on that if you have a car. We drove round through the main entrance and saved about £150 for four people. They could do so much better with not much more work.
The dunes themselves are great. Highly recommended. Just do it yourself. Very easy indeed.
Kulala Desert Lodge is amazing
This camp is amazing. It is set in the middle of nowhere but with the most stunning scenery and the camp itself is beautiful.
The staff were excellent and couldn't have been more helpful and the food was great.
Kulala Desert Lodge
Excellent position and views. Made very welcome. Excellent tours.Read more about the whole safari
Kulala Desert Lodge is a super place to stay
A splendid Lodge, super staff and guides, good atmosphere, food, rooms etc. Really couldn't fault it - everyone seemed to go out of their way to be friendly and helpful in a very relaxed and genuine way. Good packed lunches too!Read more about the whole safari