Namibia

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Little Kulala

CONTEMPORARY, WELCOMING, DESERT OASIS

Hardap www.wilderness-safaris.com

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At a Glance

Sitting just outside the entrance to the Sossusvlei area of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, Little Kulala embraces its position in the center of the Namib Desert.

Indagare Loves

  • The individual bungalows have thatched roofs but glass walls, ensuring exceptional views of the surrounding desert, and rooftop ‘skybeds’ allowing guests to sleep under the stars
  • Each bungalow’s private deck, with comfortable sitting and lounging areas and a tiny plunge pool, perfect for cooling off during the hot mid-day in the desert
  • Guided tours of the nearby attractions, including the Sossusvlei dunes and Sesriem Canyon

Review

There aren’t many animals in the Sossusvlei area of the Namib Desert, but the ones that are there are fascinating, as they are like no other creatures in the world. Darwin would have had a field day had he made it to Namibia’s southwest coast, as its species are some of the most prime examples of adaptation to be found on the planet. At over 50 million years old, the desert—the world’s oldest—has had time to let its flora and fauna evolve around its limitations, some animals and plants get all of their hydration from the fog’s condensation, and other trees and bushes reach down yards with their roots for water sources from deep, subterranean flowing rivers.

Little Kulala, like its location and inhabitants, is unique in its specialness. With just 11 thatched-roof bungalows (including a two-bedroom family room), the property feels private and remote. Surrounded by 360-degree desert views, the camp sits on a 90,000-acre concession leased by Wilderness Safaris from the Namibian government. (The larger and less luxurious Kulala Desert Lodge is located a few miles away on the same piece of land.) A main lodge sits among the private bungalows in a curved line, all connected to one another by sand paths. The beautifully decorated central structure is home to a library, indoor and outdoor dining areas, a lounge, bar and pool. Chic, modern décor prevails throughout, with neutral-toned wood, wicker and canvas-upholstered furniture, painted-white wood flooring and walls of windows that look out onto the landscape. In all corners of the camp, in fact, there are thoughtful, tasteful touches: chandeliers made of stripped down tree branches, headboards fashioned out of strings of recycled glass beads, acacia trees growing up through the decks and supporting thatched roofs.

Rooms are spacious, with their own furnished decks complete with plunge pools. Inside the air-conditioned suites are king-sized platform beds hugged by mosquito nets, cushy sofas that can be turned into beds for a child, and closet/dressing areas complete with complimentary minibar and tea and coffee making facilities. The bathroom features indoor and outdoor showers (with surprisingly good water pressure, considering its location in the desert), double vanities and is stocked with eco-friendly toiletries.

Guests are well fed at Little Kulala, beginning with early breakfasts of homemade bread, made-to-order eggs, porridge and a selection of German-style pastries, meats, cheeses and fruit. Lunch and dinner are three-course affairs and can begin with an assortment of delicious salads followed by entrées such as chicken stir-fry or vegetarian chili served with homemade tortillas and guacamole. Beverages are included and the camp has a good offering of South African wine and Namibian beer.

Guests are offered a short list of possible excursions, but the main reason for coming here is to see the Sossusvlei area dunes, which sit about an hour’s drive away from the camp’s private gate. The best time to visit the eerily beautiful region of sand dunes is very early in the morning, when the Namib-Naukluft National Park, which protects the dunes and its area, opens at sunrise. Departing the lodge at 6am in one of the camp’s Land Rovers will ensure arrival at the dunes before they get too crowded and it gets too hot (temperatures can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit by 9am). Another favorite attraction is the Sesriem Canyon, about 30 miles northeast of the Sossusvlei dunes, which in drought can be hiked down and explored. Like the dunes, this is best visited early in the morning or late afternoon, to avoid the most intense sun and heat. Back in camp, a massage therapist is available for in-room treatments during the mid-day break and before or after dinner.

Ideal Length of Stay

Two nights, to include one full day of sightseeing, is all you need here, unless you’d like to go hot-air ballooning, which requires an additional morning.

Who Should Stay

Little Kulala offers a glimpse of the wild Namib Desert, and should be included in all Namibian itineraries. The camp is a good jumping-off point for a visit to the country.

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