Little Kulala

Near Sesriem, Sossusvlei & South, Namibia Book from

Cool, shabby chic meets the heat of the desert at this remarkable boutique lodge close to the Sossusvlei Dunes in southern Namibia
Little Kulala is the most strikingly innovative of this region's desert hideaways. When it came to reinventing the lodge, designer Laurie Owen waved goodbye to the standard Afro-colonial formula and instead chose a decorative palette of white, cream, slate grey and soft brown, whose muted tones give prominence to the extraordinary colour and form of what lies beyond: miles of rippled red sand stretching away towards the sinuous ridges of the Sossusvlei Dunes.

The lodge's white planked floors, rough cut furniture, eye-catching lamps, pebbled walls and outside-inside bar wouldn't look out of a place in any boutique hotel: somewhat bizarrely they also feel right in tune with the spirit of the Reserve. The mood is organic, light and uplifting, the food a match for the decoration and the 12 kulalas (chalets) every bit as special as the main lodge. Dine beneath the stars, soak in your private plunge pool and drive through the lodge's private concession to emerge amidst some of Africa's most remarkable sand formations.

Highs

  • Leads straight out to the Sossusvlei corridor, an incredible landscape of towering sand dunes
  • The extensive use of organic materials, natural dyes and pastel tones gives a wholesome, genuinely eco feel
  • Great food as well as an extraordinary wine cellar dug out beneath the lodge
  • The only top-end place in this region with such stunning views of the dunes
  • The design of the kulalas, with their extensive use of glass, brings the desert straight in to meet you

Lows

  • On a couple of occasions the pace of our meals was dictated by the staff and not by us
  • Be prepared for a very early start if you want to be at the dunes for sunrise, but you won't regret foregoing the time in bed
  • It's far from civilisation (a 6.5-hour drive down from Swakopmund or Windhoek), but that's half the point

Best time to go

Any time of year is good to visit the Sossusvlei dunes: being in the desert things aren't influenced nearly so much by rainfall, which is a very rare event. Bear in mind that in July and August - you may well visit at this time of year to give yourself the best chance of seeing game in the north of the country - temperatures can plummet at night. So be sure to pack plenty of warm clothing as well as your sun and sand gear.

Our top tips

Temperatures can plummet at night. So be sure to pack plenty of warm clothing as well as your sun and sand gear.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Safari Camp
  • 12
  • 6+ year olds welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

The lodge has 12 chalets or 'kulalas' - meaning places to sleep in Oshiwambo - fanning out to either side of the lodge, all of which share a slice of that amazing view out towards the towering Sosuvlei dunes. All are twin/doubles apart from number 12 which has a double and a twin chalet linked by a raised platform: the obvious choice for families.

These glass, cement, wood and canvas structures, raised above the red sand on stilted platforms and surrounded on 3 sides by pole fencing, are amongst the most striking sleeping spaces we saw in Namibia. Each has its own plunge pool surrounded by white painted decking whilst twin wicker loungers together with shaded and cushioned benches spell both chill and thrill: from here there's a direct line of vision out to the water hole where I watched a spotted hyena slink in to drink in the moonlight.

The decorative style mirrors that of the main lodge: rough-cut and ragged wooden bed platforms and headboards, lozenge-shaped cushions and pebble-shaped tables of moulded plastic. Strings of seeds and beads are draped over an earthy-coloured division wall backing twin beds pushed together to make a kingsize double. If it feels self-consciously 'design' - form takes precedence over function - the overall mood is spacious, spoiling and very sexy. The wide space behind the beaded bedwall serves as a dressing room where you'll find stacks of hanging space, a loaded minibar and a tea and coffee station. There's a safe and hairdryer in the wardrobe as well as raggedy 'Tarzan and Jane' bathrobes embroidered with the camp's logo and a bag for your laundry.

Bathrooms are just as big, bold and beautiful. You're treated to a walk-in rain shower (in addition to the one out on your deck), twin freestanding sinks with slickly designed taps and masses of towels and flannels in pale earthy tones. All bath products are eco and locally sourced.

Each chalet's literal crowning glory is a high terrace where, on request, you can have twin bed rolls laid out and sleep beneath the stars. If you're in two minds, just do it: you can always crawl back down to your bed should the raw African night, with its myriad insect life, begin to lose its appeal.

Features include:

  • Coffee tea making
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries

Eating

Little Kulala's dining area, with its soaring pole and thatch ceiling, is a great setting for any meal, although if it's warm enough I'd always choose to move out to the big sweep of deck which fronts the lodge; feel free to request this move if things have been laid up inside.

The presentation of everything I ate was picture-perfect. If breakfast follows the normal lodge formula - a big buffet followed by any variant on the full English theme - the coffee here is in a league of its own thanks to a top-of-the-range Italian espresso machine. If you're off on a full day excursion your guide will have packed you a picnic lunch, whilst back at the lodge you can expect a choice of salads accompanied by cold meats and cheeses, the lodge's delicious homemade bread, and a dessert.

Given that afternoon tea with rusks, quiche and cake is also on offer, you might just want 2 courses for dinner, as I did. I was delighted to be joined by my guide for the meal, and have the chance to talk about Namibian history and customs. Our meal was just as interesting: a spiced butternut soup, perfectly seared kudu steak served with broccoli, rice and a creamy mustard sauce. The accompanying house red, a smooth South African shiraz, was excellent.

All drinks are included in the price of your stay but if a house wine isn't appealing you can also choose a more special bottle from the lodge's amazing wine cellar: along with French champagnes you'll find a very special selection of bottles from South Africa.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Take to the air in a Cessna to fly over the Sossusvlei dunes and the shipwrecks of the Atlantic coast

  • Kick back for the afternoon on your deck then watch the sun set over the dunes; extraordinary

  • Head to the top of Kulala's own dune for one of the most memorable sundowners of your life

  • Go hot-air ballooning for a glorious bird's eye view of this extraordinary landscape

  • Head out by 4x4 with a picnic lunch to visit the Sossusvlei corridor, the canyon at Sesriem and the Kulala Nature Reserve (the landscapes are the stars here, although you may see kudu, zebra and ostrich)

  • Laze by Little Kulala's pool or check out the lodge's excellent shop which has a big selection of clothing, books, maps and locally made handicrafts

  • Follow a marked trail along a dried up river bed in the company of your guide. Learn about the trees, shrubs and bush grasses you pass, and keep an eye out for desert birds, ostrich, springbok and a variety of lizards and insects

  • Wake before dawn and be at the top of Dune 45 for sunrise: the colours at this time of day have to be seen to be believed

  • Sleep beneath the stars on your own high terrace and tune in to the extraordinary sounds of the African night; staff can lay a bedroll out here for you

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Scenic flights
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife

Kids

Children over 6 are welcome at Little Kulala and chalet number 12 was built with families in mind. Menus can be adapted to suit your kids' needs. Children aged 6–12 will be charged 67% of the adult price at Little Kulala; extra beds can be provided. From 13, children will be charged as adults. Bear in mind, though, that if you are travelling with kids you may be asked to take your own guide and vehicle with a corresponding increase in price.

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

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