“Cool, shabby chic meets the heat of the desert at this remarkable boutique lodge close to the Sossusvlei Dunes in southern Namibia”
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.
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.
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.
Extra Beds Available