Kulala Desert Lodge
Dramatic desert views and romantic (and very dark) starlit nights
Kulala Desert Lodge
Kulala Desert Lodge, like its sister Little Kulala, lies on the 210-square-kilometre private Kulala Wilderness Reserve in southern Namibia. The lodge's prime attraction is its proximity, and private entrance, to the Namib-Naukluft National Park, but its vast views are headline-worthy too – from the Namib-Naukluft dune sea in the west to the mountains in the east. Tear yourself away from the scenery to inspect Kulala's eco-credentials, a subject the owners take very seriously, from the reusable water bottles you're given to the tips on saving water. The place is friendly and comfortable and, of course, there's that desert to explore.
At the lodge
The principal focus of the lodge is to make the most of the view, and to sit comfortably within it. The owners have clearly succeeded. Two adjoining thatched roofs, peaked to resemble dunes, cover the central area. To one side is the kitchen and restaurant, which spills on to a lovely veranda on which dinner is served. To the other is the bar and lounge, with an open fireplace for chilly winter evenings (mid June to August). Outside is a pool.
There are 23 chalets or 'kulalas', from the local Oshiwambo word meaning ‘to sleep’. Each is made of canvas, wood and thatch, raised slightly off the ground to allow a through-flow of air. This, along with a ceiling fan, helps to keep the rooms cool in summer. (No aircon here, this is an eco-lodge.) Inside are comfortable beds, luscious white linen and bold throws and an en-suite bathroom. There's a roof terrace for sleeping out (not for cold winter nights) and a private deck.
Take an early-morning excursion (the best time to see the light on the dunes) to Sossusvlei, accessed via a private gate that is shared only with sister Little Kulala Lodge. Climb 325-metre Big Daddy, Sossusvlei's tallest dune. It's a longer trip to dramatic Sesriem Canyon, but worth it for the memories and photographs. Take a shorter drive in Kulala Private Reserve, go on a guided walking trail, or get a bird's-eye view from a hot-air balloon (extra charge),