Here is a romantic desert retreat where cool interiors, top-notch dining, other-worldly vistas of the famous, orange-hued Sossusvlei dunes, and candlelit rooftop beds make for a spellbinding stay under the stars.
On the edge of the Namib-Nakluft National Park, home to the towering dunes at Sossusvlei, with glorious views of burnt-orange sand rising in mountain-like formations across the horizon. Access to Sossusvlei from Little Kulala is via a private gate exclusive to Wilderness Safaris, thereby ensuring a head start on the tourist buses for morning excursions to the dunes. The property is operated by Wilderness Safaris, which is also the custodian of the surrounding 90,000-acre Kulala Wilderness Reserve.
Style & character
A cluster of thatched-roof lodges have been bestowed with traditional design and contemporary styling to create an unforgettable desert lair. The main lodge, with its distinctive cone-shaped roof, is a relaxed space dotted with laid-back seating and statement lighting, while a pebbled wall and wooden floors add a natural feel. The accompanying terrace, which overlooks a nearby watering hole popular with springbok and birdlife, is a captivating spot at sundown.
Service & facilities
Friendly staff at all levels help ensure a smooth stay. Excellent guides bring the seemingly empty desert sands to life with their in-depth knowledge of the local flora and fauna. Almost all guests staying at Little Kulala are there to visit Sossusvlei and neighbouring Dead Vlei (approximately 90 minutes by road). Other activities on offer include nature drives, scorpion-spotting night walks and sunset drinks atop a nearby mountain for epic views of Little Kulala and the humbling desert landscape.
A trip to Sesriem Canyon, located close to a general store popular with staff, is billed on the hotel’s website as ‘breathtaking’ but proved to be an underwhelming trek through a featureless gorge. Not to be missed is a hot air balloon ride at sunrise, followed by a champagne breakfast; book through Little Kulala or direct at Namib Sky Balloon Safaris.
- Room service
The 11 thatched-roof ‘kulala’ lodges, meaning ‘to sleep’ in the native Oshiwambo language, are imbued with a restful palette of soft desert tones. Each is a generously-proportioned haven featuring private terrace, plunge pool and floor-to-ceiling windows from which to spot wildlife and marvel at the ever-shifting landscape. The bedroom is dominated by an elegant four-poster but for the ultimate in romance head to the rooftop for a candlelit night under the stars. Twin wash basins and showers are made for ablutions à deux.
Food & drink
The daily-changing menu offers excellent levels of dining in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. The logistics of operating in the desert means choice is limited but game and fish dishes are likely to feature. Those with special dietary requirements, including vegetarians, should notify the lodge in advance of their stay. Guests can dine in the laid-back restaurant or, in the warmer months, around a fire on the terrace. Breakfast is a feast of continental and cooked options. Healthy snacks and a choice of drinks are provided on excursions.
Value for money
Lodges from ZAR 9,562pp (£510) in low season, and from ZAR 15,444pp (£825) in high. Based on two sharing, this includes all meals and activities, excluding hot air balloon rides. Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
A good level of mobility is required to navigate the sandy walkways throughout the camp.
Best-suited to couples. Nearby Kulala Desert Lodge, sister hotel of Little Kulala, welcomes families.