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“Charming place close to the Dunes” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Wilderness Safaris Kulala Desert Lodge

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Wilderness Safaris Kulala Desert Lodge
3.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Sossusvlei - Kulala Wilderness Reserve, Sossusvlei, Namib-Naukluft Park, Namibia   |  
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Vienna, Austria
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Charming place close to the Dunes”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 5, 2013

This is a medium-sized resort with some 25 bungalows. It is situated close to the Dunes with a perfect view on the sun-set in the evenings. Best to enjoy it on the terrace with a nice sundowner.
The individual bungalows are kind of special. Half the walls are made of concrete, the upper half of canvas - this is probably a good solution with warm temperatures. There is also the possibility to go up to the roof and sleep up there (not in July though).
In the main house there is the restaurant, a bar and several places to relax.
In the afternoon a little snack, coffee and tee are offered. Breakfast and food were good.
After dinner the personnel - almost all of them, from the ranger to the kitchen-aid - gave us a presentation of native songs, really enjoyable.
There is a private gate to the National Park - but, unfortunately, this is reserved for tours only (I think Wilderness Safari), all others have to drive up to Sesriem and then drive down again - some extra 60 kms. On the other hand, paying ab. NAM $ 970,- p.p. for the tour seemed a bit too much. So we had to get up even earlier to be at the gate at 6.20 am., sun-rise. Shortly after, just before dune 345, we saw the people from the lodge who had booked the tour.
Kulala Desert Lodge is very oeco-minded - you even should save the first cold water in a bucket when you take a hot shower! On the other hand, they offer excursions with quads - in the afternoon for a sundowner and in the morning at about 7 o'clock. Great to wake up on the roar of a quad - that is a little minus.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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179 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (28)
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English first
King's Lynn, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
117 reviews 117 reviews
34 hotel reviews
Reviews in 46 cities Reviews in 46 cities
71 helpful votes 71 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2013

Although it's a pain to crawl the 14 kilometres from the entrance to the lodge itself we found a warm welcome and the view from our room was incredible, although it was too cold to go for the option of sleeping on the roof! The drive into the dunes was fantastic with our excellent guide Stephanis, ending in breakfast at Sossusvlei itself.
The rooms, which are static tents attached to permanent bathroom areas are large and comfortable with excellent showers. You are also asked to save the cold run off before your shower gets hot in a bucket for the cleaners to save on water, a brilliant piece of eco friendliness!
The main lodge overlooks a waterhole and the bush with the dunes beyond and has a small bar and a lovely fireplace.Food is good, mainly on a buffet basis and staff are enthusiastic and cheerful. Overall a really pleasant experience.

Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
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Stockholm, Sweden
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2013

The entire experience in this lodge was first rate from beginning to end. The morning drive to the dunes the guide and an afternoon quad biking in the surround mountains and plains truely breathtaking.The staff are very happy and genuine in their approach to guests some of the best in our 4 week Namibian experience. Palmwag another consideration in Damaraland and Fiume lodge and visit to the San bushman not to be missed.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 16, 2013

We switched at the last minute to Kulala Desert Lodge due to its access to the dunes and because we had enjoyed a magnificent stay at Ongava Lodge, another property run by the Wilderness Group. We wished we had stuck with our original booking. From the moment we arrived we were suspicious - the greeting with drinks and towels was there yes, but the attitude definitely wasn't - the place smacked of being poorly managed. Also no-one had made us aware that Kulala's private entrance gate to the dunes, supposedly giving access ahead of the crowds had been stopped by the government 2 months previously, so although the location of the lodge is very near the entrance gate for the dunes, there was no early access before sunrise as promised. The only lodge to stay at if you want sunrise pictures of the magnificent dunes is Sossus Dune Lodge which is located within the park, hence you can enjoy the dunes both at sunrise and sunset - a must for the keen photographer. The manager at Kulala Dune Lodge (Atasari) was de-mob happy - he was off on annual leave the next day and it showed. His deputy Dios, whilst being jolly and a joker, also had no idea about running a lodge. The only member of staff who we felt matched the supposed standards of the Wilderness brand was Everest, our superb guide. In our view he should have been managing the place - he was a distinct cut above and got it just right with the guests. As we ate lunch soon after arriving, all the kitchen staff were milling around in the restaurant, chatting on phones, laughing, singing - all fine with no guests around but we were trying to enjoy a peaceful lunch ! Our tented room was fine but not remotely comparable to Ongava. It was also very cold. The bathrooms are in need of an overhaul - a bit dark and dingy. The views from the room were magnificent though. The food was a big disappointment - buffet style, tasteless and felt mass catered. Dinner was very unatmospheric, we were surrounded by large tour groups and it was all very ordinary. After dinner there was a nice sitting area with squashy sofas around a roaring fire but the seats in front of the fire were occupied. By whom? - the manager's family and friend who were staying there before going off on holiday the next day !
It all felt very unprofessional and laissez faire with guests being a bit of an inconvenience. Our guide, Everest deserves a special mention. He took us on a private trip to the dunes and it was a magical morning climbing dune 45, admiring those that climbed Big Daddy and exploring Deadvlei culminating in an excellent picnic brunch whilst discussing life in Namibia. His English was superb and he understood what clients paying £300 per night were looking for.
Why isn't Everest managing this lodge ?

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WildernessSafaris, Manager at Wilderness Safaris Kulala Desert Lodge, responded to this review, August 23, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to share your experience.

We are truly sorry that your one night stay at Kulala Desert Lodge was disappointing and did not live up to the expectations Wilderness Safaris camps are renowned for. We are grateful for your kind words about Everest and we have forwarded your praise on to our Namibia Operations who will duly share with him.

With regards to the access gate there must have been a misunderstanding. Our private gate into the Namib-Naukluft National Park has always operated on sunrise and sunset times. This is not a new implementation and has been in place from day one when we were granted permission to operate this gate.

When Atasari went on annual leave his replacement was Dios who has been managing camps in the past. We understand that for example the behaviour of our service staff in the restaurant would have contributed to the image that Dios is new in the managing field. On this note we would like to point out that our staff have strict instructions not to use their cell phones during working hours.

On the night of your stay the camp set up the dinner tables inside the restaurant only due to the evening being windy. This of course is no excuse for poor service and food. Management’s foremost responsibility is to ensure that all guests are taken care of at all times and the weather, number of guests and type of venue cannot impact negatively on our guests experience. However, we are proud to say that the vast majority of our guests do enjoy the food offering at Kulala Desert Lodge which scores high marks on our feedback forms on a regular basis. We do apologise that in this instance the meals did not live up to your expectations.

Our most sincere apologies for the impertinent behaviour and the inconveniences you encountered. We would like to assure you that the issues raised will be addressed with the staff, Atasari and Dios and we trust that going forward they will not recur.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tahoe City, California
Top Contributor
75 reviews 75 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2013

A wonderful plane ride, with pilot Carlos, from Windhoek brought us to Kulala Desert Lodge where we were greeted with a delicious ginger-based drink. The lodge itself is well appointed, comfortable and has magnificent vistas from each tent cabin. The solar heating worked well for the hot water. The staff was friendly and accommodating. We went to six camps on this trip to Africa and for the most part the staff at each camp have a rehearsed script at mealtime and most find it a little hard to deviate from the script. This does add an element of charm, however. We came to see the dunes and our expectations were upheld--a photographer's dream. We didn't expect to see a lot of wildlife, however, we did see ostriches, gemsbok, springbok, black-backed jackal, desert fox. The sociable weaver bird nests are very interesting. I recommend the hot air balloon ride, which gives a fabulous perspective of the amazing landscape. The end of May was a good time to travel here, as it was not too hot. The food is westernized and fine.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lismore, Australia
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2013

The Kulala Desert Lodge was a real surprise in such a harsh and beautiful environment. The individual rooms were spacious, beautifully appointed and clean, with dreamlike views of the desert and mountains from the wide front balcony and watchtower at the rear of the lodge. The staff were excellent: welcoming and very professional. They provided great hospitality, friendliness and attention to guest needs. Drinks and food were generous and excellent, despite the difficulties of supply in such an isolated location. There were many highlights: the stunning red sand dunes, with their colours constantly changing throughout the day, the range and numbers of wildlife, especially springbok, oryx and ostriches, but in particular the knowledge and professionalism of our guide, Jonas, who was simply outstanding. We loved Kulala lodge and the Namib desert. The lodge is very close to the park and has a private gate that allows early morning access to the dunes to see the sunrise. Another highlight for one of us was a hot air balloon flight over the desert in the morning: an absolutely amazing experience. Overall our visit to the Sossusvlei based at the Kulala desert lodge was an outstanding and wonderful experience.

Stayed June 2013, traveled with friends
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cape Town Central, South Africa
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2013

This wonderful lodge has the most spectacular setting - the Namib-Naukluft dunes are a few hundred meters from the lodge and visible from one's room, and there are beautiful mountains on the other side. The Kulala Conservancy's (in which this lodge and Little Kulala are located) location alongside the Namib-Naukluft park affords private access into the park which is fantastic. If you stay outside the park as we did before coming to Kulala, one needs to wait until sunrise before one can start driving to Sossusvlei.

1) Rooms: lovely, very comfortable; staff brought a baby cot for my daughter.

2) Food; not a huge choice but all extremely tasty and fresh. Delicious sundowner snacks, all very nicely presented

3) Staff: faultless: warm but not over-familiar; helpful; efficient. They really were wonderful and great with my daughter - far gentler and more careful with her than at Doro Nawas - winning her confidence rather than overwhelming her. Her food was warmed, dishes were cleaned, peak-a-boo was played...over and over. I would particularly like to thank our guide Moses who sought out endemic birds for my parents and endeared himself to us all.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Wilderness Safaris Kulala Desert Lodge

Address: Sossusvlei - Kulala Wilderness Reserve, Sossusvlei, Namib-Naukluft Park, Namibia
Location: Namibia > Khomas Region > Namib-Naukluft Park > Sossusvlei
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 8 Specialty Lodging in Sossusvlei
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Wilderness Safaris Kulala Desert Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 23
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Hidden at the foot of the majestic Sossusvlei dunes, a private entrance to Namib Naukluft Park makes Kulala Desert Lodge the closest location to Sossusvlei, while magnificent views of its famous red dunes, mountainous scenery and vast open plains makes it the most spectacular. The camp comprises 23 thatched and canvas "kulalas" with en-suite bathrooms and verandas. Each unit is built on a wooden platform to catch the cooling breezes and has a deck on the flat rooftop where bedrolls are placed for guests to sleep under the stars. The main area, with northern African-inspired décor, has a lounge, dining area, plunge pool, and wraparound veranda overlooking a waterhole. Activities impress guests with the overwhelming magnitude, solitude and tranquility of the desert and include private tours to Sossusvlei, scenic nature walks amd drives to view the desert's fascinating flora and fauna. At extra cost, it is also possible to experience the area on horseback, hot air balloon and eco-sensitive guided quad-biking excursions. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kulala Desert Hotel Namib-Naukluft Park
Wilderness Safaris Kulala Desert Lodge Sossusvlei, Namibia - Namib-Naukluft Park

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