There are so many unique areas in Namibia to visit like Etosha National Park, the Erongo Mountains, Sossusvlei and the Skeleton Coast that provide a wide range of landscapes and wildlife. We could have easily spent multiple weeks travelling around the country and seeing it all, however given we have corporate jobs, time is always a restriction so we chose the one visit we have been vying to see, Sossusvlei.
After a quick visit to Windhoek, the capital, we embarked on a 51/2 hour drive southwest to the southern region of the Namib Desert to the Little Kulala Desert Lodge in the Sossusvlei region. The drive itself was like no other. As soon as you get out of the city you immediately get the feeling for how vast and sparse the country is.
The reason we chose Sossusvlei is because we had always wanted to experience the stunning photos we had seen of Deadvlei first-hand. Deadvlei is a white clay pan filled with dark baron trees that has been starved from water for an estimated 700 years. Surrounded by some of the largest sand dunes in the world, a river used to flow through the area allowing the trees to thrive however was then hit by drought which allowed for the sand dunes to spread and cut off the water supply for good essentially making the area “die”. It is located near the more famous saltpan of Sossusvlei, inside the Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia.
Where to Stay:
Part of the Wilderness Safaris group
The reasons we chose Little Kulala Desert Lodge was 1) it looked like an absolutely luxurious yet rustic retreat and 2) it is the closest lodge to the Namib-Nakluft National Park, where the sand famous sand dunes and Deadvlei are located, and has its own private entrance which means you see less tourists. We did not want to stay at a resort an hour or so away from the park and add more driving to our trip.
The Little Kulala Desert Lodge was stunning. You wonder how a place like this can even exists in desert. Upon arrival all the staff greeted us. We were whisked off to a lunch that was prepared for us on the dining terrace. Between courses the lodge hostess and our “safari” guide came and introduced themselves. We were informed of all possible activities and suggest schedules were provided based on what we wanted to do. Everything was done privately with our own guide from the lodge. The first day we arrived we went on a 4×4 adventure into the desert where we got up close and personal with Oryx, Springbok and Ostrich and got amazing views of the Namib Desert. I should also mention we got covered in sand from head to toe! We then had a private dinner with cocktails and wine as no one else was at the lodge. The next day we woke up before sunrise to embark on our adventure into the national park to climb up the famous Dune 45 (which is higher that it looks), make the 1 km hike to actually stand in Deadvlei and experience this landscape phenomenon, and then recap this amazing experience over a picnic of tea, biscuits and sandwiches. We headed back to the lodge to freshen up and have lunch before heading to the Sesrium Canyon followed by sundowners and Namibian charcuterie in the middle of the desert sitting on our safari truck. Back at the Lodge we then went to a wine tasting evening, as there were now about 10 people checked in to the lodge, followed by a candlelit dinner on the pool deck, followed by an after dinner bottle of wine on the rooftop bed on our hut and a night of sleeping under the stars! This was honestly an experience like of a life time and so well done that for once I actually disconnected from the world.
All the activities (except the optional hot air balloon ride), guide, food and drink are included in the price of the lodge. Three days is more than enough to experience the region and move on to the next. The food was in abundance and exquisite. Not only is it comparable to that of fine dining establishments at home, but the chef also provides menu options and caters to any requests.
The rooms are spacious and have great views. Each room or “hut” or “kulala” as they call them has its own outdoor space with a couch and small waiting pool and an additional bed on the rooftop so every guest can sleep under the stars if they prefer.
You have to book through an agent of the Wilderness Safaris group, you cannot book directly with the lodge so follow the instruction on the website provided above. This is the case with many of the lodges as they all belong to a consortium of other lodges.
Some of you may not know but Namib Desert is said to be the oldest desert in the world!
Driving was safe and is straightforward. The roads are labeled well and maps are reliable We took a more scenic route on the way there meaning there was no gas station for hours so make sure you fill up at the airport or in Windhoek and bring some snacks in case you get hungry. The road at one point was a bit steep but totally drivable. As soon as you are outside the city it is gravel and dirt roads so be prepared for a long bumpy ride. Keep your camera on hand for all the Baboons, Oryx and Springbok you will see (and that may run in front of your vehicle). The landscape is also beautiful and warrants a photo or two! The cost of our rental car was approximately $550 USD. Make sure you get a truck, not a small car!!
Most lodges do offer private flights from the different airports so you do not have to drive; this just comes at an extra charge. We were quoted $1,900 USD for 2 people both ways. Given the high cost and the fact flights did not work with our commercial flights in and out of Namibia we chose to drive. However, these flights provide scenic aerial views that will take your breath away!
Additional Sossusvlei Lodge Suggestions:
This place is absolutely stunning and people who have stayed here rave about it. This was a contender with Little Kulala for our trip however it was further from the sites so unfortunately we chose not to stay here.