Written by Gareth Hardres-Williams
Images by Gavin Lautenbach
Written by Gareth Hardres-Williams, 6 August 2017
Images by Gavin Lautenbach
A Mammoth Safari’s trip to the Namib desert – a luxurious escape to a desert wilderness second to none.
Little Kulala, a camp operated by Wilderness Safaris, is a luxurious desert retreat situated in the private Kulala Wilderness Reserve tucked away in the vast expanse of the Namib desert and an extension of the Namib-Naukluft National Park. It is here where wide-open spaces, solitude and intense quiet are the main attractions of this 27 000 hectare (67 000-acre) reserve. This incredible expanse offers unrivaled views of Namibia’s vast sea of sand, with towering dunes to explore and summit as well as the clear starry night sky to marvel at.
The thatched Little Kulala Lodge rooms blend in with the stark environment and provide a luxurious home for your time of desert exploration.
In this part of Namibia, you will find desert-adapted wildlife including a range of carnivores that manage to survive in this desert – from the small bat-eared fox and black-backed jackal to the bigger brown and spotted hyenas. Also to be found in the area is the fascinating but elusive aardwolf, an animal not seen in many other safari destinations. Occasionally cheetah too are sighted in this truly spectacular place, and a during a recent Mammoth Safaris trip here our guests were incredibly fortunate to see a cheetah mother with five offspring! A most unusual privilege. One is left enthralled as to how these animals survive these most harsh conditions. Another of the special little creatures to marvel at here is the barking gecko, so named for the distinctive territorial call of the male.
Viewed from the air, here are the desert-adapted oryx or gemsbok. This animal is synonymous with Namibia and desert existence, so much so that it features on the Namibian coat of arms. In its search for water and nutrients in the spartan landscape, the gemsbok often digs in the sand for roots and tubers.
Accommodation at the Little Kulala Lodge consists of 11 thatched rooms, which merge seamlessly into the surrounding desert landscape. Each of the rooms have their own private plunge pool, one can enjoy both indoor and outdoor showers, and there is a rooftop star bed for those romantic evenings gazing up at the most incredible night skyscape. An elegant entertainment area includes a library, wine cellar, craft boutique, lounge and dining area rounding off a truly luxurious camp.
As a guest at Little Kulala, the adaptation required to enjoy this part of the world is not in any way a hardship as both the staff and accommodation’s are equally welcoming. Enjoy the distinctive views from the comfort of your air conditioned room, or soak up the African sun next to the pool.
The Little Kulala Lodge is situated very close to the Sossusvlei and the associated enormous dunes of red sand. The lodge is also near the magnificent and appropriately named saltpan of Dead Vlei. This area is a photographers dream – offering such unique landscapes, textures, colours and contrasts, that even the most novice of happy snappers will come away with some interesting visual memories.
A large deep-red sand dune known as “Big Daddy” provides a decent workout to get to the top. The effort is well worth it though, as views from atop this 325m monster of a dune are quite spectacular.
The hot air balloon trip is a truly superb way to take in the majesty of the vast desert expanse and offers a wonderfully unique overview of the area. This activity is an absolute must and all our Mammoth Safaris guests have been absolutely blown away by this experience. The balloon lifts off in the early morning and the entire trip is a delightful adventure and exploration. The eerie quiet of the morning is only broken by the occasional roar of the gas burner that lifts one higher into the blue African sky. When the balloon gently touches down on the soft sand, one can enjoy a delicious champagne breakfast in the desert wilderness. The tasty breakfast offerings are presented with typical Namibian flair and panache.
The hot air balloon ride across the desert is an absolute must – with the height and quiet of the journey mirroring the dunes and desert below.
The desert area is supremely dry and virtually devoid of moisture of any sort, yet both animals and some plants are able to eek out an existence here, having adapted over the millennia to a life in these most extreme of conditions.
Dwarfed by the enormous sand dunes, here a herd of gazelle-like Springbok make their way through the desert.
An abundant bird and fascinating little fellow flitting around the arid landscape is the Sociable Weaver. A hugely successful “property developer” of the desert, this bird builds gigantic communal nests that hang heavy on the sparsely distributed trees. In these weaver nests, a pair of birds will construct their own nest chamber for roosting or breeding and are a marvel of construction genius. The grass structures provide the ideal, temperature-controlled habitat for the female birds to incubate the eggs and rear the fledglings to adulthood.
With a beak perfectly adapted for eating seeds and insects and for weaving gigantic nests entirely out of grass, this male sociable weaver could be part of a most impressive colony up to 500 birds strong.
The incredible views on offer from the top of Big Daddy – a photographers dream destination.
Not only can he fly a balloon with style, but your host pulls out all the stops to add to the theatre of the destination.
A visit to the Little Kulala Lodge can be a superb stand-alone safari destination, particularly for those who have experienced much of the more “regular” safari destinations. For those who are still enjoying the excitement of the novelty of safari, Little Kulala makes for a wonderful addition to a safari itinerary. A stop off here allows for time to relax, unwind and enjoy the difference that is Namibia – relishing unique wildlife experiences and participating in some once-in-a-lifetime adventures.
The dramatic sand dunes appear alive as the wind occasionally whips up some sand in a dance of dust.
How to make this desert safari of a lifetime a reality…
For more information on how to book your Mammoth Safari to search for wilderness, adventure and to explore the shifting sands of time contact a member of our sales team by sending an email to email@example.com. Please also visit www.mammothsafaris.com for more destinations and journeys.
For more on Namibia and a sample itinerary of a safari here, please visit here…