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Destination Details

Namibia

 

Sossusvlei translates into 'the gathering place of water' in the local Nama language, and, odd as it may seem, in good years seasonal rains in the foothills of the Naukluft and Tsaris Mountains succeed in reaching the vleis. This creates temporary lakes that mirror the sand dunes surrounding them and Little Kulala offers guests the unique opportunity to experience this miraculous transformation. The vleis have evocative names such as Hidden Vlei and Dead Vlei, while the dunes rise up to 300 metres above the valley floor with razor-sharp edges that stand out against the blue sky.

Sossusvlei is situated within the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world, which itself is part of the Namib Naukluft National Park that stretches 400km south of Walvis Bay and is sandwiched between the west coast and the escarpment that runs parallel more than 100km inland. Its huge red dunes and flat valley floors make up the archetypical view of the Namib that is world famous.

From Little Kulala guests can witness the wonders of the sparsely distributed desert-adapted wildlife such as ostrich, springbok and gemsbok as they eke out an existence. Larger predators include spotted hyaena and the occasional brown hyaena, a mystical shaggy-coated scavenger. Smaller creatures such as bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, porcupine, Cape fox and aardwolf can be seen at night in the cool desert air. Anchieta's dune lizard with its peculiar thermoregulatory dance and tenebrionid beetles have all adapted to life here. Nocturnal explorations can reveal dancing white lady spiders and perhaps Grant's golden mole, a Namib Desert endemic. One bird, the aptly named Dune Lark, has its entire global distribution limited to the area, so dependent is it on the area's characteristic sands.

Despite the lack of vegetation and low rainfall, a surprisingly diverse array of insects, reptiles and rodents make their home around Little Kulala - surviving thanks in part to the coastal fog that creeps up off the sea each dawn and penetrates up to 50km inland. At dusk the call of barking geckoes resonate around you, and walks reveal the smaller creatures - the buck-spoor spider with its multi-entrance burrow or the ambush specialist ant-lion, to name but a few.

The dunes are also evocatively known as the Sand Sea. The dunes nearest the coast are most mobile and no vegetation grows on them, as they are constantly evolving. Rainfall at the coast can average dramatically less than 50mm a year, and even further inland it measures a paltry 50-100mm annually.

ACTIVITIES:

•             Nature drives into the desert in 3 x 8-seater vehicles

•             Walking Trails, including the Black Mountain Trail

•             Visit to Sossusvlei and Sesriem

•             Balloon safaris (additional cost, closed 15 January to 15 February)

•             The Sundowner tour is one of the best scenic safaris in the Namib

•             Private vehicles can be booked at an additional cost, subject to availability

•             Scorpion Walks

Little Kulala is a luxurious desert retreat situated in the private 37 000-hectare Kulala Wilderness Reserve - the gateway to Namibia's Sand Sea with its towering dunes and clear starry skies.

Accommodation at Little Kulala consists of 11 climate-controlled, thatched "kulalas" (the word means 'to sleep') which merge impeccably into the timeless desert landscape, with exquisite fittings and fixtures, and innovative bleached decks - each with a private plunge pool. Each kulala has a rooftop 'skybed' for romantic stargazing, with both indoor and outdoor showers.

Little Kulala features an elegant entertainment area which includes a library, wine cellar, craft boutique, lounge and dining areas. Dining under the clear Namibian skies is a highlight. The interiors have been designed to provide an all-natural and unique experience in this most beautiful environment. The extensive use of neutral colours, gorgeous textures and natural light reproduce the soothing pastel tones of the desert. Pure linens, cottons and mohair dyed with natural vegetable dyes all make for a very organic camp which takes its inspiration from its surroundings, notably from the magnificent Dead Vlei in the middle of Sossusvlei. The overall mood and feel is cool, serene, organic and sheltering.

Desert-adapted wildlife such as ostrich, springbok and gemsbok eke out an existence and are sparsely distributed around Little Kulala. Smaller creatures such as bat-eared fox and aardwolf can be seen at night in the cool desert air. One bird, the aptly named dune lark, has its entire global distribution limited to the area, so dependent is it on the area's characteristic sands.

Activities at Little Kulala start with morning guided drives to the spectacular towering dunes of Sossusvlei, through a private gate into the reserve. Sossusvlei is situated within the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world, which itself is part of the Namib Naukluft National Park that stretches 400km south of Walvis Bay and is sandwiched between the west coast and the escarpment that runs parallel more than 100km inland. Its huge dunes and flat valley floors make up the archetypical view of the Namib that is world famous.

Guided drives and walks are also offered on the private Kulala Wilderness Reserve with incredible views, desert-adapted wildlife and plants.

Another option, at an extra cost, is early morning ballooning, beginning at first light. The balloon safari offers a truly unique experience to soar silently above the magnificent sand dunes and desert, with a champagne breakfast being served at your landing site.

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