Little Kulala, Wilderness Safaris’ acclaimed exclusive desert retreat in Namibia’s Sossusvlei area has been going through an extensive rebuild, demonstrating the camp’s commitment to the restoration of the pristine Kulala Wilderness Reserve along with the biodiversity conservation of a range of arid-adapted and specialised wildlife. The renewed camp will also have the lightest footprint possible, thanks to an all-new 100% solar energy system.
If you are unfamiliar with the region, the Kulala Wilderness Reserve is situated on the eastern border of the Namib-Naukluft Park in the Pro-Namib and adjoins the Namib Sand Sea, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reserve is part of the Greater Sossusvlei-Namib Landscape, a collaborative conservation initiative which encompasses freehold land predominantly used for low-impact tourism.
Little Kulala itself, with just 11 guest rooms, is located on the acacia-lined, ephemeral Aub riverbed, while the Tsauchab River also traverses the reserve, helping to protect these two vital watercourses.
The new solar-powered system at Little Kulala consists of the latest L-ion battery technology and a 600-panel solar array. The entire camp uses evacuated tube solar geysers to heat water, energy-efficient lights and appliances and inverter air-conditioning units, which consume less power than conventional systems. One of the mains focuses of the rebuild is to ensure efficient operation and design, with careful thought given to the wildlife in the area. The new low walkways are designed to allow free movement of smaller reptiles and invertebrates, whilst the waterholes on the Reserve are pumped using solar, providing a vital source of water to wildlife and causing minimal disturbance.
Alexandra Margull, who is Wilderness Safaris’ Namibia Managing Director said: “This significant investment into renewable energy will greatly reduce our carbon emissions, ensuring that the camp continues to operate with minimal impact on the Namib Desert. This was a natural step for us to ensure that our responsible, low-impact ecotourism model continues to aid the preservation of this sensitive habitat, while at the same time positively impacting local communities through employment and other income-generating activities.”
With water being so scarce in the desert, every effort is made to conserve this precious resource by installing water efficient devices in the camp for both guests and staff. Water usage is carefully managed and monitored daily. Little Kulala also uses a Natura three-stage advanced reverse osmosis filtration system to provide guests with chilled, high-quality still and sparkling drinking water. This filter will help to significantly reduce the use of bottled water and also forms part of Wilderness Safaris’ waste management programme that aims to completely eliminate the use of plastic in its camps, encouraging local and farm-to-table products as well as more efficient packaging in their kitchens. This also helps to reduce the use of fossil fuels in extremely remote camps like Little Kulala by reducing the frequency of food transportation to and from the camp.
“Minimising our footprint and maximising our conservation impact forms the cornerstone of our sustainability ethos, and we are proud of our long history and ongoing efforts at Little Kulala to preserve the biodiversity of the area. Back in 1996, when Wilderness Safaris first started operating here, the locale had previously been used for subsistence goat farming, and precious little indigenous wildlife remained. We undertook a comprehensive and careful rehabilitation programme to restore the degraded land to its original habitat, removing fences to allow for the natural movement of wildlife and ensuring that endemic fauna and flora could thrive in the area once again. Today, the reserve encompasses 27,000 hectares of pristine wilderness, home to a range of fascinating arid-adapted and specialised wildlife”, says Alexandra. She goes on to say, “We are looking forward to welcoming our guests back to Little Kulala when borders reopen and international travel resumes, and to continue offering unique life-changing journeys.”
When it does reopen, Little Kulala will be offering guests a new enhanced food experience designed to reflect the camp’s conservation story through the use of immersive dining and a menu that celebrates Namibia’s sustainable and indigenous ingredients. For example, you will be able to enjoy a stargazing dinner or exclusive dining in the underground wine cellar, as well as enjoying a pre-dinner drink taking in the picturesque sunset.
Wilderness Safaris Group Food Experience Manager, Linda Van Rensburg says: “We will integrate our positive impact story into the Little Kulala food experience to enable our guests to explore the wonders of the Namib Desert. Our range of immersive dining experiences will not just serve as talking points to encourage interaction but will also reveal treasured insights into the inscrutable Namib Desert, and our continued role in conserving its surprising richness and diversity of life. We want to encourage an interactive storytelling atmosphere with light-hearted yet enlightening conversations between our guests and experienced guides.”
Little Kulala will continue to incorporate a number of local ingredients so that guests can experience the cuisine and cultures of the area. For example, the mogau oshi, which is an organic Namibian wild spinach packed with iron and fibre and will be used in handmade pastas and pastries. Also Namibian dates, which are sourced from date palm trees in the region and are considered to be highly nutritious, filled with vitamins, minerals and fibre.
“We will be adding an extra element to the classic sleep-out experience, with an African Tapas Dinner that our guests can enjoy while discovering the astonishing Namibian skies. Another incredible experience that usually takes place after the excursion to the magnificent dunes of Sossusvlei is the Oasis Lunch, served with ice-cold local ginger beer and delicious bite-sized treats, all served in an ancient dry river bed”, says Linda.
For more information on Little Kulala and Wilderness Safaris, please visit their website: www.wilderness-safaris.com
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of Wilderness Safaris