Which Sossusvlei accommodation ?

Oct 9th, 2006, 10:02 AM
  #1  
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Which Sossusvlei accommodation ?

The itinerary I've had back from Cardboardbox lists Sossusvlei Lodge for this part of the trip - is this the Movenpick Lodge that Kavey has reviewed here? If so, which other accommodation would you recommend? What are the pros and cons of the different lodges/camps? Cost is flexible (but still a consideration!), but we don't need total luxury at the expense of experience. We will be going on to Wolwedans from Sossusvlei, probably staying at the camp rather than the lodge, and would like a contrasting experience.

Thanks,

Gaynor
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Oct 10th, 2006, 12:52 AM
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I believe the Movenpick is indeed the one I reviewed on my return from our 2001 trip.

Please don't get me wrong, there were positives about the lodge - the chalet/ tents were well designed and comfortable (though too many for my preferences and some with not so great views), there were some pleasant public areas including a pool and the buffet, when they were at capacity, was not bad. Our main problems were in size, service and in the mix up over activities.

If budget were an issue, I wouldn't say I'd completely avoid staying here, but if you can afford to do so and there is availability, I'd certainly choose one of the smaller camps offering better service and more varied activities in a more intimate setting.
Kavey is offline  
Oct 10th, 2006, 07:32 AM
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Dune Hopper suggests Le Mirage http://www.lemiragelodge.com/accomodation.htm
- it looks gorgeous, like a lush spa, not at all what I was anticipating, and very pricey.

I'm still doing lots of reading.

Sylvia
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Oct 10th, 2006, 09:56 AM
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Gaynor: I stayed at the Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp (a Wilderness Safaris camp). It was wonderful, perched high on a hill looking out at a big expanse. Accomodation is lovely and very comfortable and you have a private plunge pool. We had an incredible outdoor braais which was my favorite safari meal to date, and they have a star gazing observation deck above camp. It is a bit of a drive into over to the famous dunes area -- probably 40 minutes or so but across a private concession with lots of African wild cats running by, oryx, springbok, and I even got lucky with 2 Cape foxes.

They drive past the dunes with lots of tourists and give you a chance to hike up to the top of "Big Daddy". When we did it our group (3 + guide) were the only people on the dune as well as the pan at the bottom after an exhilirating run down the side. Tremendous experience. They then had a bush breakfeast under a tree in the park before returning to camp.

I'm sure there are other very good options but I can highly recommend a stay at SWC.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Oct 10th, 2006, 08:20 PM
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Kavey, I don't think Sossusvlei Lodge is a good option to save money nowadays. It's probably only 20% less than Kulala, for example! By the time you add in your activities, drinks and whatever I bet you'd be over $300 per night. Am I misreading something or does it not represent good value anymore?

There seems to be a premium paid on the convenience factor, whereas other places (the Kulalas, Desert Homestead, Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp) don't seem to charge any more than a similar property in a good location elsewhere normally would.

Just a thought rather than advice Gaynor... check it yourself.

kimburu is offline  
Oct 10th, 2006, 08:22 PM
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Gaynor, we will be staying at Little Kulala (Wilderness) in early December--and can give feedback upon our return if you have that much time before you have to make a commitment. From the writeups it sounds and looks quite wonderful--and is relatively close to the dunes--but the private charter to get to it and back to Windhoek is quite pricey.
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Oct 11th, 2006, 12:20 AM
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If the price has risen so much as to be only 20% less than other more upscale and intimate options (presumably not even taking into account the cost of comparable activities and meals) then I'd definitely not choose it!

Yes, it's close to the gate allowing one to get in as soon as the gate opens but other camps can offer that too, with a slightly earlier start from camp.

And doesn't at least one camp have a private entrance into the park which allows it to get customers in as it opens too?
Kavey is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 01:35 AM
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That's the entrance for the Kulalas.

With regard to the price I'm actually not sure what the prices are like at Sossusvlei for 2007 (they are still for 2006 on their Web site and prices are jumping for 2007) and it may be more than 20% but if you actually work it out with activities and drinks and everything (if you want guiding and to do lots of excursions and don't BYO drinks of course) the difference is a lot less than it appears at first... again - unless I've missed something (and I've been caught out before, so don't rely on my calculator) ;-)

I've noted there's also a self-catering extension of Sossusvlei Lodge now...
http://www.desertcamp.com/dc-0001.htm

Assuming Gaynor doesn't mind second or even third-hand information:

From what I've read Sossusvlei Lodge will get you into the dunes earliest, even though the Kulalas have a private entrance. However, the people who have the best chance of really being there for sunrise are those staying at the camp site. And you may miss the sunrise anyway.

Surely the time of year has something to do with how important all this is - and I've yet to see a satisfactory answer to that.

kimburu is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 05:44 AM
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I am a huge fan of the Kulala Desert Lodge. It isn't Little Kulala, but it is a nice property, given the location. I love to be able to pop into the park quickly on those early mornings when I have early morning permits. It gives me 15 more minutes of sleep.

andybiggs is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 06:59 AM
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Cardboardbox has 2007 rates for the Sossusvlei lodges on their website. The price differential is greater in high season than in low season.

To summarize, low/high season rates for a double are:

Sossusvlei Lodge 2100/2245 DBB
Kulala Desert Lodge & Wilderness Camp 2370/3360 DBB or 4590/5830 FI
Little Kulala 7500/10990 FI
Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp 5200/7180 FI

DBB = dinner/bed/breakfast
FI = fully inclusive

There are actually more that just two price brackets for the Wilderness Camps, but I've simplified it to the low/high range.

If the Kulalas have private entrance that does sound like a distinct advantage. I saw a photo recently of the early morning queue at the Sesriem entrance, not pretty.
Patty is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 08:32 AM
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Thanks for all the advice. We have decided to do the whole trip (well the Namibia part anyway)as a self drive with a 4x4 vehicle. Am I right in thinking that we will, therefore, be able to drive into the park ourselves? If that is the case, Kulala Wilderness Camp (DBB) or Kulala Desert Lodge (DBB) seem to be a good value for money option - both look good to me and the private entrance would also be a plus. Wolwedans would then be the grand finale!

Thanks,
Gaynor
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Oct 11th, 2006, 09:18 AM
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Can anyone confirm if self drive guests can use the private entrance or is it just for their own vehicles? Thanks.
Patty is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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Andy can tell us better (perhaps... if he was looking at a map) but I think the Kulala entrance means going by a roundabout route somehow... ring a bell with anyone? Anyway, I think Gaynor's conclusion is right..no? But check the site out yourself Gaynor and ask Cardboard Box... it's "complex" :-s

By the way are Cardboard Box back to being helpful at the moement Gaynor? I've not had a particularly good experience with them so far. Not by any means poor, but just
kimburu is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 10:04 AM
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What's your experience been? I was planning to contact them too.
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Oct 11th, 2006, 07:39 PM
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Just a bit slow off the mark and not really covering all my questions (which is okay because some of my questions are pretty tough to answer brecause I am planning to go in April, which is a usually very dry but slightly unpredictable month.... but I would have thought "don't know" or "that's really a difficult question to answer" would be better than just ignoring it). And suggesting a slightly different itinerary without telling me why.... Nothing serious but it requires more emails or for me to just make a leap of faith. They DO seem to know their stuff and I can see they are good, but if they'd just gone a step or two further things would be so much better. They seem pretty busy and maybe struggling to keep up, so there's a "reason" but do we as consumers view that as a reason or an admission fo guilt? On the other hand, at least they haven't ignored my questions and sent me a canned package with a note that "it would be better" like some others have. I have no reason to think they are not the best but I'd give http://www.namibweb.com/ a go too if I were starting from scratch. No reason to think they're better, but they did get all the 2007 prices up on their Web before Cardboard Box or anyone else even seemed to be able to quote them. No prizes for Web design but it works.

kimburu is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 08:15 PM
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I am not sure about the entrance thing. I am only familiar with Kulala's private gate into the park. I did speak with a friend today that had camped at Sosussvlei, and he said that they let those campers in 1 hour before the normal entrance time. I have no idea if this is accurate or not.

Are they letting people camp inside the park yet again?

Andy
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Oct 11th, 2006, 09:09 PM
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That's what I heard too Andy.. the campers get a jump on everyone and those at Sossusvlei Lodge get a jump on everyone else. Hot in pursuit are the Kulala vehicles driven by Dick Dastardly with your guide Muttley C(okay... the last sentence is my imagination only).

My impression was that they are inside the park gate - whether that is inside the park was not clear.. something confusing about it all ... did they move the camp site or the park gate at some point? That might explain the confusion but we somehow I doubt it..
kimburu is offline  
Oct 12th, 2006, 05:54 AM
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Hello,
Another of the advantages of the Kulala lodges having their own gate is that you get to stay in the park later than other visitors, and enjoy the sunset.

When we stayed at Little Kulala in May 2005, we were able to sip sundowners by dune 45 after all the other visitors had left! It was a real treat
hanl is offline  
Oct 12th, 2006, 08:40 AM
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Thanks, Paul. Did you have any contact with Elena Travel (namibweb)? They were also recommended to me. I agree the website is rather haphazard. Are you just booking accomodations and car hire? Is there any advantage to using an agency vs booking everything directly yourself (particularly if the agencies aren't all that responsive)?
Patty is offline  
Oct 12th, 2006, 10:09 AM
  #20  
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I'm glad I'm not the only one who is confused about access to the park from the Kulala Lodge or Camp! I will ask Cardboard Box as has been suggested. As to the service received from them : I outlined the 12 day itinerary that I wanted to do, specifying some of the accommodation that we wanted to stay at. I received a prompt respones which just listed more or less what I'd asked for, with prices as quoted on the accommodation websites (except for accommodation in Etosha, where their quote was more expensive). No addtional comments or suggestions were made. I haven't got back to them yet as I've had the fortnight from hell at work!

I also sent a request for a quote via the Wilderness Safaris site and their UK operator contacted us and sent a quote via email. It is, however, way too expensive (over £5,000 UK pounds per person - without flights). They keep telephoning to speak to me, but I've not been available during daytime hours. I've had no further contact from Cardboard Box.

I'm not sure of the advantages of using a tour operator in this instance, particularly as we are using a RTW ticket (booked through Trailfinders). The information provided by you all is amazing (I know some of you are tour operators and no offence was intended in the previous comment). I look forward to coming home each night, pouring a glass of wine and seeing what advice Fodorites have to offer! Thank you all very much.

Gaynor
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