Little Kulala

Little Kulala Sings In The Rain

Our Collective

Monica Jooste


In the ancient Namib Desert, the rains are scarce and unreliable. In any given year, the Kulala Wilderness Reserve and Sossusvlei area – where you will find our newly rebuilt Little Kulala, as well as our convivial Kulala Desert Lodge – receive around 100 mm of rain or less. More often than not, storms leave as quickly as they arrive. But this year has already been different. Almost at the onset of 2020’s midnight toll, the rains came… and came… and came!




To witness this phenomenon is extraordinary, and this rare event saw guests and staff alike immersing themselves in the freshness, beauty and joy that these life-giving rains brought with them. But there is way more to this experience than just entertainment.



Namibia, the driest country in Africa south of the Sahara, depends largely on groundwater in many parts for both wildlife and people. Groundwater resources are a “hidden treasure”, naturally protected against evaporation. The groundwater, stored in the porous spaces between rocks, has a regulating function: it can be abstracted during dry periods, and filled up during these infrequent good rains, similar to the precipitation we’ve just experienced across the country.





Only two ephemeral watercourses, namely the Tsondab and Tsauchab, flow within the Namib Sand Sea. These erratic rivers, which are fed by relatively small catchments in the escarpment region, course through ancient palaeovalleys, and their end points are the Tsondab and Sossus vleis, respectively. While the Sossusvlei pan has been shaped over time by the Tsauchab River, the actual flooding of the pan nowadays is extremely rare. Indeed, both rivers only reach their respective terminuses very occasionally.





In 2018, the flooding stopped approximately 5 km short of Sossusvlei. And it was more than 12 years ago that we saw the waters reach as far as they did this year. This makes the 2021 inundation of Sossusvlei vital in the cycle of groundwater replenishment.



Little Kulala’s General Manager, Colleen Kern, describes the experience: When the first rain showers hit the desert, we knew that this was a colossal moment for our parched environment. It was therefore no surprise when guests and staff rushed out to dance in the rain.


Our desert landscape truly came alive at that moment, and rains lasted for about a week and a half, creating an everlasting experience for those of us who had the joy of being there. Not only did our dunes sparkle with rain, but Sesriem Canyon itself filled with water, and became the world’s best swimming pool for staff and guests alike – especially for cooling off in the desert heat.





The scenery very much changed. Rivers flooded and flowed through our staff village and we were able to use our bridge for its real purpose for once. It was a historic moment, which is still being enjoyed by all, including the desert-adapted animals – even leading to a very rare sighting of a giraffe strolling towards camp. We believe this bountiful start to the year is a sign of good things to come this year”.




Namibia - Green as far as the eye can see!



After days of much-needed rain in the Kulala Wildlife Reserve and Sossusvlei, the landscape has changed colour from red to green. The Namib Desert is flowering, and the resident arid-adapted animals are revelling in this once-in-a-decade marvel.



Images by Wilderness Private Guide Abner Simeon and our partners at Namib Sky, who manage the hot air balloon adventures over the dunes at Little Kulala.



Photographs and video footage by Colleen Kern, Radimar Karsten and Jonathan Strauss

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