Kulala Desert Lodge, Sundowner and Christmas Eve, 2014

Kulala Desert Lodge is where David and I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas for 2014. As I have mentioned time and again, it didn’t seem like Christmas being in the desert but it was a beautiful spot, we had a remarkable time and made some great memories.

There was the main lodge area where we had meals and could just relax during the day.IMG_1206IMG_1211

On either side, of the lodge were about 10 individual cabins. Behind the cabins, you can see stairs that led up to a small deck. It was a great spot to look at the dunes and also, sleep under the stars, which we did.IMG_0501

It was definitely getting away from it all…..no wifi (there is a computer in the lobby, should you really need one), no television, no radios….just peace, quiet and the beauty of nature all around you.

This was our cabin…..IMG_0475

In Swakopmund and here, our “queen size” bed was two beds pushed together….very European but I didn’t like it. I couldn’t cuddle with David because I would get wedged between the beds. For both of us to cuddle on one of the beds, was too treacherous….I felt like I was going to fall out of bed! Sorry to report, cuddling was to a minimum so far on this trip!

The view of the red dunes was beautiful and they changed color with the sun’s movement. The dunes are this color because of a high iron content that has oxidized.IMG_1214

On our first night at the lodge, we arrived just in time for a “sundowner drive.” Love this tradition that most African lodges appear to offer. We went for a ride in the surrounding area where Michael, our guide shared some information about the local fauna and animals. I am sorry to say, that my notes are limited on this drive as I forgot my notebook and honestly, was just too tired to take notes.

Here is a brief version of all that Michael shared with us. This is the Oryx, who is known for his elegance, courage and pride. It is the national animal of Namibia. They are related to the southern African gemsbok. These majestic animals can survive long periods of time without water and do very well in desert conditions. They were very abundant in this area and we saw many of them throughout our travels, as well as Springbok.IMG_0986

I love this photo. It looks as if they were posing!

I love this photo. It looks as if they were posing!

An interesting side note that I just came across while researching the Oryx, is that New Mexico Department of Game and Fish released 93 gemsbok between 1969 and 1977 in the White Sands Missile Range area. Today, the population has grown between three and six thousand. Why on earth would the New Mexico government do that, especially on a US military missile range? One website, said it was a compromise between the population who wanted to maintain New Mexico’s natural environment and those who wanted to use it for recreation and hunting…..really??? I question this completely but again, I am digressing from my personal experience. So, back to the sundowner…..

We saw many ostriches. They seemed to travel in threes but I am not certain why and could they run! They cannot fly but make up for it by running up to 43 miles per hour (70 kilometer/hour) and as far as 31 miles (50 kilometers) in an hour! Very amazing! The black ones are the males and the lighter ones are the females. I would have loved to have found one of their feathers in our travels!!IMG_0987IMG_0991

Earlier in the day, as we got closer to the lodge, we started to notice huge nest in trees. At one point, I made David stop so I could get a picture. Michael showed us this nest and told us that it was for the Sociable Weaver. I just thought they were amazing.

Sociable Weaver

Sociable Weaver

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Sociable Weaver peaking from the nest

These birds create the largest nest of any bird and can be large enough to house over 100 pairs of birds. Sometimes, the nest gets so heavy for the limb that it breaks off. The structure of the nest provides protection from the heat and cold…there is an inner chambers, which retain the heat, for the cooler evenings and the outer chamber provide protection from the day’s heat. The shape of the next keep predators at bay….the snakes like the Cape Cobras try to gain entrance to the nest. If they come down from the top, it is common for them to slide off because they lack something to hold onto. For added protection, sharp sticks are placed by the birds in the entrance of the chamber. When a snake does gain access, they often eat the eggs from all of the chambers in one nest.

Sociable Weavers Nest

Sociable Weavers Nest

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This is an African Hoopoe….I was grateful and lucky to get this picture. Michael said that they often hide behind bushes, rocks, etc. Plus, taking “action” animal shots is not one of my strengths!IMG_1011

This lovely tree is a Camel or Giraffe Thorn tree (Vachellia erioloba) and acquires its name for the animals that can reach the higher, tasty leaves that smaller animals cannot reach. Plus, the giraffes special shaped lips and tongue enables them to get around the thorns that grown on the branches. There are pods that grow on the tree which are eaten by herbivores like cattle. The seeds from the pods are sometimes used as a substitute for coffee. The wood is very strong and is used for furniture, fences and fire. These trees are hardy and grow for as long as 900 years and are resistant to droughts.IMG_0998

Ahhh, the best part of the tour/day, though…the actual sundowner or cocktail hour. It had been a long day of driving. We were very tired and almost didn’t go on the tour. Fortunately, we decided at the very last minute to do. I am so glad that we did. It was a great way relax after a long and somewhat stressful day.IMG_1016

The beautiful red dunes with the Oryx in the foreground.

The beautiful red dunes with the Oryx in the foreground.

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We got back to the lodge around 8:00 PM and had a quick dinner. Since it was Christmas Eve, the staff entertained us with traditional singing and dancing. It was wonderful. We all were given “crackers” and made a circle when we opened them. I got a silver crown…Princess 🙂 and a beaded star keychain.

It didn’t take long to fall asleep that night!

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