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Arid grasslands, dramatic granite formations, ancient riverbeds and desert-adapted animals make Damaraland a dream for adventure seekers. The area is a haven for endangered wildlife, home to ancient works of art and is the backdrop for some of the most incredible rock formations in all of Africa.
Damaraland’s landscape is characterised by rocky escarpments, granite kopjes and burning red mountains which rise from the barren semi-desert plains down below. It is one of Namibia’s least populated areas and even tourists are few and far between, which makes a safari holiday in Damaraland perfect for those who like to get off the beaten track.
Ancient watercourses snake through the land, providing seasonable waters that sustain desert life. At certain times of the year, these watercourses flow powerfully enough to pick up enormous tree-trunks and carry them downstream, whilst at other times of the year, you can walk across the cracked clay of the dried riverbeds. The extremities of Damaraland really need to be seen to be believed.
The small amount of seasonal rainfall is a vital factor in sustaining the desert-adapted species that are found in Damaraland, sightings of which make for one of Africa’s most interesting safari experiences.
Damaraland is also renowned for ancient San Bushmen artworks, which can be seen at various sites such as the Brandberg Mountain, Twyfelfontein and Spitzkoppe. The rock art is believed to date back 6,000 years, and it provides valuable insights into many aspects of the lives of indigenous hunter-gatherers in this area.
Damaraland Wildlife Safaris
Damaraland is an exciting destination for a Namibia safari, and thanks to its rugged landscape, the area has largely avoided human encroachment. The remote location and vastness of the park means that it’s unlikely you’ll see another person during your game drives in Damaraland. Safaris along Damaraland’s seasonal riverbeds such as the Aba-Huab Valley or in the Palmwag Concession offer excellent opportunities to see several desert-adapted species including elephant, lion and giraffe. Four of the Big Five can be found in the concession and going on a tailor-made Damaraland safari is one of your best chances to see rhino in Namibia.
San Bushmen Rock Art
Damaraland is renowned for its famous San rock art and there are two popular sites worth visiting. Twyfelfontein is home to around 2,500 different pieces of ancient artwork, the biggest such collection in Africa. The majority of engravings and paintings show different African animal species including giraffe, elephant and rhino. There is even an engraving of a sea lion, despite these marine animals living over 100 kms away from Twyfelfontein. Nicknamed the ‘Mountain of Fire’ because of its fiery colour, the Brandberg Mountain is home to the most famous piece of San rock art – the ‘White-Lady‘. However, it is not certain that the figure in the painting is indeed a female. Some believe it is a young San boy covered in clay from the waist down as part of an initiation ceremony. Standing amidst a hunting procession the figure is roughly 40cm in height.
Known as the ‘Matterhorn of Africa’ because of its striking, jagged shape, Spitzkoppe is directly translated to ‘Sharp Head‘ in the local language, in reference to the tallest of a group of granite formations on the edge of the Namib Desert. The highest point rises 1,728m above sea level. These formations date back over 700-million years and have been slowly sculpted over millennia by the weather.
The Spitzkoppe area is a popular place with walkers, climbers and those with an interest in rock art. Guided tours are available and can be arranged to get a better understanding of how the area was formed and of the Bushmen who once lived here.
Best Places to Stay in Damaraland
There is a selection of fantastic camps and lodges dotted around Damaraland that we can recommend based on which areas you would like to visit.
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Best Time to Visit Damaraland
A bespoke Damaraland holiday can be enjoyed at any time, since the region receives little rain and so much of what is on offer can be seen year-round. For wildlife viewing, the dry season between June and October is the ideal time to travel because during this period animals tend to stay nearer permanent bodies of water and are easier to find.