Namibia is renowned for its magnificent sand dunes, and fascinating game reserves. However, one place displays a remarkable contrast, a wilderness that boasts an exotic beauty – Damaraland. It is a place of vast barren plains, flat-topped mountains, sheer rocky outcrops, ancient valleys, and fascinating array of desert-adapted wildlife. Surrounded by rural farms and villages, it is also a refuge to many spectacular cultural and historical interest sites.
Damaraland spans about 160,000 hectares, resting close to the south-western border of the famous Etosha National Park. In the middle of its vast range, lies the town of Khorixas, inhabited by the Damara, and the San people, who are deemed to be Namibia’s oldest inhabitants.
Around 90 kilometers of the town lies Twyfelfontein, a site of ancient rock engravings. This UNESCO World Heritage Site possesses the most number of rock etchings in the world. Different animals and tracks are engraved on surfaces, which are believed to around 10 to 10,000 centuries old.
Another engrossing attraction is the Petrified Forest, which is not actually a forest. Instead, it is a site where large 300-million fossilized tree trunks accumulate, believed to be washed down by ancient rivers after the end of numerous Ice Ages. Go further south about 150 kilometers from Khorixas and lies the country’s highest mountain, Brandberg Massif, a perfect site for rock-climbing and hiking.
Damaraland does not promise brimming herds of animals but instead provides the rare opportunity to witness the legendary desert-dwelling black rhinoceros and elephants that have adapted to the harsh living conditions in the arid region, and are native to Nambia. These animals have broader soles, capable of handling sand and rocks better, enabling them to travel great distances in search of water.
Other wildlife in the area includes Namibia specialties, such as ostriches, zebras, giraffes, lions, hyenas, cheetahs, oryx, gemsboks, and springbok. Spectacular flora also awaits in Damaraland as various endemic plants can be found in the area, including the ancient Welwitschia Mirabilis, and the captivating yet poisonous Gifboom or Euphorbia Virosa.
The best time to visit the region is from May to December as winter sets in, recording an average temperature of 79°F or 26°C. Summer months from November to April can be too hot, with an average temperature of 95°F or 35°C. The rainy season occurs from January to March, with late-afternoons characterized by heavy thunderstorms.
Now, Damaraland remains to be an inspiration for conservationists and communities throughout Africa, as people and wildlife continue to co-exist harmoniously with each other. In addition, every visit is maintained to be eco-friendly as possible, limiting the environmental footprint and preserving its natural beauty.
True enough, the dramatic and untamed landscape, Damaraland serves as the ideal location for any tourists who want to level up their game. Enjoying its unique qualities may be a challenge, requiring sheer determination and perseverance, but the experience and the results are promised to be worth it.