The best kept secret in Namibia: Damaraland is a remote and largely unknown desert safari destination, home to moon-like landscapes, a wealth of ancient rock art and desert-adapted wildlife.
Damaraland is a rugged and remote desert safari destination in north-central Namibia. Damaraland was the name given the area, after the Damara people who inhabited the region. A safari in Damaraland is characterised by rugged, rocky terrain and highly exclusive game viewing of desert-adapted wildlife.
The south of Damaraland has a wealth of Bushman rock art, and some of the most famous paintings can be found on Brandberg Massif. The Brandberg dominates the flat desert plains and has been occupied by the Bushmen for thousands of years. The White Lady of Brandberg is undoubtedly the most famous painting in Brandberg; the 40-minute walk is well worth the effort needed to reach it.
Besides rock paintings, the Brandberg range attracts serious mountaineers and keen hikers looking for an interesting outdoor holiday. Some of the routes are highly technical and temperatures extreme, so travellers now have to take a guide from the Daureb Mountain Guide Centre with them.
Other than the Brandberg, Damaraland is known for other unusual natural formations. One is the Organ Pipes close to Burnt Mountain. These consist of tall columns of dolorite, thought to have formed up to 120 million years ago. Another is the Petrified Forest west of Khorixas. The petrified trees are thought to have been carried to their sandstone resting place by a river some 260 million years ago. Both offer terrific photo opportunities for budding photographers.
Despite the harsh climate, Damaraland is home to surprisingly diverse wildlife including steenbok, kudu, mountain zebra, gemsbok and springbok. Equally impressive (but much less common) are desert-adapted elephant and giraffe. Black rhino, lion and leopard are also present in rugged Damaraland, but spend most of their time during the day trying to stay out of the sun.
Damaraland offers a welcome change to the flat coast and low visitor numbers means safaris remain small and personalised. A handful of good quality camps and lodges also exist in the area. See our suggestions for safaris to Damaraland.