Damaraland is one of Namibia’s most iconic landscapes, boasting rugged, stony landscapes, and stark beauty.
Officially, Damaraland is known as the Kunene Region and incorporates parts of Erongo, and Kakamas. Yet, most travelers still refer to it by its original name as a nod to the Damara people who still inhabit these seemingly forlorn spaces.
It’s also home to some of the country’s most incredible arid-adapted animals, like lions and elephants who thrive against all odds in this harsh environment.
Damaraland epitomizes off-the-beaten track adventures, with many of its best sights located in almost inaccessible areas.
The Kunene region stretches from the Brandberg to the hamlet of Sesfontein on the southwestern side of Etosha National Park. As such, it’s a good addition to your travels if you’re planning a trip to this acclaimed wildlife destination.
In prehistoric times, this part of Africa experienced violent volcanic action, which shaped the peaks, craters, caves, rock formations, and fossils in the area.
Much later, some 6 000 to 10 000 years ago, stone-age and Khoikhoi-hunter gatherers sought refuge amid the stone formations, etching depictions of their daily lives on the rocks.
These people may have moved on, but others moved in to take their place. The Damara people are most prominent in this part of Namibia, but it’s also been home to Herero tribes as well as the Riemvasmaak settlers from South Africa.
In 1981, Namibian NGOs established a game guarding system comprising community members, to protect the area’s wildlife from poachers. Today, this is hailed as one of the most successful community-based tourism and conservation efforts in Africa, namely the Torra Conservancy.
As a top conservation area of significant beauty, Damaraland is a popular tourist destination filled with excellent accommodation options.
You’ll find the following to choose from during your stay in the area:
- Rest camps
- Tented camps
- Camp sites
- Guest farms
- Guest houses
- Bed and Breakfast accommodation
All of these Damaraland accommodations offer varying degrees of luxury to suit upmarket explorers as well as those in search of an opportunity to rough it.
Damaraland is considered the world’s greatest outdoor art gallery thanks to the abundance of rock art in the area. Experts estimate that there are over 2,000 examples of these primitive drawings scattered across the landscapes, and many activities center around them.
The Mountains of Damaraland
Twyfelfontein showcases the greatest variety of etchings, some dating back over six millennia.
The Brandberg Mountain is home to the famous White Lady cave painting, and also presents outstanding opportunities for bouldering and mountain climbing.
Known as Africa’s Matterhorn, the Spitzkoppe is another challenging destination for mountain climbers and those in search of enigmatic photographic opportunities.
Damara Living Museum
Located close to Twyfelfontein, this museum showcases traditional Nama culture in an authentic, and informative way.
Etendeka Walking Trail
This three-day hike takes place in the Etendeka Concession, in the foothills of the Grootberg Mountains. Located near Khorixas, this trail offers a chance to enjoy game watching, and star gazing among classic Namibian landscapes.
Another Khorixas gem, the Petrified Forest comprises fossilized tree trunks, preserved forever by the area’s unique climate. Researchers believe the trees were swept down river during a flood and buried by alluvial sands which have now eroded to reveal their stony presence.
Game viewing is one of the main reasons to visit Damaraland and you can enjoy these safari experiences in several ways:
- Guided game drives
- Self-drive safaris
- Guided game walks
- Rhino and elephant tracking outings
Birdwatching and photography are other top activities in Damaraland.
Other attractions in the neighboring regions include:
- Dune 7
- Walvis Bay
- Etosha National Park
- Flamingo Lagoon
It’s important to note that Namibia is a large country and visiting these attractions is likely to involve hours of driving. Always consult an accurate route planning map when considering activities for your trip to Damaraland.
Fauna and Flora
Damaraland undergoes persistent drought and extremely high temperatures, creating a climate where only the toughest can survive. These include desert-adapted elephants, rhinos, and lions, as well as rare mountain zebras.
It’s also an unfenced wilderness, placing these creatures amount the world’s last remaining truly wild populations.
Endemic plants to this area include the bizarre Welwitschia Mirabilis and the pretty, but poisonous Euphorbia Virosa.
Some interesting birds you might come across here include lappet-faced vultures, martial eagles, Monteiro’s hornbills, and pale chanting goshawks.
In the summer, from November to March, Damaraland experiences temperatures in excess of 40°C. This is also the time when rain may fall and can turn dry riverbeds into raging impassable torrents.
So, it’s always best to visit during the cooler winter period. Although an ordinary sedan is adequate for exploring southern Damaraland, a 4×4 vehicle is always best as road conditions vary considerably.
It takes about 6 hours to drive from Windhoek to Damaraland, and it’s approximately 4-hours drive from Etosha.
Directions from Windhoek:
- Take the Western Bypass to the B1
- Take the C38 and C40 to the Kunene Region
Directions from Swakopmund:
- Follow Tobias Hainyeko Road to Henties Bay
- Take the C34 and C39 to Kunene
Directions from Etosha National Park
- Take the C38 from Etosha
- Follow the D3710 to Kunene
Discover Namibia’s Most Iconic Spaces
A trip to Namibia unveils unexpected elements, activities, and creatures around every turn. Find out more about what to expect on your visit to this beautiful country by browsing our travel guide blogs.
Remember, Windhoek is a great place to start your trip, especially when you stay at Arebbusch Travel Lodge.
Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.