Damaraland Camp is located among beautiful rocky scenery...
Damaraland Camp: Our full report
Nestled in the Huab River valley, and surrounded by low hills, Damaraland Camp was one of the earliest camps in this area, having first opened around 1996. Although it has undergone a number of renovations since then, with the chalets almost doubled in size, it retains its strong community feel, and is now part owned by the local people. The camp’s secluded location makes it a great base from which to explore the many attractions of this stark but richly diverse region.
In 2009 Damaraland Camp was completely rebuilt, with staff and members of the community all pitching in. In keeping with the camp’s original philosophy, emphasis continues to be placed on making everything as eco-friendly as possible whilst maintaining its high standards. The camp is now largely run by members of the local community, many of whom have been here for years – and have gradually worked their way up.
The stone-built central area under a high thatched roof now comprises the dining area, a large fireplace, a living area with large, extra-deep sofas and comfortable stuffed cushions, a bar, a tea and coffee station (where there is often a jar of homebaked biscuits to tempt you), and a curio shop with a small library. Adjacent is a lovely oval-shaped swimming pool surrounded by shaded sunloungers, and fronted by a low deck where huge cushions and pillows beckon to admire the view.
Pre-dinner drinks are usually taken around an open campfire, under a beautiful, often very clear star-studded sky; this is a particularly good area for star-gazing.
There’s a long, solid table in the main dining area, which on warm evenings is left open, but dinner is sometimes served in the outdoor 'boma'. This is a short walk in front of the camp, lit by paper lanterns and warmed by a campfire. On cold evenings warm blankets are provided to keep you warm during dinner.
The ten spacious chalets at Damaraland Camp are light, airy and well designed, with a décor of muted beige/cream hues. Constructed of wood, adobe and canvas, they are raised up on a low decking, ensuring minimum impact on the natural vegetation and giving great views along the valley from their private patios. One chalet is located further from the others, so has more privacy, and another has two bedrooms, so is suitable for families.
Central to each split-level bedroom are adjacent twin beds with reading lamps on an upper step and thick blocks of dark wood as bedside tables. A single step takes you to a large dressing area behind the beds, with a luggage rack and a curtained wardrobe, as well as a big writing desk with a reading lamp and comfortable chair. Each chalet has a ceiling fan above the bed, a tea/coffee station, bottled water, a fog horn, insect repellent and a safe.
From the main bedroom, an open door way which can be curtained off leads into a large en-suite bathroom. Here you will find a large rectangular mirror suspended on chains above his and hers washbasins, with toiletries and washing powder for personal items. The large shower area has a mesh window with a roll-down flap.
The focus of activities at Damaraland Camp is on wildlife (specifically the desert-adapted elephants), the stunning, ever-changing scenery and local culture. Options include two guided nature walks (the Shepherd’s Trail and the Damarana Trail), mountain biking (the camp has eight bikes), half-day excursions to view the rock art at Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site, and nature drives into the dry riverbeds and to a recently discovered petrified forest. The camp also offers sundowner drives.
However, the main attraction for most people is the guided nature drives in open seven-seater Land Rovers in search of the area’s game, most notably the small herds of desert-adapted elephant that seasonally frequent the dry bed of the Huab River. There is also a very slim chance of spotting black rhino, cheetah and the elusive brown hyena if you are lucky, as well as the more common plains game – such as Hartmann's mountain zebra, giraffe, gemsbok and springbok.
A joint venture between a good safari company, Wilderness Safaris, and the people of the local Torra Conservancy, Damaraland Camp has proved hugely successful. It’s a model of how community-based tourism can work – and is looked at by other camps in Africa for inspiration. The camp has a great atmosphere with friendly, happy staff who clearly love what they do and are devoted to making your stay as enjoyable and memorable as possible. Added to that, Damaraland Camp is located in one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in Namibia, where the effect of the light brings constantly changing scenery. It’s a great place to spend two or three nights.
Ideal length of stay: Two to three nights
Directions: Guests flying into Damaraland Camp will be met at the airstrip, a short drive from the camp. If you’re driving yourself, follow the C39 west from Khorixas for about 100km until, having crossed the Huab River and continued over a steep mountain pass, you descend to see a signpost on the left indicating Damaraland Camp. Guests with a 2x 4 vehicle park here, where vehicles are shaded and guarded by someone from the local village. The camp has set pick-up times at 2.00pm and 5.00pm, so it is advisable to let them know when they can expect you so that a vehicle is there to meet you on arrival. Otherwise you will have to wait at least 40–45 minutes for a transfer vehicle to drive from the camp. Should this happen, someone at the village will alert the camp of your arrival by radio. For those with their own 4x4 vehicle, the 13km route to the camp is clearly signposted. Note, however, that the track is very bumpy and full of dips, so please take your time to reach the camp.
Owner: Wilderness Safaris in conjunction with the local community.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Half Board
Food quality: For breakfast, guests may choose from a selection of cereals, yoghurt, fresh fruits, freshly baked warm muffins, bread, cold meats and cheese, pancakes, orange and apple juice, tea and coffee. A hot breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, fried tomatoes, mushrooms and toast can also be served, cooked to order.
A light lunch is served, which on our last visit was lasagne and salad followed by fruit.
Dinner is a real treat at Damaraland Camp, with your waiter announcing the dinner menu in the Damara language. Expect three courses; we were served vegetable soup, game goulash with vegetables, and sponge and custard.
During our last visit the staff graced us with some traditional singing and dancing, before bidding us a lovely evening and retiring for the night.
Tea and coffee are available all day, and afternoon tea with cake is served at 4.00pm.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Honeymoons: Damaraland Camp is in a very beautiful and tranquil location. The camp has one ‘honeymoon’ chalet with a double bed, located away from the others, offers lots of privacy and great views down the valley and up into the hills.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Namibia
Traditional Cultures: Damaraland Camp is partly owned by the local community, some of whom are now in management positions. Options for activities include visits to the World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein, where you will find a large number of ancient San Bushman rock engravings.See more ideas for Traditional Cultures in Namibia
Attitude towards children: The camp does not accept children under the age of 12.
Generally recommended for children: Expert Africa does not recommend Damaraland Camp for younger children at all – it’s a fairly adult atmosphere, with little to keep youngsters entertained.
Power supply: Generator
TV & radio: None
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: All the staff are first aid trained. The nearest doctor is in Khorixas.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: None; Damaraland Camp is very remote and not easily accessible.
Fire safety: All the rooms and the main building have fire extinguishers.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included for those staying on a full board basis.