Reviews of Damaraland Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Damaraland Camp review
First find this tucked-away 'camp'. The Bradt guide was not helpful and after a long haul from Cape Cross we arrived quite late, having turned back to ask directions at a local village, because the turning was far from being 'just after' crossing the river - more like 7km to the north. They were getting worried by the time we arrived!
The community camp was not what I expected but the concept was explained. The welcome was warm and professional and the manager was knowledgeable. I was curious as to why so many non-African staff were employed, at all levels, but maybe the local pool of employable labour is too small - it is pretty isolated. The morning nature drive with a local guide, to see the desert elephants, was outstanding and a demonstration of off-road driving technique! The local area is very scenic and this is a great plus for a stay here.
Damaraland Camp review
Beautiful landscapes combined with sightings of oryx, ostriches, impala, desert elephant and mountain zebra. Black rhinos, however, come at an extra bonus, and while our guide went out of his way to find them - he sprinted up several hills to see if he could find them on the other side of the mountain range - the effort unfortunately remained fruitless. On this drive, we saw some fresh lion tracks, which certainly added to the excitement, but the lion did not show either! Game is quite skittish, not surprising considering hunting is taking place some time of the year. Some dinners are served BBQ style in an open area some 200 yards from camp, beautifully lit by a large number of small lanterns.Read more about the whole safari
Damaraland Camp review
The wildlife tours were interesting but involved too much time driving (6-7 hours with little stops).
The team spirit of the staff was great and we enjoyed their singing and the special surprise dinner in the kraal in candle light.
Our guide was exceptionally knowledgeable about the desert elephants and their locational habits.
Damaraland Camp review
We were told to be at the pickup point at 14.00 hrs and so had a hairy drive to be there in time. In the event it clearly did not matter when we arrived, which would have resulted in a more relaxed journey.
The camp is in a fabulous location and again all staff from managers to the cooks and guides were lovely and welcoming. Activities were good with a mixture of walking and driving. The only negative point is that the tent was a bit 'tired' with staples and safety pins holding up blinds. Also holes in the window netting.
Expert Africa comments
Damaraland Camp has two pre set times to meet self-drive guests at an appointed place, by a village, near the main road (14.00 & 17.00). It is possible for travellers to arrive at other times as there is a village member who can then radio through to the camp to let them know. However, arriving at a time other than 14.00 or 17.00 is discouraged as it is about 40-minutes drive from the camp and there is a small chance that the radio may be broken. Should guests arrive at times other than the pre set times they may have a wait of around an hour which is not ideal.
Damaraland. Upmarket tenting
Only stayed overnight to break a long haul and did not do any excursions but overall impression very favourable. Site good, staff welcoming and efficient. Tents okay (and due to be replaced this year). Food good.
Only minus point is elaborate indemnity form which requires to you absolve them from practically any act including, in effect, gross negligance on their part. I'm happy to accept risks from game but not from food poisoning!
loved the singing at damaraland camp
I really loved my stay here, the hosts and guides were all very friendly, cheerful, and professional, the food was really nice, and we loved eating in the boma one night. It was the first time that anyone had sung in the evening and we really enjoyed that, as well as the menu being read out in "clicky language".
The pool was a welcome refreshment after the drive on the dirt road and the mountain bike ride a good bit of exercise after several days of eating lots of good food. The view here is incredible and we had two nights here to enjoy some peace and quiet which was wonderful. Thanks for such an enjoyable stay!
Fun Staff at Damaraland Camp
Met by smiling and singing staff. Large walk-in tents widely scattered about the property and set in dramatic wilderness scenery. En-suite was fine, though shower a bit iffy. Dinner was preceded by much singing and dancing ("We are the staff of Damarland Camp - wecome, welcome, welcome"). Staff at this camp was the most friendly, the most fun, and the most interesting to talk with. They are all local and take great pride in being one large camp family.
Food was the best of the 3 camps, with wonderful breads at breakfast and good filter coffee. On the second night, we had dinner in the Bumi; beautifully lit by candle-lanterns, all the food cooked over an open fire, and lots more singing. Anyone who enjjoys interacting with local people on their travels, and appreciates wild, mountainous scenery (some of it very similar to Monument Valley), will thoroughly enjoy this camp, as we did. However, because of the limited activites available, a 2 night stay was just about right.
The major activity was the game drive to track Desert Elephant and we were lucky enough to spot 2 Bulls, and then a small herd, with babies, in amongst the trees. Later on, we drove up to a look-out point for refreshments and a spectacular panoramic view.
I do have one complaint. The tents are accessed via narrow, winding gravel paths bordered by rocks. Unlike the other 2 camps, these paths are not lit in any way and can be quite treacherous, as it is easy to miss your footing and stumble over the rocks. Heavy-duty torches are kept in the office, but if you forget to ask for one at lunch or tea, you are in the dark for the walk to dinner. Also, if you do get one, it is removed from the tent next morning. We had with us an emergency penlight but this was useless for the purpose. The Bumi dinner was somewhat marred by this problem. It's a bit of a hike first to the main lodge and then to the Bumi, and while we did have a staff member with a torch leading the crocodile of guests, this really only illuminated sufficiently for the first in line.
I most strongly suggest that a heavy-duty torch be provided for each tent and kept there, so that it is available each evening.
Expert Africa comments
The short walk from each of the tents to the main lapa area (and on to the Boma which is about 150m from the lapa) can certainly be a bit dark if you do not take a torch with you. Damaraland Camp is renowned as being a flag-ship camp in terms of being very eco-friendly. It provides heavy duty torches for each room which you collect at tea time. All the torches are rechargeable, which is why they have to be returned to the main lapa every day for recharging. This has the advantage that no disposable batteries are ever needed
In fact in November 2006 Damaraland Camp won the 2006 Imvelo Tourism Award
for Best single resource management programme - Energy.
The Imvelo Responsible Tourism Awards recognise operations in tourism and hospitality that make a "real, measurable and sustained contribution to responsible tourism."
The category of which Damaraland was a winner - Best single resource management programme - judges entrants on "operational efforts made to reduce and manage water, energy or waste". Damaraland Camp uses uncontaminated water from a borehole five kilometres away, and once used, this water is disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner. "Grey water" from showers and basins waters natural vegetation while waste water is contained in a two-chamber tank to allow for biological activity. Waste is trucked from the camp to Windhoek for proper recycling, and energy for light and hot water is obtained via solar power. Gas is used for cooking and refrigeration and a coal cooling system is used for cooling fresh vegetables.
The successful partnership between the Damaraland Community and Wilderness Safaris has resulted in one of the poorest communities in the world becoming a thriving entity; this has been achieved directly through conservation and tourism. Thanks to the implementation of a viable eco-tourism model, around 350 000 hectares of land are under protection in the newly proclaimed Torra Conservancy, wildlife numbers are thriving and the local community have money in the bank and employment. The Camp and this initiative received the World Travel & Tourism Council's (WTTC) Tourism for Tomorrow Conservation Award 2005 and was the first Southern African rural community to win the prestigious UNDP Equator Prize in 2004.
Probably our favourite camp/lodge
We took a different route to the coastal route you suggested, turning inland at mile 105 to get a more scenic view of the Brandberg to Uis and then past Twyfelfontein etc. Although more miles and I am sure not everyone's choice, we enjoyed the scenery.
We loved the setting and feel of this camp. The staff were really friendly and welcoming. We ended up in the honeymoon tent which was a bit removed from the rest and it was very peaceful sitting on the porch under the night sky.
The generator had failed while we were there, however the lanterns added to the atmosphere and they still managed to keep the beers cold! The alternating boma and camp dinners were great and we had social evenings with brilliant singing from the staff.
We had thought that the elephant drive was included in the package but had to pay for this as an extra. We would not have missed it anyway. I would have thought that anyone staying there 2 nights should be on an inclusive deal. The scenery down to the riverbed was spectacular and although it took 2 hours to locate the elephants, we had lots of time to observe them eating and them drinking from the village water hole. Our guide was good and also took us on an evening walk to a viewpoint.