Reviews of Damaraland Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
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.