The remote Doro Nawas is situated in the heart of southern Damaraland.
Doro Nawas: Our full report
Doro Nawas Camp is situated on a rugged, rocky hill close to Twyfelfontein, on the edge of the dry Aba Huab River. It has awesome views across the plains of the mountains and sandstone cliffs of Twyfelfontein.
The camp is a joint venture between Wilderness Safaris and the Doro !Nawas community. (Note that the exclamation mark in '!Nawas' isn't a mistake – it simply indicates a 'click' in the local Damara language! However, for simplicity here, we'll often use 'Nawas'.)
The 16 chalets at Doro Nawas are built on stone bases, with canvas walls supported on wooden poles that also hold up the thatched roof.
Inside, each chalet is open plan, with a large bedroom in which you'll find a couple of comfortable, padded wicker chairs, and a double or twin beds below a ceiling fan. There is no air conditioning, but the chalets are spacious and cool, albeit rather dark. We noted on our last visit that there were no mosquito nets – but then there were no mosquitoes around either! There are duvets on the beds, with extra blankets provided for the cold winter months.
At the side of each room, sectioned off slightly by canvas and stone dividers, are a flush toilet, a hot shower, and twin washbasins standing on modern wooden wash-stands – each with a large mirror. Complementary toiletries are provided, as well as nice big towels. There is an outdoor shower on the front veranda, too, reached through a large set of sliding glass doors at the front of the chalet. During the day, enjoy the terrific view from a couple of iron chairs, while at night, the beds can be rolled out, allowing guests to sleep under the stars. Reed screens at the sides of the veranda lend it some privacy, and at the front are a few strands of wire to deter the area's desert-adapted elephants.
We love the open-plan main area of Doro Nawas Camp, which includes a long indoor dining area, a smaller lounge area with comfortable sofas and a fireplace, a bar, and a curio shop with a small picture gallery. Stairs from an outside courtyard lead to an open roof-top terrace with panoramic views that's often used for dining, sundowner drinks and after-dinner stargazing. The swimming pool is not big – this is a very arid area! – but it is very inviting on a hot day, and is surrounded by a few sunloungers.
The team at Doro Nawas run many activities for their guests, including guided 4WD trips to track desert-adapted elephants, normally in the Huab River Valley, and guided 4WD trips to visit the Bushman rock art at Twyfelfontein, which usually take in the Petrified Forest and the Organ Pipes. There's also a walking trail in the vicinity of the lodge – which can be done with a guide, or on your own.
When we last visited in October 2010, our morning elephant-tracking was a resounding success; we spotted the elephants within minutes of leaving the lodge. However, once the rains start the elephants retreat up the Huab river and so these trips can be quite long, with several hours spent searching for the elephants. Usually the excursion starts at about 7.00am, after a light breakfast, and may continue until around 1.00pm, depending on how long it takes to find the elephants.
Although the guided activities here are popular, Doro Nawas is very convenient for self-driving visitors, who can easily make their own trips to visit Twyfelfontein, the petrified forest and the organ pipes.
Note that it's possible to stay here either half board or on a 'full board and all activities' basis. In the former case, you can arrange and pay for activities locally – although be aware that if the lodge is full, availability is not guaranteed.
Note, also, that many travellers observe that the cost of add-on activities purchased directly at the lodge is high. Whilst these have reduced in the last year or two, we suggest that you check these charges before booking any excursions here.
It's worth noting that the camp is a particularly good example of the growing development between the tourism industry and communities in Namibia. All the lodge staff come from the surrounding villages, having been trained to fill various positions here, and the conservancy and its people benefit from the revenue generated by the lodge. We are always keen support initiatives like this which lead sensitive tourism to bring job opportunities and revenue to local communities who want the development.
Our viewDoro Nawas Camp is a striking lodge in a stunning location. Six of the Expert Africa team have visited Doro Nawas since it opened in July 2005, and the camp has long been a favourite amongst our self-drive travellers. On our most recent visit, we found the staff exceedingly friendly, and at ease with themselves and the place.
Doro Nawas is a good choice for a one- or two-night stop in Damaraland, especially if you are self-driving and want the flexibility to decide on the day whether to drive yourself to places like Twyfelfontein, or take a guided trip.
Ideal length of stay: 1–2 nights
Directions: Doro Nawas is about 5km from the C39 between Khorixas and Palmwag, and is clearly signposted.
Owner: Lodge Management Company
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Half Board
Food quality: The standard of food at Doro Nawas varies, and we receive mixed reports of it. However on our last visit we found it to be very tasty. Breakfast is served between 6.00am and 10.00am, lunch 1.00–2.30pm, and dinner between 7.00pm and 9.00pm. All meals are served buffet style and dinner is normally announced with singing and dancing from the staff. Vegetarians are catered for.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: No drinks are included at Doro Nawas Camp for those staying on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis. Drinks on game drive and house wine at dinner are included if you're full board.
Birdwatching: This dry area has surprisingly good birding, including a few local species such as Rüpell's korhaan and Monteiro's hornbill that have very restricted distributions. Other commonly seen birds include pale chanting goshawks and booted eagles. After the rains, large flocks of red-billed quelea are seen in abundance.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Namibia
Traditional Cultures: Doro Nawas doesn't have any specific 'cultural' activities – but is notable for being partly owned and largely run by the community. Hence it's an interesting place to visit if you're interested in a real community, and how it works. It does offer guides trips to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein, famous for its traditional rock art.See more ideas for Traditional Cultures in Namibia
Wildlife safaris: Damaraland doesn't have high densities of game, but what does occur here often has interesting adaptations , most notably the desert-adapted elephant, which are a real highlight. This is also a core area for wild black rhino. Gemsbok and springbok are seen on most drives, and both bat-eared foxes and black-backed jackals are reasonably common.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Namibia
Attitude towards children: Children with parents are welcome at Doro Nawas Camp.
Generally recommended for children: Yes – although children should always be supervised by their parents.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There are no phones, but there is cellphone reception in the area. The reception/office here has internet and fax facilities, but these are not generally used by guests.
TV & radio: There are no TVs or radios at Doro Nawas.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: The closest hospital is in Outjo, but guests can also be flown out in case of an emergency.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: There are no guards in this remote location, but all rooms have a radio and a horn for emergencies.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the rooms and in and around the main building.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is available, and clothes are usually returned within 24 hours. This service is free if you are staying here on a 'full board and all activities' basis, but items will be charged for if you are staying on a 'dinner, bed & breakfast' basis.
Money: You can exchange travellers' cheques at Doro Nawas and there are safe deposit boxes in all the rooms.