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 of Namibia, having 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.
There are ten spacious chalets at Damaraland Camp. Each is 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 twin beds on an upper step, with reading lamps 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 (for use in an emergency), insect repellent and a safe.
From the main bedroom, an open door way which can be curtained off leads into a spacious en-suite bathroom. Here, a large rectangular mirror suspended on chains hangs above his and hers washbasins, with toiletries and washing powder for personal items. The big shower area has a mesh window with a roll-down flap.
The camp's stone-built central area, under a high thatched roof, comprises the dining area, a large fireplace, a living area with extra-deep sofas and comfortable stuffed cushions, a bar, a tea and coffee station (where there is often a tempting jar of homebaked biscuits), 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". A short walk in front of the camp, this is lit by paper lanterns and warmed by a campfire, so perfect for celebrating a special occasion. On cold evenings, blankets are provided to keep you warm during dinner.
The focus of activities at Damaraland Camp is on wildlife (specifically desert-adapted elephants), the stunning, ever-changing scenery and local culture. Options include two guided nature walks along either the Shepherd's Trail (this is a shorter and much easier walk) and the Damarana Trail, as well as 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 guests is a guided nature drive in an open seven-seater Land Rover in search of the area's wildlife, 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. On our last stay in December 2016 we were lucky enough to see not only desert elephant but also some of the nomadic desert lion on a kill much to our delight: a real highlight of our trip.
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 committed 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.
Country manager: Namibia
- Damaraland, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- Two to three nights
- Guests flying into Damaraland Camp will be met at the airstrip, a short drive from the camp.
On a self-drive trip you can either leave you vehicle at a farmstead by the C39 and be transferred to camp (recommended for 2WD vehicles) or drive yourself to the camp (4WD only).
- Accessible by
- Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full 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.
On our last visit, in December 2016, lunch was a choice of game pie or vegetarian stew followed by a delicious and refreshing smoothie. The camp will also provide a lunch pack for you to take on the road; ours consisted of sandwiches, nuts, fruit and a cereal bar, with water and juice to drink.
Afternoon tea with cake is served at 4.00pm, and tea and coffee are available all day.
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 a sun-dried tomato and feta filo parcel, followed by grilled steak or chicken with rice and vegetables, and a chocolate and pistachio gelato.
During our visit the staff graced us with some traditional singing and dancing, before bidding us a lovely evening and retiring for the night.
- Damaraland Camp is in a beautiful and tranquil location, perfect for a Namibia honeymoon. Enjoy the lovely 'honeymoon' chalet with elegant and luxurious furnishings, lots of privacy and great views down the valley and of the hills.
- See ideas for Honeymoons
- Started in 1996, Damaraland Camp was Namibia’s original ‘Luxury Safari Camp’. Since then it’s been reinvented on a much grander scale. Large, well-furnished chalets have high thatched roofs whilst expansive communal areas include lounges inside and out, and an inviting swimming pool.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- The camp does not accept children under the age of 12.
- Property’s age restrictions
- No children under 12.
- Special activities & services
- Generally recommended for children
- Expert Africa does not recommend Damaraland Camp for younger children at all; it has a fairly adult atmosphere, with little to keep youngsters entertained.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Damaraland Camp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Damaraland Camp have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- The solar power system doesn’t allow charging in the rooms but there is a charging station in the main area.
- There is a computer with internet access in the main area for guests to use, as well as complimentary WiFi.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Each chalet has plumbed showers, hot and cold running water and flush toilets. Please note that the hot water is solar heated so may not be hot in the early morning.
Giving back to the local community
Damaraland is becoming synonymous with social commitment in Namibia. The camp has gained Five Flowers from Eco-Awards Namibia and the Silver African Responsible Tourism Award in 2017, featuring the Torra Conservancy Partnership as one of their most effective social practices. This brave partnership between Wilderness Safaris and the local community has resulted in a 352,000-hectare (869,000-acre) conservancy being proclaimed by locals. The success of the initiative is attested by the area’s flourishing wildlife and the decrease in poaching activities.
Another innovative partnership with Pack for a Purpose, a non-profit organisation, provides travellers with up-to-date information about what supplies are required for community-based projects and contributes to supplying 450 children from aged 5–18 in the town of Bergsig with school necessities. Guests are encouraged to donate general supplies such as chalk, pencils or notebooks, flash cards or reading materials as well as dictionaries or encyclopaedias.
Local children also benefit from donations and activities organised by Children in the Wilderness Namibia. This organisation aims to facilitate sustainable conservation through developing leadership abilities and educating rural children in Namibia about the environment and the opportunities it provides them with. Through running both Eco-Clubs at schools within local communities and annual camps, the programme combines leadership skills, environmental education and recreation.
Tours for guests interested in getting a taste of the local culture and the social impact of Damaraland Camp can be organised. This is a great opportunity to engage with local communities and learn about the unique heritage of the Nama-Damara, Herero and Owambo.
See more great sustainability projects in Namibia
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- All the staff are first-aid trained. There is a nurse in the local village which is just a 10-minute drive away, and the nearest doctor is in Khorixas.
- Dangerous animals
- Moderate Risk
- Security measures
- Damaraland Camp is very remote and not easily accessible. Cars parked in the 2WD car park are watched by the villagers.
- Fire safety
- All the rooms and the main building have fire extinguishers.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is included for those staying on a full-board basis.
- There is a safe in each chalet.
- Accepted payment on location
- Cash payments may be made in Namibian dollars, South African rand, euros, US dollars and GB pounds. Visa and Mastercard are accepted, but travellers’ cheques are not.
Other lodges in Damaraland
Alternative places to stay in this same area.