Doro Nawas

Doro Nawas: Our full report

Rooms
16 chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (93%) From 429 reviews
Children
Best for 8+
Open
All year

Doro Nawas Camp is perched on top of a rugged, rocky hill, on the floodplains of Namibia’s dry Aba Huab River. Solid, castle-like and almost foreboding in appearance, it has open and attractive views across the plains to 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” indicates a “click” in the local Damara language. However, for simplicity here, we'll often use “Nawas”.) It's a particularly good example of the growing cooperation in Namibia between the tourism industry and individual communities, something that we are keen to support. Most of 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.

Many of the Expert Africa team have visited Doro Nawas since it opened in 2005, and the camp has long been a favourite amongst our self-drive travellers. On our most recent visit, in April 2019, we found the staff exceedingly friendly and helpful, and at ease with themselves and the lodge.

The 16 chalets at Doro Nawas, one of which is a family unit, are built on stone bases and arranged in a circle at the foot of the hill, with canvas walls supported on wooden poles that in turn hold up the thatched roof. Inside, each chalet is open plan, with a large bedroom in which you'll find a double bed, or twins, below a ceiling fan, and a couple of comfortable, padded wicker chairs. There are duvets on the beds, with extra blankets provided for the colder months, but no mosquito nets, which are considered unnecessary in such a dry area. There is no air conditioning, either, but the chalets are spacious and cool, albeit rather dark – not helped by the dark concrete floors; we thought they could have done with a few more lights. While the chalets aren’t lacking anything in particular, this coupled with simple decoration and their well-worn appearance gave something of a dated feel.

At the side of each room, sectioned off slightly by canvas and stone dividers, the bathroom has a flushing toilet, a hot shower, and twin washbasins standing on wooden wash-stands – each with a large mirror. Complimentary toiletries are provided, as well as nice big fluffy towels. On the veranda at the front of the chalet there is an additional outdoor shower, reached through a large set of sliding glass doors. Wooden palisades at the sides of the veranda keep things private.

During the day, you can relax and soak in the view from a couple of iron chairs on your veranda, while at night, the beds can be rolled out here, allowing you to sleep under the stars. This is a truly magical experience that we’d recommend everyone tries when they stay here – although in the cooler winter months the weather may preclude it.

We love the open-plan main area of Doro Nawas Camp, too. Located at the top of the hill, it incorporates 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. Floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors make the most of the views from this amazing hilltop viewpoint. In the middle of the main area is an open-air courtyard, with a firepit and comfy red beanbags. Stairs from here lead to an open roof-top terrace with panoramic views, often used for dining, sundowner drinks and after-dinner stargazing.

Between the main area and the chalets is a rectangular swimming pool, surrounded by a few sunloungers. It may not be big – this is a very arid area! – but it is very inviting on a hot day, albeit surprisingly cold.

The team at Doro Nawas runs many activities, including guided 4WD trips to track desert-adapted elephants, normally in the Huab River Valley, and to see the Bushman rock engravings at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein, usually taking in the Petrified Forest and the Organ Pipes. Do note, though, that at Twyfelfontein you are taken around by a local guide, not your guide from Doro Nawas. Back at the lodge, there's also a walking trail in the vicinity that can be done with a guide.

On our last visit we were lucky enough to find a herd of desert elephants early on our morning drive from the lodge – a real bonus as we had an hour or two with the elephants before vehicles from other lodges in the area turned up. Once they did, we departed. These drives can be relatively dusty and bumpy but you are usually rewarded with sightings of oryx, springbok, various birds and/or the elephants themselves, although the only things that are guaranteed are spectacular views and the extraordinary geology.

Although the guided activities here are popular, Doro Nawas is also very convenient for self-driving visitors, who can easily make their own trips to Twyfelfontein, the Petrified Forest and the Organ Pipes.

Our view

Doro Nawas Camp is a striking, fortress-looking lodge in an attractive location with friendly staff. It 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 to take a guided trip.

Geographics

Location: Damaraland, Namibia

Ideal length of stay: 1–2 nights

Directions: Doro Nawas is about 5km from the C39 between Khorixas and Palmwag, and is clearly signposted. Visitors arriving by air fly to Doro Nawas' own airstrip, which is a 5-minute drive away from camp.

Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Wilderness Safaris in conjunction with the local community.

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Half Board

Food quality: The standard of food at Doro Nawas has varied over the years, and we have received mixed reports from our travellers. Of late, however, things seem to be improving and on our last visit in April 2019 we enjoyed our meals here.

Breakfast is served between 6.00am and 10.00am, lunch from 1.00pm to 2.30pm, and dinner between 7.00pm and 9.00pm. Dinner is normally announced with singing and dancing by the staff. Vegetarians are catered for and a children's menu is also available.

Doro Nawas serves a substantial buffet breakfast of freshly baked bread and muffins, cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurt, cold meats and cheeses., along with a selection of fruit juices, teas and coffee. Hot breakfast items such as bacon, sausages, grilled tomatoes or mushrooms and eggs are cooked to order in the kitchen.

We did not have lunch on our most recent visit but on a previous stay we were served a tomato, cucumber and avocado salad followed by a choice of beefburger with chips or vegetable pasta. This was finished off with fresh fruit salad and vanilla ice cream.

For dinner on our last stay we enjoyed a “traditional” Namibian braai (BBQ) in the bush. Our starter of lentil soup was served at the table. This was followed by oryx stew, pork chops and/or vegetarian lasagne with sides of steamed vegetables, wild rice and creamed spinach served by the chefs straight off the braai. The dessert, a tasty coffee and pecan pudding with custard, was again served to the table.

On a previous stay when we ate at the lodge we had a starter of gnocchi with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, followed by a buffet choice of baked hake with lemon butter sauce or a Thai beef curry; both were served with wild rice, broccoli and red cabbage. Dessert was a pear sponge pudding.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £10-15

Drinks included: For those staying on a half-board basis, no drinks are included at Doro Nawas Camp. Drinks on game drives and house wine at dinner are included if you're staying on full board and activities.

Further dining info: No room service is available at Doro Nawas.

Children

Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at Doro Nawas Camp.

Property’s age restrictions: None

Special activities & services: There are no special activities at Doro Nawas for children, although the pool will appeal to some. Babysitting can be arranged on request, but do note that babysitters will be local members of staff, who are not professionally trained in childcare.

Equipment: None

Notes: The area’s desert-adapted elephants can get very close to camp, so children need to be closely supervised. The pool is not fenced and so caution should always be taken.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Power supply notes: The generator is switched off between 10.30pm and 5.00am. The lodge has battery back-up. Plug sockets are for three-round-pin plugs.

Communications: There are no phones, but there is cellphone reception in the vicinity, and WiFi in the main area.

TV & radio: There are no TVs or radios at Doro Nawas.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: All bathrooms are fully plumbed with hot and cold water and flushing toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The closest hospital is in Outjo, about a 2½hr drive from the lodge. In case of emergency, guests can be flown to Windhoek. For more minor treatment, the guides and managers are trained in first aid,

Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk

Security measures: There are security staff on duty at night. All chalets are provided with an air horn to attract attention in case of emergency.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the chalets and in and around the main building.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is available, with clothes usually returned within 24 hours. This service is free if you are staying here on a “full board and all activities” basis, but clothes will be charged by item if you are staying on a half-board basis.

Money: There is a small safe in each chalet.

Accepted payment on location: Doro Nawas Camp accepts Visa and Mastercard. Cash payments may be made in Namibian dollars and South African rand.

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