The main building at Doro Nawas is striking in appearance and perched on top of a small hill...
Doro Nawas: Our full report
Doro Nawas Camp is perched on top of a rugged, rocky hill, on the floodplains of the dry Aba Huab River. Solid 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' isn't a mistake – it simply 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 at Expert Africa are keen to support. Most 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.
Ten 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 March 2017, 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 understand that a soft refurbishment is planned for the rooms later in 2017 and we hope that this will brighten the rooms by adding a pop of colour as we thought the decoration was quite simple and the rooms felt a little bare.
At the side of each room, sectioned off slightly by canvas and stone dividers, are a flushing toilet, a hot shower, and twin washbasins standing on modern 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 outdoor shower, too, reached through a large set of sliding glass doors. 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.
During the day, enjoy the view from a couple of iron chairs here, while at night, the beds can be rolled out onto the veranda, allowing guests to sleep under the stars. Sadly on our recent visit we were unable to experience this as it was quite windy and looked like it might rain, but colleagues who have done this on past trips have really enjoyed it.
Because water is of such short supply in this semi-desert environment, guests are advised to place a bucket in the shower to collect any excess water. The cleaning staff then collects the bucket and the water is recycled. This is just one of a few eco-senstive initiatives that Doro Nawas has implemented.
We love the open-plan main area of Doro Nawas Camp which is located at the top of the hill, and 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. Floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors make the most of the views from this amazing hilltop viewpoint. There is an open-air courtyard, in the middle of the main area, with a firepit and comfy red beanbags. Stairs from the courtyard lead to an open roof-top terrace with panoramic views that's 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.
The team at Doro Nawas run 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. It's worth noting, 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 most recent visit in March 2017 we were lucky enough to find around eight desert elephants on an afternoon activity from the lodge. Although the drive through the riverbeds was relatively dusty and bumpy we saw a smattering of oryx on the way and it was also nice to see the larger trees growing in the riverbed that can survive on the underground water here. The elephants themselves were captivating as they browsed on the riverine shrubs and our guide slowly and carefully manoeuvred the vehicle to try to give us the best views and not to disturb the animals. It was particularly difficult to get a good view of two very small members of the group that kept either particularly close to their mothers or did a great job of hiding in the bush!
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.
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 at the lodge, but it's important to note that these cannot be pre-booked by guests staying on a half-board basis.
Our viewDoro 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 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. 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
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 varies, and we receive mixed reports of it, although on our last visit, in March 2017, we found it to be very tasty.
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.
For dinner we had a starter of gnocchi with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes followed by a choice of baked hake fish served 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.
The following morning there was a good selection of cereals and fruits for breakfast and freshly baked bread and muffins, as well as a large choice of teas and fresh coffee. Cooked breakfast items are also available, such as bacon, sausages, grilled tomatoes or mushrooms and eggs cooked a variety of ways.
We did not have lunch on our most recent visit however on a previous stay in November 2015 we were served a tomato, cucumber and avocado salad followed by a choice of a beef burger with chips or vegetable pasta. This was finished off with fresh fruit salad and vanilla ice cream.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
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.
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 but babysitting can be arranged on request. Parents should note that babysitters will be local members of staff and are not professionally trained in childcare.
Generally recommended for children: Yes – although children should always be supervised by their parents.
Notes: At certain times of the year elephant can get very close to camp, and so children need to be closely supervised. The pool is not fenced and so caution should always be taken.
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 3-round-pin plugs.
Communications: There are no phones, but there is cellphone reception in the vicinity. There is a computer with an internet connection at reception for guests to use.
TV & radio: There are no TVs or radios at Doro Nawas.
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: There is running water and flushing toilets in the rooms.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The closest hospital is in Outjo, but guests can also be flown to Windhoek in case of an emergency.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: There are security staff on duty at night, and all rooms have a radio and an air horn to attract attention in case of emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the rooms and in and around the main building.
Disabled access: On Request
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 half board basis.
Money: There are safe deposit boxes in all the rooms.
Accepted payment on location: Doro Nawas Camp accepts Visa and Mastercard. Cash payments may be made in Namibian dollars and South African rand.