Reviews of Doro Nawas
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
as we were in transit, harder to judge
First, a minor point: the directions in Expert Africa's material was rather unclear. The camp is not marked on the printed map, and the directions were fairly vague about exactly where the camp was. Distances on the gravel roads are deceptive. There were other places marked but not Doro Namas. We spend a long time wondering if we had missed it and drove for a good way past where we thought it was suggested the turning to the camp was, and were starting to wonder if we'd missed the turn and whether we should go back - but then we found it. So maybe a ball park figure for the kilometres from the last turning or similar would be helpful.
By now we had stayed in five different camps/lodges and were getting familiar with the setup. So although the staff were as pleasant as anywhere we'd stayed and nothing was too much trouble and there were few other guests etc, Doro Nawas seems to lack a particular identity of its own. Maybe a lot of people, like us, use it as a transport interchange, or are just passing through. We went on a trip to Twyfelfontein which turned out to include a visit to the Damaraland living village which was surprisingly good with a very talented young man as the lead guide. Obviously we used a guide from the site at Twyfelfontein - which is fascinating and with a good museum - as outlined in the book. ( We returned to it ourselves when we stayed on the way back from the Skeleton Coast). However on the guided trip we didn't really have enough time and ended up keeping the young site guide until after closing time and not seeing the display/museum. It could have been better managed as an overall outing. The drive back to the lodge is quite rocky and by this time we were pretty tired. The room was large and airy but putting the bed out on the veranda not realistic as much too windy. We had our first experience of getting the menu in both English and the Damara/click language from charming waiter which was nice.
So overall, we felt a bit 'neutral' about the lodge although there was nothing in particular that was negative.
Doro Nawas review
Not quite what one expects from a lodge run by Wilderness safaris. If you plan a stop in Northern Damaraland, there is little point staying here, unless one is specifically interested in geology, rock art and local history, for which it makes a reasonable starting point (there are other more conveniently located lodges) . Don't go here expecting wildlife or birds. Although the camp runs a guided safari, even the tour guide did not want to sell this: Southern Damaraland is surprisingly void of birds and animals.
The advantage is that it is mosquito-free and virtually free of flies too, allowing you to sleep without mosquito net outside on the terrace of your tented room, under the stars, which is the great attraction of the place. The common areas and rooms are great, with beautiful vistas, or when too windy, dinner around the campfire in the more secluded patio. There is also a great pool. It is the food, and to a lesser extent the staff that lets it down.
Wines are stored non-climate controlled and were acidic or corked, all butter was rancid and this affected other food taste too (we pointed this out, but it's all they had), the quality of produce and choice of dinners a huge let down, and frankly unacceptable. The staff was generally inattentive and did not appreciate our polite critique. The place was just not professionally run, and the staff immediately and openly read our feedback in front of us which made us feel quite uncomfortable.
Expert Africa comments
Expert Africa are sorry that these travellers were disappointed with their stay at Doro Nawas. Densities of animals and birds in this semi-desert area are low, but they’re not absent. Many find the animals and birds which have adapted to survive here fascinating – for example really enjoying the chance to track desert-adapted elephants.
Unfortunately, during the rains the elephants can be harder to find as they move out of the dry riverbeds, and into the mountains. Certainly Damaraland’s scenery and history is as much an attraction as its sparse wildlife. We are very sorry if we weren’t clearer about the focus of the experience at Doro Nawas.
Wilderness Safaris has responded to the above feedback, and addressed the issues regarding their dissatisfaction with the food at Doro Nawas. They have had in-depth discussions with the kitchen and serving staff regarding the quality of the food, some inadequacies have been identified, and these problem areas will be rectified.
Wilderness Safari’s commented to us that “Camp Management are the only staff members permitted to read guests feedback forms, and they try to do this whilst the guests are still in camp so if any issues arise they are able to get more details and information to improve on the matter with immediate effect.” They were very sorry to hear this made these travellers feel uncomfortable.
Excellent location/setting. Comfortable rooms - very spacious with large bathroom/shower area. Can slide back the folding doors and move bed to large veranda to sleep under the stars if one chooses. First night - we had dinner on the building roof by candlelight and kerosene lamps. Beautiful but a tad chilly - blankets were provided. BBQ - choice of fish/beef steak/sausage accompanied by polenta porridge (?) or rice - fairly unappetising. 1 desert.
Went elephant trekking (07.30 to 12.30) - some very rough tracks. Also living museum but too hot to continue to rock engravings.
2nd hottest place we stayed - temp c. 33 -35 degrees - just too hot to bear in mid-afternoon.
The highlight of our drive around Namibia.
Doro Nawas is among the best places we've ever stayed. The location is absolutely spectacular and the food was wonderful. Doro Nawas is nowhere near the most expensive place we stayed during our trip, but is definitely the one we would revisit.
The staff were helpful (if sometimes a little too relaxed...), and the desert elephant safari was wonderful.
A highlight was being able to sit out on the deck with a drink at sundown and feel totally relaxed and stress free.
If you want to visit any of the nearby attractions (Twyfelfontein, Burnt Mountain etc.) then you'll need a car, but we found that we were able to visit everything we wanted to in a day.
A great spot with a fantastic vantage point
We enjoyed our time here, and particularly the trip to the Desert Elephants. For those who have their own transport, we would recommend making your own way to the rock engravings and Organ Pipes/Burnt mountain as there is no real added value in taking the lodge trip, which works out more expensively. Although not offered by the Lodge, we would strongly recommend a trip to the Petrified forest, which we found really interesting.
The staff were friendly and welcoming, particularly the manager Alvin, although I wished he hadn't laboured the dangers of snakes and scorpions as much as he did, as this meant I was particularly on edge throughout the two nights of our stay (unnecessarily it transpired).
Sleeping under the stars
Doro Nawas was a revelation. Being able to wheel our huge bed out onto the balcony and sleep under the stars was an incredible experience not to be missed.
The excursion down the dry riverbed in a four wheel drive landrover was an adventure in itself and finding elephants was the icing on the cake. We would have liked another night here.
Scenic location, dry, hot and windy
Twyfelfontein engravings worth the visit but maybe stay for one night onlyRead more about the whole safari
Spectacular setting - a great stay
We arrived at Doro !Nawas after a long but beautiful drive from Swakopmund. As with our arrival at Kulala Desert lodge (also operated by Wilderness Safaris), we were greeted by a friendly member of staff with a refreshing home-made beverage. A tip if you are self-driving: upon arriving at the property, just park your car and walk up to the reception building. The driveway is quite steep and it's unnecessary to drive up it only to have to come back down to park.
After a brief orientation by the staff, we were taken to our room which is described as a "natural-walled unit". The walls were canvas and the ceiling vaulted and thatched giving a wonderful open and airy feeling. The veranda from the room opened out onto a beautiful view of the plains. There was an indoor and outdoor shower and the option to sleep out under the stars on the veranda.
The food at Doro !Nawas was some of the best we had on our trip, especially the second night there when they prepared a perfectly marinated and prepared barbecue. Before sitting down to dinner we had what was probably the most relaxing evening of the trip, sitting around the open fire on big bean bags enjoying a glass of wine and watching "Dora" the resident cat make her rounds.
We were up very early on our first morning to set off with a guide to look for desert elephants - certainly the highlight of our stay there. The guide did a wonderful job of informing us about the flora and fauna and well as showing us how he tracks the elephants. He gave us a lot of information about the desert-adapted elephants as well as some of the individual members of the herd, and once we found them we were given as much time as we wanted to observe and photograph them.
The other excursion we made that day was a self-drive to see the San rock art at Twyfelfontein, one of Namibia's World Heritage sites. We also learned that the Twyfelfontein area is said to have the largest variety of scorpions in a single location - 13. Remember to shake out your shoes before you put them on! We actually did see a scorpion back at the lodge, but it was taken care of expeditiously by members of the staff...
We didn't have time that day to visit the Petrified Forest so we set off the next day and made a stop there en route to our next destination. There we also saw the very old Welwitschia plants.
Doro !Nawas was probably one of our favorite accommodations during our trip to Namibia. The total experience of the lodging, guided trip and geographic location made it a very memorable stay.
P.S.: The internet access in the reception area didn't work well. It wasn't actually broken but the wire on the back was loose and nobody made too much of an effort to fix it, which was really okay.
Sleep under the stars (with the bats!)
The best welcome and most friendly staff of our entire trip. Enthusiastic and happy and likely to burst into song at any moment!
Spacious, well arranged, huts with both inside & outside shower. The highlight was wheeling the bed out onto the terrace and sleeping in the open air. To be able to lie back and star gaze was very special. The bats flying close to your face for a while, gave it an added twist! Cold in the morning, so the thick blankets provided were definately needed.
A superb trip out into the valley to track desert adapted elephants with our guide Mwezi. After looking at the tracks in the dust, we rounded the corner and were up close and personal with a large group of elephants. Fascinating to sit and watch the different behaviours of young and old elephants in their natural habitat.
Also enjoyed sitting on the bean-bags around the camp-fire in the central area.
What can we say, fantastic location, amazing rooms and the 'castle' was great! But here the thing that made it for us was the Staff! It felt great staying there as it was very energy efficient and they generate their own electricity etc.
So friendly and helpful and they read the menu out to us in Click language and English and sang on our last night which was fun!
Erwin took us to look for Desert Elephants but due to the time of year they had gone further up the river bed and he just said 'we aren't going back to camp until we have found them' which was great seeing as the excursion should only have been half a day (it turned out we found them in time anyway, but we liked his determination'. There were only 3 of us in the Jeep so it was really personal and he answered all of our questions really well.
The rooms were huge, the patio was fab and the view was out of this world. We were initially going to stay at another lodge close by but we were so glad it was fully booked and we stayed here instead. The food was great as well and the pool was stunning (although it could have been cleaner- possibly my only criticism but I advised Doro Nawas at the time too).
I do have to say getting there was not easy on the route suggested to us in a 2WD. The D2612 was not an easy road and we had to turn round and go back on the C35 up to Khorixas and then on the C39 which was much better. At the rate were driving on the D2612 we could have walked the same pace. But that is not a criticism of Doro Nawas.