Damaraland is a vast expanse of wilderness, dotted with free-roaming wildlife and sparse settlements. Renowned for its desert-dwelling lions, rhinos and elephants this rugged landscape is said to be the largest “unofficial wildlife area in Africa. It transitions from the dunes of the Skeleton Coast to montane desert, interspersed with high plateaus, deep ravines and seasonal rivers. Rich in archaeological landmarks and places of historical interest, Damaraland also attracts adventurers who hike and climb the countless unexplored mountains and valleys. The area has a large variety of accommodation available, ranging from the most basic campsites to luxurious 5-star lodges.

Essential Traveller Information

As remote as Damaraland is, for those that make the effort to visit this surreal landscape, every effort is worthwhile.  Due to its vastness and lack of services, self-drive visitors need to be self-sufficient.  Likewise, do not expect to see it all, rather focus on areas of key interest.  If you’re staying at a lodge, most of these logistics are taken care of.  Wildlife attractions include desert-adapted lions, elephants and rhinos and you will also find birds found in few other places.  Brandberg is the country’s highest mountain and the region is rich in rock art, while the huge fossilised trees of the Petrified Forest offer a glimpse of the palaeontological past.  Numerous spas offer an oasis of relief from the dry heat.

For visitors arriving in the Namibian capital, Windhoek and the Hosea Kutako International Airport serve as a gateway.  By vehicle one must then travel about 560 km (350 mi) to reach southern Damaraland.

If approaching from Etosha National Park to the east, it is about 380 km (240 mi).  As one progresses further north, the roads deteriorate considerably and a 4×4 vehicle is essential.  There are no scheduled flights to the area, so visitors would need to charter an aircraft, landing at an airstrip operated by one of the lodges.  Most private charters depart from Eros Airfield in Windhoek.

While Damaraland can be visited year-round, there are seasonal differences where visits are best suited.  Overall, the desert climate fluctuates between the uncomfortably hot Summer (November-April) day-time highs and sub-zero overnight temperatures in the Winter (May-October).

Altitude can also play a role in the mountainous areas.  May to September are regarded as the best time to view wildlife.  Water is very scarce, so wildlife concentrates wherever it is found.  July to November are the busiest times (with crowds and prices at their premium).  While parts of Damaraland may become inaccessible in the Wet Season (November-April) the vegetation, abundance of young animals and migrant birds make it a worthwhile time to visit.