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Damaraland Overview

Damaraland is the mountainous region in northwest Namibia inhabited by the Damaras and named after them. Originally, it was an area occupied primarily by the Damara people, but it soon became the home of other tribes such as the Hereros and the displaced Riemvasmakers of South Africa. The name Damara is derived from the Nama word “Dama”, meaning “who walked here”. This is because the Damara were known to the Nama people by the footprints they left around waterholes. From their vantage point in the mountains, the Damara were quick to spot resources, such as water or animals, on the plains below, and they were therefore able to be the first groups to reach these essential resources.

Damaraland’s attractions include: The Brandberg, a massive mountain which shelters thousands of rock paintings; Twyfelfontein, which has some of the best rock engravings depicting wildlife scenes; as well as the Petrified Forest and Burnt Mountain. Damaraland Wilderness Preserve rewards the patient, and lucky, visitor with glimpses of the unique wildlife that survives here, including desert elephant, black rhino, lion, desert dwelling giraffe and Hartman’s mountain zebra.


Damaraland’s climate can vary from very hot temperatures in summer (November to April) to sub-zero nighttime temperatures in winter (May to October). This is mainly due to significant changes in altitude across the region, the mercury falling as you clamber up the coastal mountains. Generally, winter is very dry, while summer is subject to only occasional rainfall.


When visiting Damaraland, you will most likely drive yourself, or book an organized tour. Southern Damaraland is easily reached by normal 2WD car on good roads, but the area becomes more remote and challenging as you travel to northern Damaraland. Most visitors to the northern section fly to one of the lodges via charter flight. Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) is where most visitors will enter Namibia. The airport is located 40km/25mi east of Windhoek and it is common to start both organized safaris and self-drive options here by 4x4. You can also book a trip which will take you to different parks and lodges via charter plane.

Most wildlife sightings occur in northern Damaraland. This is one of the only places in Africa to see desert elephants. Black rhino also fare well in a desert environment and the Save the Rhino Trust has set up a program to track these elusive creatures. Other animals that can be encountered are giraffe, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, gemsbok, greater kudu, eland and springbok. The big cats are present but seldom seen.

Damaraland has more than 200 bird species recorded, including several arid-country specials and near-endemics. The area is also good for raptors. Migratory birds are present from November to April.

Best Time to Visit

January and February are good months to visit Aberdare, as are June to September.March to May is the heavy rainy season and should be avoided because the roads become impassable.There may also be some access problems from October to December.

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