Damaraland safaris, tours & holiday packagesDesert-adapted elephants and UNESCO-certified rock art
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Safarigoers travel to Damaraland in search of its legendary desert-adapted elephants and rhinos, but the region is also a treasure trove of prehistoric rock paintings and engravings
Damaraland is a loosely defined part of the Namibian interior north of Windhoek and inland of the Skeleton Coast. Like most of the country, it is very dry, but the landscape is dominated by craggy peaks such as the Brandberg and Spitzkoppe rather than the dunes associated with the Namib.
The region supports a fair amount of wildlife, including gemsbok, greater kudu, springbok, Hartmann's mountain zebra and dry-country bird species. It is best known, however, for being the last desert stronghold of the endangered black rhino, and for its several herds of desert-adapted elephants, both of which are likely to be seen only on a few exclusive ecotourism concessions allocated by the government to private operators.
I'm not sure our experience of Damaraland is very representative, as on both occasions our visits coincided with rare stormy weather. We consider ourselves privileged to have caught a rather bemused herd of desert elephants crossing a river that probably flows for only two or three days a year. The rock paintings here are superb, and the engravings are probably the best I've seen anywhere in Africa.
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Unlike its wildlife concessions, Damaraland's wealth of rock art sites, though quite remote and in some cases accessible only on foot, are generally open to the public. The most celebrated rock painting in the region is the misnamed White Lady of the Brandberg. This splendid 40-centimetre-tall figure actually depicts a male hunter or shaman, but was once erroneously thought to have a Mediterranean origin due to the use of white pigmentation.
At Twyfelfontein, inscribed as Namibia's first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, the boulder-strewn hillside forms one of the richest rock-art sites in Africa, comprising more than 2,000 engravings and paintings of people and animals, some executed around 5,000 years ago.
The area around Twyfelfontein is also known for its unusual rock formations. Vingerklip (Finger Rock) is a spectacular limestone pinnacle that protrudes dramatically from the surrounding flat-topped terraces. Equally striking is the Petrified Forest, a stand of around 50 fossilised logs estimated to be some 250 million years old.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Damaraland
A Grumeti safari is rewarding throughout the year. However, the best time to visit Grumeti Game Reserve is during the migration months of June and July - when massive herds of wildebeest arrive to cross the crocodile-infested Grumeti River… go there.
The best time to visit Arusha National Park is from June to October, during the dry season. It is easier to spot the wildlife - since they normally gather around the waterholes, rainfall is minimal, vegetation is not too thick and mosquitos… go there.
June to October is the best time to visit Mkomazi National Park. During the dry season - when the wildlife viewing is at its prime. go there.
July to October, during the dry months - is the best time to track the chimpanzees in Mahale Mountains National Park. Chimpanzees can be found easily on the low mountains slopes. go there.
June to October is the best time to visit Mikumi National Park. During the dry season, the wildlife concentrate around waterholes and rivers - making it easier to spot them. go there.
There is no need to go overboard with fitness preparation for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. However, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a physical undertaking, so you should prepare yourself accordingly with a Kilimanjaro training program. Being in… go there.
June to September, during the dry season. The wildlife is easier to spot - since they congregate around the water sources. However, migratory birds can be found. go there.
January and February and from June to August after the rains. The wildlife stay within the park since there is still plenty of water - making it easier to spot the animals as well as the migratory birds are present. go there.
Reviews on our Damaraland safaris
Discover Africa and Carel has put in such an effort for us to experience the annual wildebeest migration, meticulous planning and accurate predictions with logical and the best accommodation options both sides of the Mara River guaranteed us…
Jates and Hil Oettle
from South Africa
I just wanted to thank Discover Africa and Karl Svendsen - the safari was great - we saw many more animals than expected including cheetah, leopard, many lions and even a three-day old elephant calf. Additionally, we had our own hippo…
We had the most wonderful time in Tanzania. We left yesterday and miss it already. We saw the big 5 and felt super lucky to see the lions and leopard with their kill. Our guide was also wonderful. Thank YOU for planning our trip of a…
We had a wonderful experience with the Discover Africa team on our trip to Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar. Due to unforeseen circumstances we needed to head down early and their team were most helpful in arranging exciting new options for us while…
from South Africa
Our service from Carel at Discover Africa was outstanding. His recommendations on the timing of our trip, the lodges we should book, communication and overall assistance ensured that our trip went off very smoothly and that we were in the…
from South Africa
History was made in supporting Chaeli Mycroft to become the 1st quadraplegic female to summit Kilimanjaro. What amazing partners Discover Africa are! Great communications from home team ensured that getting to Tanzania happened without a hitch.
from South Africa