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South of the Skeleton Coast and Hoanib River lies Damaraland, one of the most interesting and beautiful areas of Namibia. While in the past wildlife hunting in this area threatened animal populations, today ecotourism projects and community-run concessions thrive, helping to restore this region. These projects, such as Damaraland Camp, provide benefits to the local communities and make them active partners in wildlife preservation. As a result of these projects, rare desert-adapted species of lions, rhinos and elephants are thriving in the area. Bird life can also be quite prolific although it is mostly concentrated along the dry river beds.

In addition to the rare mammals and birds you will see on game drives through the desert, Damaraland boasts a wealth of anthropologic and geologic wonders. Strewn over a hillside at Twyfelfontein in the southern Kaokoveld, boulders and slabs of red sandstone hold some 2,500 prehistoric engravings that depict wildlife, animal spoor and abstract motifs. The rounded hill southwest of the Petrified Forest, known as the Burnt Mountain, appears to catch fire at both sunrise and sunset. The fantastic range of colors comes from a chemical reaction that took place 132 million years ago when molten lava penetrated shale and limestone deposits. In ordinary sunlight, it is a dull black with blackened rubble lying to one side like cinders from the original fire.

Some of our favorite properties in Damaraland include Damaraland Camp and Desert Rhino Camp (where you can track desert-adapted rhino). Camp Kipwe and Mowani Mountain Camp are both great value for money properties in the Damaraland area.

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Jamie Mehrotra