Damaraland & Kunene
Damaraland & Kunene region is home to giant inselbergs, formed millions ago when lava was all the rage, rise sheer and jagged from the barren plains of the inner Namib Desert. Most impressive of these are Spitzkoppe and the Brandberg Massif – which, in addition to being the highest peak in the country, has the allure of ancient rock paintings and the intriguing White Lady of Brandberg.
Near Khorixas there is a nucleus of fascinating geological formations: Vingerklip is a striking finger of rock that rises vertically out of the plains while around it the lava-formed flat-tops wouldn’t look out of place in Arizona.
Among the red sandstone boulders and hills at Twyfelfontein is the most impressive collection of petroglyphs in Africa. Around 2,500 ancient rock paintings and engravings feature animals, tracks and abstract symbols. The exact age is unknown but archaeological evidence indicates that hunter/gatherers lived here more than 7,000 years ago.
The famous desert-adapted elephants traverse this vast dry land in search of water and the world’s only naturally occurring population of black rhino co-exists with the Damara communities.
Endemics aside northern Damaraland’s hilly savannah supports a large number of species including lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, eland, kudu, giraffe, klipspringer, steenbok, gemsbok and springbok. Birdlife is prolific with over 33 raptors recorded including cuckoo hawks, Egyptian vultures and peregrine falcons – the world’s fastest animal.
The almost inaccessible area south of the Kunene River, is home to the Himba ethnic group, who have kept their ethnic individuality and culture in the seclusion of Kaokoland.
The Kunene is a perennial river that rises in the highlands of Angola and carves its way along the Namibian border through wild and arid mountains before reaching the Atlantic. The river course is an astonishing contrast of sub-tropical growth amid the rocky outcrops and treeless plains of Kaokoland.
Damaraland & Kunene Attractions:
- The Himba people – traditional pastoralists who rely on their hardy cattle and goats for survival – have fascinating traditional garb that, until recently involved a daily coating of goat fat and red mud ostensibly as protection from the fierce heat of the sun
- The Kunene is a crocodile-infested river with a profusion of makalani palms, sycamore figs, Leadwood’s and jackal berry trees. River Rafting is offered from various lodges
- Epupa Falls, remote and wonderfully difficult to reach, is one of only a few waterfalls in Namibia.
- Hartmann’s Valley and Marienfluss are two vast wilderness areas in the west of Kaokoland. This is off-roading territory and the valleys support a fragile arid ecosystem. Marienfluss is the more accessible of the two and, being more easterly, it has more vegetation, birds and animals than the desolate Hartmann’s.
- Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings, organ pipes and petrified forest near Khorixas.
- Burnt Mountain is great for hiking and boasts the White Lady bushmen rock art
Things to do in Damaraland & Kunene:
- Take guided tours of Twyfelfontein, Burnt Mountain, Organ Pipes and Petrified Forest
- Find a welwitchia – a desert plant reaching hundreds of years old.
- Spot a Desert Elephant roaming the dry river beds
- Raft the Kunene River
- Visit Epupa Falls
- Take time to learn about the Himba culture