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Damaraland and Skeleton Coast

Damaraland and Skeleton Coast

Damaraland features vast khaki plains, ochre purple rocky mountains and incredible desert-adapted wildlife. Track rhino and desert elephant, explore the rugged land, meet the local Damara people or sit back and enjoy the dramatic scenery.

Southern Damaraland boasts many geological and historical attractions, including the impressive san rock art engravings at Twyfelfontein, now a World Heritage Site.  Northern Damaraland has the greatest concentrations of game including Namibia’s unique game viewing attractions of desert elephants and rhino.

The area is divided into several enormous private game reserves, that support most species of Namibia’s large game and provide some of the best birding and wildlife experiences in the country.  Remote eco friendly bush camps offer a true wilderness Damaraland experience where the opportunity to spot a black rhino, admire desert adapted species and spend nights star gazing in such an ancient landscape is truly awe inspiring!  

The Skeleton Coast, to the west of Damaraland is one of Namibia’s most remote locations and one of the most beautiful and unique places in the world.  Much the best way to see it is on a fly-in safari either on a scenic day flight or on a tour for several days to stay at fully equipped tented desert camps.  Scenic aircraft flights will reveal fascinating bird’s-eye views of a coastline of bleached whalebones and rusted shipwrecks with adjoining roaring dunes. Further land exploration finds diverse and ever-changing geological formations, the refuges of desert-dwelling animals such as the endangered black rhino and desert-adapted elephant, the Cape Cross colony of cape fur seals, endemic bird species and encounters with the nomadic Himba people.

Photo Credit: Dana Allen 

at a glance

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Introduction

Damaraland and the Skeleton Coast boast several unique highlights that can’t be missed. The Skeleton Coast lies in the West and Damaraland falls between it and the Etosha National Park in the East. The Skeleton Coast and Damaraland have some of the most fascinating geology in the world which tends to mean magnificent landscapes and fantastic sunsets.

The Skeleton Coast where the Namib Desert meets the Atlantic Ocean in south-western Africa is named after the bleached bones and scattered remains of shipwrecks washed up on its shore.  This coastline is one of the most desolate yet hauntingly beautiful places on earth.  And while you may indeed encounter skeletons of all descriptions: ships, elephants, whales and tiny lizards, this vast and uncharted territory is home to many fascinating creatures and plants. And even more fascinating landscapes and bizarre juxtapositions of sand and sea, and life and death.

The name Damaraland is derived from the fact that the Damara people live in this area (they were relocated here as a result of the Odendaal Plan in the 1960’s). The name Damaraland is still commonly used in tourism circles, although the entire region has now been renamed; the southern section now lies in the Erongo region while the north forms part of the Kunene region.  Damaraland is the home of the desert adapted where a wide range of lodges offer activities that include nature drives and walks during which guests can see species such as desert-adapted elephant, gemsbok, kudu and springbok, and black rhino as well as rare succulent plants

Highlights of the area include:

The Brandberg – Namibia’s highest mountain and home to the famous ‘White Lady’ Bushman Painting.

Twyfelfontein – a wonderful rocky outcrop with thousands of Bushman engravings.

Spitzkoppe – a typical pointed inselberg, and a place of great mystery to the ancient San people

The Petrified Forest – which is millions of years old.

The Vingerklip (finger rock) – a towering finger of limestone that rises 35m above its base.

Skeleton Coast – Stunning landscape

Ugab Rock Formations

Roaring Sand dunes

Cape Fur Seal Colonies

 

When To Visit

Every single month is worth a journey to Namibia. Most visitors prefer to travel during the months May to October. It hardly ever rains and the visitor can enjoy the uninterrupted sunshine, except at the foggy coast. The climate is moderate and during the day it does not get extremely hot. Nevertheless it can get very cold in the evenings.

January, February, March

These mid Summer months tend to be the wettest and hottest.  This is the time when rainfall is expected.  Temperatures can be 30-35degC peaking to over 40degC in the desert.  This can make travel a little uncomfortable.  Torrential downpours can occur in the mountains causing flash floods in the valleys.  Once the rains start wildlife viewing in Etosha can be poor because of animal dispersals.

April, May

These are often lovely months in Namibia. Increasingly dry, with a real freshness in the air, and greenery in the landscape; at this time the air is clear and largely free from dust, allowing superb photography.  Game viewing is getting better and travel gets easier as roads that may have been damaged during rainfall are repaired.

June, July, August

This is Namibia’s winter.  Nights can become cold, incredibly dropping to below zero giving frosts in Etosha and the mountain regions.  With the drying conditions the wildlife in the north starts heading towards the permanent water, so making for better wildlife viewing.  It is peak season for game viewing with visitor numbers increasing.

September, October

Temperatures are rising and game-viewing in most areas is at its best, although there’s often a lot of dust around and the high temperatures are starting to take their toll on the vegetation

November, December

November can be a variable month for weather. Some years the hot dry weather continues and other times by early November rain clouds can be forming.  If rains do occur this can be quite a dramatic experience.

December temperatures are high averaging 30 degC, some days may be humid with localized thunderstorms usually in the afternoon especially in the center and east of the country.  Desert regions remain dry.

Skeleton Coast

The closer one gets to the Atlantic coast the less the rainfall. Here the climate differentiates drastically from the rest of the country. Due to the cold Benguela Current along the Atlantic coast the temperatures drop strongly compared to other areas of the country. The prevailing southwest wind is cooled down by the Benguela Current to the extent that no cloud formation can take place at this altitude. Yet a fog bank develops over the Atlantic which lingers along the coastal belt for about 200 days annually and which may also infiltrate several kilometres inland.

Due to the constant south-westerly wind the fluctuation in temperature during summer and winter months is moderate. Thus the average temperature in Swakopmund in January lies at 20 °C, whilst in August an average of 16°C is measured. During the winter month and especially when foggy it can be uncomfortably cold. Except for the days where the so-called east wind weather prevails and warm winds from the Namib Desert heat up the coast. Nevertheless, Namibia is not a country for the typical beach holiday as the water temperatures of the Atlantic rarely rise above 19° C and if they do then only during January – March.

Temperature & Rainfall

Climate Data Damaraland

Damaraland Highlights

Himba Tribes

Himba Tribes

Himba Tribes

In a land of 2.2 million people with 13 ethnic tribes, it is the nomadic Himba numbering only ...

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Himba Tribes

Himba Tribes

In a land of 2.2 million people with 13 ethnic tribes, it is the nomadic Himba numbering only 12,000 who are perhaps the most visually distinctive. Our guests have the opportunity to learn about their lifestyle through respectful meetings and interactions.

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Hot Air Ballooning

Hot Air Ballooning

Hot Air Ballooning

To comprehend the enormity of this landscape, take a hot air balloon flight or even a Skeleton ...

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Hot Air Ballooning

Hot Air Ballooning

To comprehend the enormity of this landscape, take a hot air balloon flight or even a Skeleton Coast Scenic flight from Swakopmund to get a bird’s eye view of The Skeleton Coast with dunes, canyons, mountains and along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Welwitschia Plant

Welwitschia Plant

Welwitschia Plant

It’s worth taking a look at the ancient Welwitschia plant, which may live up to hundreds of years.

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Welwitschia Plant

Welwitschia Plant

It’s worth taking a look at the ancient Welwitschia plant, which may live up to hundreds of years.

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Stone Organ Pipes

Stone Organ Pipes

Stone Organ Pipes

Don't miss the opportunity to visit the Organ Pipes which is a mass of perpendicular dolerite ...

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Stone Organ Pipes

Stone Organ Pipes

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Organ Pipes which is a mass of perpendicular dolerite pillars located down the river bed. Formed by the intrusion of volcanic rock dolerite about 120 million years ago.

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Twyfelfontein Petroglyphs

Twyfelfontein Petroglyphs

Twyfelfontein Petroglyphs

The World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein is one of the most important prehistoric rock art sites in ...

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Twyfelfontein Petroglyphs

Twyfelfontein Petroglyphs

The World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein is one of the most important prehistoric rock art sites in southern Africa, and features well preserved 2000 year old Bushmen engravings.

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Eco Luxury Lodges

Eco Luxury Lodges

Eco Luxury Lodges

Environmentally sustainable lodges are dotted around in the Namib desert. This is Mowani Mountain ...

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Eco Luxury Lodges

Eco Luxury Lodges

Environmentally sustainable lodges are dotted around in the Namib desert. This is Mowani Mountain Camp

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Sleep Outs & Star Gazing

Sleep Outs & Star Gazing

Sleep Outs & Star Gazing

Namibia is one of the top destinations in the world for stargazing. Its dark and clear night skies ...

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Sleep Outs & Star Gazing

Sleep Outs & Star Gazing

Namibia is one of the top destinations in the world for stargazing. Its dark and clear night skies are amongst some of the most pristine in the world. Ask us about Namibian properties with “star” platforms, dramatic skylights over the bed and resident astronomers.

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Skeleton Coast

Skeleton Coast

Skeleton Coast

Normally associated with famous shipwrecks, the name came from the bones that lined the beaches ...

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Skeleton Coast

Skeleton Coast

Normally associated with famous shipwrecks, the name came from the bones that lined the beaches from whaling operations and seal hunts – these can be accessed by a fascinating drive or scenic flight.

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Desert Adapted Wildlife

Desert Adapted Wildlife

Desert Adapted Wildlife

Unique desert-adapted wildlife exists in the Namib Desert with species including black rhino, ...

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Desert Adapted Wildlife

Desert Adapted Wildlife

Unique desert-adapted wildlife exists in the Namib Desert with species including black rhino, elephant, Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, as well as a fascinating number of insects and reptiles that survive these parched environments.

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camps & lodges

Camp Kipwe

Camp Kipwe

Camp Kipwe is an eco friendly lodge set within the Twyfelfontein Conservancy in Damaraland. It's sister camp is Mowani Mountain ... Read More

Damaraland Camp

Damaraland Camp

Damaraland Camp is situated in the Huab River Valley in one of the best wilderness areas in Namibia,  offering endless vistas across stark ... Read More

Desert Rhino Camp

Desert Rhino Camp

An original and exclusive wilderness experience, Desert Rhino Camp lies within the 450,000 hectare private Palmwag Concession in northern Damaraland, ... Read More

Doro Nawas

Doro Nawas

Doro Nawas lies in the 407,300 hectare Doro Nawas Conservancy on the slopes of a small hill on the edge of the dry Aba-Huab River, overlooking ... Read More

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

In a remote area of the Kaokoveld, in a land of bare mountains, gravel-strewn plains and dry riverbeds that draw fascinating wildlife, lies Hoanib ... Read More

Mowani Mountain Camp

Mowani Mountain Camp

Mowani Mountain Camp is a beautifully designed lodge located in the Twyfelfontein area of western Namibia in the heart of southern Damaraland between ... Read More