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Damaraland

Located as an ideal stopping point between the Skeleton Coast and Etosha National Park, Damaraland is an area of dramatic extremes which is not to be missed. The ruggedly beautiful terrain allows great variety – from the red plains of Palmwag, scattered with smooth, rust-coloured stones, open savannah and sand dunes, to the eerie ancient trees in the Petrified Forest, where the Welwitschia Mirabilis plant has been officially named a fossil due to its ancient longevity.

Damaraland is home to Namibia’s highest mountain, Brandberg, a spiritual site of great significance to the San Bushmen tribes. The main attraction is the famed White Lady rock painting, but there are also more than 45,000 prehistoric rock paintings painted by the San including the art which dates back at least 2,000 years. The Tsisab Ravine is of great significance to the San Tribe and is well worth the hike through the ancient paths of the mountain. Damaraland is also home to the iconic Himba Tribe, a semi authentic tribe whose elder generation still practice traditional rituals, whilst westernisation is expectedly creeping into their culture. Their recognisable red hair and skin comes from Ochre and cow’s fat, and on a village walk one can see how the women bathe with Ochre in their traditional huts. They are an open and welcoming culture and love interactive and inquisitive visitors!

Just north of Brandberg is the Huab Valley. Bordered by the red sand-stone cliffs of Twyfelfontein, a World Heritage Site, it is home to the largest concentration of tribal rock paintings and gives a fascinating insight on the practices and spiritual beliefs of hunter-gatherers from 6,000 years ago. Whilst at Twyfelfontein one can visit the Burnt Mountain, a spectacular natural phenomenon made up of residual shale containing iron particles that over the years have oxidised giving a shiny purple effect. It is particularly beautiful early in the morning when the low sunlight allows for some colourful photographs. For those interested in rock geology a visit to the Organ Pipes is a must; rows of dolerite columns caused by the vertical movement of magma, similar to those found at the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland but have not suffered erosion from the ocean and in better condition to photograph.

Damaraland is one of Southern Africa's most underrated wildlife-watching areas, and an excellent place to spot Namibia’s interesting desert flora and fauna. It is home to critically endangered rare black rhino, as well as the desert-adapted lions and elephant in the Huab River Valley. The elephants are identifiable by their thinner legs, owing to walking further in search of nourishment and they are also known to be larger than other elephants in Africa due to the mineral rich soil.

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