Damaraland, Namibia
Africa Namibia Unesco World Heritage Sites

Namibia: Wandering in rugged Damaraland

In north-central Namibia, Damaraland is nothing short of magnificent with its red hills of broken rock and silky gold tussock studded with mounds of a spiky, silvery green plant.

The backdrop is the translucent purple of a mountain range. Namibia has the sort of African landscape of which travellers dream.

In the village stalls sell dollies dressed in traditional costume to tourists but you can still see scenes of genuine village life. So what are the highlights of Damaraland in Namibia?

Damaraland, Namibia

The Petrified Forest

In the Petrified Forest the scattered remains of an ancient woodland can be seen, with big stone logs and crystallised water. The star of the show is the unique plant Welwitschia Mirabilis – a “living fossil”. Growing small and low to the ground this desert dweller looks blasted but survives on the moisture derived from the nighttime fogs of the Namib desert, which it absorbs through the leaves. Incredibly they can live for 2,000 years.

Damaraland, Namibia


At Twylfelfontein the rock art engravings in sandstone include a map showing the waterholes of the area, human footprints and graceful paintings of dancing people. There is a series of animals with corresponding footprints used to teach identification and tracking skills to children.

Damaraland, Namibia

A dancing Kudu sends its legs flying all akimbo. There are thousands of paintings here, created by the Bushmen (San), a stone-age people. And not forgetting the famous ‘wave’ rock.

Damaraland, Namibia

The Brandberg

The Brandberg Massif – or the burning mountain – is a huge purple lump of granite rising out of the golden Damaraland plain. I hiked upward for a few hours to see paintings on orange and black rocks (less well-preserved than at Twylfelfontein) and enjoy the fresh scent of camphor on the air.

Brandberg, Damaraland, Namibia

The famous White Lady of the Brandberg is actually a striking painting of a medicine man – all animal headed marks, white-painted skin and a cup of euphoria plant poison.

Spitzkoppe and Vingerklip

Driving in Namibia is exhilarating, nowhere more so than through the bizarrely-shaped rocks and eroded hills of Damaraland. The Spitzkoppe is an imposing inselberg, a magnificent 1,728m pyramid.

Spitzkop, Damaraland, Namibia

Vingerklip (or Rock Finger) is a strange figure of orange rock seemingly balanced precariously on a conical hill.

Damaraland, Namibia

The green plains of Damaraland stretch away forever, studded with rocky tabletops – the remains of an eroding river plateau, the memories of an ancient land.

Damaraland, Namibia

By Natasha von Geldern

Have you travelled in Damaraland, Namibia? What were your highlights?

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  1. Christina

    I’ve never been to Namibia, but would love to go one day. That wave rock looks pretty cool!

  2. Awesome! I am a little weary of travelling in Africa… but Namibia seems to be relatively safe when compared to some of the other nations in Africa… it might be a good start for me

  3. I haven’t been to Namibia, but am dying to see the massive sand dunes I’ve written about so many times in the flesh. One day…

  4. I can’t decide which of your highlights I like best!

  5. Dying to go to Namibia. Now if they’d only outlaw the seal culls so I can travel there and give them media coverage without hesitation over their policies…

  6. Your photos are amazing. I just found out that I MIGHT be going to Namibia. Fingers crossed.

  7. Love the aboriginals art- so cool!

  8. So many amazing places to see in Africa – I really want to go!!

  9. I was lucky enough to spend five weeks on safari in Namibia. An absolutely spectacular place to visit 😀

  10. How I haven’t been to Africa yet still boggles my mind…great stuff…

  11. I’ve only been in Windhoek, and one of the things I found very intriguing was how it felt like a little piece of Germany in Africa. Definitely want to explore more of Namibia.

    • Natasha von Geldern

      The German sud-wester presence was a surprise for me in Swakopmund, quite an anachronism!

  12. I’ve always visualized that Namibia would be totally arid desert. So it great to see some variations in the landscape in your post. And kudos to you for making it all the way out there; I’m truly fascinated.

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