Kent’s Adventures in Namibia – Part IV – Puros & Damaraland

November 21, 2013  By: Kent

Leaving Kunene, we made the long drive south through the Hartmann’s Valley toward the Puros Conservancy. This area is wide open and barren and we did still feel we were in the middle of nowhere, until we encountered a few Himba settlements and a handful of Herero people whom we stopped to visit with and take photos.

The Himba are typically tall and slender, and the women are famous for their intricate hairstylings and beautiful complexion, gained by rubbing their bodies with red ochre and butter fat. The Himba live in small huts made of sticks, mud and dung which are arranged in a circle around a central corral, which is used at night to house their livestock. Men, women and children adorn themselves with necklaces, bracelets, anklets and belts made from iron and shell beads. Their cousins, the Herero, also have livestock, but the women dress in huge brightly colored Victorian style gowns. The men dress in a modern western fashion.

After many hours, we came upon the Hoarusib River valley, which is dry most of the time, but is home to camel thorn and ana trees. A group of giraffes, looking much lighter than giraffes in other parts of Africa, greeted us, along with some desert birds. Here, we stayed at Okahirongo Elephant Lodge, set on a rise above the river valley and across from the small town of Puros. The lodge has seven luxury double cottages with en-suite large bathroom with bath tub overlooking the surroundings and one suite with two double rooms and private lounge. The main area has comfortable seating, a library, a dining area and a great pool. Activities include morning and afternoon game and scenic drives, walks, sundowners and more. After a tasty dinner of Oryx, we enjoyed star gazing and a good night’s sleep.

The next day we drove through more harsh landscape, arriving in Damaraland by mid-afternoon. To me, Damaraland is a must-see stop for any first time visitor to Namibia due to the combination of beautiful landscapes, cultural exchanges, history (bushman rock engravings) and desert-adapted species such as elephants.

Twyfelfontein’s rock engravings, some of which are thousands of years old, are well-preserved evidence of the earliest inhabitants of the region, the bushmen. Discernable images include gemsbok (oryx), lions and even seals and penguins, evidence these groups had traveled to the coastal areas. Also near buy is the smaller Burnt Mountain and the organ pipes, which are worth a brief stop. Animal wise, we had good sightings of elephants, seeing a large family group including a small calf, and also some big bulls on multiple occasions. To watch them navigate, browse and play in this harsh landscape is truly amazing.

For accommodations, we stayed at Mowani Mountain Camp, which is nestled into rounded rock outcroppings close to the engravings. The 12 chalets are roomy and comfortable and the public areas and pool are pleasant. The best part of the camp, though, is the sunset views from the higher rocks in camp. They were definitely the best I’ve seen in Africa.

Next up: Okonjima and Africat

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