Damaraland - Rock Art, Brandberg, Namibia
For me Damaraland was one of the greatest places in Namibia. You could also visit the Living museum of the Damara.
We liked it, nice people, great landscape.
In Damaraland, not far from Twyfelfontein, you can visit a Petrified Forest. This is an entire forest of massive tree trunks that have turned into stone. The tree trunks are scattered over a large area; some are pretty small but others are huge – up to 34 metres long and 6 metres in circumference. They are estimated to be about 260 million years old. Altogether about 50 individual trees can be seen, some half buried on the rock or soil, others lying on the surface. There are also many small stones which, on close inspection, turn out to be petrified wood too. This is also a good place to see the amazing welwitschia mirabilis plants.
There’s no admission charge, perhaps surprisingly, but hiring a guide is compulsory and of course you must tip them – they rely on these tips as their income. However, as we discovered, they can be quite creative in maximising that income:
Our guide told us about his life looking after elderly relatives on a farm a couple of miles away. He pointed out the farm and the rough walk he had to take to and from the house several times a day. As we walked and talked he carved a Malakani nut - you'll be offered these everywhere you go, but this one was very well done, with a number of animals and my name, so we agreed to buy it in addition to giving him a good tip. When we returned to the car park he took us aside to pay for the nut, away from the view of the official souvenir stall. And the spot he chose to complete the transaction was ...
... beside his very good car. So much for the long daily walks in the hot sun! But it made a good story, and as I said, it was a beautifully carved nut, which still hangs in my kitchen to remind me of Namibia.
Damaraland was on our way from the coast to the Etosha park, it is very interesting area with mountains and forest and of course the Twyfelfontein, where you can see the old stone art of the pre historic inhabitants of this land.
This is not the best fossil forest in the world but its still quite interesting. It also provides income for the local community so is worth visiting for that.
The trees are about 250 million years old and were deposited in the area by the flood which came down from areas further north. The fact that trunks do not have any branches or roots suggest that these trees grew somewhere else and were carried to its present location by rivers or floods.
The trunks were deposited in silica rich environment and were excluded from contact with oxygen which prevented decay. During the course of time molecules of silica penetrated the wood and replaced wood molecules.
At present around 50 trunks can be seen on the site with the longest being more that 30 meters long
The site was declared a national monument in 1950 but suffered the same damaging attacks of souvenir hunters. Now it is strictly prohibited to remove or damage even small pieces of petrified wood!
You can hire a guide who will lead you on a short walk and tell you about the trees. The surrounding scenery is pretty good too.
One of the most famous rock engravings site in Namibia is Twyfelfontein ("Doubtful fountain") in Damaraland where more than 2 500 images have been recorded as well as several paintings.
The name was given to this place by David Levin, a sheep farmer, who moved there in 1947. There is a shelter where paintings of human figures can be seen.
Twyfelfontein was proclaimed a national monument in 1952 but unfortunately some of the rock art had been damaged or removed by then
There is no certainty on the reasons why the rock art was made. Some people believe that it were the pictured reminders of some events. Another purpose was representation of religious believes, ceremonies or even a trance experiences. It could also be a way of communication.
There is an interesting "eco visitor centre" and small exhibition about the desert and the rock art is seen on a guided circular walk lasting about 45 mins. There is a little bit of boulder hopping and stair climbing to do so be wary if you are not fleet of foot.
Damaraland is part of the Kaokoveld, the most sparsely populated area of Namibia - and this in a country that is already one of the countries with the least inhabitants compared to size; just 2 inhabitants per square kilometer.
Southern Damaraland has many attractions, and the landscape is totally different from the rest of Namibia, with interesting geological formations. The main attractions in this area are the Brandberg Mountain, the highest one in Namibia, the Twyfelfontein rock art, and geological formations such as the Organ Pipes%, Burnt Mountain%, Vingerclip.
While the whole of the Kaokoveld is an area that could be devoted several days of exploration, if you are short of time (like we were), it is an interesting way to get from the Swakopmund Region to Etosha ... provided you stop for at least 1 night.
The prehistoric rock engravings at Twyfelfontein are in every guide-book, and are certainly worth a visit. You need to be able to scramble up and over the rocks - make sure you take some water, a hat and some sunscreen. Your guide will point out some of the best images and if you get a good one will tell you a bit about the history of the area and what the pictures tell us about the people who used to live there.
Damaraland has quite a lot of wild desert elefants.
They are special to normal elefants since they do need very less water and walk sometimes over 70 km a day to get it (normal elefants like in Etosha make only around 10km a day)
Also they do not destroy trees like normal elephants do. They will eat from them, but not too much, so they can come back later.
Not many people do see them. But you have a good chance, if you stay in the Aba Huab Rest Camp. (see tip Aba Huab Campsite ) They have a watering hole there, the elephants sometimes visit.
And they make an imposant view. Let me tell you this.
The most interesting attraction in Twfelfontein is the ancient rock petroglyps. These glyps were cut 6000 years ago presumably by nomadic hunters. Through the red sandstone they cut leaving a pinkish figures of animals, humans, and other geometric shapes. You can see elephants, rhinos, giraffes, wildebeest, and other African wildlife that we still see today. The dry and desolate landscape has preserved these amazing vestiges of ancient Namibia even though they bask in plain view of the sun.
Open sunrise to sunset
Tour of the engravings provide although not very insightful
Cost is about $1 US or $10 Rand per person and vehicle
Located about 200 km north of Swakopmund as the crow flies west of C35
Damaraland is the apartheid name the region of south of Kaokoland to Swakopmund used to had, but is still used.
Brandberg, Twyfelfontein, Petrified Forest, desert elephants (I didn't saw any of them), but I did saw zebras, springbox, kudu in our way, beautiful free wild animals living in a free land.
Home of Herero people and origen of Damara people. Dama means "who walked here" in Nama language (the languages of Damara people)
"The Damaraland community consists of a unique group of people who have recognised the value of the wildlife on their land and formed a Community Wildlife Conservancy to protect it."
Damaraland is one of the most beautifuls regions. This is the favorite region of our Herero guide Uanee.
Twyfelfountain -which means something like "unsure fountain" is the place of a giant "open air museum".
Here on the red Sandstone you can find more than 2500 rock carvings. (Petroglyphs).
Scientists are still quarreling about how old they are. They vary from several hundred to several thousand years.
Most of the carvings (and paintings) show animals. They are easy to recognize. But there are also signs that would show one how to find water here.
The Area is a National Monument and you have to have a guide to visit it. The guide you will find right at the parking space. Most of them do their job very good, so don´t forget to tip them.
Come early since most guides will be occupied in the afternoon, then you have to wait until one is free.
Bring good shoes, you will have to walk/climb to see the more interesting Plates.
p.s. can you see the elefant on wheels?
-actually they are not wheels but the footprints of the animal, thats how they portrayed it. It can also be seen on the famous lion.(not on this plate)
With some wonderful ancient rock engravings demonstrating that this area must ahve been full of wildlife at some stage, this is a lovely place to visit. Desert elephants can be seen on the plains below, and the rocks are teeming with lizards and other small desert creatures. A bit of a scramble to see the 6000-year old carvings, but worth it.
Here you will see some excellently preserved rock engravings that are estimated to be between 2000 and 6000 years old.
It is very clear to see the different animals in the photo, especially the giraffe and a warthog at its feet.
The Brandberg massif is visible from afar. At a mere 2600m above sea level Brandberg is home to Namibia’s highest mountain and Africa’s third highest. It is formed from one large chunk of granite which emerges from the surrounding flat scrubland and reflects the sun’s light stupendously – especially in the evening, when it turns a deep red, giving it its name which translates as “burning mountain”.
It was in this vicinity that we encountered the rare desert elephant, the scary black mamba and the amazing San rock paintings.
One of the primary attractions of the Twyfelfontein area of Damaraland are the impressive rock etchings to be found among the craggy terrain. Dates are impossible to know, but it's estimated that these etchings were produced by the ancestors of the Damara peoples some 3,000 - 5,000 years ago.
Just seeing these ancient artifacts is impressive, leaving you to ponder the vastness of time, and how little we actually know about ourselves. But, it's even better if you get the right local guide to assist you on your exploration. IF she's at the entrance, ask for a lady named "Tickla". She was terrific. FWIW, our local guide told me that Tickla was by far the best of the Twyfelfontein guides.
Also, Twyfelfontein means "doubtful spring". It's an appropriate name, as I didn't see so much as a drop of water anywhere near by.