Eco Lodge: Damaraland Camp in Namibia

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Damaraland Camp is the result of a mutually beneficial collaboration between Wilderness Safaris, a South African-based company, and the Torra Conservancy, a conservation area managed by the local Torra community. Its immense success has become an example for many other conservation organizations, communities and companies all over Africa.

The camp was built in a way that is as eco-friendly as possible. The main building wasn’t built from scratch, but was already there and simply restored. Interior decorations were made with reused materials, which gives the camp a feeling of timelessness and shows its respects for things that exist. Basically, all the materials that are used to build the camp, its tents and main building, are biodegradable—there is no steel and only a minimal amount of manmade materials; instead, there is canvas fabric, wood, reeds, grass thatch and gum poles. The walls, for instance, aren’t made up of bricks, but of reed-bedded and clay-plastered eco-sandbags, which have the added perk of being much more insulating.

The entire camp was also built on the principle that less is more. Its designs are natural and feel “organic”, so to speak, its structures erected according to local building traditions (with the help of the local community).

All the units are completely powered by solar power and, moreover, the use of LED technology limits the actual use of power. Great care was taken to limit unnecessary light pollution, outside the structure and even inside as well. Additionally, the camp’s design and setup allow for maximal natural convection and ventilation. Hot water is provided by solar panels. No carbon-based power is used whatsoever at Damaraland Camp.

It is this cutting-edge green technology combined with traditional building methods that makes this camp so exceptional. It offers sustainable accommodation with a luxurious touch. The camp consists of no more than ten elevated thatched tents, including one larger family unit, and a communal thatched living area, which is equipped with a bar, fireplace and swimming pool.

Wildlife is not present year-round at this camp, due to the huge seasonal fluctuation in rainfall. Namibia‘s Damaraland is one of the driest places in Africa, a challenging place for any animal. Therefore, there are no vast herds of game like in other parts of the continent. However, this particular environment is, in fact, home to some fascinating animals that have found a way to adapt. The Torra Conservancy is home to black rhinos, oryx, southern giraffes, cheetahs, lions, spotted and brown hyenas, Hartman’s mountain zebras, springboks and, probably most the interesting animals of them all, the rare desert elephants. All these animals are drawn to the water resources of the Haub River valley.

Activities on offer at Damaraland Camp include game drives—safaris to find the desert elephants are an obvious favorite—and guided bush walks. Guests can also immerse themselves in the local culture by visiting one of the local communities, which include the Owambo, Herero and Nama-Damara people, as well as the displaced South African Riemvasmaakers. On top of that, there are rock art excursions, also a popular activity as Damaraland is renowned around the world for its ancient rock art sites. At night, guests can enjoy some of the best star gazing in the world.

Bram Reusen

Author: Bram Reusen

Bio:

Bram Reusen is fluent in both English & Dutch, and his writings include news articles, equipment manuals, and more.

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