Desert-adapted black rhino can be found near Desert Rhino Camp.

Desert Rhino Camp | Damaraland Luxury Namibia Safari Lodge

At first glance, the flat-topped mountains and rolling, rocky plains of Damaraland seem almost devoid of life, but hidden springs and sea mists provide the moisture required by all manner of desert-adapted wildlife, from ancient welwitschia to free-roaming black rhino, all of which can be seen from Desert Rhino Camp.

The place

We’ve come to Desert Rhino Camp, in the Palmwag Concession, to learn more about conservation and for a chance to track rhino on foot. The first thing that strikes us as we approach this luxury Namibian safari lodge is the landscape, which is both dramatic and calming at the same time. Our guide drives us across a stony plain, and between scattered euphorbia. Beyond the lodge, flat-topped mesas and isolated conical mountains rear up into the cloudless blue sky. The sweeping vistas absorb us as we drive along, but our guide explains that as we spend more time here in Damaraland, we’ll also come to appreciate some of the smaller details. Laughing, he tells us that we’ll even come to love scorpions!En route to the lodge, he takes a small diversion to where a spring emerges from the ground, and we spot our first desert-adapted animals: two stately oryx. A vulture wheels overhead, but it’s out of luck: these antelope are in great condition. We look around us at the rolling, rocky hills, and inhale the pure dry desert air.

We’ve come to Desert Rhino Camp, in the Palmwag Concession, to learn more about conservation and for a chance to track rhino on foot. The first thing that strikes us as we approach this luxury Namibian safari lodge is the landscape, which is both dramatic and calming at the same time. Our guide drives us across a stony plain, and between scattered euphorbia. Beyond the lodge, flat-topped mesas and isolated conical mountains rear up into the cloudless blue sky.

The sweeping vistas absorb us as we drive along, but our guide explains that as we spend more time here in Damaraland, we’ll also come to appreciate some of the smaller details. Laughing, he tells us that we’ll even come to love scorpions!

En route to the lodge, he takes a small diversion to where a spring emerges from the ground, and we spot our first desert-adapted animals: two stately oryx. A vulture wheels overhead, but it’s out of luck: these antelope are in great condition. We look around us at the rolling, rocky hills, and inhale the pure dry desert air.

The room

A sandy path leads from the main area of the lodge to our raised, Meru-style tent. From our private viewing deck, we can indulge in more of this magical landscape, including the dramatic Etendeka Mountains. We wonder aloud as to what geological forces were required to create such a scene, but whatever prehistoric violence was involved, the result is incredibly tranquil. Right by our tent, the manager points out a bizarre, straggling welwitschia plant and we’re astonished to learn that it’s over 1,000 years old. We’ve also passed the fire pit, which he refers to as his ‘million-star restaurant’.It’s blissfully cool and shady inside our tent, with the open canvas panels allowing the breeze to enter. I love the polished wooden floors and the gleaming twin copper sinks, while my partner is delighted by the colours and textures of the fabrics, carefully chosen to reflect the colours of the landscape. I find a leaflet about the in-room massage treatment and mentally allocate a morning to being pampered.

A sandy path leads from the main area of the lodge to our raised, Meru-style tent. From our private viewing deck, we can indulge in more of this magical landscape, including the dramatic Etendeka Mountains. We wonder aloud as to what geological forces were required to create such a scene, but whatever prehistoric violence was involved, the result is incredibly tranquil.

Right by our tent, the manager points out a bizarre, straggling welwitschia plant and we’re astonished to learn that it’s over 1,000 years old. We’ve also passed the fire pit, which he refers to as his ‘million-star restaurant’.

It’s blissfully cool and shady inside our tent, with the open canvas panels allowing the breeze to enter. I love the polished wooden floors and the gleaming twin copper sinks, while my partner is delighted by the colours and textures of the fabrics, carefully chosen to reflect the colours of the landscape. I find a leaflet about the in-room massage treatment and mentally allocate a morning to being pampered.

What sets it apart

Desert Rhino Camp is not of course the only luxury Namibian safari lodge that’s set in spectacular surrounds. What makes it different, however, is the incredible array of wildlife that calls this region home – from the beautiful to the bizarre. We’re impressed by the passion the guides have for this area, and the plants and animals that eke out a living here. Desert Rhino Camp is much more than just a showcase, however – in collaboration with Namibian NGO Save the Rhino Trust, the lodge is (as its name suggests) actively involved in the research and conservation of the local black rhino, reckoned to be the largest remaining population anywhere in Africa.The opportunity to track rhino alongside researchers and expert guides was the biggest drawcard for us, but within minutes of arriving, we’re discovering that rhino are from being the only amazing residents of this arid yet beautiful region.

Desert Rhino Camp is not of course the only luxury Namibian safari lodge that’s set in spectacular surrounds. What makes it different, however, is the incredible array of wildlife that calls this region home – from the beautiful to the bizarre.

We’re impressed by the passion the guides have for this area, and the plants and animals that eke out a living here. Desert Rhino Camp is much more than just a showcase, however – in collaboration with Namibian NGO Save the Rhino Trust, the lodge is (as its name suggests) actively involved in the research and conservation of the local black rhino, reckoned to be the largest remaining population anywhere in Africa.

The opportunity to track rhino alongside researchers and expert guides was the biggest drawcard for us, but within minutes of arriving, we’re discovering that rhino are from being the only amazing residents of this arid yet beautiful region.

At a glance

  • Luxury safari lodge with an open-sided dining room, fire pit and pool. There are eight raised Meru-style tents set in a wide valley among mesas and arid plains.
  • Private concession, private dining available, private vehicle available (additional cost) and private activities available (additional cost).
  • Game drives, walking safaris (including scorpion walks), rhino tracking, stargazing, birdwatching, bush dinners, bush sundowners, hiking, swimming and spa treatments.
  • Children six years and over are welcome. Children aged 6–16 must share with an adult, and families with under-12s must book a private vehicle (additional cost). No under 13s permitted on rhino tracking activity, and children aged 13–16 permitted at guides’ discretion.

  • Luxury safari lodge with an open-sided dining room, fire pit and pool. There are eight raised Meru-style tents set in a wide valley among mesas and arid plains.
  • Private concession, private dining available, private vehicle available (additional cost) and private activities available (additional cost).
  • Game drives, walking safaris (including scorpion walks), rhino tracking, stargazing, birdwatching, bush dinners, bush sundowners, hiking, swimming and spa treatments.
  • Children six years and over are welcome. Children aged 6–16 must share with an adult, and families with under-12s must book a private vehicle (additional cost). No under 13s permitted on rhino tracking activity, and children aged 13–16 permitted at guides’ discretion.

Prices

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

When to Go

While Namibia’s Skeleton Coast has a unique climate, driven by cold marine currents that cause cooler and more humid conditions year round, the inland parts of Damaraland have a more typical desert climate. This makes the southern hemisphere winter the ideal season to visit, as you’ll benefit from cooler and drier conditions. The limpid light at each end of the day is a delight, while precious water becomes ever scarcer as the country waits for rain. Waterholes increase in importance now, making game-viewing potentially a very concentrated experience.

The unique sub-climate of Namibia’s Atlantic seaboard make it more of a year-round destination than Damaraland, which becomes significantly hotter during the southern hemisphere summer. It’s certainly a time of year with fewer visitors, but that has its own advantages – enjoy discounted stays and even more seclusion at some of Namibia’s best lodges. Careful planning of daily activities and regular dips in the pool will help you beat the heat, and a combined itinerary will add the coolness of the Skeleton Coast to the Damaraland heat.

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