Damaraland is huge, untamed, ruggedly beautiful region in northwest Namibia.  It is the home of the desert elephant, black rhinos, and canyons as far as the eye can see.  We spent 3 days here during our 2 week Namibia.  It is the perfect pitstop between Etosha National Park and Swakapmund.   We started at Grooteberg Lodge in Palmwag, Northern Damaraland.  Quan is completing a remote course and needed wifi on that night for an important call for her course.  The Grooteberg Lodge was the most luxurious place we stayed on the whole trip.  After Grootberg Lodge, we then went to one of the most amazing places we saw in Namibia.  We went camping in Spitzkoppe which believe has some of the best and remote campsites in the world.

Etosha to Grootberg Lodge Northern Damaraland

  • Driving Distance: 300 Km/185 miles
  • Driving Time: 4.5 hours
  • Road Conditions – Half Paved Road – Half Gravel Road

Grootberg Lodge Northern Damaraland Spitzkoppe Southern Damaraland

  • Driving Distance: 350 Km/215 miles
  • Driving Time: 6 hours
  • Road Conditions – Half Paved Road – Half Gravel Road

The drive from Etosha National Park to northern Damaraland is approximately 4 hours. However we made a pitstop at Outjo which is 30 minutes out of the way.  Outjo is a medium size town with cute cafes, petrol stations, and super markets (and a MTC store). This is a great refueling stop before or after an Etosha stay.

Northern Damaraland: Grootberg Lodge

The drive from Outjo to Grootberg Lodge is mainly on a gravel road. The last hour is spectacular due to the sweeping landscape of red desert formations.  The real highlight is the lodge itself. Grootberg Lodge is by far the nicest lodge we stayed in during our time in Namibia. The road up to the lodge is a very narrow and steep.  There is a parking lot at the base of the drive way.  The lodge offers  rides up for guests who have vehicles without 4WD.  Once up top, the views are spectacular.  The pool overlooks canyons as do every room. The rooms line the rim of the canyon and are beautifully decorated. Accommodations  cost $185/night which includes both dinner and breakfast.

Grootberg Lodge: Community Conservancy

Most importantly , this is the first lodge to be wholly owned by the community. Community members make up 98% of the lodge employees.  It provides employment for the people region as well as conservation efforts for the wildlife.  Since its been built, wildlife numbers have grown in the region as the lodge tackles the delicate integration of wildlife, livestock, and water management. The lodge also supports community efforts such as the building of clinics, schools, water stations, and a community kitchen for the elderly.

If you’re looking to splurge for a night somewhere, this is the place, here’s the view from the balcony of our room:

The lodge also provides employments for individuals who have deep expertise in tracking animals in the region. Otherwise lured into poaching, they now serve as guides and trackers for the lodge.  Grootberg Lodge offers Rhino tracking excursions for guests. We skipped this as we were lucky to have seen rhinos several times at the waterholes in Etosha.   so we decided to instead go for a jog on the nature trail at the top of the canyon before leaving to go camping in Spitzkoppe.

Camping in Spitzkoppe

It was a long 6 hour drive from Grootberg Lodge to Spitzkoppe on a gravel road. The first two hours were amazing with incredible red rock formations.   However, the last 4 were fairly tedious. We passed signs for the White Lady Painting enroute,  but decided to bypass it.

We also passed several women in Victorian Dresses. When Missionaries arrived in Namibia in the 19th century, they did not feel the native clothes were modest enough, so they forced the women to wear Victorian dresses.  It’s since been so incorporated into the local culture that tribal Namibian women still wear them today!

When we arrived to Spitzkoppe we were blown away. Its huge rock formations are amazing. The Spitzkoppe campsites don’t have running water or toilets.  They are very isolated from one another in the absolute best way! The park does have showers and toilets by the main reception area. Picking a campsite is first come first serve.  We recommend  campsite numbers 8-11 as they are most remote. Campsite 10 and 11 having the best views for sunset. If you do not get one of these campsites you should walk to find a great spot for sunset. If your campsite is on the other side of the park from these recommended sites, you should drive to that side of the park to catch the sunset. The sunsets are the best part of camping at Spitzkoppe. It’s truly incredible:

After you’ve staked out your campsite, it’s also great to climb and check out the rock pool by campsite #2 (it was completely dry when we were there) it started raining when we got there and we saw this double rainbow:

You also need to check out the Arch by campsite #5. It’s one of the most iconic spots in Namibia. We visited it the day we arrived as well as the following morning.  There are also campsites just below this arch, another great option for camping at Spitzkoppe!

You can reach Spitzkoppe from Swakapmund in under 2 hours.  You can choose to bypass northern Damaraland.  Do not miss camping in Spitzkoppe, the best campsite we stayed at in Namibia!!!

Thinking about seeing more of Nambia? This is our two week Namibia itinerary:

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