Wilderness Safaris, an ecotourism company that's been running safaris in southern Africa for 25 years, has 15 camps and lodges in Namibia, including some of Africa's most acclaimed eco-accommodations at Damaraland Camp. Damaraland sits within the protected Torra Wildlife Conservancy in Namibia's mountainous northwest, home to the rare desert elephant, Hartmann's mountain zebra, and southern giraffe, as well as some of Africa's best-preserved ancient rock engravings. Before the camp opened in 1996, however, the landscape was largely denuded and poaching was rife. Wilderness Safaris formed a partnership with the local Torra community, making the community stakeholders in the camp, which gave them incentive to protect the environment and wildlife.
"Today, this area has been transformed—the wildlife numbers are climbing and many of the animal populations have increased substantially," says Wilderness Safaris guide Martin Benadie. "The camp staff is sourced from the surrounding community, who also get a percentage of the camp's profits. Thus, the very existence of the camp has been instrumental in alleviating poverty in the region."
Travelers can book individual nightly stays at Damaraland Camp or work with an agent to create a Namibia tour that includes stays at Damaraland and other Wilderness Safaris camps. Benadie suggests a three-night trip to Damaraland. During your visit, you'll stay in one of 10 large walk-in safari tents, and spend your days on game drives, walking safaris, and trips to see rock-art sites. Back at the camp, you'll dine in the main stone lodge, eating meals cooked over an open fire. You can also relax in an on-site sunken bar and swimming pool.
Trip planning:The camp is open year-round, but desert-elephant viewing is best from July to December. Prices cover accommodations, all meals and activities, guides, and parks fees. Airfare is extra. Round-trip fares from New York to Windhoek, Namibia start at $2,001 including taxes, on United.
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