Damaraland is one of the most scenic areas in Namibia, a huge, untamed, ruggedly beautiful region. Here there are prehistoric water courses with open plains and grassland, massive granite koppies and deep gorges.
Towards the west, the geography changes dramatically with endless sandy wastes, that incredibly are able to sustain small, but wide-ranging, populations of desert-adapted elephant, black rhino, giraffe, ostrich and springbok. These animals have adapted their lifestyles to survive the harshness of the sun-blistered, almost waterless desert spaces.
Together, Damaraland and Kaokoland are known as the Kaokoveld.
Highlights of the area include:
The Brandberg 'the fire mountain' is named after the effect created by the setting of the sun on its western face, which causes the granite massif to resemble a burning slag heap glowing red. The Brandberg (and the Spitzkoppe) is a favourite place for climbers in Namibia, and both mountains contain a high density of San (Bushman) art. The main attraction at Twyfelfontein (doubtful spring) is its large gallery of rock art, one of the most extensive in Africa.
Two other well-known geological features close to Twyfelfontein are the Organ Pipes and the Burnt Mountain. The Organ Pipes are a distinctive series of dolerite pillars that have been exposed by erosion and can be viewed in the small gorge on the left hand side of the road leading to the Burnt Mountain. This flat-topped mountain derives its name from the piles of blackened limestone at its base.
The Spitzkoppe (sharp head) is one of Namibia's most recognizable landmarks. It's shape has inspired its nickname, The Matterhorn of Africa,' but the similarities begin and end with its sharp peak. It is actually the remnant of an ancient volcano, formed in the same way as the Brandberg and Erongo massifs. It is a popular climbing destination with local and foreign mountaineers alike, with plenty of technical climbs available.
In the caves and ravines of the area many prehistoric rock paintings have been found and none more famous than the 'White Lady' of the Brandberg. The figure stands about 40cm high and in one hand carries what appears to be a wine glass and in the other, a bow and several arrows. Its hair is straight and light-coloured, distinctly un-African - and the body is painted white from the chest downwards. It is believed to be a central figure in a bizarre hunting procession which includes several women, one of which has skewered an antelope with gemsbok horns and striped legs.
The trees of the Petrified Forest were uprooted some 200 million years ago and were swept along by rivers in flood, covered by sediments and then subsequently uncovered by erosion.
The 35m-high Vingerklip (finger rock) is also known as Kalk-Kegel (limestone pillar) and rises above the Bertram farm. It is an erosional remnant of a limestone plateau and was formed over 15 million years ago. The large cave in it's base, surrounded by rubble, gives the impression it will topple over any minute.
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