Thursday, 3 September 2009

Namibia, Damaraland, Mowani Mountain Camp.

Damaraland ?? I had never heard of it! Damaraland is part of North-western Namibia, inland from the Skeleton Coast. The area has wildlife and many natural features. In 1985 I had watched a South African TV series called ‘The Mantis Project’, http://ccms.ukzn.ac.za/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=336&Itemid=44 and soon I saw the landscape that had starred in this TV series....The Spitzkoppe.
This Namibian landmark is also known as ‘The Matterhorn of Africa’. It was first climbed in 1948, and know is a very popular climbing stop.
Unfortunately, we did not have time to climb, or camp at the community run campsite. We did stop for a drink at the community run shop, drove round the Spitzkoppe & Pondoks, and to gaze at the awesome view.
We then had a long drive on dirt roads, through the town of Uls- a strange place situated on the main road between the coast and the Damaraland interior. Tin has been mined in the Uis region since the early 1900's and the town was established in 1958 as a mine workers residence when a South African mining company, ISCOR, started operations there. As you approach Uis, the first thing you see is a huge white mountain, this is the old mine dump for processed tin ore. There is a small supermarket, guesthouse and a petrol station. We did stop for petrol, and this was the only place in Namibia where I felt I needed to lock the car doors.
It was late afternoon when we arrived at Mowani Mountain Camp. We almost missed it, as you can not see it until you are in it, it is so well camouflaged. Mowani Mountain Camp is distinguished by its thatched dome-shaped structures, a mirror-image of the granite boulders amongst which they are built. The camp lies in a vast and unspoilt wilderness, between the Ugab and Huab Rivers. There is outstanding desert scenery, fascinating geological formations and archaeological sites near by to visit.
The main complex consists of a reception, bar, dining room and a lounge that overlooks the waterhole, this area was constantly busy with bird life.
The luxury tented accommodation is built inconspicuously, nestled amongst the natural surroundings, to ensure minimum impact on the natural environment. It consists of 12 luxury tents, all with en-suite facilities, decorated beautifully in an East African style. Individual wooden decks, with a superb view of the Damara landscape.
Not to be missed, is the bar area with its spectacular sunsets from the camp sundowner point.
A great pool to get the road dust off you.
The next morning we went out on a nature drive into the Twyfontein conservancy with the possibility of seeing the elusive and according to our guide ‘small’ Desert Adapted Elephant and rare black rhino. We drove around for a long time, tracking the large Elephant footprints we found, but did not see any game. The scenery was once again spectacular, and the guide taught us many things about the local trees and plants. Just was we were driving back to the camp, I spotted this loan bull on the brow of a hill.
We drove up and watched him for a long time, Andy and the guide got very close, to close, but I did not! He may have been desert adapted, but he did not look small to me!!