DAMARALAND ADVENTURE CAMP, NAMIBIA

Regular trail guru – JACQUES MARAIS ventured outside the borders of SA to bring us this Namibian feature

A journey of exploration by Giant mountain bike and supported by Isuzu 4×4 vehicles – from the Cunene River against Angola, to Swakopmund in Namibia – to test the new DUNLOP Tyres #GrandTrek range, Kaokoveld and Damaraland, Namibia, Africa
Photo: Jacques Marais

LOCAL BUZZ

OK, so if there’s only ONE spot I could return to after the epic ride from the Cunene River – snuggling up against the south of Angola – all the way to Swakopmund in Namibia, it is without a doubt the Damaraland Adventure Camp. This superb ‘Wilderness Safaris’ destination is set amidst a dramatic series of sandstone outcrops within the expansive Torra Conservancy, and the arid wilderness here literally brims with desert-adapted elephant, black rhino, lion, spotted hyena, giraffe and a whole host of other mammals. It therefore goes without saying that you need to ride with due caution, and never without a back-up vehicle accompanying you. Many of the roads up here are accessible to general public transport (if you have a proper off-road vehicle, of course) and pass through pretty open terrain, so riding your bike is relatively safe. A concession agreement between Wilderness Safaris and the Torra Conservancy – named for the red rock scattered here as far as the eye can see – allows access to two Classic Camps, Desert Rhino Camp and Damaraland Camp. However, their best-kept secret is the stunning Damaraland Adventure Camp. Situated near to the vast (if arid) course of the Huab River, self-drive visitors based at this elegantly rustic semi-selfcatered camp have access to much of this expansive 3 493 km2 conservancy. The annual rainfall is less than 100mm and you can therefore expect a mix of rocky outcrops and sparse savanna vegetation, occasionally traversed by ‘linear oases’, created by dry river beds dotted with ana- and camel-thorn trees. A good map is available from the Torra Conservancy offices, or you can purchase quality topographic maps in Windhoek or other large centres. Keep in mind that this is a proper off-track experience, and that you need to be able to handle serious off-road conditions in a true wilderness area filled with dangerous game. Yup, you wanna go, don’t you? Get in touch with Torra Conservancy, Khorixas on Tel: 067-69 7063, or get info on the Wilderness Safaris camps at www.wilderness-safaris.com

A journey of exploration by Giant mountain bike and supported by Isuzu 4×4 vehicles – from the Cunene River against Angola, to Swakopmund in Namibia – to test the new DUNLOP Tyres #GrandTrek range, Kaokoveld and Damaraland, Namibia, Africa
Photo: Jacques Marais

TRAIL LOW-DOWN

It’s flippen wild out there, take it from me. You WILL see rhino, elephant and rhino tracks all over the place, and chances are you may bump into these big boys over the bar of your bike around any given corner. And when you do, you want that back-up vehicle right there or you’ll end up as meals on wheels. The route southwards from Damaraland Adventure Camp follows a relatively clear public access route straight-lining from Torra towards the adjacent Doro Nawas Conservancy, and if you’re going to see elephants, chances are it will be in the Huab River, just on 8km from camp. From here, you’re looking at a constant and gradual ascent as you head up the watershed, much of it along a sandy dual- track, but with occasional gemsbok singletrack options off to the side every so often. Keep scouting for these lines, as they’re an absolute jol to ride. The real fun kicks in after just on 30km when you start ascending into range upon range of ruby-red dunes, with the track time-lining past some massive welwitschia plants. A split to your right takes you off the main track to Twyfelfontein, and all of a sudden you find yourself surrounding by towering shalestacked outcrops. The gorge narrows down further, hemming in the track as you bomb down towards the Ugab River, blasting through terrain that looks as if God gave up on trying to create order, and instead just dumped heaps of serrated rock and stone, going off to down a large celestial lager. You hit the sandy outliers of the Ugab River just less than 80km into your ride, and dude, are you in luck. There’s a semblance of ‘civilisation’ here, with a camp site run by the Save The Rhino Trust (it’s actually their base camp). There are donkey showers and long-drops, and enough big-ass trees to provide shade for your tents – www.savetherhinotrust.org One important bit of advice: stay at Damaraland Adventure Camp for at least two to three nights, as the area is an absolute outdoor and nature paradise. And if you can get place at Desert Rhino Camp, even better – this is where they have the annual ‘Ride for Rhinos’, plus you can crank a guided ride along purpose-built singletrack in one of the most pristine natural environments upon Planet Earth – www.rideforrhinos.com.na

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