GUEST ARTICLE: After our trip around Etosha National Park we headed south into Damaraland to a popular tourist attraction called Vingerklip (“Rock Finger” in Afrikaans) located amongst some other impressive rock formations called the Ugab Terraces.
Vingerklip is an incredible rock structure that has been formed over 15 million years and stands 35 meters high. This unique rock formation located in such a vast valley is picturesque especially during ‘sundowners’.
We stayed at a really incredible place called the Vingerklip Lodge. This place is truly amazing, African style thatched roof huts cradle the valley and mountainside and are in perfect view of the Vingerklip. The layout of the lodge is really unique, stone pathways lead off into different directions to various huts, pools or rest areas with incredible views of the valley.
For dinner we were recommended to have an African style bbq dinner up on the mountain at the lodges ‘Eagle’s Nest Restaurant.’ The hike up was fairly easy and once we got to the top we realized – incredibly worth it! The restaurant was located near the edge of a cliff with fantastic views. It was very nicely done, the interior didn’t disappoint, decked out in unique African style.
After grabbing some wines from our lovely hosts we wandered out to their viewing deck to marvel at the incredible colours of the valley, Ugab Terraces and the Vingerklip. The panorama view was extraordinary, especially as we watched the beautiful African sunset, at one point the Vingerklip was the only thing highlighted by the sunset, quite a sight in that vast valley.
For dinner the chef prepared a delicious bbq feast of native African meats (Oryx, Impala, Kudu) accompanied with fresh veggies and their daily staple of mais (polenta). Our hosts were very hospitable and entertaining and the waiter was from the local Damara Tribe who speak with ‘clicks.’
The Damara people have four different types of ‘clicks’ they use when speaking their language, it is a very interesting language and like nothing I’ve ever heard before (also very difficult to replicate!). After dinner we slowly made our way back down the mountainside guided by a path of soft lights. That was a totally unique dining experience and made for a really memorable night.
In the morning we sadly left our beautiful little abode and headed south towards the Skeleton Coast. Along the way we came upon some very interesting local tribes selling their handicrafts alongside the road. The Herero tribe are proud cattle farmers and you can really see that in the way the women dress. Adorning colourful billowy dresses adopted from early European influence and a horn shaped hat made out of rolled cloth to represent the cow.
Unfortunately there are only about 175,000 Herero left today due to German colonial troops that exterminated about 75% of the Herero in the early 1900s. We also met a girl from the Himba tribe, a close relative to the Herero. They are well known for their deep reddish brown skin made by rubbing on a mixture of rancid butterfat and ochre powder and also for their unique traditional garb and braided hair.
This small group of women came together to make a living by flagging down passing tourists to try to sell their homemade crafts (you can also get your pic taken with them for 10 Rand!). Despite their obvious hardships they are a lovely people with some very interesting traditions.
Damaraland was an incredible place. There are other wonderful sights to explore in Damaraland like the Petrified Forest that dates back millions of years, Namibia’s highest mountain and Bushman engravings. It’s a wonderful area of Namibia still thriving in local tribal traditions, such a wonderful thing to see in this day and age
This travel diary has been written by Rob Gower, a friend who enjoys taking roads less traveled!