Khorixas used to be the administrative capital of the old 'homeland' of Damaraland. Now it is not so important – and certainly isn't excessively tidy or even pretty, but it is conveniently placed for the visitor between Swakopmund and Etosha. Because of this, and its accessibility by tarred road from the east, it makes a good base for visiting southern Damaraland's attractions. On a practical note, there is a reliable fuel station here, and several shops, so many people come by just to replenish their supplies.
Where to stay
There are several options in the Khorixas area, all with their advantages: Khorixas Lodge/Restcamp
(38 bungalows & campsites) PO Box 2, Khorixas; tel: 065 331111; fax: 065 712388
In a convenient position, just to the west of town, this is sometimes signposted simply as 'ruskamp'. Now privately run, the restcamp has been here for years. The camp is quite large, and the bungalows come as standard, semi-luxury or luxury – although none is luxurious. (If four plan to share one bungalow, then it's worth going for 'luxury'.) Expect clean towels and linen to be supplied, and each bungalow to have basic kitchen facilities and an en-suite shower/toilet.
The restcamp has a large swimming pool, a relaxed, almost café-style, small restaurant with an à la carte menu, and a curio shop. It's a clean, well-run and unpretentious place, and good value. Bambatsi Holiday Ranch
(8 bungalows) PO Box 120, Outjo; tel: 067 313897; fax: 067 313331; email:firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
About 58km east of Khorixas, and 75km from Outjo, on the C39, towards Khorixas, Bambatsi is situated on a plateau overlooking mopane woodlands. Bambatsi is a guest farm, not a restcamp. Bambatsi has just 8 bungalows, each of which has an en-suite shower and toilet. It serves good food and offers 'German hospitality', though parts of it could do with smartening up and repairing.
Facilities here include a tennis court and swimming pool, and the owner-manager, Rudi Zahn, has two tamed cheetah, Shaka and Shiri, which he found as orphaned puppies in May 1996.Vingerklip Lodge
PO Box 443, Outjo. Reservations: PO Box 11550, Windhoek; tel/fax: 061 255344; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; web: www.vingerklip.com.na
Immediately next to the Vingerklip itself, on the D2743 southeast of Khorixas, this lodge has been designed to take advantage of the scenery. Its thatched bar is more of an observation deck, standing on its own small hilltop, with 360° views around it. Below the deck, its plunge-pool, normally surrounded by shady umbrellas and sun-loungers, has equally breathtaking views.
Vingerklip's main lounge-dining area is large, and the food is good – though usually a buffet rather than à la carte (so don't leave dinner too late, or you may find little left). Its bungalows are spread out along an adjacent hillside. Each has adjacent twin beds and en-suite facilities, more than basic, but slightly less than luxurious. Their strongest point is a stunning view.Aba-Huab Community Campsite
c/o Elias Aro Xoagub, PO Box 131, Twyfelfontein via Khorixas
This was the first of several camps in Damaraland to be set up with the help of Namibia's Save the Rhino Trust, and run by local people. Aba-Huab camp is now effectively owned and managed by the entrepreneurial Elias, and is well signposted about 11km before Twyfelfontein, on the D3254. It stands beside a (usually) dry riverbed, and provides campers with solar-heated showers, toilets, a communal fire pit, shady campsites and a bar for cool drinks. As an alternative to camping, there are simple A-frame shelters for sleeping which raise you off the ground – though you need at least a sleeping bag, and preferably a foam mattress. Heading towards Twyfelfontein, the main camp is on the right. However, if you don't mind walking a little to the toilets, then you can camp on the left, which is much quieter. Note that you can't easily book this in advance, but they'll always have camping space.Mowani Mountain Camp
(24 beds) PO Box 40788, Windhoek; tel: 061 232009; fax: 061 222574; email: email@example.com; web: www.mowani.com
Well-signposted on the D2612, about 6km south of its junction with the D3214, Mowani is owned by Andre Louw and his team, who also run Villa Verdi in Windhoek. Their keen eye for innovative design shines through, and the round, thatched domes of Mowani's main buildings give the impression of a grand African village, whilst blending beautifully with the granite boulders that surround them.
Away from these, and dotted around the surrounding kopjie, are 12 large and fairly luxurious tents. These are all raised up on platforms, and most have great views across the surrounding countryside. All are fairly stylish with double or twin beds, and en-suite showers and toilets.
Activities here include nature drives and excursions to the local attractions around Twyfelfontein although, like Twyfelfontein Country Lodge, many people use this as a base for driving themselves around the area. Mowani isn't cheap, but you do get a lot of good design for your money! Twyfelfontein Country Lodge
(52 twin and 4 double rooms) PO Box 6597, Ausspannplatz; tel: 061 240375; fax: 061 256598; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; web: www.namibialodges.com.
Owned by Namibia Country Lodges, this three-star lodge was opened in July 2000. Its en-suite thatched units are set in a rock-strewn valley near the Aba-Huab River, 10km from the world-renowned rock-art site of Twyfelfontein along the D3214. These are all built in rows of four rooms, which feel quite small inside. Expect twin beds, a bathroom with a shower and flush toilet, and fairly traditional, even heavy, décor with dark wood and African-print fabrics. A very large thatched open-plan central area, built in two tiers with open sides, backs onto a rocky hillside. This has a dining room and bar upstairs, with toilets, offices and a curio shop below. It all overlooks quite a large, curved swimming pool.
Walks can be arranged from here, as can nature drives (in quite large, truck-like 4WDs) down the Huab River in search of elephants and other wildlife. There's an airstrip at the lodge, and scenic flights are possible, although there's not currently a plane based there. That said, most people will use this simply as a base to drive themselves around the area, or as a stopover that's conveniently close to Twyfelfontein.