Southern Damaraland’s Messum Crater is a fascinating, eerie wasteland of blasted rock, ancient lichen fields and sprawling, octopus-like welwitschia plants. The crater itself forms a slight depression about 20 km across, with a ring of barren hills along its outer edge, and further outcrops rising from the centre. It’s thought to be roughly 130 million years old, and linked to the volcanic activity that shaped the Goboboseb Mountains to the north.
Highlights of the region
Camping in the crater is not allowed, but try to visit in the late afternoon, possibly on the way to the Ugab River Rhino Camp, which is about an hours’ drive to the north. In the afternoon light the crater is particularly beautiful and, as it’s not an especially popular destination, you’ll probably have it all to yourself.
Practical + driving advice about the region (time needed)
The roads into the crater are rough and stony – not strictly 4x4, but a high-clearance vehicle is essential. It’s a very remote region and punctures are common so make sure you have spares and the appropriate tools with you. The lichen in the area is also extremely sensitive and easily damaged by passing vehicles. Be sure to drive slowly and cautiously, and don’t leave the main tracks for any reason.