Region/terrain explained

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.

The strange welwitschia plants can be found at Messum Crater in Damaraland

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.

The Ugab River Rhino Camp

Practical + driving advice about the region (time needed)

The roads into the crater are rough and stony – not strictly 4×4, 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.

Lichen are protected throughout Namibia