Desolation Valley lies in central Damaraland, and follows the Huab River west into the Torra Conservancy. It’s a secluded and, as its name suggests, desolate valley, known for its large herds of oryx, desert elephant and spectacular wild camping. The easiest entrance is from the graded C39 as it crossed the Huab River to the north. From there, follow the sandy riverbed south and west as it heads deeper into the increasingly wild valley.
Highlights of the region
The tracks along the Huab River are beautiful and there are plenty of wonderful spots to wild camp. Elephants also use the riverbed to travel and you should give them plenty of space if you do see them – they’re not as accustomed to people as those in the national parks. To the east of the valley, there’s a public campsite (and bar) at Twyfelfontein, as well as the Damara Village Living Museum and the UNESCO World Heritage Site petroglyphs.
Practical + driving advice about the region (time needed)
Avoid riverbeds during the rainy season from November to March – the Huab River can flood quickly and heavy rains can fall as late as April. For the rest of the year the rivers remain dry and, although sandy, are easily negotiable in a sturdy 4×4. Away from the rivers the 4×4 tracks are rocky and slow going. The area is very isolated so make sure someone knows where you’re going and/or take a satellite phone for emergencies. The valley’s western exit is challenging and should not be attempted alone. Rather drive out east along the Abu-Huab River towards Twyfelfontein.