Straddling the eastern boundary of the Dorob National Park lies the mesmerizing Messum Crater, the centre of a collapsed volcano that erupted some 132 to 135 million years ago, and the probable source of much of the basalt that forms the neighbouring Goboboseb Mountains, to the north. The shallow flat caldera, around 20km in diameter, is surrounded by two non-continuous concentric rings of heavily eroded igneous rocks, forming a surreal, eerie wilderness worthy of a science fiction film. The routes to and from the crater also provide opportunities to explore other fascinating natural and human phenomena: lichen fields and welwitschias lie along the well-graded gravel track from the Skeleton Coast side; archeological remains, such as stone circles used by ancient nomadic Damara groups, are also visible; and taking the northeastern exit out of the crater, the vast massif of the Brandberg looms as you draw closer, glowing pink and gold when bathed in afternoon sunlight.

Make sure you’re well prepared for the drive here. In addition to the satellite map you can purchase from Henties Bay tourist office, a GPS is advisable (and a satellite phone if you’re travelling alone and not up to basic breakdown repairs), since it’s easy to get lost.

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