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Spitzkoppe Mountain in Namibia with Nomad Tours – Day 8

Swakopmund to Spitzkoppe Mountain

Leaving Swakopmund, we follow the Trans-Kalahari highway passing the largest uranium mine in Namibia.  After a 200-kilometer drive, we arrive at Spitzkoppe Mountain and a village of 300 Damara people (the area is called Damaraland).  Approximately 10% of the Namibian population belongs to the Damara ethnic group.

 

Hiking near Spitzkoppe Mountain

Hiking near Spitzkoppe Mountain

 

Spitzkoppe Mountain and the surrounding rocks are made of red granite, presumably formed from a volcanic eruption 135 million years ago.  Over time, wind and water erosion created an awesome landscape with craggy peaks beside massive smooth boulders.

 

Damara People

A Damara man provides a tour, explaining that the Damara vocabulary is full of clicks.  He teaches us four different clicking sounds.  My tongue tries new tricks.

 

These Damara people farm livestock; mostly cattle, goats, and sheep.  They drive a donkey cart six kilometers to get water for their community.  Our guide calls the donkey cart a “Namibian Ferrari”.

 

For the film buffs, The God’s Must Be Crazy and 10,000 B.C. were filmed in this location.

 

Rock Art

Our guide takes us to Bushmen’s Paradise (which is a cheesy commercial name and probably an inaccurate one) for a wall of rock art (dated at 2000-4000 years old) which at one time was said to be one of the finest collection of rock art in Namibia.  Unfortunately, sticky fingers and vandalism have damaged the paintings considerably.

 

Our guide suggests that despite the name, the San people, aka Bushmen, were not responsible for these paintings because they are too high on the wall and Bushmen are known to be very short.  He believes the Damara people made them.

 

Rock art served as a way of communication between nomadic peoples.  Animals (lions, elephants, rhinos, zebras, and giraffes) and human figures were drawn using the blood and fat of animals, ostrich egg yolk, and the milk from indigenous bushes.  Animals were drawn as arrows, drawn facing towards the water source.

 

The tour over, people found their camping spots on the smooth granite boulders.  I didn’t feel like climbing again so I resigned myself to figuring out where I’d sleep when I was ready to sleep.  In the lowland, beside the truck, seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

 

Songs by the Campfire

After dinner, the stars came out in a show that I haven’t seen in years – no light pollution to spoil the full glory of their shimmering.  We all gathered around the campfire while Mxolisi attempted to teach us an authentic African song.  That lasted about one minute.  He then moved on to a song that a toddler could learn:  “Oh Beeeeuuutifull Africa. Africa.  Oh, beautiful Africa. Africa.  I shall never forgeeeeeet beauuutiful Africa. Africa.”

 

Dinner at sunset.

Dinner at sunset at Spitzkoppe Mountain.

 

“Africa” was then interchanged with twenty other words like “camping”, “desert”, and “dinner” to create a twenty-minute song that made me want to get stung by a scorpion.  Anything to make it stop.

 

The Germans soon were singing American tunes from the 1970’s which was 1) astounding because they knew all the words and 2) astounding because I knew none of the words.

 

I hadn’t heard Leaving on a Jet Plane since, I don’t know, 1977?  But these young Germans had the song down like the Von Trapps.  Amazing.  Unfortunately, I did not know any German hits from the 70’s to reciprocate.

 

The night concluded with Mxolisi teaching a small group about South African history, apartheid, and music.  At bedtime, I was invited to join a group sleeping on the granite boulders and despite my initial inclination, I caved and trudged up the mountain side in darkness.

 

Unfortunately, we chose a spot near small pools of water.  This ensured that I got exactly one minute of sleep, up all night slapping mosquitoes, and consequently my face.

 

I slapped myself so much that in the morning I wanted to file a restraining order against myself.

 

Official Itinerary from Nomad Tours:

Day 8:Spitzkoppe

Leaving the coast we drive through arid landscapes to Spitzkoppe Mountain. The enormous granite monoliths dominate the otherwise flat landscape and we set up camp in the wild plain at the base of the mountain. This afternoon our guide will take us on a guided walk to explore the unique rock formations. The more adventurous among us may want to try some mountain climbing for some stunning views of the landscape.

Spitzkoppe

The Spitzkoppe (also referred to as Spitzkop, Groot Spitzkop, or the “Matterhorn of Namibia”), is a group of bald granite peaks located between Usakos and Swakopmund in the Namib desert. The granite is more than 700 million years old and the highest outcrop rises about 1 784 m above sea level. The peaks stand out dramatically from the flat surrounding plains. The highest peak is about 700m above the floor of the desert below. A minor peak- the Little Spitzkoppe – lies nearby at an elevation of 1 584 m above sea level. Other prominences stretch out into a range known as the Pontok Mountains. Many examples of Bushman artwork can be seen painted on the rock in the Spitzkoppe area.

It is possible that the main peak was summited as early as 1904, when a soldier of the Royal Schutztruppe supposedly soloed the peak and made a fire on the summit. What he may have burned remains a mystery, as there is absolutely no natural fuel of any kind on the upper parts of the peak. The legend suggests that he never returned and that his body was never recovered. Certainly no proof of his conquest is available today.

Disclaimer: Nomad Tours offered me a discount in exchange for documentation of the experience.  I have complete freedom to share my thoughts.  All opinions are my own.

 

Photos of Spitzkoppe Mountain:

2 Comments

  1. I love Spitzkoppe! One of my favorite places in Namibia. Did you see any wildlife over there? We had a crazy encounter with a leopard one night.

    • No leopards, but millions of mosquitoes! Thanks for reading.

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