Post by Willie for Notes from Africa
Spitzkoppe in Namibia is a spectacular and unusual place. The Spitzkoppe and Pontok mountains rise dramatically from an otherwise flat semi-desert landscape. There are many reasons to visit this fascinating set of mountains and the surrounding area.
Many years ago when traveling from Windhoek to Swakupmund I saw this high mountain peak in the distance as it shimmered in the afternoon heat. It looked like an anomaly in the desert scene and I vowed to return to investigate.
When planning for our recent Namibian trip I discovered that besides the obvious mountains the Spitzkoppe area has magnificent rock arches, great views, ancient rock art and the most unusual camping sites. Although a large portion of the rock art has sadly been destroyed over time. Most of the camping sites are located between extraordinary rock formations, with interesting views by day and night.
It took a bit of time to explore the area. The stark landscape and various rock formations are excellent for photography. The late afternoon light brings out a glow in the rocks. The best place to wait is on the western side of the Grosse Spitzkoppe, to catch the last rays of the sun which creates the glow.
Rocks fading to lighter colours after sunset . . .
Spitzkoppe and surrounds being lit up by the morning sunlight . . .
We decided to have a slightly longer stay at the chalets maintained by the local community. Mainly to have some rest days after traveling vast distances from the Southern Cape to central Namibia. As an alternative to the community lodge, a more commercial lodge is in development to be opened soon.
Although you have this massive mountain to help you navigate there are a large number of little roads that twists and turns between the lesser rocks and camping sites.
Various climbing expeditions have been recorded, although there is some uncertainty about who can claim the first ascent to the Grosse Spitzkoppe. Climbing the bald granite peaks certainly looks a like a huge challenge.
Rock arches are formed by natural weathering processes. There is a rock arch (see map point A) to the northern side of the Grosse Spitzkoppe.
The most important rock arch is located at (F) on the map. This large arch is perfectly located to provide a stereo view of both the Grosse Spitzkoppe as well as the Pontok Mountains. I spent as much time there as possible playing with various camera settings to capture the view nicely. To compensate for the dark shadow below the arch, I used the camera’s “High Dynamic Range” function where the camera combines three different exposures to get one evenly lit image. You definitely need a tripod to use this function.
Exploring the Spitzkoppe area is highly recommended. I am glad we finally managed to visit this place; it is not just a mirage in the afternoon light any longer.
This post is part of a series Notes from Africa will be publishing about our travels through Namibia.