Spitzkoppe

Despite not wanting to be up at 6am (we weren’t leaving until 7.30am!), it’s impossible to sleep once the first persons alarm goes off.

So I was resigned to getting up into the cold. Tent down. Porridge for breakfast. And then packing up.

There were birds dancing around us. Some which look black, but when they hit the light, their feathers glow bright blue. And hornbills! Different to Asian hornbills; their beaks were much smaller. But they were cool.

Then back onto the bumpy, dusty sand roads for our drive south.

The landscape was amazing. Rock formations on either side of us, stretching out across to the horizons. It was so pretty.

We passed by herds of goats, often with a man. No idea where they came from as there was nothing else in sight – no villages, or huts. We saw wild ostrich. Bouncing steelbok. And some donkeys.

We passed by a famous rock formation, the Brandberg, also known as the White lady. It is s large pink granite lump. We didn’t go to it, but spent a while driving around the sides of it. Inside this rock is one of the finest remnants of prehistoric art on the African continent, but we didn’t go there.

A few hours into the journey, we stopped at a small village and craft market at the side of the road. The market is run by women, they were using old sewing machines to make crafts out of colourful fabric – cushions, small bags and little dolls. They themselves were also very colourful. They had long, wide, brightly coloured dresses. There were a few children running around too. These people were from the Herero tribe and were very friendly.

A few kilometres down the road, we stopped at another small village with a craft market. This time a Himba tribe.

We’ve spotted a few of these people enroute so far. And this is a tribe that I really wanted to see whilst I was here. They only dress from the waist down, wearing animal skins and lots of jewellery. But their most prominent feature is their hair. They braid it, then coat the braids in a bright orange mud. This gives the effect of a few thick, shiny, orange sausages on their heads. They look incredibly different to any other people I have seen before.

However, they are not friendly. They were very forceful. Putting bracelets on our wrists and demanding that we buy things. Our guide had told us that if we buy something, they will let us take photos. Which was true. But they knew this. Their price was for ‘bracelet and a photo’. They clearly know they can make a lot of money by demanding it in exchange for a photo. It was all a bit uncomfortable. But they did turn a bit more friendly if you did buy something. I bought a couple of (rather expensive) bracelets.

Next stop was the small town. Here were just a few scattered buildings and a supermarket. People were queuing at the supermarket for a little booth at one end – it is pension day. The queue was most of the length of the supermarket and an undercover seating area outside.

We only stopped for the essentials – toilet. Water. And an ice lolly.

Then back in the bus for the final 90 minute bumpy journey to Spitzkoppe.

As we were bumping along, more and more water bottles were breaking. Water was leaking everywhere. So we stopped every now and then to pour water into empty bottles and try not to lose too much. Water is precious in the desert – and we will have no running water at our camp today.

Spitzkoppe is apparently one of Namibia’s most recognisable landmarks. The triangular peak is 1728m high, and surrounded by smaller lumpy rocks. We have been watching the rocks come closer and closer, across the flat sandy plains. The rock is also called the Matterhorn of Africa.

We arrived about 2pm. Which is apparently early and we beat other trucks, so ended up with the best camping spot. Right under the rocks, a circular camp fire, a small covered area and a drop toilet. There is no running water.

We had lunch here. The group helped chop salad – we had salad wraps (lettuce, cucumber, tomato, peppers and avo) which was delicious. Then we sat around and waited for the hottest part of the day to pass.

It was about 4pm when most of us set off for a walk. We had been told that walking around the base of the rocks was pretty. And it was. There were sandy paths leading around the rocks and every direction were towering orange rocks. It looked exactly like the Olgas in central Australia (where I was exactly 1 year ago).

We walked until there was a fence to a resort style camp and we could go no further. Then headed back.

By the time we got back, we had been walking for 90 minutes. Didn’t realise we were going to be out for so long. And it was only about half an hour until we were heading back out for the sunset.

We went off-path to try and reach the rocks for sunset. But actually we could have just followed the path, as it would have taken us to the same place, and avoided being scratched by all the small sharp bushes and trees which are scattered all across the ground.

Once we reached the rock, the only way was up. It started off ok. But pretty steep. Clambering us the side. It was possible to go even higher, but I didn’t fancy that. So stayed one level below – and most people turned around from the even steeper part and joined me.

We had an amazing view all across the rocks and surrounding flatlands. The sunset itself wasn’t that exciting. Afterwards, the sky was glowing orange. But by that point, we were rushing back to the camp – as we were a half hour walk away and no one had thought to bring a torch.

But we made it. And whilst we were gone, the guys had built us a fire.

Dinner was delicious as always. Mystery how they can make such quantities of food with just a gas ring. I had potatoes in a dry curry, broccoli, cauliflower and a mix of vegetables in a tomato sauce.

For sleeping we had a few options. Put up your tent. Sleep up on a huge rock. Or find somewhere else. I went for the somewhere else option (and most other people followed us) and slept on a sloping rock nearby.

We took up our mattresses, sleeping bags and water. And slept on the rock face, looking up at the stars.

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