Spitzkoppe, Namibia: What Is In A Name?

The Spitzkoppe is a German name given to a group of bald granite peaks located between Usakos and Swakopmund in Namibia’s Namib desert. The peak towers above 5669 feet above sea level, with the highest peak being about 2200 feet above the floor of the desert. The Little Spitzkoppe which are the minor peaks lie at an elevation of 1584 metres above sea level.

The Spitzkoppe is considered an inselberg which is also another name for Island Mountain. The mountain’s distinct shape has also earned it the name,  Matterhorn of Namibia and dates nearly 700 million years back.

Legend has it that in 1971, a party led by JW Merchant of UCT  climbed to the peak in 4 hours. They scaled the lower pitches without ropes and used the artificial steps hacked into the granite. On their descent, there was a rain and this was unusual because it had not rained in the area for over a year. The locals saw this as a good omen and since then, climbers have come from all over aiming to get to the top of the Spitzkoppe.

Travelling to the Spitzkoppe means you need to get to the nearest town Usakos about 50km away, then drive to Henties Bay, and then off the road to the Spitzkoppe. There is also a hotel in the town, the Bahnhof Hotel, which has 14 airconditioned rooms, a licenced restaurant and safe parking.

The area of the inselberg is run by women ‘s cooperatives who maintain campsites around the area. They arrange the camping and a fee is paid at the entrance.

The visitor volume is relatively low compared to other tourist attractions in Namibia, and also despite the dramatic rock formations. Visitors are also encouraged to bring their water as there is little or no provision for that at the facility.

It would interest you to know that before World War 1, what is now Namibia, was German South-West Africa.

The Spitzkoppe Mountains have also been used as location in films like 2001: A Space Odyssey in the Dawn of Man sequence.

 

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