Rock Art of Namibia
Day 0 - Windhoek
Arrival to Windhoek. With the varied schedules from around the world, this day is just to allow for everyone to gather in Windhoek and have some rest after the long flights. There is not much to do and see in Windhoek, but for those who arrive early and have some time to spare, the National Museum (in the old German fort) and the downtown area with the Handcrafts Centre is within walking distance. We will stay overnight in the Pension Moni, a very pleasant small family-run hotel just to the south of the downtown area. We will als use this day to prepare the camper vehicles (if chosen) so we may make an early start the next day.
Day 1 - Windhoek - Spitzkoppe - Ameib Ranch
With an early start after breakfast, we will drive along the B1 to Okahandja, then continue towards Swakopmund on the B2 till Grosse Spitzkoppe. The drive should take about 3 hours, we should be there by around lunchtime (there is a simple community restaurant there). Spitzkoppe is a high pointed granite mountain rising cathedral-like from the flat surrounding plains, the rock art sites are scattered about the foot of the mountain. The two most important ones are "Big Rhinoceros shelter" (also known as "Sphinx shelter") with the strange sphinx-like figures, and "Bushman's Paradise", both of which were copied by the Abbé Breuil, and published (posthumously) in the sixth volume of "The rock paintings of southern Africa" series. The latter takes some effort to get up to on a steep granite slope, fortunately there is a chain installed to aid the ascent. If we have time, we may continue to Kleine Spitzkoppe 15 kilometres away, where the Abbé copied another two interesting shelters ("White Ghost" and "Fine Giraffe" shelters). Their location is given by Scherz in Vol. 3. of "Felsbilder in Südwest-Afrika", but it may take some effort to locate them, I could not find any reference to any recent visit by anyone.
For the evening we will re-trace our route to Usakos, and turn north towards the Erongo Mountains to reach Ameib Ranch by sunset.
Day 2 - Ameib Ranch
Ameib farm is located at the SE corner of the Erongo Mountains, and contains one of the most important (and largest) painted shelter in Namibia, Philipp Cave, named after the original owner of the farm. This shelter was also copied and published by Breuil, it takes a kilometre of walking on easy terrain to reach it fromthe car park. We will set out immediately after breakfast, we will be able to comfortably to the walk there and back during the morning with plenty of time at the cave. Not far, there is a faccinating landscape of granite boulders ("Bull's Party"), among which Scherz recorded a lesser site. There are several more sites scattered about the farm, "Jatow Grotte" near the campsite, and a dozen or so sites scattered about the foot of the Erongo to the North East of the farmhouse at a distance of 1-2 kilometres, which would make for a nice afternoon walk.
Day 3 - Ameib - Omandumba
In the morning we will leave Ameib and round the Erongo Mountains to the North West corner, to Omandumba West farm. Along the way we will see the sites of Springbockfontein, another locality recoreded by Breuil, located on the western side of the ridge bordering Omandumba farm. We will have lunch at Omandumba, then spend the afternoon visiting the principal sites of the farm.
Days 4-5 - North-western Erongo
The logistics / accommodation arrangements will need some fine tuning, but we will use either Omandumba or the adjacent Anibib farm (with the Ai Aba lodge) or possibly a combination of both as a base for three nights, they are really close to each other on opposite sides of the D2315 road (just 2 kilometres apart). There are a series of farms along the Northern edge of the Erongo, Anibib, Omandumba West, Omandumba East, Ekuta, all of which contain a large amount of sites. The ones at Anibib and Omandumba East were copied by Breuil, the rest were published by Scherz. Over a course of two days we will visit as much as we can.
The farms also offer plenty of game watching opportunities, so if someone wishes to take a break from the rock art, these days are a perfect opportunity to just relax and enjoy nature.
Days 6-7 - Etemba
The Etemba farm to the North of Anibib/Omandumba contains some of the most intriguing Erongo paintings, for a long time it was not possible to access it, but recently the Etemba Wilderness Camp was established near the princpal rock art sites. We will spend two days there (with a night at the camp) in order to see as much as possible of the paintings, recorded and published by Walter Kahn, the original owner of the farm in 1965. This will also be an opportunity to enjoy the remote and beautiful landscape and nature, with much wildlife to be expected around the camp. For those not camping, there are permanent tents with beds, and meals will also be prvided at the camp. Depending on availability and arrangements, we may either spend the second night at the camp, or move back to Ai Aba / Omandumba.
Day 8 - Etemba - Omaruru - Uis
We will leave the Erongo, first driving to Omaruru to fuel and top up our supplies at the Superspar. On the way we will see the last sites of the region at Klippdachsbergen, a granite knoll which is now occupied by the Erongo Wilderness Lodge. After lunch (either at the Lodge or at Omaruru) we will drive the remaining 120 kilometres along the C36 to Uis, staying at the White Lady B&B for three consecutive nights, either in their comfortable rooms or at the camping ground.
Day 9 - Brandberg, Tsisab Gorge
With an early morning start we will drive to the entrance of the Tsisab Gorge on the Eastern side of the Brandberg, to spend the entire day in the valley. We will require about two hours to get up to the Tsisab Island sites above the White Lady site (which we shall bypass and leave for the afternoon). There are a number of principal sites (and several minor ones) on the Island, we will spend the morning and early afternoon visiting them, with a pause for lunch (which we will carry with us, together with about 3 litres of water for the day) at one of the sites. In the afternoon we will climb up to the "Girl's School" shelter, which is above the valley on the Northern Side, then return to the car park via the "White Lady" shelter, returning to Uis at sunset.
Day 10 - Brandberg, Numas Gorge
Another early morning start, this time to drive to the Numas Gorge on the Western side of the Brandberg, which will present a very different landscape than we have seen before. The Western Brandberg approaches true desert conditions, with the most prolifi concentration of Welwitchias one can see in Namibia. Once reaching the Numas, we will stop at the end of the driveable section and visit the sites recorded by Scherz in the lower Numas (less than an hour's walk upstream), returning to Uis late afternoon.
Day 11 - Uis - Twyfelfontein
After breakfast we will drive North to Twyfelfontein, the finest site with engravings in Southern Africa. We will move to a very different landscape, leaving the granites and entering a golden sandstone country. After lunch we will spend the afternon visiting the row of engravings, spending the night at the nearby Twyfelfontein lodge (or the nearby Aba Huab campsite).
Day 12 - Uis - Twyfelfontein
In the morning we will continue Northwards to Kamanjab, and the nearby Peet Alberts Koppie engravings, which are second only to those at Twyfelfontein. The engravings are scattered about on both flat horizontal surfaces and on standing stones on a low knoll, spread over a fairly large area. We will need several hours to see all, with lunch on the spot.
Having come this far North, we will be within 150 kilometres from Etosha National Park, we will cover that distance in the afternoon. We will spend the night at a lodge before the Park entrance, not to risk getting caught with the gates closing at sunset if we are delayed for any reason.
Days 13-14 - Etosha National Park
We will spend two days at Etosha, staying either at Halali or at Okakuejo (possibly one night at each), doing morning and afternoon game drives to the various water holes, then converging on the lodge waterhole for sunset when there is the greatest activity.
Day 15 - Etosha - Windhoek
Make the long way back to Windhoek (~380 kilometres), hoping to reach Okahandja for lunch, and reaching Windhoek by mid-afternoon. For the night we will stay at the Etango Ranch by the Airport, from where it is very easy to catch any flight (the ranch is right accross the B4 highway from the airport).
Day 16-17 - Sossusvlei - Namib Naukluft National park (optional add-on)
I have considered doing Sossusvlei at the beginning of the trip, before going to Spitzkoppe, however the minibus would bot be able to make it in all the way, without our own 4wd vehicles it is not possible to make it for sunrise, or stay till sunset, which are the finest times for photography or simply pure enjoyment of the amazing desert landscape. Thus have placed this at the end, in an optional way, those in a hurry (or have already been there) may depart after returning to Windhoek
Those chosing this option will stay at the Pension Moni for the night, and exchanging our minibus for one or more 4wd pickups, we will drive in the morning of the first day to Sesriem at the entrance of Sossusvlei via Rehoboth and the C24/M47. We should cover the 350 kilometres in about 4-5 hours, stopping for lunch at the Tsauchab River Camp about 50 kilometres before Sesriem. Accommodation will be either in the Sossus Dune Lodge (the one inside the gate, allowig pre-dawn departure) or at the adjcent Sesriem campsite. After arrival we will immediately drive to the dunes at Sussusvlei, and spend the rest of the afternoon there till sunset.
For those able to get up early, we will return to Sossusvlei for sunrise at dawn, others can enjoy a lazy morning in the lodge with a view overlooking the dunes. With a late breakfast, we will set out on the way back to Windhoek, taking a different route this time via the C19/C26. We should reach there by late afternoon, with overnight at the Etango Ranch near the airport.
For information on expected costs, planned dates and any further questions, please send me an email.
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