A Night on the Rocks in Spitzkoppe

We arrived in Spitzkoppe after a long drive from Etosha National Park.  The road there is long, dusty, and bumpy, through terrain that seems completely barren.  But little shacks selling semi-precious stones dot the roadside, promising some sort of civilization ahead.

The village, when we arrived, was small and dusty, with that frontier feeling so often found in desert towns.  The campground at Spitzkoppe is a community-managed affair set among the granite monoliths rising from the desert sand.  It’s a bizarre place geographically, and the wildness of it is enough to send a shiver through you.  It feels ancient… elemental.

Our overlanding vehicle rolled into our camping spot, snug to the base of one of the monoliths, and I scrambled up the rock the first chance I got.  The climb was short, steep, and surprisingly easy.

There at the top, I soaked it all in — an undulating line of hills stretching in the direction we’d come from, the massive rock of Spitzkoppe looming before me, and a spine-like ridge of hills to my right.  Hot, dry wind gusted from the desert floor, and I leaned back to enjoy the view.

Later, we’d walk some distance away to a sheltered cliff-face adorned with Bushmen paintings from the distant past.  Tales of hunts and game sightings, the wall was a patchwork of warnings and informative posts from one group of hunter-gatherers to another.  The age of it was fascinating, as was the exhibition of the local language that our guide gave us there.  We tried to master the series of clicks which distinguish it but were hopelessly inept.

When we’d arrived, Pili had told us we could choose to sleep under the stars that night.  Eager for the opportunity and feeling a bit too lazy to bother with setting up my tent that day, I decided I’d go for it.

When dusk fell and our dinner had been consumed, I gathered my sleeping bag and pad before climbing partway up the rock.  There’s a small depression there which fills with water when it rains — locals have made a dam to keep the water from spilling to the thirsty sands below.  When it’s dry, though, the ground is flat and relatively soft, making for an ideal bed.

Laying there, looking up at the stars appearing overhead, I knew this would be an experience I’d remember forever… a thought still on my mind when sleep took me away from that wind-swept place under the Namibian sky.