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 have dinner at the Pepper Corn, a fine local style restaurant within walking distance from our accommodation at the nearby Maerua Mall.
Day 1 - Windhoek – Erongo Wilderness Lodge
With a start after breakfast, we will drive along the B1 to Okahandja, then continue towards Omaruru on the B2/C36. Our objective will be the Erongo Wilderness lodge, located about 15 kilometres to the West of Omaruru, among a very picturesque cluster of granite hills. These hills are known as “Klippsdachberge”, Breuil & Scherz recorded a number of sites in the area. After lunch and a rest we can set out for some sites Reported by Scherz at the SE of the hills, also providing an opportunity to enjoy the fantastic landscape in the afternoon light.
Day 2 - Erongo Wilderness Lodge – Ekuta farm – Omandumba West
The principal site of the “Klippsdachberge” is known as “Paula’s cave” recorded by the Abbé Breuil, a few kilomeres to the west of the Lodge. Due to its orientation it s best visited in the morning when the panels of paintings are in the shade. We will set out after breakfast, needing about two hours for the visit. From the lodge it is about a 45 minutes drive to Ekuta Farm in the interior of the Erongo, ran by Karl & Helga Hinterholzer. The farm contains one of the most spectacular sites of the region, Ekuta cave, discovered by Karl himself when he was a small child more than 60 years ago. The track is not passable for our minibus, Karl will drive us there with his 4WD, we may spend a long time marveling at these superb paintings. For the evening we will continue to Omandumba West, about an hour’s drive away. We will stay at the recently developed Bush Camp, with permanent tents and adjoining bathrooms.
Day 3 - Omandumba West
The Omandumba West farm, ran by Harald and Dieke Rust contains several dozen sites of varying quality. Harald’s father hosted the Abbé Breuil when he visited Anibib and Omandumba farms (though most of the Omandumba sites were recorded by Scherz later). We will spend the morning visiting various areas of the farm, cherry-picking the finest sites (and returning to camp for lunch).
In the afternoon we will continue to the adjacent farm of Anibib, to the Ai Aba lodge built in a very picturesque location among huge granite boulders. There are several sites within walking distance of the lodge which we may see in the late afternoon.
Days 4 - Anibib
In the morning we will make a drive to the Northern part of the farm, to the sites recorded by Breuil in the late nineteen forties. The sites are very rich and varied, we can spend the entire morning visiting them at a relaxed pace.
After lunch and some rest (and the braver ones perhaps a dip in the pool) we will make a visit to the Western part of Anibib, another area where Breuil recorded a number of sites. We will remain at Ai Aba for the evening, for those who had enough of paintings there will be an option to make an afternoon game drive instead of the western sites.
Days 5 - Omandumba East
In the morning we will make a drive back to Omandumba West, and make a round of a large number of sites located along the ridge separating Anibib and Omandumba. After lunch at the farmhouse we will drive to Omandumba East, the adjacent farm now run by Harald’s brother. This farm too contains a number of fine sites (and the original farmhouse where Breuil stayed), the best being the "Glockengrotte" facing East, and best visited in the afternoon. We will again spend the evening, and have dinner at the Omandumba Bush Camp with Harald & Dieke.
Days 6 - Omandumba - Ameib
In the morning we will leave Omandumba and round the outcrops of the Erongo Mountains to the Western side (stopping at a few sites along the way) to the village of Tubusis, from where we wll take a track leading in towards the edge of the Erongo (in fact just on the other side of the ridge delimiting Omandumba to the West). This area, called Springbockfontein on account of the spring on the plain, contains a good dozen sites recorded by both Breuil and Scherz. We will spend the day visiting the best of them, before we need to start towards Ameib Ranch located at the SE corner of the Erongo Mountains about an hour’s drive away (we must reach the gates before sunset).
Days 7 - Ameib Ranch
Ameib farm 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 from the 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. After lunch and some rest we will return to the Northern part of the farm, to a fascinating landscape of granite boulders ("Bull's Party"), among which Scherz recorded several sites.
Day 8 - Ameib - Spitzkoppe - Uis
With an early start after breakfast, we will drive to Usakos, then continue towards Swakopmund on the B2 till the Spitzkoppe, a series of high pointed granite mountains rising cathedral-like from the flat surrounding plains, with a number of rock art sites scattered about the foot of the mountains. The drive should take about an hour till the more distant Kleine Spitzkoppe, where the Abbé copied two very interesting paintings ("White Ghost" and "Fine Giraffe" shelters). Scherz located several more sites subsequently which we will try to locate. We will return for lunch to the simple community restaurant at the Grose Spitzkoppe visitors centre, after which we will make a visit to the two most important sites, the "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.
In the late afternoon we will turn north towards the Brandberg Mountain to reach Uis by sunset. We will stay the coming three nights at the While Lady B&B.
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, including a long stop at the White Lady site. There are a number of principal sites (and several minor ones) on the Island, we will spend the late 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 and Uis by 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 prolific 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.
Day 12 - Twyfelfontein - Kamandjab - Etosha
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.
In the afternoon we will continue to Etosha Park, staying at Okaukuejo for two consecutive nights.
Day 13 - Etosha National Park
We will spend the day at Etosha, making a morning and afternoon game drive to the various water holes, then converging on the lodge waterhole for sunset when there is the greatest activity. While out minibus can tackle the tracks at Etosha, it is not really suited for game photography, we will use open roof vehicles of the lodge for the morning and afternoon drives with experienced rangers to have the best chances of seeing rarer game.
Day 14 - 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 15-16 - Sossusvlei - Namib Naukluft National park (optional add-on)
Sossusvlei is picture-book Namibia, with the huge red dunes of the Namib Desert towering over the riverbed disappearing among the sand. The minibus we will use for the first two weeks is perfectly suitable for all tracks except soft sand, thus it would not 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 choosing 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 at the Sossus Dune Lodge (the one inside the gate, allowing pre-dawn departure). After arrival we will immediately drive to the dunes at Sossusvlei, 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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