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Mountains of Namibia: Spiltkzoppe

German for ‘pointed dome’, Spitkzoppe is also known as Spitzkop, Groot Spitzkop or the ‘Matterhorn of Namibia’. Nestled in the heart of Namibia’s vast landscape this iconic mountain, with its towering granite peaks, offers a unique blend of natural beauty, geological wonder, and ancient history, making it a must-visit destination for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike.

The jewel of the Namibian mountains

Spitzkoppe is a collection of smooth, granite peaks or bornhardts situated between Usakos and Swakopmund in the Namib Desert of Namibia, it is one of the most beautiful parts of a tour to Namibia. The rocks are over 700 million years old, and the tallest outcrop reaches about 1,784 metres above sea level.

The peaks of Splitzkoppe

The summits stand out vividly from the flat surrounding landscape. The tallest peak reaches around 700 metres off the desert floor. A smaller peak, Little Spitzkoppe, is situated close by and rises approximately 1,584 metres above sea level. Other significant peaks expand out into a range referred to as the Pontok Mountains.

Bushman’s art & paintings

Various samples of Bushmen artwork can be observed on the rock in the Spitzkoppe region. ‘Bushman Paradise’ was made accessible through a chained gate, but has since lost its allure as mostly all of the 2000-4000 year old pre-historic rock artworks have been destroyed. You will still, however, be able to locate many good paintings around the base of the Great Spitzkoppe – specifically at the ‘Rhino Rock’.

Rock climbing up the Spitzkoppe

If you wish to hike up any of the peaks, you will be required to have a rather high level of climbing expertise. Whilst the normal route to the summit is not incredibly difficult in present technical terms, it once was near to impossible to reach the top due to its isolation and harsh conditions in which it is set.

A climbing team made the first documented trip to the peak’s summit from Cape Town – an expedition led by S. Le Roux. The next group to defeat the peak pioneered a route up the northern extremes of the peak, after having failed on the southwest ridge. They found entry to the gully now referred to as the ‘scramble’, but ran out of time to attempt the last faces. They tried again four days later, but eventually gave up. Some of the earliest climbers could not scale the astonishingly smooth granite outcrop of around three metres high, and resorted to carving steps into the rock with a hammer and chisel.

Several months following that attempt, Hans and Else Wong, as well as Jannie de Villiers Graaff, reached the top of the peak on a November afternoon in 1946. For the following quarter of a century, the mountain kept its reputation as a 3 day hiking struggle.

This age came to an end in 1971, when the summit was conquered in just four hours by a team led by J.W. Merchant from the University of Cape Town. This party climbed all of the lower portions without the use of ropes and made their way through the challenging band without using the carved steps. They trekked back down in a mere two hours, and as they reached the bottom rain started to fall for the first time in more than a year.

The mystery of Spitzkoppe will always make the area worth paying a visit to.


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Splitzkoppe: Photographer’s dream

The dramatic landscape of the Spitzkoppe, with its bold colors and striking contrasts, provides endless opportunities for photographers. Sunrise and sunset are particularly magical times when the rocks take on vibrant hues, creating a photographer’s dream scene.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the Spitzkoppe is during the cooler months from May to September when the temperatures are more manageable for hiking and exploring. The intense heat of the summer months can make outdoor activities challenging and less enjoyable.

Why should you go to Spitzkoppe on a tour?

Spitzkoppe offers a unique and awe-inspiring natural landscape that attracts adventure seekers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts. Here are a few reasons why you should consider visiting Spitzkoppe on a tour:

  • Majestic Scenery: The dramatic rock formations and towering granite peaks of Spitzkoppe create a mesmerizing backdrop, providing fantastic opportunities for photography and exploration. The striking contrast between the red desert sands and the granite formations is a sight to behold.
  • Hiking and Rock Climbing: Spitzkoppe offers a range of hiking trails and rock climbing routes suitable for various skill levels. Whether you are a novice hiker or an experienced climber, there are options available to enjoy the stunning views and challenge yourself in this unique setting.
  • Cultural and Historical Significance: Spitzkoppe holds cultural and historical significance for the indigenous San people, who have a deep spiritual connection to the area. Guided tours often provide insights into their heritage, rock art, and traditional practices, allowing visitors to learn about their rich cultural heritage.
  • Stargazing: Due to its remote location and lack of light pollution, Spitzkoppe offers excellent conditions for stargazing. The clear night skies reveal a breathtaking display of stars, making it a haven for astronomy enthusiasts.

Visiting Spitzkoppe on a tour allows you to immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring natural beauty, engage in outdoor activities, and learn about the rich cultural heritage of the area. Whether you’re interested in hiking, rock climbing, photography, or cultural experiences, Spitzkoppe offers a unique and unforgettable adventure in the heart of the Namib Desert.

Book a tour to Namibia with African Overland Tours and experience the majesty of the Splitkoppe mountains 

About Bronwyn Paxton

Article by: Bronwyn Paxton
on March 25, 2024
Filed under  Africa Blog • Destinations • Namibia 
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