“The granite cliffs of Spitzkoppe. The highest point of the mountain range protruding from the plain is 1784m and has been subjected to erosion for 120 million years.
When I was getting ready for the trip, I looked at the satellite footage to see what the area looked like and came across an interesting mountain range in the area, which from above reminded me of a full pair of lips.
But it's way more than that from up close. Is it any wonder that I look forward to today with heightened anticipation?
As we moved away from the oceanfront, the look of the villages became authentically African, without any transition. The neat houses were replaced by the mud huts and the tin shacks. Altogether we had a hundred kilometers of the road ahead of us, and we stopped off at a marketplace built directly for passing tourists, where the bulk of the stock was made up of stones and crystals mined in the area, most elegantly wrapped in plastic and placed on the sort of polyurethane tray you might get a slice of pizza on. A sign at the entrance announces that the market and its restrooms were built with German aid. We also tried the latter and pressed the ten Namibian dollars (per person) into the hands of a girl around the age of eight standing at the entrance – a fee that is a multiple of the prescribed tariff. Then, while I was washing my hands at the interesting structure in front of the building, a deaf-mute old woman came over and roared loudly at the frightened little girl. I didn’t understand what she was saying, but suddenly she came up and told to me to pay me the fee for the restroom. I explained to her that I had already done so, and what would happen if she continued to harangue a poor child.
Spitzkoppe really is a big deal. That's what Stanley Kubrick, who shot 2001: A Space Odyssey here, must have thought. Romantic and deserted, at least when we arrived, and not a soul was in the campsite, which practically surrounds half the mountain range. We are already protected by barbed wire and a high-voltage fence here, but I suspect it is not so much because of the animals as because of the settlements scattered nearby. Camping with a small risk of death.
I haven’t mentioned it yet, but these nomadic campsites are all equipped with English-style toilets, and there’s even paper in each. I don’t want to start talking about beer again, but when you’re immersed in a landscape like this, at the end of the world, and you take a sip from a pre-chilled can, you realize how well-prepared Namibia is for travelers.
After lunch, we embarked on a tour with a local guide, the endpoint of which was to see Bushmen cave drawings on one of the peaks. Climbing the steep mountainside is aided by a fixed chain, but the ground also grips well, and anyone with normal fitness could manage. The cave drawings were a little disappointing since only two or three animals had been scratched into the wall, and they may have been just two hundred years old or so. As the guy tried to sell this unimpressive spectacle to us and to grab our attention by speaking the click language of the Bushmen, I wondered whether this could really be the best heritage on offer in Africa, a continent called the cradle of humanity. Why is it that, with the exception of the Muslim parts of North Africa, nothing was built on this continent while the Incas were building fortifications out of tons of rocks, the Chinese were burying their rulers with a terracotta army, not to mention Europe, where the Rhine, Tiber, and the Danube are practically ancient monuments from end to end? Why did African peoples not evolve with the world? Why didn't empires emerge? Most people here remain hunter-gatherers to this day. You occasionally see animal husbandry, (goats graze in the wilderness) but it is revealing how much the land is not cultivated even where the conditions would be ideal. Close parenthesis.
We visited another rock formation, which offers the most beautiful view of the sunset. But here I go again! What do we keep staring at this dumb celestial body? Here is everything you need for a postcard. Natural arches, and giant stone spheres stacked on top of each other as if they were part of a gigantic work of art. Eventually, the sun goes down and we stumble back to our tents in the dark. Mama Soly treats us to a Zimbabwean dinner consisting of grilled oryx meat and some polenta-like mash with hazelnut cabbage. It’s perfect right before going to bed.” (2019)