One of Namibia’s most recognizable landmarks, and a magnet for rock-climbers, the Spitzkoppe has featured on the cover of many a holiday brochure; its distinctive pointed peak – which has earned it the nickname, the Matterhorn of Africa – measures 1728m, and towers around 700m above the surrounding desert plains. It’s a granite bornhardt – a bald, rounded and steep-sided inselberg – formed around 130 million years ago through volcanic activity and shaped over time as its surroundings were eroded away, resulting in fascinating rock formations, including several rock arches. What’s more, its giant granite domes and exfoliating boulders positively glow like burnished gold in the late afternoon or early morning light.
Between the Spitzkoppe and the equally impressive neighbouring Pondoks, a fenced area holds a thinly stocked game reserve – which you can only visit with a guide – a remnant of when the Hollywood flop 10,000BC was filmed here. Of much greater appeal are the hiking possibilities and the chance to see some fine examples of rock art. Sadly, the most well-known site, Bushman’s Paradise, no longer lives up to its name, having been damaged by over-enthusiastic tourists and vandals; however, there are plenty more pristine rock paintings to discover in less accessible spots if you arrange to hike with a guide from the local Damara conservancy.