Turning off south down the D2743, 52km east of Khorixas, takes you into the spectacular scenery of the Ugab Terraces. This broad, flat-bottomed valley, flanked by plateaus rising 160m either side, holds a collection of buttes and mesas – striking, steep-sided, flat-topped pillars of rock, reminiscent of Monument Valley in Arizona; so much so that you half expect John Wayne to appear on horseback at any moment. These harder sandstone conglomerate protrusions have been formed over the last 20 million years or so as the surrounding softer sedimentary deposits of the Ugab River floodplain have gradually been eroded away. While the Vingerklip is as far as most people venture along this valley, it’s worth completing the 68km semicircular detour along the D2743, which wends its way through picturesque mopane woodland.
The best known of the Ugab Terraces is the 35m-high phallus known as the Vingerklip (Finger Rock), whose dramatic presence is enhanced by its location, perched precariously on top of a knoll. The rings on this butte, which has a 44m circumference, tell a geological tale of rising and falling sea levels and the changing force of the Ugab River’s flow that helped carve this natural sculpture.