I’m finding it difficult to write a campsite journal this month.
Not because we’ve already explored all of Namibia’s campsites, but because it’s impossible to be unemotional and just give facts that will still be applicable in a year or two for those readers who collect these journals for future reference. In two years’ time the black dolerite ridges on the way to Spitzkoppe will probably be black again, not soft pastel green as they were in February 2006.
The waterlilies in the granite pools will seem like a dream and the multitude of minute white, pink, purple, yellow and cerise flowers will once again be hidden underneath the seemingly barren soil, waiting for another rainy season like this one to surprise and enchant us.
The Spitzkoppe Community Campsite is truly special. It’s about much more than pitching your tent. But be warned. It doesn’t have any of the ‘running water, clean ablutions with hot shower, flush toilet, washing-up facilities and piece of green lawn on which to pitch your tent’ type of facilities. It’s not that kind of campsite, so if that’s what you want, don’t visit it. What it does have is some interesting features though, such as a tourist restaurant painted bright pink.
Contrary to its appearance from the main road between Windhoek and the coast, the Spitzkoppe consists of more than one mountain. The closer you get, the more you realise that there are many outcrops with tracks leading around the main inselberg, and that reconnoitring the area is a sightseeing trip worth undertaking while you make up your mind which of the sites to choose. Should you consider the sunset or the sunrise? Face the best view or nestle into a cave-like setting? Should you consider the site furthest from the entrance or closest to the biggest pool? (Yes, there were several natural pools that weekend in February – even a few streams.)
The sites have been carefully selected to be concealed from one another, the long-drops hidden behind boulders and roofed with wooden slats, a dead tree trunk with a sturdy hook to hang your shower sack and a view to take your breath away. Some west-facing sites have a slatted lean-to to provide protection against the afternoon sun and some even sport a creatively constructed seating bench and table.
All of this, however, is of scant importance once you’ve climbed the first granite koppie and enjoyed a 360-degree view of the site where nomadic hunter-gatherers stayed long enough during seasons like the one in 2006 to write their diaries on the rock faces. Gear yourself to clamber around on the rough rock surfaces to take a close-up photograph of flowers without names, and make sure you’re wearing the right shoes to keep up with children who constantly discover a better view from a higher vantage point. And don’t become disheartened. Although this is a famous spot for world-class mountain climbers, it is possible to climb nearly to the top of most outcrops the normal way – one step at a time while you’re treasuring the sights and sounds and the cool breeze from the west.
Did I mention the full moon?
This article was made possible by Cymot Namibia
This article appeared in the April ‘06 edition of Travel News Namibia.