It seems Namibia was made for climbing with shifting sands reaching hundreds of metres into the air and towering inselbergs dotting the landscape. Without the hazards that climbing in Europe has to offer, such as high altitudes, freezing temperatures, snow and ice, Namibia is a great destination for those who love to challenge themselves by climbing on top of things.
Sound awesome? Before you book your accommodation in Windhoek and set off to scale the heights of Namibia though, remember that Africa does offer one obstacle that Europe lacks – extreme heat. Please plan your extended outdoor activities in Namibia for the winter months where temperatures peak at a mild 28°C.
Namibia’s most popular mountain climbing destinations are as follows:
You will find the Spitzkoppe about 3 hours west of Windhoek in the Usakos district. The Spitzkoppe, known as Namibia’s Matterhorn, rises 1 784 m above sea level, peaking at 700m above the desert below. This granite massif was first summited in 1946 and since then 100’s of adventure seekers have repeated the feat.
This 120-million-year-old chunk of rock has over 100 sports climbing and bouldering routes etched into its sides and climbers have been known to spend up to a week here exploring them all. The ascents vary greatly from gentle slopes to advanced gradients suitable only to the more experienced climber.
Hiking trails and bushman art are some of the other more earthbound activities on offer at the Spitzkoppe and there is an adequate campsite onsite.
The Erongo Mountains
The Spitzkoppe may be the showpiece of the Erongo Mountains but there are less challenging, albeit more scenic climbing routes around this area too.
Whichever of the 3 routes you choose while ascending the Erongo’s you are certain to come across abundant birdlife and exceptional granite climbing opportunities.
The Brandberg Massif is a challenging climb with big rewards.
At 2 579m this huge inselberg is Namibia’s highest peak and overlooks some spectacular scenery.
You will also find secret stashes of San Rock art to admire along the way, including the famous etching called The White Lady. Known as the fire-mountain by the local folk, the Brandberg is a spiritual site for the bushman people and there are believed to be over 45 000 works of art lurking in its folds.
Geologists tell us that this red granite outcrop is over 120 million years old, which means it outlived the dinosaurs, and some of the paintings are believed to be about 500 000 years old.
All of these factors combine to make the Brandberg an interesting place to spend some time, whether you choose to climb it or not.
This rocky crag is located 50km west from Noordoewer just inside Namibia’s southern border. There are 30 bolted routes to the top of Aussenkehr which offer challenges on hard, dolerite rock or trad climbing routes in Kings Canyon and Quiver Tree Canyon.
The scenery around this area is surreal, with buttresses and steep shaded pillars rising out of the desert sand. Once you reach the top you are rewarded with spectacular views over the Orange River.
An added bonus of this climbing destination is the chance to steel your nerves afterwards at one of Namibia’s few wine farms, right next door.
Wherever you choose to climb in Namibia, make sure you take lots of water along and plaster yourself with sunscreen, even in the middle of winter. The mountains may be smaller but the challenges are just as rewarding as those found anywhere in the world.