Spitzkoppe is a stunning rock formation that emerges from the Namib Desert about 1 hour 45 minutes drive North East from Swakopmund. This whole area of Namibia is a land of stark contrasts, and Spitzkoppe exemplifies this as it’s a massive, smooth rock towering 2,200 feet above the sandy desert below.
Traveling to Spitzkoppe, Namibia
We elected to take the more scenic route to Spitzkoppe, first driving north from Swakopmund along the Skeleton Coast of Namibia to Hentiesbaai before turning inland to cross the sandy dunes of the Namib. Just as the temperature plummeted to the mid 50s a day prior as we drove from Sossusvlei (where it was 105 degrees), we watched the thermometer creep up as we crossed the seemingly endless desert. The road north from Swakopmund, the C34, is normally paved and easy traveling, though it was under construction when we were there, slowing us a bit. From there, we turned almost directly east on the small, non-descript D1918, which was little more than a flat, hardened sand path. About one hour out, we started to see the immense peak of Spitzkoppe emerge from the desert. Once Spitzkoppe is almost directly to your left (North), the signage is not entirely clear, but you can take either the D1925, which you will encounter first, or the D3716.
Accommodation and Camping at Spitzkoppe, Namibia
There are only 31 campsites available at Spitzkoppe, so we recommend that you book far in advance. Once we arrived, we checked in at the small office and were directed to take our pick of any open site. The sites are all quite far from each other, and you cannot see any campsite from any other. They are dispersed in and amongst the rocks, as well as along the base of the main Spitzkoppe peak.
We have to say – the camping at Spitzkoppe is some of the most beautiful, isolated, and truly unique camping we have ever done. Our spot was nestled next to the main peak, and the way in which the almost polished smooth wall entered the soft sand below was remarkable. As we pulled up, Klipspringers somehow ran along the almost vertical and entirely smooth cliff.
We recommend that you pick a site that is sheltered by various rock formations.
Activities at Spitzkoppe, Namibia
There are several hiking trails in and around Spitzkoppe, varying in difficulty. Some are mostly flat, traversing the areas surrounding the rocks, while there are other hikes that scale the peaks of Spitzkoppe. There are plenty of maps available when you check in, so pick the hike that is right for you. There are also guided walks that you can book at the small main office. These will take you to various rock drawings from millennia prior.
Spitzkoppe is known for its stargazing as it more than 2 hours drive to the closest town, and even those are tiny. The massive peak juxtaposed against the flat sandy desert makes for incredible stargazing and night photography.
Namibia in general is a birdwatcher’s paradise, and Spitzkoppe does not disappoint. The rock formation makes for an oasis for many bird species, several of which are endemic to Namibia, to nest and find shelter. The Namib is otherwise inhospitable, but Spitzkoppe creates its own ecosystem.
Spitzkoppe has world renown climbing, with bouldering, and sheer-face climbing. There are plenty of guided options, but as we are not climbers ourselves, we recommend that you do your research.
Our Personal Disaster at Spitzkoppe
We will preface this by saying that Spitzkoppe is truly one of the most isolated and remote feeling campsites we have ever been to. You cannot see any other campsites from each other, and you feel truly alone. The desert is utterly silent, save for the birds and occasional gusts of wind.
Because of the isolation, the absolute last thing we expected was to be awoken abruptly by the incredibly loud sound of our car alarm. In this case, the improbable became reality, and far too frequent.
As we were just falling asleep, the car alarm went off for the first time. It echoed relentlessly amongst the rocks, and quickly woke us all up. We didn’t know what to think – was it a baboon trying to break in? Was it thieves from the nearby informal settlement? In any case – we were terrified.
The first alarm was not the last unfortunately. We had many theories, ranging from a moth inside the car activating the motion sensor, to the rocks jumbling the signal of other cars’ key fobs and setting off ours.
In hindsight, probably not the best idea, our friend Tyler and I decided to go up to another campsite where we could see lights to see if they were having issues. We only succeeded in terrifying them.
After about 4 instances of the alarm, ranging from a two minute gap to a 1+ hour gap between occurrences, we finally were able to fall asleep, entirely on edge. Nothing like the sound of a car alarm to break the complete silence of the wilderness.
We apologize to the other campsites that night.
Overall Thoughts on Spitzkoppe, Namibia
Spitzkoppe is hands down one of the coolest campsites we have ever been to. The scenery, the isolation, and the truly rugged feel make for an exceptional experience.
Our only wish is that we had planned Spitzkoppe as a destination rather than a stop over on our way to Etosha National Park. It has so much to offer, and we did not get to fully experience it.
If you want to truly unplug and get back to nature, Spitzkoppe should be at the top of your list. You could realistically camp here for a week or more and never see another human.
Just watch out for the mysterious car alarm ghosts. Oh, and the massive camel spiders. Plenty of those too.