Climbing Brandberg in June

Sunday the 14th of June I met Ingrid and Bob at Uis. They have been in Namibia for a couple of days already, and have already seen some of the amazing sights of the country whilst doing a selfdrive safari. Climbing Brandberg Mountain would be an exciting addition.

We left for the Hungorob gorge where the climb will commence. Under the shade of a big Camel thorn tree, the food and other hiking equipment were divided and packed in the rucksacks. At 12:10 we started walking.

The Brandberg complex received its fair share of rain during the course of the rainy season in Namibia. The footpath was partly overgrown, and at some place not even visible. We headed up in the gorge towards Springbok water and our camp nearby. After a rest stop at Springbok water fountain, we finished the day at 17:00.

We had climbed 440 metres, and covered about 3,4 kilometres in total.

Dinner consisted out of 2 minute noodles and some vegetables. (As luck would have it, I did not ask Bob and Ingrid if they had eating utensils with them before we started to hike, and in camp we realised we had 1 mug, 1 fork and 1 knife between the three of us.  Luckily we had 2 pots, and these will serve as both plates and cups from now on!)

Monday morning saw us leaving the camp at 07:30. After a quick stop to inspect some Bushmen paintings at the “Stone Circles” we continued the climb towards Konigstein, the highest point in Namibia. Contouring most of the way, we arrived at the next fountain at 09:30. Filling up with water, and taking a rest, we prepared for the next big climb. (By now I realised that both Bob and Ingrid are accomplished climbers, and that helped a lot to calm my nerves.) From here it is uphill all the way, until we get to the plateau. Our aim for the day was to reach “Snake Rock” and to camp in the vicinity.

12:30 we were at the “Waterfall” and decided to have lunch there. With plenty of Bushmen paintings around, lunch was a joyous affair. Although there was not a lot of water around, we could fill all our water containers. The climb to Snake Rock is spectacular and the vegetation also differs from what we have seen before. It is a pleasure to walk in this area, and at 15:00 we reached Snake Rock. Being the most beautiful of all the Bushmen paintings I have ever seen, we spent a considerable amount of time here.

That evening we camped nearby with a view of the plains below, and the blanket of stars above.

We have walked 3,8 kilometres in a straight line and ascended 1012 meters.

Up early today, as today is the day that we will reach Konigstein. The early rise might also be due to the fact that last night was much colder than the previous night. (Bob and Ingrid coming from Scotland did not feel the cold that much, but their Namibian companion did feel it.)

We left our camp at 07:20. We walked light as we are planning to return the same way, and then collect the rest of our gear. Walking through valleys and swamps at times, the hike was easy compared to what we have been through before. After the last hill was climbed we reached Konigstein at 09:35 on the 16th of June 2009. Ingrid is the first women client of Wild at Heart Safaris that has reached Konigstein. Well done!!

After big smiles and photos from all angles we started our descent again. We reached our equipment at 12:00. On the way there we did not rest at all, so while packing, we also used this opportunity to take a breather.

Lunch was had in the shade of some huge boulders on the plateau. After lunch would be the drop back to the stone circle camp.

We arrived that afternoon 16:00 at our destination. (I thought we would be arriving later, but once again Bob and Ingrid impressed me with their dogged approach to walking. One step at a time and repeat a million times, as easy as that)

Collected some water at the fountain, and everyone were in very good spirit around the camp fire.

The next morning we had a leisurely morning wake up. Started walking at 08:00 and arrived back at our vehicles around 10:20. What a hike to say the least. Ingrid and Bob were great company and determined hikers.

Thank you for hiking with Wild at Heart Safaris to the highest point in Namibia.

From Ingrid and Bob:

“We had a fantastic time on our hike, especially helped by excellent guiding from Kobus.  We certainly enjoyed ourselves and our hike was one of our highlights of our trip to Namibia.  Lying in our sleeping bags at night looking up at all the stars was simply amazing.  The whole scenery of the Brandberg Mountain, the rock paintings and feeling of remoteness really made our trip very special.  Thanks Kobus for a brilliant trek!”

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Fredericks Foundation Charity Trek

During the morning of the 18th of September 2009, a group of 21 women arrived at the International Airport of Namibia. Their aim was to walk 100 kilometres in the desolate but ruggedly beautiful Damaraland. Funds raised by this ambitious trek will be used to assist less privileged people in the UK to gain economic independence by setting up their own businesses.

Following is an account of this walk as seen through the eyes of Kobus Alberts, guide of Wild at Heart Safaris.

One by one the women that would join us on the trek came through the sliding door at the International Airport of Namibia. Fiona and Lynne, the organisers of this event were known to me, so the greeting was full of smiles and happiness to see each other again. As the other ladies came to join the group I could see different reactions in each face. There was confidence, Kate comes to mind. There was bewilderment, Mel comes to mind, and so it continued.

All 21 ladies eventually got onto the coach and the journey towards the Ugab River started in all earnest. At about 16:00 the coach arrived at the designated meeting place. Faan Oosthuisen of Kaurimbi Expeditions was waiting for us. Disembarking from the coach everyone got into Faan’s truck, and the next part of the journey started. About 6 Kilometres from our first camp, everyone disembarked and walked into camp.

Crossing plains covered mostly in gravel the group made good time, and all arrived alive but tired after their long trip.

Camp consisted of pitched tents, bright green toilet tents, and the kitchen next to the truck.

Clifton and Kennedy were busy preparing dinner, while the ladies got a chance to acquaint themselves with their surroundings.

After a lovely dinner, a general discussion was held on the route and how it is laid out. Albert Hays, our esteemed medic for the trip, then had an in depth discussion about general health and hygiene in and around the camp.

As luck would have it, we were visited by a large Solifuge (Roman spider) as well as a splendid scorpion specimen, while sitting around the camp fire.

The first full day of walking started after a warm up session. The dune fields that lay ahead would be the first obstacle for this trek. As the group traversed the dune field, snakes and other interesting insects were found and discussed. Trees and other plant species were discussed as we came upon them.

At the first water break Faan left us a box with a Puff Adder inside. It was a very good specimen and very docile. Everyone got a good look at the Puff Adder before it was released into the wild again. As the day progressed the dunes became slightly higher and the day became slightly warmer. Walking to the top of the last high dune before lunch break, there was mostly silence in the group, as everyone was concentrating hard on their breathing and on keeping on walking.

Lunch was had under a canvas canopy and was a welcome relief for most of the ladies.

Leaving at 14:00 again, the heat was really on. At about 14:30 the temperature stood at 41 degrees Celsius. Due to the lack of any shade whatsoever, we had to keep walking, and eventually this heat took its toll.

Just below the next ridge the group found a tree with enough shade for about 8 ladies. Several ladies were not feeling too well, suffering from heat exhaustion so Albert decided to call in the roaming vehicle to assist us. “Mustang” Sally was one of several very strong walkers that had to bow her knees before the heat of Namibia.

The rest of the group continued walking, and found our camp for the night pitched under the shade of a huge Mopane tree.

That night Albert had his first “clinic” of the trip, which was well visited by the ladies. Slowly but surely blisters were appearing. Luckily the ladies that had been evacuated during the afternoon were now in much better shape after a rest and the chance to cool down, so they could carry on with the rest of the trek.

The 2nd day of walking started off by following a dry river course and then veering off into the mountains. A small hill was climbed to get a better view of the surrounding area. During this period several game species like ostrich, giraffe and oryx were spotted. The way to lunch would take us over a huge plain, which eventually will end in the hills before the Goantagab River.  Kate and Alex veered slightly off the designated route, but after realising they were totally alone in Namibia, eventually made it back to the group. Some believe they were just too keen and got lost others think that it was the guide’s little practical joke to send them in the wrong direction.  Who knows? (Laughter is food for the soul.)

After lunch we tackled the hill country. These “badlands” are very rugged and littered with sharp broken stones and rock. Luckily for us the weather played along, and a cool breeze from the West kept everyone cooler. On exiting the “badlands” we crossed a wide plain towards some granite outcrops on the horizon. The camp was splendidly hidden from view, so it came as quite a surprise when the ladies turned another corner and lo and behold, there was the most stunning camp they could ever have imagined.  The evening was overcast and a few rain drops were felt later in the night.

The last full day of walking lay ahead. The terrain would be the most challenging the group would experience so far. Contouring along mountain ridges, crossing dry river valleys was the order of the day. At one stage the group were slowly gaining height to a relatively high mountain ridge. Once on top of this “crocodile back ridge” the view was just spectacular. One could see for 360 degrees, yet see only the wildness of Damaraland. This was the time to take a few moments of stillness to reflect about the trip, reflect on the ones you love, and to reflect on life in general. For a few minutes every single person sat alone with his or her thoughts. The greyhounds of the soul were running free in this desolate, yet very beautiful place in Namibia. (Ironically the peace was rudely interrupted by 2 vehicles passing by, the only sign of other humans they had seen during the whole trek.)

Lunch was ready on our arrival, and everyone had a good meal. The last bit of the last full day started 13:45. Once again the weather was playing along, and it was overcast most of the day. After having an earnest talk to the group about what lies ahead, we set off. Following mountain ridges we slowly made our way towards the Ugab River. We went down a very steep incline, and every single one of the ladies made it down. For a couple of metres we walked in a river bed, and then we climbed the next ridge. In a straight line from where we started and once we were out of the river bed again, it was only 50 metres. In total we must have walked about 2 kilometres to gain those 50 metres, but that is what walking in Damaraland is all about.  Finally, way down below, we could see camp, but to get there we once again had to go down a very steep hill. Walking in front of the group I could only imagine the number of “daggers” that were thrown in my direction. There were several very loud utterances of despair, probably anger, but once again every one made it down, alive.  Once inside camp, there was a tangible feeling of relief. Everyone was laughing a lot, there was amazement on other faces, and the anger soon turned to delight and pride.  That night around the campfire, the adventure of the day was relived and told by everyone.

The last half day saw us covering 15 Kilometres to the finish line and the coach back to Swakopmund. That evening everyone was unrecognisably “scrubbed up” and all enjoyed the Gala evening and sharing stories and memories.

100 Kilometre in 3 days and 6 hours. Not too bad at all I must admit. To have seen and experienced this committed trek across Damaraland, made me realise how much life there is to be lived.

Well done to Lynne and Fiona for organising this amazing event, and keeping up morale when it was most needed. Congratulations to the 21 ladies who each embraced their own Namibian Challenge, all for the good cause of Fredericks Foundation and to make a difference to the lives of people less fortunate.

An English girl went up a hill and came down a mountain

It all started on the eighth day of January in the year 2010. Emma came to Namibia for a very worthwhile project, but also wanted to test her physical ability. This is the bit where I and the highest mountain in Namibia, Brandberg, come in.

With our rucksacks quite heavy we started the hike, by following the footpaths towards Springbok water.  The trail was not walked out, as we are the first group to climb Brandberg for this year.

As we started very late we only walked for 2 hours before finding a camp, and settled down for the night. Already the mountain was playing its magic on Emma, as she took photograph upon photograph of the sunset.

Early the next morning we were off again. Had a quick stop at the magnificent Springbuck painting and then onwards and upwards. Luckily the weather goddess was smiling down on us, as it was overcast and cool for most of the day.

Bushmen fountain still had some water, but if it does not rain soon, it will be dry in about 2 months from now. Now the really steep climbs start, but still Emma was in good spirit. Once we hit the granite slopes, Emma had her first taste of the physicality of Brandberg. Walking with a heavy rucksack on a clean granite slate with few handholds and quite an angle is not for the fainthearted.

Early afternoon we reached Snake rock, after a long visit at the “Wasserfall” paintings. Here we spend some time, as we arrived quite early, which showed me Emma is holding up very well.

Being 2140 meters high, the view was just stunning, as was the last rays of the sun as it went down over the horizon.

Our third day on the mountain will see us reaching the highest point in Namibia, Konigstein. After a brisk walk through the valleys we arrived on Konigstein at 09:40. Sadly the day was a bit windy so dust in the air obscured some of the view. Looking at Emma I realised that she enjoyed the hike so far and she truly appreciates the views all around her. With the wind in our hair and silence as the only noise, we sat and observed our surroundings for another 20 minutes.

Going downhill will provide another challenge in the sense that it needs more concentration, as when climbing. This Emma also found out on the way down.

After collecting our equipment which we left, we started the hike down. The sun was bright in the sky and it was heating up rapidly. Gone were the days when it was nice and cool, but at least we still had a breeze every now and again.

After lunch, we started with the mega downhill bits, and both of us were tired by the time we reached Bushman Fountain. While filling up my water bottle from the fountain, Emma were having a dehydration drink and checking on some potential blisters. The last section loomed ahead, but it really went quickly. Emma kept up, and kept concentrating.

Once we reached our camp near Springbuck water fountain, we really felt the downhill on our leg muscles.

After a nice dinner we sat around the campfire discussing the physical aspect of Brandberg, and Emma noted that she was well and truly challenged. Of course I was very glad to hear this; otherwise I would have had to invent another very tough route down to the vehicle.

Upon reaching the vehicle, congratulations all around, we left for Swakopmund. As if the Brandberg were saying goodbye to us, a herd of about 80 Springbuck appeared on the plains before us, and what a magnificent sight to see these majestic animals in the wild.

We were the first people up Brandberg in the year 2010. Emma was the youngest female member through Wild at Heart Safaris, to be taken up the Brandberg so far.

It was another spectacular hike, and one to be remembered for a while. Emma showed me how to immerse oneself in nature and how to fully appreciate and enjoy what nature provides.

Kobus Alberts – Wild at Heart Safaris

Namibia in 13 Days

Travelling in Namibia

Find out more about Wild at Heart Safaris in Namibia.Wild at Heart Safaris is a young Namibian-owned and based Safari Company, that specialises in Adventure and Luxury Safaris for small groups and families.

 

 

Lions in the wild

Lions in the wild

 

The safari started off in Windhoek, and would eventually end up there again. What happened between the start and the finish was a safari of great pleasure. I was joined on the trip by two (2) men hailing from Edinburgh, Mark and Stefan.   Visiting the Waterberg Game Reserve will and always is a delight. The majestic sandstone cliffs with the plains at your feet are a sight to behold. Sitting on top of the Waterberg Plateau and watching the sun paint brilliant colours all around you is difficult to describe.  Getting up the next morning and hearing the call of the Dassies and Baboons make you realise, you are in Africa.

Onguma were to be our next stop. One of the “Jewels of Namibia” Onguma offers tranquillity and peace of mind. Pitching camp under a Leadwood tree and starting the fire for dinner is one of the many pleasures of a camping safari. After dinner all of us would just sit around the fire and listen to the night music that Namibia has to offer. This became the trend for the rest of the safari.   Entering Etosha National Park at Namutoni, another adventure began. Wildlife of different shapes and sizes, everywhere to see. Stopping at different water holes to observe, and to enjoy this spectacle of nature in its full glory. At Halali lunch was had. After lunch we took the road that would eventually bring us to Okaukuejo, and from there we would leave Etosha via the Anderson gate. Around 14:10 we spotted two lions lying under the shade of a Camel thorn tree. We really thought that this was a very good sighting, not knowing what lay ahead.

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Twelve Days with a Norseman

Climbing the Brandberg mountain in Damaraland Namibia

 

His name is Joakim Jonsson, a Swedish native now living in London, England. Joakim completed the 120 Kilometre Namibia Ultra Marathon in 22 hours 40 minutes during his first visit to Namibia.

 

Brandberg - Namibias highest peak

Brandberg - Namibias highest peak

 

So, the safari started at Sossusvlei, renowned for its very high sand dunes (as if we did not know that – but more on this later). Joakim is a professional photographer, meaning first light and last light is his favourite time, and the rest of the day can be used for other activities. After photographing the haunting beauty of Deadvlei, it was so decided that we would see what Witberg looks like. Though this track is only 5 km in a straight line, it took nearly seven hours until we reached our vehicle – tired, but totally satisfied. The experience was magical: entirely alone in the dunes, sitting on the high crest and looking over the “sand sea” , just dunes and more dunes as far as the eye can see. Witberg was the only rocky outcrop in this “sea of sand”…. That evening, sleep came easy.

The next leg of the journey was Damaraland, a wilderness with landscapes that take one’s breath away. First, of course, the highest mountain in Namibia, Brandberg had to be conquered. Konigstein, at 2573 meters, with a view of all the plains below, was in our sight. With our backpacks weighing about 20 Kg, mainly water, we began the journey. Stopping at several Bushmen paintings on the way, the mountain began its to cast its spell. Extremely rugged, but so utterly beautiful, we continued walking. We pitched camp at 1990 meters, and had our compulsory meal of dried food before going to bed. The blanket of stars above us is just too difficult to describe. As the last wood burned away, we fell asleep safe under southern skies.

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Climbing Namibia’s highest mountain

Namibias highest peak

Climbing the Brandberg 6 – 10 July 2008 by Wild at Heart Safaris

The Brandberg is Namibia’s highest mountain. Königstein is the highest peak at 2573 meters.

About the Author: Kobus Alberts is 34 years of age and is married with 2 children. He was born in Usakos, Namibia, and is currently living in Swakopmund. He holds a diploma in Nature Conservation and has spent 11 Years of his life living in most of the National Parks and Game Reserves of Namibia. He has most recently been heading up the National Marine Aquarium of Namibia in Swakopmund, a position he held for 5 years and is now a director of Wild at Heart Safaris and Namibian owned travel company unique is that it was established entirely by ex-game rangers with a love of thier country.  email: info@wildatheartsafaris.com

On the 6th of July I, Steffen Oesterle, Volker Mohrholz and Toralf Heene started the climb to Königstein.

We left at 14:00, with the aim to overnight in the area near to Springbokwasser. (Just to put the distances and height a bit into perspective, you need to know the following.  The vehicle was stopped at the foot of the Brandberg at a height of 700 meter. The total distance from the vehicle to Königstein, using a GPS, was 11 Kilometre)

Following a footpath it looked really easy, until the footpath disappeared. After some boulder scrambling, we found a trail again and this trail led us straight to camp.

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The valley of the grey ghosts

Walking in Namibia

A story from a man that loves to walk

Author: Andries Alberts, Game Warden of Bushmanland and the Nya Nya conservation area. Find out more here.

Namibia is a country with many faces. If you are so lucky to see only one of these faces you will lead a happy and fulfilled life.

On a Namibian safari I came across this valley. At first it was just this green stretch of trees in the middle of these vast open plains. To compliment this picture further, there was the massive Brandberg in all its glory.
As we followed the two track road towards the river the flat plains gradually became low hills dotted with round boulders. Entering the valley the scenery changes to that of green trees and low shrubs. The campsite is nestled under the trees. Like all camping safaris, the camp has first priority and is pitched as soon as possible.

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