Spitzkoppe rock formation. Namib Desert. Namibia

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One of Namibia’s most recognisable landmarks, the 1728m-high Spitzkoppe rises mirage-like above the dusty plains of southern Damaraland. Its dramatic shape has inspired its nickname, the Matterhorn of Africa, but similarities between this ancient volcanic remnant and the glaciated Swiss alp begin and end with its sharp peak. First summited in 1946, the Spitzkoppe continues to attract hard-core rock climbers bent on tackling Namibia’s most challenging peak.

The Spitzkoppe is administered by the Ministry of Environment & Tourism (MET), and attended to by the local community. Local guides are also available for a negotiable price, and they provide some illuminating context to this rich cultural site.

Although you do not need technical equipment and expertise to go scrambling, climbing to the top of the Spitzkoppe is a serious and potentially dangerous endeavour. For starters, you must be fully self-sufficient in terms of climbing gear, food and water, and preferably be part of a large expedition. Before climbing the Spitzkoppe, seek local advice and be sure to inform others of your intentions. Also be advised that it can get extremely hot during the day and surprisingly cold at night and at higher elevations – bring proper protection.