Namibia is known for large rock formations, but the most impressive and famous of them is known as the Spitzkoppe, which may also be spelled “Spitskoppe” or “Spitzkop,” the name being derived from the Afrikaans of white German settlers. Towering at over 6,000 feet above sea level, Spitzkoppe is often referred to as the Matterhorn of Namibia, another mountain that it superficially resembles in height and shape. Made out of sandstone and granite, it is o­ne of the most impressive natural structures in Namibia and can be seen for hundreds of miles in any direction. Around the mountain are numerous smaller foothills including Little Spitzkoppe, a 1,500 foot tall peak.

Though Spitzkoppe is home to many famous prehistoric lithographs, it is currently of most interest to rock climbers. The sheer faces and hard stone of the Spitzkoppe make it a particularly challenging climb, o­ne that was not possible until the invention of modern climbing equipment. Though many attempts were made, the summit was not reached until 1946, despite numerous attempts to reach the top via almost all possible routes. As more climbers reached the peak, however, and modern climbing equipment became better and better, it soon became possible to ascend the peak in a number of hours. Currently, using pre-established paths and installations, it is possible to climb the peak in less than eight hours, with the fastest ascent and decent being a mere six hours.

Many thousands of tourists visit Spitzkoppe every year to see various ancient, pre-historic lithographs left by the native Bushmen, however increasingly Spitzkoppe is being visited mostly by climbers and those enthusiastic about climbing. While the main peak is difficult enough to be attempted o­nly by the most expert of climbers, many of the smaller and lesser peaks are excellent for novice climbers and those interested in rappelling. There is an established, if rough, camping area at the base, and tour buses come and go in the area regularly.