Namibia is a country on the south-west coast of Africa. It is one of the driest and most sparsely populated countries on earth. The Namib Desert in the west and the Kalahari Desert in the east are separated by the Central Plateau.
Twyfelfontein or /Ui-//aes contains 2,000 figures of rock carvings. The figures were created over a couple of thousand years before 1000 AD.
The journey south from Palmwag was on a gravel road, apart from a couple of short, tarred sections, which made for slow going. The scenery was spectacular, with hills and rock formations carved into fantastical shapes by the elements. Our destination was Twyfelfontein Adventure Camp, which was only 110 km from Palmwag.
We arrived at the camp mid-afternoon and checked in. Our accommodation was a smallish permanent tent, which backed onto a granite outcrop, which had some very impressive looking boulders at its base. We hoped that no fresh rockfalls would happen during our stay.
The main reason for our visit to Twyfelfontein was to visit the famous rock engravings, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. My plan had originally been to visit the engravings the following day, but we’d arrived earlier enough to get a tour for today. So, we did a quick turnaround and drove the ten minutes to the park where the engravings were located.
Twyfelfontein (Afrikaans: uncertain spring), officially known as ǀUi-ǁAis (Damara/Nama: jumping waterhole – pronouncing this requires some ‘clicks’ as used when speaking Damara), is a site of ancient rock engravings in the Kunene Region of north-western Namibia. It consists of a spring in a valley flanked by the slopes of a sandstone table mountain that receives very little rainfall and has a wide range of daily temperatures.
The site has been inhabited for 6,000 years, first by hunter-gatherers and later by Khoikhoi herders. Both ethnic groups used it as a place of worship and a location to conduct shamanist rituals. In these rituals, at least 2,500 items of rock carvings have been created, as well as a few rock paintings. Displaying one of the largest concentrations of rock petroglyphs in Africa, UNESCO approved Twyfelfontein as Namibia’s first World Heritage Site in 2007.
We arrived about 90 minutes before the site closed, which was perfect as the heat of the day was starting to dissipate and the sun was starting to redden, making for ideal lighting for viewing and photographing the carvings. There is a new visitor centre for the Twyfelfontein carvings that are eco-friendly and blend in with the surrounding environment. They had done an excellent job in designing and building this place. We met with our guide, a lovely lady called Beatrice, who was going to take us on a 90-minute tour of the site. It was about three-quarters of a kilometre walk from the visitor centre to the rocks. There are about 2000 carvings, overlayed on the rocks, and all within a very compact area. Walkways have been built to give access to the most famous rock carvings. We dutifully followed Beatrice around as she explained the history of the carvings, what the scientists believe to be the purpose behind them and how to interpret the designs. We love this stuff! It was still quite hot and there were many stairs to climb, so we worked up a sweat. This is not a place to visit if you are very unfit or have mobility issues!
Right on 90 minutes, Beatrice delivered us back to the visitor centre, which was about to close. She rather cheekily asked if we could drop her back at her home, which was on our way, and of course, we had no issue with this.
Damara Living Museum
Before heading out on our planned 350km to Swakopmund and the Skeleton Coast we wanted to visit the Damara Living Museum, which was next door to where we were staying. We had a quick breakfast and headed over to the museum just in time for opening. We were greeted by one of the guides dressed in traditional Damara clothing, which is basically not a lot for the men. He led us through into the main village compound which comprised of a half dozen or so huts made from grasses and brushwood. We were taken from place to place where traditional skills were demonstrated, with an audible story told in the Damara language which uses oral clicks in places, that we were told are equivalent to vowels in traditional spoken languages. It was fascinating to hear. Unlike the Himba village tour, there we men, women and children present. The men did the manly stuff like creating a fire and using tools whilst the women focussed more on the preparation of food and crafting skills.
We got talking to our guide, who told us he was in the throes of getting married, which involved a process of his whole family travelling to the home of his betrothed, which was a long way from him and his family members. When they get there, they would not be let into the house. This could happen three times before he is accepted into the family and allowed to marry. The funny thing was he already had a child with this woman!
Also, among the children in the compound was a very handsome little boy who had a cleft palate. He was so cute, and they hoped one day he would be able to get corrective surgery.
Just before we left the ladies of the living museum performed a dance for us. We were the only visitors there so, for me at least, it felt a little awkward.
We’d had a lovely time visiting the museum and learning about the Damara culture, but it was now time to move on.
Best time to visit Twfelfontein
The best time to visit Twyfelfontein is from January through May and August through December. In this period you have a warm temperature and almost no precipitation. The highest average temperature in Twyfelfontein is 30°C in January and the lowest is 15°C in June.
In the table below you can quickly see the average monthly weather in Twyfelfontein, the monthly temperatures or when the precipitation is the highest. Average monthly climate data is based on data from the past 30 years.
Where to stay
TWFELFONTEIN ADVENTURE CAMP
Khowarib Lodge nestles on the banks of the Hoanib river in the magnificent Khowarib Gorge in north west Namibia.14 canvas chalets project out from the river bank on stilts over the river bed providing unrivalled, shady views of the cliffs opposite. On the fringe of Kaokoland, the lodge offers a perfect jumping off point to explore the remote north west of the country, either independently or on one of the lodge’s extensive guided tours. The immediate surrounding area of Damaraland has many rich and interesting activities including desert-adapted elephant and Himba settlements within easy reach.
Coordinates: 19°20‘55.8“S 15°59‘28.1“E
Distance from Windhoek: 410 km
|Reservations:||+264 (0) 61 240020|