Brandberg Elephants

Breakfast with Elephants: Brandberg and Twyfelfontein

The 2,573m high Brandberg is Namibias highest peak. The colorful rock formations make it a memorable sight, especially at sunset.

White Lady Brandberg, Namibia
The “White Lady”. Photo credit: Harald Süpfle

The Brandberg has always been a spiritual site with significant importance for the local San people. They left more than 45,000 ancient rock paintings on the mountain, including the famous “White Lady“. The White Lady actually depicts a male warrior, but the well-known French anthropologist Henri Breul described the painting as a women, the name stuck.

The White Lady can only be reached after a 40-minute (per direction) guided hike over rough terrain.

Brandberg, Namibia
A bird of prey is watching over its territory, with the Brandberg in the background.

Our Campsite: Brandberg White Lady Lodge

We stayed at the campsite of Brandberg White Lady Lodge, which also played an important role in our travel book “Hummeldumm“. The pool area at the lodge looked so inviting that we spontaneously decided to chill the entire afternoon at the pool and skip the tour to the White Lady.

A yellow billed hornbill joined us for breakfast.

Brandberg White Lady Lodge’s claim is “Home of the Desert Elephant”. You can book elephant game drives at the lodge – or just be as lucky as we were!
When picking our campsite, we noted that there’s an elephant trail following the river bed, and that there’s a well just behind campsite #20. The lady at the reception had told us that an elephant herd was just on its way to the camp and due to arrive within the next 3 days, so we hoped to get lucky…
…and we did! Just while having breakfast, a herd of 8 elephants stomped out of the bushes and refreshed themselves at the well. Wow, this was amazing! We had never seen a wild elephant herd so close – not more than 5 meters away – and we doubt that we’ll ever witness something like this again.

Brandberg Elephants
The elephant herd literally stomped out of the woods.
Elephants at Brandberg White Lady Lodge
So close to our campsite!
Elephant at Brandberg
The oldest and largest elephant marched at the end of the herd.

The herd didn’t stay long; 15 minutes at best. Other than us, only our French neighbors noticed it and were just as thrilled as us. What an awesome experience! This was definitely one of the highlights of our Namibia trip.

Brandberg Elephants
The elephant herd left after 10-15 minutes. Quickly afterwards, the safari bus passed our camp.

Mountain Engravings and Paintings at Twyfelfontein

Twyfelfontein Squirrel
Squirrels live near the main building at Twyfelfontein.

2 hours North of the Brandberg White Lady Lodge is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein. Twyfelfontein is home to one of the largest concentrations of rock petroglyphs in Africa. The mountain 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 site to conduct shamanist rituals. In the process of these rituals at least 2,500 rock carvings have been created, as well as a few rock paintings. The carvings can only be visited with a guided tour.

Twyfelfontein Giraffes

There are many giraffe engravings at Twyfelfontein. The bushmen regarded the giraffes as spiritual animals that could influence the weather. Most of the giraffe engravings at Twyfelfontein are displayed without feet, with fading-out legs. This is an expression of the connection between physical and spiritual world.

Twyfelfontein Lion Man

The “lion man” is one of the most famous figures in Twyfelfontein. The lion at the bottom of the picture has five toes on each foot (instread of four). At the end of his tail is what looks like a human hand. The Lion Man represents a human who has turned into a lion while in the spirit world.

Maybe this elephant was one of the ancestors of the elephants we met at Brandberg?

Twyfelfontein Rock Paintings

There are two visitor paths at Twyfelfontein. To see the rock paintings, you need to hike up the steeper path to the left.

Twyfelfontein Agama

Twyfelfontein is home to many desert animals like lizards, mice, and birds. The female namibian rock agama has a bright yellow pattern during daytime.

South-West Edelweiss

The South West Edelweiss looks even more beautiful in real life than on the photo.

Twyfelfontein Dancing Kudu

The dancing kudu represents the transformation of humans into animals. The shaman has taken on the spirit of the animals during a ritual trance.

Organ Pipes, Burnt Mountain and Petrified Forest

On the way further to Etosha, we passed by the “Organ Pipes” and the “Burnt Mountain”. The Organ Pipes are a bizarre group of columnar basalts, formed when liquid lava intruded a slate rock formation, which was exposed over time by erosion.

Organ Pipes Namibia

If you drive 800 meters further from the Organ Pipes, you’ll see the Burnt Mountain. It was created when a lava flow solidified. It’s worth the 5-minute detour from the Organ Pipes, but it’s nothing more (or less) than a colorful hill – so you won’t miss much when you skip it.

Namibia Burnt Mountain

Even further down the road is the Petrified Forest. You can visit up to 30 meter-long, petrified tree stems in a one-hour guided tour that also provides educational background information about the forest. Between the stems, large specimens of the endemic welwitschia desert plants grow.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to stop at the forest, but it’s surely worth a visit. Just be sure that you visit the “right” forest. Earlier on the road, lots of hand-made signs invite you to visit “their” forest. Even though most of them actually have some small petrified stems, they are not as impressive as the real one, don’t include a good tour guide, and are heavily over-priced. The “real” petrified forest is marked by an official, brown road sign.

OUR TRAVEL ROUTE FOR THE ENTIRE TRIP

If you want to learn what else we experienced in Namibia, check out our travel route for the entire trip – including reviews of the most exciting places!

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