We arrive at Camp Kipwe, in the Damaraland area of Namibia, at around 3pm. The rest of the family is keen to have a swim and enjoy a quiet afternoon, so I take advantage of my “free afternoon” to explore the area on foot. I’d found some information online that suggests: “This region is ideal for walking and guests are encouraged to explore the area surrounding Camp Kipwe”. So I set-off in the direction of the nearest small hill. It looks a reasonable height, but in reality is less than 50m – and it seems to be a pretty straightforward “climb”.
The top is quickly reached, and even the relatively low elevation gain provides 360-degrees over the Damaraland desert. The vegetation is very sparse, with the dry landscape broken up by a number of rocky outcrops and mountains.
To the south, the Aba-Huab River is marked by the denser and greener vegetation; while the riverbed is dry and water rarely flows down the watercourse, the deep roots of the trees are able to reach the underground water table.
Sending up the drone yields an even better view of the arid landscape, with the taller mountains to the north-west, and the long line of trees to the east marking the path of the dry Aba-Huab River.
From here, it seems logical to head down the other side of my mini-mountain, and complete a small circuit around our camp up and over the next three outcrops.
The next mini-peak is directly opposite Camp Kipwe, and you can see from here how the huts are nestled into the boulders.
From the end of this outcrop I’m right at the edge of the Aba-Huab valley.
Ahead of me is the last mini-peak of my circuit…
This one proves the trickiest to climb, although it too is only about 30m high, consisting of larger boulder than the previous outcrops. It takes a few attempts to find a viable route to the top!
There’s another great view from the top over the Damaraland desert: looking east there’s Camp Kipwe down below (the smallest outcrop in the middle) with some of the higher peaks beyond.
Descending on the other side proves a bit quicker. I make a slight detour to have a closer look at a tree that stands out by its whiteness against the red landscape. I learn later from one of the guides that it’s a Star Chestnut Tree, which grows mostly on rocky outcrops and hill slopes. The trunk is smooth and appears very white due to a powdery white substance (bloom) that rubs off – this white bloom only occurs on trees growing in the arid western parts of Namibia.
From here it’s quick walk around the Camp Kipwe outcrop, and back to the camp in time for sundowners. I don’t know it (yet), but in the distance is a larger mountain that’s the target of tomorrow’s evening walk…