The essence of the Bushmen paintings in Twyfelfontein
The rocky outcrops of Twyfelfontein feature exceptional Bushmen engravings, which are considered to be some of the best preserved etchings on the continent. Explore Namibia’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, ideally located in the Kunene region of north western Namibia. Twyfelfontein was proclaimed a National Monument in 1952 and is home to the most intense collection of rock art in Africa with some 2500 distinctive rock carvings and paintings on 212 slabs of rock, with 13 additional art rock slabs, some estimated to be around 6000 years old.
The engravings are easily viewed, as are stone artefacts and tool manufacturing debris, from raised platforms that lead out from stone pathways. Engravings from the Stone Age hold the most significance, illustrating pieces that depict symbolic terraces, untamed wildlife, and mythical beasts chiselled through incrustations of sandstone, covered in hard patina. The centuries old region was first inhabited by hunter-gatherers and later by Khoikhoi herders, both of whom used the site as a place of worship and a haven to conduct shamanist rituals. The area was later avoided by locals, as it was deemed sacred and inhabited by the spirits of the ancestors. Visits to the art sites are best viewed in the late afternoons on guided walks with a stop at the visitors center, boasting architecture that effuses recycled material, that’s easily dismantled and effortlessly blends into the red sandstone of the environment. It illustrates displays of the native flora and fauna, as well as the rich history of the region.
Near Twyfelfontein lies the stunning Organ Pipes, fascinating geological formations over 150 million years old, showcasing rich rust coloured columns that tower over 5 meters above ground and resemble a church organ. An extraordinary landmark for early explorers was an elevated mass of granite, near the Organ Pipes, known as ‘Fire Mountain, due to the sun’s red glowing effect on the granite massif. The Brandberg Mountain stands as Namibia’s highest mountain and houses the famous ‘White Lady’ Bushmen painting. The rock painting is gorgeously outlined on a small rock overhang and is shrouded in mystery and folklore, widely believed to represent a shaman and soothsaying elder, beautifully encased in the mountain ever so often set alight by the burning rays of the African sun.