"Gateway to the remote and mysterious Brandberg" Uis by CatherineReichardt

Uis Travel Guide: 7 reviews and 10 photos

(work in progress)
It would be futile to pretend that the dusty one horse town of Uis (pronounced "Wee-s") had much to offer the tourist save an opportunity to refuel and reprovision. By far and away its greatest significance from a tourist's point of view is its relative proximity to the remote and mysterious Brandberg massif.

'Brandberg' means 'fire mountain' in German - and here, beware that there is a common source of confusion with Burnt Mountain which is located an hour of two further north (to the south east of Twyfelfontein).

The circular shape of the Brandberg on remote sensing image above is a dead giveaway that something intrusive has gone on here in the past. In fact the Brandberg Massif is a granite intrusion, which managed to punch its way from the depths of the Earth's mantle through a stressed and weakened crust due to the opening of the South Atlantic Ocean in the Cretaceous.

Because the granite is harder than the surrounding country rock, the Brandberg stands out as a circular upland, the highest point of which is Königstein, with an elevation of 2,606m. This is pretty impressive as the Brandberg rears up from a plain that isn't all that much higher than sea level, and as a result, you can see the Brandberg from tens of kilometres away.

Some cultural and natural history

The Brandberg's major claim to fame is the White Lady series of Bushman (San) paintings, which are probably the most accessible and most visited in Namibia. The paintings are impressive, and an added bonus is the beautiful hike required to access the site, which follows a dry river bed (see my travel tip for more details).

The Brandberg also has a fascinating natural history, which is a complete contrast to the ecosystem of the surrounding plain, and is home to a number of endemic species (ie. species of plants and animals found nowhere else). The most celebrated of these is The Gladiator, a species of carnivorous insect that was only discovered in 2002 and was so different from any other type of animal previously identified that a whole new subspecies of insect had to be created to accommodate it (more details in the tip below)!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful and off the beaten track, yet accessible to the moderately intrepid
  • Cons:Sadly not accessible for those with limited mobility
  • In a nutshell:Mysterious, harsh and very beautiful: the Brandberg is what travelling in Namibia is all about!
  • Last visit to Uis: Dec 2001
  • Intro Updated Feb 21, 2012
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CatherineReichardt

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