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"The White Lady of the Brandberg" Uis Things to Do Tip by CatherineReichardt

Uis Things to Do: 3 reviews and 3 photos

  White Lady of the Brandberg
by CatherineReichardt

The White Lady of the Brandberg is probably the best known set of Bushman (San) paintings in Namibia, and is also relatively accessible provided that you're willing to do a bit of hiking.

The White Lady was first discovered under a rock overhang by a German explorer - Reinhard Maack - in 1918 and its origin has been long been the subject of spirited discussion. In recent years, there seems to have been general agreement that they are of San origin and are about 2000 years old.

The subject matter has been equally hotly debated. Clearly this is a hunting scene with Bushmen pursuing gemsbok (the local species of oryx). What is unusual is the shadowy white figure towards the bottom right hand corner of the image - hard to make out from the photo, and easy to miss even in real life due to previous travellers pouring water over the image in order to enhance the colour contrast.

Initially the figure was thought to be female (hence the 'White Lady', but it now seems to be widely accepted that this is a sangoma/shaman figure, wearing white body adornment and invoking magic to ensure a successful hunt.

The site can be accessed by hiking about an hour from the parking spot. In order to prevent further vandalism, the image is protected behind iron bars, but you should still be able to photograph it with relative ease: be grateful for this development, as initially a wire mesh was installed which made photography virtually impossible.

Bear in mind that this path follows the dry bed of the Tsisab river, and scrambling across boulders is required on some sections, making this unsuitable for small children and people with limited mobility.

The hike is stark but very beautiful, and personally I found it more impressive than the paintings themselves (but that's just a matter of personal taste). As ever, bear in mind that the Namibian climate is very harsh - particularly in summer - so take the standard precautions before setting out. Wear a hat and preferably long sleeves for sun protection, with a high factor sunscreen on exposed parts, carry plenty of water and make sure that you have appropriate footwear for the rugged terrain (slops/sandals are not suitable unless you're a complete masochist).

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Dec 27, 2012
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