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BRUKKAROS NAMIBIA. Following the final stages of the break up of Gondwana there were many places in Southern Africa where molten rock continued forcing its way up through the earth's crust. It was ...


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Brukkaros Namibia - A To Be Or Not To Be A Volcano

Up-thrusting magma came into contact with the ground water and 'exploded'.


Brukkaros from 30,000 ft

Brukkaros from 30,000ft (photo by David Tyler UK)

Brukkaros from Berseba Plains.

Brukkaros from the Plains of Berseba


Often referred to as Great Brukkaros and rising some 600 meters above the plains of Berseba it makes an impressive sight, and in places when driving the B1 road can be seen from distances of over 100km. Rugged and remote it gains little mentioned in most guide books and therefore tends to be overlooked by Namibians and  tourists alike. It was thought until the mid-nineteen-eighties that the 'familiar' shaped mountain had been what most of us would call a volcano, but that is not quite so. There is an impressive caldera  about 1km across and the outer edge of the 'volcano' slope is over 10km, so Brukkaros whether viewed from ground level or from the air makes an impressive sight.


During the period of the German colony a heliograph station was situated on the east side of Brukkaros, and in the early nineteen-thirties the Smithsonian Institute erected a scientific station there to observe the solar activity on the surface of the Sun.


Brukkaros Campsite

Some members of the local community are trying to promote 'their' showpiece and attract visitors. There is a gate and a small reception office. However, it is rarely manned.  8 camping areas have been built in total. 4 are at the end of the good standard gravel road to the mountain offering shelter and dry toilets. Please note there is no water at any of the camping sites, so you will have to take a sufficient supply of water with you for drinking or washing.

Price: N$35 per person per night


Map and Directions For Brukkaros

Karas Region

25º60'S - 17º46'E

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Fish River Canyon


Giants Playground

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Drive carefully on these paths

Poor road

Camp site at Brukkaros South Wall Gap

The upper camp view looking into the caldera

View from the Brukkaros camp site looking south

The upper camp view looking south


The second path leads part the way up the mountain and is not well developed. It is not suitable for saloon cars. If you do have a sturdy pick-up or 4x4 you should have some experience at negotiating rugged and rocky terrain and you might need a 'spotter' in some areas where the path in poor condition.

If you are not driving a pick-up truck or 4 x 4 you would be wise to hike the last kilometre to the upper camping area where there are four camp sites with dry toilets. The upper camping areas have an impressive view south over the plains and also overlook the entrance to the crater via the gap in the south wall. The inconvenience of having to carry your own water is by far compensated by the views and the remoteness. It's a quiet and peaceful place.


Brukkaros - how it was formed:

Following the final stages of the break up of Gondwana there were many places in Southern Africa where molten rock continued forcing its way up through the earth's crust. It was about 80 million years ago, at the location of  Brukkaros, that one particular up-welling of magma found its way to the surface blocked by one of the oldest rock formations in Africa, that of the Namaqualand Metamorphic Complex. The enormous pressures being exerted resulted in the earth's surface to bulge upwards causing a dome like mountain to be formed, but the magma still did not break through. The upheaval the rocks were subjected to would have resulted in extensive crack systems into which the ground water would have seeped. The water in the deeper fissures would have been under considerable pressure and would have required to have been heated to a far higher temperature than 100°Celsius before flashing off to form steam. The temperature of the rock near to the magma would have been several hundred degrees and at this depth would have caused the 'ground-water' to flash off as superheated steam.


The Brukkaros Caldera measures about 2km across, a considerable surface area, and it was in this vicinity that the rock structure already being subjected to the up-welling pressures from the magma that were causing it to fracture would also have suffered the further aggravation of the enormous series of energy forces from both hydrostatic shock waves and ongoing expansion of pockets of superheated-steam. When these pressures found release, massive amounts of overlaying rock would have been blown into the atmosphere. having a similar effect to that of a volcanic explosion, but without the issue of pumice or lava-rock. Following this activity, the eventual collapse of the dome resulted in the formation of a caldera, similar in appearance to that of a "true volcano".

Hiking into the Brukkaros Caldera:

You must carry enough water. Time - about 3-4 hours.

You need to be reasonably fit and have strong ankles and knees as there is quite an amount of rock hopping involved. The trail is not well developed and certainly should be avoided during rains or following a downpour as the rock surfaces can become very slippery. The wearing of a good pair of Hiking or Trail boots is recommended, and preferably leather. A sprained ankle or fall would mean a long wait and cause a considerable amount of problems for the rescue team, and be expensive. There is no mobile phone reception in this area.

The path over the lip

The best part of the path

Dangerous section of path

A Hobbit would wear boots

Volcanic type rock

The rock type

The view from the camp site into the caldera

The view into the caldera


On a positive note. The route along the path leads you through the hole in the south wall. It is very spectacular and will lead you past some huge rock formations. There are places where the rocks shine a deep blue in colour, and down below you can see the 'rock waterfall'. The above right is the view from the path looking through the South Wall Gap into the caldera.


Acknowledgements and further reading:  G1, G2, P1   


  Brukkaros part 2 -  into the Caldera

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