Our camping trip at the Brukkaros volcano was one of the best places to camp in Namibia! Can you imagine going off the beaten track wild camping at a deserted campsite on top of a volcano? On a place with stars so bright, observatories were once built here? Without any facilities like water or electricity? Just you, the old volcano in Namibia and the bright stars. Camping at the Brukkaros volcano will be an experience you’ll never forget.
Oh, is camping not really your thing? Then consider driving up for just a day hike to explore the volcano and enjoy the views!
About the Brukkaros volcano
The Brukkaros volcano is huge! You can clearly see its circle on every map and from the plane the volcano is hard to miss as well. The volcano is no longer active; the crater was created with one single explosion when lava came into contact with groundwater. This explosion about one kilometer below the surface of the earth, created a huge crater with ridges of about 650 meters high in the middle of the flat landscape.
But is it actually a volcano? Scholars don’t fully agree on that. The crater was not created by a ‘classic’ volcanic explosion spitting its magma over the surroundings, as the explosion took place deep in the earth. On the other hand, it was a magma explosion. Is that enough to define it as a volcano? Anyhow, you should not expect the sight of a ‘traditional’ volcano crater, when reaching the ridge. You will not see any old lava or get a look into the interior of the earth. In the photo above of me on the edge of the crater, you can clearly see how the crater does look from the inside.
How to get to Brukkaros?
Brukkaros is in the south of Namibia. It’s a 4,5-hour drive from Windhoek and more than one hour from Keetmanshop. You will get here via the B1 that leads straight through the country from Windhoek to the South African border. At the village of Tses, turn off to the M98 leading to the village of Berseba. After about 20 kilometers you’ll cross the Fish River – which ends in the famous Fish River Canyon. After another 20 kilometers you will find the road to the Brukkaros volcano on your left. This is before you would reach the village of Berseba. Continue on the D3904 for another 9 kilometers to the north to reach the foot of the volcano.
At the foot of the volcano, you’ll find a gate and a sign with rates for camping. We were warned by locals that these rates are actually a tourist trap. Both the abandoned campsite and the volcano are free to visit. When we visited the volcano, the gate was deserted. It was low season, so it was probably not worth it for the locals to earn money by tricking visiting tourists.
Prepare your camping trip
If you want to visit the Brukkaros volcano, you’ll need a solid 4WD or some walking shoes and enough energy. From the gate at the foot of the volcano, a road leads up to the first campsites – I’ll tell you more about them later. If you have a 2WD, you will have to park it here. The road further up is tough and can only be done with a 4WD or on foot.
Also, make sure you have enough food and drinks with you. There is absolutely nothing on the volcano and there is no supermarket in the area. In Berseba we found a small shop where we could only buy some meat or chocolate bar. So stock up supplies at the supermarket in Keetmanshop or Mariental.
We especially advise you to bring enough water. We were here in January, so in the hottest month of the year. Together we drank more than 15 (!) liters of water. In the winter the heat will probably be less bad, but even then it is recommended to bring many water tanks with you.
Hiking to the crater and the observatories
From the first camping spots you can get to the higher camping pitches on foot or with a 4WD. From there, continue on foot to the edge of the crater. After 30 to 40 minutes you’ll stand at the edge of the crater. Such a spectacular view is waiting for you!
Now you have the choice to walk through the crater or climb up to the ruins of the old observatories. We chose to do both and walked first through the crater to then make the climb to the top. Do not expect magma streams or other volcanic sights in the crater. The volcano has not been active since its first explosion. The crater looks more like a mountain landscape with rocks and even trees, including the quiver trees that are very common in this part of the country.
Make sure you notice the white crystals lying around. Many cliffs are also glistening in the sunlight because of its white and dark-colored crystals in the rocks!
But up to the observatories! This climb is a lot tougher than the first and it takes about 45 to 60 minutes. The hike ends at the observatories on the edge of the crater. As the Brukkaros volcano is in the middle of nowhere, there is no light pollution and you can see the starry sky beautifully here. This was the reason that a German observatory was built here in the nineteenth century. There’s not much left of the observatory, so you are not heading here to see this ruins, but a great view. Behind the ruins you climb a few more meters up to stand on the edge of the volcano. From here you’ll have an impressive view over the endless plain around the volcano.
Tip: download the offline maps on the maps.me app. The maps clearly shows the hiking trails to the crater and the observatory!
Another tip: do not underestimate the heat. It can be pretty hot on the volcano, especially in the summer months, so bring enough water on your hike. Because of the heat, it is also best to do the hike as early or as late as possible. We did the hike in the morning and were still soaked. So, please avoid the midday heat.
The old Brukkaros campsite
But Brukkaros will rarely be visited for this hike alone. You’ll probably want to stay here for the night too! As we already wrote, there is absolutely nothing on Brukkaros. No lodge, no hotel. Camping is the only option if you want to fall asleep under the impressive starry sky of Brukkaros.
We already mentioned that there are two places to camp. There are some camping pitchets at the foot of the volcano, but we recommend the ones higher up on the volcano. From here you have a beautiful view of the volcano and its surroundings. There once was a campsite here, so the ruins of its basic facilities are still there. The abandoned campsite has some sort of toilet – a hole in the ground with a wooden structure on top of it, in a small building for some privacy – and stone shower cubicles with a hook to hang your bucket with water. You’ll also find a braai spot on all camping sites – what else in Namibia?
And the best camping spot? The one on the edge! There is still a small hut – a roof with two walls to provide shelter from the wind and the sun – and you have the most beautiful view from there.