Brandberg Pioneer Reinhard Maack Discovers the White Lady - Namibia Safari and Lodges - Gondwana Collection

COVID-19. Status quo in Namibia.

It is with regret that Gondwana Collection Namibia has learnt that the COVID-19 virus has reached Namibia. On 14 March 2020, President Hage Geingob confirmed the first two cases. On 17 March, the President declared a state of emergency.

On 24 March 2020, the additional measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak have been announced. They include a lockdown of the Khomas and Erongo regions from 27 March until 16 April 2020. For regulations and guidelines please click here. Namibia has 16 confirmed COVID-19 cases thus far (as of 5 April 2020).

Gondwana is fully aware of the current situation and continues to monitor the spread of the virus and the resulting changes to our industry. In view of the state of emergency and the additional measures ordered by the government, employees at Gondwana House in Windhoek will be working from home. Due to international and regional travel restrictions Gondwana has reduced its operations at the lodges as far as possible. Most employees have been sent home, at full pay. 

The Ministry of Health has made availability for a toll-free phone number within Namibia for queries with regards to COVID-19. The toll-free number is 800-100-100 or alternatively 911.

Namibia with Heart and Soul: Take our hand and let us introduce you to this awe-inspiring country. Come and stay with us, experience Namibia.


Where the Namib Desert stretches languidly from the Atlantic Ocean and wild land extends into infinity, dreams become real. At this place where fantasy meets reality, you'll find the Gondwana Collection safely positioned.

Take our outstretched hand and let us introduce you to our extraordinary country, Namibia. From the massive chasms of the Fish River Canyon, the fossilised dunes of the Namib Desert and the red sands of the Kalahari Desert to the waterways of the Kavango and Zambezi, there are countless marvels to behold. Explore this awe-inspiring wilderness from the warmth of our lodges, created with conservation cognizance and ample character. And return to relax after an exciting day of discovery.

This is the Gondwana feeling: Namibia with heart and soul.

Come and stay with us, experience Namibia.

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Namibia, our inspiration – Value Creation Report 2019

It is with great pleasure and pride that Gondwana Collection Namibia would like to share our first Value Creation Report with you.

Proudly Namibian, Gondwana is a company with soul. The essence of our culture is intangible.

  • To be a brand of unwavering integrity and passion.
  • To have a lasting impact on our planet and the people whose lives we touch.
  • To make our country, our team and all stakeholders proud.


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Experience Africa like never before. Explore Namibia your way with our well-maintained and fully inclusive rental vehicles. NAMIBIA2GOEasy. Hassle free. Unforgettable.

We offer a comprehensive travel service including car rental, accommodation, safaris and self-drive itineraries and day trips. Interested?

Cardboard Box Travel Shop

Cardboard Box Travel Shop is a renowned tour operator in Windhoek that specialises in Namibian tours, either self-drive or with an experienced guide. The comprehensive (online) travel service covers among others car rental, accommodation, domestic and regional flights, safaris and route planning, including destinations in Botswana, Zambia (Livingstone) and Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls). more

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Exciting adventures await those who partake in this exhilarating safari to Sossusvlei, one of the most spectacular sites in the world. The magnificent star dunes are a photographer’s dream and the spectacular landscape will leave memories to last a lifetime. more

10-Day Namibian Highlights Tour
Enjoy Namibia’s most popular destinations on this compact guided tour that incorporates visits to the Kalahari and Namib deserts – including the famed Sossusvlei dunes, the intriguing coastal town of Swakopmund, the Twyfelfontein rock engravings and Etosha National Park. more

7-Day Northern Namibian Adventure Tour
Enjoy Namibia’s most popular destinations on this compact guided tour that incorporates visits the intriguing coastal town of Swakopmund, the Twyfelfontein rock engravings which received the UNESCO world heritage status in 2007, and the legendary Etosha National Park. more

Further information and booking enquiries: info(at) | Tel: +264 (0)84 000 9900

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Let us spoil you with Gondwana Collection’s exceptional self-drive safari packages including accommodation, vehicle and a detailed route map guide. Make use of our comprehensive travel services to book an unforgettable safari. Discover the spectacular secrets Namibia holds. more

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GO BIG - Discover Namibia's main attractions (13 days)
GO WILD - Track Namibia's awesome wildlife (12 days)

Namibia Road Map 2019/20

Anyone touring Namibia should definitely take our road map along. It is available from Gondwana free of charge, or as pdf download. This map features fascinating experiences plus recommended accommodation. At the same time it is an ordinary road map with all the essential information of the official Namibia road map by Prof. Uwe Jäschke and the Roads Authority of Namibia.

Gondwana's Newsroom

Brandberg Pioneer Reinhard Maack Discovers the White Lady

Avatar of inke inke - 08. January 2016 - Discover Namibia

Rock painting with the White Lady of the Brandberg. (Photo: Harald Süpfle)

Reinhard Maack was the first European to conquer Königstein (2573 m), the highest peak in Namibia in the Brandberg massif. He also discovered the famous White Lady, which together with other rock paintings testified to the fact that indigenous people had been there long before him. Maack and his friend A Hofmann set out on an expedition to the Brandberg in February 1917 in their private capacity, driven solely by youthful idealism. They wanted to confirm beyond doubt the highest peak in South West Africa and they planned to carry out topographic and trigonometric surveys and then to draw up exact maps. All this required a second expedition which Maack led to the Brandberg in December 1917.  

Reinhard Maack has his base camp pitched in the dry Ugab River that has enough waterholes. On 30 December 1917 he and his companions, Professor Dr A Gries, the headmaster of the Realgymnasium (high school) in Windhoek, and former Schutztruppe lieutenant Georg Schulze from Keetmanshoop, are on their way to the entrance of Tsisab Gorge, from where they plan their ascent of the Brandberg. 

Maack, born in Herford in 1892, arrived in the German colony in 1911. He was a qualified surveyor and began work at the colonial surveying office. When the First World War broke out he joined the Schutztruppe. In 1915 he was interned, but he was able to escape from the POW camp. He assumed the name Karl Ritter and went to live in Swakopmund as a landscape painter. His friend, A Hofmann, was working there as a cartographer for the German Colonial Society. Together they made plans to explore the Brandberg in depth.   

The arduous ascent to the highest peak of the Brandberg starts in the early morning hours of 31 December. The three men are laden with provisions and basic technical equipment.

“All we could think of was to just keep going and make it to the top. No unnecessary word was spoken. Thus our advance into the Brandberg turned into a silent struggle with the maze of rough obstacles in an aloof and reticent nature.”

In the heat of summer, with barely enough water, the three of them clamber and leap across the confusion of boulders and rock debris for three days on their way to the summit. They are, however, very lucky and discover water dripping into a rock crevice. The following day they are also able to replenish their water bottles, this time from a puddle. On the evening of 2 January 1918, Maack, Gries and Schulze are standing on the summit, enjoying the incredible view, the awesome silence and the infinite peace of nature around them. Maack writes in his diary:

“If you want to make it to the top of Brandberg (...) three things are indispensable: firstly water and practice in going thirsty, secondly a thick skin which allows you to rest comfortably on bare rock and thirdly indefatigable energy to cope with the seemingly endless hike across the savage rubble of rock.” 

After a miserably cold night Maack, the qualified surveyor, records data for establishing the height of the Brandberg summit. The three men leave a note in an empty tin with the barometric pressure and their signatures. The tin is found 25 years later, in 1943, by one Denis Woods from Cape Town who is the first to climb Königstein after Maack’s party. He leaves the tin in place so that others too can add a note. A few years later the tin is replaced by a summit record.  

Maack’s party starts its descent that same morning and makes good progress. When they stop for their final break at the Brandberg massif on 4 January at nine o’clock in the morning their provisions and water supply have long been depleted, but the exit of Tsisab Gorge is only about an hour’s walk away. Maack has a special interest in prehistoric art and asks his companions to look around for rock paintings in typical places. Gries and Schulze do not show much perseverance, however, and soon head back to the mouth of the gorge where they left water supplies. Maack continues to scramble around the granite boulders, looking for rock paintings. 

“Even though I had high expectations it came as an incredible surprise when I crawled into the shelter and let my eyes wander. My movements stiffened as my eyes happily feasted on the most beautiful painting of the Palaeolithic cultural sphere which I had ever encountered in South West Africa. Human and animal figures painted in so many colours and so stylistically accomplished – so far I had not come across anything similar, not at the Spitzkoppe, nor in the Erongo Mountains or in Namaland.” 

Maack fires a shot to call back his companions. They look at his discovery in amazement. Maack copies the whole panel into his notebook and writes down the colours. He is particularly enthralled by a figure, about 40 cm high, in the “last colourful group of dancers” which has since become known as the White Lady. In his diary he describes the figure as a “male dancer”. Maack, Gries and Schulze stay in the rock shelter for about an hour, and then hunger and thirst drive them out of the Tsisab Gorge to their base camp in the Ugab River. 

Thirty-nine years go by before Maack finally comes back to the shelter, which in the meantime has been named after him. He is an internationally acclaimed scientist. In 1921 he left South West Africa and returned to Germany. Two years later he emigrated to Brazil and visited Germany only for occasional research trips. He became a professor of geology at the University of Curitiba. In 1969 he died in his adopted country at the age of 76. 

Research on the White Lady and the other rock paintings in the Brandberg massif has kept scientists engrossed. The White Lady was named in the fifties by Henri Breuil (1877-1961), a French priest and prehistorian. He compared the figure with paintings found on the island of Crete, in the Palace of Knossos for example. Even though the White Lady does not have any typically female features Breuil concluded that the figure had to be female because of “her” posture and the objects in “her” hands, which he saw as a vessel or lotus flower. Current thinking is that the figure is a hunter or shaman carrying hunting equipment. 

Hosting some 50,000 rock paintings and engravings, the Brandberg massif is seen as a treasure trove of prehistoric art. Names closely linked with research on the treasure are Ernst Rudolf Scherz, who has published three books on the subject, and Harald Pager, who made drawings of 45,000 figures at 879 sites. These depictions of prehistoric culture are unique historic documents. Deciphering and dating them could produce important clues for the reconstruction of cultural history in Africa.

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