This little town has a lot to offer and we would suggest that you spend a few days here instead of using Uis as stop over on your journey to North and North Western Namibia.
- Take some of the short hiking trails around town to de-stress a bit after your day on the road.
- The Namib Desert Succulent Garden is a must visit item on your tour itinerary. See some of the most beautiful succulents you can think off.
- The unique scenery and the mountain offers excellent photographic opportunities.
- Visit the numerous semi-precious stone vendors and buy a true Namibian souvenir.
- Do a day guided tour up the Ugab River and see the famous Desert Elephants close up.
- Visit the Brandberg and do the ±4 km hike to the white lady rock painting and bushman paintings.
(The natural beauty of the Brandberg with its abundance of world famous bushman rock paintings, among others the White Lady of the Brandberg. There are in excess of 45,000 bushman Rock paintings).
Possible day excursions:
(Note: these excursions require a 4×4 and we would strongly advise to go with a guide.)
- Do a trip up the Omaruru River
- Visit the Messum Crater – the Messum Crater is not an impact crater as is generally believed. It was an active volcano and at 18km in circumference probably one of the largest in the World. It became extinct around 130 million years ago. It is desolate and dry but have some of the most beautiful landscapes. In the rainy season you might also find various species of game in the area.
- As mentioned before do a trip up the Ugab River, spotting Elephants is almost guaranteed
A notable landmark for early Namibian explorers was a soaring mass of granite, known as The Brandberg. The ‘fire mountain’, is so called because of the effect created by the setting sun on its western face, which causes the granite massif to resemble a burning slag-heap glowing red. The Damara name for the mountain is Dâures, which means ‘burning mountain’, whilst the Herero name, ‘Omukuruvaro’ means ‘mountain of the Gods’. The summit is called ‘Königstein’ and is Namibia’s highest peak at 2,573m. Situated only 50km from the coast, the Brandberg offers visitors a unique selection of plants and animals, quite different to those on the surrounding plains.
Rock climbers can ascend using a variety of technical climbs, but to reach the top includes a certain amount of effort and patience, mainly to clamber over the huge boulders and rock faces that block the Tsisab and Numas ravines. Covering some 600km², the Brandberg offers one of the richest collections of rock paintings in the world. Drawn on rock faces and overhangs, in caves and on boulders by San shamans, it is Africa’s biggest open-air art gallery.
Uis, the village
Uis is a tiny town located in one of Namibia’s most beautiful desert regions, Damaraland. The village is located in the shadow of the Brandberg Mountain which is home to the world famous White Lady rock painting, said by some to be over 20 000 years old. Being also situated on the main road between the coast and the Damaraland interior. There is a supermarket, 4 guesthouses, 2 campsites and a petrol station, together with a few other small shops. Tin has been mined in the Uis region since the early 1900’s and the town was established in 1958 as a mine workers residence when a South African mining company started operations there and increased production. The mine closed in 1991.
Industry includes a kiln baked brick factory, cement brick making factory for the growing building industry and hardware and building supplies outlet. There is a fish farm in the mine dams, farming tilapia for the local and national market.
Today when approaching Uis, the first thing you see is a huge white mountain which is in fact the old mine dump for processed tin ore.
In 1991, the main mining operation closed down because the price of tin dropped far enough to make it un-economical. There is still minimal work progressing on the mine site today.
One product that Uis still produces is rocks and minerals. Namibia is well known as a mineral rich country and geologists come from all over the world to study in Namibia because much of the interesting geology and rare rocks are situated at ground level rather than on top of mountains or deep underground. It is possible to find some excellent examples of rock crystals and minerals around Uis. The area is renowned for the famous Brandberg Crystal. These are crystals that were formed around icicles millions of years ago when the area was an ice cap. They are mostly clear crystals and one can often see water encapsulated within. Selling these rocks is part of the local economy of Uis and you can be sure, if you do buy something, that you are purchasing a true Namibian souvenir and you will most likely get it for an excellent price.
There is a story of desert tragedy associated with the Uis area. At the beginning of the 20th century, so the story goes, a group of travellers from the north were making their way through the desert to the ocean. They were following game tracks for most of the way, but came to the main road to Swakopmund nearby where Uis is now located. The travellers decided to stop for the night and being short of fuel on which to cook their evening meal, they collected the branches of dead euphorbia bushes in order to make their campfire. Euphorbia bushes are a very common in Damaraland and their spiky branches help make the Damaraland scenery so unusual. Unfortunately for our group of travellers however, most species of euphorbia are also highly toxic.
After cooking their meat over their makeshift campfire, they went to bed, early one would suppose in order to be ready for the long journey the next day. There was never another dawn for any of our heroes. The toxic smoke from their campfire was so strong and the food so impregnated with poison, the whole group of 26 people died in their sleep. They were buried where they lay and the graves are still visible today at the eastern entrance to Uis.