Philipp's Cave

Useful Information

Location: Ameib Game Ranch, in the Erongo Mountains. 60 min drive from the ranch, 30 min hike, marked trail.
(21° 47′ 59,7″ S, 15° 38′ 24,6″ E)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: Speleologyerosional cave
Light: n/a
Guided tours:
Photography: allowed
Bibliography: Abbe Henri Breuil (1957): The Philipp Cave, Rock Paintings of southern Africa Volume II, Trianon Press, London
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1950 visited by the famous French archaeologist Abbe Henry Breuil.
01-FEB-1951 proclaimed a National Monument (Namibia National Heritage Plaque).


Philipp's Cave is a cave shelter or abri in insoluble granite rocks, formed by erosion. It is famous for its Bushman paintings which include hunting scenes, antelopes, and a White Elephant. The cave is located on the Ameib Game Ranch, in the Erongo Mountains. It was named after the former owner of the farm, Emil Philip, who had discovered the cave and the bushman paintings.

The cave became widely known, because it was visited by Abbe Henry Breuil in 1950. He was invited by Emil Philip and spent some time on the farm Ameib. The world famous archaeologist published the cave and its paintings in volume II of his six volume book Rock Paintings of southern Africa in 1957. He also published the results of the C14 dating of remains from the cave, which was 3368 BC ± 200 years. As a result the cave became world famous and was subsequently declared a National Monument and inscribed on the Namibian Heritage Register.

The most famous painting shows a white elephant. The large white paintings are the older ones, the smaller painting are younger. They show giraffe, quagga, and ostriches, and a man hunting an ostrich. His hair style was also interpreted as a helmet of some kind, but that's most likely pre-astronaut nonsense. The youngest paintings show a springbok and a procession of people carrying weapons.

The rock here is granite and while most rock formations were formed by spheroidal weathering, which is typical for granite, the cave was formed by tafoni weathering. Probably completed by some aeolian weathering. Tafoni weathering is found on the shaded side of rock formations, probably caused by water on the surface in the shade. Philipps Cave faces in a northerly direction and is located on the southern hemisphere, which is actually the sunny side. But during the early months of the rainy season, December and January, the site is shady, because it is located north of the Tropic of Capricorn.

Nearby is a group of strangely formed rocks and boulders which is called the Bull's Party. This geotope is well worth a visit. The visit of both, the cave and the rock formation will take about four hours. The temperature may rise to 40 °C in summer and the sunlight is reflected from the rocks, so enough water and sun protection is essential.