Wild Kaokoland

THE LAST REMAINING WILDERNESS AREA IN SOUTHERN AFRICA

  • Namibia
  • Duration: 15 days
  • Guided self-drive
  • 4x4 experience mandatory
  • At least two vehicles

Areas of Interest

Kaokoland is an area in the NW corner of Namibia’s Kunene Region. It remains the most ‘untouched’ and remote part of the country, much of it still only accessible by 4×4 on hardcore tracks – not for the faint-hearted!

The local people in Kaokoland are mainly Herero and Himba. These two tribes are closely related and both speak Otjiherero. However, Kaokoland is known for the Himba people (singular: OmuHimba, plural: OvaHimba), some of which still live a traditional lifestyle. Genuine OvaHimba (those not assimilated by Western culture) can only be found in Kaokoland.

Kaokoland is also know for the famous Van Zyl’s Pass, the most notorious pass in Namibia. Located between two very steep mountain ranges in Namibia’s Marienfluss, it gets its name from the Dutch explorer who found the way across in the 1920’s with a few hundred Himba and a Model T Ford. It’s one of the highest roads of the country.

Van Zyl’s Pass, at an elevation of 948m (3,110ft) above the sea level, is found in the far northwest of the country, in Kaokoland. The only way to get there is via the D3703 district road through Okangwati. It’s a a classic extreme road, but not really a road, just a route made over the mountain by travelers over time. The outrageously steep pass itself is a pure adrenaline rush, but the lead-up route is 10-15km of tough driving, dodging its way through boulders, rocks, ravines and badlands. The descent from the top of the pass covers a distance of 6 miles – but it will take you three to six hours to negotiate. 

Remoteness!

Damaraland was a name given to the north-central part of what later became Namibia, inhabited by the Damaras. It was bounded roughly by Ovamboland in the north, the Namib Desert in the west, the Kalahari Desert in the east, and Windhoek in the south.

During the Namibian summer (November-March) the Damaraland experiences very high temperatures of up to 40°C. The annual rainfall is low, some year it is completely absent. Numerous large dry river beds meander, which after heavy rainfall turn into torrential rivers within hours.

The flora and fauna of the region have adapted perfectly to the harsh weather conditions of high heat and persistent droughts. Here you find the desert-dwelling elephants who with elongated limbs and broader soles are able to handle the extreme rock and sand desert better and can travel for miles in the dry river beds in search of water. Also, the critically endangered desert lions managed to adapt to the arid climate. Numerous endemic desert plants are found in Damaraland such as the poisonous but photogenic Euphorbia Virosa and the ancient Welwitschia Mirabilis.

What makes this park unique are the waterholes and the concentration of wildlife around them. Etosha park is any photographers dream. Plan your visit to Namibia and experience the great white area of Etosha.

Etosha Game Park was declared a National Park in 1907 and covering an area of 22,270 square km, it is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and, surprisingly, one species of fish. Etosha Park is one of the first places on any itinerary designed for a holiday in Namibia.

Etosha, meaning “Great White Place”, is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The pan is part of the Kalahari Basin, the floor of which was formed around 1000 million years ago. The Etosha Pan covers around 25% of the National Park. The pan was originally a lake fed by the Kunene River. However, the course of the river changed thousands of years ago and the lake dried up. The pan now is a large dusty depression of salt and dusty clay which fills only if the rains are heavy and even then only holds water for a short time. This temporary water in the Etosha Pan attracts thousands of wading birds including impressive flocks of flamingos. The perennial springs along the edges of the Etosha Pan draw large concentrations of wildlife and birds.

The game viewing in Etosha National Park is excellent, the best time being from May to September – the cooler months in Namibia. Visitors to Etosha Game Reserve can expect to see many buck species, elephant, giraffe, rhino, and lions. More fortunate visitors will see leopard and cheetah. There is a network of roads linking the five camps and subsidiary roads lead to various waterholes.

Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Arrive Windhoek – Hotel Olive Grove

One of our members will be waiting for you at the airport for your transfer to Olive Grove Guesthouse. Located close to the Windhoek city center, in a quiet and peaceful area, the Olive Grove Guesthouse is ideal to start and finish your journey through Namibia. This boutique guesthouse combines stylish architecture, simple but carefully selected decoration and personal service.

Olive Grove Guesthouse caters for every need of the most discerning traveler, with emphasis on simplicity and elegance. Depending on your arrival time, you may meet with our representatives for the vehicle check and briefing on the itinerary, road conditions, food supplies, etc.

Service: Bed and Breakfast

 

  • Day 2 – Kaoko Bush Lodge – Kamanjab

Today you will drive to Kaoko Bush Lodge. This is the ideal accommodation stop over from which to explore the wild beauty and diversity of Damaraland and Kaokoland. The lodge is very closed to the village of Kamanjab, and it offers cozy private bungalows and convenient camping facilities.

Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering

Driving time: full-day safari

 

  • Day 3 – Khowarib Lodge – Sesfontein

Sesfontein is a settlement in the Kunene Region of Namibia, 100 miles from Opuwo. Khowarib Lodge nestles on the banks of the Hoanib River in the magnificent Khowarib Gorge in northwest Namibia. 14 canvas chalets project out from the riverbank on stilts over the riverbed providing unrivaled, shady views of the cliffs opposite.

Service: Dinner, Bed and Breakfast

Driving time: 5 hours

 

  • Day 4 – Van Zyl’s Pass – Kunene

The time has come to drive towards the first camping in the wilderness, and one of the highlights of your adventure, the Van Zyl’s Pass, the most famous pass in Namibia. Located between two very steep mountain ranges in Namibia Marienfluss, it gets its name from the Dutch explorer who found way across in 1920s with a few Himba and a Ford Model T. Van Zyl’s Pass, at an elevation of 3,110 ft (948 m) is found in the far northwest of the country.

Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering

Driving time: 6 to 7 hours

 

  • Day 5 & 6 – Camp Syncro – Kunene

Camp Syncro is situated in the remote, breath-taking Kaokoveld at the Kunene River. The Camp is only reachable by 4×4. It is a place to relax, to listen to the river, to look at the mountains and to enjoy the scenery. The area is home to the nomadic Ovahimba and to pristine nature and wildlife.

Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering

Driving time: 4 hours

 

  • Day 7 – Etambura Camp – Kunene

Etaambura, Namibia’s first Himba co-owned camp is situated in Orupembe Conservancy, on top of one of the highest hills above the holy plains of Onjuva. It is small and exclusive, offering ten beds only.

Service: Full Board

Driving time: 5 hours

 

  • Day 8 – Purros Community Campsite – Purros

Purros Ngatutanga camp has six campsites. The campsites are shaded under big Ana trees, and the view is stunning.

Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering

Driving time: 5 hours

 

  • Day 9 & 10 – Palmwag Lodge – Palmwag

A paradise on the Uniab River in northwest Damaraland. Waving palms whispering in the wind, spectacular surroundings which harbor the famous desert elephants, black rhino, giraffe, zebra, and many other species. This is Palmwag Lodge, one of Namibia’s oldest lodges.

Service: Dinner, Bed & Breakfast

Driving time: 4 hours

 

  • Day 11 – Namutoni Campsite – Etosha National Park

On your 11th day of your adventure, you will start your full immersion in the Etosha National Park. Namutoni is the first campsite you will stay. The Camp is situated in the eastern part of Etosha National Park and is accessible via the Von Lindequist Gate. Its close proximity to Fisher’s Pan makes Namutoni a hotspot for birders. The campsite area is very close to the lodge, and you will have access to food supplies and all the amenities of the structure.
Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering
Driving time: full-day safari

 

  • Day 12 & 13 – Halali – Etosha National Park (or Okaukuejo)

Halali Camp is strategically located halfway between Namutoni and Okaukuejo, where you will be exiting from the park. Halali is at the base of a dolomite hill, amongst shady Mopane trees.

The Halali campsite is located next to the lodge and is easily accessible either through Anderson or Von Lindequist entrance gates. There is a floodlit waterhole. The elevated seating arrangements allow for excellent viewing of the watering hole at Halali.

The waterhole provides exceptional wildlife viewing throughout the day and into the night.
Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering
Driving time: 1h 30’ + safari

 

  • Day 14 – Okonjima Nature Reserve – Okonjima

The family-run Okonjima Lodge rests at the foot of the Omboroko Mountains amidst Acacia thornveld in a malaria-free area. It is half-way between Windhoek and the Etosha National Park. The reserve is equally famous for frequent cheetah and leopard sightings on its safaris, as well as the AfriCat Foundation.
Service: Full Board
Driving time: 4 hours

 

  • Day 15 – Arrive Windhoek

 

Extensions

As close as you can get to the Okavango Delta ecosystem, but with no tourists!

This lush tropical strip of land is both fringed and crossed by wide rivers, including the Zambezi, Kavango (Okavango), Chobe and Linyanti and it’s the natural corridor between the Etosha NP and Victoria Falls.

In the rainy season, the Popa Falls are spectacular, and the Nkasa Rupara National Park, between the Kwando and the Linyanti Rivers, shares the same water ecosystem of the Linyanti part of the Chobe NP (Botswana).

With so much water, the area supports a greater number of people than almost anywhere else in Namibia, and this, in turn, gives the Caprivi a very different feel to the rest of the country; in many ways more like parts of Zambia or Botswana.

The Caprivi makes a fantastic addition to any Namibia safari but perhaps is best suited to those on a return trip or a longer safari.

Added to this is the opportunity to get out on a boat, an enjoyable and often welcome contrast to sitting in a 4WD.

One of Luderitz’ main attractions is Kolmanskop Ghost Town. This previously bustling diamond town is now abandoned and fights a constant struggle with the sand dunes of the Namib desert. There are tours every morning around Kolmanskop which are very informative, a particular highlight of the tour is a visit to the bowling alley where you are invited to try your hand. After the guided tour you are welcome to explore the town at your leisure.

A paradise day for photographers.

World’s second biggest canyon!

The Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon worldwide after the Grand Canyon in the USA. The Canyon forms part of the state-run Ais-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

The Fish River is 800 km long and thus the longest river of Namibia. It has its source in the eastern parts of the Naukluft Mountains. After about 200 km the river flows into the Hardap Dam which is the largest water reservoir of the country with a circumference of 30 km and a surface area of 28 km².

After being retained the Fish River does not carry water continuously, only during the rainy season the river might turn into a torrent. During the dry season, sporadic pools supply water to many animals.

The Fish River Canyon commences at Seeheim, at the lower course of the River. The Canyon is 161 km long, 27 km wide and up to 550 m deep. The Fish River Canyon ends at Ai Ais and the river then flows into the Orange River, the border to South Africa.

It is important to know that during the summer month the Canyon hike is closed due to the heat. The Fish River Hiking Trail can be conducted during the months April – September and can be completed within 4 to 5 days, depending on fitness. It covers a length of 85 km and the descent into the Canyon is only allowed for hikers doing the trail. Day-visitors are not allowed to climb into the Canyon.

v-adventures