With landscapes ranging from the orange dunes of the Kalahari in the east, the Namib in the west and the desolate expanses of the Kaokoveld in the north west, there are numerous opportunities in Namibia to explore off-the-beaten-track destinations.
Well-established 4×4 routes
The Dorsland Trek 4×4 Trail retraces the historic route of the epic 1878 Dorsland Trek from the Marico district in South Africa’s North-West Province through Namibia to Angola, starting at Gobabis, and ends at Swartbooisdrift.
The Isabis 4×4 Trail traverses the rolling hills and deep valleys of the farm Isabis, 130 km south west of Windhoek in the Gamsberg region. With terrain types varying from steep inclines and narrow, winding passes to rocky descents, the Naukluft 4×4 Trail in the Namib-Naukluft Park presents the ultimate challenge to off-road driving skills.
The Windhoek-Okahandja 4×4 Trail offers an ideal opportunity for those wishing to familiarise themselves with off-road driving. There are two campsites along the route, while Okapuka Dune Camp offers luxury tents and campsites.
Isabis 4×4 Trail – Mr Joachim Cranz
Tel/Fax: 00 264 061 248 682 or 00 264 81 124 5588
Naukluft 4×4 Trail
Namibian Wildlife Resorts
Tel: +27 21 4223761 – Fax: +27 21 4225148
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org – www.nwr.com.na
Okahandja 4×4 Trail
Tel: 00 264 61 256580 – Fax: 00 264 61 256581
E-mail: email@example.com- www.namibian.org
4×4 Trails in remote areas
With its landscape of rugged mountains, sandy plains and expanses littered with reddish-brown rocks, Kaokoland in north-western Namibia is perfect terrain for the do-it-yourself 4×4 traveller. Keep in mind, however, that on some tracks the average speed is little more than 10 km/h.
Well-known destinations in Kaokoland include the breathtaking Epupa Falls on the Kunene River, the Marienfluss, Hartmann Valley, Purros and the Ongongo Pools. The Palmwag concession area is renowned for its sightings of desert-dwelling elephant and black rhino.
Bordering on Botswana to the east, the Khaudum Game Reserve is characterised by deep Kalahari sand and is traversed by a network of game-viewing tracks. Groups must consist of a minimum of two vehicles and sufficient fuel should be carried to cover a distance of at least 700 – 800 km between Grootfontein and Divundu or Rundu. Nerves of steel, split-second decisions and a cool head are prerequisites for the route to Saddle Hill through the spectacular dune sea north of Lüderitz in the southern Namib. The terrain varies from gravel plains to dunes, some of which have to be ‘stormed’ with the engine at full revs. Hair-raising descents await trailists on the challenging routes of the Topnaar 4×4 Trail in the dune sea south of the Kuiseb River. This tour is guided, and has various routes, which with destinations such as Conception Bay and Sandwich Harbour. It ends at Walvis Bay. A highlight of the Conception Bay route is the wreck of the Eduard Bohlen.
The Treasure Trail, this intriguing stretch of coastline in the wilderness section of the Namib Naukluft Park is now open to limited tourism, enabling you to drive your vehicle through 4×4 terrain. The trail’s name originates from the remains of old fortune seekers who searched for lost treasures and diamonds for many years. The Treasure Trail is a five day six nights venture from Lüderitz to Walvis Bay along the dunes of Namib Desert. With the proclamation of the area between Lüderitz and Walvis Bay as Diamond area No.2, legislated control in and over this area has been lifted and for the first time in the history of Namibia, opened to the public. The Belvedere Safari Company has been granted a concession to assist the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in the management of the area.
Several companies have concessions to conduct exclusive trips between Lüderitz and Walvis Bay, or from Walvis Bay and/or Conception Bay along the Kuiseb.
Khaudum Game Reserve
Ministry of Environment & Tourism
Saddle Hill/Spencer Bay, Luderitz/Walvis Bay , Forbidden land
Tel: 00 264 63 202002 – Fax: 00 264 63 202003
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org – www.coastway.com.na
Topnaar 4×4 Trail
Uri Adventures, P O Box 1205, Walvis Bay
Tel: 00 264 64 220571 – Fax: 00 264 64 220572
Conception Bay & various 4×4 trails in Namibia
Tel: 00 264 81 128 6086
Piet du Plooy – Tel: 00 264 81 128 0021 – Fax: 00 264 61 225430
Further 4×4 trail options
Exclusive 4×4 trips are undertaken into a concession area in the south of the Namib-Naukluft Park by Namib Desert Horse Adventures. The route traverses the plains where the wild horses of the Namib roam and continues to the Koichab dunes and the old Koichab riverbed with its camel-thorn forest. There is also an opportunity to climb to the summit of the Dikke Willem, a distinctive outcrop rising abruptly above the Namib plains. From the summit there are far-reaching views of the desert.
In the Tiras Berge Conservancy, in the south of the country, visitors can explore the magnificent landscape along four-by-four routes on the farm Koimasis.
Numerous off-road tracks start in Henties Bay and venture into the Namib, a new one being the Central Damaraland & Minerals Trail. For those interested in mining activities, this is a good option, as it passes the worked-out tin mine at Brandberg West and leads to the tourmaline mines. Other routes from Henties Bay go to the Omaruru River, Messum Crater, Ugab Menhir and Doros Crater.
Tiras Conservancy, Farm Koiimasis
Tel: 00 264 63 683052
E-mail: email@example.com – www.ranch-koiimasis.com
Central Damaraland & Mineral Trail
All the 4×4 routes in the – Ugab Menhir, Messum Crater, Omaruru River, Brandberg West, Brandberg, Doros Crater, Strathmore South, Minerals and Welwitschia Estelle Rubow – Henties Bay Tourism
Tel: 00 264 64 501143 – Fax: 00 264 64 501142
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org– www.hentiesbaytourism.com
ALL 4×4 SELF-DRIVERS: PLEASE TAKE NOTE
• The Namibian landscape is extremely fragile, so please, follow only the well-defined tracks and roads. Deviating off existing tracks not only spoils the scenery and enjoyment of others, but also destroys plants and small creatures. In some areas a single set of tracks can remain visible for decades.
• Respect the cultures and traditions of those inhabiting the area through which you are travelling. Disrespect causes resentment and ill-feeling towards other tourists.
• Bear in mind that assistance could be days away in the event of an unexpected breakdown. A minimum of two vehicles travelling together is, therefore, strongly recommended.
• Vehicles must be equipped with at least two spare wheels, basic spares and tools for emergency repairs, jumper cables and recovery equipment such as tow ropes.
• Engage four-wheel drive and manually lock front hubs (if required) before negotiating difficult terrain such as loose sand, rocky terrain or steep inclines or declines. Inspect the terrain for obstacles and plan your route accordingly.
• In sandy terrain, deflate the tyre pressure to about 1 Kpa (front) and 1.2 Kpa (rear). If the vehicle becomes stuck, don’t think that brute force will get you out of trouble. If anything, you will become bogged down even further. Stop immediately and take stock of the situation. Check whether the vehicle is engaged in four-wheel drive, the front hubs are locked and clear the sand in front and behind the wheels.
• Other options might be to deflate the tyres a little more, jacking the vehicle up to place stones or dead branches under the wheels.