Hiking trails in the Naukluft Mountains, Namibia
Apart from the guided Naukluft Hike and two shorter (unguided) day hikes, the Olive and Waterkloof Trails, the Namib-Naukluft Mountains is also home to a much longer trail. The entire trail covers about 120km and is a circular 8 day route. An option to hike the first half, (4 days only) has been incorporated. The first 4 days is a moderate hike, whilst the last 4 days are more difficult. Alternatively, the trail can be completed in 7 days, by combining the last two days. (Days 7/8.) This should only be attempted by extremely fit hikers.
The name Naukluft, is derived from German and means 'narrow ravine' and is part of the Namib Naukluft National Park. The Naukluft Mountains are well-known as a hiker's destination. Animals such as kudu and the rare mountain zebra are often seen on the hike, and although they are elusive, leopard are not uncommon in the Naukluft Mountains.
- On making a reservation, a medical form will be forwarded for each member of the party. It must be completed by a doctor not earlier than 40 days prior to the hike, and handed to the nature conservator at Naukluft before commencement of the hike.
- Should an emergency arise, the shortest emergency route must be used to summon help from either the nearest farm or station of Ministry of Environment and Tourism. The start of the emergency route is indicated with a yellow cross with an arrow indicating the direction.
- Vehicles can be left at the starting point of the trail near the Naukluft campsite and at Tsams Ost where the four day trail ends.
- Hikers booked on the 8 day trail may leave a vehicle with supplies for the last 4 days at Tsams Ost. Although parking at Tsams Ost is generally safe, hikers do so at their own risk.
- Hikers terminating their trail at Tsams Ost (the end of the four day hike) must make their own transport arrangements from the ending point. The 8 day hikers can also arrange to leave food here, so they do not need to carry food for the entire eight days.
- Hikers will not be permitted under any circumstances to commence the trail at Tsams Ost.
- Hiking is only permitted between 1st March and 31st October, due to the excessively high summer temperatures.
- Groups must consist of a minimum of three people and a maximum of twelve.
- Fires are not permitted, making it essential to carry a backpacking stove.
- As it is an arid county, you must set off with a full water bottle (preferably 2ltrs) at the start of each day's hike and use it sparingly.
- The trail traverses extremely rugged, mountainous country and a good, stout pair of hiking boots is essential.
- Hikers are strongly advised to pack warm clothing as winter temperatures often drop to freezing point.
- Poisonous snakes occur in the area, so be on your guard. Snakes generally attack in self-defense only and will normally retreat when approached. In the event of an unexpected confrontation with a snake, you should retreat slowly to a safe distance.
- Hikes are undertaken at your own risk and the Namibian Government does not accept responsibility for any injuries or accidents
- The old farmhouse at Naukluft (starting point) can be used prior to starting and after completing the trail. It comprises of: Bunk beds, kitchen, ablutions (with hot water) and an outside fire place. Firewood/charcoal can be bought at the park office.
- For those wishing to spend more time in Naukluft before or after the trail, campsites at Kudusrus Naukluft campsite must be reserved when making the trail booking. Facilities include fire places, cement tables with benches, refuse bins and ablution block facilities.
- Accommodation at other overnight stops on the trail consists of stone built shelters and a hut. Only water and toilet facilities are provided. Refuse bins are available at Ubusis, Tsams Ost, Die Valle and Tufa Tavern overnight stops. No refuse bins are provided at Putte, Adlehorst and Kapokvlakte shelters on the plateau, and hikers must carry their litter to the next overnight stop where they can dispose of it.
Naukluft trail synopsis:
- Day 1: Naukluft Hiking Trail
- The trail starts at the Naukluft Hut near the Naukluft Campsite and except for two fairly steep ascents, the first days hike covers easy terrain. Much of the trail follows a zebra path with an easy gradient, and you are rewarded with spectacular views of the wide valley some 300m below. The overnight stop, 'Putte Shelter,' takes its name from the nearby 'working' well, which is equipped with a hand pump. Those with any energy left are welcome to take a short walk to watch the spectacular sunset.
Hiking time: Around 6hrs.
- Camping: Putte Shelter
- Day 2: Naukluft Hiking Trail
- The second day's hike mainly traverses the undulating plateau, and after about 3 hrs, 'Bergpos' is reached, from where there is a descent down the spectacular 'Ubusis Kloof.' This descent is very difficult and several chains have been anchored at critical points for ease and safety. 'Ubusis Hut' used to be a holiday cottage before the land was acquired for the park, and will be a pleasant surprise.
Hiking time: Between 7-9hrs.
Distance: 15km Camping: Ubusis Hut
- Day 3: Naukluft Hiking Trail
- The day starts back tracking all the way up to 'Bergpos.' This is followed by an easy route across the plateau to the 'Adlerhorst Shelter.' Hartmann's Mountain zebra and kudu are often spotted in the area. There is a possibility to watch the sunset over the desert, and it's approximately a 1hr walk from the shelter. The descent from here is easy, and return to the shelter can be made before darkness falls.
- Hiking time: Between 6-7 hrs
- Day 4 Naukluft Hiking Trail
- The fourth day of the trail is to Tsams Ost, and initially traverses fairly level terrain, before branching off into a beautiful gorge carved by the Tsams River. After following the 'kloof' for some distance, the trail leaves the river and climbs steeply to bypass a waterfall, before winding down to the river again where we will see an enormous 'Moringa Tree.' A number of beautiful springs are passed shortly after the tree, before reaching the gravel road leading to 'Tsams Ost Shelter.'
Hiking time: Between 7-8hrs
Camping: Tsams Ost Shelter
- Day 5: Naukluft Hiking Trail
- The fifth day's hike is to Die Valle, and from the shelter the trail ascends steeply up Broekskeur and then traverses undulating terrain. This area is covered with patches of euphorbias, quiver and moringa trees to Fonteinpomp, where water bottles can be topped up. The final 11km follows a fairly level route along a river valley.
Hiking time: Between 6-7hrs
Camping Die Valle
- Day 6: Naukluft Hiking Trail
- On the sixth day the trail leads towards the Die Valle Waterfall, a magnificent sight. (Despite being usually dry!) For a short distance, there is a steep climb to a contour path which leads to the top of the 200m high waterfall. From here the trail follows the narrow gorge carved by the river and continues to gain altitude, before making its way down the Arbeit Adelt Valley.
Hiking time: About 6hrs
Camping: Tufa Shelter
- Day 7: Naukluft Hiking Trail
- Day seven begins with a steep ascent up a well vegetated kloof, where a chain assists hikers to scale a waterfall. After about 3 hours, the plateau is reached and from Bakenkop the hiker is rewarded with magnificent vistas of the valley, carved by the Tsondab River some 600m below. The trail then winds over Kapokvlakte, where springbok and sometimes oryx can be seen, before reaching Kapokvlakte Shelter.
Hiking time: About 5hrs
Camping: Kapokvlakte Shelter
- Day 8: Naukluft Hiking Trail
- After following a jeep track for about 3.5km, the trail traverses a watershed before descending into the Naukluft River by way of a tributary. On reaching the Naukluft River you can cool off in any of a number of crystal clear pools. This section follows the onward route of the Waterkloof Day Trail and from the first pool, it is about 40 minutes to the Naukluft Hut.
Hiking time: About 5hrs