Naukluft Hiking Trail
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.
The Naukluft Trail has all the attributes that go to make one of the world’s classic trails, its remoteness, its stunning natural beauty, its difficulty and length.
- 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 trial 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 fireplace. 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 fireplaces, 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.
You begin your trail by spending the first night at the camping area close to the reserve office. A visit to the park offices where medical certificates, local levies are paid and possible transfer of some of your supplies to Tsams Oost shelter for the second part of your eight-day trail, needs to be made prior to settling in for a restful night.
Hikers Haven to Putte Shelter
The day begins at the office from where you follow a rock-strewn riverbed towards the park boundary fence. Following the well-marked path, you now ascend steeply up the mountainside to a viewpoint overlooking the arid and sparsely populated surrounding area. You continue to climb along a narrow path which brings you to a small kloof where rest and snacks can be taken under the shade of large fig trees. You continue along the rocky path until you turn into a large kloof which you follow to the overnight Putte Shelter.
Hiking time: Around 6hrs.
Putte Shelter to Ubusis Hut
Although long, this day for the most part is easier than day 1 especially the first part to Bergpos windmill at the beginning of Ubusis Kloof. Beyond the windmill and at the head of the kloof you will come across Cathedral Fountain with its crystal-clear pools under the shade of trees often frequented by gregarious Love Birds. This makes an ideal lunch spot. Continuing further down the kloof you come to the top of a dry waterfall which you must descend with the help of strategically placed chains. Although the distance from the lunch spot is only just less than 4km to the hut, it will probably take you up to 3 hours to achieve.
Hiking time: Between 7-9hrs.
Distance: 15km Camping: Ubusis Hut
Ubusis Hut to Adlerhorst Shelter
You begin the day by retracing your previous day’s steps up Ubusis Kloof to the Bergpos windmill. You will find that the way-up is much easier and quicker than the descent and it is not long before you reach the turnoff to your next shelter. The rest of the trail can be regarded as easy as it is over flat terrain and you should be able to reach your destination by early afternoon.
Hiking time: Between 6-7 hrs
Adlerhorst Shelter to Tsams Oost Shelter
Your day begins with a fairly easy walk along a mountain track until you reach a junction. Here you have the option of following the trail to the right which will take you back to your starting point at the office or continue forward to complete the eight-day trail. Continuing along the eight-day trail you soon enter the beautiful Zebra Kloof. Occasionally the arid area is transformed into a beautiful lush garden full of pools of crystal-clear water after rains. This, however, can impede your progress down the kloof. A large boulder in the middle of the kloof can further make progress slow. Once this is passed by the trail suddenly veers to the right and you now ascend steeply up the mountainside. Once on top a short walk takes you to a steep descent into the Tsams Oost valley far below. You now follow the river past a small, normally deserted campsite to a sand road which you follow to Tsams Oost Shelter.
Hiking time: Between 7-8hrs
Camping: Tsams Ost Shelter
Tsams Oost Shelter to Die Valle Shelter
Day 5 of the trail start with you climbing up a 200m mountainside. From the summit your path undulates past Quiver trees and along small kloofs before it descends into a long and seemingly never-ending valley. Here you follow a Jeep track crossing a dry river bed on several occasions. You eventually meet another road which takes you up to the overnight shelter.
Hiking time: Between 6-7hrs
Camping Die Valle
Die Valle Shelter to Tufa Shelter
The Die Valle shelter is situated in a box end gorge that seemingly has no exit at its head as it consists of a magnificent vertical 200m high waterfall. After following the trail towards the falls for about a kilometre the markers suddenly veer to the left and take you steeply in a scramble up the mountainside until a narrow contour path is reached. The path leads you into the gorge that feeds the waterfall. You now follow the river bed as it rises over rough terrain to the watershed. Once the watershed is attained, a walk across the top brings you to your descent along an old track down to Tufa Shelter.
Hiking time: About 6hrs
Camping: Tufa Shelter
Tufa Shelter to Kapokvlakte Shelter
The day begins with a walk over even terrain until you enter a kloof. From here you begin your ascent through beautiful boulders until you reach another near vertical dry waterfall of about 28m which you must ascend with the help of another chain. Once over this obstacle you continue following the river bed as it takes you to the summit of the mountain and then to stunning viewpoints of the surrounding mountains and valleys far below. The trail now takes you across even ground until you reach your shelter.
Hiking time: About 5hrs
Camping: Kapokvlakte Shelter
Kapokvlakte Shelter to Hiker’s Haven
The final day of this magnificent trail consist firstly of a walk over flat ground. This part of the trail seems endless especially as hikers are now eager to reach its conclusion. After what seems like an age, the trail begins its descent through more kloofs back towards your finishing point. As you near trail end you descend into a gorge which has pools of water and maybe a few intrepid holiday makers that peer at you as if you are mad to have walked for eight days in the Namib- Naukluft.
Hiking time: About 5hrs
Long distance extreme backpack trail.
The start of the trail used to have an old farmhouse, Hikers Haven as its first night but now you must spend your first night in your own tents. Ablutions are available in a communal ablution area
This is an old holiday cottage which has beds and mattresses, a cold shower and flush toilets. Over the years, I have found that this facility has not been well looked after so be prepared!
Accommodation at all the other overnight stops are very basic and consists of a rock wall construction, open at chest high and with a tin roof. The floor of the shelter consists of fine gravel. Water is obtained by way of a hand pump. There are no showers. An elementary pit toilet is also provided.
Where is it?
Namibia, south west of Windhoek
The park is accessed from the D854.
Park office is at S24 15.792 E16 14.321
What should I know about my security?
The park is government owned and is in a remote area of Namibia, so no external security hazards are known. But this is an extreme trail with dangerous precipices etc. The nearest emergency helicopter is at Windhoek which is over 300km away. As with the Fish River Canyon, medical certificates completed by your doctor are required.
How fit do I need to be?
Any trail of 120km over 8 days can be regarded as an extreme trail and one that should be only attempted by fit and well-equipped hikers.
Background information on the area?
A small museum is attached to the park’s office (500m from Hiker’s Haven) which has relics from the days when Hendrik Witbooi and his Nama followers fought the Germans. Close to Ubusis Hut a plaque can be found commemorating the death of one German soldier.
- R120.00 pp
- R55.00 once off per reservation.
Naukluft Hiking Trial