Scheduled flight overnight with Air Namibia from Frankfurt (Main) which takes you directly to Windhoek.
Scheduled flight overnight with Air Namibia from Frankfurt (Main) which takes you directly to Windhoek.
Arriving in the early morning at Hosea Kutako International Airport, our tourguide will welcome you. After a one-hour journey you arrive at Windhoek Mountain Lodge. This comfortable lodge, located at the southern foothills of the Auas Mountains, is the starting point for all our Gravel Travel tours in Namibia. After a hearty breakfast, there is space for acclimatising and relaxing at the pool. The Windhoek Mountain Lodge offers a beautiful view of the surrounding mountain ranges and wide bush savannah. We have a general tour briefing in this afternoon and give introdution to the bikes and GPS devices. Subsequently, we go on an introductory ride (approx. 100 km) where you can familiarise with the road conditions and the technology. Later on you can enjoy a first sundowner at the viewing platform near the lodge before our legendary bushman fondue is served for dinner …
After breakfast we have a short morning briefing with some specific hints for this day stage – and off we go: right from the first stage on this tour you gain diverse impressions over Namibia’s contrastful landscapes when travelling across the central Khomas-Hochland towards past mining town of Uis in the south western area of Damaraland – already close to the Namib desert region. The curvy gravel roads through the lovely hilly highlands and mountain ranges first lead along commercial farmlands till Wilhelmstal after which the scenery opens up into flat bushveld savannah marked only by larger and smaller inselbergs along our way to small town of Omaruru. After a little lunch break we head further west to Uis passing communal farming region and its settlements. Our destination there is a cosy guesthouse in rustic style serving us a refreshing pool and a great „braai“ for dinner and is our real starting point on this adventurous tour.
The Brandberg Mountain and its highest peak ‚Königstein’ (2573 m) is Namibia's highest mountain rises impressively over the flat Namib gravel plains with more than a 1,500 m and dominates the seemingly endless landsacpes. No wonder that it became a spiritual site for its earlier inhabitants who left over 50,000 rock paintings of which one is the well known ‚White Lady‘. The paintings are only reachable on guided excursions. We use the attractive aura of this mountain and surround it on amazing, small tracks with loose gravel or sandy soils, come through canyonlike rock formations and we cover some distances in the broader dry riverbeds – a very good warm-up for the next stage ahead. The evening we stay again in the same guesthouse at Uis.
Our today’s stage leads to the north but taking the southerly route close around the Brandberg before crossing the huge riverbed of Ugab River on the western side only a few more 65km away from the atlantic coast. Our route is not marked on official maps, we follow old tracks of prospectors through a typical Damaraland landscape towards north, an almost uninhabitated area. Your concentration on mindful driving is certainly requested to stay in the track, but the GPS routing assists greatly. A spectacular and virtually untouched nature provides everything: sandy soils, gravel, rough and smooth rocks, dry riverbeds in lonely landscape full of amazing views on mountains and rock formations, perfectly adapted plant world and game species. We reach the sandy region of the Huab River valley and immerge into this own world of wildlife habitat in the riverbed of famous Huab River. Frome there we eventually turn out to the north and take the final lap on smoother gravel road to Palmwag Lodge.
After the previous stage we today keep it a bit easier on broader gravel roads to head further north to Opuwo, the capital Kaokoland, where the Himba people live in this north-western region of Namibia. Probably one of the most beautiful stages through northern Damaraland takes us to Sesfontein, a territory rich of wildlife. Springbuck, giraffe, zebra and oryx antelope may cross the path in this rough and reddish coloured barren scenery. The further north we come the more we pass settlements of herdsman so goats and cattle on the road become common sight. Over curvy and hilly roads and steep passes we suddenly come along huge tree individuals looking somehow upside-down – this ‚Baobab’s are worth a stop for a second. And we have almost reached our today’s destination in the afternoon. Opuwo welcomes with a first glimpse of black africa vibes before we arrive at our cosy lodge uphill for a very comfortable relaxation and night rest – the Opuwo Country Lodge.
This morning we get up very early, have breakfast and grab our lunch packs, as a challenging but very exciting route lies ahead of us. Your attention, high concentration and fitness is demanded. There are not many who dare to reach the Kunene River north of Marienfluss on this overland route. The first part of stage leads on inconspicuous, barly maintained tracks through the bush and far-flung himba kraals. The ovaherero speaking native people live nomadic and are still deeply attached to their cultural habits and customs. Very typical is their traditional clothing with calf skins, bodys covered with a fat and pigment mixture past and dressed with significant hairstyles and iron jewelery indicating their age and social status in the community. Meeting them is an interesting cultural hiighlight and experience on this tour, although a real conversation is mostly impossible. Our driving highlight however is the second part of this day route, the (in-)famous ‚Van-Zyl’s Pass‘ is probably the biggest challenge to our riders and drivers and certainly an outstanding adventure on itself. From top of the pass we can already enjoy a first view over the dreamlike Marienfluss Valley that we are going to cross towards the Kunene river once we mastered the pass. This almost untouched nature so far away from any civilisation makes one feeling to be out of this world. Our route now leads through the wide spaces of romantic sceneries along mountain ranges and its game roaming freely and undisturbed. we reach the river of Kunene, the borderline of north Namibia with Angola in the late afternoon. The Okahirongo River Camp is a most unexpected place and of luxury and pleasure to stay.
As yesterday was quite a special and exhausting day, we enjoy our reached destination here for a another day. The marvellous Camp at the river banks serves a great impression of a unique landscape: Makalani palms, lush green vegetation mark the sandy and partially rocky broad river flow in the dry rough desert surroundings. The oasis like water stream might attract to jump in, but spotting the inhabitants like hippo or crocodile will let forget about quickly. But the oriental styled camp has a wonderful swimming pool and open lounges from where you may enjoy the views and atmosphere from safe distance. If temperatures and mude feel comfortable there is however still the option to do a shorter trip into the surrounding area.
An early start allows to head south in amazing morning lights. And there are still some days left that we travel through such remote wilderness areas of Kaokoland and Damaraland before getting back into ‚civilisation’. Our route today passes the brink of Skeleton Coast National Park, one of the most particular ecological systems in Southern Africa. The broader coastline is almost unaccessible for any visitors, but the inland of this desert landscapes and its existing wildlife on our way to Orupembe is admirable. Many dry river bed crossings await us, mountain valleys, some sandy and rocky tracks, oxid red tinted plains change with burnt black stones covering the vast scenery and serves awesome colour flashes against the pure deep blue skies. We take a distance in the river bed of Khumeb passing several mostly abandonded himba kraals until we reach our next destination in Purros – unimaginably only a mere of 50 km ayaw from the Atlantic sea shore. The Okahirongo Elephant Lodge lies close to another lifeline in the Namib Desert, the Hoarusib River.
We today take again tracks off the official maps, heading through the remotest areas of northwestern Damaraland and along the tracks of desert dwelling elephants. Although the landscapes seems open it still remains abit of luck to sport the grey giants in the thickets of riverbed vegetation, but chances are not that bad as they roam along the rivers of Hoarusib and Hoanib frequently. The very dry region is particularly scarce of water sources and thus untypical for this biggest mammal to survive. But the desert dwelling elephant did not proof to be an own species but their habits of feeding and adaption to this dry ecosystem is thus very astonishing. We then catch up again with the little settlement of Sesfontein to fuel up and have a lunch break a bit later at Ongongo further south, with a refreshing nature pool and some pleasant shade. During the afternoon we eventually reach the stunngingly located Grootberg Lodge.
Our today’s stage takes us now across the Damaraland to the westernmost Namibia, the Atlantic Coast. The first section is smooth and easy driving on larger gravel roads towards the south but we then jump off the beaten track and immerse again into the wild tracks of a wonderful area through the back country of southern part of Skeleton Coast NP. All driving/riding skills you gained on this tour will be needed on the next section although still quite far away from our destination – but the journey is the reward. Breathtaking sceneries of open plains and tabel mountains, stunning rock formations, bizarre plants, antelopes and even elephants may come across up until the Ugab River, that we pass again between Brandberg and the coastal borderline of the NP. From there on the landscape becomes significantly more barren to almost no vegetation with only pure gravel plains and desert remaining. The air is suddenly much cooler and typical to the seaside of Namibia. We catch up with the coastal road made of salt and finally arrive at Cape Cross Lodge…
We keep travelling further along the coastline today and enjoy a relaxing first stage in presumably very welcomed fresh sea breeze. The hard surface of the salt road leads straight down south to Swakopmund, the biggest coastal town in Namibia. We then take a route along the imressive high dunes behind the town that leads us back into the inland and heart of oldest desert in the world - the central Namib encompassed by the Namib-Naukluft NP, the largest game park in Africa, and head towards east to the great escarpment, the edge of the Khomas Highland. Our last route is very scenic and the lodging on our slow way back to Windhoek still amazing as the whole tour: Kobo Kobo Hills, a a unique hidden place in the mountains, that couldn’t be more exclusive.
After everyone has slept off and had a nice breakfast, we only unwillingly go for our last stage. But the many gravel passes provide pure riding fun. We drive over the Us Pass to the big escarpment up into the Khomas-Hochland – lot’s of up and downhill, the route is very curvy. In the afternoon we are back at Gravel Travel homebase, the Windhoek Mountain Lodge. We are already expected by our team to sit together with a refreshing sundowner drink. Later we enjoy a great BBQ under stars - and have all the night to pass the days and impressions in review.
This day is completely available for staying on the lodge or to make a trip to the city of Windhoek because at least the Air Namibia flight is going to start in the evening. So, it is possible to visit some sights and to go to a bazaar or to the shops where you can buy a lot of traditional handcrafted things. In the early evening, our shuttle brings you to the Hosea Kutako International Airport.
Arrival in the early morning at Frankfurt (Main) and your individual onward journey via train or flight to your home town.