The 6 greatest hikes in Namibia for desert explorers

With its searing summer season warmth and parched desert plains, Namibia just isn’t a rustic for faint-hearted hikers. It’s not shocking that almost all vacationers desire to find this southern African nation from the consolation of an air-conditioned automobile. However you’ll miss out if you happen to don’t lace up your boots and step out into the wilds.

These are visceral landscapes, and exploring Namibia’s mountain climbing trails will open up your senses to a brand new realm of discovery. Savor the crunch of gravel underfoot, hear for the bark of a kudu within the thickets, and really feel the nice and cozy desert winds stroke throughout your cheeks. It is an expertise.

From trails round dolomite outcrops to paths up desert dunes, Namibia is crammed with fantastic mountain climbing trails to discover. Nervous concerning the warmth? Don’t be. Plan your go to for the gentle winter months or wake early to stroll within the cool earlier than the solar rises. Pack a hat and loads of water, and head out on these high mountain climbing trails in Namibia.

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Pause on the finish of a day’s mountain climbing in Fish River Canyon to admire the sundown © fbxx / Getty Pictures

Fish River Canyon

Finest hike for multi-day adventures

85km (52 miles) one-way, 5 days, difficult

On the subject of the highest tier of multi-day hikes in southern Africa, the Fish River Canyon is spoken of in hushed tones. It’s robust. It’s lengthy. It’s distant. And it’s a should for any hiker with a style for journey.

Operating from the perspective at Hobas to the /Ai-/Ais Hot Springs and Spa, the path follows the stomach of the world’s second-largest canyon (after the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon in Tibet, or the Grand Canyon within the UK, relying on who you communicate to). A desert path may sound a bit monotonous, however the Fish River Canyon provides an exquisite number of landscapes, from tranquil swimming pools for a cooling dip to sandy seashores which might be excellent for pitching camp.

Shortcuts over saddles and koppies (small peaks) present a distinct aspect to the panorama, and the sundown tinge on the rocky cliffs just isn’t one thing quickly forgotten. You’ll discover wildlife alongside the best way too, from hardy kudu to the bark of rancorous baboons.

Most hikers full the path in 5 days, however you may stroll it sooner or slower if you happen to desire. Nonetheless, this path requires full self-sufficiency, so that you’ll want to hold sufficient meals, gas and shelter for so long as you intend to stroll. Fortunately, the endpoint on the /Ai-/Ais Scorching Springs provides the welcome reward of a chilly beer and a soak within the sizzling mineral springs.

Due to the acute situations, the path is open solely in the course of the winter months. It’s greatest to begin strolling within the cool of the early morning. A superb map is important because it’s surprisingly simple to get misplaced within the canyon. The charts produced by Slingsby Maps are wonderful.

Young woman climbing in a canyon above a natural pool, Olive Trail, Namibia
The Olive Path provides some large desert adventures © Nadine Klose / Shutterstock

Olive Path

Finest hike for adventurers with a head for heights

10km (6.2 miles) spherical journey, 3–4 hours, reasonable to difficult

Many vacationers pace previous the Naukluft Mountains on their approach to or from the dunes at Sossusvlei, however these rugged dolomite ridges supply an enigmatic magnificence that’s properly price slowing down for.

Even in winter, it received’t take lengthy to work up a sweat mountain climbing right here, with the Olive Path ascending steeply to a excessive plateau. Fortunately, your arduous work is quickly rewarded with wonderful desert views. Preserve your eyes out for free-roaming kudu, klipspringer and Hartmann’s zebras.

Transferring on, you may drop right into a dramatic canyon, the place boulder-hopping requires eager eyes and powerful ankles. Subsequent comes the spotlight (or heart-dropping second) of the path – a rocky scramble round a deep pool the place chains set into the cliffs assist hikers traverse the sheer rock face. It’s not for the faint-hearted, and there aren’t any alternate routes, aside from turning heel and strolling again the best way you’ve come.

In the event you clear the chains, the going will get simpler, ultimately resulting in a gravel observe that returns you to the place to begin. It’s an adventurous style of Namibia, however you may want a great head for heights and a minimum of two liters of ingesting water per particular person to sort out the route.

The Olive Path begins and ends at Namibia Wildlife Resorts’ Naukluft Campsite, on the japanese flanks of the mountain vary. Right here you’ll discover shady campsites and fashionable chalets if you wish to linger earlier than or after the hike.

A tracker leads the way along a mountain track at Etendeka, Namibia
Native guides share inside data of the Etendeka Concession © James Strachan / Getty Pictures

Etendeka Strolling Path

Finest hike for recognizing desert wildlife

25–35km (15–21 miles) spherical journey, 3–4 days, reasonable

The cruel landscapes of Damaraland come to life within the firm of the native nature guides who lead hikers on two- and three-night walks by the Etendeka Concession. These in a single day hikes are run as a partnership between the Etendeka Lodge Company and the native Etendeka Neighborhood Belief, providing an genuine expertise of this less-visited nook of Namibia.

The path roams throughout the privately-owned Etendeka Concession, traversing a outstanding panorama of flat-topped mountains and basalt lava flows. This rugged terrain is dwelling to an array of hardy antelope species; if you happen to’re fortunate, chances are you’ll encounter desert-adapted rhinoceroses and elephants.

Every day ends at a country however snug campsite set on a distant hillside, the place hikers sleep on raised platforms below the celebrities and luxuriate in home-style meals across the campfire. A superb degree of health is required, however porters will carry your baggage so that you’ll solely want to hold a daypack with water and lunch.

Hikers approach the Waterberg Plateau, Namibia
The Waterberg Plateau provides nice mountain climbing for households © Fotografie-Kuhlmann / Shutterstock

Waterberg Plateau Park

Finest hike for households and birdwatching

2–10km (1–6 miles) spherical journey, half-hour as much as 4 hours, simple to reasonable

The rocky massif of the Waterberg Plateau – “water mountain” in Afrikaans – leaps from the panorama of northern Namibia, a 200-million-year-old dollop of sandstone surrounded by lush woodland and savanna. Greater than 200 species of birds have been recorded right here, and these cliffs are dwelling to Namibia’s solely colony of endangered Cape vultures.

This dramatic panorama is well explored on a variety of well-marked strolling trails departing from each the government-run Waterberg Resort and the privately owned Waterberg Plateau Lodge. The longest trails run for round 9.5km (6 miles), whereas shorter routes give you an opportunity to discover the bottom of the plateau – an incredible exercise for energetic households.

Family climbing up Big Daddy in Sossusvlei, Namibia
Mighty Massive Daddy is Sossusvlei’s highest sand dune © BlueOrange Studio / Shutterstock

Massive Daddy dune stroll

Finest hike for dune vistas and constructing calves of metal

5km (3 miles) spherical journey, 1–2 hours, reasonable

The sand dune landscapes of Sossusvlei and Deadvlei are must-sees on any Namibia itinerary, however solely the really adventurous climb the sand dune affectionately often called “Massive Daddy.” And that’s a pity, as other than the bragging rights that include tackling the very best sand dune in Sossusvlei, the climb to the summit rewards walkers with spectacular views over the Namib Desert.

Discovering your manner is simple – merely comply with the ridge from the primary parking space on the entrance to Deadvlei. Coming again down is much more enjoyable, as you launch your self down the steep face of the dune to achieve Deadvlei some 300m (984ft) beneath.

Earlier than you brag an excessive amount of across the braai (barbecue), bear in mind that Massive Daddy could be the tallest dune at Sossusvlei, however it isn’t the very best dune in Namibia. That honor belongs to Dune 7, east of Walvis Bay, which tops out at 383m (1257ft).

Nationwide Botanic Backyard of Namibia

Finest hike for stretching your legs within the metropolis

2km (1.2 miles) spherical journey, 1 hour, simple

Windhoek doesn’t have many mountain climbing trails, but when you end up with just a few hours to spare, the National Botanic Garden of Namibia is properly price a wander. Don’t arrive anticipating manicured lawns and plush flower beds; as a substitute, this 29-acre reserve celebrates the arid landscapes and desert-adapted flora of Namibia.

You possibly can discover self-guided trails with helpful info boards alongside the best way. It’s open Monday to Friday (and the second Saturday of each month), and entry is free.