The 8 Day Naukluft Hike is reputably the toughest of its kind in Southern Africa. This was found to be true, by both guide and client of Wild At Heart Safaris.
Author: Kobus Alberts is 34 years of age and is married with 2 children. He was born in Usakos, Namibia, and is currently living in Swakopmund. He holds a diploma in Nature Conservation and has spent 11 Years of his life living in most of the National Parks and Game Reserves of Namibia. He has most recently been heading up the National Marine Aquarium of Namibia in Swakopmund, a position he held for 5 years.
The safari started in Windhoek. After collecting Mr. Eran Wieder from the airport we drove South towards the Namib Naukluft Park. After a good nights rest at Tsauchab tented camp the highest dunes in the world were viewed. Sossusvlei and Deadvlei were seen during this day of travel. That afternoon we booked into Hikers Haven, at the Naukluft campsite. After sharing out the necessary food for the coming 8 Day hike, we settled down and had a last big meal.
Waking up at 05:30 with butterflies, we had a last quick coffee and then started the walk at 06:50. Our rucksacks weighed in at about 20 Kilograms for Eran and about 22 Kilograms for me. After an hour of walking we took the first of many rest stops we would have that day.
We slowly started with the climb, and what looked like a little hill, turned into a murderous walk, and both of us got to the top tired, and slightly shocked at the sudden turn of events. This was the start of many climbs that we will encounter during this walk.
After passing the fig Tree fountain we climbed even higher, and then had a well deserved lunch break. During lunch I went in search of more fountains, but found none. Luckily for us we were not very far from our first shelter, Die Putte.
At 15:10 we caught sight of our accommodation for the night. Die Putte shelter as it is known, was the first of 4 such shelters we would encounter on our walk. It is a cement structure, built in the form of a square. He walls is about 1, 2 meters high. On top of this shelter is a roof. Between the wall and the roof is a space of about 1 meter, to let a draught through. Inside the shelter, nothing. Gravel that can be arranged by your foot or hand to take the form of your body as you lay on it. Still we were happy as we had water now as well.
The water did not come from a tap, o course. It is a wheel that needs to be turned, and this in turn puts the mono rod into action, and then water is pumped. The outlet is a pipe about 3 meters away. One guy would be turning the wheel and pumping. The other guy would be collecting the water into our water bottles and also a bucket that was present at Die Putte.
The first night‘s dinner on the trail consisted out of 2 Minute noodles and vegetables.
Starting our second day at 07:00 again, we made good ground before the sun appeared. The trail led us into the low lying hills towards the Ubusis gorge. The trail itself were much better and was easy to walk on, when compared to the previous day’s walk scrambling over rocks most of the way.
Coming over a “neck” in the hills we surprised a solitary Mountain Zebra. We were about 10 meters away from it, before it realised our presence. These fleet footed animals are just amazing in the rocks, and w looked on in awe. About 10 minutes later we came across another herd of Mountain Zebra.
At around 11:00 we started our descent into the Ubusis gorge. (When going on the 8 Day trail, every one will tell you about “The chains”. The chains of day 2 and day 7 are the worst ones)
Just after passing Cathedral fountain the first of the 5 chains we would encounter that day, made its appearance. It was just a handhold to help you get down a bit of cliff. The next 2 chains were much higher. 15 to 20 meters in height. It were not that difficult though as there were plenty of footholds and handhold. The chain is just there to help you even more. All that said, with a heavy rucksack it is not always that easy, but we both managed just fine. After negotiation the first 3 chains we had lunch in the shade of a tree.
Lunch, consisting out of Provita, a kind of cracker bread and sardines were had in the shade of a tree, inside the Ubusis gorge.
After walking for another hour on very loose rocks in a river bed we finally reached Ubusis hut. This was to be the only “hut” with far walls and a roof. Bunk beds and mattresses were a welcome sight. Later afternoon, resting we saw a Black Mamba at the fountain in front of the house. Just observing it and not getting too close was thrill enough to end the day.
Ubusis hut to Adelhorst shelter turned out to be our shortest day during the whole walk. Going back up the Ubusis Gorge we passed Bergpos, en route to Adelhorst. A steep climb got us into some more rolling hills of the Naukluft Mountain.
The sun were becoming increasingly hot now, but luckily there were always trees present in the little river valleys, that provided shade.
Arriving at Adelhorst in time for lunch saw the end of that day.
Later in the afternoon I went on another walk about of 2 hours climbing mountains in search of mobile reception.
No signal of any kind was to be found.
As usual we started the next day at 06:55. After about 40 minutes walk we came upon the sign that showed the split in the road. One path will lead you to Tsams-Ost, and the other was the path that will lead you back to the Naukluft Camp. This is the four day route.
We started off well enough and were well on our way to Tsams-Ost. At one stage I lost the “footprint markers” in the high grass. After getting to high ground I saw a marker in the distance and thus our trail continued. Lunch was had at 12:00, and after resting for an hour we continued. (By this time we were both certain we cannot be that far away from Tsams-Ost anymore.)
Carrying on with the hike we came upon a track that looked as follows: a white footprint, the 8 day trail one, and a yellow footprint next to it. Once we saw this we realised we had taken the wrong route and were now once again on the Waterkoof Trail.
This trail led us straight back to the Naukluft camp. As luck would have it, I knew the guys at the Naukluft camp, as we used to work together when I was still a Ranger in the Namib part of the Namib Naukluft Park. I asked one of the men present to take us around to Tsams-Ost. Isak Gariseb volunteered and about 18:40 we were at Tsams-Ost. Isak would drive back and when we reach the Naukluft again our vehicle will be waiting.
Dinner consisted of Mash potatoes and Mushrooms.
A cup of coffee early in the morning to wake us properly, and then on the trail. The mountain, or hill we had to climb so early in the morning is known as “Broekskeur” Translated it means to tear your pants, and means there is difficult times ahead. And so it turned out to be. What a climb, and continuous at that as well! Once we got to the top, or what we thought is the top, the climb continued, but less steep.
Dropping down into a river signalled the end of climbing for the day. Following a dry river we got onto an open plain, with no shade, so were forced to walk until the next shade. This is also were lunch were had.
After lunch we continu3ed on a nice trail the footing was sure and firm with no loose big boulders around.
Die Valle was the next shelter, and was reached at 14:10. The water came from a tap, and was so built that you could have a shower as well. Surprised we were, but enjoyed this rare treat immensely.
The names given to certain areas of this trail are very descriptive. The next big mountain we had to scale was called “Groot hartseer”, meaning big heartache. Once again totally true. Climbing and climbing and climbing. It just never ended. Once past the fountains in the river we entered the Quarts valley, yet the river never ended. At 12:00 we reached the top of the river and with pounding hearts took shelter in the shade of a tree and had lunch.
The afternoon proved to be the opposite. We were descending all the time and at around 14:25 reached the Tufa Shelter.
Around 16:10 a massive thunderstorm enveloped us, and it rained until 19:10 that evening. Discussing the day ahead over dinner, we decided that if the rain does not stop we will wait it out in the shelter. If it stops we will do the next 2 days in one long day.
The next morning broke with some overcast weather, but none the less we started walking. After an hour of walking we entered the gorge that will lead us onto the plateau. With the help of several chains and some boulder scrambling, we reached the longest chain on the whole trail. Stretching about 28 meters, past a waterfall, this turned out to be our last big hurdle.
Once on top we walked onto the plateau. The highest point on the trail, Bakenkop, was our next rest stop.
Kapokvlakte shelter, translating to frost plains, was a welcome sight. It was getting slightly colder as we had our lunch on the tables outside this shelter. This shelter is the end of day 7 on the trail.
About 12:15 we left again for the final push to Hiker’s Haven. Seeing some Oryx, Springbuck and Mountain Zebra we continued walking. Resting at our regular intervals we were discussing this “never ending plains” it should have been named never ending hills, because rather than being plains it was more of hills we were walking up and down.
Descending steeply into a gorge at about 15:00 we realised we are quite close o our destination now. Upon seeing the yellow footprint of the Waterkloof trail again we were 2 happy guys.
Passing some very nice and full fountains we ended our 8 day trail at 16:50 on the doorstep of Hiker’s Haven.
In total we walked 90% of the 8 day trail, all of the 4 Day trail and about 90% of the Waterkoof trail. A lot of walking was done by Eran and me during these 8 days. There were hard times, and hot times, but in the end, looking back at it now, it was amazing.
Website: Wild At Heart Safaris.