Kaokoveld is the name given to the impassable area in the northwest of Namibia. It lies between the mountains of the high plateau and the Namib Desert in the west. The Kaokoveld is considered inaccessible and a major challenge for “full-size” 4×4 vehicles.

Of course, this area is very appealing to us – but can we venture into it with a 4×4 Sprinter? We receive support from experienced travel colleagues from Switzerland and South Africa.

Opuwo – D3707

On June 6, we set off early in the morning from Opuwo and drive to Kaoko Otavi. The “road” – D3707 – should be “good” for another 70 km according to our GPS map Tracks4Africa, only along the Hoarusib River should it turn into an inhospitable dirt road. But far from it. After Kaoko Otavi, the gravel road turns into an already challenging track, which only allows an hourly performance of about 15 km. There are already two dry river crossings coming from the east, which are very steep and require off-road walking. Our hearts are sinking and we are already thinking of giving up because we think that the slope conditions can only get worse. But as is the case, curiosity still drives you forward. Fortunately.

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Unfortunately, the tension makes us forget to take photos at the most exciting moments. The route is lonely, with hardly any people and even fewer vehicles – but there is a dreamlike silence and magnificent, ever-changing landscapes.

The Hoarusib River has to be crossed three times. The first crossing is still a little damp and there is still water in the riverbed, the other two are deep sand. But the sprinter masters all passages. The D3707 then climbs back into the mountains and becomes rocky, stony and narrow. As we don’t reach our destination for today, we camp behind a small hill in a beautiful landscape. A balmy evening with the mighty starry sky above us – and then a peaceful night’s sleep.

Marble Camp

The next morning, June 7, the journey continues to Marble Camp, north of Orupembe. The route is arduous, but easy to manage. Guitar is practiced at the Marble Camp. This naturally attracts the village youth.

Auf dem Weg zum Marble Camp
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Orupembe – Puros

June 8: Next destination is Puros on the Hoarusib River. There are said to be desert elephants here, which is one of the main reasons for our journey through the Kaokoveld. But first we want to see Orupembe and the store there, where you can buy cold beer.

And yes, there is cold beer for sale!

The D3707 bends to the west on the way to Puros, bringing you close to the edge of the Namib Desert. Another impressive landscape for us. However, the heavily corrugated track hardly allows speeds of over 15 km/h. We therefore only reach Puros towards the evening. We encountered only one vehicle on this route.

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9. and June 10: At least we’ve made it this far. We are resting.

On the second day, we take a “guide” with the first name “Max” and visit the local Himba village. However, the decay of the Himba culture is already visible here. There is no longer any real cattle kraal in the village. The village lives solely from the income of tourists, making it something of a living museum. Afterwards, Max – brother of the campsite warden – takes us down the Hoarusib River because we want to see the desert elephants. The water crossings are all easy as long as you stay on the main track. Eventually we see the elephants, but hardly get to film or photograph them, because as soon as the elephants come out of the bush, our guide wants to drive off immediately or we have to stop so far away that we can hardly get a good picture. Why? Our leader is unspeakably afraid that something might happen. So we have no choice but to retreat and we have the impression that the desert elephants will pounce on us as soon as they spot us …. Unfortunately, we forgot to ask whether our “guide” also has a license – probably not ….

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Puros – Hoanib River

June 11: Our worries about how to get through the sand on the easternmost route to the Hoanib River were in vain, once again we worried in vain. Slowly but steadily, we again drive through a magnificent and lonely landscape. However, having a breakdown here would be a disaster and could cost thousands of francs because help would be very, very far away. Luckily, we make it to the Hoanib riverbed in time and find our beautiful place to spend the night a little higher up on the Hoanib. However, we only manage the ascent after shoveling and a long run-up.

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Desert elephants in the Hoanib

And we see them, the desert elephants in the Hoanib. At least 20 elephants in small groups. However, we do not know whether these are desert elephants or elephants that have migrated here from the Etosha region. We watch the elephants reverently and the fear instilled in us by Max disappears for good. As pictures speak louder than words, there is no need to type any more at this point. What you experience here cannot be put down on paper or on the screen either way.

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Hoanib – Palmwag Crowther 4×4 Trail

12. and June 13A Swiss colleague wrote us that the Palmwag Crowther 4×4 Trail is his favorite route. Well then, if we’ve already come this far, let’s try this trail too. We need a full 2 days to do this, but next time we would estimate 3 days to have enough time to observe the animals. The ascent to the Hoanib River is arduous. The trail climbs for many kilometers in a riverbed up to the plateau. The surface is constantly changing from sand to gravel to scree etc. Constant shifting is necessary, 1st gear, 2nd gear and back. This continues on the high plateau, however, as many cross fords that can only be discovered as you approach require constant braking and accelerating. Really tiring. But it was worth it. We spend the night at Crowther Camp, at the top of a small hill. Absolute silence, only the wind whispers.

Alle Mühe hat sich gelohnt. Vor Sonnenaufgang am nächsten Morgen.

The onward journey to Palmwag is the same as the day before. We finally reach Palmwag in good time before sunset. Our vehicle door is open – suddenly a bull elephant shuffles around our Sprinter – we could have touched it from inside the vehicle. Then he feasts on the elephant grass. A nice end to our Kaokoveld tour.

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With this video we want to give something of the travel atmosphere in the Kaokoveld. Those who have never traveled to the Kaokoveld will be interested in the roads and paths, those who have will be able to reminisce. At 28 minutes, Kaokoveld is perhaps a little long. However, we also want to deliberately include the routes – after all, we were behind the wheel for hours on end. Have fun and we look forward to your reactions.

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