Holidays to Kaokoveld, Namibia

Are you ready for a real adventure? Up in the far north-west of Namibia, remote and wild Kaokoveld is one of the most enigmatic regions of the country. This harsh coastal desert of craggy mountains and sand dunes covers an area of over 44,000 square kilometres, and is almost inaccessible.

And that’s just where its allure lies. You can only travel across the Kaokoveld in fully equipped four-wheel expedition vehicles – and preferably with an experienced guide. There are hardly any sign-posts on the rough, treacherously sandy tracks. There are no petrol stations except in the little town of Opuwo – appropriately enough, its name means “The End” in the Herero language. There is no mobile phone reception north of Opuwo, so be well prepared when you decide to visit this remote, but stunning destination.  

The Kaokoveld is a serious destination for seasoned adventurers. Even basic infrastructure is almost non-existent. Before you set out, get yourself an experienced guide and make sure to stock up on water, food and fuel, and do some solid research on the route options. There are a few lodges scattered around this vast territory, but many travellers just sleep out in the bush under the star-lit night skies. Now that’s a memorable experience.

And what can you expect to find there? The Kaokoveld is home to one of Africa’s two populations of desert elephants, who are able to survive without drinking for days on end during drought periods. Small herds of these mysterious animals regularly congregate along the river beds. The region is also home to Africa’s biggest concentration of free roaming black rhino. An experienced game guide might be able to help you track them on foot. The critically-endangered desert lion is a much rarer sight – it preys stealthily on the area's giraffe, springbok and zebra populations.

But for the few foreign visitors who make it up into the harsh terrain of the Kaokoveld, one of the greatest and most memorable highlights is an encounter with the Himba. This semi-nomadic pastoral people breed cattle and goats, and continue to follow their colourful traditional customs. Himba women spend hours every day rubbing their hair and bodies in red ochre and Omuzumba resin, producing an intense shine. A respectful and sensitive visit to a Himba village is a great opportunity to discover more about their vibrant culture.

Highlights

  • Explore one of Namibia's remotest territories

  • Camp out in the bush under the starry night sky

  • Track desert elephants and black rhino

  • Encounter the semi-nomadic Himba people

Jody
Travel Designer & Safari Expert
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I adore Africa and have lived and worked in South Africa as well as travelling across the wider region. Spotting a leopard during a night safari at Namibia Private Game Reserve is definitely an experience I'll remember forever.

Map of Kaokoveld