Guide to the Naukluft Mountains Waterkloof Trail Hike

Guide to the Naukluft Mountains Waterkloof Trail Hike

The Namib Naukluft National Park is the largest game park in Africa and the fourth largest in the world. The park host a huge section of the Namib Desert, as well as the Naukluft Mountains. The most known area of the park is Sossusvlei.

Only a one-hour drive away is the less traveled road to Naukluft Mountains. Come here for some hiking and to see some wild animals, such as Mountain Zebra, Klipspringer, or Kudu. It is a great place for camping and swimming in watering holes. Several short hikes can be enjoyed.

There are two longer hiking trails for day hikes, the Olive Trail (10km) and the Waterkloof Trail (17km). There is also an 8-day hike that covers 120km which is available with a guide from March through October. We opted for the Waterkloof Trail, which in all honesty, has scared us and will forever be in our memories as one of our worst hikes.

We finished this hike with bruised bodies and swollen feet. Yana actually cried when we saw the end of the trail. The area is beautiful, but maybe it is best to come and enjoy the short hikes and watering holes instead of one of the longer hikes. If you do plan on hiking the Waterkloof, this guide will give more information about our hike.

Naukluft Mountains
Heading Down to the Gorge

Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon.

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Guide to the Naukluft Mountains Waterkloof Trail Hike

Park Entry Costs

  • $60 NAD per person per day for day use

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How to Get There

Take C14 from Solitaire to BuellSport. Shortly after the BuellSport Guest Farm, turn right on D854, where there is a sign for Namib Naukluft Park. Drive 8km, and immediately after a cattle grid, the park entrance is on your right, where there will be a closed gate. The park entrance station is 2km further on your left.

The Waterkloof Trail

Waterloof Trail
Waterkloof Trailhead

This 17 km trailhead starts just after the day parking area and park entrance. Be ready for a 6-7 hour hike to complete the Waterkloof. After paying your day fee, get the map for the trail and walk 50m down the road where there is a sign for the trailhead on your right. There is a rock with a yellow footprint trail marker, which you will follow these trail markers for the entire 17km trail.

TIP: Pay attention to these trail markers. It is easy to lose the trail at times, and may often have to backtrack. Several times we lost the trail marker and went off trail and had to backtrack, adding extra distance and time to our hike.

The beginning of the trail is uphill along the Naukluft Stream where there are sections with pools for swimming. You will then hike into a gorge and turn away from the stream. From here, you will ascend up to the highest point of the trail.

There are excellent views of all the Naukluft Mountains once at the peak, high above the rest of the trails. At the summit, it will be clearly marked by a large pile of rocks.

Following the summit, there is a steep descent down to a dried-up riverbed and gorge beneath the mountain. Eventually, you will come to other swimming holes and pools and connect with the stream again. From here, follow the stream back to the guest day parking area to finish your hike.

What to Bring on the Hike

  • Wear normal day hiking clothes. Be sure to wear very good sneakers, preferably hiking boots. This trail is extremely rocky and a lot of the trail is through dried-up riverbeds.
  • Bring lots of water, especially if in the summer. It gets extremely hot in the Naukluft Mountains.
  • A hat and sunscreen will help protect your face/skin from the sun.
  • Snacks to help refuel along the way.
  • Towel if you want to swim at one of the swimming holes.
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Where to Stay

Camping at Capricorn Restcamp

Capricorn Rest Camp is roughly a 30-minute drive from Naukluft Park and an excellent budget option. Camping is $140 NAD per person, or stay in a B&B for $600 NAD per two people sharing.

Tsauchab River Camp is a 30-minute drive towards Sesriem, roughly halfway between Naukluft and Sossusvlei. Camping is $160 NAD per person.

Naukluft Campsite is part of the NWR and right in the park. For close proximity and camping right near trailheads for $375 NAD per person.

BuellSport Guest Farm is a luxurious guest farm, the closest to the park entrance. Camping is $305 NAD per person, or you can choose from an assortment of rooms from $1400 to $3600 NAD.

Overall Recommendation

The Naukluft Mountains are near Sossusvlei, allowing for a quick day stop the day earlier or the day after visiting Sossusvlei. However, if you are short on time, of all places in Namibia within our recommended travel guide, this would be the one to skip.

As avid hikers, we did not enjoy this hike. The trail markers are very sporadic and we often got lost and had to backtrack. We ended up hiking 19km instead of the 17km trail, and because of the rocky terrain, we both left with sprained ankles. If you do want to hike, I would recommend a shorter hike or the Olive Trail, and make sure to have good hiking boots.

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That’s it – have a wonderful hike up the Naukluft Mountains!

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About the Author:

  • Yana and Timon

    Yana & Timon met at college in Boston, Massachusetts. After graduating, they started their professional careers. They moved to San Francisco in 2010, a city they loved living in for nearly six years.

    After working and saving up money for several years, they quit their jobs and set off on an adventure of a lifetime. They started living a nomadic lifestyle in December 2015 and have not looked back since.

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