Climbing and hiking in the Namib Naukluft Park

Naukluftpark, Am Blässkranz - photographer D.Reimann

Location of the climbing and hiking area in the Namib Naukluft Park

The park stretches along the Atlantic coast from Swakopmund down to L&umml;deritz and partly reaches more than 140 km into the inland, to the borders of the first Namibrand farms.

In the south, the diamond area 1 incorporates directly into the park. A transformation into a nature reserve and the relaxation of the ban on entering the diamond area, has been in extensive discussion. So far nothing has happened. Private protected areas connect seamlessly in some places to the park. In the north from Swakopmund the park is borders the newly established Dorob Park. Due to the ruthless destruction of the delicate desert landscape by private vehicles in recent years, the entire coast of Namibia is declared, with the exception of the villages, a national park.

However, in the Namibi-Naukluft Park more and more areas, "are being excluded" for the interests of a few, such as the Welwitschia plains near the Swakop, the old railway station "Welwitsch" and other places, to develop more new uranium mines. The ruthlessness and total destruction of nature is only one of the consequences. From the world unnoticed, rather absurd situation. But the desert of Namibia seems, with its unique flora and fauna not to be as interesting as the tropical rain forests for environmental activists.

There are only two places in the park, where one could go climbing, the "Blutkuppe" in the north-east and the Sesriem Canyon in the central part. Only two roads in the park may be used without permission, the C 14 and the C 28. Permits are required for all other roads, which are only available in Windhoek and Swakopmund. The approval of Sossusvlei and Sesriem can be obtained immediately at the park entrance.

1) Blutkuppe

Naukluftpark, Blutkuppe - photographer H.Gantze

Night's lodging, camping, security

To get to the Blutkuppe (Bloedkopje) drive on the C 28 from Swakopmund north about 1 hour (85 km). The mountain is accessible with a normal vehicle. For the visit and overnight stay a permit is required (available in Swakopmund or Windhoek)! When buying the permit a simply sketch of the area is included. The area has much more vegetation than in the rest of the Namib. The numerous quiver trees (Aloe dichotoma) give the landscape an unusual appearance.

Aloe dichotoma - photographer H. Gantze
Aloe dichotoma (Quiver Tree)

Numerous artificial water holes attract a lot of wildlife, especially Springbok, Zebra and Oryx can be seen in big herds. Occasionally giraffes also appear, which have escaped from a farm and have multiplied by now. Near the "Blutkuppe" several fantastic camping spots in the solitude of the Namib Desert can be found. Water must be brought along. Except at the "Blutkuppe", all other places are only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles! Westerly of the "Blutkuppe" is a small dam which, after extensive rains, as they also occur ocasionaly, can hold water for a long time. Near the "Blutkuppe" there are some off road roads, to some water points and other attractions such as Klein and Groot Tinka (with an old police station and graves of two German soldiers), a rocky arch, a nature trail of about 3 hours walking time.

the road to Tinkas - photographer H. Gantze  the Hottentotten church - photographer H. Gantze
The road to Tinkas, in the background the Hottentotten church   and   views of the Hottentotten church

Here and everywhere in the area one breathes the solitude of the desert, a night under the starry sky of Namibia is a great experience. At night one can expect tame jackals as visitors. Housing estates are very far away. There is a downside, between the Blutkuppe and the impressive mountain summit "Langer Heinrich" exists since 2008, a new uranium mine in about 3 km distance. It will not affect the experience of nature, if one doesn't climb to the summit of the Blutkuppe and therefore not notice it. There is no radiation here! Through the mine, the C 28 has been partially paved and therefore excellent passable. Driving to Windhoek via the Bosua Pass is only possible with four-wheel drive, as it is very steep!

Onychognathus nabouroup - photographer H. Gantze  Klippspringer - photographer H. Gantze
Onychognathus nabouroup (Mountain Star; Palewinged Starling; Bleekvlerkspreeu)   and   Klippspringer

General development and history

The Blutkuppe was certainly a settlement of the earliest inhabitants of South West Africa. This bears witness to many prehistoric tools that can be found at every turn. The Blutkuppe is similar to the big Spitzkuppe, is an island mountain made of granite and rises about 180m above the plain. The mountain is relatively easy to climb from s w after crossing the two deep clefts. Sure-footedness and some alpine knowledge will be required. The view is beautiful. If thunderstorms come up, leave the mountain immediately! The lightning strikes with 100% certainty. At the foot of the mountain there is little danger, but never camp in a dry river bed.
The first tracks to Windhoek, on which at the beginning of the colonial period, the ox-wagon moved in about 3 weeks from Swakopmund to Windhoek, passes here. To its security there was a small police station built at Tinkas. Two graves of German soldiers from 1895 testify, next to the station, of this time.
With the establishment of the "Langer Heinrich uranium mine" in the national park the government sacrificed the high goal of conservation of the nature for financial interests.

Information sign - photographer H. Gantze  soldiers' graves in small Tinkas - photographer H. Gantze
Information sign at the entrance of the NNP   and   soldiers' graves in small Tinkas.

Up to now there is only one climbing route on the south side of the Blutkuppe.

Route description

--> Mit Stock und Hut (With hat and cane), 18

2) Sesriem

Sesriem is the gateway to the world famous Sossusvlei, a clay pan, surrounded by high dunes. The area lies between the Naukluft mountains and the Atlantic. It is reachable from Windhoek, via the B 1, C 24, C 19 and C 27; and accessible from Swakopmund on the C 14, C 19 and C 27. To visit, (unfortunately) a very expensive permit is required, available at the offices of NWR in Windhoek, Swakopmund and Sesriem directly.

Night's lodging, camping, security

Sesriem previously only had state owned campgrounds that offers plenty of shade under big camel thorn trees. Unfortunately, the sanitary facilities are often dirty, worn and it is very loud on the grounds. An excellent alternative is the new camp (2010) of "Taleni Africa" in front of the entrance to Sesriem. Cheaper, cleaner and everything brand new, you can choose between bungalows or a camping spot each with its own sanitary section. Adjacent is a gas station (24 h) and a great store with well trained, friendly staff. The sandwiches are always fresh and a stunner. Annoying is always waiting at the gate at sunrise, until the conservation staff has risen from his bed and finally opens the door. An accumulation of more expensive and very expensive lodges have been established in the vicinity of Sesriem. Advisable is the immediately adjacent Sossusvlei Lodge (dinner is unparalleled in Namibia) and the inexpensive, but unfortunately about 85 km further away Solitaire Lodge. The area is far away from civilization and therefore safe.

Mountaineering Development

The only climbing rocks in the area, the "Brückenturm" (Tower Bridge), is about 50 m deep in the Sesriem Canyon. The rock is a large embedded Sand-/argillaceous mixture, which is also called "flysch". The strength of the rock is low and after rare rain the rock cannot be climbed. Even so, the rock is very brittle; the tower was defeated only four times since 1998. When roping down one should do it in the Paternoster seat, or attach the rope at the end to a retaining ring, which can be removed later.

Brückenturm - photographer H. Gantze
The Brückenturm (Tower bridge)


The canyon starts about 2 km to the left of the entrance gate and is in 10 minutes on a bad road along the fence reachable. The tower is accessible from below, only if the Tsauchab River is without water, but this is the case most of the year. During high water in the canyon one enters the solid rock of the gorge tower and cross to the left on a tape to the safety ring.
Only during heavy rains in the neighboring Naukluft Mountains, a raging river flows through the canyon. Then, this canyon offers an unforgettable swimming experience in the desert. For rock climbing you will reach the rock after the descent from the parking lot in 10 minutes, if after the dismounting, one turns left one will also in the driest years still find water pools where big catfish live.

Swimming in the canyon - photographer H. Gantze  flooded Sossusvlei 2008 - photographer H. Gantze
Swimming in the canyon   and   flooded Sossusvlei 2008

Route Description

Brückenturm (Tower bridge)
Essay 16; Volker Müller u. Hasso Gantze, 22.08.1998 -
At the south side of the canyon wall first right, then keep left to get to the safety ring. Other crack left to the summit

Other destinations

A "must" for every tourist in Namibia is a visit to the Sossusvlei, one of the highest dunes on earth surrounded clay pan, about 66 km from the entrance tour. The road is now paved, the last 4 km can be overcome only through deep sand with a four-wheel drive vehicle - or walking. The impression of the red dunes is enormous, especially in the morning and evening hours, in contrast to the green camel thorn trees. Very rarely, and only every few decades, the Tsauchab river comes down to fill the Sossusvlei with water (most recently 2008). Left next to the Sossusvlei are the Hidden and Dead Vlei, which are surrounded by up to 300 m high dunes. An ascent is challenging, and it then only shows the real beauty of the Sossusvlei.

Sossusvlei - photographer D. Reimann  Dead Vlei - photographer D. Reimann
Sunrise at Sossusvlei                                                           The Dead Vlei with its dead, up to 500 years old acacia

3) Naukluft Mountains

In the Quiver Tree Gorge - photographer Detlev Reimann rock pond - photographer Detlev Reimann
In the Quiver Tree Gorge: Baboons are constant companions, and a rock pond as a welcome swimming place

Under the rock arch in the Devil's Canyon  - photographer Detlev Reimann Suricata  - photographer Detlev Reimann
Under the rock arch in the Devil's Canyon; Suricata

Night's lodging, camping, safety

Mountaineering Development