- National Parks
|Naukluft 4X4 Trail
The Naukluft 4x4 trail offers you a closer look at nature and the
magnificent Naukluft Mountains.
The Namib-Naukluft Park stretches from the Swakop River in the
north to the Aus/Lüderitz road in the south and from the sea
almost to the escarpment in the east and covers an area of almost 5
The Namib-Naukluft Park grew to its present size over a period of almost
90 years. In 1907 the area between the Swakop River and the Kuiseb River
was proclaimed as Game Reserve No. 3 by the German Colonial
Administration. In 1941 the Sandwich area was incorporated into Game
Reserve No. 3. This was to protect the guano concession on islands in
The Reserve was enlarged in 1956 to include the Welwitschia Plains,
Swakop River valley and the Kuiseb Canyon. In 1966 this area became
known as the Namib Desert Park.
In 1968 the Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park was proclaimed with the
purchase of the farm Naukluft. This was to protect the endangered
Hartmann's mountain zebra. After an ecological survey in 1970 most of
the farms forming the Naukluft mountain massif were purchased and later
a number of farms west of the mountain were bought to create a corridor
so that gemsbok could migrate between the dunes and the mountains.
|In 1979 a large portion of land
known as Diamond Area 2, to the south of the Kuiseb River, including Sesriem
and Sossusvlei, was ceded to conservation. This area, unoccupied
State Land, the Namib Desert Park and the Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park
were consolidated to form the 23 340 km2 Namib-Naukluft Park.
The further addition of the remainder of Diamond Area 2 and a portion of
Diamond Area 1, as far south as the Aus/Lüderitz road in 1986, made the
Namib-Naukluft Park the biggest park in Africa. Animals now again roam
over this vast area as they did in former years.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES:
The Naukluft camp, in the mountains on the banks of the Naukluft River
is small and exclusive. Because there are only 4 camp-sites (no chalets)
a reservation is essential.
Visitors intending to go on the Naukluft 4x4 trail must make a
reservation for the camp-site if they intend to over night at Naukluft
before going on or after completing the trail. There are also a number
of guest farms and lodges outside the Park.
This unique 4x4 trail is on tracks built by early pioneers, who farmed
this area for many years. The trail is approximately 73 km long and
there is an overnight stop 30 km from Naukluft on the plateau at
(Tjeriktik is the Afrikaans name for titbabbler, a common bird of the
This trail is not only for 4x4 enthusiasts but for anyone interested in
nature and wanting a closer look at the mountains, plants, and animals
that inhabit them.
Because of the narrow, rocky tracks on the mountain, there are
restrictions on certain vehicles, but the trail is negotiable by most 4
x 4 vehicles that have standard track width. Sand or wide, soft-walled
tyres are not recommended because of the many sharp stones.
This route is not designed to test your vehicle, but rather to test your
driving ability. We ask all visitors to drive slowly and to stay on the
track. Avoid wheel spinning, which accelerates erosion. Use the lowest
gear on the steep sections. Not only is it better for our road, it is
also better for your tyres.
At Tjeriktik, potable water is available at the hand-pump. There are
toilets, a shower, an outdoor fire place, tables, benches and four
stone-walled, A-framed shelters with built-in bunks to sleep on.
Note: (There is a shower with a paraffin geyser at the camp site;
visitors must just bring their own paraffin for a hot shower.)
Visitors may use their own tents if they prefer, and must be
self-sufficient as regards camping equipment, including mattresses, food
and liquid refreshments.
The four shelters can each accommodate four people, with a maximum of 16
people and four vehicles per group.
All refuse must be brought back to Naukluft. Bags are available at the
Firewood can be purchased at the office as no firewood may be collected
in the veld.
The Naukluft 4x4 trail is an unguided, overnight trail and no guided
trails are available. (Reservations are essential)
Visitors going on the 4x4 trail must check in at the Naukluft office by
mid-day on the day of the trail. Because of the rugged terrain and
narrow tracks, and to ensure your safety, all participants will be
briefed before departure at 14:30. A check will be made on essential
equipment and safety and emergency procedures will be discussed. Because
of the high summer temperatures, it is advisable to carry about 20
litres of water per vehicle.
Visitors are expected to be back at noon on the following day. Because
this is an exclusive trail, only one group at a time will be allowed
onto the plateau. The group going on trail cannot leave until the
previous party is back. (So please ensure that you are back at Naukluft
by mid-day. Do not spoil another group's proposed visit.)
POINTS OF INTEREST ON THE NAUKLUFT 4X4 TRAIL:
As soon as the trail turns off the main road it criss-crosses the river
and starts climbing. (Remember to engage your 4 wheel drive, low range)
Please drive slowly and carefully.
Numbered markers indicate points of interest on the trail:
1. Blake's Pass:
Mr Robbie Blake was the owner of the farm Naukluft from about 1943. He
had the road built up to the plateau so that a drilling machine could be
taken up to drill for water. At times over 2 000 sheep grazed on the
plateau and were taken down to the fountains on the lower slopes of the
mountain every second day for water. By drilling bore-holes, the area
grazed by stock could be increased as water was then available in these
2. Fig Fountain:
This fountain is used by many animals, large and small, and game tracks
converge on it from all directions. Although the water level drops
during dry years, it has never dried up yet. The fountain has numerous,
beautiful, green flogs, Rana fuscigula, and blackheaded canaries are
often seen drinking here. On the high red cliffs, the big, bulky nests
of black eagles can be seen. The white footprints seen at the fountain
are part of the Olive Trail.
3. Zebra Zigzag:
This portion of the trail climbs steeply and because of constant use by
zebra, many rocks are dislodged and fall onto the track. It is advisable
to walk up these two short sections first and remove any obstructive
rocks. Drive slowly and avoid wheel spinning. From the top enjoy the
view back down the valley.
4. Panorama View:
This is the first point from which a view of the hills and valleys below
can be seen. To the south are the typical, red, flat-topped hills of the
5. Exclusion Plot:
This fenced area is used by researchers to determine the amount of food
produced by plants/grasses. The fence keeps large animals out, but not
mice, birds or termites, which also consume relatively large quantities
of these plants. The mass of food produced is one of the factors used in
determining the carrying capacity of large herbivores in the park. There
are several such exclusion plots throughout the park. Can you notice any
difference between the plant growth inside and outside the plot?
6. De la Bat's Rocks:
Stop and photograph these beautiful rocks, named after the first
Director of Nature Conservation in Namibia.
7. Keerweerder Corner:
This is the name given to this bend by the early farmers, a lovely view
to the east and south-east.
8. Picnic spot:
9. Dry Well:
This well, dug only hand tools, was never used as no water was found. Be
careful, this is a dangerous site!
The fact that the drill reached the top of the plateau is a tribute to
the determination of the early pioneers. After the road was completed in
1948, it was the task of Mr Attie Pienaar and Mr Hans Breiting to get
the drill onto the plateau. They used an army surplus, 3 ton, 2 x 4, 8
cylinder Ford truck. The loading bed was removed from the truck and the
drill was dismantled until only the frame was left, that is, the tower,
heavy cables, steel wheels, engine and other parts were removed. This
frame was then bolted onto the Ford. With a Willy's Jeep pulling in
front, this top-heavy load was ready. The Jeep was weighted down with
heavy drill bits tied to the front bumper and a drum of water on the
back to stop its wheels spinning. This convoy then set off on its slow,
perilous voyage up the pass. The door of the truck was missing and a
rope was tied around Attie Pienaar's waist. At steep, dangerous places,
someone walked next to the truck and held onto the rope. If the truck
toppled, the theory was that Attie could be pulled out of the truck to
safety. Luckily this theory was never put to the test.
Over a period of about 2 weeks and numerous trips, all the equipment was
eventually on the plateau and the drill was reassembled. The drill was
used to drill several bore-holes and it was taken to its present
position at a later stage. The engine was removed for repairs but never
replaced. The Ford truck was sold to a local of Maltahöhe in 1960 and
was used for many more years.
11. Tjeriktik via Rockhopper Gorge:
The track now turns off down the Rockhopper gorge, to your overnight
camp at Tjeriktik, which is 8,5 km away. Drive slowly and carefully down
After reaching your camp-site in the peaceful valley, it will be
pleasant to relax around your camp-fire after a tiring, but exhilarating
Please leave the camp-site and shelters as you would like to find them.
Litter can kill or injure animals and is unsightly. Please do not litter
- use the litter bags, even for cigarette butts and matches, and rake
the ashes from your fire into the holes at the end of the fire-place. If
you have used the shower please pump water into the drums again.
The next morning you leave via the scenic Four Passes route where you
join the main track 8 km away.
12. Turn-off to Bakenkop:
When you reach the main track, you have a choice of continuing to
Bakenkop, 7 km or returning to Naukluft, 23 km. Please take into
consideration that you must be back at Naukluft at noon.
On the eastern, relatively flat area of the plateau, there are many
pans. These can hold water for several months after good rains. Animals
then grow fat on the new vegetation and the plentiful supply of water -
surely a paradise.
Trees growing on the pan edges are some of the biggest and thickest of
their kind in the park. Not only do these pans sustain plants and larger
animals, but the water teems with fresh water shrimps. These small
creatures survive the dry years as eggs buried in the ground, patiently
waiting for rain. When the pans are flooded, they hatch, reach
adulthood, reproduce and lay eggs to continue the cycle.
These pans also attract redbilled teal, Egyptian geese, South African
shelduck, crowned plovers and hundreds of Namaqua sandgrouse.
14. Turn-off to Kapokvlakte:
Just before reaching another exclusion plot, the road turns off to the
right. This area is known as Kapokvlakte because of the many kapok
bushes, Eriocephalus ericoides. When they flower, the cottony seed
covers the ground and gives the appearance of kapok (snow). From this
turn off it is 5 km to Bakenkop.
This is the turning point and probably the highlight of your trip. The
beautiful view of the Tsondab River Valley below and the Remhoogte
Mountains disappearing in the haze will not easily be forgotten.
The beacon, altitude 1 960 m, is the original corner beacon of the farms
Arbeid Adelt, Naukluft and Blasskranz.
After you have taken one last look and one more photograph, you return
to Naukluft, 30 km away.
16. Junction with tourist road to Naukluft and end of Trail:
Please report to the Ranger at the Naukluft office so that he knows that
you are safely off the mountain.
(Do not forget to disengage 4-wheel drive)
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