5 of the Best Hiking Trails in Namibia
With its incredible wealth of spectacular mountains, sprawling deserts, diverse wildlife and vast dunes, Namibia ranks as arguably the best hiking destination in Southern Africa. Hikes in Namibia offer adventurous travellers a unique sense of exploration, hearkening back to a bygone era where intrepid travel reigned supreme.
Owing to the vastness and diversity of the landscapes in Namibia, no hike is the same either. One day you could be trekking over lush vegetation, the next day you could be navigating flat, rocky terrain; whatever trail you decide to follow one thing’s for sure: you are guaranteed to encounter some incredible views and intriguing wildlife on your journey!
Whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for the next big challenge, or an amateur setting out on your first adventure, the good news is that hiking trails in Namibia vary in difficulty, and there’s an abundance of full-day, and multi-day, trails to suit all skill levels.
From the Rock Sculpture Trail Namib Naukluft Park, to we bring you our guide to the best hiking trails in Namibia.
The Rock Sculpture Hiking Trail, Namib Naukluft Park
Type: Day Hike
Duration: 3-5 Hours
Distance: 11km (approx.)
For our first entry we start off with a trail that’s perfectly suited for hiking beginners. Head to the remote Namib area of Namib Naukluft Park, just east of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay , and you’ll soon find the Rock Sculpture Hiking Trail.
The name of the trail derives from the fact that the granite rocks here have been eroded over hundreds of years, resulting in a landscape that now looks like a mammoth sculpture gallery. The trail begins, and terminates, close to Bloedkoppie, also known as ‘Blood Mountain’.
Set off early to make the most of the cooler temperatures and dazzling skies, and typically this hike takes between 3-5 hours to complete. Signboards that mark the trail are well-placed but be aware that you’ll need to acquire an entry permit from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism office before you set of on your adventure.
Permits can be purchased at the tourist offices in either Walvis Bay or Swakopmund.
Olive Trail, Namib Naukluft Park
Type: Day Hike
Duration: 4-5 Hours
Staying in Namib Naukluft, our next trail is not for the fainthearted so be sure you have the skills, and more importantly the experience, before you take on this epic hiking challenge!
The Olive Trail, which typically takes up to 5 hours to complete, is a 10 km route that winds through the awe-inspiring Naukluft mountains. At the start of your hike, you will ascend the plateau where you will encounter incredible panoramic views of the rugged landscapes below. The trail then descends down a rocky ravine before you’re required to navigate pools and jump over boulders, all whilst you are attached to the cliff face.
The Namib Naukluft region is renowned for its epic wildlife, home to dozens of elusive and exotic bird species in particular. Look out for the majestic black eagle and the famous Hartmann Zebra.
The ‘Matterhorn of Africa’, Spitzkoppe
Type: Day Hike
Duration: 4-7 hours
‘The Matterhorn of Africa’ is one of Namibia’s most popular trails, attracting scores of daring rock climbers and hiking enthusiasts each year. Pack up your equipment and get ready to explore an abundance of incredible arches and boulders, there’s even towering granite peaks that are accessible and afford some incredible views once you’ve reached the summit.
Depending on your skill level- and experience- there’s three different trails to attempt, each varying in difficulty. The Pontok Route is a moderate hike, typically taking around 4-5 hours to complete. The Bushman Circle route is slightly more challenging and can take up to 7 hours to complete. Finally, The Matterhorn is the hardest route, and it typically takes up to 8 hours to complete, including an ascent to the highest hiking point.
To protect Spitzkoppe’s fragile ecosystems, all of these hikes must be completed with a local guide. Head to the nearby community campsite at Spitzkoppe and you’ll find plenty of guides ready and waiting to escort you on your adventure.
Fish River Trail
Type: Multi-day Hike
Accessibility: May 1st- September 15th
Duration: 5-7 Days
The iconic Fish River Trail is the jewel in Namibia’s hiking crown, and this trek even ranks as one of the most popular on the entire African continent.
Start your epic multi-day adventure in Hobas then navigate though the world’s second-largest canyon before retreating to the comfort of the Ai-Ais resort. On day one you’ll descend the canyon wall into the ravine below and on subsequent days you’ll meander through a variety of different terrains and rugged gorges.
Keep in mind that you will have to pack plenty of food, cooking equipment and clothes; and don’t forget to bring your sleeping bag. You’ll want to be comfortable for when you lay down to sleep under the star-studded sky.
If you don’t want to commit to complete the full 5-7 day trail there are plenty of shortcuts along the route. It’s important to note that if you want to take on the Fish RiverTrail you’ll need to be in a party of at least three, and book well in advance. Only 30 hikers are permitted to trek the canyon every day.
Etendeka Walking Trail, Grootberg Massif
Duration: 3 Days
Immerse yourself with nature and absorb incredible views of the imposing Grootberg Mountains on the Etendeka walking trail, which is suitable for hikers of all experience levels.
This guided trail is the ultimate ‘off the beaten track’ adventure. On day one you will hike for 2-3 from Palmwag Lodge to the River Camp, before sitting down to enjoy a scrumptious meal cooked on an open fire.
On day two you will set off on a 15km journey navigating rugged plains and flat mountains before you reach Mountain Camp. On your hike you’ll encounter some amazing wildlife, including oryx, steenbok and mountain zebras. You may be even lucky enough to spot the famous desert-adapted elephants that are known to roam this region.
On the final day you can relax; after a short walk you’ll be transported back to Palmwag lodge with your luggage in tow.