Hike the Waterkloof and Olive Trail in Namib-Naukluft Zebra Mountain Park

Naukluft Campsite - NWR - Search Nearby - Added by Bryan Young

Escape into Namib-Naukluft Zebra Mountain Park and hike the scenically diverse Waterkloof Trail and the equally fun canyon Olive Trail all the while under the watchful eyes of the park’s wild mountain zebras and baboons.

Situated in the heart of the Naukluft Mountain range, the Namib-Naukluft Zebra Mountain Park is a remote park with two amazing hikes – the 17 km Waterkloof Trail and the 10 km Olive Trail.

Waterkloof Trail – 17 km (6-7 hours)

The Waterkloof Trail is the park’s longest trail, listed by the park at 17 km (10.5 miles). It’s a beautiful hike that begins right from the Main Lodge and is marked with yellow painted shoe prints. From the start it meanders along the Naukluft River before taking you up the areas multiple mountain streams, passing by beautiful rock pools (perfect for a mid-hike dip!) and scenic mountain views during the mostly gentle ascent.

There are 5 major checkpoints you’ll hit along the trail, referenced on the map, which will give you an idea of how far you’ve hiked. The first is the Last Water Mark, which like it says, means you’ll be without water access for about 75 percent of the rest of the hike, so be sure to bring at least 2-3 L of water with you.

From this point the yellow boot trail markers become a tad more challenging to locate in the dry river bed. There are lots of enticing false trails leading out of the bed, but we found the trail kept to the main dry rocky river bed.  

The Waterkloof Trail culminates as you cross the mountain plateau and ascends to trail’s highest point (another map checkpoint) where you will be treated to an amazing view of the Naukluft Mountains, and be able to take in how remote this great park is!

From the high point you’ll follow the trail down the other side of the gorge, passing some more beautiful rock pools and most likely enjoy some baboon troop and mountain zebra sightings!

*Note: While the distance states 17 km (10.5 miles) this seemed more like a distance measured “as the crow flies." We took the full 7 hours to complete the trail. While we didn’t have a GPS or way to measure our distance, we felt it was around 5 km (3 miles) longer than listed. Just be ready for a full 7-hour day!

Olive Trail – 10 km (4-5 hours)

The Olive Trail is most widely known for it’s chain traverse in the middle of the hike where you hang on to set chains and walk your way 15-20 above a slot filled with water. It’s a fun challenge, and definitely a unique experience. It gets its name from the wild olive trees that grow along parts of the route.

However, in order to get to this point, you must first hike the trail which begins on the main park road, about 3 km before you arrive at the Main Lodge. From the parking area follow the white shoe prints as you quick ascend to the high mountain plateau giving your amazing views of the main Naukluft Gorge. Congratulations you’ve just completed the main ascent and it’s all downhill from here! As you descend you make your way into the narrowing gorge until at last you reach the infamous chains.

The trail winds through the canyons until you reach the chains. Once past the chains you’ll finally emerge from the canyon and onto a 4x4 trail that will take you back to the parking area.

Park Notes:

The park offers two camping options as well as a chalet option for those wishing to enjoy some creature comforts. In terms of camping, there is a free campsite that is nice, but a walk to the nearest water station at bathrooms. The other campsites all have running water and fire stands. If you camp just be wary of the baboons around the site that will take your food. They’re not violent, but pesky. There is also a bar and restaurant as well, but unless notified, they close if no one is there by dark.

There is the 8 day, 120 km (75 mile), Naukluft Hiking Trail only open from March to October. It is a very demanding trail and potential hikers must provide a recent medical fitness report.

Finally, we found that 2 nights was more than enough to explore this park before heading to other destinations like Sossusvlei, just 2 hours away!

Distance

10 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

1000 ft Gain

Type

Loop

Activities

Chillin, Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

Easy Parking
Groups
River
Scenic
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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