Africa Map Pin
Advanced Search »

Mountain Pass Van Zyl's Pass

ID: w207682 View large map

Located in Namibia :: Kaokoland  :: Okangwati Area
Category: Scenic Routes :: Mountain Pass

Padkos Links [ submit a link ]

Be the first to submit a link

Description [ correction ]

4WD drive pass into the Marienfluss in Kaokoland, Northern Namibia. Should be tackled East to West.

The toughest pass in Namibia was built by Ben van Zyl who used to be Commissioner for Kaokoland. He used game trails to mark the route down to the bottom and started building the pass in 1965. It took 20 labourers about 4 months to complete and was built by hand using spades, crowbars and picks.

Only way to get to the pass is via the D3703 district road through Okangwati. The pass is 10-15km of hard driving through boulders, rocks, ravines and badlands.

Contact [ correction ]
Address :  Kaokoland, Namibia

Directions [ correction ]

Not available

Activities [ correction ]
Game to View :  Rhino. Lion and leopard.

Travelling Information

Self Drive Access :  Yes
Vehicle Type :  4WD

In whichever vehicle you do this pass, from a 4X4, Toyota Hilux bakkie, or a 'Man Truck', driver ability and experience is the main factor here, you can never be sure what you may encounter along the way.

Take into consideration that conditions of the pass change as well. Some sections may be narrow. There are many rocks.

If the area has received good rains there could be numerous small erosion furrows. But then there will also be good grazing for the Himbas cattle - they may chase their cattle up it every morning to graze and down every night for water. The cattle churn up the track which can cause vehicles to loose traction on some of the smaller uphills, and some major slides on the downhills.

On a motorbike it can take about 30mins to an hour to cross.

A trip down Van Zyl's Pass usually starts off in the early morning from Ruacana, Opuwo, Epupa Falls or from lodgings somewhere along the Kunene River. You should plan to stay over at the Van Zyl's Pass Community camp. The road from Etengwa to Otjitanda is as bad as the road down van Zyl's Pass. So, when you reach Otjitanda you will know if you are sufficiently comfortable with your driving or riding skills, and can continue to Van Zyl's Pass. If not, take the road south from Otjitanda leading to Orupembe.

You have to be aware of desert elephants, especially in the dry riverbeds.

 Travel Tip!

The road is very bad and you can only traverse it with a 4WD or an off-road type motorbike, not bigger than 650cc.

Comments [ leave a comment ]

“While not recommended, it is a must for all serious 4 x 4ers! But be prepared it is absolutely shocking. Something you do once but never again!” - Keith Stephenson, 2009/07/21

Extras [ add media ]
External Links Related to Van Zyl's Pass
T4A Blog: About Travelling Kaokoland
Disclaimer: Please note that the Tracks4africa content is researched continuously and the data is updated regularly. Although we endeavour to keep our information as up to date as possible, this is not always possible due to the high volume of listings on our database. Therefore, please treat our information as a guide and reconfirm important items with establishments directly. Please help other travellers, by helping us to keep our data up to date, by submitting data corrections.