Namibia :: Kaokoland
:: Okangwati Area
Category: Activity :: 4WD-Trail
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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.
|Address :||Okangwati Area, Kaokoland, Namibia|
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.
Walk this track first before attempting it! Fill holes with rocks and follow the best track. Also, do not drive Van Zyl's Pass from west to east, i.e. from bottom to top as it is too dangerous. Only descend the pass from east to west.
“Common sense must prevail - walk the track before you go down (or up). Fill holes with rocks and don't always follow previous tracks - they may not necessarily be the best. ” - Marius Verster, 2014/09/09