The Kuiseb90 Hike
- Carry only your daypack as you hike the desolate Kuiseb Canyon
- Traverse an untouched paradise, where leopard and hyena still roam
- Marvel at the towering cliffs on either side, enveloped by nature at its purest
- Enjoy discreet support from our experienced team
- Savour warm hospitality and mouth-watering fireside dining each night
Hiking Namibia’s untamed heart!
Pristine. Untouched. Unspoiled. Untamed. This five-day hike, stretching for at least 90 kilometres, takes you to one of the last true wilderness areas on Earth, with a largely unknown canyon at its heart. Steeped in history, and mythologised by the bestselling book The Sheltering Desert, Namibia’s magical Kuiseb Canyon will enthral, bedazzle and ultimately “test” you like few other hikes on Earth. But it promises a huge opportunity for self-growth and a sense of accomplishment, as you traverse a harsh, yet sublime landscape, following the tracks of leopard, hyena, zebra and oryx, while being surrounded by cliffs more than a hundred metres tall.
Brand-new and hiked by only a handful of people, this sublime hike is an invitation to be a pioneer. The Kuiseb90 has all the potential to become one of the world’s iconic hikes – and you can be a part of it right now.
Distance: Approximately 90 km
Duration: 5 nights / 6 days (travel time not included)
Group size: 18 -24 hikers (tailor-made options available for private groups)
Rating: Level 6 to level 8.5
The Kuiseb Canyon: South of Walvis Bay and west of the Khomas Hochland, the Kuiseb Canyon’s ancient riverbed carves its way through the unforgiving landscape of the Namib Desert, Namibia. At first glance, it looks like a barren, lifeless area, dominated by sheer cliffs with seemingly no exits or escape routes on either side. But the lucky few who have had the privilege of exploring the Kuiseb Canyon on foot can tell another story. For it’s here, in this untouched paradise, where leopard and hyena still roam, and trees grow through boulders the size of small houses. Due to the inhospitable terrain only a handful of people have explored the Kuiseb Canyon, notably the two geologists, Henno Martin and Hermann Korn, who hid here for two and a half years during World War II. Their story of bravery, discovery, survival, and spiritual growth was immortalised in Martin’s book The Sheltering Desert, first published in 1957. The Kuiseb90 is unique in the sense that the concession area where it takes place requires special permission to be obtained for each hike, limiting us to maximum four dates per year. This means that only a select few hikers will get to experience this untamed canyon with us.
“Nothing – not even a lifetime of roads lesser travelled – could have prepared me for what would prove to be one of the most extreme challenges I’ve ever undertaken. But every challenge bears the gift of transformation. And few places on earth offer gifts comparable with the spectacular and unforgiving Kuiseb Canyon.” – Natalie Maroun (CEO The Performance Agency)
“Live The Journey knows exactly how to curate a mind-blowing hiking experience in an untouched canyon, one of the last true wilderness areas on Earth. To be able to walk in the tracks of leopard and hyena, knowing that very few, if any humans experience this sublime solitude, is sacred. And it’s worth sweating the steep routes back to the top in the afternoon, knowing the exceptional service, delicious food and safe haven that waits on the escarpment.” – Erns Grundling (Journalist & KykNet’s Elders Presenter)
“The Kuiseb is truly one of the last pristine places on earth thanks to its remoteness and unforgiving wildness. It is also breathtakingly beautiful, and being able to hike this canyon for days on end remains one of the greatest and most memorable experiences of my life.” – Pierre Steyn, Editor, GO/WEG Magazine
DAY 0: ARRIVAL WALVIS BAY
It is recommended that you arrive in Walvis Bay at least one day prior to the departure of the hike. Fly-in guests will be transferred from the airport to their hotel.
A communal dinner and briefing session will take place this evening around 19h00. Attendance of the info session is compulsory.
DAY 1: DISTANCE APPROX 5 - 8 KM (WEATHER DEPENDANT)
The support vehicles will meet the group at Lagoon Chalets. Pick-up time will be confirmed the night before at the briefing. The transfer from Lagoon Chalets to the starting point (200 km) will be in special converted 4x4 vehicles. The duration of the drive is approximately five hours. The drive itself is an epic adventure, as you travel further away from so-called civilisation and traverse a variety of arid landscapes, including mountainous areas and of course the dunes of the Namib. Around lunchtime you will reach the starting point of the Kuiseb90, where the support team will be waiting. There you will fill your water bottles, pose for a group photo, and then proceed to walk the first steps of one of the most incredible journeys you will ever undertake.
Today’s distance is relatively short, only 5 - 8 kms. You will gradually become more aware of the magnitude of the Kuiseb Canyon, stretched out in front of you. The terrain can be sandy at times. You’ll walk towards the escarpment until you reach the first campsite, among glorious red dunes – the oldest in the Namib Desert. The view from this campsite is phenomenal, especially in the direction of the winding path that you will follow tomorrow, all the way down into the Kuiseb Canyon. But first you can refresh, sit back in a camping chair with a cold beer or cooldrink and be spoilt by the delicious dinner prepared by the support team. You will go to your tent early and get good rest, for tomorrow your adventure will change into a higher gear…
DAY 2: DISTANCE APPROXIMATELY 25 KM
After breakfast you will follow a steep, winding path downhill amid rocky outcrops and big boulders. It’s a remarkable track because it was made over centuries, perhaps even millennia, by animals entering and leaving the Kuiseb Canyon. You will descend more than 200 metres until you reach the floor of the canyon for the first time. From there you will follow the Kuiseb River that is mostly dry but, depending on recent rain, you’ll encounter pristine pools of water. As you walk deeper into the canyon, the hills on either side will begin to make way for towering cliffs. You’ll be enveloped by nature at its purest. You might even be required to wade or swim through a pool in an area where the canyon walls are only a few metres apart. Keep an eye out for tracks of leopard and both brown and spotted hyena. You will see plenty of their tracks, just another visual reminder that you’re in a remote wilderness. Very few humans have had the privilege to walk in this sacred space. After a lunch break you carry on walking, following the dry riverbed as it bends and curls. Look out for the red Namib dune sand that will reveal itself on the cliffs to the left.
In the afternoon the canyon will gradually open up a bit, but you will still be astounded by the height of the cliffs on either side. On a warm day an ana tree will provide much needed shelter for a break. In the afternoon, you will follow a steep path uphill, all the way back to the escarpment, with the most magnificent views of the canyon and surrounding landscape. Take time to breathe it all in and take photos that will never fully capture the splendid moment but will remain as precious memories. The last few hundred metres will be challenging, but by the time you reach the impressive sandstone outcrop at the top the Live the Journey team will welcome you with world-class hospitality, cold beer or soft drink, and the promise of a well-deserved dinner under the stars.
Rating: 8.5 (This day requires stamina)
DAY 3: DISTANCE APPROXIMATELY 17 KM
Today you will enter the Kuiseb canyon again via the same route as yesterday afternoon. Now, with the sun rising, you will have new perspective on the incomparable vista, as you follow your own shadow against the dazzling cliffs. The dry riverbed will continue to be your compass, with the terrain a bit sandier than yesterday. You will most likely kick up dust while you walk. The vegetation will be greener and lush today, with a belt of trees appearing on the right, as the canyon gradually expands. Again, be mindful of animal tracks, especially the elusive leopard. You might also come across a carcass or oryx skull with the horns still intact, further evidence that predators do roam here.
By the time you reach a lunch spot, the trees will be lining up on both sides, and it will feel like you’re entering a new eco system. If it’s a warm day, expected in this harsh climate, you will find a pool to cool down. There’s some more good news: Today you don’t need to follow a steep path out of the canyon and back on to the escarpment. You just keep on walking until you see the Live the Journey camp, nestled around a beautiful corner in the dry riverbed. Tonight, you will have the rare opportunity to camp deep inside the Kuiseb Canyon, and witness the various shades of red, pink, and orange against the cliffs during sunset. And at night you will sit in a camp chair among your fellow hikers under the stars and enjoy the stunning silence in between laughter and fellowship around the fire.
DAY 4: DISTANCE APPROXIMATELY 17 KM
Having already walked more than 50 km in this unspoilt wilderness, you will now begin to feel at home in the Kuiseb Canyon. Your busy and demanding life and all the old routines will occupy less bandwidth and begin to create space for a more mindful approach to your surroundings, and even yourself.
Today you will leave the Live the Journey camp and continue to follow the dry riverbed. The surroundings will continue to become lusher and denser. This area has many trees, and you will hear beautiful birdsong early in the morning. You get another opportunity to leave the Kuiseb Canyon as you follow a steep path with a tremendous reward at the very top: A sprawling view that you will never forget. To the left the red dunes of the Namib Desert literally plunges into the Kuiseb Canyon. This is the point where the canyon tells the desert: “Stop.” In the middle of this vista, you will see the Kuiseb River on its way to the distant horizon, and to the right a bleak, barren no man’s land, that looks like it has no life. It is only fitting that this evening’s Live the Journey camp will be set up near this viewpoint, where you can enjoy a good rest after one of the easier hiking days.
DAY 5: DISTANCE APPROXIMATELY 19 KM
Today, on the last day of an unforgettable hike, you will explore the more barren area to the north of the Kuiseb Canyon. But in the Namib Desert, even the most arid areas are still full of life, as you will soon find out, spotting the Welwitschias, the most ancient plant in the desert. On your way to a “hidden” canyon that feeds into the Kuiseb, you will walk pass several of these plants, the southernmost in Namibia. Your guide will provide you with more context about this very unique and endemic species. Beyond the halfway mark of today’s hike, you will reach a flat area, with impressive, rocky outcrops on both sides. This smaller canyon is part of the Kuiseb Canyon’s network. You will spend several kilometres exploring this seemingly lunar landscape, where a green tree is a rarity. Eventually the path will narrow near a dry waterfall and to the left you will have the opportunity to explore something very special: A hyena den. The scattered collection of femur bones and skulls will tell the story of the survival of the fittest, and how the circle of life plays out endlessly here, without any human intervention.
Once you carefully descended the dry waterfall’s rocks, you only have a short distance to cover until you reach a large dead tree. The Live the Journey banner waiting for you here, signals the end of the Kuiseb90 Hike. This night’s camp is near Homeb, the farming area op the Topnaar community, ancient custodians of this region. By now you would have hiked at least 90 km over five days in an area with unsurpassed natural beauty, dominated by a canyon that has remained largely untouched. At the last Live the Journey camp the team will welcome you with sparkling wine and snacks, followed by a short ceremony where you will receive your Kuiseb90 certificate – tangible proof of a major accomplishment and life highlight. Everyone who completes the Kuiseb90 is a pioneer. During the last evening you will sit next to a fire, surrounded by cliffs for one last time, while you enjoy delicious food and reflect on a truly amazing experience.
DAY 6: DEPARTURE
On the last day you will enjoy breakfast in the canyon, before an early departure to ensure everyone is back in Walvis Bay for departing flights in the afternoon and early evening. Your Kuiseb90 might be completed, but the experience and special memories will linger for a very long time. You might even decide to invite more friends and hike it again!
END OF TOUR
- 29 May – 03 Jun 2024
- 25 – 30 July 2024
- 10 – 15 August 2024
Rates from 01 January 2024 – 31 October 2024:
|Guest Nationality||Tour Cost||Concession Fee||Total|
|SADC: Per Adult||R 25 490||R 4 500||R 29 990|
|Foreign: Per Adult||R 25 490||R 5 200||R 30 690|
*Prices for concession fees, taxes, park fees and fuel may be changed without prior notice. This is beyond our control and any increase levied will be passed to you.
All rates are quoted in South African Rand and subject to increase.
IS A BOOKING REQUIREMENT THAT YOU MUST SUBMIT PROOF OF TRAVEL INSURANCE WHEN MAKING YOUR FIRST PAYMENT; YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO JOIN THE TOUR WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE.
- Return Walvis Bay airport/Walvis accommodation transfers (fly-in guests).
- Hike briefing and communal dinner transport.
- Transport from Walvis accommodation to Lagoon Chalets (for guests not staying there) on morning of hike departure.
- Hike transport and transfers: Drop off at starting point of hike; 4x4 transfer from last night’s camp to Walvis Bay at end of hike; Support team and 4x4 vehicle convoy.
- Three meals per day during the hike.
- Limited beer and wine will be available each evening.
- Soft drinks, tea and coffee.
- Drinking water – 5 litres per person per day.
- Water for showering – 5 litres per day per person.
- Shower and chemical toilet at each overnight campsite.
- Current concession fees.
- Current Park fees.
- Current vehicle Park fees.
- 15% VAT.
- Pre and post travel arrangements (travel by road, flights, accommodation)
- Travel insurance: purchased within 24 hours from making the first payment of this tour; needs to cover extreme adventure and must include an air lift
- Communal dinner and all drinks at info session (at venue night before tour commences)
- Camping gear and bedding (option to hire through LTJ)
- Extra snacks and drinks that you would like to take on the hike
- Tips/Gratuities (we will provide a guideline)
* Concession fees are paid to the Namibian government, the responsible entity for nature conservation. The Namib Desert is also part of the Namib Naukluft Park and therefore standard park fees are payable as well as a community levy. The tour price includes the concession fees and levies. The funds are used towards conservation of the Namib Desert and to socially uplift the local communities in that area. Our philosophy "enough, for all, forever" captures our endorsement of ecological and socially sensitive travel. Our whole business is managed on the principle of responsible and sustainable tourism.
Besides offering our clients quality, personal attention and value for money, all travel packages are highly sensitive to the environment, providing maximum benefits to local communities and respecting the local cultures.
Important to Remember
The area we will be traversing is a concession area. That means that only we, as permit holders, will be allowed to hike there. Live the Journey must abide by strict rules and safety measures, especially because the area is wilder than a normal nature reserve with leopards and hyenas roaming the area.
Special Dietary Requirements
Our guide team will walk the extra mile to cater for your needs. However, given the conditions under which this tour/hike is operated it is not possible to cater for all dietary requirements. Also, variation and availability of supplies in Walvis Bay is very limited. We can cater for vegetarians, pescatarians, and gluten-free diets. If you do not fall within these categories, we would like to recommend that you discuss your requirements with us and where possible, make provision for your own meal requirements.
It is important to note that the daily walking distances shown in the itinerary above are an approximate distance only and will depend on the weather and suitable camp sites. It may vary by as much as 2 to 3 kilometres. Please use as a guideline only.
Summer temperatures in this part of the Namib can be very hot, so the Kuiseb90 Hike will only run during the winter months of May to August, when pleasant hiking temperatures can be expected. During the summer months there is also the possibility of the Kuiseb River flooding at times, making it too dangerous to hike.
Medical clearance and indemnity
Hikers must have medical clearance. A form must be completed by a medical doctor within 40 days prior to the hike. An indemnity form must also be completed and returned to your consultant prior to the hike.
Passports and Visas
Passports must be valid for 6 months after date of return of travel and have at least 3 blank pages. Depending on your nationality a visa may be required to enter Namibia.
A complete list of what to pack will be provided after your booking is confirmed. The list includes your daypack, all hiking gear, a lunch box, water bottles for carrying water during the day, plasters and blister-care goodies, all items of a personal nature, tent (pop-up, if possible) and bedding. All personal items must fit into your one allowed bag (excluding camping gear), as space and weight on the vehicles are limited.
Pre- and post-hike travel arrangements and accommodation
Hikers are responsible for their own pre- and post-hike travel and accommodation arrangements. Live the Journey can assist with booking your accommodation in Namibia. Recommended hotel/lodge/guest house options and idea of cost will be provided upon booking.
Hikers must bring their own tent, mattress, sleeping bag and pillow. Our guides transport the equipment during the day between camps for the guests. We can assist with equipment rental. A price list will be provided upon booking.
“There is something downright 'raw' about the Kuiseb... to think that Henno Martin and his friend Hermann Korn survived in this wild place for two and a half years, hiding from the Second World War, boggles the mind. We hiked alongside leopard, hyena and zebra spoor, the silence echoing off canyon walls, the red dunes of the Namib threateningly close. It’s remarkable that Live the Journey could pull off a fully supported slack pack hike into this untamed wilderness. This hike is next level epic.”
“What an epic hike! The giant boulders and shear rock faces made me feel small, but also blessed. It’s a privilege to have hiked through this pristine canyon, without any trace of human interference. It’s a humbling experience. Thank you, Live the Journey, for making it possible.”
Pieter van der Walt
“The Kuiseb Canyon is wild and unique. The breath-taking scenes of deep rock cliffs and steep red and white dunes on the edge of an unspoilt, winding riverbed are unforgettable. The silence in the deep heart of the canyon, amidst beautiful pools and leopard, hyena, and zebra spoor, leaves a lasting impression. I wish I could go every year!”
“I was so privileged to be part of the recce team to hike through this wondrous canyon in my beautiful homeland Namibia. I salute Live the Journey for the foresight to see this as a hiking prospect, and to then succeed in realising this dream. I have done many hikes in my life, but the Kuiseb Canyon is the BEST! It was a life changing, challenging, holy experience. Live The Journey’s excellent care, the beautiful camp sites, the scrumptious food, the friendly team members, and their attention to every small detail, was excellent. If you do one hike in your life, do this one!!!”
“The untamed beauty of the Kuiseb amazed me. From the tiniest flower to the biggest tree… canyon walls standing tall that tell their own story… the beauty of the night sky, the white river sand & the red dunes. A truly indescribable experience.”
“If the Fish River Canyon is a 1, the Kuiseb is a humble 10.”
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