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Kaokaland West
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Kaokaland West


... is an extremely remote and wonderful part of Namibia, where the desert landscapes are absolutely vast and the sense of utter wilderness is palpable.

Broad valleys run north to south between ridges of basalt mountains, their floors pock-marked with mysterious 'fairy circles', amongst which small herds of oryx and springbok roam.

The area is also home to small bands of semi-nomadic Himba tribespeople, whose simple villages stand defiantly amongst utterly barren desert landscapes.

The most miraculous feature is the Kunene River, which flows through the desert, creating a remarkable ribbon oasis which sustains both the people and wildlife through the harsh dry season.

On this southern side, huge dune-fields cascade over a ridge of red basalt cliffs down to meet the river, in stark contrast to the bare grey rock across in Angola.

Very few people are lucky enough to experience these wild and remote areas, it really is a deep privilege to explore these extraordinary landscapes.

The few camps here offer a range of activities including vehicle safari, walking and hiking, motorboat safari, quad-bike safari and cultural visits.

When to visit ...

May/Nov ... is the dry season in this area, so there is extremely little chance of encountering any substantial rainfall or even much in the way of cloud.

Dec/Apr ... is the green season, although in this particular area the chances of any really significant rainfall is pretty low. Having said that, the odd shower can really transform the landscape and cause wildlife to converge from a huge dry hinterland. The biggest issue for travellers is the chance of encountering rivers which have been swollen by rainfall further inland, making fording difficult, although these floods tend to subside after just a few hours.

Read more about when to visit this area ...

How we like to include this region in trips ...

The area essentially comprises of two sweeping valleys running north to the Kunene River. The vast majority of visitors tend to visit one or other of these valleys.

To the west is the Hartmann Valley, whose northern fringes along the Kunene are simply breathtaking, especially on the western side where there are views out towards the coast over an enormous picture-book dune sea.

Serra Cafema Camp ... is one of the most famous lodges in the country, a very cool and stylish place, but premium priced. Almost always accessed by air.

Kunene Camp ... is a much simpler facility which is used as an overnight stop on very expensive private guided flying safaris through the region.

Cafema Valley Bivouac and Kunene Dunes Bivouac ... are two very cool and remote campsite locations which we use on our very special private-guided overland expeditions.

To the east is the Marienfluss, a valley of similar proportions, which may not have quite the same scenic magnificence but is nonetheless also a mesmerising and remote location ...

Okahirongo River Camp ... is a relatively luxurious camp, but without the dramatic location and range of activities of the aforementioned Serra Cafema Camp.

Trips which access this area by means of a guided expedition tend to focus mainly on this Tanzania Northwest region, perhaps also including nights in Twyfelfontein or Etosha, on the way up and back from the usual start and end point at Windhoek.

Flying safaris tend to be combined with Palmwag Rhino Camp and Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp further south and more widely to Sossusvlei and Namibrand in the south-west of the country, as well as the prime safari camps of Okavango Delta in Botswana.

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Jay Hanson
Jay Hanson, Senior Safari Consultant
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