Secret swimming spots and magic mountains in Naukluft

Posted by Melanie van Zyl on 18 September 2018

Melanie van Zyl took a road trip through Namibia recently and after visiting the NamibRand Nature Reserve and Sossusvlei, she headed for a secret swimming spot…

While Sossusvlei can get crowded, there’s a quieter section of the Namib-Naukluft National Park that deserves a visit. But before you do this, make a pit stop to experience what feels like a miracle – a chain of flowing, natural rock pools in the middle of the semi-desert. Just 60 kilometres (an hour’s drive) from the gate at Sesriem, the Hauchabfontein pools are deep and pure swimming bliss. At first, you may think they’re a mirage. Drive to the Hauchabfontein farmhouse (signage is very clear) on the D854 to pay the day-visitor fee (R30 per person) and then head back to the camping area and meander down the calcrete ridges to the pools.

Not only is Hauchabfontein a watery oasis, it also has a large quiver-tree forest. Image by Melanie van Zyl

Once refreshed, climb back into your car and head north again on the D854 for another 50 kilometres until you see the Naukluft Park gate on your left. It’s slightly off the tourist track, but not inconvenient. On arrival you’re greeted by tall trees, green mountains and owing streams – a stark contrast to the orange dunes you’ve left behind. This section of the park originally served as a sanctuary for endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebras. Naukluft’s steep cliffs (reminiscent of those in Marakele National Park in Limpopo) attract cliff-breeding bird species, including Verreaux’s eagles, and a variety of other wildlife. The park is popular with Namibians, due to the hiking trails, natural pools and a lack of cell-phone reception. It provides a total escape.

Not only is Hauchabfontein a watery oasis, it also has a large quiver tree forest. Image: Melanie van Zyl


Also read: Have the perfect day in Sossusvlei

There are 21 campsites in the park, all on or close to the trickling Naukluft River and shaded by the canopies of grand ebony trees. While all sites are adequate – each has a braai area, concrete table, benches and a tap – some are much prettier, bigger and flatter than others. Campsite 10, in particular, is spacious, more private (set away from the road) and next to the river.

Image by Melanie van Zyl


Entry to the Namib-Naukluft National Park is R60 per person. Naukluft Camp costs R190 per person and is close to hiking trails and beautiful rock pools.


Watch out for baboons! They hang out at the campsite and I heard reports of broken windscreen wipers and crushed tents. Lock everything away in your car.

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