Marienfluss Valley Driving to the Kunene river through the valley of the Marienfluss belongs to the most stunning nature experiences in Kaokoland. The wide valley stretches picturesquely between the Otjihipa mountains in the east and the Hartmann mountains in the west. Slightly soft, but still negotiable sandroads lead through an undulating grass savannah, surrounded by whiteyellow grass waving in the wind. Again and again you see Springbok herds or Oryx antelopes crossing the road. Towards the end, you just have to tackle some dunes before the river valley lies in front of you.
The access to the Marienfluss Valley is, however, quite tough, especially if one chooses to tackle the infamous Van-Zyl's-Pass. The tour is only manageable in a well equipped 4x4 expedition vehicle. Coming from the Epupa Falls, one takes the D3703 from Okongwati on via Okauwe to Otjitanda, where the Van-Zyl's-Pass starts. From Opuwo it goes via Etanga to Otjitanda. Even the access road to the pass is tough and the difficulties not to underestimate. Onkongwati as well as Otjitanda are no villages, but only tiny Himba settlements. Help or any service offers can be expected nowhere on the way.
Although the actual pass is only a few kilometres long, the extremely steep rock staircase, covered with lots of coarse, sharp-edged rubble, through the Otjihipa mountains can only be traversed at snail speed. It will take a couple of hours.
Left: Access track through the Otjihipa Mountains to the Van-Zyl's Pass. Right: A Young Himba herder near Otjitanda.
Eventually arrived at the bottom of the steep pass, the drive through the Marienfluss Valley and the arrival at the Kunene River are just a pure pleasure. Here, in the Okarohombo Camp, which is run by the local Himba community of Otjinhungwe, one can truely relax.
One can drive across the Van-Zyl's-Pass only from east to west but not in the opposite direction. Therefore one has to return to Opuwo via Orupembe on the D3707 in south-easten direction. A very attractive alternative is the route from Orupembe in southern direction through Purros, a little Himba oasis at the Hoarusib Rivier. There is permanent water here, but usually only in puddles. In the Hoarusib riverbed one can often observe elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebras and other game. And one can visit the Himba community in Purros.
From Purros take the D3707 via Tamakos to Fort Sesfontein, where you leave the Kaokoveld and possibly relax in the luxury of the lodge.
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