i-con2 Marienfluss : Travel Information and Accommodation

Driving Advice for the Van Zyl's Pass

The pass is a rough debris track with extreme gradients. Is is only manageable downhill, from east to west. Most attempts to tackle the pass in the other direction have failed. The vehicles were ruined in all cases. Leave the Kaokoveld via Orupembe.

It is not possible to drive the pass with a trailer attached.

In Kaokoland you can rely only upon yourself. You should travel in a convoy of at least two vehicles.

The load on the vehicle's roof should be reduced to a minimum in order to keep the centre of gravitation as low as possible. Take all jerry cans from the roof rack. Although it is routine  procedure for most car rental companies in Namibia to mount two roof tents on a light four-wheel drive (like Toyota Hilux or Nissan Navarra), this load is dangerous for the Van Zyl's Pass.

The vehicle needs to have good offroad tyres with deep profiles. The tyre presssue should be in the upper range of the permitted.

Very important: Engage the wheel hubs at the front wheels (if your vehicle has manual hubs) and always stay in 4x4 mode! If your vehicle is equipped with diff locks, keep them switched on.

For the steepest downhill passages one stays in the first low range gear and lets the vehicle crawl ahead very slowly. Foot off the clutch!

Stop in front of big holes, get out and have a look, how and where to get through. Sometimes it can be best to fill them up with stones in order to avoid damages to vehicle's undercarriage (especially gearbox, diffs and exhaust pipe).

The pass is only approx. 10 kilometres long but you can easily spend 4 hours to tackle it. Take your time!

Access Roads to Van Zyl's Pass
All the access routes to the pass are in very bad condition and require a 4x4. The best option is the D3703 track from Opuwo or Epupa Falls via Okongwati, Etengwa and Otjitanda, about 100 kilometres long.

GPS Coordinates
Okongwati – Van Zyl's Pass – Sesfontein

Okongwati: S 17 25 71 / E 13 16 43
Etengwa: S 17 27 87 / E 13 03 20
Otjitanda: S 17 37 31 / E 12 51 32
Van Zyl's Pass: S 17 38 23 / E 12 44 41
Otjinhungwe: S 17 14 20 / E 12 16 05
Orupembe: S 18 11 04 / E 12 53 26
Purros: S 18 44 06 / E 12 12 56
Tomakas: S 18 51 89 / E 13 15 13
Sesfontein: S 19 07 14 / E 13 37 05



The very basic Okarohombo campsite in Otjinhungwe lies directly at the Kunene river. It is a communal project managed by the local Himba settlement. It offers shady stands for about 60 N$ per person, with barbecues, showers and toilets. Bring your own drinking water. If you take it from the river, it must be desinfected. Reservations through NACOBTA in Windhoek. Tel 061-255977.

Mind the Crocs
There are many crocodiles in the Kunene. Swimming in the river is not advisable.

On the way back from Orupembe take the southern route to Purros at the D3707. The little settlement lies at the Hoarusib riverbed, where there are some water puddles normally (sometimes the river is even running). You have a good chance to see elephants, girafs and other game here. The Ngatutungepamwe campsite offers shady stands for just 60 N$ per person. Visit the Purros Traditional Himba Village. Bookings: NACOBTA in Windhoek, Tel 061-255977.

Kaokoveld Unterkunft

Omarunga Camp

Rustic camp at Epupa Falls; comfortable en-suite safari tents or camping; all meals; Himba tours; airstrip.

Rates: DBL from N$ 975 pP DBB

Phone +264 (0)64 403 096


Opuwo Country Hotel

Gateway to the Kaokoveld; comfortable en-suite rooms with aircon; all meals; bar; patio; restaurant; pool.

Rates: DZ ab N$ 930 pP ÜF

Phone +264 (0)61 374750


Khowarib Lodge

Stilish lodge at the Hoanib River. 14 tented ensuite Chalets. Gorgeous views. Lapa with bar, restaurant. Internet. Tours and safaris.

Rates: please enquire

Phone +264 (0)81 219 3291


Okahirongo Elephant Lodge

Magnificent position on the Hoarusib river banks. 7 stylish chalets, all ensuite. Grand views. Excellent cuisine. Pool. Safaris.

Rates: DBL from N$ 4081 pp full board

Phone +264 (0)65 685018


Okahirongo River Camp

At the Kunene River. Breathtaking views. Luxurious double tents, all ensuite. Excellent cuisine. Pool. Safaris.

Rates: DBL from N$ 4081 pp full board

Phone +264 (0)65 685018


Kapika Waterfall Lodge

Comfortable chalets close to the falls. Terrace overlooking the Kunene. Large pool. Lapa restaurant. Guided walks and Himba tours.

Rates: DBL from N$ 1100 PP DBB

Phone +264 (0)65 685111