The Namaqua Adventure Route is one of the most challenging yet rewarding 4x4 trails in South Africa. It's challenging because of the Northern Cape's isolated semi-desert terrain, mountain tracks and testing dunes. It’s rewarding because you test your driving skills to the utmost amidst awesome scenery.

Did you know?

The organic dates grown in Pella are sold to mail-order customers all over South Africa.

If you’re a confident 4x4 driver, with good driving and navigating skills, then try the Namaqua Adventure Route, one of South Africa's least visited and most beautiful 4x4 trails.

The Namaqua Adventure Route is not for the fainthearted and it's best to travel with at least one other vehicle just in case of an unexpected breakdown.

The entire 612km 4x4 trail stretches along the Gariep River from Pella, the little mission station near Pofadder in the Northern Cape, to the river's mouth in Alexander Bay. However, if you have time, add another 120km to your journey to test your skills further at Amam's dunes.

The first section of the route is from Pella to Vloolsdrift, but visit Pella's fascinating church in its almost surreal setting of date palms and sun-baked hills before you set off.

Set aside three days for this 328km first part of the trip that runs through communal and private land, most belonging to the scattered Nama people. Take all your supplies with you because there are none available along the way.

It's worth taking the one-day detour to Amam (named Xam Xam by the indigenous people after the wild grass that grows there) where you’ll be faced with some of the best 4x4 desert dune driving in the country.

Experts claim that the second part of the route, from Vloolsdrif to Alexander Bay, crossing the mountains of the southern Richtersveld, is comparatively 'easier' than the first part, with general dealer stores along the way if you need to stock up on essentials.

The entire trail takes you through remote desert landscapes, although it's comforting to know that civilization is not too far away if you need it.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Namaqua Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)27 712 8035/6

How to get here

The Namaqua Adventure Route starts at Pella, west of Pofadder in the Northern Cape, which is on the N14.

Best time to visit

Autumn and spring. Avoid October to January as these are the hottest months with temperatures over 40ºC.

Around the area

Pella's remarkable church was built over seven years in the early 1800s from pictures in a German encyclopedia by two Catholic priests both of whom are buried on the church grounds.

What will it cost

Trail permits cost R150 per vehicle per section, camping sites included. Permits can be obtained at the Springbok Regional Tourism Office.

Length of stay

Four full days. However, the scenery is so spectacular you might want to take a couple of extra days to explore.

What to pack

All the gear necessary for an arduous 4x4 trail, plus all your food, cooking equipment, petrol and water for the first part of the trail. The second section has general dealer stores along the route. A GPS is essential.

Where to stay

There are basic camping sites along the route. You will be given directions to these and for the trail when you buy your permits.