This challenging and rewarding trek combines spectacular desert scenery with rugged mountain terrain, wildlife and local culture in a fascinating area of Namibia called Damaraland.
The Brandberg is located on the edge of the Namib Desert and is the highest mountain in Namibia (2579m). Named the ‘fire mountain’ for the colour of its western face at sunset, its massif has been eroded over millions of years into spectacular ravines and boulders, and there are literally thousands of ancient rock paintings in the area.
Just to the north of the Brandberg lies the Ugab River Wilderness Area. The Ugab is one of the main rivers in the Namib, although it is dry for all but a few days of the year. This area not only attracts large game such as specially-adapted desert elephants, giraffe, and mountain zebra, but also has the largest population of free-roaming black rhinoceros in the world. Experienced local guides who will impart their knowledge of desert-adapted fauna and flora accompany us throughout.
Arrive at Windhoek International Airport and depart immediately for Uis, an abandoned tin mining town, 400km by road to the northwest of Windhoek. This is the last outpost for fuel and supplies. On arrival at Brandberg Rest Camp in Uis, we will have time to freshen up before dinner and a detailed briefing. Night camp.
Sunrise sees us heading deeper into the desert. We drive approx 40km to the Brandberg Massif and the famous Tsisab Ravine, home to numerous rock paintings, the most famous being the ‘White Lady.’ We spend the morning (approx 3 hours) exploring the Ravine’s unique treasures. After lunch we trek 8km along the dry riverbed of a tributary of the Ugab River, in the shade of overhanging Brandberg acacias and tamarisk trees. The evening is spent at Ugab Wilderness Camp, our last chance to shower for the next few days! Night camp.
Walking soon after sun-up, we drop into the shady Ugab riverbed where the cool of the morning lingers. The surface is soft underfoot and saps our strength and, as the sun starts to beat fiercely down, the going gets tougher. Midway is an area of swampy reed bed, where the riverbed, just for a while, becomes wet and green. Lunch is followed by a long rest in the shade of camel-thorn acacia trees; post-midday sun is just too fierce to consider any exercise. If we made good progress during the morning we should reach camp at around lunchtime; if this is the case then late in the afternoon, as the air begins to cool, we can walk to a vantage point and watch the Brandberg Mountain ‘burn’ with the colours of the setting sun. We camp amongst the trees just beyond a small farm where local Herero farmers corral their goats, eking out a living in the harsh environment. Night camp.
We rise early as usual, heading further along the Ugab River. The surrounding terrain is still desert-like plain, interspersed with pink granite ‘inselbergs;’ literally huge islands of rock left from volcanic activity deep underground millions of years ago. More soft sand underfoot keeps the going tough, and once more we seek shelter from the midday and early afternoon sun. To the left of the river lies an abandoned mine, where miners searched for the mineral tantalite in years gone by; the machinery lies preserved in the sand. Our camp is a short distance further along, amongst the shepherd trees. Night camp.
Again an early start, and we strike out along the sandy riverbed, where our route takes us among shady trees and high rocky ravines; we have a good chance of seeing tiny steenboks that have adapted perfectly to the desert environment. There may be boggy areas, green reeds and possibly even cool pools of water. Due to seasonal fluctuations in the river’s layout, we camp where we meet our back-up team and have supper under the stars. Night camp.
The final leg of our challenge sees us trekking along the riverbed, where we walk under giant albida trees. Here we pass dramatically-folded sedimentary rock, through which the river has cut its path to the Atlantic Ocean; look out for mountain zebra which inhabit the area. We cross the confluence, where another large riverbed joins the Ugab, and continue through this dramatic scenery. This evening, after many dusty kilometres, we reach our final destination: the Save the Rhino camp. Here the basic facilities, such as bucket showers, will seem luxurious after our long, hot and challenging journey!
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader. Usually leaders are based in the UK or other English-speaking countries and lead for us regularly throughout the year in many different countries. In some instances, trips are led by in-country guides with a wealth of knowledge about the region; they have been trained by us to provide the level of support expected on a Discover Adventure trip.
Our local support crew is made up of local guides, assisted by drivers, porters, cooks and other support staff, depending on the type of trip. Local guides know the area well, and are a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Not all support crew will speak English well, but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely.
Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your trek, and you will be provided with a guideline amount in advance. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in many countries we travel to is far below what you would spend on a normal night out.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary, should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration - such as medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick on scheduled airlines and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Your journey may involve a transit en route, details of route and flight times will be confirmed several months before departure. We do not always use the same airline for each destination; if you wish to know the probable carrier and flight times, please call for details. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
We camp in two-man tents; these are usually expedition-style (ie sleeping room only). Camps are usually simple, in remote locations with great views! We have communal dining areas (usually with tables and chairs/stools) and toilet tents, and the local crew look after us very well. We stay in hotels (of a 2-3* standard or equivalent) at the start and end of the trip; standards may vary between different hotels, but they are generally clean and comfortable with good facilities.
Accommodation is usually on a twin-share basis in hotels or camp. Occasionally we may use hostel-style accommodation. Please tell us if you know somebody else on the trip that you would like to share with and we will try our best to accommodate your request. If you don't know anyone else in the group don't worry, we always pair you up with someone of the same gender, and a similar age where possible. We do not charge a single supplement if you are a solo traveller in a shared room.
Your booking is part of a group challenge, and the tour costs and fundraising targets listed on our website are based on a minimum number of participants which is shown on the challenge Our typical groups run with approximately 20-30 participants; however you may find your group is smaller or larger than this.
We will confirm at least 12 weeks prior to departure that your challenge is guaranteed to run. Occasionally it may be possible to still run the challenge with less than the minimum numbers, subject to a small group supplement. If we think a small group supplement may be necessary, we will discuss this with you as soon as possible, usually 5 months before your departure date.
Minimum numbers and groups sizes may vary on Bespoke Charity challenges. If you are booked onto a bespoke challenge please contact your charity for full details.
The food provided is plentiful, often local in style and freshly-cooked, and will give you plenty of energy. Sometimes we enjoy a buffet-style lunch-stop, other times we might have packed lunches. On some trips we stop at small local restaurants. Dinners are generally eaten in camp or at the hotel, depending on accommodation. In some regions there may be less variety than you are used to, and in others fresh meat or produce can be harder to come by. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally on travel / free days, giving you the opportunity to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit different budgets.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we may be in very rural or remote areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat we strongly recommend you bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice.
Your luggage, food, water and equipment is transported for you from one night-stop to the next. If there is easy road access this is done by vehicle; if not porters, mules or even camels might carry your bags, depending on the destination and terrain.
Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
In the unfortunate circumstance that you need to cancel your booking, we would ask that you notify us in writing either by post or email. Your cancellation will be considered effective from the date the notice is received. Registration fees, amendment fees and insurance premiums are non refundable and, depending on your payment option and how close it is to your challenge departure date, you may be liable for a cancellation charge.
Full details of all cancellation charges may be found in the Terms and Conditions of booking.
This is designed to be a challenge, and it is vital that you train sufficiently for it. We will supply you with a thorough training guide once you have registered. We expect all participants to train hard in advance, but we respect everyone’s limits and do not expect everyone to maintain the same pace. Inadequate training is likely to have an impact not just on your chances of completing the challenge, but enjoying it too - and we want you to have the time of your life!
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience, fitness and ability as well as all ages and backgrounds. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. If you have concerns about your fitness or if you have reduced mobility please do contact us for a confidential chat about whether this challenge is appropriate for you.
For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners may find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Entry requirements vary depending on your destination and nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure your passport is valid, and any visas are obtained in good time. Check the FCO’s advice on entry requirements for your destination to be sure. To find out if you need a visa you can check your requirements using our partner, Visa Machine, website here; please ensure you allow plenty of time.
Your routine UK schedule of vaccinations should be up-to-date (especially tetanus). We recommend you check Fit For Travel for further details. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
If you are still to buy some kit don’t forget that Cotswold Outdoor, Snow and Rock, Cycle Surgery and Runners Need offer all Discover Adventure participants 15% off any purchases you make with them. Please ask us for the code if you do not have this already.
For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow participants and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!