Van Zyl’s Pass is the most famous and often most feared mountain pass in Namibia. It is situated in the Kunene region of north west Namibia.
The pass is 12km in lenth and about 1200m above sea level. Travel is strictly only permitted from east to west.
Van Zyl’s Pass is a tough road but of the 12km there are only a few short treacherous bits. With a bit of team work the pass is doable for the average rider with some off-road experience. The bigger the bike the scarier it gets. Our rental Suzuki DRZ400’s (recommended) and KTM690R’s (for good riders) are perfect for the task.
Starting from Van Zyl’s Camp Site in the east the pass is a log gradual climb to the top. One of Africa’s most iconic vistas looks over the plains of the Marienfluss Valley. Spend some time savouring the spectacle. Then gather your wits and prepare for the 2 kilometre steep and sometimes sketchy decent to the bottom.
Van Zyl’s Pass should be on the bucket list of every adventure traveler in the world.
Caution: Never do this pass alone and we recommend a satellite phone in case of emergency. Let someone know you’re visiting the pass and have a rescue plan.There is no water, fuel, food or towns near this truly remote rugged region.
The decent is rough and steep.
Starting point of the pass, from the sadly neglected Van Zyl’s Camp Site
The middle section of the pass goes through this beautiful green valley. Be cautious of cattle grazing between the trees.
The Marienfluss changes from thigh high grass lands after the summer rains to a barren wasteland by the end of winter . This valley of about 3300 square kilometres has about 300 Himba inhabitants and their herds of goats and cattle.