Open Africa’s Arid Eden Route


Described as unimagined, unexpected and unexplored, the Arid Eden Route in Namibia provides prospective travellers with great insight into this African gem’s landscapes, culture and wildlife. Designed by NGO Open Africa, this route is remote yet accessible and provides access to some of Namibia’s greatest treasures.

One of three routes in Namibia designed by Open Africa for visitors to southern Africa to explore and experience, the Arid Eden Route extends from Swakopmund in the south to the Angolan border in the north and includes a section of Etosha National Park that was previously restricted. The objective of Open Africa in the design of the specific routings is to uplift and sustain local communities through tourist activities which are included in the area and can be enjoyed by tourists specifically looking at enjoying a self-drive holiday option.

The Arid Eden Route consists of three differing experiences for travellers to enjoy, the Windhoek to Galton Experience, the Welwitchia Experienceand the Himba Cultural Experience, each offering their own special attractions and unique features.

Covering a distance of 520km and a suggested exploration time of 1.5-2 days, the Windhoek to Galton Experience covers landscapes from savannah grasslands to established German colonial towns and is the gateway to the spectacular desert attractions in the region. Attractions within the route include the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and the world famous Etosha National Park.

The Welwitchia Experience covers 860km and a suggested exploration time of 304 days is suggested. The route links the renowned Etosha National Park with Namibia’s adventure capital, Swakopmund and travels through some of the most spectacular landscapes from the Erongo and Spitzkoppe Mountains to the dunes of the Namib Desert.

Attractions in this route include the Brandberg, Erongo and Spitzkoppe Mountain ranges, the desert-adapted elephants, Twyfelfontein’s World Heritage Site, the Organ Pipes, Burnt Mountain, Uiba-Oas Crystal Market and the cherry on top for any animal lover, Etosha National Park.

The third option for travellers wanting to explore the Arid Eden Route is known as the Himba Cultural Experience and gives visitors a wonderful overview of culture in the region. Stretching 443kkm and providing a 3-5 day adventure, the route offers visitors a glimpse of the more rural and untouched part of Namibia. From cool campsites under humongous camel thorn trees, sparsely vegetated Namib dune fields and spectacular waterfalls at Ongogo, the route’s landscapes and offerings are breathtaking to experience and explore. Attractions along the route include the famous Hoanib elephant herd, Hartman’s Valley, Fort Sesfontein, Otjize Holy Mountain, the Himba settlement at Puros and the valley of Khowarib.

Combining experiences from the three different offerings within the Arid Eden Route, the top five reasons to visit the area can be summed up as follows:

  1. Visit one of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs (rock art) in Africa at the Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site;
  2. Learn more about Namibia’s traditional cultures such as Himba and Damara;
  3.  Visit ancient riverbeds, craters and a petrified forest on your way to an oasis in the desert – the Epupa Waterfall;
  4. See desert adapted wildlife such as elephant, rhino and lion in its natural environment;
  5. See how communities take ownership of their natural assets in communal conservancies.

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