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Updated: Jul 28, 2022


What goes through your mind when you hear the words swamps and wild camping? Water, sand, scenery, less showers and velties.

This is what we were up to for 48hours exploring the Ugab river in Namibia.

The trip starts at the well-known lodge and one of the best campsites in Namibia Brandberg Whitelady lodge. This is the Gateway to Damaraland, where only the true adventurers roam.

We spend our first night here overlooking the Brandberg with the smoke of the campfire tickling your taste buds.

Have you ever wondered why the mountain turns red? Other than the rock painting the Brandberg mountain is a fascinating site. As the oldest mountain in the world, it boasts archaeological sites that date back as far as 500 000 years.

The mountain is made of granite that contains a mineral that is a reddish colour, thus the meaning of the name, Fire Mountain.

The geological features of this area can be dated as far back as 120 million years ago, about the same time as dinosaurs became extinct.

The next morning, we enjoyed our last proper shower before we head into the dry riverbed. This time round we did not take our trailer and without our many luxuries when we do pull our house on wheels.

Waiting on the rest of the group we drove around and enjoyed the landscapes that resembles all the rain that the area has had over the past few months. Lush grass and landscapes flaunting with colours.

Get your 4x4 mode on!

Two Nissan Patrols, V8 Cruiser and our Prado started the 48 hour trip on a late Friday afternoon in still great weather conditions. We had three swamp obstacles before you can drive to the Atlantic Ocean. Do you think we made it?

Six kilometres into the trip we hit the first swamp, wet and mud everywhere. After careful consideration and walking around we decided to turn around and detour to our wild camp that awaited between swamp 1 and 2. The wet conditions did deliver me with some great social media content to keep Instagram alive, but not a place we want to get stuck with little ones becoming hungry and the sun teasing us over the horizon.

Night one we camped between swamp one and two. First night weather conditions were fine and morning time we got met by the first signs of East wind weather in the Ugab.

Little did we know that this would be the worse East wind the area has had in a very long time.

Getting to swamp two we saw it is same as one, to wet. We send the drone to see how far these wet conditions go, with miles of wet quicksand grinning at us in the thought of cupping our tyres we had to yet again turn around and detour around.

In the midst of the moment we were disappointed not to be able to take on the adventure and challenge of the swamps of the Ugab river.

Detours led to amazing landscapes and pictures of true Namibian gravel road photos.

By lunch time we were back in the Ugab and close to swamp three.

Time to braai wors and fill the tummies before checking out what swamp three holds in store.

At this spot, I ended up not guiding the drone properly and it ended up in a tree. Some of the bloopers we always manage to get. How did we get it back you might wonder? It was the good old way of climbing up in a very old and thorny tree and the help of friends to get our air guide back.

Full tummies and swamp three ahead...

Excitement quickly died down when we realised the river that came down a while ago has beaten away the road to a point where we would not be able to go down to get to the swamp even. The swamps are filled with evidence of wildlife, tracks everywhere! We were still hoping to see the desert adapted wild elephants and lions, but up and till now no luck in finding them. With swamps this full who would be in the open anyway.

Detour time again – this is where the fun started. Back tracking a few miles we pitched our second night in the Ugab. Warm, calm conditions.

Did you remember the pot? No what pot? So another blooper, we forgot to pack the pot and plans had to be made to get supper going. True wild style we pulled it off and made the most delicious potjiekos for supper.

Spiders teasing us, laughter filling the air and children playing in the dark is how we spend our last night in the Ugab. Just after twelve we went to be just to be shaken again at 1 am. The East wind is here! By 4am we had to make the decision... We have no idea how our Bundutop tent will last in the howling winds, ripping thorough the gap of the Ugab. I got motion sickeness in the the rooftop tent.

Right, decision made. We are closing the tent at 5am. We woke the kids and made a bed on the back seat for the two of them. The toilet tent has blown away, chairs has taking sepertate and different paths... estimating the wind at more than 40 knots. The floor tents were no longer vertical and cuddling the bodies inside. By 5h30 am we attempted to sleep on the front seats, hoping the wind will calm down. By 7 am we were up. The wind calmed down to a point where we are able to get some coffee made and start the morning with a fresh brew of caffeine.

The Bundutop tent? I dont know if it would have lasted all the way till the next morning, but by the time we closed it after hours of winds, it was still sturdy and in one piece. I asked Bundutec about the wind tolerance, they said it has been tested in 50km/h. Beside the wind moving the zippers making a noise, we did not feel the wind inside. I was impressed with the sturdiness and strength of the Bundutop at that hour of the night in that amount of wind.

Getting to Swakopmund we drove into the worse sandstorm in years! Some businesses and schools closed.

What happened next? Was this it?

No, defiantly not. We made most of the last day that was ahead of us. We visited an old mine area and one of the biggest Welwitschias in Namibia. Adding to memories and landmarks to be visited again.

It was a disappointment not to drive the swamps, but such a good reason to do it again in a few months! Always up for a challenge and the next adventure.

Chasing Gravel helping you travel like a local.

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