Faces of the Forbidden Land

This adventure into the Namib Desert starts at Betta Camp and will travel via beautiful scenery along the way to Walvis Bay. Places to be visited along the way include Witberg, Bushman’s Paradise, west coast scenery, abandoned mining towns, and shipwrecks.


Included: Breakfast and dinner daily, experienced guides with own vehicles, two-way radios for vehicles, camping and accommodation fees, concession fees and levies

Excluded: Lunch, snacks and drinks, transport, fuel, camping gear and travel insurance

NB: Please note that no trailers are allowed on this tour.


  • Rates are applicable to SADC residents only.
  • This tour operates on a minimum of 20 adult guests travelling.
  • Special terms & conditions apply to any tour booked on an exclusive private basis.
  • Prices for concession fees, taxes, park fees and fuel may be changed without prior notice. This is beyond our control and any increase levied will be for the traveller’s account.




What to pack

The following items are mandatory for each participating vehicle:

  • Spade
  • 60 litres water in total of which 20 litres will be used by the kitchen and the remainder will be for showering
  • Bottled water for drinking
  • Tyre pressure gauge
  • Pump to inflate tyres
  • Toilet paper & matches
  • Plastic bags to carry waste (e.g. empty cool drink tins, etc)
  • Brake fluid
  • Gear oil
  • Engine oil
  • Fuses
  • Spare V- Belt set (type of belt depends on your vehicle)
  • Sufficient Petrol/Diesel to cover the distance – 650 km. Heavy sand driving conditions (+/- 3 km/ litre and +/- 5 km/ litre consumption for larger petrol and diesel engines respectively) will be experienced. (You will need to keep the extra fuel in your own jerry cans)
  • Vehicle to be fitted with points to attach tow ropes both in front and at the rear.
  • NB!! All equipment and luggage must be strapped in and securely fastened. Vehicle must be loaded in such a way to ensure that the vehicle is not “Top Heavy” – e.g. only light
    items, camping gear on roof carriers.
  • 2 Large bags of firewood per vehicle (supplied by you)


  • Hi lift Jack & Q20 Spray
  • Extra Spare wheel (no 6)
  • Small broom & Small spade

All you need:

  • Tent, folding chair & sleepwear (bedroll, tent etc.) *Longer tent pegs are needed for pitching in the sand.
  • Eating utensils (cutlery, plate, bowl, glass & mug)
  • Provide own lunch
  • Own snacks & refreshments (alcoholic beverages, cool drinks etc.)
  • Flashlight & batteries
  • Camera (extra films & battery)
  • Sunglasses & sun tan lotion
  • Clothing (suitable for hot days and cold evenings), toiletries & towels.
  • Prescribed medication

*Take note: when choosing a suitable tent – you will be pitching it in sand and will need tent pegs suitable for this. There may also be winds, so make sure your tent is wind resistant.


An overview of the tour

Due to the discovery of diamonds in 1908 around Kolmanskuppe, an uncontrollable diamond rush resulted forcing the Government to establish the “Sperrgebiet” between 26-degree (Gibraltar) and the southern border stretching 100 kilometers inland. Prospectors were forced to turn northwards beyond the Sperrgebiet. This resulted in the discovery of diamonds at Spencer Bay in December 1908 and between Meob and the Conception Bay area (Diamond area no 2). A total of 5000 diamond claims were registered in 1909 and hopeful prospectors tried their luck at Saddle Hill and Spencer Bay as well as via Swakopmund and Sandwich Harbour southwards towards Meob Bay. However, the small yields of diamonds from these claims resulted in only a few prospectors in the being successful in the long term.

Transporting of supplies and mine equipment was done mainly from Swakopmund by ship and the cutter Viking via Sandwich Harbour, Conception Bay and Meob Bay. Various shipping casualties occurred, such as when the Eduard Bohlen intended to off-load mining equipment and were consequently lost at Conception Bay (1909).

In the area between Conception Bay and Meob Bay the mining settlements of Holsatia, Charlottenfelder and Grillenberger were established and no form of engine-driven transport was available during the first 15 years. An ox-wagon fitted with special wide iron bands, to make transportation in sandy areas possible, is visible north off Grillenberger. The wagon and surf boats at Meob Bay are examples of pre-World War I historical relics depicting the immense difficult pioneering days in those inhospitable desert conditions.

During 1912/1913 a light railway from Conception Bay to Conception Water and an 80-kilometer pipeline linking the settlements were constructed. It is not totally clear as to how many pre-fabricated buildings were erected at the various settlements as only the foundations of some of these are still visible today.

In November 1914 all people in this area were requested to stop operations and to proceed to Swakopmund up-country. This order came as a result of an expected invasion of allied troops. During 1920 activities recommenced in this area and only four companies operated in this area until De Beers purchased one concession area after the other in 1929. From old mining records it is clear that the average diamond found in this area was much smaller than those found south of Luderitzbucht. Operators made use of hand-operated movable sieve jigs, of which some are still visible at the old mining settlements. They were largely dependent on an Ovambo labour force.

Namaqua Diamonds employed between 500 and 600 Ovambos under contract and they were distributed in gangs of 50 over the extent of the mining area.

In 1932 the price of diamonds dropped considerably and almost all known diamondiferous ground has been worked over at least once. The small diamonds left in the tailings of earlier workers made production uneconomic.

After World War II a company, Industrial Diamonds of South Africa (1945) Ltd., conducted extensive prospecting in the Meob area in which no diamonds were recovered and CDM also abandoned Meob Bay in the early 60s.

Today only some remnants of the activities are visible and are deteriorating at an alarming rate. There is a limited quantity of hand-operated mining equipment left, two surf boats at Meob and an ox-wagon north of Grillenberger giving some insight into the hardships endured by indigenous Namibians and early settlers in Namibia.

Saddle Hill became well known in Namibian diamond operations through the efforts of the remarkable Mose Kahan. The unsinkable Mose was born in Konigsberg, Prussia and after immigrating to South Africa he became involved in prospecting and mining. His application for a concession in Diamond area no 2 was successful and he named his claims Saddle Hill, Ophir and Atlantis. To reach his claims with food and mining supplies, Kahan had to make his way through shifting dunes, which was indeed a hazardous undertaking. After World War II Kahan bought some Ford “stompneus” lorries from surplus war stock, fitting them with Dakota DC3 aircraft tyres. With these low-pressure aircraft tyres he was able to bring supplies and equipment to Saddle Hill. However, one of these lorries, nick named Suzie, unfortunately had to be abandoned in the dunes, today still awaiting the return of a repair crew. Likewise, a Bulldozer, pulling trailers with supplies and equipment can be seen close to the Uri Haugab Mountains.

DAY 1:

Arrive at Betta Camp

The Adventure starts at Betta Camp where the group assembles at 18h00 the evening for a dinner briefing before venturing into the desert the next day. (Camping for this evening is included in the tour package.) Should you want to upgrade to a room at your own account, please contact your Live the Journey consultant.

Included: Dinner, camping
Excluded: Drinks during dinner

DAY 2:

The adventure starts

After breakfast we do a short safety talk and get the vehicles kitted with two-way radios. From Betta, we depart to the Kanaan entrance gate which is about 70 km south west of Betta. We will enjoy a relaxed first day, driving and game viewing which might include oryx, springbok, some ostrich and if we are really lucky; a leopard. Depending on the day’s activities, we will overnight at a granite outcrop or dune hole with a spectacular view.

Included: Breakfast, dinner and camping
Excluded: Lunch and drinks

DAY 3:

Dune driving and Witberg

Today, after breakfast, we will enter the dunes. The first few hours might be a slightly uncomfortable drive as a result of grass mounds, but thereafter, you will enjoy the thrill of dune driving. Regular stops will be made for the keen photographer and to enjoy some refreshments. We will visit Witberg, an unforgettable sight.

Included: Breakfast, dinner and camping
Excluded: Lunch and drinks

DAY 4 & 5:

Meob Bay and Mining Settlements

Dunes are getting progressively higher and driver experience and skills acquired during the previous days will be tested and honed to perfection. Not much distance will be covered today due to the extremely high dunes, but be assured that every kilometre will be adrenaline-fueled.
The dune belt opens up at Meob Bay and it is in this stretch between Meob Bay and Conception Bay that active diamond mining was in the order of the day during the early 1900’s. The settlements of Holsatia, Charlottenfelder and Grillenberger are visited en-route.

Included: Breakfast, dinner and camping
Excluded: Lunch and drinks

DAY 6:

Passing the Eduard Bohlen

From Holsatia the trail leads to Conception Bay and along the beach northwards towards Sandwich Bay. En-route the wrecks of the Eduard Bohlen and Shawnee are visited. Passing ‘Langewand’ where massive dunes end in the sea, we are given a very limited time span to negotiate this stretch of beach. After Langewand the trail once again leads into the dunes, circumnavigating the Salt Pans ‘extensions’ of Sandwich Harbour. The dunes are still getting progressively larger to offer an ever-changing new experience of ultimate dune driving. The night is spent approximately 1.5 km from the sea close to Sandwich Bay at URI Adventures’ ‘Sandwich camp’.

Included: Breakfast, dinner and camping
Excluded: Lunch and drinks

DAY 7:

Ending in Walvis Bay

From Sandwich the trail enters the ‘Roller Coaster’, a series of massive ‘roaring’ slip faces, not only giving the participants a new thrilling experience but also offering breathtaking views of Sandwich Harbour. Follow a panorama of sandscapes exiting onto the beach south of Walvis Bay. The trail ends at Walvis Bay around lunch time.
Please contact our tour consultants who will assist with booking accommodation for the night after your desert trip.

Included: Breakfast and lunch
Excluded: Accommodation in Walvis Bay. Drinks during lunch.