Tok Tokkie Trails is the reason we decided to visit Namibia.
Having discovered it after roughly 900 hours on Google pondering where to spend a spare week in Southern Africa, the decision went like this:
Me: “Hey Brad, I found this awesome walking safari through the desert.. what do you reckon, shall we go to Namibia?”
Brad: “Ummmm walking safari?”
Me: “Yeaah. I reckon we should do it. We can go to Etosha too!”
You may have guessed that we’re not the typical walking safari type of people. I once did a walking event through Canberra that was supposed to be 25km. When we got to the 24km mark, we realised they’d clearly miscalculated the distance as we were nowhere near the finish. It ended up being 32km, and I was not a happy camper.
There was something about Tok Tokkie Trails that drew me in though. I just knew it’d be a once in a lifetime experience – a unique way to immerse ourselves into the stunning desert scenery. So, with some trepidation we decided to do it. It would either be the best or worst three days ever.
Outside of their website, I couldn’t find any information online about Tok Tokkie Trails. At the time of writing this, there’s still only six (!!!) Instagram posts tagged #toktokkietrails. Whilst I had a gut feel that it was going to be spectacular, this made me a little nervous when it came time to actually book. I didn’t really know what to expect. What if it was complete flop?
Because you’re reading this blog post, you’ve probably guessed that those three days were indeed a hit. In fact, Tok Tokkie Trails is probably the most amazing thing I have ever done.
I’d even go so far as to say this is an unmissable experience for anyone visiting Namibia. And if you’re not planning to visit Namibia just yet, maybe this will change your mind…
So, what exactly makes the Tok Tokkie Trails so incredible?
Every bed in the Reserve is surrounded by 2000 hectares of wilderness!
When you’re in this beautiful desert you feel like there is absolutely no one around you for miles (for good reason). Terrifying or amazing?!
Personally, I’m all for anything that takes me away from a crowd – and there’s something to be said for having no mobile phone service and enjoying that quiet and stripped back simplicity that only comes from being so remote.
There’s wildlife everywhere.
I’ve always thought you don’t see animals outside of game parks – even in Africa. So when we drove up towards the Tok Tokkie Trails starting point I was surprised by how many oryx there were. Within the first couple of hours on the walk we’d seen giraffe and zebra. Apparently there’s cheetahs and leopard too (yep, I was pretty terrified when I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night). And then of course there’s all the little critters – like the Tok Tokkie beetle that the walking safari is named after.
Seeing game, giraffe in particular, somewhere so arid was surreal.
It’s not camping, it’s glamping.
The campsites blew my mind. You may not be in a funky bubble tent, but it is glamping in every sense of the word.
By the time you arrive at camp, they’ve set you up with a stretcher bed, a swag on top, cuddly sheets, pillow and doona (soo comfortable). They’ve thought of everything from a ‘bedside table’ with a solar lantern to a little bench to leave your shoes on overnight so the creepy crawlies don’t get in them.
The best thing though, is that you’ve got your own private area away from the rest of your group. It’s like your own (outdoor) hotel room.
Hate to bring it up, but there’s no complaints in the bathroom department either (I know you were wondering). The camps have real (drop) toilets and a ‘bucket douche’ shower that they fill up with warm water whenever you’re ready to use it. After a day of walking, that shower and the sunset view that comes with it is truly incredible – something I’ll remember forever.
Sleeping under an International Dark Sky reserve.
The first night it took me ages to get to sleep. I was incredibly comfortable in my warm cocoon, but the stars were so bright and I was mesmerised. I’d never seen anything like it, and I don’t quite know how it put it into words! Apparently Brad also woke up in the middle of the night and stayed up for a while watching satellites go over.
Namibia, or the NamibRand Nature Reserve to be more specific, was named the first International Dark Sky Reserve in the whole of Africa, and it’s still the only one today. In fact, there’s not many across the globe so it’s pretty bloody special.
They’ll wake you up with coffee in bed (and the food is amazing).
I’m almost sorry for ruining this surprise, because it was one of the best things to happen to me that week. No kidding, I take my coffee seriously.
The camps are manned by a chef who does an amazing job despite the small (but impressive) camp kitchen. Dinner is really something to look forward to – it’s not a stretch to say it was at least on par with what we ate throughout the rest of our trip.
Breakfast is a basic affair, but really – where else can you eat muesli and yoghurt with that view?
A chance to disconnect and reset.
I can’t imagine too many other ways to reset the clock in only three days. Often when I’m travelling there’s part of my mind that stays at work, chugging along in the background. Even when I’m having a great time.
In my Namibia post I talked about how de-stressed I was when we came home from this trip – I was so recharged that I felt like a completely different person.
Being a walking safari, Tok Tokkie Trails is obviously an active experience, but they’ve got the blend right. Lying on my camp bed at the end of the day reading my kindle in the middle of a desert felt kinda wrong, but I’ve also never felt so relaxed. A year later I’m still trying to recreate the feeling.
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Convinced? Let’s talk logistics.
Tok Tokkie Trails operates within the NamibRand National Park, south west of Windhoek (relatively close to Sesriem).
We drove there from Etosha – I think it was a 12 hour drive all up (seems crazy looking back, but we broke it up over two days and it was totally worthwhile). I found driving in Namibia pretty special, so even though it was a really long drive it didn’t feel like it.
You need to make sure you arrive by 1 or 2pm – we tried to get there by 12:30pm and of course that meant we arrived by 1 or 1:30pm…because its always slower thank you think.
Getting ready to go (and what to pack)
Thankfully, Tok Tokkie Trails will supply you with a daypack so you don’t have to cart one with you from across the world. Just don’t forget to pick up some water bottles at a supermarket on the way.
Once you arrive at their office, you’ll have an hour or so to get organised before you actually leave. They’ll show you your route on a map, take your luggage and let you fill up your water bottles before it’s time to leave.
(When you book, they’ll ask you if you’d like to have lunch when you arrive. Theres nothing around so definitely say yes.)
You need to pack hiking boots, ideally ones that cover your ankles. Otherwise, it’ll be sand everywhere for you!
The other people in our group were 4 ladies, a group of friends from Windhoek, and they were wore jeans on the first and last days (no kidding). So don’t panic and kit yourself out with crazy stuff, just make sure you’re comfortable.
Then, the walking
You’ll start off by being dropped a little way away from the meeting point, and then it’s time to hop to it.
I’m going to admit something really stupid here… I was surprised by how much walking was on sand dunes. Yep, I realise it’s a desert. And deserts have dunes. For some reason, my mind played a cruel joke on me and sort of lead me to believe that it’d be easy peasy. After all, I’ve walked heaps further on many days…
My words of advice: don’t forget the sand. Maybe do some training.
Tok Tokkie Trails – the highlight of our trip
If you haven’t already gathered, I’d highly recommend Tok Tokkie Trails to anyone planning to visit Namibia (and even those who aren’t.. yet!).
There’s something to be said about the perspective you gain when you’re 100% cut off from your normal life, and what a beautiful place to do just that!