“Superbly crafted walking safaris offering a unique insight into the hidden world of the Namib desert, five hours SW of Windhoek”
The most popular and the most comfortable route is the 3-day trail which we tried out and which is described here; the others are more adventurous, involving backpacking (carrying your own overnight gear, including sleeping bags).
The first night of Tok Tokkie's three day trail is spent at Horseshoe Camp, a magical spot wrapped round by jagged granite peaks with vast views eastwards across the rippled red dunes. Your second night's camp, approached along a dry river bed, is on the northern side of the Horseshoe Wilderness at Schafsberg and looks out to the Losberg and Nubib mountains.
Your sleeping spot at both camps will be a sheltered dip amongst the dunes a full 50 metres from your nearest neighbour. On a simple stretcher bed you'll find a towel and your canvas bed roll containing a soft sheeted mattress, duvet and pillow with the addition of a hot water bottle during the colder months. Next to your bed will be fold-away table for your clothes, water bottle and torch as well as a woven floor mat rolled out on the sand. And secreted away in the dunes at both camps are two long-drop toilets and simple bucket showers surrounded by pole fencing.
I couldn't find fault with the food arrangements. Before we set off on the trail a light lunch of pizza and salad was provided at the Tok Tokkie base whilst on arrival at both camps you find one long table up in the dunes laid with a linen table cloth and napkins with bright blankets draped over the fold-away canvas chairs.
Supper on our first night began with a Greek salad followed by oryx goulash, then an île flottante for dessert; the following evening's starter was spicy vegetable soup and the main course chicken served with new potatoes and broccoli. Let Tok Tokkie Trails know if you have any specific dietary requirements - vegetarians can be catered for.
It felt fabulously indulgent to be drinking South African red wine à volonté so far from anywhere - there's even the offer of a G&T and nibbles before dinner - whilst coffee and talk of stars, planets and expanding universes wound both evenings up on just the right note. And the staff in charge of the camp kitchens could not have been nicer.
Breakfast is eaten, like supper, at one long table set up between the dunes about an hour or so after sunrise: you'll already have had tea delivered to your clearing in the dunes shortly before dawn.
A cold buffet is laid up on the table which will include a choice of cereals, fruit, ham and cheese, and (carton) orange juice : expect bread rather than toast and a good selection of jams and spreads as well as marmalade. This felt like a great start to the day with the surrounding sand glowing rusty red in the early morning sunshine.
Your second day's lunch (you'll be back in camp by late morning on the final day) takes the form of a long lazy picnic made up of a slice of quiche, a sandwich, a boiled egg, fruit and a snack bar: you'll have had the opportunity to replenish your water bottle before departing from camp. This is followed by a siesta in the shade of a huge acacia.
On the first day we set out at a cracking pace but it soon slowed to a steady plod through the sand as Rene got the measure of the group. And there are plenty of stops along the way to slug from your water bottle and to listen to Rene or Mike, TT's resident guides, talk about all things related to the desert: whether it be geology, weather, fauna or flora these guys really know their stuff and their easy, proactive manner was perfect for an adventure of this sort.
Be aware, too, that your guide is in radio contact with base camp so if for any reason you feel the need to drop out, a vehicle can reach you within less than an hour.
The sheer beauty of the dunes, the grasses, the insects, lizards and rippled red sands also serves to slow progress to some extent: everywhere you look there's a photograph in the making and all the more so at dusk and dawn.
Don't expect to see the same amount of game as you will come across in the northern game parks; nevertheless, it's still a richly rewarding trail. You're bound to see several types of buck, scarab beetles, dune crickets, barking geckos, spiders, snakes and lizards - and may be lucky enough to see golden moles and hyena moving across the distant plain.
Children over the age of 12 are welcome to join any of the walking groups provided they have some experience of walking. Over 8s can also be accepted though only as a part of smaller, bespoke groups. 8-12 year olds are charged 50% of adult rate.
Teens (over 12)
Tok Tokkie Walking Trails have several itineraries to choose from, but the most popular - and the only one which we have tested out in person - is the 3-day one. This is also the most comfortable, as Tok Tokkie provides bedrolls and stretcher beds, romantic 3-course dinners out in the dunes and a backup team. Your main luggage will be transported by back up vehicle during the day on the Tok Tokkie Trail.
All expeditions have an English- or German-speaking guide accompanying them and all meals are provided. Full details will be provided when you book through i-escape.