HOW TO PLAN THE BEST SELF-DRIVE NAMIBIA ITINERARY
Planning a self-drive Namibia itinerary may seem a daunting thought, however if you intend on discovering the true essence of this incredible country, a self-drive itinerary is the only option.
Drive across unseen landscapes varying from boundless horizons, and red rock canyons one minute to barren moon-like grey craters and powdery soft dunes crashing against the force of the ocean the next. Throw in remote wilderness abodes, an abundance of desert adapted wildlife and fauna, topped with a culture filled with warmth, friendliness and big smiles, a self-drive itinerary truly is like no other. When it comes to discovering and experiencing the real Namibia, there is no better way than bouncing along the gravel roads, stopping for the odd cattle crossing and the thrill of not knowing what is around the next bend of the road.
Namibia truly is one of the most unique landscapes in the world, coupled with the safari and wildlife viewing opportunities, incredible lodges in the bush, conservation projects as well as the local culture and hospitality, it makes for one of the most memorable yet exhilarating adventures of a lifetime. Namibia is a dream trip destination indeed.
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- Pin & Save
- Where is Namibia?
- What is the History of Namibia
- How to get to Namibia?
- What is the currency in Namibia & Should I use Cash or Credit Cards?
- What are the VISA Requirements?
- What’s the Best Time to Travel to Namibia?
- Malaria & Vaccinations
- Is Self-Drive Namibia Expensive?
- What are the local’s like?
- What is the Food like in Namibia?
- Is Namibia Vegetarian Friendly?
- What Language is Spoken in Namibia?
- Is a Self-Drive Namibia Itinerary Safe to do?
- What are the benefits of Self Planning your Self-Drive Namibia Itinerary over using A Travel Agent?
- Why Choose to Self-Drive in Namibia?
- Why it’s important to consider a Self-Drive Namibia Itinerary and Fly-in 0r Guided Itinerary
- Comparison Between a 7 day Fly-in Safari Vs a 11 Day Self-Drive Namibia Safari
- How To Plan the Best Self-Drive Namibia Itinerary
- A Few Stops You Can Add to Your Self-Drive Namibia Itinerary
- Places to Stop off on Your Self-Drive Namibia Itinerary
- Self-Drive Namibia Itinerary Round-up
- Coming Soon…
- Travel Planning Checklist Must-Haves
- Pin & Save For Later
Where is Namibia?
Namibia is located on the South Western coast of Africa and is one of the most driest and sparsely populated countries in the world. The Namibia Desert is the world’s oldest desert and is separated by a central plateau from the Kalahari Desert in the East of the country.
What is the History of Namibia
From 1884-1915, Namibia was a German colony, understandably receving many visitors from Germany.
One can’t go far without noticing the German influence such as the food, it’s quite a meaty country but the bread is excellent as are the cakes and apple pie. If you’re headed to the coastal town of Swakopmund, you’ll note the architecture is also quite synonymous to that in Germany and guest houses in particular will have twin beds, often pushed together with single duvets!
Following the second World War, Nambia became part of South Africa until it gained independence in 1990.
How to get to Namibia?
If travelling from the USA or Europe it’s good to note that there are no direct flights to Namibia. Carriers such as British Airways will fly from London Heathrow to Johannesburg, taking approximately 11 hours and then an internal flight is required with South African Air Link or the equivalent (Air Namibia) to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia taking further two hours and 15 mins.
Alternatively if you travel to Frankfurt with Lufthansa, you can go direct to Windhoek.
What is the currency in Namibia & Should I use Cash or Credit Cards?
The official currency of Namibia is the Namibian Dollar, post independence in 1990, the dollar came into circulation in 1993 and replaced the South African Rand. Although the Rand is still legal tender and can be used widely in Namibia. The Namibian Dollar is pegged to the Rand.
Its’ good to know that many established restaurants and lodges/hotels will take all major credit cards, it’s advisable to carry cash to fill up with petrol and purchase snacks and food in smaller stores. A number of supermarkets also do not take credit cards.
ATMs are available at major supermarkets and banks so make use of them as cash still seems to be King in Namibia,
As of Nov 2022: 1USD = 17.34 NAD (Namibian Dollars(. Check the latest currency rate for your travel period
Be-lavie Tip: Go where your card goes. If you pay by card anywhere, ensure you follow the person you gave it to. So in a restaurant walk up to the pay point or at a petrol station, if they take your card, go with them to witness the transaction going ahead. Credit card copying is prevalent in Namibia, including larger towns such as Windhoek and Swakopmund.
What are the VISA Requirements?
Many countries such as the UK, USA, Canada, Australia do not require a VISA for up to a 30 day visit which is the good news. You should make sure that you complete all of the immigration forms given to you on the flight before you arrive at the airport to avoid long queues as things can be a little more than slow and very laid back. Just be patient and do as you’re told by the officials!
What’s the Best Time to Travel to Namibia?
Namibia can be visited all year round depending on personal preferences and what you’d like to see in terms of flora, fauna and of course game.
The best time to visit Namibia is in the dry season, which starts in June and extends right through to October. Wildlife sightings are frequent during the dry season in National Parks such as the Etosha National Park.
The days between December to March can be humid with rains which may create more of a greener landscape with the localised afternoon thunderstorms, however this will lead to wildlife staying away from waterholes and instead scattering around themselves around the parks.
Summary of When to Visit Namibia
- Best Time – June to October (All parks will have great wildlife viewing)
- High Season – July to October (July &August can seem crowded due to school holidays)
- Low Season – December – April (National Parks tend to be very quiet)
- Best Weather Conditions – April and May (the landscapes are green with hardly any rainfall with bearable daytime temperatures)
Worst Weather Conditions: November to February is not only rainy but also hot with a high level of humidity.
The Pros and Cons of Visiting Namibia in the Dry Season (Winter) Vs Wet Season (Summer)
Dry Season: May – October
- Greater wildlife viewings around rivers and waterholes, especially if you’re heading to Etosha
- Sunny climate with no rain
- A lot of tourists visit during this time but parks don’t feel so crowded due to their vast size
- Beware of the very cold nights and mornings in June, July & August. Windbreakers and fleeces are required for early morning game drives. (6°C – below freezing)
Wet Season: November – April
- Following the rain, the landscape is greener
- The rates for accommodations and activities is far lower as the season is not busy
- The rain extends to short burst-like showers in the late afternoon and will not impact your trip greatly.
- October to February can be unbearably hot (40°C-45°C)
- Wildlife spotting is pretty difficult – especially in Etosha.
Best Time to Visit Namibia for Wildlife spotting at National Parks
Etosha National Park
- Excellent: Jul-Sept
- Good-Fair: Oct-Nov, Apr-Jun
- Poor: Dec-Mar
Namib-Naukluft National Park
- Excellent: May-Sept
- Good: Oct-Mar
Skeleton Coast National Park
- Excellent: Oct-Mar
- Good: Apr-Sept
Malaria & Vaccinations
In Etosha National Park and in Northern Namibia there is a medium risk of malaria as well as the Zambezi region, which includes the Caprivi Strip. The risk is low to no risk in the remainder of the country.
The rainy season from October to May, poses the highest risk of transition in Namibia in affected areas.
Consult country specific websites for vaccination requirements for Namibia or your discuss with your general practitioner.
- UK : Fit For Travel
- USA CDC
- Ireland – Destinations vaccinations
- Australia – Travel Clinic
- Canada – Government Travel Site
You can either take daily anti-malarial tablets such as Malarone (most popular) or Doxycycline (which is actually an antibiotic). Larium is also a good option, a little more expensive but needs only one tablet per week and must be started two weeks before travel and a further four weeks after returning home.
In the UK, malaria tablets can be obtained via a private prescription from your GP or Pharmacist following a thorough consultation.
Is Self-Drive Namibia Expensive?
Namibia is quite an expensive place to visit where much of your budget should be allocated to accommodation and car hire if you are opting for a self-drive Namibia trip. Research prices for accommodation, car hire, flights as well as park fees, food, travel insurance, car insurance, fuel and any other extras you may need to purchase and decide what you would compromise and what your priorities are for the trip. Decide which areas of the country are must visits for example the most popular are, Windhoek, Sossusvei and the Namib-Naukluft Park, Swakopmund, Skeleton Coast, Damaraland and Etosha National Park, additionally Waterburg, Onkonjima Nature Reserve or the Caprivi Strip. If safaris are your thing more than landscapes, find out which are the best parks to see the game you’re interested in viewing.
If you are starting and ending your itinerary in Windhoek due to your international flights, opt for a guest house in the capital, they are well priced at around £60-7£0 per night including breakfast and are very comfortable. The same applies for Swakopmund.
As most of Namibia is pretty remote, and you’re not camping, you will have no choice but to stay in a lodge, these can be basic, mid-range to luxury. A number of the more luxury ones will have their own private game reserves and will usually be all inclusive with all meals and even laundry included. As a rule most lodges will include food due to their being no restaurants nearby.
Reasonable Car Hire can be accessed via Europcar, whose customer service is second to none as well as having a great fleet of 4WD vehicles accessible to pick up from Windhoek airport.
Be-lavie Tip: When booking car insurance it’s a good idea to take out an additional insurance policy which will cover the excess, essentially insuring against the excess should the inevitable happen. Be-lavie recommends Insure4carhire for competitive rates and great service.
It is not uncommon for a self-drive mid-range to luxury trip with the most sought after activities in the area (including hot air balloon ride in Sossusvlei + two game drives per day if staying at a lodge for two to three nights, plus international flights to come in around or slightly above the £7,000-£8,000 per person. It can be done on more of a budget but it’s all down to individual preference and how much you are willing to not include on your once in a lifetime trip.
What are the local’s like?
As the majority of the trip will be out in the wilderness rather than visiting cities and towns, you will soon notice that the norm in Namibia is to be very polite. Everyone will greet you with a ‘hello, how are you today?’ before asking what you’d like or how they can help. Even the police at the regular checkpoints or at National Park entrance gates will greet you in this polite manner.
What is the Food like in Namibia?
The food in most parts is fresh and prepared to a fantastic standard. The food however is quite meaty with meats such as chicken, buffalo, spring box and oryx often seen on menus in lodges served with rice and vegetables. The locals do love their biltong which is dried meat.
There is always plenty of fresh food and vegetables available at supermarkets so it’s a good idea to stock up on snacks as well as fruit for long road trips! You’ll need the snacks and plenty of water.
Although they do produce wine in Namibia, most lodges, wine bars and pubs will serve South African wines, which if you’ve had a taste you’ll know are some of the best in the world. It’s good to note that alcohol which is imported will cost more than that sourced locally.
During your self-drive Namibia trip, you’ll pass by some small towns and petrol filling stations so it’s a good idea to check out some of the local food and grab some snacks too.
Is Namibia Vegetarian Friendly?
It’s safe to say Namibians like two things (heard from the mouth of a local!) meat and beer. Yep Meat is a priority in Namibia but restaurants, hotels, guest houses and lodges will all have veggie alternatives including vegan and Gluten free options.
It’s always a good idea to let your accommodation know as soon as you check-in so they are aware. In our experience, the vegetarian options were always more creative and tasty. Think delicious soups, Greek-style salads, lentil herb sides with stuffed or roasted aubergines, marrows, stir-fry, curries, stews and rice or pasta dishes.
Generally most lodges will serve a big cold and cooked to order breakfast should you want one, a three course light lunch as well as a three course dinner and often afternoon tea pre-sundowner drive.
Although lodges and accommodation are open to vegetarian-friendly food, it’s not readily available at many stops on your self-drive Namibia road-trip, be prepared and stock up on snacks when you can.
What Language is Spoken in Namibia?
English is the sole primary language in Namibia and many people speak this as their first or second language together with Afrikaans. Since Namibia’s past as a German colony, the language is still widely spoken and remains prevalent. There are also a number of indigenous languages such as Oshiwambo, Herero, Nama and Damara (or ‘click’) which are still spoken by many locals and those who have grown up in the indigenous communities and tribes such as Himba and San.
Is a Self-Drive Namibia Itinerary Safe to do?
At Be-lavie this is the most asked question, and based on experience, the answer is yes. BUT this is based on travelling always as you do in other places. Don’t show huge amounts of valuables in public, leave them at your hotel in the safe. Be sensible and don’t walk out in the dark, if you’re self-driving, you should not go out at night in the car. Most restaurants have parking attendants too, who will appreciate if you tip on your return. Use caution when driving, don’t leave possessions on show and always lock the car whether you’re inside or outside. Apart from car crime, Namibia is no more dangerous than travelling to other destinations.
Namibians are genuinely friendly and happy to help. You may find you’re approached by people trying to sell you gem stones and local artefacts, but all you have to say is no thanks you if you don’t want them.
What are the benefits of Self Planning your Self-Drive Namibia Itinerary over using A Travel Agent?
This really can come down to a matter of cost and must be weighed up, alternatively do it yourself if you enjoy the whole planning phase and feel confident that you could research everything that will ensure for a smoother trip.
There are a lot of things to think about when travelling to Namibia, from planning the self-drive route, where you intend to stop off and what you want to include in terms of areas. Then there’s the hotels as well as the actual activities, where to eat etc.
When you plan your own itinerary you can of course make as many changes as you need last minute including extending your trip should you fancy it. As mentioned, you can plan your trip on a budget, you just need the time to research thoroughly. Additionally you get a sense of achievement from learning the planning process and even if you make a mistake, this is something that will aid your understanding in the future.
At Be-lavie, we love the process of planning every aspect of our travel plans, and have travelled in this way for decades, however on this occasion we enlisted the help of a UK based travel agent, Scott Dunn and their Namibia ground partners, ATI Holidays.
Namibia has always been a once in a lifetime destination and for the little time we had there, wanted to do a number of activities, stay in accommodation that fitted with our responsible travel ethos as well as enjoy the trip and not have to worry about minutia.
Be-lavie’s Experiences of Working with a Travel Agency for a Self-Drive Namibia Package
- Our travel agent, had been to Namibia on a number of occasions and could personally recommend the specification of accommodation and activities we were looking to include based upon our interests and what we wanted to get out of this special destination and trip as a whole.
- Travel agencies have an established relationship with wholesale pricing and boutique travel brands thus we often had complimentary extras, preferential treatment, extended check-out as well as other perks that made the trip a little more special.
- Virtually all the research is done by the travel agent saving you a whole lot of time. Even on arrival everything including small details have been taken care of. For example, our hire car was dropped off at our hotel, we were picked up from the airport as well as given an emergency phone with specific number to call if we got in trouble or even if we wanted to chat or ask questions to the agency. We even had a cool box, with cool blocks.
- A good travel agent will take the time and effort to really get to know their customer and serve as a personal concierge service. All the small details are taken care of without you realising. For example, we had upgrades, Champagne, intimate meals and private game drives as it was our wedding anniversary whilst we were in Namibia. Your agent can even help with things like best ways to get through immigration and visa documentation should you require it.
- The support from your travel agent is incredible. All of our documents including itinerary were uploaded on to the Vamos App so we didn’t have to lug around bits of paper. Everything was there including destination information as well as numbers, flights, weather information and even a map! The intention is that you have a worry-free trip and if you do have an issue, it can be sorted out often without making any significant impact on your precious holiday time!
Why Choose to Self-Drive in Namibia?
Self-drive most definitely allows for greater flexibility as well as slower travel and travelling at your own pace, After all it is a holiday. The fun part of self-driving is that the journey itself is also part of the adventure, as you arrive at each of the destinations within the country. Hiring a car means it’s possible to stop off when you want, take advantage of that remote spot and grab that once in a lifetime photo opportunity.
Driving in Namibia may mean learning to conquer the gravel lined roads but the network of roads are pretty straight forward and there is virtually no traffic. You may be driving for six to seven hours and only bumping into a handful of cars!
Why it’s important to consider a Self-Drive Namibia Itinerary and Fly-in 0r Guided Itinerary
It’s important to get a perspective of what is involved in each of these types of itinerary although this post concentrates on a self-drive itinerary.
Usually opting for a fly-in itinerary is perfect if you are short of time but flying does involve a greater cost. Many of the places in Namibia such as Sossusvlei, Ongava, Damaraland, etc will have their smaller airstrip for single engine aeroplanes to fly into. This will also mean that you will have luggage restrictions as the small places can only carry around four to five people including your pilot.
If the destinations in Namibia that you plan to visit are too far apart then of course flying or a combination of flying and self-driving can be considered. Additionally you can also opt to have a guide drive you through your entire trip and also to guide you through the game drives and safari elements. It’s important to remember that if you are travelling with a guide, the cost will most probably cover them staying at the same lodges and accommodation as you and your party.
Namibia is 825,400 km² and sparsely populated in terms of land so whichever option you chose needs careful consideration including if you are a competent and confident driver and similarly are you a nervous flyer as the smaller planes certainly do take some getting used to. It’ll be more of a bumpier ride!
Comparison Between a 7 day Fly-in Safari Vs a 11 Day Self-Drive Namibia Safari
7 Day Fly-in Safari
- Total transit time: +/-6 hours
- Ticket price per person/sharing: 2,750 US$
- Inclusions: All internal Flights only
11 Day Self-Drive Safari
- Total transit time: +/-26 hours
- Ticket price per person/sharing: 1,700 US$
- Inclusions: 4 x4 vehicle here (petrol at own expense – allow 350-400 US$ for two weeks on the road.
Windhoek – Sossusvlei: Driving: 7 hours. Flying 1h 40 mins
Sossusvlei – Swakopmund: Driving: 6 hours. Flying 1h 15 mins
Swakopmund – Damaraland: Driving: 4 hours. Flying 1h
Damaraland – Etosha National Park: Driving: 4 hours. Flying 1h
Etosha National Park – Windhoek: Driving: 4 hours. Flying 1h 40 mins
Be-lavie Tip: It’s important to note Pertrol stations in Namibia are far and few between, so always ensure your tank is filled up at every opportunity. Driving a 4WD for 6-7 hours on a gravel road, consumes a lot of diesel and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
At petrol fill-up stations it’s not self-service, you request what you need from the fore court attendant and they’ll do the rest. Usually they’ll give your windscreen and other windows a good wash too. Of course, it’s custom to tip the attendant ($5NAD is the recommended amount but if other services are provided such tyre and windscreen cleaning more can be offered).
How To Plan the Best Self-Drive Namibia Itinerary
This itinerary can be adapted to 14, 16 or 21 days in Namibia, depending on your time availability.
Arrive in Windhoek
- Driving Time from Hosea Kutako Airport: 25-35 minutes.
- Distance: 44.km
- Length of stay: 1 night
Located in the centre of Namibia, Windhoek is the capital and also where the international airport is located. It’s quite cosmopolitan in terms of the high variety of restaurants, shopping, entertainment and hotel options that are available. Windhoek does showcase its German colonial past in forms of restaurants, architecture and the language being spoken quite widely. This is the city where the self-drive Namibia adventure begins either with car pick-up at Windhoek airport or drop off at your accommodation.
There are a few spots of historical interest such as the Alte Feste (Old Fort) as well as the Christuskirche (Christ Church) dating back to 1886. You could also drop by the Botanical Garden Park or even the more modern looking Supreme Court.
Food & Drink
For carnivores and casual dining lovers head to Joe’s Beery House or for something more classy, The Stellenbosch Wine Rooms is excellent.
The Elegant Guest House, located in Klein Windhoek.
Windhoek to Sossusvlei
- Driving Time: 4.30 hours (local standards) but more like 6-7 hours
- Distance: 345km
- Length of Stay: 2-3 nights
Sossusvlei is situated in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, and where you’ll spot those iconic red sand dunes of the world’s oldest desert known as the Namib. Known as one of the wonders of Africa, the red dunes against the blue sky makes for photography recognised world-wide. Sossusvlei at sunrise and sunset is a photographers absolutely dream, The desert is also home to a number of wildlife including oryx, springbok, ostrich.
Desert Homestead Lodge
Sundowner game drive in the lodges private reserve, hot air ballooning at sunrise followed by a champagne breakfast, horse-riding, bush walks, Sossusvlie day trip including climbing the 350 metre high Big Daddy Dune, Deadvlei – a white salt clay pan scattered with ancient trees and the beautiful Sesriem Canyon.
Food & Drink
All meals are provided at Desert Homestead Lodge
Sossusvlei – Swakopmund
- Driving Time: 6.5-7 Hours
- Distance: 360km
- Length of Stay: 2 nights
This colonial coastal town was founded in 1892 as the main harbour for German South-West Africa, Swakopmund is known for its wide-open avenues, colonial architecture and the desert terrain that surrounds it. It is the other portion of the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Swakopmund is the capital of the Skeleton Coast area and is also an area known for it’s adrenalin-pumping activities such as sky-diving, quad biking and much more.
Swakopmund Guest House, located a few minutes walk from the beach
As mentioned previously there are many activities to do in Swakopmund depending on how long you plan to stay. Two to three nights is more than adequate to take advantage of quad biking, horse riding, paragliding, fishing, kayaking with seals.
A must-do here is a Sandwich harbour and Pelican Point excursion. Experience the wetlands, the desert dunes and incredible colonies of flamingoes and many other varieties of birds. You’ll have lunch on the harbour and even get to climb a dune with panoramic views across the harbour. End the day with an exhilarating drive through the dunes and spotting some of the desert wildlife such as Oryx and Springbok who have made the dunes on this coastline their home.
Food & Drink
Stays at guest houses are usually on a Bed & Breakfast basis Swakopmund town has some fantastic seafood restaurants such as The Tug, The Pier. and also The Ocean Cellar at the Strand Hotel.
Swakopmund – Palmwag
- Driving Time: 6.5 Hours
- Distance: 435km
- Length of stay 2-3 nights
Palmwag as the name suggests is a nature reserve located along a palm-lined tributary of the Union River, midway between Swakopmund and Etosha National Park. Hiking is a common activity in this area, water is very scarce and the landscape is very desert-like. When there is water in the river, it’s perfect to spot elephants. The area has a special species of Palm tree notable to Namibia, hyphen petersiana. Palmwag is home to the largest population of South Western Black Rhino in Africa. On game drives in the area, you can expect to see, leopards, lions, cheetahs, mountain zebra, Angolan giraffe, springbok, Kudu and African bush elephant.
Desert Rhino Camp by Wilderness Safaris, Private Reserve. This is a no footprint area and you are picked up from Twee Palm where you leave your vehicle and a camp representative will collect your party and luggage. There is a further 60-90 minutes drive.
At Desert Rhino cap the main things to do include, bush walks, sundowner drives and the main draw which is rhino tracking with Save the Rhino Trust. This is a once in a lifetime activity not to be missed. One of the most incredible privileges in the world is to see the endangered Black Rhino in it’s natural habitat.
Food & Drink
Staying at Desert Rhino Camp is on a fully inclusive basis. Breakfast, a three course lunch as well as three course dinner and afternoon tea are included as well as drinks.
Palmwag – Twyfelfontein (Damaraland)
- Driving Time: 1 hour
- Distance: 50km
- Length of Stay: 2 Nights
Located in the Kunene region of North-West Namibia, Twyfelfontein, contains one of the largest concentrations of rock art in Africa.
The name Twyfelfontein translates to ‘Fountain of Doubt’ referring to the perennial spring situated in the Hua Valley flanked by the slopes of a sandstone table mountain.
There are morning as well as sundowner game drives. Located in the Torres Conservancy, this area is one of the best places to see the desert adapted elephants wandering through the riverbeds.
Additionally you can go on guided nature walks, as well as rock art excursions.
Food & Drink
Staying at The Damaraland Camp is on a fully inclusive basis and includes breakfast, three course lunch as well as three course dinner in a family style setting. Afternoon tea and drinks are also included.
Twyfelfontein – Ongava Lodge
- Driving Time: 342km
- Distance: 50km: 4.5 Hours
- Length of Stay 3-4 nights
Ongava Private Game Reserve
Bordering Etosha National Park, Ongava (meaning Rhino) private game reserve spans 30,0000 hectares and is hauled as one of the top private game reserves in the area known globally for its excellent conservation work, novel research at their centre and some of the most exciting safari experiences you will witness in Namibia.
The landscape consists of endless open plains, made up of salt pans and a lot of wildlife.
You can choose between Ongava Lodge (luxury thatched cottages with outdoor terraces and showers), Smaller Ongava Tented camp or even Little Ongava (comprising of three exquisite luxury bungalows) or the very exclusive Anderssons at Ongava.
Game drives in Ongava reserve as well as white rhino spotting bush walks (a very intimate experience), Etosha National Park game drives, sundowner drives., visits to the Ongava research centre, bird watching
Food & Drink
Staying fully inclusive is a great option here as it does include all activities, game drives, bush walks as well as breakfast, three course lunch and dinner as well as afternoon tea and drinks. Additionally if you’re travelling light, laundry is also an inclusion at Ongava as with many other fully inclusive plans at lodge style accommodation out in the bush.
A Few Stops You Can Add to Your Self-Drive Namibia Itinerary
Should you wish you can also add the incredible landscapes and seal colonies of the Skeleton Coast as well as Okonjima a private reserve which is home to the Africat Foundation rehabilitating Cheetahs and leopards back into there natural habitat.
Skeleton Coast: Shipwreck Lodge (2 Nights recommended)
Okonjima Nature Reserve: Okonjima Luxury Bush Camp (2 Nights recommended)
The skeleton Coast can be incorporated into the itinerary post Palmwag and the Okonjima Nature Reserve is a great two night stop post Etosha and en to Windhoek.
Places to Stop off on Your Self-Drive Namibia Itinerary
Travelling from Windhoek to Sossusvlei you’ll pass by Solitaire along the C14 road. It’s located at the edge of the Namib-Naukluft desert and has been welcoming stop-over passengers for over 60 years. It’s a great place to stop off, stretch your legs, fill the car up with diesel, use the spotless restrooms as well as treat yourself to their famous apple pie and coffee. Although if you’re from the UK, you would say the apple pie with cream is more of an apple crumble!
You will also pass by Solitaire on your way to Swakopmund from Sesriem/Sossusvlei. They have two lodges on site as well as being able to partake in some great activities should you wish to stop the night.
Mcgregors bakery is a great stop for the apple cake and if you need something more substantial, head to Cafe van Der Lee for burgers, salads, drinks and cold draft beer or South African wine!
You may even spot some very cute meerkats whizz past you! But the most striking thing about this stop off is the run down classic cars and trucks that are dotted around the area. Almost like car-wrecks! take a relaxing break at Solitaire before the next leg of your self-drive Namibia itinerary.
At the elevation of 1.822, (5,977ft) above sea level and located in Thomas, central Namibia, this will be one of the most hair raising drives of your life! The maximum gradient is around 14% and is the steepest pass in Southern Africa. Spreetshoogte pass can be encountered en route from Windhoek to Sesriem and does have a concrete section on the steepest parts. It is named after the farmer Nicolaas Spreeth. There is a viewing point as you approach the pass where you can get some phenomenal views of the winding roads and landscape below.
Henties Bay, Skeleton Coast
During your self-drive Namibia trip you’ll be driving from Swakopmund to the Damaraland region, you’re sure to pass Henties Bay on the C34, the most hostile coastal stretch of Namibia. The coast is made up of a sandy and desolate area and the waters are known for their strong currents, dense fogs and terrible moving sand banks. Combined with strong winds and sand storms have been believed to the demise of many ships sinking, hence the large number of shipwrecks that can be seen on this coast. Driving along the tarmac-laid road, the barron landscape with interesting sand dunes and the skeleton like structure is apparent. The full Skeleton Coast National Park stretches 6500 square miles and makes up the furthest Northern coast of Namibia.
Much wildlife can also be viewed on this coastline from reptiles, to colonies of seals at Cape Cross and even elephants on some occasions.
30km North West of Uis, en route to Palmwag, during your self-drive Nabia road-trip, sits the country’s highest mountain, Brandberg. It’s difficult not to see it as it protrudes as a feature in the mainly gravel flat plains of the centre of the Namib Desert. It can even be visible from space. With the highest peak measuring around 2573. It has such a great palaeo-arcaeological heritage with large amount of prehistoric rock art, totalling 43,000 paintings.
Brandberg mountain is definitely worth a photography stop on your self-drive Namibia itinerary, especially if you are not planning to stay in the area at one of the camps or lodges.
Located on the drive between Swakopmund and Uis is the Spitzkoppe Reserve. Granite formations an arches, this is a great area to camp at designated sites but also to learn of the bush art heritage.
Even if you’re not planning to stay in the area, it’s worth making the stop off on your self-drive Namibia trip, time permitting of course to admire the landscape and capture some photography of the arch and the natural pool.
The Tropic of Capricorn
On the main road between Sossusvlewi and Walvis Bay, don’t forget to snap the colourful Tropic of Capricorn sign on your self-drive Namibia route. These signs have been decorated with stickers left by fellow travellers to the area.
Self-Drive Namibia Itinerary Round-up
Namibia is one of the most incredible countries you will truly have the privilege of visiting. It is unique in so many ways imaginable and therefore it is essential to plan an itinerary that works best for you, your interests and what you would like to gain from your travel experience. There are many factors to consider including time of year, destinations of interest as well as the flora and fauna you wish to see during your time in the country along with historical points of interest. Immerse yourself in the culture and friendliness of the people and build memories of exhilarating activities in a country that exudes nature, fine hospitality, a priority in the preservation of the environment and its wildlife and is home to the world’s oldest desert. This is Namibia
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Travel Planning Checklist
- Flights: Search & Book the best flight options through SKYSCANNER
- Trains & Coaches: Get the best available options with TRAINLINE
- Car Hire: Secure the best vehicle to suit your needs with EUROPCAR
- Hotels: Choose from a wide range of accommodation with BOOKING.COM
- Reading: Select from a big range of travel books at FOYLES
- Tours: Personalise your travels with memorable activities with GET YOUR GUIDE
- Travel Insurance: An absolute must-have! Check rates on SAFETYWING
- Eco-friendly Travel: Grab your eco-friendly travel must-haves from &KEEP