NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP DETAILED ITINERARY
This 11-day Namibia road trip itinerary uncovers the mystic ghost town of Kolmanskop, driving through the Namib desert and exploring the mighty dunes of Sossusvlei, driving through the top destinations for safari on the African continent, to Etosha National Park. A very detailed guide on how to self-drive Namibia.
If you are dreaming about going on a road trip to Namibia and you are looking for an amazing Namibia self-drive itinerary to have an epic experience, this is a perfect location for you!
On this Ultimate Nambia Self-drive road trip itinerary you will find:
- Namibia road trip itinerary detailed map with all the stops
- 3-min video of Namibia self-drive itinerary
- DAY-BY-DAY Detailed Namibia Itinerary
- Best accommodations in each location + Tips on what to visit and how to drive
Namibia is a country custom-made for self-drive exploration and safari with (mostly) easily navigable gravel roads, minimal traffic, and an impressively low crime rate. With this Namibia self-drive itinerary you will visit the Most Amazing Places in Namibia!
With great options from camping to budget lodges or five stars hotels, Namibia is a good fit for any pocket. A well-planned 11-day Namibia self-drive road trip itinerary is sufficient to discover some of the mesmerizing places that Namibia has to offer.
This Namibia road trip itinerary covers some of the most amazing landscapes, a taste of the wildlife, and also a cultural experience with some of the beautiful local people in Namibia. I have also added alternative routes to give you options while planning your own itinerary.
My road trip in Namibia continued to Botswana – if you are also planning to travel to Botswana, check my Botswana trip itinerary also.
Please note that I used a combination of campsites in Namibia with some budget accommodations along the way – Here I am also making recommendations for the best options for accommodations.
Enjoy this detailed day-by-day 11-day Namibia self-drive road trip itinerary, and safe travels!
- NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP DETAILED ITINERARY
- NAMIBIA SELF-DRIVE ROAD TRIP OVERVIEW
- NAMIBIA SELF-DRIVE ROAD TRIP ITINERARY MAP
- RENTING A CAR FOR YOUR NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP ITINERARY
- NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP TAILOR-MADE TOUR
- 3-MINUTES AROUND NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP ITINERARY
- STARTING YOUR NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP ITINERARY: ARRIVAL IN WINDHOEK
- DAY-BY-DAY OF MY NAMIBIA TRIP ITINERARY
- FINAL THOUGHTS ON MY NAMIBIA 11-DAY ROAD TRIP ITINERARY
- TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES
- WHAT IS NEXT
NAMIBIA SELF-DRIVE ROAD TRIP OVERVIEW
11 days doing a self-drive road trip in Namibia is an ideal amount of time to discover the Best Places to Visit in Namibia
Check Expedia or Skyscanner to see which airlines can take you to Namibia and compare prices to get better deals. You can fly into International Airport Hosea Kutako and you can pick up your rental car at the airport.
Here is an overview of how to spend a perfect 11-day self-drive road trip in Namibia:
|DAY ACTIVITY||OVERNIGHT LOCATION|
|DAY 1: Drive to Keetmanshoop | Visit Quivertree Forest||Keetmanshoop|
|DAY 2: Visit the ghost town of Kolmanskop | Luderitz | Wild horses||Helmeringhausen|
|DAY 3: Namib Desert | Sossusvlei||Sesriem|
|DAY 4: Sunrise in Deadvlei and Climb the dunes in Sossusvlei||Sesriem|
|DAY 5: Visit Solitare | Drive to the coastal town of Walvis Bay||Walvis Bay|
|DAY 6: Adventure driving in Sandwich Harbor | Visit Swakopmund||Walvis Bay|
|DAY 7: Drive the Skeleton Coast | Visit the Cape Cross seal colony||Khorixas|
|DAY 8: Himba Village – Etosha | Alternative: Explore Damaraland||Etosha | Alternative: Damaraland|
|DAY 9: Etosha self-drive safari | Overnight at Bushman Living Museum||Grashoek | Alternative: Etosha|
|DAY 10: Bushman Living Museum | Alternative: Etosha National Park||Windhoek|
|DAY 11: Morning at Game Reserve | Windhoek and Return flight||Windhoek/Departure|
NAMIBIA SELF-DRIVE ROAD TRIP ITINERARY MAP
** Click the icon at the top left of the map to see day by day route details **
RENTING A CAR FOR YOUR NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP ITINERARY
You will need to have a 4×4 vehicle to go on your Namibia road trip. It can be confusing renting a car in Namibia since there are different provides, offering different rental car options.
First of all, you will need to decide if you will rent a 4×4 truck or a 4×4 truck with a tent on top (if you are planning to camp around the country).
I recommend booking your car way in advance, and you can quote below, to have access to cars from many major companies which are compared and displays the different car sizes and best prices.
If you choose any of the car rentals below, you can pick up your car at the Windhoek Internation Airport.
NAMIBIA RENTAL CAR DISCOUNT ALLERT!!!
My preferred partner, and who I used for my Namibia road trip itinerary was Zambezi Car Rental. They are a local company that offers 4×4 trucks or 4X4 with tents on top if you are planning to comp around Namibia.
Readers of this blog can get an AWESOME DISCOUNT – just sign in below to receive a discount code directly to your email.
NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP TAILOR-MADE TOUR
A popular alternative to visit Namibia is to hire an expert local company. They can incorporate any destination into your travels or even any animal species that you hope to see.
You can create a bespoke itinerary, and design your ultimate safari to match your interest, budget, and travel dates. I highly recommend Wild Wonderful World, as they put together incredible itineraries, and part of the profits are used on amazing conservation efforts in Africa
** NAMIBIA TOUR DISCOUNT ALERT **
I have great news for my readers, I used and I recommend Wild Wonderful World – I partnered with them to offer a discount to you! Just sign in below to receive a discount code directly in your email.
3-MINUTES AROUND NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP ITINERARY
STARTING YOUR NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP ITINERARY: ARRIVAL IN WINDHOEK
If you arrive in Windhoek in the morning, it’s possible to start driving that day. If your flight arrives in the afternoon or evening, make sure you spend the night in Windhoek before you start your Namibia self-drive adventure.
I arrived at the airport in the morning. Between immigration, buying a cell phone SIM card at the airport, and meeting the car rental person that was there to pick me up was less than 1 hour.
After arriving at the Zambezi rental car, it took around 1-hour between the orientation to the truck, how to use it, and to sign the rental contract.
I recommend stopping at the mall in Windhoek for supplies. I stopped for breakfast, grocery shopping, bought towels, sheets for the tent, and bug spray – all in one stop, and I was ready to go!
All packed, supplies in place, both gas tanks full, my camera in my hands, and the windows down. While keeping an eye on the road and the other on the side of the road to see if I could spot any animals – yes, you can start to spot animals as soon as you leave the airport.
Welcome…you are in Namibia!
BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN WINDHOEK
OVERALL TOP PICK:
They have a tent accommodation style. Rated as “Superb” at booking.com, the Urban Camp features a bar, outdoor pool, and BBQ area. Located only 1.9 miles from Windhoek city center
MID-RANGE: Has Schwerinsburg Guest House
Set in Windhoek, 1,950 feet from Alte Feste Museum, Haus Schwerinsburg Guest House features rooms with city views and free WiFi with family rooms, and a sun terrace. Gorgeous mountain views and outdoor pool
UPMARKET: Hotel Heinitzburg
If you are looking to stay at a castle for a very reasonable price, this is the accommodation for you. The Hotel Heinitzburg is a world-class hotel, decorated with classic finishes, a gourmet restaurant, and an outdoor pool. Excellent location and guests describe as a ” delightful experience”.
DAY-BY-DAY OF MY NAMIBIA TRIP ITINERARY
DAY 1 NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP : DRIVE TO KEETMANSHOOP AND VISIT THE QUIVER TREE FOREST
- TRAVEL: from Windhoek to Keetmanshoop
- DISTANCE: 308 miles | 5 hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Stunning first views of Namibia / Quivertree Forest
- DRIVING: The drive from Windhoek to Keetmanshoop is long but easy. The entire drive is on paved roads with a 120 kph speed limit. On this route, you will pass several towns with good options for gas and basic necessities.
Your first day of the Namibia road trip adventure can be tiring, especially if like me, you had a long trip from your home country to Namibia. But it is exciting as you start to feel familiar with driving in the desert and see what the breathtaking landscape in Namibia looks like.
I recommend picking up your supplies in Windhoek before you start your Namibia self-drive trip. But don’t worry if you forgot to buy something in Windhoek, as you will have the chance to do a few stops along the way. I had 2 stops for a cold drink and also for fuel. Watch for people wanting to “take care of your car” for some money.
VISIT THE QUIVERTREE FOREST
Arriving in Keetmanshoop you can visit the Quivertree Forest. I had the chance to watch the sunset and this place is stunning. The trees are actually aloe plants and can grow as high as 10 meters, and they can be as old as 300 years.
The Quiver Tree Forest is a fascinating place to visit. Located only 10 km from Keetmanshoop, and a large number of them grow in uncharacteristically close proximity, creating a forest-like landscape. It’s one of the only known naturally occurring such sites in the world.
BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN KEETMANSHOOP
BUDGET: Keetmanshoop Self-catering
This was my accommodation option at Keetmanshoop. It has a great location, very clean bedrooms, and bathrooms, a BBQ area, and free parking. It is a great option if you are on a budget.
MID-RANGE: Quiver Inn Guesthouse
A very well located guest house offers accommodations with free WiFi and free parking. All rooms have A/C, a TV with satellite, and a kitchenette and dining area. A full English breakfast is available in the morning
DAY 2 NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP : VISIT THE GHOST TOWN OF KOLMANSKOP & TAKE THE ROAD TO THE COASTLINE TOWN OF LUDERITZ
- TRAVEL: from Keetmanshoop to Luderitz | from Luderitz to Helmerighausen
- DISTANCE: 175 miles (3 hours) | 145 miles (2.5 hours)
- HIGHLIGHT: Ghost town of Kolmanskop | Luderitiz coastal town | Wild horses
- DRIVING: The drive to the Luderitz area on B4 (paved roads) is beautiful but at the same time, it can be a little challenging, as strong winds blow and the sand can obscure visibility. Just respect the speed limits and take extra caution while driving if the wind starts blowing the sand across the road. Leaving Luderitz, you will backtrack along B4 before turning north on gravel roads to reach Helmringhausen and NamibRand Nature Reserve. You will slow down a little on the gravel roads and you will also want to decrease the pressure in your tires to avoid getting flats and improve handling.
VISIT THE GHOST TOWN OF KOLMANSKOP
Start the day driving west the ghost town of Kolmanskop, located near the Forbidden Zone in the Namib Desert – one of the most fascinating things about abandoned places in the absence of life, and the profound sense of curiosity to know what its story is.
From diamonds to dust – What one day was a wealthy town, where diamonds could easily be found, but because of intensive mining the area became depleted and by 1956 was abandoned.
Now the dunes fill the rooms of the town with banks of sand creating an intriguing landscape and a paradise for photographers.
Note that if you are visiting Kolmanskop, the gate closes at 1:00 PM every day, and you will need to reserve at least 2 hours to explore the whole town.
VISIT THE TOWN OF LUDERITZ
After visiting Kolmanskop in the morning, you can continue down the road and visit Luderitz.
This cool and often foggy coastal town by the Atlantic coastline where the ocean meets the Namib Desert is a great stop for a fresh seafood lunch, and to visit the colorful German architecture buildings.
While driving near Luderitz pay close attention to the side of the road, as you can also see some of the only Wild Horses in Africa.
These horses were brought by European colonials found a new home in the Namib desert in an area known as the Garub. I chose to spend the night at Helmeringhausen since it was a good distance to my next destination. This was my first-night camping, how exciting!
BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN LUDERITZ
MID-RANGE: Tranquility Guest House
Excellent location, near the main attractions. All rooms have a fully-equipped kitchen and TV with satellite channels. This property has been recently renovated and the rooms open to a beautiful garden
UPMARKET: Alte Villa Gästehaus
Offering a lush garden and a terrace with an excellent location. You can relax with a drink from the bar and enjoy lobsters and oysters at the on-site restaurant. A continental breakfast is included in the rate and served each morning.
DAY 3 NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP: DRIVE TO SOSSUSVLEI AND START EXPLORING THE DESERT (2 OVERNIGHTS)
- TRAVEL: from Helmeringhausen to Sossusvlei
- DISTANCE: 100 miles | 2.5 hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Amazing views of Sesriem Canyon | Sossusvlei | Deadsvlei
- DRIVING: On the third day of this Namibia self-drive itinerary the driving will be on gravel roads on C27. The scenery is an amazing introduction to the drive in the desert, it is desolated and a great opportunity to already start spotting some animals. I saw many ostrich, zebras, oryx, and springbok. At the same time, the road is not bad at all, I end up getting 2 flat tires on my way to Sossusvlei. While it doesn’t require a 4WD to get to Sossusvlei, some skills are required to drive on this road.
DRIVE TO SESRIEM FOR GAS AND SUPPLIES
Sesriem is a settlement at the gate of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, and here is a great opportunity to fuel up and pick up basic supplies at the gas station. There is no grocery store, but the campsites do have restaurants and very modest food supplies. I arrived early afternoon, checked in at my campsite, and went to explore the park and watch the sunset from the dunes.
Visiting Sossusvlei was the highlight of my trip, and it was one of my bucket list places to visit in Namibia. Once you are inside the park, you can start driving on what one day was a riverbed, and today serves as roads among some of the tallest dunes in the world.
You can start to feel familiar with this mesmerizing place by climbing some of the dunes and hike across the desert. I chose to visit the dune adjacent to Dune 45, as there was no one there and it offered me spectacular views and a great opportunity to take stunning pictures.
Make sure your tires are between 1.6 and 1.8 bar as it will most likely save you from a flat tire (I learned the hard way).
BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN SOSSUSVLEI
BUDGET: Desert Camp
This camp is located at an incredible location with mountain views, just a few minutes from Sossuvlei dunes. It has a pool and a bar and a private kitchenette and bathroom attached to the bedroom.
MID-RANGE: Desert Quiver Camp
The location is great, only 3.3 km from the Sossusvlei entrance gate. Wonderful and very comfortable bedroom, with large private bathroom and an outside kitchen. Option for breakfast is available.
UPMARKET: Dead Valley Lodge
Now if you are looking to spoil yourself, this lodge is the best option. Large chalets available with incredible views, swimming pool, and ALL THE MEALS INCLUDED! It is located inside the Sossusvlei National Park.
DAY 4 NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP: VISIT THE SURREAL DEADSVLEI AND CLIMB DUNES IN SOSSUSVLEI
DRIVING: Upon entering the park there is a single paved road for about 45 minutes, at which point there is a car park for vehicles who can’t/prefer not to make the short 4×4 trip to Deadvlei and Sossusvlei. Here drivers can park and take a guided tour in a 4×4 or be shuttled to different sections of Sossusvlei.
I saw drivers get stuck in the deep sand so take care to follow the tracks carefully and avoid any parts which look too deep. If you’re not comfortable driving a 4×4 off-road it may be wise not to attempt the deep sand and use the shuttle instead. You absolutely need a 4×4 once you reach the end of the paved road at Sossusvlei/Deadvlei. Here I put my truck in 4-low and drove through the deep sand to a dirt parking lot with a sign that said, “Deadvlei 1.1 km, follow the markers”. I could not find any markers to follow, and you cannot see them from the parking area. Head straight into the desert toward the low dune between Big Daddy (on the left) and the high dune on the right.
GO TO DEASVLEI FOR SUNRISE
On day 4 of my Namibia road trip, I woke up at 4:30 AM as the park gate opens 5 AM – and drove to Deadsvlei for the sunrise.
It is very rewarding to watch the shades of the petrified trees growing as the sun rises, and the dunes changing shades of orange color. The changing light conditions make continuous adjustments on your camera a necessity.
I left the campsite an hour before sunrise to arrive at the park gate for opening and made a beeline for Deadvlei, the open plain where the isolated and long-dead camel thorn trees stand.
CLIMB THE DUNE 45
The drive from the park gate to Deadvlei is about 50 minutes. After the spectacular sunrise, I headed back to Dune 45 and climbed it.
Climbing a dune is harder than I expected and for each step, I would take upward, I felt that I would slide 2 steps back…and it started to get hot.
In December, it is summer in Africa and the mid-day temperatures can get extremely hot, this is when I realized it was over 100 degrees I decided to head to the lodge and have lunch and sip cold water until the temperature dropped a little and I could continue to hike the desert.
If you want to see sunrise or sunset at the dunes note that only visitors who stay within the park are able to access it for sunrise or sunset as the park gates are otherwise closed for outside visitors. It can be very windy so be aware and I recommend having a scarf to cover your face from the sand. Mind your belongings because my hat flew away and I had to run to get it. Also, be aware of your electronic equipment, they really do not like sand.
DAY 5 NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP: VISIT SOLITARE / DRIVE TO THE COASTAL TOWN IN WALVIS BAY (2 OVERNIGHTS)
- TRAVEL: from Sossusvlei to Walvis Bay
- DISTANCE: 227 miles | 6 hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Solitare for photos | Walvis Bay for flamingos
- DRIVING: It’s a 4-hour drive from the Sossusvlei area to Walvis Bay on a gravel road. A large portion of the drive passes through a long and straight road in the Namib-Naukluft National Park – You will drive in the desert then the landscape starts to change dramatically and you will drive among canyon and rock formations. Approaching Walvis Bay and the Atlantic Coast you start to see the ocean and perhaps some mist.
CATCH ANOTHER SUNRISE IN SOSSUSVLEI (It is so worth it!)
This is another early morning watching the sunrise in Sossusvlei, and it never gets old. I decided to return to Deadvlei again, as it is a popular place to capture the first sunrises of the day while spotting some dunes, including the tallest one, Big Daddy just in front of your eyes.
After seeing the sunrise, I returned to the campsite to have some strong coffee, pack the truck, and hit the road again, it’s time to leave the desert and make the journey towards the Atlantic Coast, driving on the very dusty and open roads.
MAKE A STOP AT THE SOLITAIRE
The first stop of day 5 of this Namibia road trip is at the Solitaire. Take some pictures of the old sunbleached cars, and try the “best apple pie in Namibia” from Moose McGregor’s Desert Bakery, and don’t forget to fill your tank.
Head back to C14 and be surprises with the change of the landscape as you will pass through canyons and dry river beds, enjoy the dramatic landscape driving. After you pass the canyon you will arrive at the flat desert plains again, and start to see little stands on the side of the road where you can buy things from handicrafts to local rocks.
You probably will not see anyone minding these stands, but they work on the honor system. If you find something you like, leave money in the jar or can.
Solitaire is home to the only gas station between Sossusvlei and Walvis Bay so fill up if you need to!
ARRIVE AT WALVIS BAY
Arriving in Walvis Bay I was not very impressed with the very industrial port town, with offshore rigs and salt companies marking the horizon.
One of the highlights is to visit the flamingo colony, where you can spot thousands of guess what? Pink and also white flamingos! as well as many other birds, are well worth the visit.
BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN WALVIS BAY
BUDGET: Sunflower Self-Catering
Sunflower Self-Catering offers accommodations with free WiFi, BBQ facilities, a garden, and free private parking. Featuring a kitchenette with a microwave and a fridge, each unit also comes with a satellite flat-screen TV, ironing facilities, desk, and a seating
MID-RANGE: The Iris Boutique Hotel
Gorgeous location, right by the lagoon where you can see the flamingoes. The bedrooms are modern, swimming poos and a bar with a garden view. They offer airport transfers and a wonderful breakfast included.
UPMARKET: Pelican Point Lodge
This is an oasis in Walvis Bay, located at an extraordinary spot on the peninsula, the rooms are beautiful and very comfortable. Restaurant with great food with BREAKFAST & DINNER INCLUDED.
DAY 6 NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP: ADVENTURE DRIVING IN SANDWICH HABOR & VISIT SWAKOPMUND
ADVENTURE DAY AT SANDWICH HARBOR
Today was absolutely one of my favorite things I have done ever! I drove to Sandwich Harbor and the experience was exhilarating!
It is so amazing that the best description is “Where the desert meets the ocean” – I could not even imagine a landscape as this existed.
Driving over golden dunes nestled beside the Atlantic Ocean, I passed some seals, jackals, and jackals eating seals. From Walvis Bay to Swakopmund is less than 30 minutes drive.
If you decide to self-drive to Sandwich-Harbor, note that a minimum of preparation is required. Have a proper 4×4, have great driving skills off-road, buy your permit to enter, know the tide table before you go. I recommend booking the tour with a professional local tour company.
VISIT THE TOWN OF SWAKOPMUND
Swakopmund is the largest coastal town in the country and the perfect stopover between the desert and the Skeleton Coast.
Also here is where the locals go for their holiday vacation, and it makes the perfect stop to stroll around the cute town and eat some good German food at Swakopmund Brauhaus and have some beer in a boot!
Swakopmund is an adventure hotspot and offers many activities, such as driving on the dunes, quad biking, sandboarding, and skydiving. It is also a very popular destination to fish in the ocean.
Swakopmund is a large town with pretty much all you need. Stock up on supplies before you continue your trip.
DAY 7 NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP: DRIVE THE SKELETON COAST AND VISIT THE SEAL COLONY AT CAPE CROSS
- TRAVEL: from Walvis Bay to Khorixas
- DISTANCE: 200 miles | 4 hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Swakopmund Town | Seal colony | Damaraland and cave painting
- DRIVING: While along the coast, you will be driving in the mist created by the phenomena of having the heat of the dunes and the cold Atlantic ocean. The gravel roads that traverse the region can be both challenging and slow but are generally suitable for 2WD and 4WD vehicles, and today is the journey into the wilderness. Heading east towards Khorixas, the roads are wide dirt/gravel that can be quite dusty in the dry season. The roads are well maintained though you will want to make sure you are running lower pressure (1.8 bar) in your tires to avoid flats caused by the gravel.
DRIVE THE SKELETON COAST
I started day 7 of my Namibia road trip driving on one of the most dreamed of destinations in Namibia is the Skeleton Coast, named for the whale bones that once littered this stretch of coastline, and the spot of many shipwrecks claimed by rough seas and harsh weather.
Drive to Henties Bay, stopping en route to admire the wreck of the Zeila.
If you desire to visit the shipwrecks, I recommend having the areas marked in advance, as while you are driving on the road, the mist makes it hard to see anything from the road.
VISIT THE SEALS AT CAPE CROSS
Then head to Cape Cross to visit the seal colony. You will see thousands of Cape fur seals, which are considered the largest aggregation in the world.
Just watching the furry faces, catching some sun while pups milk from their moms was a very special moment and a great place to visit.
Yes, it is true it can smell very strong, but after a few minutes I just got used to the smell and it didn’t bother me any longer. Along the Skeleton Coast, it is very misty in the morning, and the temperatures are much lower than in the desert, around 17-20 C.
DRIVE TO KHORIXAS
Return to Henties Bay, and the road to Damaraland turns sharply inland. Here you will notice that the cold, moisture-laden air of the coast melts away, to be replaced by the hot desert sun.
I spent the night at the Madisa Bush Camp since I was on my way to Etosha National Park.
BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN KHORIXAS
BUDGET: Madisa Camp
This was my accommodation option. Located in Kalkbron, Madisa Camp provides accommodations on your own tent or they have comfortable tents to rent also. With an outdoor pool, a bar, and barbecue facilities, it is an excellent option.
MID-RANGE: Twyfelfontein Adventure Camp
The location is fantastic – the tents are right in front of a rock formation that you can also climb. There are stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Cozy restaurant and swimming pool. BREAKFAST & DINNER ARE INCLUDED.
UPMARKET: Ozondjou Trails
If you are looking for luxury, this ALL INCLUSIVE is for you! The luxury-style tents have mountain views with bathroom a shower. Restaurant with wonderful gourmet meals.
DAY 8 NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP: IMMERSION AT HIMBA VILLAGE AND DRIVE TO ETOSHA
- TRAVEL: from Khorixas to Etosha National Park
- DISTANCE: 82 miles | 4 hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Visit Himba Village | First day of safari in Etosha
- DRIVING: For the first half of the drive toward Etosha on C39 is a wide gravel road. You will then turn north at Outjo on C38 (paved road) to head to the Okaukuejo Gate inside Etosha National Park.
VISIT A HIMBA VILLAGE IN KHORIXAS
When you are in the Khorixas area, you will start to see many ethnic groups on the side of the road, supermarkets, and gas stations. If you wish to interact with them or to visit their villages, you may just ask them if they would accept a visit and you can negotiate how to pay for this experience.
On my way to Etosha, I saw these Himba ladies on the side of the road, and I stopped to make some donations and to check on some local items they were selling. Pow! I ended up changing my plan for the day and cut short one safari day in Etosha. But I was so happy with this opportunity since I wanted to have an ethical encounter with the local tribes, and this was the perfect opportunity. They took me to their village, dressed me as “Himba Paula” and shared some of the amazing traditions of the Himba people. I ended up spending an amazing half day with them before I insisted they would allow me to leave to continue my journey.
If you also want to have a real authentic experience with the Himba people, keep an eye and try to make connections. You will see them around this area and you can ask them if they would accept your visit to their village, and they will charge you a small amount to show you their homes, traditions and amazing hand-made clothes.
DAY 8 NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP: SPEND AN EXTRA DAY IN DAMARALAND
If you are in the Khorixas area, you have the option to spend another day and night and explore the rich surroundings.
Visit the Petrified Forest with tree trunks over 300 million years old.
A bit further on you’ll find Twyfelfontein with its famous rock engravings (a World Heritage Site since 2007), which are best visited in the afternoon to ensure the best light for taking photos.
The Brandberg Mountains are found approx. 150 km south of Khorixas. Here the world-famous rock paintings (White Lady) are well worth a visit.
I visited a site in the Damaraland area to see ancient cave paintings. You will need to hire a guide and the tour takes around 2 hours, with the last tour leaving at 4 pm. I only had the chance to visit one of the rock paintings of 2,000 years old, and it took me around 1 hour for this short tour. This area has over 5,000 rock paintings that are centuries and millennia old.
DRIVE TO ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK | FIRST DAY AT ETOSHA SAFARI
Continue your road trip, driving for 4 hours to Etosha. Check-in at the camp/lodge and head to the National Park gate to buy your permit. I did 3 hours of safari at the end of the day, and it was the best time to spot animals, especially during the summertime when the day is too hot to see animals, and the gates close at 7 pm.
I saw big groups of giraffe, springbok, wildebeest, zebras, a couple of jackals, and even an aardwolf. The best ” catch” of the day was to watch the king lion passing right in front of my car returning from a big meal (I could see by the size of his belly and some spots of blood in his paws).
After this exciting day, I returned to my lodge and enjoyed the amazing buffet of local food. The excitement was not over yet, as I had the pleasure to watch the first rain of the season, a memorable moment!
BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN ETOSHA
If you are camping, the only option inside the gate is Olifantsurs Campsite. There are also NWR lodges right at the gates for early access to the park but be prepared to pay for the convenience (and book way in advance).
There are more options for lodges outside the gates like Okaukuejo Resort, Halali Resort, and Dolomite Resort, all run by the NWR (Namibia Wildlife Resort). The options outside the park are approximately 20-30 minutes from the entrance gate (not too far).
BUDGET: Toshari Lodge
This lodge has a spacious and luxurious room, with a private balcony looking on the bush. Restaurant with fresh daily breakfast included, and local cuisine. They also offer guided game drives.
MID-RANGE Tarentaal Guest Farm
Located in Outjo, it offers accommodations with free WiFi, air conditioning, and access to a garden with an outdoor swimming pool. BREAKFAST & DINNER ARE INCLUDED and it is only a short drive to Etosha National Park.
UPMARKET: Etosha Oberlnad Lodge
This is just an experience, being able to observe animals for your deck! Located only 1.1 miles from Etosha National park gate, this all-inclusive lodge offers an entire chalet with all the luxury you deserve when doing a safari in Etosha!
DAY 9 NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP: ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK SELF-DRIVE SAFARI
- TRAVEL: from Etosha to Grashoek
- DISTANCE: 300 miles | 5 hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Amazing number of animals at Etosha National Park
- DRIVING: Etosha National Park was designed for self-drives to easily navigate the park, and inside the park has all the structures provided by the government such as campsites, bathrooms, and gas stations. A 4×4 is not required to drive in Etosha.
ETOSHA SELF-DRIVE SAFARI
Day 9 of my Namibia road trip itinerary was one of the most exciting! Etosha National Park means “Great White Place” and it is the most renowned wildlife area of Namibia with a salt pan so large that it covers 23% of the total size of the area.
Etosha is considered one of the best safaris on the planet, and it is very well known for the water holes, which are magnets for wildlife.
Etosha is one of the highlights of any destination for an amazing road trip in Namibia. Start your day very early, as chances to view the wildlife is best! If you visit Etosha during the high (dry) season, your chances are high to see the wildlife just congregated around the waterholes. I visited during the low (wet) season, which means there is more water in the park, therefore, the animals are more spread around the park, and not only around the waterholes like during the dry season. But I still saw many animals, including a shy white rhino.
If you have the chance, spend at least 2 nights in Etosha, as the wildlife is vast and the landscape is from another planet.
DRIVE TO GRASHOEK
After 10 hours of self-drive safari, I headed to my next destination and spent the night at the Bushman Living Museum campsite, and guess what?
They are really in the bush. There is no electricity or running water at the campsite…but the next day I had a lot of excitement to make up for it.
DAY 10 NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP: ACTIVE DAY IN THE BUSH WITH THE BUSHMAN | ALTERNATIVE: SPEND AN EXTRA DAY IN ETOSHA
- TRAVEL: from Grashoek to Windhoek | or from Etosha to Windhoek
- DISTANCE: 370 miles (6 hours) | 266 miles (4 hours)
- HIGHLIGHT: Spend the day with the bushman
- DRIVING: Be ready as today is a long day driving! You will leave the Living Museum and drive on gravel roads until you get to B1 towards Windhoek. B1 is in great condition. There is also a lot of activity happening along roads – you will pass a lot of villages, see kids playing, people walking to go collect water and just be aware of the animals (goats, cows, donkeys…) they can really cross in front of the car at any moment.
As a big supporter of responsible and ethical traveling, I always search for opportunities to visit places that I can help support local communities.
The Living Museum is an ethical and cultural highlight in Namibia as well as a good example of sustainable development, as the visitors give back to the local community and support the preservation of their culture. The San people provide an opportunity to learn about their culture and traditional way of life. You can participate in many activities in a visit as short as a half-day or as long as 3 days.
Activities range from a visit to their village, participation in a bushwalk, and learn how they gather and hunt, make your own bow and jewelry and watch their traditional dancing and songs. At the end of my activities with the Bushmen, it was time to head back to the road toward Botswana.
If you also continue your trip to Botswana, check my 10-day Botswana itinerary. If you are at the end of your amazing self-drive in Namibia, it is time to make your journey back to Windhoek.
My complete itinerary continues to Botswana through the Caprivi Strip. Therefore this route fits perfectly if you also continue your adventure to explore Botswana. From here, you can end your trip in Etosha and the drive back to Windhoek is less than 4 hours. I chose to take a long journey to Grashoek at the Living Museum of Ju/’Hoansi-San to spend time with the San people (Bushman), and it was one of the bucket-list activities of my road trip to Namibia. Also, as my full itinerary continues to Botswana and I drove towards the Caprivi Strip and was along the route of my original itinerary.
DAY 11 NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP: WINDHOEK MORNING RELAXING & DEPARTURE
- TRAVEL: from lodge to the Airport
- DISTANCE: 43 miles | 1 hour
- HIGHLIGHT: Relax from your amazing trip in Namibia
- DRIVING: Driving back to Windhoek International Airport is only 43 miles.
If you opt to not visit the city of Windhoek, a good option is to take this day to recharge from your amazing self-drive road trip in Namibia and relax by the pool at Daan Viljoen Park resort.
They have beautiful chalets, a beautiful restaurant, and a nice pool area. But the best part is that you can still catch more safari views as the property is inside a game reserve. You can see hartebeest, wildebeest, kudu, ostrich, baboon, warthog, springbok, oryx, giraffe, and impala just walking around the area or from your chalet.
Windhoek doesn’t even offer a lot to see and can easily be skipped. Some of the highlights are the Christuskirche, the gingerbread-style church in the center of town, or visiting the local craft markets.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON MY NAMIBIA 11-DAY ROAD TRIP ITINERARY
This is my very detailed 11-day Namibia road trip itinerary, and I hope this can help you to plan your Namibia Trip!
Namibia is a safe country to visit and to drive, you just need to make sure you have a good itinerary and a map with you. I also recommend renting a 4×4 truck, as you will be driving off-road, as well as paved roads.
If you are looking for a tour operator to plan a trip for you, I highly recommend Wild Wonderful World, and part of the profits is used on amazing conservation efforts.
If I forgot to cover something, or if you have any additional questions, please leave your comment below and I will be thrilled to get back to you.
I truly recommend anyone to add Namibia to your bucket list trip, and if you are convinced, continue reading as I prepared the whole NAMIBIA TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES section below!
TRAVEL INSURANCE: SIMPLE & FLEXIBLE
I never leave my home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip. Things can go wrong, and you don’t want to get stuck paying tons of money if you get sick or have an accident without travel insurance.
World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover their trip essentials. Especially if you are like me, travel insurance is ideal for adventurous travelers.
Travel smarter and safer – You can do your quick quote below and find out how little you can pay for the essential benefit of Travel Insurance for your next trip!
TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES
PLANNING A TRIP TO NAMIBIA
If you are going to travel to Namibia, pre-planning, research, and understanding what you are looking for in a destination will help make your travels far more successful and safe. Here is some further information I think you might need to plan your trip to Namibia.
For planning my trip to Namibia I used the Lonely Planet guidebook, which contains a lot of helpful information.
BEST TIME FOR A SELF-DRIVE ROAD TRIP IN NAMIBIA
DRY SEASON – MAY TO OCTOBER
- Wildlife congregates around rivers and waterholes, making animals easier to spot – it is the best time to do a safari in Etosha
- There are no clouds, it’s sunny, and there is virtually no rain
- Even though most tourists visit during the dry season, the parks still don’t feel crowded, except for Etosha
WET SEASON – NOVEMBER TO APRIL
- After the rains, the scenery is greener and the rates are lower because it’s low season
- This is the time of the year you can see newborn animals – migratory birds are present, and birding is at its best
- Best time to find accommodation and tours with lower prices, as it is low season for visitors.
WHAT TO PACK FOR A NAMIBIA SELF-DRIVE ROAD TRIP
You want to pack light….but at the same time, you will be so remote for many days that you will want to pack heavy. So, let me help you PACK SMART!
- GPS and a good Namibia map.
- Extra flash lights and batteries
- A well-equipped First Aid kit (including a snake bite kit)
- Rehydration solution
- A daypack
- Satellite phone
- Inflatable LED Solar Lantern.
- Bring a warm blanket for cold nights.
- Camera and safari lens
- Toilet paper
- light hiking pants
- long sleeves shirts
- good face cover
- polarized sunglasses
- Hand sanitizer
- LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle and Emergency water supply
- External battery charger
PACK SMART ALERT!
FLIGHTS TO NAMIBIA
I recommend you browse and compare prices for the BEST DEAL with Expedia or Skyscanner to find the best options for flights. If you are flying internationally to Namibia, you will arrive at the International Airport Hosea Kutako International – some people opt to fly to South Africa and connect flight from there.
PRICE FOR NAMIBIA 11-DAY SELF-DRIVE ROAD TRIP
Prices can vary dramatically depending on your travel style and budget – There are lots of options for accommodations from $ camping to $$$$ five-star lodges. My main costs were for 4×4 rental, fuel, accommodations, food, and park entry fees (in this order).
PRICES BELOW ARE THE AVERAGE FOR 11-DAY FOR 2 PEOPLE (IT DOESN’T INCLUDE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS):
|ACCOMMODATION (based on 70% camping and 30% budget lodges)||US$1,200|
|RENTAL CAR (4×4 rental with a tent on top)||US$2,200|
|FUEL & OTHERS (mechanical, etc.)||US$700|
|FOOD & DRINK (I cooked most of my meals)||US$520|
|MISCELLANEOUS (park entrance fee, etc.)||US$400|
ACCOMMODATIONS FOR SELF-DRIVE ROAD TRIP IN NAMIBIA
There is plenty of accommodations options near the main attractions, it will depend on your personal preferences and your budget. For either camping or if you are staying in a lodge you are highly encouraged to make your reservations 6-12 months in advance during the high season. During the low season, you will want to book well in advance for the more visited areas of the country.
CAMPING IN NAMIBIA: There is a state-owned company that manages all camping/lodging inside the national parks (such as Etosha). NWR has exclusive tourism facilities in protected areas where private companies cannot operate. You can book camping or lodging with NWR (Namibia Wildlife Resort) directly for specific locations. I found their camping and lodging to be excellent. I recommend downloading the iOverlander app for an overview of all of them and book them in advance. Camping is a great option if you are traveling on a budget or seeking a bigger adventure, and you can find camping sites pretty much everywhere in Namibia. Also, most of the accommodations stay true to nature and are unfenced, this means you will be visited by wildlife, especially at night.
TOUR OPERATOR: If it doesn’t seem worth the trouble to you, you can always hire a third-party company to handle the booking for you – if you need any recommendation or have any questions, please leave a comment below and I will be happy to help.
LODGES: If you are planning to stay at lodges, Booking.com is the best option as it is a reliable source and they have a 24-hour cancellation policy that I have used several times.
RENTING A CAR IN NAMIBIA
You will need to have a 4×4 vehicle to go on a self-drive safari in Namibia, either if you decide to go with a tour operator, or if you decide to go on an independent adventure.
If you are arriving in Namibia and starting your drive, I recommend renting a car with Rental Car, as they have access to cars from all the major companies which are compared on a grid format that clearly displays the prices from each provider. Click on the bottom below to get the best deals on rental cars in Namibia.
!! NAMIBIA RENTAL CAR DISCOUNT ALERT !!
If you are driving from South Africa or arriving at the airport in Namibia, readers of this blog have a great discount with Zambezi Car Rental. – I partnered with them to offer a discount to you! Just sign in below to receive a discount code directly in your email.
SELF-DRIVING IN NAMIBIA
*Self-drive road trip conditions may vary between wet (November to March) and dry (April to October) seasons. Your self-drive itinerary will need to be tailored respecting the time of the year that you are visiting.
Driving in Namibia is relatively easy. There are only a few roads that are paved and have a speed limit of up to 120 km/h and the majority of the roads have different levels of gravel road, which some are really good and you still can drive at 80 km/h. Others can be challenging and too bumpy and/or sandy, and driving slowly with extra caution is required.
Make sure to go over your rental car company and follow all the instructions they will give you, such as tire pressure, speed limit, and what you should do when you get stuck in deep sand.
ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR YOUR SELF-DRIVE ROAD TRIP IN NAMIBIA
- CURRENCY: Namibia uses Namibian Dollar – check here for the current exchange rate. Different from some other countries, you will need to carry the local cash with you, an ATM can be found in the cities.
- FUEL: Since you will be driving long distances, fuel regularly in the major towns as there can be long distances between stations. Credit cards are accepted in the larger stations but many smaller stops were cash only.
- SUPPLIES: snack and drinks are available at most of the fuel stops and the bigger towns had a well-stocked Spar supermarkets.
- MAPS + GPS: My rental car came with a GPS and it worked wonders, even in remote areas. I also kept a paper map in the glove box just in case!
- SIM CARDS: it’s easy to pick up a pay as you go SIM in the MCT store at the airports as well as local mobile network stores. Coverage was actually pretty good throughout much of the country and ranged from LTE to 3G.
- INTERNET & WI-FI: The majority of the camping I stayed at had a Wi-Fi connection. You can also find access to some restaurants, shops and even gas stations (they charge a small amount for a password).
Follow + Share
I would love it if you could follow me on Pinterest and share this guide on my social media.
Plan your Trip
You can plan your trip with this easy guide and have access to the best services I recommend and get discounts here.
WHAT IS NEXT
Here is some further information I think you might need to plan your trip:
- Check my guide of the Best Places to visit in Namibia to get inspired
- Start planning your trip to Namibia with these 10 Easy Steps to Plan your Trip
- Make sure you are prepared before you travel to Namibia with this Namibia Travel Guide
- Check this Ultimate Guide for Botswana Safari
- On this guide for Everything you neeed to know about Camping in Botswana, this is a must-read guide