A road trip in Namibia is one of the most remarkable adventures of a lifetime. This Namibia self-drive itinerary uncovers the best of Namibia, from the mystic ghost town of Kolmanskop, exploring the mighty dunes of Sossusvlei, going on a self-drive safari in Etosha National Park, and all between.
This Namibia self-drive itinerary is packed with insider tips, such as the best way to get around the country on your own and the best accommodation options. You will also find alternative routes to fit your needs while taking a Namibia Road Trip on your own.
Here you will find the most amazing places in Namibia. If you have more time, you can also combine a road trip between Namibia and Botswana, as both countries are very close and it makes a perfect dream destination. 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 great options for camping in Namibia from budget lodges to five stars hotels, Namibia is a good fit for any pocket. A well-planned Namibia road trip itinerary will take you to discover some of the mesmerizing places that Namibia has to offer.
If you are planning a self-drive in Namibia, these are a must-read:
- How to rent a car in Namibia
- Tips on how to drive in Namibia
- 15 most beautiful places to visit in Namibia
- Namibia Self-Drive Itinerary Overview
- Namibia Self-Drive Itinerary Overview
- Namibia Road Trip Map
- How to Get Around Namibia on a Self-Drive
- Starting your Namibia Self-Drive itinerary | Arrival in Windhoek
- Namibia Self-Drive Itinerary
- DAY 1: Drive to Keetmanshoop and Visit the Quiver Tree Forest
- DAY 2: Visit the Ghost Town of Kolmanskop and Take the Road to the Coastline Town of Luderitz
- DAY 3: Drive to Sossusvlei and Start Exploring the Desert (2 Overnights here)
- DAY 4: Visit the Surreal Deadsvlei and Climb the Dunes in Sossusvlei
- DAY 5: Visit Solitaire | Drive to the Coastal Town in Walvis Bay (2 Overnights)
- DAY 6: Adventure Driving in Sandwich Harbor and Visit Swakopmund
- DAY 7: Drive the Skeleton Coast and Visit the Seal Colony at Cape Cross
- DAY 8 (OPTION 1): Immersion at Himba Village and Drive to Etosha National Park
- DAY 8 (OPTION 2): Spend an Extra Day in Damaraland
- DAY 9: Self-Drive Safari at Etosha National Park (second day)
- DAY 10: Active Day at the Bush with the Bushman Tribe (Alternative: Spend an extra day in Etosha)
- DAY 11: Windhoek Morning Relaxing and Departure
Namibia Self-Drive Itinerary Overview
This Namibia self-drive 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 3-Weeks Namibia & Botswana itinerary.
I have also prepared a Complete guide on 20 Essentials tips on how to self-drive safely in Namibia that I recommend you to read before your trip, and How to Rent a car in Namibia is also a must-read.
Here is an overview of how to spend a perfect 11-day self-drive road trip in Namibia:
NOTE: 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. 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
|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 Road Trip Map
** Click the icon at the top left of the map to see day-by-day route details **
How to Get Around Namibia on a Self-Drive
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Starting your Namibia Self-Drive 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. Check below for the best accommodation recommendations in Windhoek.
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 rental car, it took around 1-hour between the orientation to the truck, how to use it, and signing the rental contract.
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!
PRO-TIP: 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!
BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN WINDHOEK
OVERALL TOP PICK: Urban Camp
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 an 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 it as a ” delightful experience”.
Namibia Self-Drive Itinerary
DAY 1: 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.
1. Long Drive from Windhoek, but appreciate the journey
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. Stop for a classic picture in front of the Tropic of Capricorn sign.
PRO-TIP: 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.
2. Arrive in Keetmanshoop and 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, 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: Visit the Ghost Town of Kolmanskop and 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.
1. Visit the Ghost Town of Kolmanskop
Start the day driving west to 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.
PRO-TIP: 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.
2. 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 and 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: Drive to Sossusvlei and Start Exploring the Desert (2 Overnights here)
- 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 desolate and a great opportunity to already start spotting some animals. I saw many ostrich, zebras, oryx, and springboks. 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.
1. 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.
2. Explore Sossusvlei
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 hiking 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.
PRO-TIP: Make sure you review the most important tips on how to drive in Namibia, and keep 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: Visit the Surreal Deadsvlei and Climb the 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.
1. Start your day at Deadsvlei for the Sunrise
On day 4 of my Namibia self drive road trip, I woke up at 4:30 AM as the park gate opens at 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.
2. 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.
PRO-TIP: 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 san
DAY 5: Visit Solitaire | 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.
1. 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.
2. Make a Stop at the Solitaire
The first stop on day 5 of this Namibia road trip is at the Solitaire. Take some pictures of the old sunbleached cars, 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 surprised by the change of the landscape as you will pass through canyons and dry river beds, and 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.
PRO-TIP: Solitaire is home to the only gas station between Sossusvlei and Walvis Bay so fill up if you need to!
3. 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, a 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: Adventure Driving in Sandwich Harbor and Visit Swakopmund
1. Adventure 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.
PRO-TIP: 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, and know the tide table before you go. I recommend booking the tour with a professional local tour company.
2. 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!
Here is an adventure hotspot in Namibia 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.
PRO-TIP:T Swakopmund is a large town with pretty much all you need. Stock up on supplies before you continue your trip.
DAY 7: 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.
1. 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.
PRO-TIP: 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.
2. 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, and 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.
3. 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 (OPTION 1): Immersion at Himba Village and Drive to Etosha National Park
- 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.
1. 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.
PRO-TIP: If you also want to have a real authentic experience with the Himba people, keep an eye out 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 (OPTION 2): 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.
PRO-TIP: 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.
2. Self-Drive Safari at Etosha National Park | First Day Self-Drive Safari in Namibia
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 giraffes, 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: Self-Drive Safari at Etosha National Park (second day)
- 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 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.
1. Explore a Self-Drive Safari at Etosha National Park
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.
PRO-TIP: If you have the chance, spend at least 2 nights in Etosha, as the wildlife is vast and the landscape is from another planet.
2. Drive to Grashoek (option if you are continue your trip to Botswana)
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.
This is an option only if you are adding Botswana to your itinerary, as the driving is long. If you finish your trip in Namibia, I recommend to spend another night and day at Etosha National Park
DAY 10: Active Day at the Bush with the Bushman Tribe (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 where 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 during 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, learning how they gather and hunt, making their own bow and jewelry, and watching 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.
NOTE: 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: Windhoek Morning Relaxing and Departure
- TRAVEL: from the lodge to the Airport
- DISTANCE: 43 miles | 1 hour
- HIGHLIGHT: Relax from your amazing trip to 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.
PRO-TIP: 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.
Namibia Road Trip in 3-Minutes
Travel Insurance for your trip
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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!
Namibia Road Trip | Planning Resources
Planning a Namibia Road Trip
If you are going to travel to Namibia, pre-planning, researching, 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. Make sure you check the following too:
- Everything you need to know to rent a car in Namibia
- 20 Essential Tips on how to Drive in Namibia
- 15 Most Beautiful Places to visit in Namibia
- A complete road trip in Namibia and Botswana
Renting a Car for our Namibia Road Trip
This is the first step for your Road trip in Namibia – 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 providers, offering different rental car options. For this reason, I have prepared a very detailed guide on everything you should know about renting a car in Namibia.
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).
You can get a 15% off your rental car when you book through this site. I use and recommend RentalCar because it is the most reliable rental car source, and it allows you to compare the prices of different places.
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.
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!
If you are planning to carry a backpack for your trip to Namibia, I have compiled a very detailed review of the Best Backpacks for Travel in the market today – Also, I recommend bringing a waterproof jacket for your trip, check my complete review guide on the Top Jackets for Travel and pack smart!
Price for Namibia 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 a Self-Drive Road Trip in Namibia
There are plenty of accommodation 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 booking 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 recommendations 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.
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 roads, 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.
NOTE: Check this Ultimate guide with 20 Essential Tips on how to self drive in Namibia
Additional Tips for your Self-Drive 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: Snacks and drinks are available at most of the fuel stops and the bigger towns had a well-stocked Spar supermarket.
- 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).
Namibia Self Drive Itinerary Conclusion
This is my very detailed 11-day Namibia self drive 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 on 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.
If you are planning a trip to Namibia, make sure you check out my other posts:
- How to Self-driving in Namibia – 20 Essential tips
- How to rent a car in Namibia
- Ultimate Namibia and Botswana Road trip itinerary
- 15 Must-visit places in Namibia: A photo journey
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37 thoughts on “Namibia Self Drive Itinerary: Ultimate Namibia Road Trip + Map”
Simplesmente incrível, são de tirar o fôlego. Textos concisos e enxutos com muitas informações relevantes para os viajantes!!!! Parabéns pela disposição entre textos e fotos transformando esta experiência em algo único. Parabéns
O enjoyed reading itinerary road trip to Namibia, everything is put so well together and super informative. The trip sounds so exciting and exotic.
The trip bullet points summarize the important aspects of each day. Great article. Well done.
Excellent blog, valuable tips to live the best experience of this wonderful place!!
Muito obrigada Patricia – Namibia é um destino perfeito para quem é amante de natureza, animais e que busca novas aventuras em uma das paisagens mais marcantes e incriveis do nosso Planeta.
Thanks Cathia and I am very happy you enjoyed this itinerary. Namibia is an incredible destination, and I hope to inspire more people to visit it.
I visited Namibia solo many years ago and loved it. Your post brought back memories.
I loved Namibia! It has such a unique and varied landscape that you captured beautifully. Sadly I only toured the south and Etosha NP but I would love to go back to see more of the country. Kolmanskop was just incredible, but those sand dunes….it’s truly one epic road trip.
The ghost town looks soooooo cool! In fact, it all looks amazing!
Isn’t it incredible? It was one of the best road trips and one of the most beautiful countries I ever visited.
Thanks so much! Yes, the ghost town was so incredible and I took tons of great pictures, so fascinating!
Thanks April! Hopefully you have the chance to go back to Namibia, it is an incredible country. I already want to go back again. You are right, the dunes are unreal, right?
Such a thorough guide! This eliminates the overwhelming task of planning/scheduling the itinerary of an adventure from across the world. Love the links! Love the photos! With this guide you are able to make a dream trip seem possible.
Thanks Maria – a road trip in Namibia is really an epic destination. We still need to pin the planet together sometime 😉
Wow, what a wonderful trip! There is so much to see and experience. Have to admit I am not that familiar with Namibia. Had no idea so many animal encounters were possible. I did know about the epic landscapes.
Thank you for such an inspiring post! I loved your pictures, especially the ones near Dune 45. I’ll be defo using this post as a reference, it pretty much covers everything I need to prepare a trip to Namibia.
I am so happy you enjoyed this itinerary Diana – I hope you travel to Namibia soon, and enjoy as much as I did. Namibia is an amazing destination.
Thanks Ruth – I learned so much about Namibia during my trip preparation, I didn’t know much about it before either. But I absolutely felt in love with this place!
What a dope article Paula! I love this road trip guide, with any luck I’ll be able to put it to good use one day!
This is such a detailed and comprehensive guide! And so helpful too, as Namibia is one of the countries that’s on my wish list to visit in the next few years 🙂 what a great idea to rent a 4×4 with a tent on top, as it means that you’ll always have somewhere to sleep and the distances between destinations over there are huge!
HI Kiara, I am glad you found this guide helpful. Yes, renting a 4×4 with a tent on top is the best way to explore the country. Hopefully you can visit Namibia soon, and take me with you again, please 🙂
Thank you Cierra. I hope you can visit Namibia soon, it is a must destination and I am sure you will love it too.
Such a magical and beautiful place; Amazing guide ??
Wow… this place is so magical, hope someday I can go there and use your schedule
Wow, unbelievable! You are just great! One, driving, super car trip. I have not seen such a trip! I wish you success! You inspire!
Thanks, Julia – yes Namibia is an incredible place to explore. I hope one day you can also visit it!
Mariana, I hope you can go too and I am sure you will love it as much as I did.
Thanks Tori, I really appreciate your feedback! This trip was so epic and Namibia is for sure one of the most incredible places I ever visited in my life. Hope one day I can go back and continue to explore it.
Namibia’s an extraordinary country. I’ve been to some of the places on your list, but I still need to go to a few – like Kolmanskop.
Sara – Namibia is incredible, right? I had one of the best road trips of my life and Kolmanshop is a must visit, you will love it!
Thanks for such informative blog. I am planning to do 2 weeks road trip between Namibia and botswana. Ideally fly into Windhoek and fly out of botswana.
Can you help in planning the iterniary for this. This would mean lot of time on the road, that’s what I am something looking for long drives through wild savanna as well.
I would like to rent car in Windhoek and leave in botswana. Let me know yours thought. It will be max of 2 or 3 of us. What do you recommend the cost without international flights with most being camping and few lodges
Hello Aarti – Thanks for reading my blog. Actually I did Namibia and Botswana itinerary myself. It was hard to plan the Botswana part as not all the roads I drove have a map, and some do not even exist during raining season. I will be launching my full blog itinerary in the next week and I would encourage you to check my blog again as I will have all the information you are asking for – complete itinerary, rental car options, pricing, recommendations on accommodations and much more.
Absolutely stunning! Thank you on a detailed impressive guide!
You are welcome, I am so glad to hear you enjoyed this guide
This guide has everything that I would want to know before visiting Namibia. Saving it for when I am able to go in the future!
Namibia looks like an incredible part of the world to do a self-guided tour around. I love how much detail you put into this guide, it’s super helpful for trip planning! Also love all of your photos!
We’re planning a trip in May curious about the logistics of traveling there did you get vaccines?
Hello Celeste, I didn’t get the vaccine, but I visited Namibia in December 2019 (pre-Covid) so not sure how they are regulated now as far as vaccination.