Namibia road trip self-drive itinerary

Namibia Road Trip – Detailed self-drive itinerary and map

Paula Martinelli Blog, Namibia, Travel 31 Comments

My 11-day Namibia self-drive itinerary uncovers the mystic ghost town of Kolmanskop, driving through the Namib desert and exploring the mighty dunes in Sossusvlei, driving the Skeleton Coast and exploring one of the top destinations for a safari on the continent, Etosha National Park. 

Your one stop complete guide on how to self-drive Namibia in 10-day itinerary

 

Namibia is a vast country of contrasts, home to one of the tallest dunes, some of the most iconic safaris, and the second least populated country in our planet, Namibia is absolutely one of the BEST road trip destinations for nature and wildlife lovers.

If you love road trips, 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 from camping to budget lodges or five stars hotels, Namibia is a good fit for any pocket.

Namibia is one of those jaw-dropping mind-blowing places that gets under your skin and really takes hold of your heart, and this Namibia road-trip itinerary will take you to the top highlights along the way: Climb ancient sand dunes at dawn in Sossusvlei, see German-colonial architecture in coastal Luderitz and Swakopmund, drive Sandwich Harbor where the desert meets the ocean and explore the mystical Skeleton Coast before you go to the amazing safari in Etosha National Park.

And along the way, take in the diverse landscapes, mix of cultures and tribes that help define Namibia today.

A well planned 11-day itinerary is sufficient to discover some of the mesmerizing places that Namibia has to offer. This 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. Enjoy and safe travels!

 

Paula note: I rented a fully equipped 4x4 with a tent on top and used a mix of camping and low budget lodges. Driving time is based on the recommended speed limit. At the bottom of the itinerary, you will find all the information you need to help plan your Namibia 11-day self-drive itinerary.  

 

COMING SOON:   NAMIBIA & BOTSWANA - THE AMAZING 3-WEEK ROAD TRIP ITINERARY

NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP- 11-DAY SELF-DRIVE ITINERARY OVERVIEW

 

WHAT TO SEE

Day 1 - Drive to Keetmanshoop | Visit Quivertree Forest

Day 2 - Visit the ghost town of Kolmanskop | Luderitz |  Wild horses

Day 3 - Namib Desert | Sossusvlei

Day 4 - Sunrise in Deadvlei and Climb the dunes in Sossusvlei

Day 5 - Visit Solitare | Drive to the coastal town of Walvis Bay

Day 6 - Adventure driving in Sandwich Harbor | Visit Swakopmund

Day 7 - Drive the Skeleton Coast | Visit the Cape Cross seal colony

Day 8 - Himba Village - Etosha | Alternative: Explore Damaraland

Day 9  - Etosha self-drive safari | Overnight at Bushman Living Museum

Day 10 - Bushman Living Museum | Alternative: Etosha National Park

Day 11 - Morning at Game Reserve | Windhoek and Return flight

 

 

OVERNIGHT

Keetmanshoop

Helmeringhausen

Sossusvlei

Sossusvlei

Walvis Bay

Hentisbaai

Khorixas

Etosha | Alternative: Damaraland

Grashoek | Alternative: Etosha

Windhoek

Windhoek/Departure

My road-trip continued from Namibia to Botswana. Here, I am sharing my original itinerary and also making recommendations for the best places to visit in each area of Namibia. If you are also continuing your itinerary to Botswana, read my full 3-week Namibia & Botswana itinerary.

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NAMIBIA SELF-DRIVE ITINERARY MAP

** Click the icon at the top left of the map to see day by day route details **

NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP START - 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 driving.

Click here for the best options for places to stay 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 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 stopped at the mall in Windhoek for breakfast, grocery shopping, bought towels, sheets for the tent and bug spray - all in one stop and I was ready to go!

The bucket-list self-drive in Namibia! 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!

 

COMING SOON:   WHAT TO PACK FOR A NAMIBIA SELF-DRIVE TRIP

Namibia road trip self-drive itinerary
4x4 fully equiped with a tent on top is a great way to explore Namibia for adventure and budget friendly

DAY BY DAY ITINERARY | NAMIBIA SELF-DRIVE

DAY 1 - DRIVE TO KEETMANSHOOP AND VISIT THE QUIVERTREE FOREST

Travel

from Windhoek to Keetmanshoop

Distance & Time

308 Miles/ 5 hours

Highlight

Stunning first view of Namibia/ Quivertree Forest

 

The first day of driving 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.

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.

 

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.

 

Tips:  I recommend to pick up your supplies in Windhoek. 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.

 

Check here the best options for accommodations in Keetmanshoop

 

Namibia road-trip starts
A classic picture in front of the Tropic of Capricorn sign.
Namibia self-drive amazing itinerary
The stunning sunset at the Quivertree Forest in Keetmanshoop

DAY 2 - VISIT THE GHOST TOWN OF KOLMANSKOP & TAKE THE ROAD TO THE COASTLINE TOWN OF LUDERITZ

Travel

from Keetmanshoop to Luderitz

from Luderitz to Helmeringhausen

Distance & Time

175 miles/ 3 hours

145 miles/ 2.5 hours

Highlight

Ghost town of Kolmanskop/ Luderitiz coast town/ Wild horses

 

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.

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!

 

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.

 

Tips: 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.

 

Check here for best options for accommodations around Helmeringhausen

Namibia road trip to the desert itinerary
The dunes fill the rooms of the houses with banks of sand
Namibia detailed road trip
The ghost town of Kolmanskop
Luderiz Road trip namibia
The town of Luderiz
wild horses in Namibia self-drive
Wild horses at Namib desert in an area known as the Garub.

DAY 3 - DRIVE TO SOSSUSVLEI AND START EXPLORING THE DESERT (2 OVERNIGHTS)

Travel

from Helmeringhausen to Sossusvlei

Distance & Time

100 Miles/ 2.5 hours

Highlight

Amazing views of Sesriem Canyon / Sossusvlei / Deadvlei

 

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 camp sites do have restaurants and very modest food supplies.

I arrived early-afternoon, checked in at my campsite and went explore the park and watch the sunset from the dunes. Visiting Sossusvlei was the highlight of my trip to Namibia, and it was one of my bucket list places to visit.

Once you are inside the park, you can start driving on what one day was riverbed, and today serves as roads among some of the tallest dunes on 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.

 

Driving: Today you will be driving on gravel roads on C27. The scenery is an amazing introduction of 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.

 

Tips: 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).

 

Check here for best options for accommodations in Sesriem

 

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Sossusvlei road-trip in Namibia
You absolutely need a 4x4 once you reach the end of the paved road at Sossusvlei/Deadvlei as the sand gets very deep and soft
Namibia itinerary in Sossusvlei
Climbing a dune adjacent to the famous Dune 45, with spectacular views and a great opportunity to take stunning pictures

DAY 4 - VISIT THE SURREAL DEADSVLEI AND CLIMB DUNES IN SOSSUSVLEI

 

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. The drive from the park gate to Deadvlei is about 50 minutes.

After the spetacular sunrise, I headed back to Dune 45 and climbed it. Climbing a dune is harder than what 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.

 

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 4x4 trip to Deadvlei and Sossosvlei. Here drivers can park and take a guided tour in a 4x4 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 4x4 off-road it may be wise not to attempt the deep sand and use the shuttle instead. You absolutely need a 4x4 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 it 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.

 

Tips: 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 to have 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.

 

COMING SOON:  A COMPLETE GUIDE ON HOW TO VISIT SOSSUSVLEI & DEADSVLEI

Namibia desert self-drive in Deadsvlei
Sunrise in Deadsvlei and the shades on pertrified trees...
Namibia Deadsvlei sunrise
...the dunes changing shades of orange color is just amazing
Sossusvlei in Namibia road trip
Face to face with the amazing Dune 45

DAY 5 - VISIT SOLITARE / DRIVE TO THE COASTAL TOWN IN WALVIS BAY (2 OVERNIGHTS)

Travel

from Sossusvlei to Walvis Bay

Distance & Time

227 miles/ 6 hours

Highlight

Solitare for photos/ Walvis Bay for flamingos

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.

Your first stop of the day 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 handcrafts 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.

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, well worth the visit.

 

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 rocks formations. Approaching Walvis Bay and the Atlantic Coast you start to see the ocean and perhaps some mist.

 

Tips -Solitaire is home to the only gas station between Sossusvlei and Walvis Bay so fill up if you need to!

 

Check here for best options for accommodations in Walvis Bay

 

Namibia road trip in the desert
Solitaire rusted vintage cars - makes a great stop for pictures and fuel
Namibia road trip
Stands on the side of the road where you can buy things on the honor system...
Namibia desert road trip
Namibia itinerary to Walvis Bay road trip
Flamingo colony in Walvis Bay

DAY 6- ADVENTURE DRIVING IN SANDWICH HABOR & VISIT SWAKOPMUND

 

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. 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 on the ocean.

 

Tip 1: If you decide to self-drive to Sandwich-Harbor, note that the minimum of preparation is required - Have a proper 4x4, have great skills driving off-road, buy your permit to enter, know the tide table before you go. Make sure to check my complete guide for more details (coming soon).

Tip 2: Swakopmund is a large town with pretty much all you need. Stock up on supplies before you continue your trip.

 

Namibia amazing self-drive in Sandwich Harbour
Driving in Sandwich Harbour - where the desert meets the ocean
Namibia drive in the coast itinerary
Swakopmund is a vacation an adventure hotspot

DAY 7 - DRIVE THE SKELETON COAST AND VISIT THE SEAL COLONY AT CAPE CROSS

Travel

from Walvis Bay to Khorixas

Distance & Time

200 miles/ 4 hours

Highlight

Swakopmund/ Seal colony/ Damaraland and cave painting

 

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.

Then head to Cape Cross to visit the seal colony. You will see thousands of Cape fur seals, what is 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 great place to visit. Yes, 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. Return to Henties Bay and the road to Damaraland turns sharply inland. The cold, moisture-laden air of the coast melts away, to be replaced by the hot desert sun.

 

DRIVING: While along the coast, you will be driving in the mist created by the phenomena between 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.

 

TIP: If you desire to visit the shipwrecks, I recommend to have the areas marked in advance, as while you are driving on the road, the mist makes it hard to see anything from the road.

 

Check here for best options for accommodations in Khorixas

 

Skeleton Coast in Namibia
Skeleton Coast ship wreck of the Zeila.
Namibia itinerary to Cape Coast
Seal colony in Cape Coast...
Namibia self-drive to Cape Coast
Where is my coffee!?
Namibia road trip to Cape Coast
...many pups at this time of the year
Skeleton Coast self-drive Namibia
The driving on the road between the ocean and the desert is stunning

DAY 8 - IMMERSION AT HIMBA VILLAGE AND DRIVE TO ETOSHA - ALTERNATIVE: SPEND AN EXTRA DAY EXPLORING DAMARALAND

Travel

from Khorixas to Etosha National Park

Distance & Time

200 miles/ 4 hours

Highlight

Visit the Himba Village/ First day of safari in Etosha

 

When you are in the Khorixas area, you will start to see many ethnic groups on the side of the road, supermarket 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.

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 pressure to watch the first rain of the season, a memorable moment!

 

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.

 

Tips: 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.

 

Check here for options for accommodations in Etosha National Park

 

COMING SOON:  AN ETHICAL ENCOUNTER WITH THE HIMBAS

Namibia road trip with the Himbas
A Himba encounter...
Road trip in Namibia and the Himba
Visiting the Himba's village...
Namibia Himba encounter while drive
Himba Paula

 

ALTERNATIVE NAMIBIA ITINERARY: 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.

 

TIPS: 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.

 

RECOMMENDED ACCOMMODATIONS: Grootber Lodge is located on the edge of the Etendeka Plateau, with an outdoor pool, and superb views. Besides, it is run by an organization that aims to improve local welfare and the conservation organization supports projects in the area, promotes the importance of wildlife tourism to locals, and provides jobs. They also offer trips such as elephant and rhino tracking and an evening safari.

Namibia road trip in Damaraland
Rock paint of 2,000 years old
Namibia self-drive in Damaraland
The driving in Damarand area is just stunning

DAY 9 - ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK SELF-DRIVE SAFARI

Travel

from Etosha to Grashoek

Distance & Time

300 miles/ 5 hours

Highlight

Amazing number of animals at Etosha National park

 

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.

It is considered one of the best safaris in 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, it 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.

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 had a lot of excitement to make up for it.

 

Driving:  Etosha National Park was designed for self-drives to easily navigate the park, and inside the park has all the structure provided by the government such as campsites, bathrooms and gas stations. A 4x4 is not required to drive in Etosha.

 

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.

 

Check here for options for accommodations in Etosha

Namibia self-drive safari in Etosha
The amazing moment when you see the king so close

COMING SOON:  COMPLETE GUIDE ON HOW TO DRIVE ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK

Namibia safari road trip in Etosha
A curious Springbok
Namibia Etosha safari itinerary
Traffic jam in Etosha...
Namibia road trip and safari in Etosha
There are about 2,500 elephants in Etosha
Namibia self-drive safari in Etosha
A rare and shy white rhino

DAY 10 - 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 & Time

370 Miles/ 6 hours

266 Miles/ 4 hours

Highlight

Bush walk/ Make bow and arrow & fire/ Learn San People culture

 

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.

 

Paula notes: My complete itinerary continues to Botswana through the Caprivi Strip. Therefore this route fits perfectly if you also continue your adventure to explore Botswana.

 

As a big supporter of responsible and ethical traveling, I always search for opportunities to visit places off the beaten path and how 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 bush walk 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, click here for my full 3-week Namibia & Botswana itinerary. If you are the end of your amazing self-drive in Namibia, it is time to make your journey back to Windhoek.

 

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.

 

COMING SOON:  EXPLORING THE BUSHES WITH THE SAN PEOPLE

Namibia itinerary to the San people
Bushman making fire...
Namibia a visit to the San people itinerary
...I made my own bow and learned how to use it from the experts
Namibia self-drive and visit with the Bushman
"Katchaaaa" means it is all good - an amazing visit with the San people

 

ALTERNATIVE NAMIBIA ITINERARY: If you don't want to make the drive to the Bushman Village, you have the option to spend an extra day/ night doing a safari at the Etosha.

 

RECOMMENDED ACCOMMODATIONS: 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).

 

DAY 11 - WINDHOEK MORNING RELAXING & DEPARTURE

Travel

from the lodge to the Aiport

Distance & Time

43 Miles/ 1 hour

Accomodation

N/A

Highlight

Relax and reflect on your amazing trip

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.

 

Driving: Driving back to Windhoek International Airport is only 43 miles.

 

Tip: Windhoek doesn't even offer a lot to see and can easily be skipped. Some of the highlights are the Christuskirche, the ginger-bread style church in the center of town, or visiting the local craft markets.

 

Lodge at Namibia road trip
Relaxing by the pool at Daan Viljoen Park resort

ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR AMAZING SELF-DRIVE IN NAMIBIA

 

 

During my Namibia road-trip self-drive itinerary I research the internet, watched vlogs and also bought some books and maps to study my itinerary in advance. This helped me and I felt much more prepared to choose the amazing itinerary in Namibia and to self-drive the country.

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.

An excellent guide book that I read and used during my self-drive is Lonely Planet Namibia & Botswana Guidebook, as it has tons of great information on main attractions, places to stay and park opening times.

Namibia road trip self-drive itinerary

PRICE OF 11-DAY SELF-DRIVE IN NAMIBIA

 

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 4x4 rental, fuel, accommodations, food and park entry fees (in this order).

TOTAL PRICE - For 2 people, not including flights

$4,000 US Dollar
  • 10 Nights accomodations - Based on 70% camping and 30% budget lodges
  • 11 Days hire a 4X4 car - With tent on top, cooking gear and a GPS
  • Food and Drink for 2 people - I cooked most of my meals
  • Fuel - Driving a 4WD
  • Park entrance - Quevertree Forest, Kolmanskop Sossuvlei, Ethosha

TRAVEL INSURANCE

It doesn't matter if you are traveling around Namibia on a private tour or self-driving, it is so important you get travel insurance for any travel style around Namibia.

Considering that the distance are vast and you will be in the middle of the desert, the risk of breaking down or even worse (we don't even want to think about it) have an accident and get injured, you will need a reliable travel insurance for this trip.

I recommend a reliable travel insurance through World Nomads before your trip to Namibia.

GETTING TO NAMIBIA

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.

HIRING A CAR IN NAMIBIA

A road trip in Namibia is the best way to explore, plus driving is relatively easy in Namibia.

For my suggested self-drive itinerary, you will need to rent a vehicle. Make sure you read my how to drive in Namibia (coming soon) post and see all my advice on how to better prepare for your trip.

I am a huge fan of road trips and I have rented cars (and scooters) in many countries around the world. Also, you will see that there are several companies that offer 4x4 rental and it can be confusing if you don't know what to expect.

After a lot of research and many quotes later I chose Zambezi Rental Car and I am very pleased with my choice as I had the best rate for a new vehicle, fully equipped and had great service available 24/7 - and you will need it!

Zambezi Car Rental is offering a 10% discount for the readers of this blog, just use Promo Code: PPP10

Namibia self-drive and camping itinerary

ACCOMMODATIONS FOR SELF-DRIVE 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: Camping is a great option if you are traveling on a budget or seeking a bigger adventure. There are many campsites where you can stay.

I recommend downloading the iOverlander app for an overview of all of them and book them in advance. Also, most of the accommodations stay true with nature and are unfenced, this means you will be visited by wildlife, especially at night.

Booking camping is relatively easy either through booking.com or the specific camp website.

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.

 

$$ - $$$$ LODGE:  On this self-drive itinerary I have recommended some lodges that are budget-friendly. But there are lodges that will charge for the luxury they can also offer.

A great place to start searching for best accommodations options and compare prices is Booking.com 

 

Booking.com

SELF-DRIVING IN NAMIBIA

*Self-drive conditions may vary between wet (November to March) and dry (April to October) season. 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.

 

COMING SOON: A COMPLETE GUIDE ON HOW TO SELF-DRIVE IN NAMIBIA 

Namibia itinerary safari self-drive in Etosha

BEST TIME FOR A 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.

 

Check here for a month-by-month guide to self-drive in Namibia.

MORE TIPS TO 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: 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).

 

WHERE NEXT?

My top picks to make your trip to Namibia de best experience

Read next

Namibia Travel Guide

Read more

Guidebook to Namibia

Find a Flight

Compare best options

Find Accomodations

Best reliable options

Buy Insurance

Protect your trip

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GET IN TOUCH

I would love to hear from you. If you have any questions about the destinations, the blogs or suggestions for improvements, leave any comments on my blog posts and I always reply to comments.

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Please note: Some of the links on this post are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase using these links, I receive a very small commission at no extra cost to you. Please note that using these affiliate links, you are directly supporting Paula to continue to Pins the Planet, and any running cost of this site, and my ability to provide you with free awesome content on travel and healthy lifestyle. Thank you very much!

Comments 31

  1. 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

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  2. 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.

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  3. 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.

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  4. 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.

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  5. 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.

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  6. 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.

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  7. 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!

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      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 🙂

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      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.

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  8. Hi Paula

    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

    Thanks
    Aarti

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      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.

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