11 day Namibia Explorer - Self-Drive

Namibia

A self-drive adventure in Namibia, where you can experience the major highlights at your own pace. Spend time in the majestic dune fields of Sossusvlei, experience the vast landscapes of Damaraland and have amazing game sitings in Etosha National Park.

Tailor your own self-drive experience depending on the time you have, your budget and your interests. We have put together a sample itinerary which gives you the opportunity to see some of Namibia's most stunning spots. However, the itinerary is just a guideline and the tour can be tailored to meet your exact requirements.

Namibia is regarded as one of the safest travel destinations in Africa and probably the easiest self drive destination. The country has world class infrastructures which include excellent road conditions, good telecommunications and consistent power. Tourism organisations have first class service, offer unique and comfortable facilities but maintain a truly African experience.

This self-drive safari is run as a camping tour, but for a supplement an upgrade can be made to turn it into an accommodated option (subject to availability).

Quick Facts

Who can join: Drivers must be aged over 25
Duration: 11 days (10 nights)
Accommodation: Camping or Accommodated (mid-range lodges - supplement)
Pick up from: Cars should be collected from and returned to Windhoek
Meals: 3 meals a day included unless otherwise stated
Group size: Vehicles are 4x4 double cab or similar, usually comfortably seating 4 adults
Start dates: Flexible to suit
How much: Prices start from US $1,080 per person sharing

Suggested Itinerary

This is a suggested itinerary - your tour can be a different length and include a different balance of camping and accommodated, at different locations. Please let us know what you would like to do!

Day 1

Arrival into Windhoek (no meals) (lodge)

You will be met upon arrival into Windhoek and transferred to your guest house in the city.

The remainder of your day will be at leisure to explore the city and to do any last minute shopping for your tour.  Windhoek portrays the color, sounds and tempo of a modern African city with its displays of African drums and woodcarvings on the pavements, which contrast with the elegant shops offering sophisticated Swakara garments and Namibian gemstones. Sidewalk cafes offering Namibian style breakfasts (Fruhschoppen) which can be enjoyed with a glass of sparkling wine or locally brewed draught beer. In addition to steak houses and coffee bars serving snacks, the city has a wide range of a la carte restaurants offering German, French, Taiwanese, Portuguese, Italian, African and Chinese cuisine.

Day 2

Windhoek - Sossusvlei (350km) (SC) (camping)

Your vehicle will be delivered to your hotel in the morning.

You will drive south from Windhoek into the Namib Desert.  Many people stop at the tiny settlement of Solitaire, which has a filling station and a small shop, which sells, soft drinks, snacks and basic supplies, plus delicious home baked apple pie! The name Solitaire is derived from the lone dead tree standing next to the service station.  After refueling continue south, running parallel to the Namib Naukluft Park for most of the way, except for a short corridor, which joins the plains of the Namib Desert to the Naukluft Mountain Range. This serves as a migratory corridor for the Gemsbok (Oryx Antelope), which migrate between their summer and winter-feeding grounds.

Overnight in the Sesriem area, just outside the Namib Naukluft Park.

Day 3

Sossusvlei (SC) (camping)

Take an early morning drive into the Namib Naukluft Park to the Namib Sand Sea and the Sossusvlei dune belt. For the energetic, take a hike up Dune 45 and walk to Dead vlei. This area has some of the highest known sand dunes in the world. Sossusvlei is situated at the end of the Tsauchab River, a dry riverbed that only flows in the years of exceptional rainfall.

Visitors to Namibia say that no part of the desert is more stunning than Sossusvlei, with its monumentally high dunes, the shadows of their crests continually changing as the day waxes and wanes. The warm tints of the sand, ranging from pale apricot to brick orange and deep red, contrast vividly with the dazzling white surfaces of the clay pans at some of their bases.

You can choose to take an optional afternoon excursion to the Sesriem Canyon, approximately 3 km from the entrance to the park. The Sesriem Canyon is a small yet picturesque canyon carved over millions of years into the Tsauchab River.

The remainder of your afternoon can be at leisure to relax and enjoy the splendor of the desert scenery with its unique fauna and flora. This is not a game rich area due to the harsh environment, however, the contrast is interesting between the desert and the animals such as Springbok, Oryx and Ostrich, who survive and eke out an existence on the arid plains.

Day 4

Sossusvlei - Swakopmund (410km) (B) (lodge)

After breakfast, travel towards the coastal town of Swakopmund. Your route follows the gravel plains of the Namib Desert through the spectacular Gaub and Kuiseb Canyons before crossing the Namib Desert on route to the commercial harbor town of Walvis Bay. The Walvis Bay Lagoon is protected under the RAMSAR Convention as an important wetland and is renowned for its seasonal abundance of both the Greater and Lesser Flamingo species.  From Walvis Bay join the main route which leads between the coast and the dune belt to the coastal resort town of Swakopmund.

Swakopmund is considered as Namibia’s premier coastal resort and is a popular destination with Namibians as a welcome respite from the heat of the interior. The town is also noted for its Old World charm and relaxed atmosphere. Founded in 1892 during the period of German colonial rule it, served as the territory’s main harbor for years. This quaint town, nestled between desert and ocean, is enhanced by lush green lawns, palm trees and carefully tended gardens. There is a good selection of restaurants and coffee shops selling traditional German cakes and pastries, while the coastline and the desert respectively offer many options for adventure or relaxation.

Overnight in Swakopmund

Day 5

Swakopmund (B) (lodge)

Day at leisure to explore Swakopmund and take advantage of some of the coastal and desert activities. These could include:

Dolphin and Seal Cruise

This early morning Dolphin and Seal Cruise is conducted from the Walvis Bay Yacht Club. The tour begins with your skipper leading you through the commercial vessels docked at the Walvis Bay harbor, Namibia’s largest port. Passing the small craft harbor the central basin of the harbor is exited heading north, visiting Bird Island and providing spectacular scenes of the desert dune landscape. You will have close encounters with Cape Fur Seals and bow riding dolphins while crossing the harbor mouth to Pelican Point. Return to the Walvis Bay Yacht Club via the lagoon and flamingo colonies. 

Quad biking

Experience the thrill of riding a four wheeled motorbike through Namibia’s boundless expanse of shifting sand dunes. An experienced guide will lead you from the Swakop River Mouth, twisting and turning down the riverbed. Feel the freedom of riding through one of nature’s great wildernesses as you cut through the plains and head to the dunes. As the towering dunes approach weave your way through the smaller ones towards the “Amphitheatre”. Blast your way to the top of the first big dune on a sea of sand waves via the “Roller Coaster” to the top of “Big Billy” where you stop for a drink and to capture the stark and savage beauty of the Namib Desert. After riding down the “Devils Dip” (guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping) ride the berms, spirals and slopes as you cruise towards the “Table Top”, a great dune that offers a spectacular view of the sea to one side and the desert on another. 

Eco Dune Tour

We recommend a half day eco tour into the sand dunes around Swakopmund to learn more about the amazing desert-adapted creatures and flowers, which thrive in the hostile environment. Steve and Dayne Braine of Batis Birding Safaris are experienced and charistmatic guides who will bring the hidden desert to life. Suitable for groups of all ages.

Day 6

Swakopmund - Damaraland (420km) (SC) (camping)

Heading north out of Swakopmund and then proceed in an easterly direction crossing the gravel plains towards the abandoned mining town of Uis. The large-scale mining of tin began in Uis during 1951 but due to the mine no longer being profitable in was closed down in 1990. From Uis continue north, passing Namibia’s highest Mountain Range. The Brandberg is 2,573m at its highest point and renowned for the famous work of San art, “the White Lady”.

Continue to your stopover in the heart of the stunning moonscape of Damaraland.

Day 7

Damaraland (150km) (SC) (camping)

Between the Ugab and the Huab Rivers in Southern Damaraland lies a vast and unspoiled wilderness. This area boasts magnificent desert scenery, fascinating geological formations, ancient archaeological sites and a unique variety of desert fauna and flora. It is also the southern most roaming ground for the rare black rhino and the desert adapted elephant.

While in the Twyfelfontein area a must-see excursion should be to the Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings, one of the richest areas of rock engravings and Bushmen paintings in Namibia. You will also pass Burnt Mountain and the dolomite columns known as the Organ Pipes.

Continue over the Grootberg Mountain Pass and spend the night in the Grootberg conservancy.

Day 8

Grootberg - East Etosha (Okakeujo) (310km) (SC) (camping)

Travel towards Kamanjab. An optional excursion can be made to the Himba Village just outside of Kamanjab where the local Himba people will introduce you to their ancient customs, dress and food. From Kamanjab continue to Etosha National Park entering via Anderson’s Gate.

Overnight inside the Etosha National Park at the Okaukeujo Restcamp. After your evening meal there are chances to see Etosha’s big game at a floodlit waterhole, situated on the boundary of your camp and easily reachable on foot. The Okakuejo waterhole has been described as one of the “best game viewing opportunities in Southern Africa” and the ideal venue to witness peculiar animal politics. Black rhino, Africa’s tallest elephants, lion and numerous species of antelope are regular visitors during the cool, dry season.

Day 9

Etosha National Park: Okakeujo - Namutoni (SC) (camping)

Leaving during the cooler morning,  game drive your way to Halali camp, strategically located halfway between Okaukuejo and Namutoni.  This rest camp is situated at the base of a dolomite hill, amongst shady Mopane trees.  Take a welcome break here and stop for lunch before proceeding on your game drive to Namutoni.

Etosha National Park was proclaimed as Namibia’s first conservation area in 1907 by the then German government, and is one of the largest game reserves in Africa.  Consisting of saline desert, savannah and woodlands, its definitive feature is the Etosha Pan, a vast shallow depression. For the greater part of the year the pan is a bleak expanse of white, cracked mud which, on most days shimmers with mirages.  Seeing vast herds of game against this eerie backdrop, referred to in the local language as the ‘great white place of dry water’, makes the Etosha game-viewing a unique experience.  Of the 114 mammal species found in the park, several are rare and endangered, such as black rhino, cheetah and black-faced impala.  Etosha’s current population of more than 700 black rhino represents one of the few growing populations of black rhino in the world.

About 340 bird species occur in Etosha, about one third being migratory.  For the greater part of the year (the dry season) Etosha’s animals and birds are dependent on about 30 springs and waterholes.  These provide excellent game viewing and photographic opportunities. 

Namutoni is located in the eastern side of Etosha National Park. It centers on an old German Fort, overlooking the King Nehale waterhole. The Fort area is for pedestrian access only, and an elevated decked walkway along the water-hole facing wall will provide opportunities for enjoying the surrounding scenery, wildlife and the spectacular sunsets.

Overnight at Namutoni Restcamp.

Day 10

Etosha - Okonjima / AfriCat Foundation (300km) (SC) (camping)

After breakfast and maybe an early morning game drive, leave the Etosha area, heading south towards the mining town of Tsumeb. Thanks to the wealth generated by the mines, Tsumeb is an attractive town boasting some fine old colonial buildings and a palm lined central park with spreading lawns.  An optional excursion on route can be included to the Sinkhole Lake Otjikoto. 

Continue south towards Otjiwarongo, a convenient stop over on route to the north of the country. The name Otjiwarongo originates from the Herero language, which translated means “place of the fat cattle” or “beautiful place”. Given the central role that cattle play in the Herero culture, both meanings are appropriate. 

Overnight at Okonjima Reserver, home of the AfriCat Foundation. AfriCat is a non-profit organisation set up to conserve and protect threatened cheetah, leopard, and other wild carnivores of Namibia.  Visitors will be able to observe some of this programme at work and learn more about these amazing and beautiful animals. Take a game drive and have the opportunity to see leopard, cheetah and wild dog.

Day 11

Okonjima - Windhoek (300km) 

Depart after breakfast and return to Windhoek, via the small town of Okahandja.  Okahandja is one of Namibia’s oldest established settlements and is the administrative center of the Herero-speaking people. Numerous of the former Herero leaders are buried here and an annual procession through the town to the Herero graves commemorate those who died during the wars against the Nama and Germans.  Optional excursions on route include a visit to the open – air wood carving center and the Herero Graves.

Continue from Okahandja  back to Windhoek, where you can either travel directly to the airport (with an afternoon flight)  or overnight in Windhoek (overnight accommodation not included).

Self-Drive Tour Overview - Camping

1      Windhoek / Tamboti Guesthouse
2      Sesriem / Sesriem Campsite / SC
3      Sesriem Area / Sesriem Campsite / SC
4      Swakopmund / Prost Hotel Room / B
5      Swakopmund / Prost Hotel Room / B
6      Damaraland Area / Madisa Campsite / SC
7      Grootberg Area / Hoada Campsite / SC
8      Etosha West / Okaukeujo Campsite / SC
9      Etosha West Namutoni Campsite / SC
10   Okonjima – Africat Foundation / Okonjima Campsite / SC

Self-Drive Tour Overview - Accommodated

1      Windhoek / Galton Guesthouse
2      Sesriem / Sossusvlei area / Sossus Dune Lodge / B
3      Sesriem / Sossusvlei area / Sossus Dune Lodge / B
4      Swakopmund / Swakopmund Sands Hotel / B
5      Swakopmund / Swakopmund Sands Hotel / B
6      Twyfelfontein / Camp Kipwe / B, D
7      Grootberg Area / Grootberg Lodge / B, D
8      Etosha West / Okaukeujo Restcamp / B
9      Etosha West / Namutoni Restcamp / B
10   Okonjima – Africat Foundation / Okonjima Plains Camp / B, D

B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner; SC = Self-Catering

Pricing and Dates

Departure dates 2017:

Self-drive tours can be tailored to fit in with your arrival and departure to Namibia. During busy season dates will be determined by vehicle and accommodation availability.

2017 Pricing:

1st November 2016 - 30th June 2017

11 days camping: $890 per person
Single supplement: $40

11 days accommodated: $1,720 per person
Single supplement: $220

1st July - 31st October 2017

11 days camping: $1,095 per person
Single supplement: $40

11 days accommodated: $1,950 per person
Single supplement: $305

Prices include:

  • Meals as indicated
  • Accommodation (either camping or accommodated) 
  • Vehicle rental fees (see FAQs tab)
  • Pick up and drop off from accommodation in Windhoek

What's excluded:

  • Transfers or flights to Windhoek
  • Visa fees
  • Personal medical and travel insurance, which must cover the entire duration of your tour and should include cover for repatriation, air evacuation and any activities you may undertake or plan to undertake
  • Some vehicle rental fees (e.g. excess deposit, young driver surcharge, cross-border permits etc). 
  • Any pre or post tour accommodation in Windhoek
  • Airport transfers
  • Bedding - can be hired with 4x4 vehicle rental
  • Optional excursions, meals or activities outside what is indicated
  • Telephone calls and wifi

Please see the FAQs tab for more details of rental fees and other exclusions.

Destination

Namibia is one of the most visually diverse countries in Africa; from never-ending red sand dunes to deep mysterious canyons, spectacular sunsets and dry desert landscapes, the country has something to intrigue and excite every visitor. View immense herds of elephant and buffalo in Etosha National Park, sand-board down the dunes in Swakopmund or visit ancient rock paintings - there’s plenty to entertain you!

For more information about Namibia (history, currency etc), please click here.

Sossusvlei Dunes are home to the highest sand dunes in the world and Namibia’s most outstanding scenic attraction. Part of the Namib Desert, these dunes have developed over millions of years, the wind continuously shifting the sand further and further inland, reshaping patterns in distinctive warm tints. Climbing to the top of one of these dunes provides breathtaking views of the whole area, including Deadvlei, a large ghostly expanse of dried white clay punctuated by skeletons of ancient camelthorn trees, carbon dated between 500-600 years old.

Etosha National Park is Namibia’s first conservation area, designated in 1907. Undoubtedly one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth and one of Africa’s best game reserves, Etosha is home to huge herds of elephant, black-maned lions, cheetah and the world’s largest population of the rare black rhino.  Etosha owes its unique landscape to the Etosha Pan, a vast shallow depression of approximately 1,930 square miles which forms the heart of the park. This white, chalky expanse colours the park, and with the waterholes, creates the characteristic atmosphere of the Etosha of today.

For the greater part of the year (the dry season) Etosha’s animals and birds are dependent on about 30 springs and waterholes. These provide incredible game viewing and photographic opportunities.

To the west of Khorixas in North-West Namibia is Twyfelfontein, a massive open-air art gallery with paintings carved into red rock by ancient Bushmen overlooking an expansive valley below. The engravings, some estimated to be 6,000 years old, record the wildlife seen in area - giraffe, rhino, elephants, ostrich and even a lion. The area has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2008.

The Fish River Canyon is Africa’s deepest gorge and second largest in the world - with a 500m vertical drop. The canyon is a spectacular natural phenomenon; a harsh dusty plain dotted with distinctive Quiver trees. 

Swakopmund is Namibia’s playground - a holiday haven away from the dusty heat of the interior. While there is plenty to do within the city, the real action takes place in the desert surrounding the town. Quad-biking, sand-boarding, sand-skiing, parasailing and other adrenaline actives are available from any of the adventure operators in the area. Visit Walvis Bay and join a dolphin cruise or explore the lagoon on a kayak. For tours including Swakopmund please click here.

What will the weather be like?

During the Namibian summer (November - January) temperatures average 30°c and often go to over 40°c. You should bring light cotton clothing, a wide-brimmed hat or cap, polarised sunglasses, a 2 litre water bottle, plenty of high factor sunscreen (and after-sun!), strong mosquito spray and closed shoes. A light waterproof jacket is also essential for sudden downpours! Average lows are around 17-20°c. Summer is an amazing time of year where you can watch thunderstorms approach from miles away and witness incredible electric storms and light shows!

During winter (April - August) daytime temperatures average 25-27°c with no rainfall at all. Temperatures during the night and in the mornings and evenings regularly go below 0°c and we advise you to bring lots of layers including fleeces and a warm hat for nighttime camping, with a wide-brimmed hat or cap and loose light clothing for daytime.

Self-Drive Vehicle FAQs

1. What vehicles can I choose from?

There are three vehicle options:

a) 4x4 double cab with or without camping equipment

Vehicle type: 4x4 Nissan or Toyota double cab or similar
Suitable for: all terrain. Can be hired with or without full camping gear
Passengers: Suitable for 2-4 adults or 2 adults and up to 3 children

b) 4x4 single cab with or without camping equipment

Vehicle type: 4x4 Nissan or Toyota single cab or similar
Suitable for: all terrain. Can be hired with or without full camping gear
Passengers: Suitable for 1-2 adults

c) 4x4 Suzuki Grand Vitara or similar (no camping equipment)

Vehicle type: 4x4 Suzuki Grand Vitara or similar
Suitable for: all terrain - gravel and tar roads. Not suitable for off-road. 
Passengers: Suitable for 2 adults or up to 4 with limited luggage

2. What vehicle rental fees are excluded? 

The rental rates exclude:

  • Excess deposit and non-waverable excess
  • Additional and young driver surcharge
  • Delivery and collection fees
  • Non-standard accessories and equipment (including camping equipment)
  • Damages/loss excluded from the insurance (see insurance)
  • Damage / loss claim and fines administration fee
  • Extra spare tyre charge
  • Cross border permits
  • Cancellations & no-show

3. Who can drive? 

  • A valid and unendorsed license must be produced by all drivers
  • The minimum age for authorised drivers is 25 years
  • Maximum 2 drivers allowed per vehicle
  • Security Deposit - a N$2,000 deposit is kept to cover traffic fines and negligence

4. What is covered by the vehicle's insurance?

The following is not covered by the insurance:

  • Personal Property
  • Personal injury / death
  • Sandstorm and water damage
  • Under-carriage damage not caused by a collision

We strongly recommend that all clients have insurance for medical expenses, baggage loss, cancellation/curtailment, default and personal injury or death due to an accident. Medical Rescue and travel insurance can be arranged on your behalf. (Prices on request)

Factors that will negate all cover:

  • Gross or criminal negligence
  • Unauthorised drivers
  • Failing to obtain authorization to extend the rental
  • Not reporting an accident or loss to the Namibia Police immediately
  • Not reporting an accident or loss to the car rental company immediately
  • Not adhering to traffic, road and driving rules and regulations
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or any illegal substance
  • Unsuitable or reckless driving
  • Road conditions not suitable for the type of vehicle used
  • Unauthorized cross border rentals
  • Not being able to produce keys in case of theft
  • Not reporting exact details of last known location of vehicle prior to theft

5. What equipment comes as standard with the vehicle?

The vehicle is provided complete with:

  • Radio / CD Player
  • Air Conditioner
  • Tow-rope
  • Jumper Leads
  • Spare wheel, jack and spanner

Camping equipment can be hired at an additional fee.

6. Is there Breakdown and Roadside Assistance?

Assistance will be provided in the event of a breakdown or any road side emergency by our representatives authorised to do so. Where a vehicle can’t be repaired the rental company will arrange that a new vehicle be delivered to you. Recovery of the vehicle and/or roadside mechanical assistance will necessitate extra charges.

Send an enquiry

 

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