Someone says ‘road trip.’
You don’t automatically think ‘Africa.’
We don’t blame you.
As a rule, Africa is generally not a continent where guests are encouraged to drive around by themselves.
There are, however, exceptions to most rules in life and the ‘no self-drive’ advisory can happily be ignored when it comes to Namibia. It is absolutely a great idea to self-drive Namibia.
This country, hugging the West coast of southern Africa, offers excellent infrastructure and very safe driving conditions. Some might even go as far as suggesting that there is no better way to experience this arid corner of the continent.
Once you have collected your superb, fully kitted-out, 4×4 vehicle in Windhoek you will have nothing but lonely desert roads, sweeping landscapes and high concentrations of game to look forward to. The chance of spotting the desert-adapted elephant and other rare wildlife elevate the experience of finding yourself utterly immersed within a desert.
Taking a 4×4 through Namibia is one of the few aspirational trips that will astound the neighbors and turn your friends green with envy.
A Namibian self-drive safari will sometimes be called a fly-drive safari. While not strictly true for this particular road trip, most guests will fly into Windhoek, pick up their vehicle, and explore the stunning country before flying out of Windhoek again.
Stay in Windhoek for a night to recover from your flight and then choose to spend as little as three days on the road or explore for two weeks. Your Namibia self-drive itinerary options and combinations will depend only on your budget and specific interests.
You might want to spend a little time getting up close to the desert in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, eat fresh seafood in a restaurant that stands inside the sea near Swakopmund on the Namibian Coast, take in the excellent wildlife of the Etosha and Ongava or combine everything with a visit to Sesriem, Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Okonjima.
The classic trip for anyone set on driving in Namibia loops Southwest of Windhoek.
The highlights along your Namibia road trip
Namib-Naukluft National Park
Set in the oldest desert in the world this part of Namibia is an ever-shifting expanse of sand that is reached by a drive that winds through mountains and plains.
Spot oryx, kudu, springbok, mountain zebra and maybe even a desert-adapted giraffe or two. This is also the home of Dune 45 which towers from 560 feet (170 meters) and offers incredible views to anyone willing to make the (relatively easy) climb to the summit.
A river-fed oasis set against the bone-white stretch of the Deadvlei salt pans standing amid the orange dunes. As if this corner of the world is not entirely unusual enough already there are also 700-year-old petrified acacia trees, all dwarfed by the 1,200 foot (350 m) high Big Daddy dune.
Picturesque and reminiscent of its colonial past, this arid and barren region is often crowned by a bank of cloud marking the point where the cold air from the Atlantic ocean rushes in to pierce the inert desert atmosphere. If you love adventure, this is where you sand board, quadbike, and kayak.
A semi-arid region of pre-historic river valleys and massive granite escarpments buttressing ancient volcanic peaks. It is almost a practical geology lesson complete with exposed dolerite pillars, open plains, and deep gorges. The continent’s most extensive rock art gallery has been waiting for you to view it for the last 2,000 to 2,500 years in Twyfelfontein.
Spending time with the Himba and searching for desert-adapted rhino will also keep you occupied in Damaraland.
Etosha National Park
Home to the world’s largest population of black rhino, this park also boasts 114 other species of wildlife and 340 species of bird. Incredibly the park is arid which is great news for keen naturalists as the wildlife gravitates towards the waterholes where impressive collections of many species will congregate to enchant you on your self-drive safari.
The Okonjima Nature Reserve hosts the AfriCat Foundation which specializes in research education, rehabilitation and habitat restoration of Namibia’s carnivores.
About the Drive
The country that features the spectacular desert, that is also the oldest in the world is sparsely populated. Broad roads that are 75% gravel are level, empty, and ideal for self-drive.
Your top of the range 4×4 vehicle will be delivered with spare tires, a cooler, and a pre-programmed phone. Drivers are treated to a full run-down on every function the car has and will also receive very detailed driving directions.
Generally speaking, the worst problem you may encounter is probably an outside chance of having a flat tire.
The highest level of insurance and an emergency evacuation service covers almost all eventualities you may encounter along your Namibian itinerary.