Namibia Know How!
Making the most of this unique destination
Namibia is a vast and arid country situated within Southern Africa. Its’ often lunar landscape doesn’t seem to fit alongside that of its’ lush neighbours, South Africa and Botswana. This contrasting county is home to the worlds’ oldest desert, the highest dunes and the second largest canyon, the perfect venue therefore for ‘off the beaten track’ adventure to be experienced with a dramatic backdrop. Here we summarise some important points to consider when planning your trip.
Best time to travel:
Namibia is a year round destination as receives very little rain and the sun tends to be out the majority of the time. Peak season is during the dry / winter months running from May to October. However travelling in the green / ‘rainy’ months from December through to March can be very scenic as the the green foliage and flowers spring to life in the desert. Game viewing is best in the winter months when the foliage is less dense and the weather is cooler.
How to get there:
BA / Virgin fly direct to Johannesburg where you can connect onto daily flights to Windhoek. Or there are options with Lufthansa or Qatar where you can fly via Franfurt or Doha and onto Windhoek.
During dry season a 4×2 or SUV vehicle is fine for self drivers, during green / rainy season we would suggest a 4×4. Namibia can also be explored via plane – so if budget allows you could fly between destinations, or for the more adventurous there are numerous campsites if you wanted a more rustic experience with rooftop camping.
How long to travel for:
Namibia is best visited over a minimum of 12 days +, this way you can enjoy both the southern regions which include Windhoek, Sossusvlei and Swakopmund, as well as head to the northern regions including Damaraland, Skeleton Coast, Etosha and Africat Foundation at Okonjima.
Namibia is not really an add on destination – eg: a short 3 night stay. Distances are vast (it’s often a journey time of 5 – 6 hours between locations so allow for a full day) and 80% of the roads are gravel.
Where to go and what to see:
A favoured itinerary is one that covers both the southern and northern regions. As a rule of thumb the south is scenery and the north is wildlife – however you can see wildlife in the south and scenery in the north too!
Windhoek – a night or two on arrival in the capital is always recommend in order to rest up after a long flight. Also pending your arrival time into Windhoek, you may not be able to make it to Sossusvlei in time.
Sossusvlei – the main region for the famous sand dunes including Dune 45, Big Daddy and the instagrammable Dead Vlei. This region is approx 4-6 hours drive from Windhoek pending any stop en route. The road from Windhoek to Rohoboth is tar, and therafter is gravel. We usually recommend 2 nights here – giving you a full day to view the dunes in the monring and then a late afternoon / early evening visit to Sesrium Canyon. If you would like to do a Hot Air Balloon flight we would then recommend 3 nights.
Swakopmund – the coastal town of Swakopmund is always welcoming after time in the desert, with cooler temperatures and a sea breeze. Swakopmund is the activity hub with scenic flights, fishing trips, kayaking, desert tours, sandboarding to name just a few. Walvis Bay is 30 minutes south of Swakopmund where the majority of water based activities depart from. Drive time from Sossusvlei is 4-6 hours, where you drive through the Tropic of Capricorn as well as the small ‘town’ of Solitaire – known for the best apple pie in Namibia! A 2 or 3 night stop works well here.
Skeleton Coast – this region has changed over the years, as most of the ship wrecks have been taken back by the ocean. The last wreckage to occur was in the 1970’s, with most debris already being washed back out to sea. The best way to experience this region is trekking on foot or a scenic flight. There are a couple of wrecks that can still be seen – one of which is a Zeila near Hentiesbaai, which can be conveniently en route to Damaraland, as well as a stop at the Cape Cross seal colony.
Damaraland – we advise allowing a full day of travel to reach this remote region, departing after an early breakfast from Swakopmund, with a stops as mentioned above before arriving late afternoon at your chosen lodge. This area is home to the Himba people, the desert adapted rhino and elephant, as well as the petrified forests, rock art and home to wildlife including jackel, gemsbok and springbok. We recommend a 2 night stop here.
Etosha National Park – is best seen with an overnight stop on both the West and Eastern sides of the park. The park is accessed from the west via Okaukuejo / Andersons Gate. Okaukuejo is a rest camp, which has petrol, shops and restaurants. We usually advise guests to stay at a private lodge just outside Andersons gate as this would be of a higher standard compared to the government camps such a Okaukuejo within the Park. Then enjoy a full days driving through the reserve to reach Namutoni / Von Lindequist Gate. A rule of thumb is to aim to arrival at the central Halali rest camp for 12:00 noon, and be gone by 14:00 in order to be through the park gate before closes for the day! Usually we would recommend 2 nights on each side, however pending how much time you have your could amend this to 1 night in the west and 2 nights in the east. Game viewing in Etosha is done via waterhole, so driving from waterhole to waterhole to see what animals animals await you!
AfriCAT Foundation / Okonjima – a final optional stop en route back to Windhoek is a night or 2 at Okonjima – home to the AfriCAT foundation. This is a sanctuary to cheetah, carcal and other wildife including hyena who have been rescued off farm lands. An educational experience to understanding the balance between wildlife and domestic farming. Pending your flight time – you may require a nights rest in Windhoek again prior to your flight home.
The above itinerary can also be done in reverse, so heading up to Okonjima, then Etosha, Damaraland, down to Swakopmund and Sossusvlei and returning back to Windhoek.
If you’re also keen to explore the Fish River Canyon region and the towns of Aus and Luderitz in the deep south – we would recommend just keeping your adventure to a southern circuit – so to include Windhoek, Bagatelle, Mariental, Keetmanshoop, Fish River Canyon, Aus, Luderitz, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund and back to Windhoek.
We hope the above guide has given insight to all that Namibia has to offer.
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