Namibia self-drive

Jun 4th, 2007, 11:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 6
Namibia self-drive

Hello there,

I was just wondering if anyone had any tips for a self-drive trip to Namibia. We are considering hiring a car, but only one of us will be driving. Does the itinerary below sound plausible and are there any hotels/lodges we shouldn't miss along the way? I was also wondering whether anybody has stayed at Okonjima (AfriCat) and can recommend it. Or would two nights at the Waterberg Plateau be a better option?

day 1: Leave Amsterdam
day 2: Arrive Windhoek
day 3: Sossusvlei
day 4: Sossusvlei
day 5: Swakopmund
day 6: Swakopmund
day 7: Damaraland
day 8: Damaraland
day 9: Etosha
day 10: Etosha
day 11: Etosha
day 12: Etosha
day 13: Okonjima
day 14: Okonjima
day 15: Windhoek
day 16: Leave for Amsterdam

I would be very grateful for any advice.
Thanks very much!


Eljay76 is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 07:34 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,715
Eljay: that is a fantastic itinerary with reasonable distances. I self-drove a very similar one with the exception of not going to Okonjima due to less nights available. It does get very favorable reviews and I think you will want to stay there. Your driving distances will be reasonable and your pace not too rushed.

We stayed at Hilltop House (Windhoek), Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp, a spot in Swakopmund that escapes me but I wouldn't recommend it anyway, Damaraland Camp, and Little Ongava in the Etosha area. I would highly recommend all of them (operated by Wilderness Safaris) but there are lots of other great options too, this was our honeymoon so we were staying top end. With 4 nights in Etosha area you could do 2 nights at one of the Ongava camps and then 2 inside the park or split them all inside the park and skip the Ongava area depending on your tastes and budget.

My trip report can be found here:
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 08:41 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 708
We were very disappointed when we visited the Waterburg Plateau in 2003. We had a luggage problem that delayed us in Windhoek and had to choose between Waterburg and Okonjima. We missed Okonjima and still regret our choice. Waterburg was the only place we visited in Namibia that I wouldn't visit again. I am not sure what the purpose of your trip is but with the time you have available I would not spend two days in Swakopmund, only one. Maybe spend the second night at Cape Cross instead if you are interested in seals. That would put you closer to Damaraland. Depending one what time you arrive and leave Windhoek, I would try to only spend one night there. If you arrive mid-day, I would start for Sossusvlei that day and stop enroute.
tuckeg is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 09:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,252
I agree with tuckeg. It seems a plausible itinerary but the changes suggested will probably make it even better. I'd go for Cape Cross if you want wilderness and the seals, Swakopmund if you want people and activities. Tuckeg's suggestion might leave you with time for only a morning in Swakopmund (the day before you'd need to leave very early to arrive earlier than latish afternoon).

Personally I would stay more time in places and do fewer but I understand there's nothing you would want to leave out (I didn't). I assume you both/all like being "on the road" because you have to realise you will be on it a lot.

I have to add driving times to my trip report soon - if you see these please keep in mind they are probably worst case scenarios on the Sossusvlei-Swakopmund-Damaraland route and and you would be going smaller distances (1-2 hours)than we did each day in any case. Reports by PredatorBiologist, tuckeg, fabio, titcho and kavey on this board are all very good information in my opinion - as is mine of course ;-) ... if you haven't already done so reading them will give you a good basic idea of what you might experience and ideas on where to stay.

Staying inside Etosha sounds like it going to be difficult this year, unitl all the renovations are finished, but most people would not want to miss Okaukuejo if they had the chance - not for the accommodation but for the waterhole.
kimburu is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 11:04 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 708
kimburu, I agree with most of what you said. As far as the amount of time in the vehicle, I guess it's relative. If you can split up the drive to Sossusvlei over two days (say 3 hours each day, then I think the worst day would be from Sossus to Swakopmund. If you get in that afternoon, have a quick look and then have dinner in town. Spend the next day looking over the town. Late in the afternoon drive the 126 km to Cape Cross. Early morning tour off the seals and then off to Damaraland. But thtat's me, first time I visit an area I like to see as much as I can and then return and spend a lot more time at my favorites.
tuckeg is offline  
Jun 6th, 2007, 07:57 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 259
Eljay, we are thinking of a similiar trip, but adding a few extra days. Are you working with a travel company? Where and what kind of car are you renting and from where? What month? We are planning late Sept/October.

We were thinking of flying Seattle to Cape Town, because we want to spend a few days there after Namibia. Now I think I will check fares from Am to Wind round trip and Cape Town to Windhoek round trip to see if that is cheaper.

Please post the resorts/camping places you found. There are so many options and this will probably be our only trip. I don't want to make a mistake. We are not looking for luxury, but mixed camping experience, mainly to view a variety of game.

Etosha will be the highlight of our trip and I read elsewhere that it is already booked until the end of Sept!

It sound like we are doing the same research. I am waiting for the Rough Guide book we ordered to really get started (sorry Fodors). I hope we are not tooooo late to make plans.

Please let us know what progress you have made.

granny is offline  
Jun 12th, 2007, 11:08 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 32
Sounds great! At Sossusvlei I can highly recommend Kulala Desert Lodge. They have their own entrace to the park, and means you get to the dunes quicker than everyone else in the morning . Kulala is also a very beautiful place with excellent food and great staff. Go for one night B&B and one night fully inclusive. Then you get a full day of activities included in the price.

Swakopmund to Damaraland in one day is a long drive, but no problem if you get started around 9-10 in the morning. Don't miss dune skiing in Swakop! In Damaraland we stayed at Palmwag Lodge which is very good value. They offer very good full day 4X4 safaris with good chances of spotting rhinos.

We used Cardboard Box Travel ( and were very happy with them.

tordenmalm is offline  
Jun 25th, 2007, 10:26 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 6
Hello everyone,

First of all I'd like to thank everyone for their tips (sorry for the late reply but I've been away) - they were really useful. We slightly adjusted our itinerary and have now asked Cardboard Box and a local travel operator specialised in Namibia for a quote. Cardboard Box is now checking availability and the local operator (who can also book the flights) has sent us a quote and suggested some changes, as follows:

day 1: Overnight in Jo'burg
day 2: Arrive Windhoek early morning/ drive to Wolwedans
day 3: Wolwedans
day 4: Namib Naukluft Lodge
day 5: Namib Naukluft Lodge
day 6: Swakopmund - Brigadoon
day 7: Swakopmund - Brigadoon
day 8: Damaraland - Twyfelfontein Country Lodge
day 9: Damaraland - Twyfelfontein Country Lodge
day 10: Etosha - Okaukuejo
day 11: Etosha - Okaukuejo
day 12: Etosha - Namutoni
day 13: Etosha - Namutoni
day 14: Okonjima
day 15: Okonjima
day 16: Drive to Windhoek and leave for Amsterdam

Please let me know if you see anything wrong with this new itinerary. I'm not sure whether Namib Naukluft Lodge is too far away from the entrance to the park. We'd like to be there nice and early to take photos of the dunes at sunrise. Has anybody stayed here?

Thanks once again!

Eljay76 is offline  
Jun 25th, 2007, 10:39 PM
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Posts: 6
Incidentally, I left the choice of hotels to the travel agent, but I'm sure changes can be made.
Eljay76 is offline  
Jun 25th, 2007, 11:29 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 267
Hello Eljay,

We stayed at Kulala Desert Lodge that has a private gate to Sossusvlei so is probably the best location to get to the vlei with the best morning light.
It is also a nice lodge,we really like our stay there.

I also have to tell you that we spend 2 days at Wolwedans and only 1 at Kulala.
Wolwedans is a very nice lodge and most important ,is in the Namib Rand Reserve that has much more game that the Sossusvlei area and the Kulala Reserve(at list that was our experience during our stay there).
It has also magnificent landscape with fantastic red dunes,mountains and yellow grass.

1 day to visit the dunes at Sossusvlei is sufficient.
If desert game is important for you my opinion will be 2 days at Wolwedans and 1 day at Kulala.

Nice itinerary you have.

Good luck.
PacoAhedo is offline  
Jun 26th, 2007, 04:28 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,252
If you are driving in to the dunes yourself and don't mind setting out a bit before sunrise (check if they have 24-hour coffee if you are an addict) it'll be okay. I didn't stay there but I passed it on the way to Sesriem and it's not that far - but I would imagine if you were going with an organised tour they would be leaving a bit later than a photographer would wish. Again, you could check this directly with the lodge (in case you don't get a response here). I would agree with Paco that the area there only needs a day, except that you would have a very long day indeed if you do the dunes in the morning and then drive to Swakopmund in the afternoon. Certainly can be done but maybe on the road or on the dunes from 5 am to 6 or 7 pm. A matter of taste... but Paco has been to Wolwedans and I haven't, so perhaps he knows you'll find the extra day there worth the effort that follows....
kimburu is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2007, 12:09 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 6
Hi Granny,

Have you made any progress with your trip to Namibia yet? We asked Cardboard Box and a local travel operator for a quotation and both have got back to us saying that much of our first-choice accommodation is already booked up during the first few weeks of October, although we opted for some of the most well-known hotels/lodges.

Unfortunately the camps in Etosha itself were full on the dates we selected, but we have received some suggestions for lodges nearby. It's a bit disappointing because we were looking forward to the park watering holes at night...ah well.

Good luck with your search
Eljay76 is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2007, 01:09 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 259
Hi there Eljay,
We got our airfare over the weekend. We have been back and forth with Cardboard Box and still waiting for suggestions for accommodations. As far as I know, we have a reservation in Etosha for 5 nights in October. Sure hope that's still okay, since we are planning our whole trip around that. We are doing a self-drive also and a similar route.

Can you tell me the name of the other agent you are dealing with? I'm getting nervous now that we'll have trouble getting the places we want. Guess that's why our Cardboard Box person is not getting back to us as quickly as promised.

granny is offline  
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