Namibia Self Drive Help - Am I too ambitious?

Old Aug 23rd, 2011, 01:14 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 9
Namibia Self Drive Help - Am I too ambitious?

Fodor's Experts & Members,

3 guys including me are self driving through namibia for 10 days in Sept/Oct. In and out of Windhoek, rented a Land Rover 110 Defender. We've done Kruger Before and are excited for Namibia. With limited time, we don't mind driving long distances, but want to experience all Namibia has to offer. Extreme terrain/landscape, Skeleton Coast and wildlife.

Question: I would love to share my detailed itinerary with a member(s) who are experts in Namibia to poke holes in it and tell me if I'm crazy, so if you're interested please email me/message me and we can chat. Otherwise, here is the shortened list below...Is this crazy or can I do it? Secondary question - we really want to self-camp in the Palmwag concession, any advice?

Day 1 – Windhoek arrival 840 PM
Day 2 – Windhoek to Etosha; late arrival
Day 3 – Etosha; all day entering from Von driving through park to Anderson
Day 4 – Etosha morning then to N. Damaraland, late game drive, staying over at Palmwag Lodge
Day 5 – N. Damaraland; extreme remote camping, leave Palmwag Lodge and go camping
Day 6 – N. Damaraland; in the morning head out to Terrace Bay in the evening
Day 7 – Terrace Bay; early departure through Southern Damaraland; to Swakopmund – arrive at night not too late 5-7pm (most aggressive)
Day 8 – Swakopmund; sand boarding – leave Swakopmund in the afternoon for the 3-4 hour drive to our camp outside the Sossusvlei Dunes
Day 9 – Sossusvlei Dunes; all day – hiking dunes, canyons, etc. – Leave Sossusvlei and head up towards Windhoek but we’ll be staying at a Guest Farm in the Namib Desert
Day 10 – leave Guest Farm and drive 3-4 hours back to Windhoek to Depart
Bostontravelbug is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2011, 02:43 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,436
Hi - we did a similar trip in February of 2010 - had a blast.

Comments - it's a lot of driving, but you already know that. For comparison, here was our similar itinerary (in reverse of yours):

Day 1 - Arrive Windhoek/overnight
Day 2 - early-ish departure (10am) and drive to Sossus Dune Lodge which we loved. About 6 hours of great driving (if you like to drive!)
Day 3 - Sossus Dune Lodge
Day 4 - drive to Swakopmund - a breathtaking drive - notable in parts for the absence of any life!
Days 5/6/7 - we relaxed in Swakop - went Dune Buggy riding with Outback Orange - lots of fun
Day 8 - left midday and drove to Cape Cross (2 hours) to see the seals and stayed overnight at the Lodge. We were on our way to Palmwag and that broke the journey a bit and we wanted to see (smell?) the seals
Day 9 & 10 - Palmwag Lodge - we had a great time there .... loved the staff and their willingness to change our tires (a long story - see tips below)
Day 11 - drove to Etosha - An easy drive - about 1.5 hours on gravel then all pavement to the Gate. 1 night at Okaukeujo in a water hole view cabin. Not worth it as we were there in February and there weren't any animals but we expected that
Day 12 - Namutoni - one night in the NWR lodge - the room was gorgeous, the food not so much. Again no animals, but we knew that.

Then we went north to Caprivi so it doesn't match your itinerary.


- we found the driving interesting but challenging - lots of big stones in the gravel (and we have 2 flat tires to show for it) so be sure you have a good spare, and consider a second one (we wish we had insisted upon it - Hertz talked us out of it)
- best to have a local mobile number (or accept high roaming costs for your own mobile) - see: flat tires!!
- I don't think there's much to see in Terrace Bay and it's taking you north only to retrace your steps (as I understand the roads)
- we bought a cooler in Windhoek and always had it full of ice and water - but I assume since you are camping in parts you'll have supplies? There were stretches where we didn't see a living thing for a couple of hours and it was good to know we had water!

Have you posted on TA? I worked with a travel agent out of Swakopmund and she is a Destination Expert there. She was extremely helpful and really made our trip.

We loved Namibia - driving is fun (if you like driving!) and a wonderful experience.

Her website is

Here's a link to our (incomplete) blog - happy to answer questions
Elizabeth_S is online now  
Old Aug 23rd, 2011, 04:20 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 183
Elizabeth_S - I would LOVE it if you continued with your trip blog. I'm in the planning stage for a Namibia trip next Octor 2012 and your information, so far, is wonderful. Pleeease.....
wildlifepainter is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2011, 06:02 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 371

I would agree with Elizabeth S, it's a great itinerary, a lot of driving but definitley do-able. I'm sure you've been warned but don't try and drive after dark.

I also agree that I'm not sure I would go to Terrace Bay for one night, it's a long way and you can get a good taste of the coast by doing a day trip along the coast from Swakopmund to Cape Cross seal colony and into the Skeleton Coast Park without going all the way to Terrace Bay.

We found it an easy day's drive from Palmwag to Henties Bay (just north of Swakopmund) with a break of an hour or so at Twyfelfontein to see the rock engravings (recommended and a good place to break the drive.)

Also recommended is Palmwag, we stayed a couple of nights in the campsite and a couple on the concession. It was our first time bush camping and we absolutely loved it. The biggest problem was being told to 'camp anywhere but not on a game trail' - being spoilt for choice we spent hours finding the perfect spot! The scenery is spectacular and setting up camp with curious zebra and giraffe watching you is something to remember. We were amazed by how much game was around, considering it's not in a fenced area, but it was more skittish than the car-habituated Etosha game. We also came across the desert elephants in the Palmwag area, which was a bonus. We did a day game drive with the guide from Palmwag Lodge and managed to spot a black rhino and enjoy the scenery (self drivers have a limited area they can use).

I think the other parts of the trip have been well-covered elsewhere, but if you have any specific questions I would be happy to try and answer.
tockoloshe is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2011, 01:48 AM
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 33
A few little points, there are some quite long drives in there so you need to be aware of that.

Your drive time for Swakopmund to Sesriem and Sesriem to Windhoek are a little off, even if you are in a Land Rover. Some of the roads were quite badly damaged earlier in the year, but even if they were not 3-4 hours is really pushing it to get from Swakop to Sesriem. It is technically only 350kms, but you have passes and also extreme corrugation in places. It would be wise to estimate 5 hours for that journey. Same goes for the leg from Sesriem to Windhoek.

Also the roads around Palmwag were also very badly damaged and so you need to allow extra travel time there, particularly around the Twyfelfontein area. These have still not been fixed and there are detours in place.

I would skip staying at Terrace Bay, it is geared up for fishermen really and you will see a lot of the Skeleton Coast just by driving from Palmwag to Swakop along the coast. Cape Cross would be a better overnight stop. Also to get a really good view of the Skeleton Coast it is best to take a scenic flight from Swakopmund. You are travelling at a busy time of year so joining with another group would keep the costs down and all the companies in Swakop will do this for you.

Hope that helps a bit.

Gemma Dry - Discover Namibia Safaris
Discover_Namibia is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2011, 08:25 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,436
wildlifepainter - not optimistic about the blog update any time soon - but happy to answer questions you may have. I worked with Gemma(post above) and she was an invaluable resource and really made our trip.
Elizabeth_S is online now  
Old Aug 24th, 2011, 08:33 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 9
Thank you all for the responses this is very helpful! Leaving out Terrace Bay will give us an extra night in N. Damaraland, which I'm excited about.

I guess a follow up question which has been partialy answered is: How do we then from Palmwag get to view the coast. The Skeleton Coast is something we don't want to miss and I've heard that from Torra Bay to Terrace Bay is the most remote part that self-drivers can see. So in looking at a rough map, it looks like when we drive down to Swakopmund we take C35 down to Henties and then head north up to Cape Cross possibly stay over or turn back around to Swakopmund?

Is that going to fill our appetite for seeing amazing shipwrecks and being able to maybe walk on the beach?
Bostontravelbug is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2011, 05:46 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 371
Bostontravelbug, I understand your point about not wanting to miss out on the most remote place - we felt the same way, but we took advice that it's pretty much the same scenery as the road up to the Skeleton Park gate and it would be a lot of driving for not much more gain - but then again I haven't done it so maybe someone else can help with first-hand experience - Gemma at Discover Namibia has probably more information about it.

We found that the drive from Henties/Swakop up the coast did indeed fill our appetite for a shipwreck (though I believe there is a more spectacular one further up the coast) and miles and miles of deserted beach. By not driving so far we were able to enjoy it more and get out of the car more to explore on foot.

See what you think ....
tockoloshe is offline  
Old Sep 7th, 2011, 06:04 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 371
Bostontravelbug, would be interested to see your final itinerary!
tockoloshe is offline  
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