Namibia Self Drive Trip

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Feb 22nd, 2005, 05:16 PM
  #1
DJE
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Namibia Self Drive Trip

We are contemplating a self driving trip throughout the various regions of Namibia and have a few questions. Are there any particular safety issues to be concerned with driving throughout the country and can the Skeleton Coast be accessed at all by road at any point? Also any recommendations for some nice safari lodges or camps in Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund and the Skeleton Coast regions. Also any recommendations for vehicle rental outfits. We would like to rent a good 4x4 in the event we want to go off road.

This would be our second visit to Namibia but we have only visited Windhoek and the Sossusvlei area.
Many Thanks.
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Feb 22nd, 2005, 08:11 PM
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DJE: You can certainly drive the route you are talking about. I am pasting a link of my trip which covered that same area. I am hoping to have pictures up sometime soon but there are many to scan.

I'll check back to see if you have questions after reading my report.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=4
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Feb 22nd, 2005, 10:13 PM
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DJE
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PredatorBiologist,

Enjoyed your trip report. We also stayed at the Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp ( charter flight ) on our first trip and it was fabulous and the location stunning for a desert environment.

From your report I gather that it is not a problem to access the Skeleton Coast area by car. I was thinking of staying at another WS camp ( Wilderness Skeleton Lodge ) there but I don't think it is possible to drive to their location. Also interested in staying at either Ongava Lodge or Little Ongava in western Etosha. Your review of Little O sounds wonderful. Did you happen to see what the other Lodge was like?

I assume Etosha can be reached easily in a day from Windhoek and that the driving distances between most destinations is not that great?

I think we would like to spend 3 weeks touring around and hope this is enough time to visit most areas without feeling rushed at all. I hope to spend at least 3 nights in each camp or lodge we choose.

Do you recall seeing a place called Hansa Hotel in Swakopmund?

Any additional information you can provide will be appreciated.
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Feb 22nd, 2005, 11:03 PM
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DJE: Glad you enjoyed the trip report. You can definitely drive into Skeleton Coast National Park -- we drove that route from Swakopmund to Damaraland. It can be quite sandy and you will be glad to have a 4X4 there but we and others we know made it through o.k. in 2WD sedans. You will want to stop at Cape Cross and see the seal colony. It is a wide open, desolate drive along the coast for a couple of hours. You are correct that to reach the Wilderness Safari Skeleton Coast Camp you have to fly. I wish we had the time and $ to have done so as a couple we met said it was a tremendous experience as you get to really explore the Skeleton Coast in detail as opposed to just driving through with a few stops. If you can get there I would do it.

I could see Ongava Lodge below Little Ongava but I did not check out the accomodations. A couple we met along the way stayed there and said it was great -- I think just a notch below Sossousvlei Wilderness Camp for level of luxury (no private plunge pools). Advantages over Little Ongava would be that it has a waterhole right in front, and that being on the valley floor it is closer to the animals and thus you could see and hear more right from camp. The drives/activities are the same for each. That said -- Little Ongava was extraordinary accomodation that I would highly recommend if its in your budget. Either one would be a fantastic place to stay.

The drive from Ongava/southern edge of Etosha to Windhoek to us about 5-5 1/2 hours. That was our longest drive, and it is paved. The other driving except around Walvis Bay/Swakopmund were gravel and we had a couple of days that were 4-5 hours of driving.

You have plenty of time with 3 weeks, we only had 8 nights. You could break up your drives a little more and could probably even drive over near the Okagango Delta if you desired to cover more ground. In addition to the areas we stayed in you may want to check out Mowani Lodge for one night (relatively close to Damaraland Camp)to see ancient rock art and you will most likely want to stay at Okonjima for 2 nights (Africat Foundation)in between Etosha area and Windhoek. We had friends that enjoyed both places and wish we would have had time to visit them.

I have seen the Hansa House recommended before but have no personal knowledge of it.

It is a really fun circuit to travel and we made lots of friends who were making a similar route that overlapped some dates along the way. You will love it!

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Feb 23rd, 2005, 04:36 AM
  #5
DJE
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PredatorBiologist,

Thank you so much for the additional detailed information. It will be very helpful to us as we put together an itinerary for this trip. I will check into the other places you mentioned. I gather that you did not have any safety related issues traveling on your own.
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Feb 23rd, 2005, 07:13 AM
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DJE: Your welcome, I'm happy to share info.

We had no safety issues. We had one flat tire -- actually on our first day. You should make sure that your rental company gives you 2 spares.

Also, the town of Khorixas was the logical place to get gas between Swakopmund and Ongava after staying at Damaraland Camp. However, we were warned by a guide at D-Camp that the town was full of beggers and sales people. We were low on gas so we pulled in and the pumps were down due to lack of power. There were hordes of people selling little trinkets. No real danger, more of an unpleasant/high pressure annoyance. We ended up having to continue on to Outjo to get our gas but we made it with no problem -- so you may want to avoid stopping in Khorixas if possible although I don't think its dangerous. The folks we know that stayed at Mowani were able to get gas there by the lodge.

We didn't see a single car driving the Skeleton Coast. When you enter and exit the park you sign in/out so they'll know if you didn't make it through and come to help. I imagine there would have been at least a few cars going the same direction as us.
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Feb 23rd, 2005, 06:29 PM
  #7
DJE
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PredatorBiologist, Thanks for the tip on Khorixas.

Yes we will make sure to have extra tires just in case. One rental company we have checked out supposedly have landrover vehicles so that is probably what we will rent.

Do you happen to know if there are charter flights available to get to the Wilderness Skeleton Lodge from within the Skeleton Coast region, instead of having to fly from Windhoek? It would be great if we could leave the vehicle in a safe place and fly from that area to the camp and then continue on with our driving trip from there.
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Feb 24th, 2005, 07:21 AM
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DJE: I'm not positive but I am pretty sure you could either fly from Swakopmund or maybe even a better idea you could fly from Damaraland Camp. Since some people do all flying for their Wilderness Safari Camps you should be able to go between any two camps. You could leave your car at Damaraland Camp no problem. You can park just off the road where they have built a covered parking area next to a small homestead where a couple of families watch your car and in fact wash it for you. Very nice people and a good place to leave your vehicle, or since you will have a 4x4 you could even drive all the way into D-Camp, they pick up people at the parking area that are in sedans. Likewise you could probably fly between Ongava and Skeleton Coast as well but I think your trip would flow better flying from D-Camp.
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Feb 24th, 2005, 08:09 PM
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DJE
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PredatorBiologist, You have mentioned Damaraland Camp as a good place to stay. Do you happen to know anything about a place in Damaraland called Mowani Mountain Camp? It also looks like it is in an interesting location however I don't know if it is accessible by road. I do like the idea of being able to leave a vehicle at DC and continuing on by plane to the WS camp in the Skeleton Coast.

I plan on getting a very good road map of the country and then seriously planning out a route to take and then narrow down the choices of camps/lodges we want to stay in. Did you plan your itinerary yourself and make your own arrangements etc. or did you rely on a travel outfit to work out the details.

We are planning this trip for June/July of 2006 as I prefer to travel when the mornings and evenings are cool and the midday temps. won't be extremely hot. This was the time of year of our last trip to Namibia and Botswana in 2003.
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Feb 25th, 2005, 06:25 AM
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A couple we met traveling and in fact stayed with at D-Camp went to Mowani for a night following D-Camp before continuing onto Ongava. They said it was great and it is a very good place to stay to see the rock art. You can drive in to Mowani. They do desert elephant trips but Damaraland Camp is in a much better proximity to do so. I think the idea of staying at both, D-Camp for wildlife and Mowani for rock art/geology would be optimal -- especially if you are going to fly to Skeleton Coast, although you could do that from Ongava.

I did do the planning and booking myself. I bought a good map published by International Travel Maps at my local Map store. There are only a few major roads -- many of those gravel even, so its pretty easy to choose your routes.
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Feb 25th, 2005, 07:50 AM
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We visited Damaraland Camp in 2001 and loved it! The staff were really friendly and many were from local communities and had a real tie to the land. My parents went in 1999 and also had a great visit.

We saw lots of desert eles and various other wildlife.

We didn't do a self drive but I can see that Namibia would be a great self drive destination.

A friend of mine, who posts here as Peeps, also did a trip to Namibia not so long ago and I think she posted here about it when she got back.
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Feb 25th, 2005, 05:35 PM
  #13
DJE
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Thank you both for your additional comments and ( Kavey ) for the link to Peeps trip report. After looking at it I did recall I had previously read it and now that we are planning to go back to Namibia, any info or advice is all the more helpful right now.
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Mar 1st, 2005, 09:37 PM
  #14
DJE
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We are now working out a tentative itinerary to follow and I am wondering if anyone has personal experience staying at the more remote Skeleton Coast Camp in the northern part of the Coastal region and also the Serra Cafena Camp in the far north of the country on the Kuhene River? I know that both places require flying in which is possible for us to do even though the major portion of our trip will be self drive. Thanks.
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