Touring along one of the largest canyons in the world, vast deserts and rugged mountain passes. And that is not all! Camping near huge boulders, climbing on enormous sand dunes and encountering special wildlife every day.

When I thought of Namibia, I mainly expected desert. Not knowing that the landscape of Namibia is so varied. We made a wonderful road trip along a number of highlights of this unique country.

The route

You can start your road trip in Windhoek. We started in Cape Town, South Africa. There we climbed Table Mountain, took a tour of the Cape of Good Hope, enjoyed the penguins of Boulder Bay and visited Kirstenbosch, one of the largest botanical gardens in the world.

We then drove via Betty’s Bay (penguins) to the Cederbergen and Namaqua NP, and then crossed the border with Namibia.

Would you like to read more about other beautiful countries in this part of the world? Read about our trip to Botswana, Zuid-Afrika or Kaapverdië.

What we didn’t do….

We did not visit Lüderitz, the Skeleton Coast or Kaokaland. We did not visit the far north and west of Namibia either. The country is not huge, but you still have to make choices when you visit Namibia.

We drove more than 5300 km. Of which 80% on gravel roads. That was doable. But keep in mind that although most gravel roads are easy to drive on, you cannot drive at a constant speed of 100 km per hour. You don’t want that either, because the landscape is often beautiful.

The emphasis during this trip was on adventure, nature and wildlife. We did experience some culture here and there, such as at Twijfelfonteyn, but we mainly went for nature.

The highlights of our trip

The Fish River Canyon, Deadvlei, the Bergpassenweg, Spitzkoppe and Etosha are the highlights for us. That doesn’t mean everything else was any less beautiful or fun. But these five really stand out.

The Fish River Canyon

The Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world. The Canyon is located in the south of Namibia. You can reach the Canyon from Aussenkehr or. We spend the night at Canyon Road House. A very nice and original place. The owner is crazy about vintage cars and everything that goes with them. You imagine yourself in an old workshop or garage and are amazed. Everyone is very friendly. There is also a campsite, where we unfolded our roof tent. We had a delicious meal in the restaurant.

You can reach the Canyon itself by driving to Hobas, where you pay conservation fees and then drive into the area. The viewpoint gives you a beautiful view of the canyon. There is some information on various signs and you can take two small roads here to two other viewpoints. It is extremely quiet, which we found surprising for such a unique place. There were about four cars.

A little further back there is a gravel road further into the area, where there are several viewpoints. We took this road. Here we were all alone! The road is very bad…maybe that is one of the reasons? We also visited the Grand Canyon in America and there you were not allowed to go anywhere close to the edge, it was very busy and touristy…nothing like that at Fish River. You feel alone in the world.

NAmib-Naukluft Desert

Deadvlei, like Sossusvlei, Dune 45 and the other dunes, is located near Sesriem. Sesriem is located in the middle of the desert. You drive there via various gravel roads. The road there is also beautiful, you always have a view of the vast desert. And we came across quite a lot of game, a giraffe, gemsbok, ostriches, jackals and various birds of prey.

The gate is really outside the beautiful sand dunes area. The first part is not spectacular. After about twenty minutes the sand dunes start. We climbed Dune 45. This is a tough climb, especially when the wind blows. The temperature (35 degrees) also makes it difficult. But very special and the view is beautiful.

Deadvlei

The next morning we visited Deadvlei. We took the shuttle that leaves from in the morning (until 3 o’clock in the afternoon). We saw several cars stuck in the loose sand. From the parking lot you walk to Deadvlei and Big Daddy.

Deadvlei is located in the middle of the spectacular dunes. The light is beautiful and the old trees that have been here for hundreds of years make it a very special place. To the right of Deadvlei is another vlei. You can also walk here, there was no one there at all. It is very quiet there.  From the same place you can also access the dunes, such as Big Daddy. Keep in mind that it gets hot quickly, so bring plenty of water and make sure you have a cap or scarf to cover your skin.

Overnachtingsmogelijkheden in Sesriem

Sesriem has various accommodation options. The NWR campsite is large but has excellent pitches. The sanitary facilities are not great, but adequate. From the campsite it is about 45 minutes to an hour before you reach the parking lot where the shuttles to Sossusvlei and Deadvlei leave. If you want to see the sunrise, you really have to get in line when the gate opens. In our case it was 6:15 am. You can also sleep in one of the more expensive lodges. Then you sleep outside the gate and come in later in the morning (after sunset). We did this the second night and slept in Sossusvlei Lodge. A wonderfully luxurious place, with very tasty food and a nice swimming pool.

The Bergpassenweg

The Bergpassenweg is a lesser known route. You can go directly to Kuiseb Canyon from Sesriem via Solitaire, but you can also go via D1275, the Spreets Height Pass and the Gamsberg Pass. Then drive along the steepest roads through beautiful mountain scenery. Very surprising and highly recommended in our opinion.

The roads through this mountain landscape are all gravel, but the steepest parts are paved. If you like an adventurous route then you should definitely make this ‘detour’, because we really enjoyed the beautiful views, the rugged nature and the silence. Eventually you come to Kuiseb Canyon and that is also a beautiful drive.

Spitzkoppe

Another literal and figurative highlight during our road trip was our stay at Spitzkoppe. Spitzkoppe is sometimes called the Matterhorn of Namibia. It is a steep mountain (1728 m), rising from the relatively flat desert. It is actually a collection of red boulders in all kinds of shapes. There are several places with bushmen petroglyphs, which you can visit with a guide. You can also walk in the area yourself. So we climbed to one of the rock formations with an arch.

A campsite (Spitzkoppe restcamp) has been created at the bottom of these beautiful rock formations. You can decide where you will stand. Each site has a dry toilet and a fire pit, sometimes also a shelter. The pitches are hundreds of meters apart and that makes spending the night here unique. You enjoy a beautiful view of the rocks and the sunset, while you feel like you are alone in the world. You can reserve a place at Spitzkoppe. The campsite has a small restaurant at the entrance and there are nice open-air showers.

Etosha National PArk

Etosha is the largest (22 hectares) national park in Namibia. We entered the park on the east side and our first overnight stay was Olifantsrus. Olifantsrus is a small-scale and pleasant camp, where you can camp alone. It has a beautiful waterhole, which you reach via a footbridge. We then drove to Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni. We stayed two nights in Namutoni.

The landscape on the east side of the park is a bit boring. You drive from waterhole to waterhole. Halfway, around the popular and large places to stay (Halali and Okaukuejo), it is busier, but the landscape also changes and becomes more varied.

We usually started early in the morning, arriving at the new place mid-day. We relaxed by the pool for a while and at the end of the afternoon we made a second round to various water holes. During our stay we saw the most animals between Halali and Namutoni. We thought Klein and Groot Okavi and Chudob were the nicer waterholes. You should also not miss the viewpoint on the Etoshapan. Here you drive onto the vast pan and feel how enormous and vast the area is.

We saw a lot of wildlife, more than 50 different species including 10 lions, 1 cheetah, 1 striped hyena and 1 honey badger. Large groups of elephants, giraffes, zebras and countless antelopes and gazelles. The bird life is also very varied. It is nice to buy a guide at the entrance, with the maps so that you have insight into where all the water holes are located. Almost all animals are depicted in it.

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Once upon a time…there were three lions

For us, the encounter with three lions was the absolute highlight of our trip to Namibia.


On our last afternoon we discovered a lion behind a bush, he was resting and could not be seen clearly. A few hundred meters further there were several cars and there appeared to be two more males. These were also not very visible, so we decided to drive on and drive back later, hoping that we would still see them… So we drove on and to our surprise we saw a rhino with a calf! Also special!

Then we turned the car around and drove back. By now all the cars were gone, but I soon saw the two men walking. They walked into the bushes, a few meters away. They were focused, searching. They turned out to be looking for the first male.


There was a brief confrontation, after which they chased each other. They were walking on the road! Right in front of our car! Wow! The chase continued on the left, after a few hundred meters they stopped… and just when we thought ‘it’s over’, one of the males struck and started a fight with the first male.


It was going fast and we heard a lot of grunting. We couldn’t see it very well, because the victim was just behind a hill. A little later the victor emerged full of adrenaline and aggression. The victim remained lying down. The other lion joined him. They walked away into the evening sun…leaving us in amazement and disbelief. It was like a movie! Epic!

conclusion

Namibia is certainly not a cheap destination. The flight to Windhoek or Capetown is reasonable, but the car with rooftop tent is expensive to hire. The campsites are reasonable, about 20 euro’s. The conservation fees add up, became a lot at the end. The price level in the supermarkets are about the same as in the Netherlands. Going out for dinner is cheaper. For about 30 euro’s you can have a nice dinner for two. Namibia is certainly an expesive destination, but you will get an extraordinary travel experience! A once in a lifetime trip!