Traveling Namibia

Ultimate guide to Namibia: Costs, routes, and favorites

A road trip in Namibia is one of the most remarkable adventures of a lifetime. This Namibia self drive itinerary uncovers the best of Namibia, from the mystic ghost town of Kolmanskop, exploring the might dunes of Sossusvlei, going on a self-drive safari in Etosha National Park, and all between.
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This Namibia self dive itinerary is packed with insider tips, such as the best way to get around the country on your own and the best accommodation options. You will also find an alternative routes to fit your needs while self driving in Namibia.

Here you will find the most amazing places in Namibia. If you have more time, you can also combine a road trip between Namibia and Botswana, as both countries are very close and it makes a perfect dream destination.

Namibia is a country custom-made for self-drive exploration and safari with (mostly) easily navigable gravel roads, minimal traffic, and an impressively low crime rate. Make sure you check how to rent a car in Namibia, and the main tips on how to drive in Namibia.

With great options from camping in Namibia from budget lodges to five stars hotels, Namibia is a good fit for any pocket. A well-planned Namibia road trip itinerary will take you to discover some of the mesmerizing places that Namibia has to offer.

Namibia self drive itinerary 11-day

Namibia Self Drive itinerary Overview

 

This Namibia self-drive itinerary covers some of the most amazing landscapes, a taste of the wildlife, and also a cultural experience with some of the beautiful local people in Namibia. I have also added alternative routes to give you options while planning your own itinerary.

My road trip in Namibia continued to Botswana – if you are also planning to travel to Botswana, check my 3-Weeks Namibia & Botswana itinerary.

I have also prepared a Complete guide on 20 Essentials tips on how to self-drive safely in Namibia that I recommend you to read before your trip, and How to Rent a car in Namibia is also a must-read.

Here is an overview of how to spend a perfect 11-day self-drive road trip in Namibia:

NOTE: I used a combination of campsites in Namibia with some budget accommodations along the way – Here I am also making recommendations for the best options for accommodations. 11 days doing a self-drive road trip in Namibia is an ideal amount of time to discover the Best Places to Visit in Namibia 

DAY ACTIVITY OVERNIGHT LOCATION
DAY 1: Drive to Keetmanshoop | Visit Quivertree Forest Keetmanshoop
DAY 2: Visit the ghost town of Kolmanskop | Luderitz |  Wild horses Helmeringhausen
DAY 3: Namib Desert | Sossusvlei Sesriem
DAY 4: Sunrise in Deadvlei and Climb the dunes in Sossusvlei Sesriem
DAY 5: Visit Solitare | Drive to the coastal town of Walvis Bay Walvis Bay
DAY 6: Adventure driving in Sandwich Harbor | Visit Swakopmund Walvis Bay
DAY 7: Drive the Skeleton Coast | Visit the Cape Cross seal colony Khorixas
DAY 8: Himba Village – Etosha | Alternative: Explore Damaraland Etosha | Alternative: Damaraland
DAY 9: Etosha self-drive safari | Overnight at Bushman Living Museum Grashoek | Alternative: Etosha
DAY 10: Bushman Living Museum | Alternative: Etosha National Park Windhoek
DAY 11: Morning at Game Reserve | Windhoek and Return flight Windhoek/Departure
Namibia self-drive road trip

Namibia Self-Drive Itinerary Map

 

** Click the icon at the top left of the map to see day-by-day route details **

Namibia self drive

How to Get Around Namibia on a Self-Drive

 

 

RENT A CAR: Namibia is a country custom-made for self-drive exploration and safari with (mostly) easily navigable gravel roads, minimal traffic, and an impressively low crime rate. Make sure you check how to rent a car in Namibia from a reliable source.
ESSENTIAL TIPS TO DRIVE IN NAMIBIA: Driving in Namibia is relatively easy and safe, make sure to check the main tips on how to drive in Namibia
WHAT TYPE OF CAR TO RENT: The best way to rent a car for your self-drive in Namibia is to book online through this site. You will need a 4WD if you are planning to visit the Namib Desert and the Etosha National Park in the rainy season. The roads in Namibia can be unsafe to do in a regular car. Moreover, you are not even allowed to drive into the desert without a 4 WD.
PRICES AND LOGISTIC: You can pick up your rented car directly at Windhoek International airport or other parts of the city. Prices will vary depending on if you are renting a 4WD or a vehicle with a tent on top and all the gear to camp in Namibia.

You can get a 15% off your rental car when you book through this site. I use and recommend RentalCar because it is the most reliable rental car source, and it allows you to compare the prices of different places.

 
 
Namibia road trip self-drive itinerary

Starting your Namibia Self-Drive itinerary | Arrival in Windhoek

 

 

If you arrive in Windhoek in the morning, it’s possible to start driving that day. If your flight arrives in the afternoon or evening, make sure you spend the night in Windhoek before you start your Namibia self-drive adventure. Check below for the best accommodation recommendations in Windhoek.

I arrived at the airport in the morning. Between immigration, buying a cell phone SIM card at the airport, and meeting the car rental person that was there to pick me up was less than 1 hour. After arriving at the rental car, it took around 1-hour between the orientation to the truck,  how to use it, and signing the rental contract.

All packed, supplies in place, both gas tanks full, my camera in my hands, and the windows down. While keeping an eye on the road and the other on the side of the road to see if I could spot any animals – yes, you can start to spot animals as soon as you leave the airport.

Welcome…you are in Namibia!

PRO-TIP: I recommend stopping at the mall in Windhoek for supplies. I stopped for breakfast, grocery shopping, bought towels, sheets for the tent, and bug spray – all in one stop, and I was ready to go!

BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN WINDHOEK

Namibia self-drive road trip

OVERALL TOP PICK:

Guests Rate

They have a tent accommodation style. Rated as “Superb” at booking.com, the Urban Camp features a bar, outdoor pool, and BBQ area. Located only 1.9 miles from Windhoek city center

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MID-RANGE: Has Schwerinsburg Guest House

Set in Windhoek, 1,950 feet from Alte Feste Museum, Haus Schwerinsburg Guest House features rooms with city views and free WiFi with family rooms, and a sun terrace. Gorgeous mountain views and outdoor pool

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UPMARKET: Hotel Heinitzburg

If you are looking to stay at a castle for a very reasonable price, this is the accommodation for you. The Hotel Heinitzburg is a world-class hotel, decorated with classic finishes, a gourmet restaurant, and an outdoor pool. Excellent location and guests describe as a ” delightful experience”.

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Namibia self-drive road trip itinerary was amazing

Namibia Self Drive Itinerary

 

 

DAY 1: Drive to Keetmanshoop and Visit the Quiver Tree Forest

  • TRAVEL: from Windhoek to Keetmanshoop
  • DISTANCE: 308 miles | 5 hours
  • HIGHLIGHT: Stunning first views of Namibia / Quivertree Forest
  • DRIVING: The drive from Windhoek to Keetmanshoop is long but easy. The entire drive is on paved roads with a 120 kph speed limit. On this route, you will pass several towns with good options for gas and basic necessities.

1. Long Drive from Windhoek, but appreciate the journey

Your first day of the Namibia road trip adventure can be tiring, especially if like me, you had a long trip from your home country to Namibia. But it is exciting as you start to feel familiar with driving in the desert and see what the breathtaking landscape in Namibia looks like. Stop for a classic picture in front of the Tropic of Capricorn sign.

PRO-TIP: I recommend picking up your supplies in Windhoek before you start your Namibia self-drive trip. But don’t worry if you forgot to buy something in Windhoek, as you will have the chance to do a few stops along the way. I had 2 stops for a cold drink and also for fuel. Watch for people wanting to “take care of your car” for some money.

Namibia self drive

2. Arrive in Keetmanshoop and visit the Quivertree Forest

Arriving in Keetmanshoop you can visit the Quivertree Forest.  I had the chance to watch the sunset and this place is stunning. The trees are actually aloe plants and can grow as high as 10 meters, and they can be as old as 300 years.

The Quiver Tree Forest is a fascinating place to visit. Located only 10 km from Keetmanshoop, a large number of them grow in uncharacteristically close proximity, creating a forest-like landscape. It’s one of the only known naturally occurring such sites in the world.

Namibia self drive

BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN KEETMANSHOOP

Namibia road trip itinerary

BUDGET: Keetmanshoop Self-catering

This was my accommodation option at Keetmanshoop. It has a great location, very clean bedrooms, and bathrooms, a BBQ area, and free parking. It is a great option if you are on a budget.

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MID-RANGE: Quiver Inn Guesthouse

A very well located guest house offers accommodations with free WiFi and free parking. All rooms have A/C, a TV with satellite, and a kitchenette and dining area. A full English breakfast is available in the morning

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DAY 2: Visit the Ghost Town of Kolmanskop and Take the Road to the Coastline Town of Luderitz

  • TRAVEL: from Keetmanshoop to Luderitz | from Luderitz to Helmerighausen
  • DISTANCE: 175 miles (3 hours) | 145 miles (2.5 hours)
  • HIGHLIGHT: Ghost town of Kolmanskop | Luderitiz coastal town | Wild horses
  • DRIVING: The drive to the Luderitz area on B4 (paved roads) is beautiful but at the same time, it can be a little challenging, as strong winds blow and the sand can obscure visibility. Just respect the speed limits and take extra caution while driving if the wind starts blowing the sand across the road. Leaving Luderitz, you will backtrack along B4 before turning north on gravel roads to reach Helmringhausen and NamibRand Nature Reserve. You will slow down a little on the gravel roads and you will also want to decrease the pressure in your tires to avoid getting flats and improve handling.

1. Visit the Ghost Town of Kolmanskop

Start the day driving west to the ghost town of Kolmanskop, located near the Forbidden Zone in the Namib Desert –  one of the most fascinating things about abandoned places in the absence of life, and the profound sense of curiosity to know what its story is.

From diamonds to dust – What one day was a wealthy town, where diamonds could easily be found, but because of intensive mining the area became depleted and by 1956 was abandoned. Now the dunes fill the rooms of the town with banks of sand creating an intriguing landscape and a paradise for photographers.

PRO-TIP: Note that if you are visiting Kolmanskop, the gate closes at 1:00 PM every day, and you will need to reserve at least 2 hours to explore the whole town.

Namibia self drive

2. Visit the Town of Luderitz

After visiting Kolmanskop in the morning, you can continue down the road and visit Luderitz. This cool and often foggy coastal town by the Atlantic coastline where the ocean meets the Namib Desert is a great stop for a fresh seafood lunch, and to visit the colorful German architecture buildings.

While driving near Luderitz pay close attention to the side of the road, as you can also see some of the only Wild Horses in Africa.

These horses were brought by European colonials and found a new home in the Namib desert in an area known as the Garub. I chose to spend the night at Helmeringhausen since it was a good distance to my next destination. This was my first-night camping, how exciting!

Namibia self drive
The town of Luderitz
Namibia self drive
Wild horses at Namib desert in an area known as the Garub.

BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN LUDERITZ

MID-RANGE: Tranquility Guest House

Excellent location, near the main attractions. All rooms have a fully-equipped kitchen and TV with satellite channels. This property has been recently renovated and the rooms open to a beautiful garden

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UPMARKET: Alte Villa Gästehaus

Offering a lush garden and a terrace with an excellent location. You can relax with a drink from the bar and enjoy lobsters and oysters at the on-site restaurant. A continental breakfast is included in the rate and served each morning. 

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DAY 3: Drive to Sossusvlei and Start Exploring the Desert (2 Overnights here)

  • TRAVEL: from Helmeringhausen to Sossusvlei
  • DISTANCE: 100 miles | 2.5 hours
  • HIGHLIGHT: Amazing views of Sesriem Canyon | Sossusvlei | Deadsvlei
  • DRIVING: On the third day of this Namibia self-drive itinerary the driving will be on gravel roads on C27. The scenery is an amazing introduction to the drive in the desert, it is desolated and a great opportunity to already start spotting some animals. I saw many ostrich, zebras, oryx, and springbok. At the same time, the road is not bad at all, I end up getting 2 flat tires on my way to Sossusvlei. While it doesn’t require a 4WD to get to Sossusvlei, some skills are required to drive on this road.

1. Drive to Sesriem for Gas and Supplies

Sesriem is a settlement at the gate of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, and here is a great opportunity to fuel up and pick up basic supplies at the gas station.

There is no grocery store, but the campsites do have restaurants and very modest food supplies. I arrived early afternoon, checked in at my campsite, and went to explore the park and watch the sunset from the dunes.

touring Namibia self-drive

2. Explore Sossusvlei

Visiting Sossusvlei was the highlight of my trip, and it was one of my bucket list places to visit in Namibia. Once you are inside the park, you can start driving on what one day was a riverbed, and today serves as roads among some of the tallest dunes in the world.

You can start to feel familiar with this mesmerizing place by climbing some of the dunes and hiking across the desert. I chose to visit the dune adjacent to Dune 45, as there was no one there and it offered me spectacular views and a great opportunity to take stunning pictures.

PRO-TIP: Make sure you review the most important tips on how to drive in Namibia, and keep your tires are between 1.6 and 1.8 bar as it will most likely save you from a flat tire (I learned the hard way).

Namibia Desert
Namibia photography in Sossusvlei
Climbing a dune adjacent to the famous Dune 45, with spectacular views and a great opportunity to take stunning pictures

 

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