So, you’re dreaming of the perfect Namibia road trip? Look no further. We’ve done the hard work for you and put together this epic guide to campervanning around Namibia.
To say that this is a bucket list trip would be an understatement. But there’s plenty to consider before you even decide upon the ideal Namibia route – fuel costs, where to stay, and how to even rent a car.
From the best places to bed down to the top tours you need to include, this guide is jam-packed with handy tips for your incredible road trip. Read on to discover everything you need to know about exploring the best of Namibia in just two weeks.
When to Take a Namibia Road Trip
We recommend May to October, the dry season. This is generally the most popular time for a Namibia road trip due to the pleasant weather and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.
During this period, the weather is cooler and more comfortable, making outdoor activities, such as hiking and camping, more enjoyable. Wildlife congregates around water sources, making it easier to spot animals in national parks and reserves.
It’s the ideal time for visiting the Namib Desert, Etosha National Park, and other outdoor destinations.
Where to Rent a Vehicle for a Namibia Self Drive Itinerary
It’s easiest to rent a car from Windhoek as this is where you will most likely be flying into. There are plenty of internationally-known companies in the area, though we love using rentalcars.com as an aggregate as it combines all the top car rental companies in the area.
Namibia Road Trip Costs
Vehicle Rental and Fuel
It goes without saying that the largest cost for your Namibia road trip is vehicle rental.
For exploring Namibia’s more rugged terrains and gravel roads, a 4×4 vehicle is often recommended. Prices can start at around USD$80 to $150 per day for a basic 4×4 SUV. If you’re interested in a self-contained camper van, prices can range from $80 to $250 or more per day, depending on the size and features of the camper.
As well as this, fuel is a significant expense on a road trip in Namibia due to the vast distances between attractions. On average, expect to spend around $1.50 per litre for gas. A two-week road trip could cost anywhere from $300 to $600 in fuel, depending on your route.
Accommodation costs vary widely in Namibia. You can find campsites for as little as $10 to $20 per night, while mid-range lodges and guesthouses typically range from $50 to $150 per night. Luxury lodges can go well beyond $200 per night.
Over the course of a two-week road trip, budget travellers might spend around $140 to $280 on campsites, while mid-range travellers could spend $700 to $2,100 on lodges. If you’re in a campervan, you’ll only need to pay for site fees.
We know it’s annoying paying for insurance you’ll (hopefully) never use, but don’t risk it. Travel insurance is highly recommended for a road trip in Namibia.
The cost of insurance can depend on factors such as your age, coverage type, and the duration of your trip. A comprehensive travel insurance plan for two weeks can range from $50 to $150 per person.
National Park Fees
National park fees vary depending on the park and whether you are a foreign tourist or a Namibian resident. For example, entry to Etosha National Park typically costs around $10 to $15 per day for foreign tourists.
In total, park fees for a two-week trip might range from $50 to $100 per person, depending on the parks you visit.
Budgeting around $20 to $40 per day per person for meals is a reasonable estimate. This includes groceries, dining at local restaurants, and occasional splurges at higher-end establishments. Over two weeks, this amounts to approximately $280 to $560 per person.
The Ultimate Namibia Itinerary
Day 1: Windhoek
The first day of your incredible Namibia self drive itinerary begins in the capital, Windhoek. While you’ll have plenty of time to immerse yourself in nature, Windhoek is a cultural gem.
Don’t miss paying a visit to the Independence Memorial Museum, a striking modern building that provides insights into Namibia’s journey to independence. Pssst… the panoramic view from the rooftop is the best part.
Next, visit Christuskirche, a charming historic Lutheran church known for its unique architecture and serene atmosphere. It’s a short walk from the museum. Head to the nearby Joe’s Beerhouse for lunch, a legendary Windhoek institution offering a wide variety of Namibian and German dishes.
After lunch, visit the Tintenpalast, the Namibian Parliament building. While you can’t enter the building, you can explore the surrounding gardens and enjoy the peaceful vibes. If you’re doing well for time, stroll to the Alte Feste, the old fort, which is now a museum.
Before you head to dinner, make a pit stop at Post Street Mall, a pedestrian-friendly area filled with craft markets, art galleries, and shops. It’s a great place to pick up souvenirs like locally-made jewellery, crafts, and artwork.
For dinner, we recommend dining at The Stellenbosch Wine Bar and Bistro, which offers a selection of South African and international wines along with delicious steak.
Where to stay: The Weinberg Windhoek
Day 2: Kalahari Desert, Stay at Gondwana Lodge
We’re going to ease you into this itinerary slowly, so take advantage of this day’s slower pace. Visiting the Kalahari Desert and staying at the idyllic Gondwana Lodge is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the stark beauty and unique landscapes of this otherworldly region.
Arrive at Gondwana Lodge after a 3 hour drive from Windhoek and settle into your comfortable chalet with views of the surrounding desert.
Spend the morning on a guided nature walk led by the lodge’s experienced guides – these walks provide fascinating insights into the desert’s flora and fauna. Return to the lodge for a delicious lunch at the on-site restaurant, where you can savour both local and international cuisine.
Take an afternoon game drive in a 4×4 safari vehicle, exploring the Kalahari’s diverse landscapes and looking for desert-adapted wildlife such as oryx, springbok, and meerkats.
As the day nears its end, visit a scenic viewpoint to watch the sunset over the Kalahari dunes. The colours and shifting sands make for a breathtaking sight. Return to the lodge for dinner and indulge in a meal under the starlit Kalahari sky. The lodge often serves traditional Namibian dishes with a modern twist.
Afterwards, it’s time for something special. The Kalahari Desert offers some of the clearest night skies in the world. Join a stargazing activity provided by the lodge, where you can marvel at the Milky Way and learn about the constellations.
Where to stay: Gondwana Lodge
Day 3: Quiver Tree Forest, Drive to Fish Canyon
We hope you’re ready for an incredible day. Begin with a 3-hour drive south towards the Quiver Tree Forest, located near the town of Keetmanshoop.
When you arrive, pay the entrance fee and get ready to explore the unique landscape of the Quiver Tree Forest. These ancient aloe trees are a fascinating sight and are culturally significant to the indigenous San people. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
We recommend enjoying a picnic lunch – there aren’t many places to grab a hot meal in the immediate area.
After visiting the Quiver Tree Forest, embark on the drive to Fish River Canyon, which is approximately 3.5 hours away. Enjoy the scenic journey through the desert landscapes of southern Namibia.
Arrive at Fish River Canyon, one of the largest canyons in the world. Head to one of the viewpoints, like the main viewpoint at Hobas, to marvel at the canyon’s immense scale. Make sure you stick around for sunset to witness a breathtaking glow over Fish River Canyon.
Where to stay: Gondwana Canyon Hotel
Day 4: Fish River Canyon then ~5 hrs drive to Lüderitz
Day 4 is all about exploring the Fish River Canyon. While you can drive, it’s a hiker’s paradise. Strap on your boots and get ready to walk. Take in the immense scale of the captivating light and shadows on the canyon walls.
Enjoy a picnic lunch amidst the stunning surroundings of the canyon, before starting your long drive to Lüderitz. Don’t worry though, the journey offers scenic desert vistas and changing landscapes, meaning the 5 hours will fly by.
As you arrive in Lüderitz, check into your chosen accommodation. Freshen up and get ready for a delightful evening. Lüderitz is an excellent spot to stopover for foodies. It’s home to a variety of restaurants, many of which specialise in seafood.
Where to stay: Lüderitz Nest Hotel
Day 5: Kolmanskop Ghost Town then ~5 hrs Drive to Sesriem
The Kolmanskop Ghost Town is only a short drive from Lüderitz. This former diamond mining town has been abandoned and now lies buried in the Namib Desert sands.
While you can wander alone, we highly recommend that you join a guided tour of Kolmanskop to learn about its history, the diamond mining operations, and the town’s decline.
After the tour, take some time to explore and photograph the well-preserved but slowly deteriorating buildings, abandoned houses, and the famous sand-filled interiors.
Next, it’s time to drive to Sesriem, the gateway to the Namib Desert and Sossusvlei. Check in to your accommodation and prepare for an evening of relaxation or exploration (we will always pick the latter.)
Where to stay: Sossusvlei Lodge
Day 6: Sossusvlei, Namib National Park, Dead Vlei, Dune 45, Dune 7, then ~5 hrs Drive to Swakopmund
At first glance, this might seem like a jam-packed day. But, don’t worry, today’s attractions are fairly close together and are pretty quick to zip through.
That said, exploring Sossusvlei and its surrounding attractions in Namib-Naukluft National Park in a single day requires an early start and a well-planned itinerary. The best way to experience the dunes is to arrive early and avoid the heat. Get to Namib-Naukluft National Park as it opens (6am in winter and 6:45 in summer), to be among the first to enter.
Pull up to the parking area for Sossusvlei, about 60 km from the park entrance, and take the park shuttle to get closer to the dunes (private vehicles aren’t allowed beyond a certain point).
Explore the iconic Sossusvlei, a salt and clay pan surrounded by towering red sand dunes. Climb one of the dunes to catch a breathtaking sunrise over this unique landscape.
Afterwards, take a short hike to Dead Vlei, an eerily beautiful white clay pan dotted with the skeletons of ancient camel thorn trees. It’s an otherworldly sight and a must-see.
Head back towards the park entrance and make a stop at Dune 45, one of the most photographed dunes in the world. Hike to the summit for more stunning views and perhaps enjoy a picnic brunch in the shadow of the dune.
Then begin the 5-hour drive to Swakopmund. Get ready for a picturesque journey through the Namib Desert, with stunning desert vistas along the way. You can even take the scenic route through the Kuiseb Canyon for even more breathtaking views.
Additional Stop: Solitaire
If you’re hungry along the way, you’re in luck as you’ll pass by the small and quirky settlement of Solitaire. It’s a popular stopover point for travellers, dotted with abandoned vehicles like a spooky car graveyard. Swing by here to see the car wrecks of Solitaire and try Moose McGregor’s delicious apple pie.
Shortly before arriving at Swakopmund, hit up Dune 7. This is Namibia’s highest dune and it offers plenty of fun. If you’re after a thrill, spend a couple of hours sandboarding here before a short drive to Swakopmund.
Where to stay: Swakopmund Sands
Day 7: Swakopmund, Walvis Bay Flamingos
Spend the majority of day 7 exploring Swakopmund, a charming African town with distinctive German influence. You could head off on a quad bike tour and hit up the nearby Namib sand dunes, or spend the morning wandering around town.
Whatever you do, make sure to grab lunch at the Old Steamer restaurant at the Alte Brücke Resort. It’s one of the top places to dine in Swakopmund, though there are plenty of cosy cafes dotted around the coastline.
Then head to Walvis Bay – the lagoon hosts an abundance of Flamingos. It’s a photographer’s paradise as you can capture these elegant creatures in their natural habitat, against a vast desert backdrop. Take a leisurely boat tour through the shallow waters to get up close and personal with these graceful creatures and witness their synchronised movements.
Day 8: Cape Cross, Spitzkoppe
Day 8 of your Namibia adventure brings another early wakeup call. The drive from Swakopmund to Cape Cross takes approximately 2 hours.
First stop: the Cape Cross Seal Reserve. Here, you’ll find one of the largest Cape fur seal colonies in the world. You could easily spend a couple of hours admiring these ridiculously cute creatures. The viewing platforms offer excellent vantage points, and you can take a guided tour for additional insights into the seals’ behaviour and the history of the area.
Leave Cape Cross and drive south towards the Spitzkoppe, which is about a 2 to 2.5-hour drive from Cape Cross. Along the way, enjoy the changing landscapes as you move from the coastal region to the remarkable Spitzkoppe Mountains.
As you drive into Spitzkoppe, you’ll be greeted by the stunning and unique rock formations that have earned this place the nickname “The Matterhorn of Africa.” Pay the park entry fee and obtain any necessary permits before heading inside.
Ready to hike? Spend your afternoon exploring the otherworldly rock formations and take a hike to the top of Spitzkoppe for breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding desert. Don’t forget to visit the famous “Bushman’s Paradise” rock paintings, which provide a glimpse into the area’s history and culture. Bed down in Spitzkoppe for the evening.
Where to stay: Spitzkoppen Lodge
Day 9: Drive to Twyfelfontein
Driving from Spitzkoppe to Twyfelfontein is an approximately 4-hour journey through the dramatic landscapes of Namibia.
Before leaving Spitzkoppe, ensure that you have a full tank of gas, sufficient drinking water, snacks, and any other supplies you may need for the drive, as services and amenities are pretty limited along this stretch.
Arrive in Twyfelfontein, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its impressive rock engravings and paintings that date back thousands of years. Marvel at the alien-like paintings that have been preserved ever since they were discovered in 1912.
Spend your afternoon exploring the area – taking a guided tour to visit the ancient rock art sites is a brilliant way to learn about the culture and history of the region.
Day 10: Explore Damaraland
Get ready to spend a slower day exploring Damaraland. This area is home to remarkable desert-adapted wildlife – and it’s the only place where you can see desert elephants. You can either head out on your own or join a guided drive to seek out these animals.
In the late afternoon, head to a scenic viewpoint (the entire area is full of cliffs) to enjoy the breathtaking sunset over the desert landscape. Damaraland offers some of the best sunsets in Namibia.
We recommend stocking up on food for this portion of your Namibia road trip. While you can grab your main meals from your camp, there’s not really anywhere to grab snacks until you head out on the road again on day 11.
Spend your evening stargazing – the clear desert skies provide an ideal setting for viewing the stars and constellations.
Where to stay: Wilderness Damaraland Camp
Day 11: Drive Down to Skeleton Coast and Return to Damaraland
We strongly believe that you cannot visit this part of Namibia without making a detour to the Skeleton Coast. Start your day bright and early and prepare for the drive along C34 road, spanning a couple of hours each way.
As you drive through this remote region, you’ll encounter breathtaking desert landscapes, dunes, and unique geological formations. You’ll also be able to spot the eerie shipwrecks and desolate beauty the area is known for.
We recommend at least driving up towards Mowe Bay to see the best of the coastline. Explore the coast and take in the atmosphere of this otherworldly place before heading back towards your accommodation in Damaraland.
Day 12-14: Etosha National Park, Return to Windhoek
Exploring Etosha National Park over two days is ideal. Begin your day by entering Etosha National Park through the Andersson Gate, and make your way to the park’s eastern section.
Then it’s time for a game drive around Fischer’s Pan, an excellent area for birdwatching and spotting zebras and wildebeests. Keep your eyes open (and your fingers crossed) for the elusive black rhino.
When hunger strikes, head to the Okaukuejo Rest Camp for lunch. The camp’s restaurant offers a variety of meals and a waterhole where you can watch wildlife while dining.
Explore the vast Etosha Salt Pan, the park’s defining feature. This seemingly endless expanse of white salt is a unique sight. Drive along the pan’s edges and stop at various viewpoints to observe the wildlife attracted to its waterholes.
Spend the evening at the waterhole near Namutoni Rest Camp. These waterholes are illuminated at night, providing incredible opportunities to view nocturnal animals such as lions, elephants, and rhinos. It’s a nature lover’s dream come true.
Begin your second day with an early morning game drive in the western section of the park. The area around Okondeka and Olifantsrus waterholes is known for fantastic wildlife sightings. Head to the Out of Africa Lodge for lunch, located near the southern park entrance.
In the afternoon, venture out of the park to visit Onguma Game Reserve, a private reserve located on the eastern border of Etosha. Here, you can enjoy additional game drives and possibly spot predators like cheetahs and leopards.
On day 14, it’s time to drive back to Windhoek. It should take around 4.5 hours to make the journey.
Where to stay: Namutoni Rest Camp
Namibia Road Trip Map
Top Namibia Itinerary Tips
Is Namibia safe?
Namibia is generally considered a safe destination for travellers. The country has a low crime rate, and violent crime against tourists is rare. However, like in any destination, it’s essential to take common-sense precautions.
There are police on main roads who often stop and check documents. It’s not uncommon to see them hiding in bushes with a speedometer (this sounds strange but we promise it’s true.)
Road safety should also be a priority, as some roads can be in poor condition, and wildlife can pose a hazard, especially in rural areas.
Where to camp in Namibia
While Namibia is generally safe, we don’t recommend randomly setting up camp at the side of the road.
There are several campsites in Etosha National Park, such as Okaukuejo, Halali, and Namutoni, which offer great wildlife viewing opportunities, especially around waterholes.
As well as this, various lodges and private reserves in Namibia offer well-maintained campsites. These often come with more amenities, including clean facilities, electricity, and dining options. You’ll find these near Damaraland, Sossusvlei and the Fish River Canyon.
Or, for a unique desert camping experience, consider camping in the remote areas of the Namib Desert, such as the Naukluft Mountains or the Spitzkoppe rock formations. Be prepared for a more rustic experience, as these locations often lack facilities.
When camping in Namibia, make sure to carry sufficient water, food, and camping gear, especially if you plan on wild camping. Respect the environment and wildlife, and always adhere to local regulations.
What is the most scenic route in Namibia?
One of the most scenic routes in Namibia is the drive along the C34 passing the Skeleton Coast. This desolate and rugged coastline offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean meeting the barren desert landscape.
The C12 and C14 gravel roads span from Fish River Canyon to Swakopmund are equally as beautiful.
How long does it take to drive around Namibia?
The time it takes to drive around Namibia can vary depending on your chosen route and the number of stops you make along the way. But, as a general rule, we recommend spending 2 weeks exploring this gorgeous country.
If you’re planning a circular route that covers the major highlights, budget at least a couple of weeks for your journey. This will allow you to explore Windhoek, the Namib Desert, Etosha National Park, the Skeleton Coast, and other key destinations without feeling too rushed.
Just keep in mind that Namibia is a vast country (the 15th-largest in Africa by land) with long driving distances, so plan accordingly. And prepare an epic playlist.