Holidaying in Namibia has been popular with German and Swiss tourists for years, but the secret of the destination is now out, and other nationalities are discovering this amazing place.
Namibia is very accessible to foreign visitors and self-drive travel is very easy, with the country benefitting positively from this increased tourist activity.
We opted for a self-drive holiday using a company called Explore Namibia.
Our experience with them was facilitated by their brilliant, tailor-made package which included a personalised guidebook which had everything we needed to know about our forthcoming trip.
The fully bound book included important contact numbers, an itinerary overview, detailed route descriptions, places of interest on the way, 4x4 driving information, car insurance and even a suggested shopping list.
Every last detail was catered for and all we needed to do was pack our truck and go.
Previously we had provided them with information on how long we had, our rough budget and a few places that we wanted to visit.
We were given a few options but settled on a large loop that included all our essential Namibia sights.
There was a lot to pack in over twenty days, so attention to detail was paramount.
Explore Namibia provided details right down to printouts, from Google Maps, of our daily route, precise directions including travel time and distance.
GPS coordinates for our overnight stops were also included.
We opted for camping most nights and Explore Namibia provided us with the most picturesque campsites.
We picked up a new Toyota Hilux 4x4 vehicle which was fully equipped with all the extras you could possibly need – A/C, power steering, two spare tyres, a tool kit, two fuel tanks, a water tank and the compressor for adjusting tyre pressures etc.
For camping, we had two double concertina-type tents on the roof which can be fully erected in five minutes with practice.
In addition, there was everything you would need for a month in the bush including two gas stoves, an integrated fridge, good, solid table and chairs, lockable storage containers for food supplies and cooking equipment, all essential kitchen items, bedding including comfortable mattresses, duvet and pillows.
Once all the checks were done and the car inspected, we were advised to keep the speed down on the Namibian roads as the handling can be tricky on some gravel roads.
We left the car hire office with our heads full of this new information and headed for the supermarket to fill up with food for our trip.
The company provide a useful shopping list so that you don’t forget anything including candles and some African music for those atmospheric evenings under the stars!
The main tar road out of Windhoek was good, in order to get used to driving a new vehicle.
We headed for the Waterberg Plateau, made infamous for its role in the German and Herero conflict in the last century.
It is a table mountain of rock formed 200 million years ago, its luscious topography an ideal habitat for many species of flora and fauna.
We stayed at the Waterberg Plateau campsite and were visited by Honey Badgers and a Porcupine in the night - a timely reminder to use the secure locking containers to hide your food overnight.
Our next stop was to Namibia’s premier game reserve, Etosha National Park, a shallow bowl of silvery sand, three times the size of greater London.
Many waterholes provide the classic view of African wildlife amassing at the water’s edge.
We stayed at Okaukuejo Camp on the park’s southern gateway.
Here we were treated with a constant supply of wildlife 24/7 in the camp’s in-house waterhole.
We saw huge herds of zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and springbok during the day, later followed by elephants and rhinos and leopards late into the night.
The road along the salt pan of Etosha’s periphery has signposts to the waterholes nearby and you chance your luck on what you may find.
Quite often you would be the only car there and be treated to the sight of a pride of lions or a herd of elephants.
To maximise our wildlife spotting potential, we spent three days in Etosha, also staying at Halali Campsite, another excellent government-controlled site with its own restaurant and swimming pool.
Next, we headed back south to Sessrium Oshana Campsite on the edge of the iconic dunes that make up Sossusvlei.
We had an early night in the highly comfortable and well-located campsite next to the main gate of the Naukluft National Park for our essential 06:00 start, in order to get in before everyone else!
The drama of seeing the ‘ghost forest’ of Dead Vlei as it is slowly revealed in the morning light is a sight to behold and the epic trudge on the pristine dune’s edge is awe-inspiring.
For a complete change of scenery, we stopped in the German-influenced seaside town of Swakopmund on the wild Atlantic coast, where you can do adventure sports like sandboarding and quad biking on the dunes.
We followed the Skeleton Coast for a short way before turning inland to the dramatic desert topography of Damaraland and the Mowani Campsite.
Here you are sleeping nestled against the boulder, close to the UNESCO heritage site of Twyfelfontein and where the desert-adapted elephants roam.
Spitzkoppe was next in our ‘out if this world’ locations with the most dramatic of all campsite locations.
The beautiful granite peaks have stood in this region for more than 700 million years and they are a marvel to photograph.
The park itself is beautiful and is well known for its Natural Arch.
Spitzkoppe is the perfect getaway, and with no light pollution, you’re sure to experience a night sky filled with stars.
This was a timely end to our incredible adventure before heading back to our final destination of Windhoek and back to reality.
Namibia is easily accessible on Qatar Airways.
Explore Namibia offers organised self-drive holidays and private guided tours.
You can go on an adventure in a fully equipped vehicle of your own choice.
They will arrange your accommodations in advance, whether you wish to stay in lodges and guesthouses, on campsites or both.
Find out more on Explore Namibia website here.
Words & Images: Mark Hakansson