This exciting trip through Namibia brings you a lot of adventure with activities such as African wild cat encounters, game drives, and unique safaris. You'll explore the variety of Namibia's wildlife in Etosha, drive through the Namib Desert, and walk to the top of the famous Dune 45. You'll enjoy a scenic drive on Etendeka Plateau with spectacular views and rest your head in carefully selected accommodations with wild surroundings. It is the perfect trip for the explorer, nature lover, and the adventurous traveler,

Highlights

  • Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert
  • Swakopmund & Walvis Bay
  • Etosha National Park & Etosha East Salt Pans
  • Cape Cross Seal Colony with over 80, 000 fur seals
  • Twyfelfontei World Heritage Site

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Galton House, Windhoek Windhoek
Day 2 Sossus Dune Lodge, Sossusvlei Sossusvlei
Day 3 Sossus Dune Lodge, Sossusvlei - Namib Desert Sossusvlei
Day 4 Swakopmund Sands Hotel, Swakopmund Swakopmund
Day 5 Swakopmund Sands Hotel, Swakopmund Swakopmund
Day 6 Swakopmund - Camp Kipwe, Twyfelfontein Twyfelfontein
Day 7 Grootberg Lodge, Palmwag Palmwag
Day 8 Okaukuejo Resort, Etosha South & Etosha National Park Etosha National Park
Day 9 Namutoni Resort, Etosha East Etosha National Park
Day 10 Okonjima Plains Camp, Okonjima Nature Reserve Okonjima Nature Reserve
Day 11 Okonjima - Windhoek & Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Galton House, Windhoek

Aerial view of church in Windhoek, Namibia
Aerial view of a church in Windhoek

Upon your arrival in Windhoek, you'll be greeted and then transferred to your guesthouse. The remainder of the day, you'll be free to explore the capital city or to do any last-minute shopping. Situated in central Namibia, the city serves as the capital of the country.

Windhoek has an exciting mix of historical architecture and modern buildings, including the old fort Alte Feste, the 1896 Christuskirche Christ Church, and the more contemporary Supreme Court. You'll find an abundance of restaurants, entertainment venues, shops, and accommodation options and find that Windhoek is clean, safe, and well-organized.
 
It is described as a place with a “continental" atmosphere due to its architecture with historical buildings dating back to German colonial rule, as well as its cuisine, culture, dress codes, and educational institutions. The city's colonial legacy is seen in the many German eateries and shops you'll find here, as well as in the widespread of the German language. Public transport consists mainly of taxis, while a bus will take you between Katutura and Khomasdal to Windhoek and its suburbs.
 
Expect colored portrays, sounds, and tempo of a modern Africa with displays of African drums and woodcarvings on the pavements. You'll witness the apparent contrast with elegant shops offering sophisticated Swakara garments and Namibian gemstones. Sidewalk cafes offer Fruhschoppen (Namibian style breakfast) to pair with a glass of sparkling wine or locally brewed draught beer. You'll find several steak houses and coffee bars, as well as a wide range of a la carte restaurants offering you flavors from all over the world.

Day 2: Sossus Dune Lodge, Sossusvlei

Sossuvlei Salt Pan

Today, you will have your vehicle delivered to you in the morning, and drive from Windhoek to Sesriem and Sossusvlei.

Drive from Windhoek to the Namib Desert with your first stop in Solitaire. The town has a filling station and a small shop, which sells soft drinks, snacks, and necessary supplies. Continue along this route for approximately 43 miles (70 km) before passing the signposts to Sossusvlei. Here, in the scenic Namib-Naukluft National Park, you'll find iconic red dunes of the Namib and bright blue skies. It is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of Africa and a dream for photographers.

The awe-inspiring destination is possibly Namibia’s premier attraction, with its unique dunes rising to approximately 1300 feet (400 m)—some of the highest in the world. The iconic dunes come alive in the morning and evening light, delivering spectacular sunrise and sunset moments.
Plan your trip to Namibia
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You will find a great variety of desert wildlife, including oryx, springbok, ostrich, and a variety of reptiles. Climb the "Big Daddy"—one of Sossusvlei’s tallest dunes and explore Deadvlei—a white, salt, claypan dotted with ancient trees. For the more extravagant, there are scenic flights and hot air ballooning, followed by a once-in-a-lifetime champagne breakfast amidst these majestic dunes.
 
Driving distance: 208 miles (335 km)

Day 3: Sossus Dune Lodge, Sossusvlei - Namib Desert

Namib Desert 

Get a pre-dawn start this morning to catch the soft light of the sunrise in the desert. Spend the morning in and around Sossusvlei, visit Dune 45, and as the day wears on return to your overnight establishment for lunch to escape the afternoon heat.  As the day cools off in the late afternoon, take a short excursion to the Sesriem Canyon.

After walking through Sesriem—the gateway to the dunes, you'll drive into the heart of the dune field, and reach Sossusvlei by walking the last three miles (5 km). The walk is exceptional with the cool in the morning and soft sunlight, playing over the dunes. The sharp light and shadow contrast across the desert make up for excellent photo opportunities. You'll also find ancient mineral pans, stunted camel thorn trees, and get the chance to see a gemsbok or maybe an ostrich. 

This awe-inspiring destination is one of Namibia's most popular attractions, with dunes rising to almost 1312 feet (400 m)—some of the highest in the world. The iconic dunes come alive in the morning and evening light, attracting photography enthusiasts from around the globe.

Suggested activities include:

  • Experience Sossusvlei is located in the scenic Namib-Naukluft National Park, where you'll find the iconic red dunes of the Namib. The bright blue skies contrast with the giant red dunes and make it one of the most scenic wonders of Africa and a dream for photographers. Sossusvlei is home to a variety of desert wildlife, including oryx, springbok, ostrich, and a variety of reptiles. You can climb the "Big Daddy," one of Sossusvlei's tallest dunes and explore Deadvlei, a white, salt, claypan dotted with ancient trees. For the more extravagant, you can enjoy scenic flights and hot air ballooning, followed by a once-in-a-lifetime champagne breakfast amidst these majestic dunes.
  • Explore Deadvlei, is an ancient clay pan, once an oasis, studded with acacias and fed by the river. With a sudden change, of course, it left the earth to dry up along with the trees, previously supported. The climatic conditions were so dry that the trees were never decomposed and were instead entirely leached of moisture. Today, 900 years later, they stand as desiccated, blackened sentinels dotting the pan’s surface. Surrounded by the red-pink dunes in the Namibia Desert, the trees create a surreal spectacle.
  • Walk to the top of Dune 45 is known for its elegant shape, which along with its position close to the road, has earned it the distinction of 'the most photographed dune in the world. If you're not keen for the intense hike to the top of Big Daddy, this is a more forgiving alternative. 
  • Explore Sesriem Canyon is a deep gorge carved through the rocks by water, with the striking natural features of the area that you can best explore on foot. Stony walls rise sharply on both sides of the canyon, while lizards dart along the ledges and birds roost in its crags. The name was coined when early settlers used it as a water source, using six lengths of leather—ses riem (six thongs), tied together to lower buckets into the water at the base of the canyon.

Driving distance: 75 miles (120 km)

Day 4: Swakopmund Sands Hotel, Swakopmund

Hohenzollern Building in Swakopmund Namibia
Hohenzollern building in Swakopmund

Get another early start today, and head to the seaside town of Swakopmund located on the Skeleton Coast. You'll cross the Tropic of Capricorn, Gaub, and the Kuiseb pass. driving down the dry river bed at the bottom of the canyon, climb up the other side and watch the beautiful desert landscape unfold.

From the mountains, cross the desolate "Namib gravel plains" before reaching the coastal dunes at the port town of Walvis Bay. Stop here for a picnic lunch by the ocean, and watch the flamingos and other birdlife in the Walvis Bay lagoon before driving back to Swakopmund. Set along Namibia's spectacularly scenic coast, the seaside town of Swakopmund is known for its wide-open avenues, colonial architecture, and its surrounding otherworldly desert terrain. 

Swakopmund was founded as the main harbor for German Southwest Africa in 1892 and is often described as being more German than Germany.  Now a seaside resort town, it is the capital of the Skeleton Coast tourism area. The mix of German and Namibian influences, adventure options, laid-back atmosphere, and fresh sea breeze make it a trendy Namibian destination. You can look forward to several activities, such as quad biking, horse riding, paragliding, fishing, sightseeing, and fascinating desert tours.

Driving distance: 217 miles (350 km)

Day 5: Swakopmund Sands Hotel, Swakopmund

Swakopmund Desert scenery
Swakopmund Desert scenery

Today, you are free to explore Swakopmund any way you like. The charming seaside town holds lots of shops, a good stretch of beach, and an open-air curio market. The city is known as "Namibia's playground" due to the many activities available. 

First, you'll find the Martin Luther (Steam tractor) Museum displaying a steam tractor shipped from Germany in 1896 to transport goods from the coast to the interior. Locals named it after the protestant reformer who once said, "Here I stand, I can do no other. May God, help me. I cannot do otherwise. Then, you can also visit the Namibian National Marine Aquarium and enjoy exciting activities, such as scenic drives, airplane and microlight flights over the desert, and fishing trips—available both from the beach or aboard a boat.

Other activities include four-wheel motorcycle (quad bike) trips into the desert and over the dunes around Swakopmund. Sandboarding trips (also in the dunes), skydiving, surfing, bird-watching, and many other activities are available in Swakopmund. The desert is home to a fascinating variety of little desert-adapted animals that can survive on the fog, which consistently rolls in from the Atlantic Ocean. See the Dancing White Lady Spider and admire the transparent Namib Dune Gecko (Pachydactylus range) with webbed feet that are equivalent to snowshoes.

Suggested activities include: 

  • Enjoy a sailing tour where you'll most likely encounter dolphins, whales, seals, turtles, and Mola mola (sunfish) and head out on an adventure in the Walvis Bay area and Pelican Point.
  • Go on a Swakopmund city tour, and explore the idyllic town, wedged between the Namib Desert and the cold,  Atlantic Ocean. Walk among beautiful, old buildings in a Bavarian colonial style and relax the afternoon away or enjoy another fun tour. 
  • Enjoy a dramatic flight over the Namib Desert and watch the seldom present waters of the Kuiseb River, stopping the advance of the red sands of the Namib. You'll experience the vastness of the magnificent dune formations from above, as you fly south to Sossusvlei. Return along the coast passing over long-gone mining settlements, lonely shipwrecks, seal colonies, colorful salt works, Windhoek Harbour, and finally back to Swakopmund.
  • Embark on a marine, kayaking adventure and visit the Pelican Point or the Cape Cross Seal Reserve, accompanied by dolphins, pelicans, cormorants, and other friendly marine and birdlife.

Day 6: Swakopmund - Camp Kipwe, Twyfelfontein

Cape Fur Seals in Cape Seal Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia
Cape Fur Seals in Cape Seal Cross Seal Reserve

Leave early and head north along the coast, where you can visit the seal colony at Cape Cross, and have the opportunity to see thousands of Cape Fur Seals in the water and on the surrounding rocks and beaches. This colony is one of the largest in the world, home to approximately 80 000 to 100 000 of these so-called "seals," which are a species of a sea lion. Enjoy a day trip and view the seals from a walkway at a distance of roughly 656 feet (200 m).

From here, return east, inland and back into the desert, traveling to the small town of Uis—an old mining town, located more or less in the middle of no-where. It is one of the best places to buy semi-precious stones famous to Namibia. From Uis, it's only a short drive to Namibia's highest mountain—Brandberg Mountain, rising 8442 feet (2573 m) above ground. The mountain is an ancient Bushman spiritual site, and a must-see when you're visiting this part of Namibia.

ǀUi-ǁAis, also known as Twylfelfontein, is another major attraction. Set in the Kunene Region, this spectacularly scenic area features one of the largest and most important concentrations of rock art in Africa. The name 'Twyfelfontein' translates to "Fountain of Doubt," which refers to the perennial spring situated in the impressive Huab valley. 

Driving distance: 260 miles (420 km)

Day 7: Grootberg Lodge, Palmwag

Road in Namibia

Start early today to enjoy the morning cool and visit the ancient Bushman rock engravings at Twyfelfontien. You will have a local guide to conduct you on a short, guided tour. Travel through one of the most beautiful desert regions in Namibia—Damaraland as you drive north-east to the Grootberg Pass. You will be met at the top of the pass and transferred to the lodge.

Palmwag is a nature reserve located along a palm-lined tributary of the Uniab River. The water is scarce in this area, and the river’s presence often lures elephants closer to the camps. The reserve is situated between Swakopmund and Etosha, making it an ideal base to see the sights of the Kunene Region or embark on a local hiking trail. 

It is notable for its unusual species of palm trees, the hyphaena pertesiana plant, and for hosting the largest population of south-western black rhinos in Africa. You will also get a peek at the leopard, lion, cheetah, mountain zebra, Angolan giraffe, springbok, kudu, and African bush elephant.

Suggested activities include:
  • Visit Twyfelfontein—a World Heritage Site boasting one of the most abundant rock art concentrations in Afric with over 2, 500 Stone Age rock engravings. The area consists of 17 rock art sites, which collectively encompass 212 engraved stone slabs.

  • Enjoy a scenic drive on Etendeka Plateau, defined by flat-topped mountains, consisting of volcanic rocks of the Cretaceous period. These mountains originate from an enormous basalt flow, which emanated around 132 million years ago, possibly known as the most massive volcanic eruption ever known on Earth. You'll witness the beautiful landscapes from the top and most likely encounter one of the many wild animals residing here, including leopards, Oryx, Springbok, lions, and antelopes. 

Driving distance: 118 miles (190 km)

Day 8: Okaukuejo Resort, Etosha South & Etosha National Park

Lions in Etosha National Park Namibia
Lions in Etosha National Park 

Today, you'll leave Grootberg and drive to Etosha National Park and Etosha South, before spending the night at Okaukuejo Resort. Etosha South lies just south of the park and makes up the southern region of this wild paradise.

You'll access the park via the south entrance of Andersson's Gate and enter into a world of abundant wildlife with lions, giraffes, elephants, black rhinos, and many more. There are a lot of activities available once you arrive with opportunities to go on guided nature walks, game drives, tracking rhinos on foot, and watch a Southern African sunset over this magnificent landscape.

Driving distance: 192 miles (310 km)

Day 9: Namutoni Resort, Etosha East

Springbook male antelope in Etosha East Namibia
Springbok male antelope in Etosha East

It's time to explore the east part of Etosha! Etosha East is a protected sanctuary, located in northwestern Namibia and the eastern part of the Etosha National Park. As one of the most accessible game reserves in Southern Africa, this area boasts vast open pains with semi-arid savannah grassland, dotted with waterholes, and secluded bush camps.

For most of the year, the Etosha salt pan is a bleak expanse of white, cracked mud and shimmers with mirages. The game-viewing experience is truly unique here, known as "the great white place of dry water." The pan makes up a large part of the national park and can be seen from space. It is an impressive area of 1930 mi2 (5000 km2) teeming with abundant wildlife of elephants, black rhinos, and lions, as well as a variety of birdlife featuring flamingos, eagles, hornbills, and owls.

Day 10: Okonjima Plains Camp, Okonjima Nature Reserve

Lion close-up in Okanjima Nature Reserve
Cheetah close-up in Okanjima Nature Reserve

It's time for one last morning game drive within the Etosha National Park as you exit at the Von Lindquist Gate and travel to the mining town of Tsumeb and down to Otavi. After Otjiwarongo, head off the main road and continue to Okonjima.

You'll arrive at the well-known Okonjima Nature Reserve, located midway between the spectacular Etosha National Park and the capital city of Windhoek, most likely in the mid-afternoon, giving you enough time to enjoy an afternoon/evening activity. The nature reserve is home to AfriCAT—a carnivore sanctuary, which gives the captive cats a second chance to be released back into the wild and become completely independent hunters in a protected area.
 
It is a luxurious African safari destination in the heart of Namibia that’s ideal for wildlife photography and famed for its cheetah, brown hyena, and leopard sightings. Enjoy thrilling cat tracking guided safaris, leopard-spotting, off-road night drives, and learn about local San culture along the Bushmen trail.

Driving distance: 186 miles (300 km)

Day 11: Okonjima – Windhoek & Departure

View from apartment of Windhoek city center
 Windhoek city center

After a leisurely breakfast, and possible morning excursion, leave Okonjima and make a stop at Okahandja to visit Namibia’s largest wood carving market. The market is operated on a local co-operative basis and is one of the best places to shop for truly Namibian souvenirs.

You'll arrive in Windhoek in the mid-late-afternoon and depart for your next destination. This makes it the end of your safari adventure.

Driving distance: 186 miles (300 km)

Map

Map of Namibia Self-Drive Explorer:  Sossusvlei, Etosha, Swakopmund, & More - 11 Days
Map of Namibia Self-Drive Explorer: Sossusvlei, Etosha, Swakopmund, & More - 11 Days