Nambia is a wonderful country, reaching it looks like landing on another planet. Driving around it, you quickly realize that it is a pretty much-uninhabited land. Nature thrives there. The landscape suddenly changes. After hours of driving surrounded by a Mars-like atmosphere, here you go, you are entering an immense “green zone”.
For its lack of facilities and poverty, Namibia is not so easily accessible nor cheap to travel around. But it can be done. I was lucky enough to be able to travel with 4 other people, which made expenses cheaper. We rented a car from Stellenbosch, South Africa and set off for a 7 days trip, on a budget.
On a budget meant camping, living in hostels, and eat cheaply, but did not limit us to experience the country to the fullest. Nature is for free, remember, and experiences are not paid for.
We camped almost every night, apart from 2 nights at hostels, one in Windhoek, the capital, and in Swakopmund. It was an unforgettable experience, with lots of nature, animal life, and laughter.
The planning took some time: choosing the car, organizing the itinerary, finding camping spots and studying where to go. Then the day arrives and we are all ready to go. We are not really ready, but we go anyways.
First tip: check for gasoline stops in advance. As I said earlier, distances in Namibia are big. You do not want to risk running out of gasoline, in the middle of nowhere. What I did was to prepare a My Google Maps with all the interesting points along the way and point out the gas stations, which are the “P”s in the map above. I recommend you to download in Google Maps the map of Namibia for offline use to avoid problems on the road and always know where to go. It is pretty easy to get around but you want to avoid risks, and internet connection is very hard to have there.
Also, it is very important to pay attention to the road. Slow down and do not run in the highway just because it looks empty. We heard lots of stories of trips getting ruined due to punched wheels or other small accidents. Sometimes, you will see animals suddenly cross the road, which you need to watch out for. Be careful on the roads! At night pay double care to the sides of the road, way too many times we had animals coming out from there.
Second tip: get organized with food. If you are like me and you like eating healthy without having to spend a fortune, get ready and do your shopping. Road trips to me stimulate boredom-eating so, make sure you have snacks and fruits available to you. Also, try to buy food that lasts long and that can provide you with good nutrients. My suggestion is to buy pita bread or tortillas (they can last for a while), canned tuna or chickpeas, tomatoes, bell peppers and carrots (avocado if available). With that, you have a tasty, healthy and complete meal on the go!
For breakfast, oats, bananas, and cinnamon for a bit more taste will do a great job to keep you full.
Rice cakes and peanut butter and apples are savers when the boredom in the car kicks in! Pasta and hard-boiled eggs, or omelettes are also a great option.
Third tip: Book your camping spots before arriving. You will have a better price and be guaranteed a spot. I personally found it a bit hard to find camping spots, which are not available in HostelWorld. I mainly used Safari Now Deals and basically Googled for camping spots. The websites are a bit outdated and mostly you will have to contact them by email. Also, the food tip applies here because many of the spots we were at did not have anything around them, or if they did it was very pricy. Do your shopping in the bigger cities.
What to visit in Namibia
Do not miss Etosha National Park. This is a must. You can easily visit it by car, your car! It made me very worried since my last Safari in Kenya was very controlled. Just follow the rules and you will have one of the best experiences of your life. I found myself and my trip buddies scanning around the savanna to spot animals, you cannot imagine the excitement in finding some!
It is not necessary to spend a fortune and go to lodges that are most of the time really expensive. We found a nice and cute farm (called Eldorado GuestFarm, 7 km from the Etosha National Park gate ) which offers lodges and camping spots and camped for around $20 per night. It is not super cheap but better than many other options out there. The most amazing thing was to sleep with the sound of nature, and only nature.
It gave me goosebumps! In Etosha, depends on the day but I assure you, you will have a great time. We were lucky to have a family of lions crossing our road and coming very close to us, but we did not see any giraffes, for example. You have to go there and realize that it is a national park, not a zoo. You have the opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat, which is unique.
Include Soussuvlei Desert in your plan, you won’t regret it! Sossusvlei seems to be another world, an immense desert, where you could climb some of the dunes. It is a hard way up, but totally worth it! The road to get there is entirely gravel road, and for us, coming from Swakopmund, it was a hell of a drive that lasted around 8 hours.
I found Windhoek not having a lot to offer for me, but that’s because I generally prefer nature when I am on this kind of trip. Swakopmund has a dream-like atmosphere to it, this mist coming from the desert behind it and the ocean in front.
This is it for now!