18-day The Ultimate Namibia Self-drive Tour

The Ultimate Namibia Self-drive Tour
The Ultimate Namibia Self-drive Tour

The best of Namibia in an (approx.) 18-day tailor-made self-drive tour starting and ending in Windhoek that includes the Kalahari, the Fish River Canyon, Luderitz, Namib-Naukluft Park, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund/Walvis Bay, the Skeleton Coast, Damaraland, Kaokoland, Etosha National Park and the Waterberg.

From US$3277 pp (Our pricing)
18 days
Namibia, Damaraland, Etosha National Park, Fish River Canyon, Kalahari, Kaokoland, Luderitz, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Waterberg, Windhoek
17 nights accommodation; meals and drinks as indicated in the itinerary; 18 days car hire (4x4 Double Cabin); vehicle drop off/delivery fee; vehicle insurance; safari and sight-seeing activities as indicated in the itinerary

Tour Brief

Visit the highlights of Namibia in 18 days: The Kalahari , Fish River Canyon , Luderitz , the Sossusvlei , with its great sand sea, the seaside towns of Swakopmund and the Skeleton Coast ; Damaraland , with its fascinating rock formations, Bushman rock art and desert-adapted wildlife; Kaokoland , the last frontier of true wilderness and the realm of the nomadic Himba people; and Etosha National Park - one of Africa's great game parks.

Insider's tip: the price per person comes down significantly for families and small groups. See the Just Booked tours below for examples.

Detailed Itinerary

  • Day 1: Kalahari

    Depending on your flight's arrival time, you can either stay one night in Windhoek or drive the three hours on mostly paved roads to the Kalahari.

    When you're there: Your lodges offer scenic drives, game viewing activities and nature trails. The sunsets are spectacular and a good excuse for a gin and tonic.

    Standard:  Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge
    Luxury: Zebra Kalahari Lodge

  • Day 2: Fish River Canyon

    Drive the 500km south on paved roads to the Fish River Canyon. At 160km long, 27km wide and 550m deep it is one of world's major canyons.

    On the way: Brukkaros is an extinct volcanic crater on a scenic ring road; the Quivertree Forest is a short diversion just before Keetmanshoop.

    When you're there: Guided excursions to the Fish River Canyon; scenic flights over the canyon; hiking trails; horse trails; scenic drives; game viewing

    Standard: Canyon Village
    Luxury: Fish River Lodge

  • Day 3 and 4: Namib Desert, Luderitz

    The three-hour drive to Aus, on the south-eastern corner of the Namib-Naukluft Park, is half paved, half good gravel road. Arrive in time for a refreshing lunch.

    On the way: Stop at the northern viewpoint for an excellent early-morning picture of the canyon; the drive spans the transition from the Kalahari to the Namib Desert.

    When you're there: Exclusive trips into the Southern Namib-Naukluft Park to see the feral horses; hiking trails; scenic drives. Visit Luderitz on your second day: Kolmanskop ghost town; Diaz point; boat trip to Halifax Island; Bogenfels rock arch; bird watching; coastal and historical tours

    Standard: Klein-Aus Vista - Desert Horse Inn
    Luxury: Klein-Aus Vista - Eagles Nest

  • Day 5 and 6: Sossusvlei

    With the Namib-Naulkluft Park on your left, and several impressive mountain ranges on your right, the four-hour drive to Sossusvlei is one of the country's most impressive desert drives.

    On the way: Armchair-sized sociable weavers' nests; desert-adapted wildlife include gemsbok, springbok and wild ostrich; desert landscapes; Duiwseb Castle is an interesting diversion near Maltahöhe.

    When you're there: Enter Sossusvlei at sunrise and remember to take plenty of film or memory, sun cream, a hat, walking shoes and water. Explore the world's highest dunes and a sheltered pan with petrified trees that are hundreds of years old; climb the dunes and look out over a sea of sand. Private reserves in the area reveal fascinating flora, fauna and ancient desert landscapes.

    Standard: The Desert Homestead and Horse Trails
    Luxury: Kulala Desert Lodge

  • Day 7 and 8: Swakopmund

    A five-hour drive north to Swakopmund and Walvis Bay takes you through the gradual change from mountains and dunes to rolling grass-covered hills with scattered acacia trees. Swakopmund is a quaint resort town by the sea with an obvious German heritage at odds with its bleak surrounds.

    On the way: Look out for the endemic Hartmann's mountain zebra as you leave; stop at Solitaire, about 80km from Sesriem for some home-made bread and an ice cold drink; Kuiseb Canyon has some shady picnic spots; you can see springbok and pure-bred wild ostrich across the vast gravel plains of the Namib; the lunar landscape; look out for the welwitschia plant.

    When you're there: Visit the Walvis Bay Lagoon - a RAMSAR wetlands site - where thousands of flamingoes, pelicans and numerous waders feed in the nutrient-rich shallows; restaurants, shops and attractions in Swakopmund; spend an extra day making the most of the cool air and refreshing sea.

    Among the many organised activities, we recommend a scenic flight over Skeleton Coast; a comfortable and informative boat cruise of Walvis Bay where you meet dolphins, sea lions, pelicans and terns; and quad biking, which is an exciting way to experience the sand dunes.

    Standard: Sandfields Guesthouse
    Luxury: Zum Kaiser Hotel

  • Day 9: Damaraland

    Leave the coast and heading inland to Damaraland. Enormous granite outcrops and dolerite dykes have been carved over aeons. Grassy plains, tree-studded riverbeds and endless open skies add to the grandeur and make this area one of the most scenic regions of Namibia. The drive to Damaraland takes up to five hours because there is much to see and do along the way.

    On the way: Drive along the Skeleton Coast to Cape Cross - the largest breeding cape fur seal colony in the world. The stench of 100,000 seals can be a tad over-powering: take a handkerchief to cover your nose; lunch at Cape Cross Lodge or picnic at some suitably serene and other-worldly spot; stop at the lichen fields and a salt pan that is an excellent birding spot; visit the Twfylefontein rock paintings, the Petrified Forest and the Organ Pipes.

    When you're there: Game drives on private reserves in search of the famed desert-adapted elephant, black rhino and giraffe; among other hardy plains herds look out for Hartmann's mountain zebra; spend more time exploring the Twfylefontein rock paintings, the Petrified Forest, Vingerklip and the Organ Pipes; hike up the Brandberg Mountain, Namibia's highest point at 2,573m.

    Standard: Twyfelfontein Country Lodge
    Luxury: Mowani Mountain Camp

  • Day 10: Kaokoland

    Follow the scenic back roads which wind through rocky outcrops and grassy plains typical of Damaraland north until you reach the dusty town of Opuwo.

    When you're there: This is an overnight stop en route to Epupa Falls, spend the time relaxing by the pool or taking an excursion to visit a Himba village.

    Standard and luxury: Opuwo Country Hotel

  • Day 11 and 12: Kaokoland

    You will travel to the northern border of Namibia today to your lodge on the banks of the Kunene River at Epupa Falls. Meet Himba villagers and discover their fascinating ways; scenic drives through Kaokoland; hikes; birdwatching and game viewing; excursions to the Kunene River with Himba villages along the way

    Standard:  Omarunga Lodge
    Luxury: Epupa Falls Lodge

  • Day 13: Etosha National Park (West)

    Today you will travel south again and enter Etosha National Park at the western gate.

    On the way: Look out for Etosha's wildlife, though the animals are wary of vehicles in the western regions.

    When you're there: Etosha has an estimated 250 lions, 300 rhinos, 2,500 giraffes, 6,000 zebras, 20,000 springbok and 2,000 elephants. This on top of a large number of lesser and common plains herds, and abundant birds makes game viewing in Etosha something special. The surrounding lodges all have private reserves with equally impressive wildlife numbers and they offer private game viewing activities into the park.

    Standard: Dolomite Camp - Bush chalet
    Luxury: Dolomite Camp - Luxury chalet

  • Day 14: Etosha National Park (South)

    After breakfast you will game drive your way southwards through Etosha Park to your next lodge near Andersson's gate.

    When you're there: You lodge will offer guided game drives into Etosha Park if you haven't had your fill of game viewing. Or simply relax at your lodge.

    Standard: Etosha Village
    Luxury: Ongava Lodge

  • Day 15 and 16: Etosha National Park (East)

    After breakfast you can spend the day driving through the park to the Von Lindequist Gate on the eastern side of Etosha Park. Your lodge is set on a private game reserve about 8km outside the park.

    On the way: Look our for animals along the road or stop at the waterholes to spend some time taking photographs.

    When you're there: Your lodge will offer guided game drives in Etosha Park as well as guided walks and rhino tracking within the Mushara Private reserve.

    Standard: Mushara Bush Camp
    Luxury: Mushara Outpost

  • Day 17: Waterberg

    The drive to the Waterberg is between two and four hours depending on which lodge you stayed at in Etosha.

    On the way: Driving from the south is a short two-hour drive and you can stop at Outjo for lunch and dip at Ombinda Country Lodge; from the east, visit the world's largest meteorite; have picnic lunch at Lake Otjikoto or Lake Guinas.

    When you're there: the Waterberg Plateau Park has several excellent hiking trails, the wildlife and birdlife and scenery make for a good hike; private game farms in the area offer game viewing and some have active conservation programmes like AfriCat and the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

    Standard: Frans Indongo Lodge
    Luxury: Okonjima Luxury Bush Camp - Luxury chalet

  • Day 18: Windhoek

    The drive to Windhoek is short and comfortable on paved roads. The journey should take about three hours, so you've got time for an early wildlife activity and a leisurely breakfast.

    On the way: Traditional craft markets at Okahandja

  • Self Drive Distance Chart and Travelling Times

Recent Reviews of This Tour

“Just like to say again that we would rate this holiday as one of the best we have had and at 74 I have been to a few places ”

The drive from windhoek to Opuwo was outstanding and could repeat it tomorrow. We were happy with the way we were treated by Desert Car Hire. I would definitely recommend self drive in Namibia and yourselves.

Best 3 places of interest
1.0 DRIVE from Aus lodge to Ohakane lodge via your directions The landscape/ Terrain either side of the road, the change in road conditions fantastic
2.0 Etendeka Mountain Camp
3.0 Otjitotongwe (Cheetahs)

Best 3 Hotels and Lodges
1.0 Okonjima Lodge Plains Camp We were upgraded from Main to Bush Camp, Absolute Luxury
2.0 Twyfelfontein Country Lodge
3.0 Namib Desert Camp

To Improve Itinerary
Opuwo was a bit disappointing as we would have liked to visit a Himba tribe but the cost would have been in the order of £160 as they required a minimum of 4 persons. Would have paid say £80.00 for the privilege, would like to know how much of this goes to the Himbas?

As the guide book states the best place in Opuwo is the Petrol Station

General Comments
In general the food quality and choice was excellent, the presentation of the food at Aus Lodge and Okonjima Bush Camp would be as found at a FIRST CLASS restaurant. In contrast Etosha poor quality food, lack of correct plates available, choice of food running out before being replenished. Long queues to obtain a fried egg. The size of Etosha I would have expected money exchange facility and credit card facility for petrol, I did manage to obtain petrol using credit card but had to wait approx 3 hours before they got hold of a supervisor to sign a chit for me but only after insisting at reception they telephone him. It would appear he was the only person who could allow this, Lets hope he does not get sick? I would put all of the above (Etosha) down to poor management

Plus Side
Excellent choice of lodges, very clear and good instructions for travelling between between lodges did not need sat nav Edward excellent and patient in dealing with our queries, would not hesitate in recommending yourselves.

Personally this is one of the best holidays we have had

Peter Clark, UK The Ultimate Namibia Self-drive Tour

“To sum up our thoughts on Charles would be to simply say 'the best ever guide' we ever had the pleasure of meeting”

My wife and I have been traveling extensively around the world for the past 14 Years. This trip in Namibia was our fifth safari type trip in Africa. We have become accustomed to travelling alone outside any organized group tour. We are not easily impressed, as we demand quite a bit from our guides. Nevertheless we have meet quite a few that provided us with exceptional service and on more than one occasion made our trip memorable.

Than we meet Charles Rhyn. I really don’t know how I can put into words how he totally outperformed any one we had the pleasure of working with, during our many years of travelling. His above average knowledge of the animals, birds and fauna in Namibia made every encounter a source of fascination and respect. I say respect as he would explain in layman terms, how each one survived it’s environment and their natural predators, through cunning and at time abilities developed over eons.

Being avid photographers he would always place the vehicle in such a way as to maximize the benefits from the lighting conditions what ever part of the day it was. On more than one occasion he would indicate a picture angle that had eluded us, thus making our picture album one of the best so far.

Linda suffers from allergies that could prove fatal if she ate certain type of food. It did not matter if it was a five star restaurant or grocery store as he would always insure that he passed on the required information thus guarantying our ease of mind.

Driving long hours at a time can prove hazardous thus making us prone to accidents. His driving abilities again surprised us as not once did he not anticipate to slow down when required in order to prevent us from getting bang around the car. We trusted him to the point of dozing off when there was just long stretch of road without any thing to see. He always anticipate others drivers lack of driving skills as he drove defensively at all times

His intimate knowledge of the road network and the places we visited, gave us a chance to glimpse some places that were not part of the original plan. Perfect example was to bring us to a small waterfall to enjoy after a refreshing swim followed by a leisurely lunch instead of sitting in a restaurant on the side of the road. Other times he changed the order of the sites to either miss out on the surge of tourists or permit us better lighting for our pictures.

Every evening, when we arrived at our destination, he quickly insure that we received the best available room. Than he would reserve us a table away from the noise so that we could enjoy a quiet meal.

To sum up our thoughts on Charles would be to simply say “the best ever guide” we ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Walter Deschamps, Canada The Ultimate Namibia Self-drive Tour

“We really loved every minute of our vacation”

I hope you are well, we are now back from our magnificent trip in Namibia. We had a wonderful time, nice weather, a lot of animals and a very good guide. On top of our very busy itinerary and long days, we were able to do a half day of 4X4 on the sand dunes, went sea kayaking with the seals and horseback riding to see the sunset. We really loved every minute of our vacation. Namibia is a very nice country to visit.

About our lodges, we especially loved Onguma Bush Camp (very good food), especially that we got one of there new oval rooms that just opened 2 months ago, big, very clean and very nice. Etendeka Mountain Camp , we loved where the lodge was situated, the outside bathroom and the food was excellent. Mowani Mountain Camp , what is not to like about this magnificent place in the rocks, and the excellent food. Canyon Village , was bigger then what we are usually looking for, but very nice lodge, nice pool and very good food And the Camelthorn was an excellent place to finish our trip, especially that we were the only guest in the lodge for that night and again excellent food, we were kind of sad that we didn't stay there for two nights.

We also appreciated Okaukuejo , Kavita Lion Lodge and Opuwo.

About The Desert Homestead and Horse Trails , we thought that the lodge was nicely located, to bad we didn't have hot water for two days, and the meat at dinner time was not eatable and the staff a bit disorganized. But the lodge own a stable right next to the lodge where we went horseback riding to see the sunset. Having owned a horse for 25 years and done show jumping, I was impressed on how well the horses were kept. The stables were very clean and the horses very well fead and clean. I would recommend this place for there stables and horses for any of your clients who wants to make sure that they will not endup in a place where the horses are not well being taken care of and where they only have bones and skin.

We will definitely visit South Africa in the next two years, so I will contact you to book another magnificent vacation like the one we just did.

Linda and Walter Deschamps, Canada The Ultimate Namibia Self-drive Tour

“Edward did a super job”

A special mention for Edward he did a super job – vouchers and maps were with our car hire agency at the airport – book presentation of whole trip was clear, easy to follow and complete. He even gave us his mobile No in case we encounter some problems. Really to recommend as Tour Operator and will use them again next time.

Road – all went well and thanks to have recommended a 4Wheel Drive Car – due to rough road conditions we appreciated – you could do it with a normal car and met tourists with B type cars but they took much longer for the journeys – had more issues with flat tyres and most admitted next time they will take a 4Wheel Drive Car.

Would like to thank you for all your time spent and hard work to find best places, difficult tasks due to budget restrictions. I will recommend you and your agency whenever I can – actually already did in Joburg – hope brings you some new customers - and of course will come to you for my next trip this time to South Africa hopefully in 2012.

Germaine Comin, Switzerland The Ultimate Namibia Self-drive Tour

“A lovely holiday”

We had a lovely holiday. All accommodation was excellent. You responded very quickly to all our problems.

Ian Wilson, UK The Ultimate Namibia Self-drive Tour

“Excellent and comfortable”

All accommodation was interesting and excellent and comfortable - we appreciate the time and care that Patrick took in advance of our arrival.

June Pinkney, Canada The Ultimate Namibia Self-drive Tour

“We had a great trip”

We had a great trip with Augustinus as a wonderful guide. He has shown us a lot, taught us a lot about animals, plants and culture, and made us laugh every day with his jokes. If we come back, we definitely would like to have him as our guide again

Jurgen Baumann, The Netherlands The Ultimate Namibia Self-drive Tour
Enquire Now

Enquire Now