The Namib Desert stretches from the south all the way along the Namibian coastline for over 1,500km and heads 200km inland. It's spectacular. The world's only coastal desert and the world's oldest. From the giant sand dunes of Sossusvlei, also some of the world's highest, to the cold Atlantic Ocean and the resort town of Swakopmund. Damaraland is easily one of the most scenic regions in Namibia, home to the desert-adapted elephants and of course no Namibian holiday is complete without a big game safari in Etosha National Park set against the backdrop of the stark white pan so large you can see it from space.
Day 1: Windhoek ( 1 night )
You will be met by the car rental company representative on arrival and transferred to their offices in Windhoek to complete all rental procedures. You will then meet with our representative to hand over your travel package. Ask questions. Talk through your route. Make notes.
When you're there: Depending on the time of you arrival, will determine whether there is time to head into town, go shopping or see some of the sights. You can explore if time allows. If not, check in at your hotel and simply relax, it may well have been a long day, especially if you came off a long haul flight. Rest up, tomorrow the real adventure begins. Dine at the hotel for dinner or grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant nearby. Either way, it's best to make a reservation. Speak to reception for assistance.
The Olive Exclusive
Am Weinberg Boutique Hotel
Day 2 & 3: Sossusvlei ( 2 nights )
Travel south to the Namib Desert for the next two nights. The drive takes about five hours.
On the way: If you still need to get some supplies, some snacks and drinks for the road, stop at a fuel station or shop before departing south. First to Rehoboth and then from here, decide which route you want take. Every option takes you via some incredible scenic passes. Stop for photos, to stretch your legs and enjoy a picnic lunch with a view. Why not? It's all about the journey in Namibia with much to see and do along your route.
When you're there: Visit the highlights inside the park. Plan to enter the park when the Sesriem gates open at sunrise. The earlier the better. Pay your entry fee at the office on the way out. The first stretch is 60km on tarred roads to the parking area. From here you can walk the last 5km in thick sand, drive with your own vehicle (engage 4WD) or take the shuttle in (additional costs apply). Go see Dead Vlei first. A short climb up the dunes, reveals the beauty of a cracked white pan with scattered eon old trees. In shadow before the sun comes up, you'll have the perfect shot with the red sand of the dunes in the background as a backdrop. On to Sossusvlei, climb Big Daddy or go climb Dune 45. On the way out, go explore Sesriem Canyon. By now it's getting hot. If it's too hot, which it often is, return this afternoon for more discovery.
Your lodge will offer guided excursions. Join in if you prefer not to go it alone. Take a breakfast pack and enjoy it in the dunes. Nature walks and drives at sunset. Take it all in. Find some time to relax at the pool too. Splendid.
Our tip: Book a hot air balloon safari over the dunes. It's spectacular.
Desert Homestead Outpost
Desert Homestead Lodge
Day 4 & 5: Swakopmund ( 2 nights )
A five-hour drive north will reveal a whole new take on Namibia's beautiful landscapes as the mountains and giant sand dunes become open plains as you approach the foggy coast and Swakopmund where you will spend the next 2 nights.
On the way: Stop in Solitaire to refuel. The bakery is pretty good too. Continue on via the Kuiseb and Gaub Pass. Take a photo at the Tropic of Capricorn. Look out for oryx, ostrich and springbok across the gravel plains. Stretch your legs at a view point and marvel at the grandeur of the endless landscape. Head to the coast and take a drive through Walvis Bay if you like or head straight to Swakopmund, either via Walvis Bay along the coastal road or via Dune 7 on the back road along the coastal dune belt. If you want to see the ancient welwitschia plants, then detour via Ganab. You'll drive along the Moonlandscape. You'll need a permit. You can get it at the NWR office inside the Sesriem gate before you depart Sossusvlei.
When you're there: Options are limitless. There are plenty of activities to choose from. Take a look at our list of Swakopmund Activities to decide which you'd like to include.
Swakopmund Luxury Suites
Day 6 & 7: Damaraland ( 2 nights )
Leaving the coast today, you will make your way inland to Damaraland.
On the way: This is easily one of the most scenic drives in Namibia and on your route. Head all the way along the coast as north as you can before you head east via the Springbok Water Gate. This calls for an early start, especially if you wish to stop at Cape Cross on the way. The other route takes you via Henties Bay to Cape Cross. Go see the largest Cape fur seal colony in the world. Then backtrack to Henties and head inland. Stop at the lichen fields. The Brandberg Massif via Uis, an old mining town and on to the Twyfelfontein area. Watch as the open plains become rocky outcrops and dry ephemeral riverbeds.
When you're there: One full day is set aside to explore the beauty of the area. Go see the sights. The Twyfelfontein rock engravings, Burnt Mountain and Organ Pipes. Go in search of the desert-adapted elephants and other wildlife. Visit the Damara Living Museum for an insight into the local culture.
Our tip: Book activities with a lodge guide.
Mowani Mountain Camp
Day 8: Etosha National Park - South ( 1 night )
The drive to Etosha National Park is a scenic few hours through more of Damaraland's singular beauty. The Anderssons Gate is much closer to Damaraland and will take about three hours.
On the way: Today's drive is not as long and barely warrants a stop, barring a quick stop at the Petrified Forest , a comfort stop at Outjo and a picture of the Ugab Terrace. Depending on your departure time and therefore your arrival time, check in at your lodge, just outside the park entrance gates, grab a bite to eat and then head into Etosha for an afternoon game drive. Purchase a map of Etosha at the shop at Okaukuejo. They also have some basic supplies, drinks and snacks. There is a fuel station inside the park gates and one just outside before you enter. Make sure the tank is full. You can easily drive 200km inside the park and you wouldn't want to get stuck.
Etosha is one of Africa's greatest parks with good reason. Not only is it scenic and beautiful, the large numbers of animals make this a game viewing extravaganza. Keep your eyes peeled. Sit at a waterhole and watch the animals come and go. You're likely to see numerous species at any given moment.
Day 9 & 10: Etosha National Park - East ( 2 nights )
The drive through Etosha National Park to your next lodge on the eastern side of Etosha is a scenic few hours of game driving. The drive can take anything from 2 hours depending on how often you stop for game viewing.
When you're there: Your lodge will offer guided game drives into Etosha and game walks in the private reserve. Wildlife. Wildlife. Wildlife.
Mushara Bush Camp
Day 11: Windhoek ( Departure / End of Tour )
You have a long drive ahead of you today: up to six hours. The roads are all paved so it's a comfortable ride to arrive in time for your onward flight or a night in Windhoek.
On the way: Okahandja has the largest wood carvers' market in Namibia
Plan a late departure flight as you still need to drop the vehicle and transfer to the airport. Leave enough time to ensure you are at the airport well within 2 hours of your departure flight.