A 14 Day Roadtrip through the beautiful landscape of Nambia. Find out more about the full itinerary and the highlights of our trip to the motherland.
The route we have chosen is perfect for a two week trip. If you have even three weeks time I would recommend to build in Botswana and Viktoria Falls or you drive from Swakopmund further south and then up to Windhoek again.
No matter which route you choose, you definitely need a reliable car. Here I can recommend Asco Car Rent. The organization there is structured in such a way that it almost feels German.
We decided on a mix of camping and lodges and rented a 4×4 all-wheel drive vehicle with roof tents. Because let’s be honest. Adventure is all well and good, but camping can also be really strenuous. To take a breath we stayed overnight in lodges every now and then. Which accommodation you choose is up to you, in all places you will find something for every budget.
– Windhoek 1 night
– Erindi 1 night
– Waterberg 1 night
– Etosha 3 nights
– Madisa Camp 1 night
– White Lady Lodge Brandberg 1 night
– Swakopmund 3 nights
– Etusis 3 nights
You fly a little more than 10 hours from Frankfurt to Namibia’s capital Windhoek. Thanks to a wink at the check-in counter with the nice lady from Air Namibia (sorry Babe) and the accentuation of my 2 meter body height there were seats with more legroom again this time. Service and food were amazingly good with this airline. Bayandsands Airline Ranking 7.5/10
As a Central European you don’t have any time difference so no jet lag either. Touch down 6:00 a.m., tired eyes, it’s bloody cold. And there’s our pick-up service from the car rental with our name on the sign – even correctly spelled. Quickly exchange some money at the exchange counter, buy a SIM card and off we go to the heated shuttle bus incl. WLAN. Short moment of shock as the driver on the road takes the left lane – but right, left-hand traffic prevails here.
7:30 – the sun rises and the landscape is bathed in warm yellow and red tones. Already on the drive from the airport to the city it becomes clear that this country is breathtakingly beautiful. If I had to compare it, it reminds me a lot of Portugal – only with giraffes.
Arrived in the center of Windhoek we get a short introduction into the handling of the equipment and the car which we will call our home for the next 14 days. Before we go into the wilderness, we first stay with a befriended family in a dreamlike Beverly Hills style house.
Who has seen my instastories, knows Toffy already 😜
Before dinner we get a little car Tour through Windhoek. The streets are very clean, the gardens are well maintained and all houses are fenced. Private schools, private hospitals – we are in the rich quarter. The president lives here too. Imagine the mega villa of P-Diddy in Miami. This would only be the guest house. The main building is about the size of the Bundestag and also looks very reminiscent of it. However, 75% of the actual urban population lives far outside the city. The further you go, the poorer it gets. From magnificent buildings to stone houses and corrugated iron huts. The gap between rich and poor is wide.
After some attacks, the Namibian government has already drawn the necessary conclusions some time ago and punishes crimes in connection with tourists with extreme hardship. These are therefore very rare and we have felt very safe at all times. But you shouldn’t camp wild and walk around the street alone at night. But I wouldn’t recommend that in Frankfurt either.
From Windhoek we start our Journey with a full refrigerator, lots of water and wine as well as a full diesel tank and head to the north. The asphalted main road is easy to drive and at a comfortable 120 km/h (speed limit) you can also enjoy the wild landscape as a driver. We drive about 1 1/2h until we reach a turnoff. From here the road becomes sandy and the adventure begins.
With reduced tyre pressure and all-wheel drive mode, we are still a little unsafe on slippery roads. Secretly we both hope that a huge herd of elephants will emerge from the thicket on the side of the road. For a long time, however, nothing. Just the road and us. And then, just before the entrance to the reserve, a small herd of Impalas crosses our path. Kind of weird watching it all out of the car.
Incidentally, larger numbers of animals can only be found in both private and state reserves. These are protected with wire fences, as well as cities and streets to prevent unwanted contact between animals and humans. Nevertheless, the animals find their way over or underneath, which is why you should always be vigilant on the way. And that’s exactly what you’re looking for in a place like this, isn’t it? As a guest in the wilderness and not vice versa. Within the fenced reservations, the likelihood of seeing wild animals is very high, especially at the waterholes. However, you have the best chances with a safari guide in so-called game drives. These are usually offered early in the morning at 6 am or in the afternoon around 4 pm and usually last 3-4 hours in which you can comfortably watch from the open car. Some camps also offer tours on foot – for those who dare 🙂 It is best to find out online which activities are offered in your accommodation and book them in advance or at check-in.
Our first stop Erindi is a private reserve, which is home to almost all Namibian animal species such as lions, elephants, antelopes and even Rinos. Within the reserve there are several camps with overnight accommodation. We decided for the Camp Elephant which I can recommend to you to 100%. Very well maintained, well equipped, friendly staff and directly at a waterhole where animals can be observed at any time of the day.
After we have settled down at the campsite, we go straight to the afternoon game drive – and what a one. It won’t be long before we see the first animals. Zebras, antelopes and wildebeests. Everything at close range and an OPEN vehicle. Suddenly it gets hectic and we leave the road across country. Two male elephants were spotted a few miles away. A short time later we find them walking right behind our car but see for yourself:
We also see some lions resting in the high grass at the waterhole. It slowly gets dark and with the wind in our faces we drive towards the sunset through the grasses of the steppe. An incredibly peaceful moment.
Seeing so many animals is not self-evident, as our guide, looking like Eddie Murphy, explains to us in his broken English:
“You know why it’s called a game drive? Because you can’t predict nature. You can’t just write an Email to a Buffalo saying: Yo let’s meet up at the waterhole. Either he’s there or not.”
So even if you pay money for the trip, it doesn’t guarantee that you actually see animals. Keep that in mind.
After a cold first night in which I put on basically my entire suitcase contents, because I was the opinion that it does not get cold in Africa and accordingly once again only had some linen shirts, Tshirts and shorts with me, it goes for us further to the Waterberg. A national park located on a 200 meter high plateau and used for the breeding of endangered species due to its difficult access and seclusion. Here you have the best chance to see the rare Rinos. To get access to the well protected area you have to pass several gates with guards. Only those who have a reservation at the campsites at the foot of the mountain or at one of the lodges are allowed to pass. Therefore it is best to book in advance, especially as Waterberg is a very popular and in the High Season also fully booked station.
As accommodation we stay again with our roof tents on the this time rather spartanly furnished camping site Waterberg Resort . One notices very clearly the difference to the before privately led Elephant Camp and the now state camp. These state camps belong to the Namibian Wildlife Resort (NWR) association. Via an app, you can easily check availability, see which activities are offered and also book and reserve right away. Practical.
The constant set-up and dismantling of the tents and the life out of the suitcase is already noticeable on the second day. Therefore, first a glass of wine for the nerves before we decide to book an afternoon game drive again on the plateau, because we absolutely want to see the native Rinos there. So it goes slightly drunk and at a pleasant 28 degrees up the steep mountain.
At the first waterhole we get out some meters away and walk along a protected path not to frighten the animals until we reach a small house in which we eagerly wait for the first thirsty visitors.
Besides a few water buffaloes, that’s supposed to be it for this drive. No Rinos far and wide. We thought so. When the sun had already set and we are trembling under blankets on our way back to the camp, our guide discovers grey outlines in the darkness. At walking speed we slowly drive on and see a huge male rhinoceros with the characteristic horn in the dim spotlight.
The animals are extremely shy and therefore difficult to find. After a few seconds it disappears back into the bushes. An unbelievable experience.
However, it is questionable whether this endangered species will still exist in a few years’ time. On the Asian black market, the horn is traded for about $50,000.00. For many incentives enough to hunt even the last animals. We can only hope that people will finally put the welfare of animals before greed for money.
A gigantic starry sky, even more wine and noodles with tomato sauce end our day on Waterberg.
Always on the road. We continue for three nights to Etosha, Namibia’s largest national park. You can enter the 22,275 km² park through four gates in each direction. Depending on where you enter, you can spend the night in different camps. Within the park, these are all state owned and vary greatly in quality. Check out TripAdvisor beforehand. Lodges are therefore only available outside and pretty pricey.
We choose the eastern route and decide on the recommendation of a nice employee from Waterberg, who sat by the fire the evening before, for Camp Namutoni. By the way, this is something I can only recommend you for every trip. Talk to locals as often as possible. Ask them where they prefer to go, eat or spend time. You won’t find the answers in any travel guide – maybe only at Bayandsands 😉
This time again we are not disappointed and find a well maintained camp in a former German fort from colonial times. Here we spend two relaxed days.
Of course, a game drive on the second day is also a must. This time, however, early in the morning. 5 o’clock the alarm clock rings and 6 o’clock we drive off. It’s still dark and cold. Even the animals are still asleep at this hour. Infrared lights are used to avoid frightening them. Really cool, because the animals don’t see this kind of light and we get the opportunity to watch sleeping giraffes and some hyenas at a waterhole. Terrifyingly, they sound just like they do in The Lion King. Good Job Disney.
The highlight of this ride is a young cheetah mother standing on a termite mound looking for prey while her three little ones jump around. An extremely rare sight. This can also be seen in the 10 other cars that are lining up next to us. That’s something you’ll have to get used to on the biggest and most popular reservation in Namibia. You are not alone.
If you want to leave out the gas cookers, you should definitely try the restaurant in the camp. Here we had a delicious Orix steak and the matching African wine for the equivalent of 20 € per person.
The next morning we fill up our supplies in the well sorted shop and drive on to our first lodge on this trip.
For us the highlight of this trip. 20 minutes from the eastern entrance gate of the Etosha stands a paradise on wooden stilts. A main house with restaurant and fireplace as well as 6 small cabins each with a double bed, open-air shower and direct view of the waterhole. Basically the perfect place for couples in love or those who want to be. Of course it was also cool with Mommy 🙂
All I can say is: If you can raise the money for this, treat yourself! You’ll be thrilled. The price includes breakfast and dinner as well as a teatime at noon. Drinks not included. Believe me, the restaurant chef knows his trade. As is usual in many lodges, we eat together with all guests at a long table.
Deviating from our route I would recommend you to plan one day for the orange sand dunes of Sossusvlei. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for that anymore, but it should be absolutely great.
For us it goes to a place in Damaraland that is at least as beautiful. Since the way to the coast of Etosha Park is very long, we make a stopover at Madisa Camp. Here you have good chances to see the wandering deserts elephants coming to the camp. The camp offers camp sites as well as small bungalows just outside. You should definitely climb the hill for sunrise or sunset. The 20-minute ascent is also suitable for beginners and requires no equipment. You will be rewarded with an incredible view. Picnic blanket and vino not forgotten – at least for the evening variant 😉
Those who have time can still have a look at the cave paintings in Twyfelfontein.
White Lady Lodge
Not far from Namibia’s highest mountain massif, the Brandberg, lies the White Lady Lodge which we head for next on our way to the coast. I’m not quite sure if the road we took to get there is really an official road. The whole thing reminded more of a motorcross track. The only thing that comes towards us during the two hour drive are three donkeys pulling a cart and making room in a thankful way. There is simply no room for more than one car between rocks and cacti. Just a drive through a dry riverbed and we’re there.
Exhausted from the adventurous journey, we lie down by the pool in the lovingly designed garden and enjoy the view of the Brandberg. That’s pretty much all you can do around here. A great experience is the dinner in the Lodge’s own restaurant. After a delicious 3 course menu the 15 employees sing typical African songs. And of course there’s dancing.
Now only a 3 hour drive through the desert separates us from our next stop Swakopmund. The further we go the colder it gets. Starting at a pleasant 30 degrees, the temperatures drop by one degree every 15 minutes. When we reach the coastal town I put on a sweater again. 18 degrees, not exactly comfortable and on top of that incredibly humid and hazy, by the cold and warm sea currents that meet here. So, girls, you can forget your hair straightener.
All the better you can eat fish and seafood here – which we do first, too, at Jettys. I’ve never had a better tuna steak in my life. There are also oysters and a lot of other seafood delicacies here. Reservations must be made and opening hours must be observed, as the restaurant is closed between 3 pm and 7 pm. For those who like a good fish n chips, check out Fork ‘n Nice.
Bloated with food we took a walk on the beach and found the beach bar Tiger Reef Beach Bar & Grill. The perfect sunset location.
Fascinating how quickly the scenes in this country can change. Before still in the African steppe, we sit now at the Atlantic coast and it feels like Southern France. With our feet in the sand and a cool Windhoek we end the day comfortably. We stay overnight in the camping site just around the corner Alte Brücke, a super equipped accommodation, with bathroom, fireplace/grill and electrical connection. By the way, W-Lan is also available.
The next morning we will be picked up very early, because it goes to the dune walk with Living Desert Namibia – an absolute MUST if you are in Swakopmund. Here you not only experience the impressive landscape, but also learn a lot about the creatures worthy of protection and the sensitive ecosystem behind it.
The last three days we go to Etusis Lodge between Swakopmund and Windhoek after some very cold nights in the tent and clearly too much noodles with tomato sauce to kick back and relax. Lying by the pool, reading, great food and an incredibly cordial team.
For the adventurous there is the possibility to take riding lessons and even ride out. I also tried it and could trot for the first time without help after a few minutes.
Here you feel very close to nature and simply in good hands. It’s a bit like a farm holiday. Two cats, a Great Dane, turtles, horses and cattle. Not to mention the animals that visit the nearby waterhole in the evening. There are even leopards and monkeys in the region.
But what if I told you that we gave a bottle to a baby zebra in the living room? Yes, that too:
This cute young fella lost his mother and is now taking care of in the Lodge until he’s big enough to set him free again. Although he’s free then, he will always return to Etusis.
If you are here, you should definitely book the evening Sunset Drive and watch the amazing landscape and have some wine at golden hour.
Unbelievable what we have seen and experienced in 14 days. I hope this article has inspired you to book your next flight to Africa. Let me know what else interests you in the comments below.
Find out more about the “Namibia Packing List – 10 Things You Need” in the next blog posts. Stay tuned!