Vast desert, contrasting landscapes and a unique animal kingdom Our 3 Weeks Namibia Itinerary
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Africa had been on our eye sight for too and to wait for one more year was out of question– so here we were! Ready to book and explore this beautiful continent on our next adventure. Again the flood of question arise: where to go? What to do? How to make it possible yet unique? We were looking for three things when planning our trip – beautiful landscapes, potential adventure and safaris with lots of animals! After reading and exploring several other’s experiences, the decision wasn’t difficult: NAMIBIA we are coming to you! It simply seemed to have it all!
With more than double the size of Germany, but only about 2.6 million inhabitants, the country offers that vastness and unspoiled landscape and activities that is difficult to find in Europe. Its famous sunrises and gasping sunsets over scenic landscapes paired with a diverse animal kingdom made this destination ever more appealing to us. In order to be flexible and follow up on the dirt roads to discover this beauty’s “off beaten track”, we decided to travel on “turtle style” carrying our home with us, in a 4×4 jeep with roof tent.
Now please tighten up your belts, take a deep breath and follow us on our journey through our Namibia itinerary!
Arriving in Windhoek Namibia Itinerary: Days 1-3 (2 Nights)
Namibia’s largest airport, Hosea Kutako International Airport, is located 45km from Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city. With several international connections and therefore our point of arrival. As Namibia is a relatively small country in terms of population and Windhoek only counts about 350,000 inhabitants, flights are not operated as frequently in contrast to other destinations. We ended up paying 932€ per person for our round trip with Air Namibia from Frankfurt to Windhoek. Ideally, we advise you on checking out flights as early as possible in order to get the best possible deal. Though there are many taxi drivers offering transfers at the airport once you arrive, for safety reasons (and also to get a fair price), it is recommended to book your transfer to Windhoek already in advance. Prices vary around 200N$ per person.
Windhoek is a relatively small and calm city, and certainly misses that typical busy/vibrant atmosphere as you would expect from any capital city, but instead offers you the medium-sized town feeling with strong Western influences, at least in the city center. Exactly, this peaceful and relaxed atmosphere gives this place its particularity and charm. We decided to stay two nights and didn’t feel that we had missed anything – visiting the main sights, strolling around the city center, exploring the market in Katutura (township in the suburbs of Windhoek) and enjoying the sunset from the Hilton Hotel’s rooftop – everything could be ticked off the list. The two days gave us sufficient time to arrive, acclimatize and get ready for the upcoming adventure.
Early morning of day three we headed back to the airport to pick up our jeep with rooftop tent which would become our home for almost the next three weeks. We were ready to go on exploratory tour!
The Africat Project Namibia Itinerary: Days 3-4 (1 Night)
After Windhoek our first target was the Africat Project in Okonjima located about 220km north of the capital. As Namibia is a vast, wide open space, with a small population, distances between destinations can be quite long, so we ended up driving for about 3 hours to reach our first stop.
Recommended by several friends, to stay in this special natural reserve, it certainly did not disappoint us! The long-term goal of the Africat Foundation is to ensure the survival of Namibia’s predators in their natural habitat. This gave us the opportunity to come eye to eye with majestic animals such as cheetahs and leopards within the freedom of Namibia’s stunning wilderness. We even were so lucky to spot a leopard mother with her little kitten – an experience we’ll never forget in our lives!
Staying on a little private campsite within the reserve, we got the full experience of our first “outdoor night”. After hours of trying to make a campfire (yes, it is much harder than anything else you have seen on TV!) we finally had our braai (Afrikaans word for barbecue) and could not wait to “crawl” into our sleeping bags. At this point setting up the roof tent still was a major obstacle, but we would become quicker and quicker with every time. Falling asleep while listening to the sounds of all the wild animals out there gave us an amazing feeling of peace and freedom.
The Waterberg Plateau Namibia Itinerary: Days 4-5 (1 Night)
Its famous table mountain rising high above the Kalahari desert and Eastern Namibia. About 120km away from Okonjima, it took us about 2 hours to drive there. As It had rained the night before we had to cross some slightly flooded and especially very muddy roads – definitely an adventure if you are used to driving on Europe’s asphalt roads, but no problem with such a cool 4×4 jeep such as ours!
As the Waterberg Plateau is relatively inaccessible, many endangered species have been relocated here and are supplied to other national parks throughout Namibia. Therefore, an early morning game drive on the plateau is a must do here! Upon arrival, we settled on the campsite and prepared our lunch. Unfortunately, as rain continued, we could not explore much of the surroundings. Luckily our roof tent provided perfect shelter to defy the bad weather. Next morning at 5am (way too early for non-morning persons) we started our game drive. Side to side to a beautiful sunset scenery we got to see lots of shy and rare animals including buffaloes – which made us “tick” our second animal of the Big Fives!
Back to the camp site we started packing up to head to our next destination, and had an unexpected encounter with BABOONS… This guys aren’t very cool with exposure and having their stuff on Instagram! So they tried to rob us while we were taking pictures of them. Not cool! However, they know how to show they’re on top of the game. So as soon as you can see one of them yawning, and showing their beautiful teeth, you know why you don’t want to quarrel with them…
Etosha National Park Namibia Itinerary: Days 5-8 (3 Nights)
Where to start, where to end? Definitely one of the (if not THE) highlight of our trip – especially if you are an animal lover. After our first two stops we were keen to see more of Namibia’s wildlife. When approaching the humongous national park, we already could feel the density of giraffes on the side of the roads becoming bigger and bigger. Once entered through the gate, we pitched our tent for the next three nights in the Okaukuejo Rest Camp at the west side of the park.
There are two main options to explore the park – either book safari trips with guides in a big jeep or discover the 22,270 km2 with your own vehicle. The advantage of the guided tours is that they start one hour before the gates open for everyone to enter the park or depart during the beauty of the sunset hours – the two times of the day where wildlife is most active. Nevertheless, we completely fell for the freedom of exploring the park on our own and hunting the best shots (obviously with a Canon and telephoto lens only)! We experienced the most breathtaking moment when we discovered a huge, lonely bull elephant – we literally froze while this gigantic guy was grazing just three meters in front of our car. After that we came eye to eye with countless zebras, giraffes, buffaloes, lions, snakes, all kinds of birds and game, game and game!
While falling in love with Namibia’s wildlife, days passed by quickly. Each evening during the sunset, we listened to the choir of wild dogs singing their bedtime stories to each other. We doubt that there are many places on earth that can put you more in touch with nature than this one.
Damaraland – Twyfelfontein, Brandberg & Spitzkoppe Namibia Itinerary: Days 8-10 (2 Nights)
While we were somehow melancholic leaving Etosha, we were also very curious to explore the Damaraland which was next on our itinerary. Called after its inhabitants – the Damara – its landscape is characterized by the untouched vastness of the desert, surreal rock formations and indescribable light that every day and night rises and goes back down.
We stayed one night on a campsite near Twyfelfontein – Aba Huab Campsite – and one night on the campsite of the Brandberg White Lady Lodge. Driving from destination to destination, the immense Namibian desert caught our eyes. Especially, during sunset hours the warm sunlight gives the land a touch of tranquility that truly lets you find peace of mind. Each place offers different sites. While one can discover ancient rock engravings at Twyfelfontein, observing the glowing color of the Brandberg (= Fire Mountain) during sunset is a must-see. We only stopped by Spitzkoppe for a few hours on hour way to Swakopmund, but definitely wished to have stayed a night at this unique area of rock formations – a group of bare granite peaks that are easy to climb and explore.
As one of the most scenic parts of Namibia, the Damaraland should definitely be on the route of your travel.
Swakopmund Namibia Itinerary: Days 10-13 (3 Nights)
As we were leaving the baking sun of the desert behind while heading towards to the windy and cloudy Namibian west coast, we could already feel the complete change of the climate, fauna and flora. When approaching Swakopmund – a holiday place by the sea – the whole town gates welcoming us were a massive cluster of clouds and fog that has been washed ashore. While driving through the streets of this small city, the German colonial architecture conveyed us an impression of the 19th century. It felt a bit like being back in civilization, but in a completely different time!
We settled down on the Tiger Reef Campsite directly at the beach for three days and used the time to explore the desert on quads, sand-board down the dunes, go on a cruise and do some laundry. Especially, the later was essential to us as we had brought some flees from Etosha and had to get rid of them!
Rested and flee-free after three nights we eventually continued our exploration of the Namibian desert and left Swakopmund early in the morning to visit famous Sossusvlei…
Sesriem, Sossusvlei Namibia Itinerary: Days 13-15 (2 Nights)
Have you seen George Miller’s Mad Max saga of a post-apocalyptic world? If not check it here, and yes, this has been shot there, and yes, the landscape is as astonishing – actually even more astonishing than in the cinema! Sand, sand, sand – as far as your eye can reach. Copper gold sand that sparkles in the incomparable sunrises of this magic place.
Staying two nights at Sesriem Campsite, we became witnesses of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets you can imagine. The highlight here definitely was observing the sun rising while sitting on the famous Dune 45 – an 80 meters high dune composed of 5-million-year-old orange sand from the Kalahari Desert.
Each morning we quickly packed up our stuff to be the first ones to enter the national park through its gates. As the desert simply gets too hot for hiking from noon onward, we had to get up every morning before sunrise around 5am! A challenge for non-morning people, but definitely worth every second! Very important detail… a 4×4 vehicle is absolutely necessary to explore this place. And even though we had one, we managed to get stuck in the sand…luckily a friendly park guide helped us and pulled us out with his jeep!
Fish River Canyon Namibia Itinerary: Days 15-17 (2 Nights)
We knew Fish River Canyon – Africa’s largest canyon – is located about 550km south from Sossusvlei. We knew it would be a long drive. We still decided to cover this stretch in one go…guess what…bad idea! After an insane eight-hour drive and almost arriving after the camp’s closing time, we reached Hobas Campsite completely exhausted and just before sunset. We were so tired that we just provisionally set up our tent – mainly because the plan was to stand up early in the morning in order to have breakfast “al fresco” directly at the canyon. Even though we were knackered, the wonderful views over theís impressive canyon and its sharp rocky edges in the morning light, made it up for all the struggles.
We spent the next two days mainly exploring the steep cliffs. 550 meters deep beauty from different viewpoints and angles. Compared with the other parts of the country we had seen so far, this clearly was the roughest scenery. After having soaked up the atmosphere of this special place, we packed up to make our way to our last destination before returning to Windhoek.
Relaxing in the Kalahari Desert & Returning to Windhoek Namibia Itinerary: Day 17-20 (3 Nights)
Living and learning… we have definitely became a bit wiser after the awful trip down to the south so we decided to make an intermediate stop on our way back to Windhoek. Though we were full of new impressions and experiences, the intense travel clearly left its mark. The early mornings to catch sunrises, long drives and somewhat “physical” work of setting up our camp each night, had exhausted us. Therefore, a recommendation of a travelling couple we met at the Fish River Canyon came very handy – the Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch. Located close to Mariental it is the perfect destination to relax for two days before returning back to Windhoek to catch our flight back home.
Up on arrival we were assigned our own small private campsite, with a private bathroom. While setting up our tent, a tame springbok came along to say hi – you could even pet her! The next couple of days we just spent chilling at the beautiful pool, enjoying the three-course barbecue dinner and even taking a horse ride through the Kalahari Desert during the sunset – a perfect way to end an amazing adventure.
What we had done differently? Wrap-up Namibia Itinerary
We believe our itinerary offered a great way to explore the variety of Namibia – its wildlife, landscapes, deserts, towns, sunrises and sunsets. Nevertheless, there is always some room for improvement. So here is our advice if you plan to follow a similar route:
- Stay at least one night at the Spitzkoppe! This beautiful site has a very basic but beautiful campsite that allows you to sleep right next to the rock formations. Beautiful sunrise and sunset views guaranteed!
- Stay less days in Swakopmund. It is nice to take a break from the pure simplicity of campsite cooking and visit some restaurants, but as Namibia has so much nature to offer we would suggest to rather spent the time on a comfortable lodge in the Kalahari Desert than this town. It’s nice but not too special.
- Take a break when travelling to the south. Our eight-hour drive was definitely too much. There are several lodges you could choose to stay in to make your journey more convenient.