This shorter Namibian Discovery self-drive tour is ideal for the first time visitor to Namibia who may want to combine Namibia with some time in Cape Town, or perhaps a safari in Botswana? It is primarily a touring holiday so you explore the many facets of Namibia. Highlights include the Kalahari desert, a safari in Etosha National Park, Erongo Wilderness Lodge in the central highlands and the coastal resort of Swakopmund. The trip ends with the towering dunes of Sossusvlei before you return to Windhoek.
It would be easy to add in extra nights to this self-drive tour, perhaps heading to Okonjima to visit the Africat Project, or you can add on our five night Southern Extension (see below) to head south to Luderitz and the Fish River Canyon.
Namibian Discovery self-drive at a glance:
1 night Olive Grove (BB), Windhoek
2 nights Mushara Bush Camp (DBB) OR OnGuma Bushcamp (DBB), eastern Etosha National Park
2 nights Taleni Etosha Village (DBB), Central Etosha
2 nights Erongo Wilderness Lodge (DBB), Erongo Highlands
2 nights Villa Marguerita (BB), Swakopmund
2 nights Kulala Desert Lodge (DBB), near Sossusvlei
1 night Bagatelle Ranch (DBB), Kalahari Desert
5 night Extension to Southern Namibia
As above until Kulala Desert Lodge. Then you continue south to Luderitz (long driving day) to spend two nights. Visit Kolmanskop ghost town, Diaz point or take a boat cruise. If you prefer, you can stay inland at Aus and visit Luderitz as a day excursion. This will reduce the long travelling day. (This will be a small extra cost as the inclusions are different.)
Next you head inland to the remarkable Fish River Canyon for a couple of nights. Finally you head back north, visiting the surreal Quivertree forest en route perhaps to spend your last night at Bagatelle Ranch in the Kalahari. If you have time, we recommend a second night here if possible.
1 night Dabis Guest Farm (DBB), en route to Sossusvlei
2 nights either Luderitz Nest Hotel in Luderitz (BB) or 2 nights Klein-Aus Vista in Aus (DBB)
2 nights Canyon Lodge (BB), Fish River Canyon
1 night Bagatelle Ranch (DBB), Kalahari Desert
1 night Windhoek
On arrival in Windhoek you collect your rental car ( Group L 4, Nissan Xtrail 4×4) and drive to Olive Grove for your overnight stay in the city.
Olive Grove Lodge, with its beautiful views over the city and surrounding mountains, is only minutes away from restaurants and shops. Rooms in the main house are spacious with a North African influence and earthy décor. Some have funky bathrooms incorporating organic oversize baths. Others are smaller with more classically elegant furnishings. All have spacious, furnished verandas. There’s a pool, terrace and secluded jacuzzi.
Accommodation: Olive Grove Guesthouse
Located in: Namibia - Windhoek
2 nights Eastern side of Etosha National Park
After an early breakfast you travel north to Mushara Bush Camp adjacent to Etosha National Park.
The Etosha National Park is one of the finest game parks in Southern Africa. It encloses a vast saltpan that becomes an immense, shallow lake in rainy periods, attracting great numbers of flamingos and other water birds. The open plains are home to tens of thousands of animals with large herds of springbok, gemsbok, zebra, wildebeest, elephant and, of course, the predators – particularly cheetah and lion. The diminutive Damara dik-dik is one of the rarer but delightful sightings.
Mushara Bush Camp is a true bush camp on the doorstep of Namibia’s magical Etosha National Park. Your days can be spent absorbing the peaceful bush surroundings or exploring Etosha National Park only 8km away, while the early evenings see a camp fire lit where you can exchange stories of the day’s wildlife sightings.
The 16 custom made tents at Mushara Bush Camp are built from a combination of canvas, wood and local limestone. With their own 8sqm; private veranda and roof-to-floor windows, these rooms are spacious and airy. Each large bathroom has an oversized window and shower looking into the surrounding bush. The brushed cement floors and lime stone walls keep the rooms cool from the afternoon sun. Four of these tents are ideally suited for families with small children as they have a sleeper couch for two children. A coffee station, safe deposit box, mosquito net, hair drier and fan are standard.
Onguma Bush Camp is a comfortable bush lodge in the Onguma private game reserve which borders Etosha National Park to the east. It makes for a well priced alternative to staying in the Etosha rest camps as it is so close to the Eastern gate of Etosha, and is ideal for family safaris.
Onguma Bush Camp offers 19 stone and thatch chalets all comfortably appointed with subtle décor and much-needed air-conditioning. The lounge and dining areas overlook a stunning waterhole. You don’t even have to leave the camp to see game – the wildlife comes to you! The 34,000ha private Onguma reserve includes savannah, bushveld, omuramba and dry pan and offers the opportunity to experience Africa in all her beauty and diversity. Age-old and well-worn migration routes, once used by elephant and buffalo, wander through Onguma’s three dry riverbeds.
Accommodation: Mushara Bush Camp
Located in: Etosha - Namibia
Accommodation: Onguma Bush Camp
Located in: Etosha - Namibia
2 nights central Etosha
After breakfast you travel through the Etosha National Park to spend two nights at Taleni Etosha Village, which lies on its own private concession just south of Etosha.
Taleni Etosha Village offers affordable luxury at Etosha National Park near Okaukuejo. Situated only 2 km from the Andersson entrance gate to Etosha National Park, Taleni Etosha Village uniquely combines affordability with comfort, style and exquisite cuisine.
Taleni Etosha Village is styled like a traditional African village, but with modern comforts! Uniquely positioned amongst the an indigenous Mopane forest, the accommodation units ensure maximum privacy and tranquility. The chalets all have a electronic safe, hanging space and tea/coffee-making facilities. The patio and outside seating area is an ideal space to sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty.
The facilities at the main lodge include an open-plan bar with big screen television, 2 sparkling pools plus a kiddie pool. A restaurant serving delectable cuisine as well as a fully stocked utility and curio shop.
Accommodation: Taleni Etosha Village
Located in: Etosha - Namibia
2 nights Central Highlands, DBB
Your next stop is an appealing wilderness retreat, Erongo Wilderness Lodge.
Erongo lies in the Erongo Mountains two hours north of Windhoek where the desert, mountain and bushveld eco-systems meet. This is one of Namibia’s most rewarding wilderness environments and the lodge is perfectly sited. Luxurious tented chalets under thatch are built on stilts and set among the granite boulders. Guided walks, nature drives, rock art sites, bird-watching and guaranteed relaxation are all on offer.
Accommodation: Erongo Wilderness Lodge
Located in: Central Highlands - Namibia
2 nights Swakopmund, B&B
A relatively easy driving day today, mostly on tar, to the coastal town of Swakopmund for 2 nights.
The appeal of Swakopmund lies in strolling about admiring the High German architecture, perhaps stopping at one of the several good seafood restaurants or coffee houses. There’s plenty to do and see such as the Seal Colony at Cape Cross, the flamingos at Walvis Bay or the Welwitschia “forest”. Visit the surreal landscape of the “Moon Mountains”, an area of deep chasms and interesting geological features, or perhaps try some sand-boarding, or quad-biking over the desert dunes.
Villa Margherita is a colonial villa in the heart of Swakopmund in Namibia, within walking distance of all the attractions of the town, which is a welcome relief after all the Namibian driving. It offers a fusion of Italian charm and Namibian colonial history with only 8 double rooms. It prides itself on offering seclusion and personal service. All the rooms have flat screen TV, safe, hairdryer and complimentary wireless internet connection as well as a sitting area. The honeymoon suite, with its own private entrance and garden offers the ideal retreat.
2 nights Namib Desert near Sossusvlei, DBB
Today you head across the gravel plains into the Namib Desert to Kulala Desert Lodge.
Sossusvlei rivals a visit to Etosha as the highlight of a Namibian holiday. You rise with the sun to see one of the most awesome sights in Namibia – the towering dunes of Sossusvlei, some of the largest in the world, rising more than 1000 feet above the desert. Many of our visitors lose their hearts to Namibia after seeing Sossusvlei. This is paradise for the photographer, as the shadows create a magnificent contrast of colours. Marvel at the gemsbok and other animals that manage to survive in these dry conditions. The energetic can climb one of the dunes for a panorama of the endless dune landscape and the changing play of light. (5 hours, 340km)
Kulala Desert Lodge is a small and intimate lodge with particularly fine cuisine. The design and decor are both imaginative and sensitive to the fragile ecosystem of the area. The lodge is 30km south of Sesriem the access point to Sossusvlei, with some of the highest sand dunes in the world. Nature walks and sundowner drives are also offered, with horse riding and hot-air ballooning optional extras.
Accommodation: Kulala Desert Lodge
Located in: Namibia - Sossusvlei & Namib Desert
Overnight in the Kalahari Desert, DBB
Set off early northwards to Bagatelle Ranch in the Kalahari Desert where you stay overnight. Here you can experience the unique Kalahari with its magical sunsets, stunning landscape and dramatic colours. Although classified as desert, the Kalahari has abundant tree and grass species which results in plentiful wildlife. Optional afternoon game drives are on offer from the ranch. (4 hours, 310km)
Accommodation: Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch
Located in: Namibia - Southern Namibia
Return to Windhoek for onward flight
This morning you return to Windhoek (approx 2½ to 3 hours drive) where you have some time at leisure before you need to drive to Windhoek Airport. You return your rental car at the airport prior to your onward flight.
Olive Grove Guesthouse
Olive Grove is one of our favourite places to stay in Windhoek – a stylish contemporary 11 room guest house in a quiet location close to the centre of Windhoek. Olive Grove Guesthouse has a small swimming pool set in a courtyard garden, sun loungers under shade and a large terrace, which is ideal for alfresco meals. Inside there’s a comfortable lounge, with a computer with internet access if needed, and open plan kitchen. One charming feature of Olive Grove Guesthouse is the secluded Jacuzzi on the balcony, which is a great way to relax on your first evening on holiday in Namibia.
Mushara Bush Camp
Mushara Bush Camp is a true bush camp on the doorstep of Namibia’s magical Etosha National Park, only 10km from the park gates. It is a truly family-friendly safari camp offering a down-to-earth tented bush camp experience. The Mushara Bush Camp accommodates 32 guest and 8 children in 16 custom made tents, built from a combination of canvas, wood and local limestone.
Onguma Bush Camp
Onguma Bush Camp is a comfortable family-friendly bush lodge in the Onguma private game reserve which borders Etosha National Park to the east. It makes for a well priced alternative to staying in the Etosha rest camps as it is so close to the Eastern gate of Etosha, and is ideal for family safaris. Age-old and well-worn migration routes, once used by elephant and buffalo, wander through Onguma’s three dry riverbeds. Family friendly with friendly hospitality.
Taleni Etosha Village
Affordable Luxury at Etosha National Park near Okaukuejo. Situated only 2km from the Andersson entrance gate to Etosha National Park, Etosha Village uniquely combines affordability with comfort, style and exquisite cuisine. 45 Luxury individual canvas suites are constructed on wooden decks and offer a fully air-conditioned bedroom with an unique semi-open en-suite bathroom.
Erongo Wilderness Lodge
Erongo is a luxury tented camp in the Erongo mountains, surrounded by rugged granite koppies. Here the desert, mountain and bushveld eco-systems of Namibia meet. Guided walks, nature drives, rock art sites, bird-watching and guaranteed relaxation are all on offer at Erongo.
Kulala Desert Lodge
Kulala Desert Lodge is a lovely lodge of 23 thatch and canvas ‘kulalas’ (rooms), with a unique private entrance to the Namib Naukluft Park, making it the closest lodge to the majestic red dunes of Sossusvlei. The design and decor at Kulala Desert Lodge are both imaginative and sensitive to the fragile ecosystem of the area. Eco-friendly adobe walls give a Moroccan ambience to the lodge and provide a cool refuge from the Namibian heat.
Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch
Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch lies on the edge of the southern Kalahari and offers the day and evening nature/game drives and a unique setting. Bagatelle Ranch is characterised by huge red sands dunes running parallel with the valleys in between the dunes commonly known as ‘streets’. A rambling old farmhouse was extensively upgraded and renovated to become the main Bagatelle lodge which effortlessly combines luxurious appointments with a homely Namibian ambience. Bagatelle Ranch looks out over a waterhole with the grassy Kalahari dunes beyond.
Enjoy attractive architecture, good German beer and great shopping in the friendly capital of Windhoek, the starting point for Namibia safaris.Read More
The rolling Central Highlands lie two hours north of Windhoek. Tour the Africat Foundation at Okonjima, a rehabilitation project for cheetah and other predators, or visit the Waterberg Plateau or the Erongo mountains.Read More
Sossusvlei & Namib Desert
To experience the high dunes of Sossusvlei at sunrise is one of the most mesmerising sights in Namibia, a must on anyone’s list…Read More
Southern Namibia includes several diverse attractions: the Kalahari Desert with the chance to interact with local people, the massive Fish River Canyon, the quirky fishing town of Luderitz and Kolmansklop ghost village…Read More