ultimate namibia road trip itinerary
3 weeks itinerary,  Africa,  Namibia,  Road trip,  Safari,  Wildlife

The Ultimate 3-week Namibia Road Trip Itinerary

Namibia is a country of superlatives. Featuring some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world, it is a paradise for road trip lovers. Namibia has it all: endless roads, wide, open landscapes, valleys, mountains, deserts, canyons, a roaring coastline, and a huge wildlife diversity. All of these, make Namibia one of the best places in the world to embark on a road trip. In this post, I will share with you my ultimate 3-week Namibia road trip itinerary, featuring the best things to do and the biggest highlights that this southern African gem has to offer.

Some Facts

Situated on the African West Coast directly above South Africa, Namibia is a country of contrasts.

It is the second least densely populated country in the world with only 2.2 million inhabitants (2 per km2). This translates to driving for hours without passing a single car.

It also boasts the 2nd largest canyon in the world, as well as the world’s oldest desert – the Namib, featuring some of the tallest dunes worldwide.

With so much to see and do, planning a road trip is not an easy task. Distances are far and only 12% of roads are tarred, meaning most roads are gravel. Some trips from A to B can easily take you an entire day.

Planning your Road Trip to Namibia

Unless you have over a month of time on your hands, chances are you will not manage to see everything that Namibia has to offer in one go. This makes careful preparation and planning essential. While planning, we wanted to make sure to see as much as possible, while still being able to relax and spend enough time actually enjoying the place.

We opted for the Namibia road trip itinerary below which had us drive an average of 250 kilometers per day and enabled us to see everything we absolutely wanted to see. 

This post will give you some useful insights, insider tips, and our full itinerary to help you plan your epic road trip to Namibia. This includes distances, actual driving times, our routes taken & stops on the way, where to stay, where to eat, and suggestions for activities.

Our main stops in the three weeks Namibia Road Trip:

  • 3 Days Fish River Canyon
  • 3 Days Sossusvlei / Namib Desert
  • 2 Days Swakopmund
  • 3 Days Damaraland (Spitzkoppe, Brandberg, Vingerklip)
  • 3 Days Etosha NP
Ultimate 3-week Namibia Road Trip Itinerary Driving Route
Our road map with the route drawn in

In between, we planned a few stopovers and made sure we split very long distances and took enough breaks.

In terms of accommodation, we wanted to mix it up a little and included lodges, guesthouses, and a few days of camping.

Without further ado, here comes our day-by-day route of our 3-week “Best of Namibia” road trip! Enjoy!

Day 1 | Windhoek to Mariental

As for most travelers, our Namibia road trip started in Windhoek. We took a direct flight from Frankfurt with Eurowings and landed at 8 am.

The car

Our car hire agency ASCO picked us up at the airport and took us to their rental office in downtown Windhoek. We can highly recommend them: they were super professional, took their time to explain all important things about the car and the equipment (spare tires, compressor & pressure gauge!) and gave us a safety briefing for driving in Namibia.

Make sure you check out my post “Namibia Travel Guide: 50 Essential Planning Tips” for some very helpful information to help you plan and prepare for your Namibia road trip.

For our Namibia road trip, we opted for the 4×4/4WD Toyota Hilux Double Cab with a rooftop tent. We wanted to make sure we can take on any gravel road and also try out camping. After about an hour we left ASCO and headed southward. Before leaving Windhoek we quickly stopped by Grove Mall with a large supermarket to get some basic groceries before hitting the road.

Hitting the road

After about an hour, at around 12 pm we hit the B1 highway and made our way towards our first stop Mariental. On the way, we admired the changing landscapes, the kilometers of nothingness passing by the windows, and stopped quickly at the Tropic of Capricorn sign.

namibia-road-trip tropic of capricorn sign

After checking in at our cute Guesthouse in Mariental we took a quick nap and then headed out for dinner at Padlangs Padstal – a family-run Restaurant / Campsite with a decent menu, cold Namibian beer, very nice spaces to sit outside, and a little mini-Zoo adjacent. It’s only a 5-minute walk from the Guesthouse, so perfect for grabbing a quick bite after the first long drive.

As Namibia was under curfew at 9 pm due to COVID-19, we made our way back into our room, had a glass of wine, and went to bed early.


Distance | 284km

Drive Time | 3 hours

Route | B1 via Rehoboth

Where to Sleep | Boutique Guesthouse Mariental

Where to Eat | Padlangs Padstal

Day 2 | Mariental to Keetmanshoop

After enjoying a big breakfast at our Guesthouse, we checked out and made our way south towards Keetmanshoop. On our way south the landscapes became even more remote and we drove for many kilometeres without passing a single car or village.

Along the way you will pass by the Brukkaros Moutain, a volcanic Crater towering over the flat landscape.

Once arriving in Keetmanshoop, we turned onto M29 to see the Quiver Tree Forest & Giant’s Playground. Make sure you reduce your tyre pressure to 1.8 bar, as you are driving on gravel road. Around 2pm we arrived at the Quiver Tree Forest Rest Camp, where we bought our pass for the Forest as well as the Giant Playground (100 N$ per person). At 5pm there is a cheetah feeding, so make sure you arrive early enough to check everything in the area out before hand.

The Quiver Tree Forest starts right on the property of Farm Gariganus and is worth checking out. The name quiver tree comes from the fact that the soft branches of the trees were used by Bushmen to make quivers for their arrows. These trees, which are actually large Aloe plants (Aloe dichotoma), come in all shapes and sizes. Here, several hundred of these trees can be seen growing among rocky outcrops, that are characteristic of the southern parts of Namibia. 

quiver tree forest namibia

In addition, you can see some wildlife such as rosy-faced lovebirds (which love building their huge nests in these trees) or some lizards or dassies. The place was declared a national monument some years ago.

A few kilometers down the road you will find Giant’s Playground: a series of large boulders with a round-track for a ~30-minute walk.

A few minutes before 5 pm we were back at the Rest Camp and watched the cheetah feeding, which was a nice add-on. The Rest Camp offers some campsites, bungalows, and a guest house, as well as a restaurant (pre-booking only). Although we didn’t stay the night, it looked very nice, so could be a good option.


Around 5:30pm we continued into Keetmanshoop and checked into our Guesthouse which offered some nice rooms and a shady, inner courtyard with tables & chairs. We headed out for dinner at Mohegans Grill (in a mall), as Schtzenhaus was not open due to COVID-19. Food was surprisingly delicious, so is also a good option.

With the curfew at 9 pm setting in, we spent the quietest New Year’s Eve in years at the Guesthouse and celebrated just the two of us with a glass of wine.


Distance | 230km

Drive Time | 2,5 hours

Route | B1, M29

Where to Sleep | Quiver Inn Guesthouse or Quiver Tree Forest Rest Camp

Where to Eat | Schützenhaus or Mohegan Grill

Activities | Make sure to check out Quiver Tree Forest & Giant’s Playground on the way down to Keetmanshoop. The cheetah feeding at the camp at 5pm is included in the price, so make sure you arrive by 2pm, get your ticket at the main reception and you’ll have plenty of time to see everything.

Day 3 | Keetmanshoop to Fish River Canyon

After breakfast and fueling up we hit the road to our first main destination: Fish River Canyon. After about 80km on the tarred B4, we lowered our tyre pressure and turned onto D463 for the last ~100km to the Lodge.

The landscape was really beautiful and scenic and we really enjoyed the ride. On the way you will find 1-2 farms where you could stop for a cold drink or a bite to eat. The last few km to the lodge can get a little bumpy, so I recommend a 4×4 vehicle, but it should also be possible with 2×2 (in good weather).

We arrived at Fish River Lodge at around 2pm, were greeted with a small welcome drink and an epic view over the canyon from the outside sitting area.

Fish River Canyon is 500 million years old (!) and about 160km long, 27km wide and up to 550m deep. Each of the chalets is situated directly on the rim with an own little terrace and fantastic views.

We spent the rest of the day soaking in the scenery, relaxing at their beautiful (and very cold) infinity pool and enjoying this beautiful place.

After dinner we took an evening Canyon Rim Walk (by ourselves) to the east. Make sure to take a headlamp or flashlight, as it’s very dark. On the way we stopped to admire the absolutely beautiful night sky: thousands of stars, many shooting stars and the Milky Way as well as two Nebulas were visible to the naked eye. We took some pictures  and just sat for a while, looking in awe at the spectacle in the sky.

For some useful tips on shooting the night sky, check out my post here (coming soon). Also, in this post (coming soon), you will find my complete guide on the most important photography equipment to pack to get stunning travel photos on any road trip.

Shot with my Sony Alpha 6000 and Samyang 12mm f/2.0 wide-angle lens


Distance | 177km

Drive Time | 3,5 hours

Route | B4, D463 & a private gravel road of Fish River Lodge (make sure you don’t turn down the C12, or you won’t get to the right side of the canyon!)

Where to Sleep | Fish River Lodge

Where to Eat | Fish River Lodge Restaurant

Activities | Chill by the pool & after dinner go for an evening canyon rim walk & marvel at the thousands of stars in the sky.

Day 4-5 | Fish River Canyon

Today we had booked a full-day guided Canyon Drive. Fish River Lodge is the only accommodation which has their own private roads into the Canyon and therefore provide the possibility of experiencing the Canyon up-and-close. We had originally wanted to do a Canyon Hike, but they run only between May-September, as during the other months it can get extremely hot there with temperatures climbing to 45°C.

After watching the sunrise from our Chalet and a hearty breakfast, we headed out around 7:30 am with our Guide Andy and a 4×4 “Safari” Land Cruiser. Throughout the tour, we learned a lot about the Canyon, the rocks & minerals, indigenous plants, animals, etc. En-route we stopped at several viewpoints and made a longer stop at some Rock Pools for lunch and a refreshing dip.

Standing on the “Edge of Eternity”

After getting back to the Lodge we relaxed for the rest of day, enjoyed some delicious dinner & the rest of the day.

The canyon drive was really worth it, we had a great time and were able to experience the beautiful landscape.

The next day we relaxed at the hotel and took a Canyon Rim Walk (to the west) in the afternoon. It was longer than we expected and had some beautiful spots and viewpoints. It was very nice to see different angles of the canyon, so I highly recommend doing this.

About half-way through out walk it started raining heavily and got very windy, so we rushed back to the Lodge. The rain unfortunately didn’t stop throughout the evening and the night, so we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to leave to Sossusvlei the next day, as we had planned. During heavy rains, gravel roads often become unpassable, as they turn into rivers. This caused us some unease, but we just had to wait until the next morning and see then.


Activities | Guided full-day Canyon Drive, Fat Biking & Canyon Rim Walk (East & West Circuits). Alternatively relaxing by the infinity pool with epic views of the canyon, enjoying some drinks, reading, etc.

Day 6 | Fish River Canyon to Sesriem

The next day we woke up unsure what the day would bring. At breakfast the Lodge Owner let us know that roads were okay to drive on, so we took a big sigh of relief. We hit the road early, as we had the longest driving day of the road trip ahead of us.

Along the drive, we had a few challenging situations due to the recent rains, such as flooded roads, huge puddles and even getting stuck in a knee-deep filled ford. Besides the adrenaline, nothing worse happened and with our 4×4 most of the route was no problem.

At Helmeringhausen we took our first break for some delicious apple pie and something to drink. The Helmeringhausen Hotel is a very cute property with a lovely garden and several guest rooms. If you have some extra time and need to break up the road, this might be a nice place to stay.

After fueling up we headed further north. We had originally planned to take the more scenic C27 through the Namib Rand Nature Reserve. This road would have taken us slightly longer, but we were willing to go the extra miles for beautiful scenery. After asking the owner of Helmeringhausen Hotel on advice which road to take, she told us that large parts of the road along the C27 are very difficult to drive and partially destroyed as a result of the heavy rains. She recommended we take the C14 and C19, with which we complied.

Honestly, even the C14 and C19 were absolutely beautiful to drive! On our way we passed the Tsaris Pass, with absolutely stunning mountains and landscapes. The road after Tsaris Pass was equally beautiful, going directly through the desert. We even saw lots of wildlife by the sides of the road, including Oryx, Springbok, Zebras and a warthog. It was almost like a mini-Safari.

After a long ~11-hour drive we arrived at the beautiful desert hills lodge in the late afternoon. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the beautiful sunset over the desert from our chalet-terrace, enjoying delicious dinner & admiring another beautiful night sky.



Distance | 462km

Drive Time | ~10-11 hours

Route | D463, D462, C14, C19 (if the weather is nice, try taking the C27 through Namib Rand Nature Reserve. Its a little further, but apparently more scenic). Stopover in Helmeringhausen for fuel & at the Helmeringhausen Hotel for some delicious apple pie & coffee in a beautiful garden setting.

Where to Sleep | Desert Hills Lodge

Where to Eat | Desert Hills Lodge Restaurant

Activities | This is the longest ride on the trip, mostly on gravel roads so it will take you all day. The scenery is beautiful, so enjoy this beautiful part of the road trip!

Day 7-8 | Sossusvlei

After breakfast we headed to Sesriem. There we got our 2-day permits for the Sossusvlei, located within the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Permits cost 80 N$ per person & 10 N$ per vehicle per day.

Around Sesriem, “the gate to Sossusvlei” there are several lodges, guesthouses & campsites catering to every budget. However, there are only two accommodation options located within the park and its two gates. The outer gate opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. The inner gate opens an hour before sunrise & closes an hour after sunset. This means, if you want to experience these two magical times of day in the park, you should aim for one of the two NWR-run (Namibia Wildlife Resorts) accommodations – Sossus Dune Lodge or the Sesriem Campsite. Needless to say, these are very popular options and fill up well in advance, so I recommend booking early.

namibia road trip

For more detailed information on planning your trip to Sossusvlei, check out my Ultimate Travel Guide “Visiting Sossusvlei & Deadvlei in Namibia”.

After entering the gates, our first stop was Sesriem Canyon. The canyon, carved out over millions of years by the Tsauchab River is about a kilometer long and up to 30m deep. There is water in some parts all year long and there are trees and bushes growing inside. We descended into the canyon, walked around a bit, and afterward on its rim for some nice vistas.


For our time in Sossusvlei, we decided to splurge a little with our budget and booked into the Sossus Dune Lodge within the inner gate. The Lodge itself is situated beautifully on the side of a hill and overlooks the Namib desert and its dunes.

In the afternoon, around 5:30 pm we headed out to Dune 45 (about 45km behind Sesriem gate) to catch the sunset. Standing around 85 meters tall, Dune 45 is not the highest dune in the area, but its accessibility and proximity to the entrance, make it one of the most climbed dunes in the Sossusvlei area.

namibia road trip

Most people who stay outside the gates head to this dune to catch the sunrise, however, at sunset we were the only ones. The climb is a little strenuous but the view at the top was absolutely worth it. We had a beautiful sunset and incredible panoramic view of Dune Valley sometimes called “moonscape-like”. 

namibia road trip

The next day, we had an early wake-up call today at 4:30, in time to catch the sunrise at Deadvlei (a salt-pan near Sossusvlei). We got breakfast packs from the Lodge, as we would not make it back in time for breakfast.

Unfortunately we had a flat tyre in the morning, so we had to get that fixed before hitting the 65km to Sossusvlei (very handy to have a compressor direclty in your rental car!). By the time we started driving, it was about 5:20 and the first cars were already making their way into the park.

namibia road trip
Deadvlei at sunrise

At 6:15 am we arrived at the 2×2 car park and decided to self-drive the last 5 km sand road to the 4×4 parking at Deadvlei. We reduced our tire pressure to 1.5 bar, engaged the 4×4 drive on High, and drove slowly in 1st and 2nd gear. We found the drive to be absolutely manageable, just try not to stop and follow the car tracks before you and you should be fine.

namibia road trip

When we arrived, we parked our car by the Deadvlei sign and hiked the remaining distance (about a 20-minute walk). Deadvlei is one of the most famous attractions in the Sossusvlei area and is home to the iconic, dead acacia trees. The contrast between the white salt-/clay pan, the dark trees, orange & red dunes, and the blue sky is truly a sight to behold and any photographer’s dream.

We spent about an hour walking around, admiring the trees and snapping a few shots. Afterward, we climbed the dune right by Deadvlei (not Big Daddy) for a fantastic view of Deadvlei from above and the surrounding Sossusvlei area and dunes. For the very sporty hikers, try tackling Big Daddy – towering 385 meters above the other dunes. The view from up there must be fantastic if you are willing to take the hike up.

Back by our car, we had a small breakfast picnic and afterward headed the remaining 2km of the sand road to Sossusvlei proper. Sossusvlei is another salt pan, above it sits Big Daddy’s counterpart: the Big Mamma Dune.

namibia road trip
View on Sossusvlei

By noon it got very hot, so having seen mostly everything, we decided to head back to the lodge and relax for the rest of the day in our chalet and by the pool. Over dinner, we got another beautiful sunset and watched as more and more stars popped up in the sky.


Distance | 160km

Drive Time | 3 hours

Route | C19, D826 & the 60km road to Sossusvlei

Where to Sleep | Sossus Dune Lodge

Where to Eat | Sossus Dune Lodge Restaurant

Activities | On day 1 check out Sesriem Canyon in the morning, check-in, and around 5 pm head out to catch the sunset on top of Dune 45. The next morning get up before sunrise and hit the road at 5 am to catch the sunrise at Sossusvlei. See Deadvlei & Sossusvlei and check out the Big Daddy & Big Momma Dune. If you still have time and are not overheated, you can check out Nara vlei & Hidden vlei. 

Day 9 | Sossusvlei to Swakopmund

After breakfast, we headed out of Sesriem and headed towards the coast. The road tooks us through absolutely stunning landscapes of the Namib-Naukluft Park and the Naukluft Mountains. About 70km down the road we took our first stop at Solitaire.

When approaching this little settlement at the edge of the desert, it feels like the middle of nowhere. With deteriorating, oldtimers set amongst decorative cactus plants it almost feels like a Western movie set. The place definately has character, as well as a cute cafe, petrol station and small shop. If that’s not enough reason a to stop, then it’s famous apple pie sure is.

namibia road trip

Legend has it that more than 20 years ago a Scottish adventurer, Percy Cross “Moose” McGregor, a former professional body-builder (and brilliant baker), by way of Zambia and South Africa, had ended up in Solitaire and planned to stay. As tourism grew, Moose, started baking apple pie to sell alongside the the coffees and beers. Over the years, weary travellers stopped over in Solitaire just to have a piece of this pie before carrying on their journey through the desert. So Moose became a legend and the pie became an institution.

namibia road trip

After Solitaire we passed the Gaub Pass and Kuiseb Pass – both again featuring stunning scenery. The last piece of road after the Kuiseb Pass to the coast in Walvis Bay was also the dullest. 150km of completely straight gravel road straight through nothingness and desert. Make sure you bring enough water here, some snacks and good soundtrack.

namibia road trip

Finally in the afternoon we arrived at the coastline – which offered a welcome “cool-down” after the heat of the desert. Walvis Bay and Swakopmund are usually about 10°C cooler than the rest of the country due to the Atlantic and its’ winds & tides. We headed to Swakopmund to our very cute Guesthouse “Eazy Sleep Accommodation”, where Dawid welcomed us very warmly. Upon Dawid’s recommendation we headed for dinner straight to the Fish Deli for some delicious seafood – and were not disappointed!


Distance | 363km

Drive Time | 6-7 hours

Route | C19, C14 & B2. You will pass Solitaire on the way – make sure to stopover here to try their delicious apple pie and check out the place itself. You will pass the Gaub- & Kuiseb Passes, after that its a long and rather dull drive for about 150km on a straight road through the desert. That part can get a little long, so make sure you have enough water with you and some good music.

Where to Sleep | Eazy Sleep Accommodation (Guesthouse) – Dawid is a wonderful host!

Where to Eat |Fish Deli

Activities | Walk around & check out Swakopmund town center and the Jetty

Day 10 | Walvis Bay & Swakopmund

Today we had a full-day combo sea & Sandwich Harbor “Marine Dune Day” Tour booked with Mola Mola. The total cost was 2670 N$ per person, so rather expensive, but we thought it was really worth it in the end.

In the morning we embarked on a catamaran for a 3-hour Marine cruise heading towards Pelican Point. The cruise featured up-and-close encounters with pelicans & seals and we spotted some dolphins in the sea. The cruise ended with delicious finger food, fresh oysters, and sparkling wine.

namibia road trip

Around noon we got off the boat at Waterfront Jetty and set out for a 4×4 dune excursion to Sandwich Harbor. We were the only ones on the tour, so we basically had a private tour with a guide, which was great.

Sandwich Harbor lies about 40km south of Walvis Bay and is part of the Namib-Naukluft Park. It can only be reached by 4×4 vehicles with a special permit.

namibia road trip

Sandwich Harbor itself is a saltwater lagoon, surrounded by extensive mudflats and reed-lined pools fed by freshwater springs. This makes it one of the most important wetland areas & breeding grounds for numerous bird species in southern Africa. 

The lagoon was once an open bay at its northern end, which became silted up over the years. In the past, it served several purposes, for instance as a shelter for whalers during the storms, or a trading station in the mid-1900sfor products such as cured fish, shark-liver oil, and sealskins.

namibia road trip

At the start of the tour, we stopped at the Walvis Bay Flamingo Colony and checked out the Salt mine. Afterward, we headed deeper into the Dorob National Park along the coastline, until reaching the Namib-Kaukluft Park with its famous dunes dropping steeply into the Atlantic ocean.

From there it was like a rollercoaster ride: we speeded up and down the dunes for an epic adrenaline-filled and exhilarating ride. It was so much fun! We visited several viewpoints to enjoy the wonderful views of this unique landscape. Midway we had some finger food and sparkling wine on the beach. En-route we saw some more wildlife, such as Springbok and Jackals.

Full of impressions and happy we arrived back in Walvis Bay. Unfortunately, we were not hungry after the meals during the tour, so we had to skip dinner at Anchors @ the Jetty Restaurant, which had been recommended to us by Dawid.

namibia road trip


Distance | 88km

Drive Time | 1,5 hours

Route | B2

Where to Sleep | Eazy Sleep Accommodation (Guesthouse)

Where to Eat | Anchors @ the Jetty Restaurant in Walvis Bay

Activities | Full-day tour with Pelican/Dolphin Cruise & Sandwich Harbor 4×4 Drive with Mola Mola tours. Alternatively a Living Desert Tour or just relax and enjoy the day in Swakopmund.

Day 11 | Swakopmund to Spitzkoppe

Today’s morning was dedicated to walking around and checking out Swakopmund – frequently referred to as Namibia’s adventure capital. With its well-preserved, colorful German colonial buildings, its palm-lined streets, and clean beaches it had a very nice, relaxed holiday feeling to it. The numerous cafés, restaurants, and cute (souvenir) shops add to this flair and make for a perfect stop to recharge batteries after traveling through Namibia’s remote interior. For adrenaline-junkies, Swakopmund also offers many outdoor activities including skydiving, sandboarding, or quad-biking.

namibia road trip

After breakfast at Cordes & Co. we walked around the city, by the lighthouse and finally headed to the Jetty and got a glimpse of this iconic landmark.

As we had struggled with a punctured tyre for the past days and kept pumping it every few hours with our compressor, we decided to get it fixed at the Dunlop Tyre store in Swakopmund before continuing our journey. This saved us lots of time and energy and was fairly cheap (about 150 N$). I recommend doing this in case you have a small hole, as it saves you the spare tyres and additional costs with the rental company.

After fueling up and grocery shopping in Swakopmund, we headed towards Spitzkoppe mountain, nicknamed the “Matterhorn of Namibia”, due to its distinctive shape. Spitzkoppe consists of a group of smooth granite peaks, the tallest rising about 1784m. This nearly 700 million-year-old mountain range stands out dramatically from the flat surrounding plains.

namibia road trip

Although we are not big on camping, Spitzkoppe is known for being one of the most beautiful campsites in the world. So if there is one spot you should definitely try it out: Spitzkoppe! A day-trip doesn’t do it justice, so we decided to spend two nights and camp with a rooftop tent for the first time. If you want a little extra comfort, there are some thatched rooms available or the Spitzkoppe Lodge nearby for a touch of luxury.

We had pre-booked, so when we checked in at reception we merely picked up our permit and headed into the reserve. Near the entrance, you will find the showers and flush toilets, as well as a bar and restaurant. If you don’t feel like cooking, you can grab a bite to eat there. We opted for some cold beers instead and set out to find our camping spot for the night.

namibia road trip

The beauty of the Spitzkoppe camping facilities is that they are very private. The campsites are separated by several hundred meters, so you almost feel like you are all alone. Each site has its own drop-toilet, braai/BBQ, and spot for making a campfire. Some sites are particularly good for catching the sunset, others are located right by the famous Bridge or Arch.

Check out my post (coming soon), for some useful advice on planning your perfect stay at Spitzkoppe, including tips on choosing the perfect camping spot, things to do, etc.

namibia road trip

For the first night, we chose site 10C, in the shade of a large rock, and set up camp there. We enjoyed some cold beers, made a campfire, had a delicious braai (Namibian BBQ), and watched the sunset over the Spitzkoppe valley. Afterward we sat by the campfire and watched the sky fill with stars.

namibia road trip


Distance | 152km

Drive Time | 1,5 hours

Route | B1, M43/D1918, D3716

Where to Sleep | Spitzkoppe Community Rest Camp

Where to Eat | Make your own Braai (BBQ) or eat at the Camp Restaurant (open until 5pm)

Activities | Find a cool camping spot, make camp, hike around, enjoy the epic sunset

Day 12 | Spitzkoppe

This morning we headed out early to hike up about half-way to Spitzkoppe to catch the sunrise over the valley on the other side. We climbed the rocky mountain wall and arrived at the top just after sunrise for a splendid panoramic view. We sat on a boulder and slowly watched the birds awake and the sky get brighter and brighter.

namibia road trip

After making the climb back down we had some breakfast and most importantly coffee while watching the animals becoming active around our campsite. We saw some dassies, ground squirrels, and many birds – including the Monteiro Hornbill which was very curious about our gas cooker.

After packing everything up, we headed towards the Bridge to decide on our campsite for the next night. We set up our table & chairs near site 6 and headed back out to discover the area around Spitzkoppe. We made our way towards “Bushman’s Paradise”, a series of about 4000-year-old rock paintings on the eastern side of the reserve. In order to stop vandalism, you need to hike up with a guide (who already wait there). He showed us the paintings and afterward took us on a mini-hike, showing us various plants and animals and teaching us some Kwekwe (click language).

namibia road trip

Although the entrance to the rock paintings is included in your permit, make sure to bring some cash as a tip for the guide. After our hike it started getting hot, so we headed to the bar for a cool drink and some showers. We relaxed in the shade a little and admired the impressive mountains directly in front of us. Pro Tip: get a cold ‘Rock Shandy’ after hiking. It’s a must-try: lemonade, soda, angostura bitter. Very refreshing! It became our Namibia road trip go-to drink.

In the afternoon we returned to our camp, set up our tent, cooked and then watched the beautiful sunset from the Bridge – also a very popular spot.



Activities | Explore around Spitzkoppe, take a sunrise hike, check out rock paintings e.g. Bushman’s Paradise or Golden Snake, check out the Bridge

Day 13 | Spitzkoppe to Henties Bay

The next day we were almost a little sad to leave, but headed back towards the coast to Henties Bay and the famous Seal Colony at Cape Cross.

Henties Bay is a quiet little town by the sea, with some excellent fishing opportunities and some Guesthouses. We checked in at noon, left our things in our room and then headed up the C34 to the Cape Cross Seal Colony.

Zeila Shipwreck near Henties Bay

Cape Cross was discovered in 1486 by Portuguese navigator Diego Cao while on a journey in search of a sea route to the Far East. Here he planted a stone cross or padrao, to mark being the first European of his time to reach this far down on the west coast of Africa.

Today Cape Cross is visited for its seal reserve – the largest in the world. At any time, the colony numbers between 200,000 – 340,000 animals. And visiting is absolute overstimulation of all senses – especially olfactory. It is hard to describe the smell at Cape Cross, but it is a mix of dead fish, excrements, and decomposing, dead animals. I personally have a sensitive sense of smell and staying for more than 20 minutes was almost unbearable.


That being said, it is definately an experience you will not forget so quickly and it is still worth visiting. Most tourists visit the place only once, and that is more than enough.

The seals themselves are very cute and in January we saw plenty of baby seals who were still suckling and taking their first dip in the Atlantic.

Some very warm advice: bring only what is absolutely necessary when you exit your car. Everything will smell like the colony for days afterward – including your watch, camera, belt, shoes, etc. Not to mention your clothes and even your car. Also, wear a scarf around your mouth and nose.


The entrance permit to the Nature reserve costs 80 N$ per person (foreigner) and 10 N$ per vehicle.

After getting back to our Guesthouse we quickly took a shower and handwashed our clothes with some soap in the bathtub.

For dinner we went to Fishy Corner just a few blocks away (about a 10-minute walk). We walked, but it might be advisable to take the car, especially if going in the dark.


Distance | 256km

Drive Time | 4 hours

Route | D3716, M43/D1918, C34

Where to Sleep | Desert Rendezvous Guesthouse

Where to Eat | Fishy Corner or GoFishy Restaurant

Activities | Take a trip up to the Cape Cross Seal Reserve (Beware – the smell is almost unbearable if you have a fine sense of smell. After visiting *everything* will smell for days – including your camera, car, shoes etc. Bring something to cover your nose & mouth!)

Day 14 | Henties Bay to Brandberg

After a very nice homemade breakfast in a cozy atmosphere we headed back inland towards the Brandberg. Owing its name to its glowingn red appearance at sunset, the massif lies near the Ugab River in the heart of Damaraland area. The Brandberg used to be a volcano and contains Namibia’s hightest peak – the Koenigstein at 2570m. In addition, the area boasts 44,000 rock paintings, the most famous of which is the Brandberg White Lady in the Tsisab Ravine.


The White Lady Painting can be see on an overhang in Maack’s Shelter, Maack being the surveyor who discovered it and other paintings in the Tsisab Valley in 1917. The painting however only caught international attention in 1955 after French archaeologist Henri Breuil copied and described it. Since then there has been a lot of controversy over its meaning. Latest studies seem to prove that the figure is neither white nor female, but rather a shaman or medicine man wearing white body paint. Surrounding the white lady are well-preserved pictures of animals and more human figures.


The Painting can only be visited with a local guide, which can be hired directly from the parking spot. After getting our entrance permit (60 N$ per person & 20 N$ per vehicle) we headed into the Brandberg mountain for an about 45-minute hike (about 2km one-way). Unfortunately, we arrived around noon-time, so it was very hot. Make sure you bring enough water, sunscreen and try arriving in the morning or late afternoon. Tours run until 4:30 pm (last departure).

Seeing the paintings was worth it and on the way, we learned a lot about Damara culture, plants, animals & customs from our guide John. After cooling down with a soft drink, we headed to the Brandberg White Lady Lodge just 16km away.


We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and cooling down in the pool. After dinner, we took a stroll through the very nice garden.

Sometimes there are elephants around on the property and near the river bed, however this time around they were up-river, so we didn’t see any.


Distance | 169km

Drive Time | 3 hours

Route | C34, C35, D2359

Where to Sleep | Brandberg White Lady Lodge

Where to Eat | White Lady Lodge Restaurant

Activities | Hike to see the White Lady Painting (about 4km both ways, 1,5 hours). Try being there early to avoid the heat and make sure to bring enough water with you, there is no shade on the way. 

Day 15 | Brandberg to Vingerklip

After breakfast and a final stroll through the garden, we made our way to our next stop in Damaraland – the Vingerklip. The first 20km drive was very bumpy along very bad gravel roads. Without a 4×4 we would have been lost. This alone took us about 1,5 hours. Make sure you ask for the directions and which road to take at reception, to save yourself some hassle.

The Vingerklip (finger rock) is an iconic rock needle, that is located near several table-mountain-like plateaus, reminiscent of monument valley – just a little greener.


We were very lucky to stay at Vingerklip Lodge for one night – a beautiful hotel – which turned out to be our nicest accommodation during our entire Namibia trip. The Lodge is located on a 3000 ha Farm (Bertram) that is surrounded by a game fence, protecting its wildlife. The lodge itsself has 1600 ha private reserve with 3 waterholes, providing the possibility to view various animals such as giraffes, different antelope species, warthogs & baboons.

There are 3 walking trails starting directly from the lodge, so we decided to go for a little 2-hour hike around Vingerklip lodge to check out the area. Afterwards we relaxed by the pool, enjoyed the delicious dinner and watched the beautiful sunset. During high season you can even eat on top of the plateau at their “Eagle’s Nest” restaurant, offering beautiful views over the entire valley.



Distance | 161km

Drive Time | 3-4 hours

Route | D2319, C35, D2743. The first 20km until reaching the C35 took us almost 2 hours. Ask at reception what the best route to take is leaving the lodge. The roads are very adventurous, I don’t recommend driving without a 4×4.

Where to Sleep | Vingerklip Lodge

Where to Eat |Vingerklip Lodge Restaurant

Activities | Trek down & see if you can spot any Damaraland Elephants; having arrived at the Lodge take a hike around the Vingerklip, climb up to Eagle’s Nest or take the South Plateau Route. Afterward relax at the pool and enjoy the beautiful views into the landscape. If you get lucky you will see some giraffes.

Day 16 | Vingerklip to Etosha

We got up in time for sunrise this morning and headed up to the Eagle’s Nest via the stairs leading up to the plateau. Up there we were greeted by a whole baboon family, which quickly scattered as we approached. The view from the top was very nice and we had a lovely vista into the valley and the whole lodge.


After breakfast we embarked on our way to Etosha National Park, excited for our upcoming safari. We stopped in Outjo for fuel and then headed north on C38 towards Anderson Gate and Okaukuejo Rest Camp.

Etosha National Park was originally proclaimed a conservation area in 1907 by German Governor Friedrich von Lindequist. Over time the area grew to become the largest game reserve in the world, extending over a vast area of approximatel 80,000km2. However, due to political considerations, it was progressively diminished to its present size of about 22,900km2.


The most defining feature of the park is the Etosha salt pan, a vast depression of around 4,700km2 of dry, white cracked mud. Besides the pan, the park has various vegetation-types, including grassy fields, savannah, forests and bush making for a diverse landscape. 

Presently Etosha is one of the largest game parks in Africa with 114 species of animals and over 330 species of birds, including the rare and endangered black rhino, cheetah and black-faced impala (native to Namibia).


Around Ethosha there is a plethora of Lodges, Guesthouses and Camps for every wallet. We opted for staying inside the gates in the NWR-run lodges, to have full flexibility and maximize our time from sunrise to sunset, when animals are most active.

After signing in at Anderson gate and getting our permit (you pay the fee at the reception of the first camp you visit) we headed up towards Okaukuejo Rest camp. Costs were 80 N$ per person per day and 10 N$ per vehicle per day.

We checked into our waterhole chalet & checked the waterhole if there were animals. In the dry season, which extends most of the year, Etosha’s animals and birds are dependent on about 30 springs and waterholes for water.

As it had been raining a lot the past days, there were not many animals, as there were smaller natural waterholes throughout the park, making sightings more difficult. During wet season, especially, the bird life at the main pan and Fischer’s Pan (near Namutoni) provide top viewings.


Around 3 pm we headed out for our first afternoon self-drive. We headed north towards Okondeka and then returned over Leeubron. Along the way we saw a myriad of springbok and zebras and some birds. Our highlights were a group of lions sleeping in the shade under a tree and a hyena under a tree. It was a good start!

For my full guide to planning a self-drive safari in Etosha National Park, click here and find out about 20 Do’s & Don’ts.


Distance | 213km

Drive Time | 3 hours

Route | D2743, C39 & C38 (via Outjo – Fuel up here)

Where to Sleep | Okaukuejo Camp / Lodge

Where to Eat | Okaukuejo Camp Restaurant

Activities | Afternoon self-guided safari drive, at sunset checking out the Okaukuejo Waterhole

Day 17-18 | Self-drive Safari in Etosha National Park

The next two days we spent cruising around main roads, secondary roads and waterholes in our car, armed with binoculars & a camera with a tele-zoom lens, lots of sunscreen, water and snacks. We had some really wonderful sightings along the way and admired the endless views on the Ethosha salt pan.


The second night we stayed in Halali Resort and the third night in Namutoni Camp.

While in Halali we did an evening game drive with a Guide, in order to get a break from driving and have the chance to be outside the gates after sunset. The tour left at 7pm and took around 2 hours. It was interesting seeing the animals in the dark with a red-light.


On all days we took our time and looked out for all types of animals and birds. We noticed that some people drove very quickly and were only after the “Big-5”, not being interested in sightings such as giraffes. We had a different approach, as we believe that each animal is special. So on the 3rd day, we still stopped for some giraffes, even just to watch as they majestically cross the road.

Our best sightings:

  • Elephants crossing in front of us
  • Several lions crossing in front of us
  • Rhinos (black & white) crossing in front of us
  • A hyena family with 5 cubs
  • Cheetahs gazing dreamily into the savannah
  • Lots of giraffes
  • Lots of zebras – with babies
  • Lots of antilopes – with babies, including Springbok, Impala, Kudu & Steenbok
  • Dikdiks
  • A warthog
  • Cape foxes
  • And many birds, such as: long-tailed paradise whydah, bee-eaters, lilac-breasted roller, African hoopoe, four different hornbill species, laughing dove, grey go-away-bird, African spoonbill, greater flamingos, marabou storksvultures, eagles, falcons, herons, secretary birds and owls.

Overall we had our best sightings around Namutoni. So if you are constrained on time and cannot squeeze in 4 days in Etosha, I’d recommend you focus around Namutoni area for a chance to see as much wildlife as possible. Especially the Fischer’s Pan drive, Dikdik drive, and Stinkwater provided us with amazing sightings.

Also, make sure to speak to the guides at the camps. They can give you some input on game movements and provide useful insights on where to head next. You can also check the sightings-books at the receptions, although we found them not to be up-to-date most of the time.



Distance | ~250km (in 2 days)

Drive Time | the entire day, every day

Route | Drive around the loops, check out the waterholes, the lookout points & look for animals

Where to Sleep | Halali Camp, Namutoni Camp

Where to Eat | At the camps

Activities | Self-drive safari around Halali & Namutoni. I recommend doing one evening game drive with a guide, as you will have to chance to be out after sunset and learn a little more about the animals.

Day 19 | Etosha NP (King Nehale Gate, Andoni) to Tsumeb

Having heard from one guide at Namutoni camp that the elephants migrate north during the rainy season, we changed out plans on short notice and decided to leave Etosha through the King Nehale gate in the north near Andoni, instead of through Von Lindquist gate near Namutoni.

The last day we left the Camp at sunrise and headed for the Dikdik drive, which provided us many beautiful sightings. I highly recommend getting into Etosha as early as possible or during sunset, as animals are most active then.


Unfortunately the weather got rainy in the morning, so we headed up north in an attempt to escape the rain a little. We were in luck and the further we headed north, the sunnier it got. On our last stretch of road north of Tsumcor waterhole, around the Stinkwater area we had some wonderful sightings of lions and elephants, so the perfect end to our time at Etosha.


We left the park around 2pm through the King Nehale Gate and set out for Tsumeb along the B1. On the way we passed by a checkpoint for foot-and-mouth disease, which took some time to pass as a long line of cars.


Tsumeb is an industrial town about 110km south of Etosha. There are several guesthouses and hotels, as well as some parks and a museum about mining. It’s a good stop for breaking up the long drive from Etosha to Windhoek. We stayed at TeaterHuis, a very nice guesthouse with rooms in a real theater in the backstage-area. Upon recommendation from our host, we ate at the Kupferquelle Grill.


Distance | 182km

Drive Time |2,5 hours

Route | B1

Where to Sleep | TeaterHuis Guesthouse

Where to Eat | Kupferquelle Grill

Activities | Use this day as a fourth Safari day. Get up with sunrise and begin at 6:30AM when gates open. Your permit is valid until 3pm that day. After that drive down to Tsumeb.

Day 20 | Tsumeb to Windhoek Area (Brakwater)

Today was dedicated mostly to driving, so after breakfast we headed south on the B1 towards Windhoek. On the way we passed some more breathtaking scenery: the Otavi mountains right outside Tsumeb, the Omboroko- & Omatako mountains further south, the Waterberg Plateau, etc.


We stopped in Otjiwarongo for some lunch & coffee at Kari’s Coffee shop. It was a very cute place with a nice garden, nestled among trees. I can recommend the homemade chicken pie. For those with some more time, Otjiwarongo has a famous crocodile farm, which can be visited.

After our stopover we headed further south until arriving at Immanuel Lodge, about 30km north of Windhoek. We wanted to spend our second-to-last evening outside the city and enjoy the beautiful nature for a last time. At the lodge we treated ourselves to a massage and one of the best meals during our trip: a delicious 4-course-menu prepared by Stephan – Chef & owner of the lodge.



Distance | 418km

Drive Time | 4 hours

Route | B1, D1474 (Brakwater North Exit). Stopover in Otjiwarongo for coffee at Kari’s Coffee and possibly the Crocodile Farm.

Where to Sleep | Immanuel Lodge

Where to Eat |Immanuel Lodge Restaurant

Activities | If you like museums, you can check out the little Mining Museum in Tsumeb. Afterwards enjoy the beautiful landscapes on the way south. On your stopover in Otjiwarongo, check out the Crocodile Farm if you have time. At the lodge, I highly recommend getting a 60-minute full-body massage. It is heavenly after the past weeks travelling. Afterwards relax by the pool.

Day 21 | Brakwater to Windhoek

As for most visitors, our trip ended in Windhoek. After delicious breakfast we headed towards the city and first checked into our hotel, dropping off all our luggage.

namibia road trip

Next we headed out for some sightseeing, stopping by the Christus Church and hunting for some souvenirs – such as Biltong. We had late-lunch at Joe’s Beerhouse, an institution in Windhoek and all of Namibia. On the menu you can find every type of game meat you can imagine. They also have a great selection of Namibian beers.

Bushman’s Sosatie at Joe’s Beerhouse

Around 3pm we dropped our car off at ASCO and they gave us a ride back to our hotel, from where we set out to visit the town center by foot. We checked out the Namibian Craft Center for some nice souvenirs and walked through downtown windhoek, along Independence Drive.


In the evening we hit the Sky bar and rooftop terrace of the Hilton (the actual reason we decided to stay there). From there we enjoyed the spectacular view and sunset over Windhoek and the surrounding mountains. With a cocktail, we said good-bye to this wonderful country which made us fall in love with it from the start and promised ourselves to be back soon.


Distance | 26km

Drive Time | 0,5 hours

Route | B1

Where to Sleep | we stayed at Hilton Hotel (very central & very nice rooftop bar and pool); there are many options of Guesthouses, B&Bs & Lodges in the area

Where to Eat | For a relaxed atmosphere, a Namibian “institution” – Joe’s Beerhouse. You can find any game meat your heart desires. Try “Bushman’s Sosatie” to get a taste of crocodile, springbok, oryk, kudu & zebran. For a little more upscale dining check out Stellenbosch Wine Bar for steak or Cape Town Fish Market for fish. 

Activities | Return your rental car and check out downtown Windhoek. Stroll through the center, check out the Namibian Craft Center, the Christus Cathedral and possibly the botanical gardens.

So, what’s next?

In summary, this itinerary was perfect for us. It had a wonderful mix of nature, wildlife, and outdoor adventure. Our Namibia road trip had so much to offer, that it is hard to pinpoint our Highlights, as every part of our trip was absolutely breathtaking. However if we had to pick out Top-5 Namibia road trip Must-See Spots, they would be Etosha National Park (amazing for safari), Sossusvlei, Spitzkoppe, Vingerklip & Swakopmund (Sandwich Harbor).


If you don’t have three weeks for your road trip, below are some suggestions to tailor this itinerary to two weeks (any less time would not do the country justice :-).

Ideas for a 2-week Itinerary

For a 2-week Namibia road trip itinerary, I would recommend you opt either for the north OR the south, depending on your preferences.


If you are an absolute wildlife-lover, I recommend you skip the South: Fish River Canyon & Quiver Tree Forest. Instead head from Windhoek directly to Sossusvlei, via Mariental B1 & Maltahöhe C19. This will save you 5 days. We had 3 nights in the Sossusvlei area. You can cut this down to 2 nights to save one more day.


If you don’t want to miss out on the 2nd largest canyon in the world & want to take magical pictures in Kolmanskop Ghost Town by Lüderitz, I recommend you skip Etosha National Park and instead do 1-2 days mini-Safari in a Private Game Reserve (such as Erindi or Okonjima). They have excellent ratings and will enable you to travel down south while still not missing out on wildlife entirely. This will save you 4-5 nights.

In addition, You could save a few nights by skipping Cape Cross Seal Colony, Brandberg & Tsumeb (and instead go directly to Windhoek, which is feasible).

We’ll be back for Round 2

After only a few days in Namibia, we had already decided that we will definitely be back for Round 2. The beautiful landscapes, nature, mountains, valleys, endless roads, and excellent wildlife spotting made us fall in love with this country immediately.


Next time we are planning to see some of the things we did not manage to see this time around, such as the Caprivi Strip & possibly the Okovango Delta by addition Botswana,  the Kalahari Desert, Epupa Falls & the North, Skeleton Coast National Park, and Kolmanskop & Lüderitz.

Following this link, you will find my Google Map complete with my itinerary, driving route, all accommodation & places to eat.

I hope this post gave you lots of useful insights and insider tips & inspiration for planning your ultimate Namibia road trip. It is an absolutely beautiful country, so I am sure your trip will be absolutely memorable. For any thoughts, tips, or feedback leave me a comment below. Happy planning!


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