The long road, Fish River Canyon, Namibia

Sand & Safari: A road trip through Namibia

In Africa, Namibia, Our Journeys, Road Trips, Trip-Types, World Travel by GaryLeave a Comment

The story of adventure on tarmac & dirt track.

Heidi - offroad,Lüderitz, Namibia

An adventure we had, glorious adventure.

We landed in Windhoek, Namibia's capital, and were met at the airport by Advanced Car Hire We had selected a twin cab 4x4, with GPS, a long range fuel tank, and a fridge. We were presented with Heidi {A name we later gave the truck}, a freshly washed Toyota Hilux and we began the briefing. If you are interested in the specifics of the briefing & other tips then I cover that in The Hilux briefing.

It was a relatively short journey to the hotel for the night, The Olive Grove Guesthouse, via a fuel station and a supermarket for supplies. The next morning we headed off for our first destination of the Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch.

The drive was only to be around 191miles/308km, and the majority on tarmac, but this was all new, and we had no idea how long it would take to cover these distances in Namibia.

It took a little while to get used to the softness & height of the Hilux. The Toyota was a million miles away from the firmly sprung, German, sports car back home. However she was to be our companion over the next 3 weeks, so I had to get used to her. The ponderous nature of the beast, and my first stall the following morning set us off on the wrong foot, but motoring along outside Windhoek we started to get acquainted.

A leg stretch

To break that first segment we decided to visit Lake Oanob, just outside Rehoboth. It gave us the chance for a leg stretch, and take in the warmth of the African sun. After 20 minutes we were back on the road, heading for the Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch and making good time.

A helpful guide

If you're considering a road trip through Namibia, then your in for a holiday of a lifetime. I always find it incredibly useful to plan our trips with the help of a guide book.

Take a look at this informative Bradt guide, it will give you great tips and advice.

And then the dirt trails

However, we got our first taste of the dirt roads, that would become such a large part of this road trip, some 15 miles (24km) from the ranch. If I thought the truck was loose on the tarmac, things got more interesting on the deep red sand blown from the western edge of the Kalahari desert. However the trail underneath was firm so no need to think about adjusting the tyre pressures, but it was worth opening the ventilation flap at the rear of the truck to keep the dust down.

Now we start to see our first wildlife, an Oryx, a couple of springbok and then the comedy moment. To the side of the road, behind a tall wire fence of a ranch, we spot an Ostrich, and he spots us. Now you would expect he will pick a direction away from the truck, but no, this creature decides to run in parallel to us. I'm feeling bad about this so I slow, and the Ostrich slows, and I try to overtake the bird, only for him to speed up again. This ridiculous scenario, continued for a further 3 phases until he decided to dart left back into the safety of his enclosure.

We pull into the main gate and head off to reception, before finding our lodge, even after this short drive the Hilux is looking dirty.

The Lodge, Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch, Namibia

For more on our adaventures at the Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch Why not check out our posts - "Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch, Namibia", "A Morning Game Drive, Kalahari Desert" & "Cheetah Feeding & Game Drive, Namibia"

Why not?

Start creating your own adventure, and discover the amazing scenery & African wildlife of Namibia for yourself.

We chose British Airways, and it was all done with a few clicks, a brief stopover in Johannesburg, and our luggage was there for our arrival in Windhoek.

The road to Fish River Canyon

So after 2 days on the ranch we set off to our next destination the Canyon Roadhouse.

So heading back down the dirt track that we had arrived on and re-joining the B1 at Hardap before continuing south on the 261miles/421km journey to our next destination.

It was going to be a reasonably long drive, so we opted to stop at Keetmanshoop to stock up on some road snacks & water.

Our love of biltong, from our previous trips to Zimbabwe, made the choice of provisions easy.

Canyon Roadhouse, Fish River Canyon, Namibia

So stocked up we headed onto Caynon Roadhouse, deep in the south of the country and less than 60 miles (100km) from the South African border. Checkout the Fish River Canyon & the Roadhouse post for the details of the stopover to see the largest canyon in Africa.

Canyon Roadhouse, Fish River Canyon, Namibia

A small repair job needed

Just as we was about to leave we spotted a flat. However those ingenious Africans got us going with a makeshift repair that lasted the entire trip.

Back on the road again

The long road, Fish River Canyon, Namibia

So heading onto our next destination of Lüderitz, a mere 241miles/389km , and the last section along the infamous diamond 'Sperrgebiet' area where you are prohibited from leaving the roadside. With this in mind we planned to stop at the small town of Aus for a leg stretch, comfort break & restock of provisions.

The total journey lasted around 4.5 hours, and the last few miles as you entered the town through the sand dunes was stunning. Watching sand being blown across the road, and appearing to flow was magical, and slightly mesmerising - not a great combination when you're driving a strange vehicle, in a different country.

Arriving safely at the Nest Hotel in Lüderitz, we checked in and set about exploring the town

We've more from this part of the trip in "Lüderitz, Namibia" & "Kolmanskop - The gallery"

Into the heart of the Namib desert

After a couple of days in Lüderitz, including a few hours exploring Kolmanskop, we hit the road again. That was not before our first fill up with a 120 litres of diesel. We had covered around 700miles on that tank so we had a rough idea of what to expect going forward.

This time we're looking at a 292miles/471km route, with large sections being on dirt trails now.

In total we spend just over 6 hours in the saddle before arriving at Sossus Dune Lodge, a short drive from Sossusvlei.

The view from the Sossus Dune Lodge, Sossusvlei, Namibia

This was to be our down time, apart from a couple of organised trips we took it a little easier.

Life extinct at Sossusvlei, Namibia

In search of the coast

The next destination was to be Swakopmund, and so we set off on our 225miles/363km journey with a planned pit stop at Solitaire, famed for its bakery amongst other things.

The pier, Swakopmund, Namibia

Our route takes us via Walvis bay which we will be returning to for the Little 5 Safari & The Sandwich Bay Tour the following day - but first we need to find the Swakopmund Guesthouse

Heading inland

Our next destination is inland, we're heading into Damaraland, but that's not before we head along a section of the infamous skeleton coast for 47 miles (76km) passing the shipwreck of the Zeila along the way. It also gave us the chance to fill up again at Hentiesbaai as we had a long run before any further towns.

Another victim of the skeleton coast, Swakopmund, Namibia

As we head away from the coast we lose the tarmac roads, and back onto dust tracks.

I took the decision not to stop and open the dust flaps in the back of the truck - a decision I regret to this day as we still find sand appearing in the strangest of places.

We arrived at Camp Kipwe, our base for the next two nights in plenty of time for the sundowners, tomorrow will see us go off in search of those elusive Desert Elephants.

Sundowners at Camp Kipwe, Twyfelfontein, Namibia

Now I am being spoilt

The hop to Grootberg Lodge is a mere 76miles/123km, so a relaxing start and all seems to be going well until we arrive at the lodge.

It turns out the track from the main road to the lodge is going to be testing but unphased I set about the steep climb in Heidi, trying to blot out the whimpering from Janis who has a clear view of the descent should I put a wheel wrong.

The view from Grootberg lodge along the Klip pass, Grootberg, Damaraland, Namibia

Here we are greeted with stunning views, and the chance to meet the Himba people, before entering the final phase of this amazing trip.

Onto Etosha National Park

To date we have seen some astonishing wildlife, but nothing has prepared us for what to expect at Etosha.

We set off from the Grootberg Lodge towards Kamanjab (60miles/96km) before heading to the Galton gate, the western entrance of the park, a further 42miles/67kms along the road.

From there it is a short 27 miles/43kms to the Dolomite Camp - that is of course if you don't detour to take in the watering holes, as we did.

Spotted at the watering hole, Etosha National Park, Namibia

Still plenty of time to arrive at camp before Gin O'Clock.

Family of Elephants, Etosha National Park, Namibia

We then move along the park to Okaukuejo Camp, where we fell upon some Lions at a watering hole. Surprised to say the least. We also carefully tracked a Rhino before our final stop in the park at Halali Camp

The final leg(s)

So our penultimate stop was at Waterberg Plateau Lodge. From the Halali Camp to Waterberg was a 288miles/465km jaunt.

After you leave the park you had the pleasure of tarmac.

But were my ears playing tricks on me? The whine from the transmission seemed to be getting louder, or was that just my imagination?

This was to be our last fuel stop, and we chose Tsumeb, a pleasant town not dissimilar to a nice UK town, but with that real African feel to it

As we were on the north west edge of the Kalahari desert again the red sands returned, along with the giant termite mounds lining the roadside.

We only had the final leg, from Waterberg back to Windhoek. A short journey of 182miles/294km but those noises were playing with me.

However that didn't stop us dropping the luggage off at the Olive Grove, back where we started from, before heading into town to pick up the last minute gifts & mementos.

We pulled back into the hotel and the final distance was 2,436miles/3,929km - Heidi has made it, but I think she could now do with a rest.

The following morning Advanced Car Hire collected Heidi after a check over.

The details of the trip from the GPS data logger.

= Contains an estimate becaue I forgot to turn the GPS logger on!

Day 1: Windhoek - 25miles/40km -
Day 2: Kalahari (Mariental) - 191miles/308km
Day 3: Kalahari (Mariental) - Parked
Day 4: Fish River Canyon (Karas) - 261miles/421km
Day 5: Lüderitz - 241miles/389km
Day 6: Lüderitz - 36miles/58km
Day 7: Sossusvlei (Sesriem) - 292miles/471km -
Day 8: Sossusvlei (Sesriem) - Parked
Day 9: Swakopmund - 225miles/363km
Day 10: Swakopmund - Parked
Day 11: Swakopmund - Parked
Day 12: Damaraland (Twyfelfontein) - 201miles/324km-
Day 13: Damaraland (Twyfelfontein) - Parked
Day 14: Damaraland (Palmwag) - 76miles/123km -
Day 15: Damaraland (Palmwag) - Parked
Day 16: Etosha - 188miles/303km
Day 17: Etosha - 113miles/182km
Day 18: Etosha - 117miles/189km
Day 19: Waterberg - 288miles/465km - -
Day 20: Windhoek - 182miles/294km

= Fuel Stop

Inspired to create your own Namibian Road Trip?

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