Self Drive Namibia: Road Trip Itineraries and Ideas
Namibia Road Trip. Our 2 Weeks Namibia Self Drive Itinerary From Windhoek to the most beautiful spots in the country – Costs, the Best Campsites, Roads and Tips
Namibia is the second least populated country in the world, after Mongolia, with a population of 2,639,305 in a territory 22% larger than Texas. For this reason, backpacking in Namibia is not that easy, public transport is nonexistent in most parts of the country. Hitchhiking, on the other hand, can be a bit easier during peak season, when several overlander tourists are around.
The best way to explore Namibia is with your own transport, we did it with a Land Cruiser, perfect to travel in every remote corner of the country. We arrived in Windhoek and from there we drove to Zambia and Malawi, you can follow this itinerary even if you are not going to cross into another country, you’ll find the map of our Namibia road trip below.
Is it Expensive to travel Namibia?
Disclosure: Some of our articles contain affiliate links. This comes at no additional cost for you and helps us keep this website up and running. (as Amazon Associates we earn commission from qualifying purchases)
Yes and no, the main cost of traveling Namibia is car rental and petrol consumption. You can easily rent a car with all the necessary equipment (fridge, rooftop tent, and so on) and insurance. The price for a Toyota Hilux, the most common car for rent, is about 100 USD per day so consider 1400 USD for a 2 weeks road trip. If you are 4 people traveling the cost is not excessive and you can share the petrol, which is the main expense. If you are a group of 4 people, camp every night and cook your own food the cost is about 50 USD per person per day.
Namibia Self Drive Trip – Travel Costs
Car Rental: around 100 USD per day for a 4×4 Petrol: a Toyota Hilux consume from 6.9 to 11.1L/100km. The price of petrol is now (August 2022) 22.280 Namibian dollars per liter (1,30 USD) Camping: 150 Namibian Dollars per person (9 USD) Rooms: 25-50 USD – In the cities, you can find convenient AirBnB, especially if you are a group of 4 people Domestic Beer: 1,30 USD National Parks and Tourist Attractions: Etosha is one of the cheapest NP in Southern Africa, for SADC citizens the entrance fee is 100 NAD per adult per day, and for foreigners is 150 NAD plus 50 NAD for the car. Other attractions are not very cheap, especially for not SADC citizens, for example, the entrance fee to the Petrified Forest is 20 USD per person.
Our Namibia Road Trip Itinerary – 2 Weeks
Day 1: Windhoek to Sosselsvlei via Rehoboth and Spreetshoogte Pass Day 2: Visit Sosselsvei Day 3: Sosselsvlei to Swakopmund Day 4: Swakopmund – Day trip to Moon Landscape + Dunes Day 5: Swakopmund to Spitzkoppe Day 6: Spitzkoppe to Skeleton Cost passing from Cape Cross Day 7: Skeleton Cost to Haisra Campsite – Petrified Forest Day 8: Oppi-Koppi Day 9: Sesfontain Day 10: Epupa Falls Day 11: Epupa Falls Day 12: Etosha Day 13: Etosha Day 14: Back to Windhoek or proceed to Zambia or Botswana
Day 1: Windhoek to Sossusvlei
Windhoek is a very nice town. It is quite small, you can take a walk in the city center in a couple of hours. It is the perfect place to stock food and drinks you might need during your Namibia road trip, there are several malls with everything you can think of.
In Windhoek, you have to try at least one of the very good restaurants. Probably the most famous is Joe’s Beerhouse, which opened in 1991 and become an icon of the city. If you want to try some authentic game meat, they offer a huge variety of choices including crocodile, zebra, kudu, and springbok. They also make burgers, and pizzas and they have a vegetarian menu. On the cultural side, we suggest visiting:
Spreetshoogte Pass, Solitaire and Sossus Oasis Campsite
From Windhoek, we took the B1 to Rehoboth, and from there we left the tar for the D1261 to Spreetshoogte Pass, the road that leads to the pass is very beautiful, colors constantly change and you can meet wildlife on the road, oryx and other antelopes are very common but you can also spot giraffes, wildebeest, warthog, leopards, and ostriches. The pass was erected during World War II by farmer Nicolaas Spreeth, who lived at the foot of the escarpment. It is officially not allowed to drive this road with trailers because it can get very windy.
From the pass, the D1275 will bring you to the junction for Solitaire, a must-see on this road, just to try the famous apple pie, take silly pictures aboard the old rusted cars, and imagine how life was in this remote corn of our planet. They also run a camping and a lodge, but we decided to proceed to Sesriem and Sossusvlei. If you are going in the other direction, to the coast, remember that Solitare is the last petrol station on the road.
The last kilometers to Sesriem are on tar, once arrived at the petrol station in town you can book the camping nearby and pay there, they accept Visa. The camping is called Sossus Oasis Campsite and it was the cheapest option we could find just outside the park. They have private camping spots (with private ablution) or common ones (with shared ablutions). We booked a common campsite for 175 NAD per person, the price can vary according to the season. There is a nice swimming pool, hot showers, braai facilities and oryx walking inside the campsite in the early morning.
The entry fee to the park is N$250 per person for adult foreigners and N$50 for the car. The road is tar for 60 km but the last kilometres before the iconic Deadvlei is just sand, you need to deflate your tires or, if you prefer, you can park and take a shuttle for N$180.
Day 3: Swakopmund – Dunes, Ocean, and Moon Landscape
Swakopmund is a relaxed small town facing the Ocean, with interesting architecture and good restaurants. It is a perfect base for some day trips or activities around the town. Among the most popular:
We personally did the quad and buggy dunes drive, very funny and wonderful landscape. The owner of our Airbnb was very kind and borrowed us 3 sandboards but we didn’t have time to try them. After a couple of hours on the dunes, we went to visit the Moon Landscape. The valley of the Swakop River forms a spectacular moonscape, perfect for pictures.
Be sure to visit Goanikontes Oasis Rest Camp, a fantastic place to spend a few hours, the restaurant is amazing. They also have bungalows and a campsite if you want to stay for the night. There is a farm with goats, chickens, a lama, and a pond to fish, it is a perfect spot for families. You can take a few nice hikes from the Oasis through the moon landscape. Bring water and sunscreen.
After the Oasis you can proceed to the Welwitschia Plain, where you’ll see 1500 years old specimens of this fascinating plant. Consider that you will see them on the Skeleton Coast road, so if you don’t have much time or are not very much into plants, you can skip it. We spent another day exploring the town, doing some shopping, and eating an authentic pizza at Gabriele’s Italian Pizzeria. Next to the restaurant, you’ll see the Swakop Info Office where you can enquire about all the activities available.
Day 5: Spitzkoppe
About 120 km from Swakopmund, Spitzkoppe is a paradise for hiking and camping. We absolutely suggest you to sleep inside the park, the view is amazing and actually it is cheaper than camping outside the park. They will give you a map so you won’t miss the main attractions and viewpoint. There are a few rock paintings sites, one is just along the road and the other, Bushmen’s Paradise, requires to climb a rock with the help of a chain. In both cases you need a guide, they are already there and there is no fixed fee, you’ll give them a tip at the end of the tour.
Day 6: Cape Cross & St Nowhere Campsite
Cape Cross is one of the beaches along the Namibia Coast where you can see the Cape fur Seals, about 1,5 hours north of Swakopmund. You can spend as much time as you want here but, we have to say, the smell is so intense you can’t stay for a very long time, especially because of the corpse of dead seals scattered a bit everywhere.
There is a wooden pathway among the seals where tourists can walk, remember to close the gate behind you, seals can be aggressive. We have read many comments saying the seals were on the path and did not let the tourists pass, when we visited (July 2022) the path was in good condition, so probably was recently maintained. The reserve is open from 10.00 to 17.00, you can camp 1 km from the colony, there is no smell there. We went to check the camping, it looked nice but the campsites are directly on the beach, it was not a good idea in July, very windy and cold during the night.
St Nowhere Campsite and Bungalows
After the visit to the Cape Cross seals reserve, we kept driving toward the Skeleton Coast and we decided to stay at the last campsite before the Park: St Nowhere Camping. We decided not to camp, it was too cold and the price for a bungalow was very convenient, around 35 USD, with two bedrooms, a fully furnished kitchen, a fridge, and a huge freezer for the fishermen who came here during the weekends. There are also bigger bungalows that can accommodate up to 8 people. There is a small shop where you can buy basic goods, meat and wood. The place is simple but really special, we really felt like to be at the end of the world. We took a walk on the beach: bones of seals, hyenas, and jackals’ footprints everywhere. You can go on a horse ride around the beach.
Day 7: Skeleton Coast National Park
Probably one of the most fascinating and iconic roads in Namibia and, to our surprise, very well maintained. A must-see during your Namibia road trip, it looks like another planet. We entered from the south and exit the Skeleton Coast National Park in Springbokwasser. If you transit during the day, the entrance is free, you have to sign a paper with your name and car plate at the entrance and at the exit.
The park is open from 8 am to 7 pm, and the last entrance is allowed at 3 pm. If you only transit you are not allowed to visit Terrace Bay. The Skeleton Coast National Park is home to desert lions, the only lions who adapted to hunt marine life. Other big mammals adapted to life in the desert, such as the desert elephants and rhinos, hyenas, and many antelopes.
The name Skeleton Coast comes from the thousand and thousand skeletons you’ll see all over the place (if you’ll sleep at Nowhere Campsite or any other place before the entrance of the park you’ll know what we are talking about).
Not only skeletons, many shipwrecks, and the remaining of old mines are found along the Coast. From Torra Bay up to the Kunene at the Angolan border the road is not accessible, you’ll need to go with a tour operator if you want to visit this part of the park, the most fascinating.
Day 8: Petrified Forest
The petrified forest is located about 40 kilometers from the city of Khorixas, the first capital of Damaraland. The road is quite good but there are parts with a bit of washboard, we suggest you go with a 4×4 if possible. The parking is covered so your car will be in the shade during your visit.
Along the way before the turn, you will see several unofficial signs indicating the petrified forest. Locals who have petrified logs on their properties will take you to see them in exchange for a small tip. We have only been to the official Petrified Forest so we can’t comment on those but there are several reviews of these other forests on apps like iOverlander that we suggest you download, it is completely free.
For SADC (Southern African Development Community) the entry fee is 100N$ (6 USD) and for foreigners is 250N$ (15 USD), a bit steep for such a short tour. The entrance includes a guide that will bring you around the 800 meters path explaining the formation of the forest and also illustrating the plants that live in this environment. You will find some nice specimens of the Welwitschia, the symbol of Namibia, that can be found only here.
The Cunene River is the border between Namibia and Angola. It creates these wonderful large waterfalls, the Epupa Falls (meaning Foam in Herero language). We took the C43 passing through Opuwo, a very special town where you’ll see all the ethnic groups of Namibia living together. If you have time we recommend spending a night in town. After Opuwo the road is dusty and not great but not impossible, you’ll just drive a bit slower than before. Along the road, you’ll pass several traditional Himba villages.
At the Epupa Falls, we camped at the Epupa Falls Lodge & Campsite, they also have rooms, a bar, and restaurant, a swimming pool, massages, prepaid Wi-Fi vouchers, and laundry service. The campsite is on the river, a few minutes’ walk from the falls. Visiting the falls is free, there are guided tours available but they asked us for a stunning 250 NAD (17 USD) per person so we went by ourselves. Apparently, there is an entry fee of 40 NAD if you take the upper road but nobody was there, the bottom path is free, and basically, the view is the same. In the village, you’ll find some basics at the shop. Outside the camp there is a Himba market, they sell traditional jewelry and other souvenirs.
Day 12: Etosha
From Epupa you can take the road D3700 along the river to Ruacana, it is pretty decent, with beautiful views on the water and the Angolan side. From Ruacana we drove the boring but perfect road to Oshakati, spend a night in a deserved AirBnb and the next day we drove to Omuthiya along the B1, from where we entered Etosha NP from the North Gate called King Nehale Gate, drove to Halali, and exited from the East gate, Namutoni gate.
Etosha National Park is one of the most famous National Park in Southern Africa, and one of the cheapest. For SADC citizens the entrance fee is 100 NAD per adult per day, and for foreigners is 150 NAD plus 50 NAD for the car. This being said, we were not particularly impressed, probably because we had already done several safaris in other African countries. The road inside the park is good and can be done with a 2×4 car for the most part.
Ethnic groups of Namibia and how to meet them
There are 11 major ethnic groups in Namibia. The most famous are the San People, the San People and the Herero.
There are many operators organising tours to traditional Himba villages (or completely fake villages). Honestly it is not our kind of thing, you’ll see many himba villages during your Namibia road trip, you can just stop by one and ask if you can visit if you are interested. If you want to book a tour, have a look at these reviews and options.
We visited the San people at the Khwe living Museum, close to Divundu. The place is well organized, the fees are clear and the people are very friendly. But, of course, it is their job, so don’t be disappointed when you find out they don’t actually live their traditional way of life, they are not allowed to hunt, they are given meat when the rangers have to kill animals in the park and they don’t receive the best cut. They live in the modern village nearby and it is possible to visit it. We went for the bushwalk, they show us the trees they use for different purposes, how they use cow dung, how they read footprints, and the old way of the blacksmith. After all, it was interesting but, honestly, it is not our thing.
Caprivi Game Park
This itinerary is just about Namibia, if you travel only in the country, go back to Windhoek and you’ll have completed the round trip. We kept driving to Zambia, crossing the Caprivi Game Park and camping in very nice places along the road, Con the Cubango and the Kwando rivers:
The road from the Zambian border to Livingstonia is in horrible conditions, basically it does not exist, it took 6 hours to drive less than 200 km, we suggest you to cross into Botswana and cross into Zambia from there to avoid this road.
Day 1: Windhoek to Sosselsvlei Day 2: Visit Sosselsvei Day 3: Sosselsvlei to Swakopmund Day 4: Swakopmund – Day trip to Moon Landscape + Dunes Day 5: Swakopmund to Spitzkoppe Day 6: Spitzkoppe to Skeleton Cost passing from Cape Cross Day 7: Skeleton Cost to Haisra Campsite – Petrified Forest Day 8: Oppi-Koppi Day 9: Sesfontain Day 10: Epupa Falls Day 11: Epupa Falls Day 12: Etosha Day 13: Etosha Day 14: Back to Windhoek or proceed to Zambia or Botswana
How many days is enough in Namibia?
We think that 2 weeks is enough time to see the key points of Namibia without rushing. Check our itinerary for more details.
Can you self drive in Namibia?
Backpacking in Namibia is not that easy, public transport is nonexistent in most parts of the country. Hitchhiking, on the other hand, can be a bit easier during peak season, when several overlander tourists are around. The best way to explore Namibia is with your own transport, we did it with a Land Cruiser, perfect to travel in every remote corner of the country. Tourism is well developed, renting a car is very easy and convenient, especially if you travel in the low season.
Stay in touch while we get lost! Follow us on Social Media