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Southern Namibia Highlights - Self Drive

Well off the beaten track, this 10-day self-drive itinerary showcases Southern Namibia’s varied landscape.

Highlights include exploring the Kalahari Desert's grassy plains, hiking in the awe-inspiring Fish River Canyon, and clambering up Sossusvlei’s monumental sand dunes.

Travellers who come prepared for some long drives will be rewarded with fabulous, contrasting scenery and exhilarating adventure. For a more extensive visit, this trip ties in well with our 7-day Northern Namibia itinerary.

Tailor-made Classic 11 days

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Flights are typically an additional $1,042 per person economy class from London

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Itinerary

Overview

     
  • 10-day self-drive itinerary, well off the beaten path and best suited to seasoned travellers
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  • Explore the remote and contrasting Namib and Kalahari Desert landscapes, the jaw-dropping Fish River Canyon, and the gigantic Sossusvlei Sand dunes
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  • Discover a great diversity of wildlife from meerkats and porcupines, to adopted cheetahs, wildebeest, zebra, and the famed wild horses of the Namib
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  • Stay in well priced guesthouses and characterful ranches in remote desert settings, with fabulous views and unbeatable star gazing under brilliant night skies
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Day-by-day

DAY 1: ARRIVAL AND TRANSFER FROM AIRPORT TO CENTRAL WINDHOEK 
On arrival at Windhoek Airport you will be welcomed and driven to Galton House guesthouse in Windhoek's quiet Eros suburb, within easy reach of the capital's many shops and restaurants. The transfer takes around 45 minutes, with stops along the way to stock up on supplies. Your fully air-conditioned 4x4 vehicle will be delivered directly to the guesthouse.
Accommodation: Galton House
 
DAY 2: WINDHOEK TO BAGATELLE 
The self-drive tour commences today with a 3 ½ hour drive to the Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch situated on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. The wide open grasslands surrounding the property are home to an abundance of wildlife including meerkat, porcupine, bat-eared fox, oryx, ostrich, wildebeest and zebra. Guided nature drives, walks, and horse-riding excursions with local bushmen are on offer, informing guests about the ecology and ancient culture of this unique area. There's also the chance to visit the ranch's orphan cheetahs, adopted in collaboration with the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Back at base, relax in a hammock beside the pool, and enjoy a cool drink close to the waterhole with binoculars at the ready to observe visiting animals. After dark, enjoy a spot of star-gazing with the camp's resident astronomer. 
Accommodation: Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch 
Drive time: approximately 3 ½ hours, excluding stops 
 
DAY 3: BAGATELLE TO FISH RIVER LODGE, FISH RIVER CANYON 
Today, there's a short 2 hour drive to Fish River Lodge. Set in a grove of ancient quiver trees on the lip of the majestic 550 metre-deep Fish River Canyon, the lodge has a contemporary, minimalist feel and superb views of the gaping wilderness below.   Black eagles soar on the canyon's thermals, and rare mountain zebra, elusive klipspringer, oryx, and kudu roam the remote valleys. Although tricky to spot, otter, fish eagle, and other water-loving species inhabit the Fish River's permanent pools. Guests can enjoy long walks along the canyon's rim, or more relaxed sundowner trails. Depending on the time of year, guides may offer more challenging hikes into the canyon's depths, or a picnic lunch and a swim beside a permanent waterhole. For those who prefer to kick back and relax, breath-taking views can be enjoyed from the lodge's decking from dawn until dark when the super-clear night sky is lit up by the stars. For warmer nights, beds can be made up on a private outdoor sleeping platform on request.  
Accommodation: Fish River Lodge 
Drive time: approximately 2 hours, excluding stops 
 
DAY 4: FULL DAY HIKE, FISH RIVER CANYON 
Today there's an optional 8 to 10 hour guided hike which descends the sheer face of the upper canyon wall, traverses the rock-strewn wilderness, and passes through a stunning gorge. This is a superb up-close opportunity to explore this breath-taking natural phenomenon, rivalled in size perhaps only by the USA's Grand Canyon. Do bring sturdy hiking boots and a small backpack for this challenging excursion, and note that this particular hike is only offered between April and September when temperatures are not too high. Back at base, enjoy a swim in the pool with its fabulous views, an in-room massage, and a hearty home-cooked meal. 
Accommodation: Fish River Lodge 
Drive time: n/a 
 
DAY 5: FISH RIVER LODGE TO THE DESERT HORSE INN, KLEIN AUS VISTA, AUS 
Today begins with the 4 ½ hour drive to Desert Horse Inn, one of four properties at Klein Aus, a private farm occupying a stunning spot on a boulder-strewn hillside at the edge of the Namib Desert. The Inn is a sizeable 30-room property with a lovely pool and spectacular views across the sweeping desert plains, and is a superb departure point for a variety of activities. Walking trails and mountain bike excursions are offered, along with guided nature drives into the desert in search of the Namib's famed wild horses, and the abandoned diamond town of Kolmanskop. If time allows, guests can drive independently to Luderitz for a day's boat cruise, or take a trip out to Diaz Point with its fabulous birdlife. 
Accommodation: Desert Horse Inn, Klein Aus Vista  
Drive time: approximately 4 ½ hours, excluding stops 
 
DAY 6: DAY AT LEISURE, DESERT HORSE INN, KLEIN AUS VISTA, AUS 
Enjoy a full day's relaxation in and around the lodge, enjoying the scenery and perhaps taking part in one or two of the optional activities on offer.   
Accommodation: Desert Horse Inn, Klein Aus Vista 
Drive time: n/a
 
DAY 7: AUS TO DESERT HOMESTEAD LODGE, SESRIEM 
Today's drive to Sesriem takes around 5 ½ hours, with the option of a slightly longer route along a minor gravel road, widely regarded as the most scenic in Namibia. The unpretentious Desert Homestead Lodge provides comfortable farmhouse-style accommodation just 30 kilometres from the entrance to the Namib Naukluft National Park at Sesriem, and boasts fabulous views over the plains to the dunes and mountains beyond. The lodge specialises in horse-back safaris, and also offers nature drives and guided hikes into the Namib Naukluft Mountains.  
Accommodation: Desert Homestead Lodge 
Drive time: approximately 5 ½ hours, excluding stops 
 
DAY 8: MORNING VISIT TO SESRIEM & SOSSUSVLEI IN THE NAMIB NAUKLUFT NATIONAL PARK, AND AN EVENING HORSE RIDE 
Make an early start and arrive at the Sesriem entrance to the vast and remote Namib-Naukluft National Park at dawn. This beautiful park comprises a mix of landscapes from expansive gravel plains, to orange sand dunes, inselburgs, and mountain plains. Travel 70 km through the park to reach the 'great dune sea' of Sossusvlei, gigantic dunes which cascade down to the Atlantic Ocean shore. Explore Dead Vlei, whose cracked white earth is dotted with a surreal series of 500-year old petrified trees. If time allows, the Sesriem Canyon is another enchanting destination and, at certain times of year, can be a great place for a refreshing swim. Note that the desert can be extremely hot in the middle of the day, so do remember plenty of water, a hat, high factor sunblock and sturdy, enclosed walking shoes.  Return to the lodge for a rest and afternoon tea, followed by a guided 2 hour sundowner horse ride. Ride back to the lodge under the clear night skies in time for dinner. 
Accommodation: Desert Homestead Lodge 
Drive time: n/a

DAY 9: SESRIEM TO SWAKOPMUND
Onwards today to Swakopmund, a vibrant coastal resort town approximately 5 ½ hours drive from Sesriem via a series of gravel roads and steep mountain passes. Stay overnight at Cornerstone Guesthouse, a peaceful, family-run B&B located between the beach and the town centre. With German architecture harking back to its colonial days, this intriguing town boasts historic buildings, well-maintained gardens, palm tree avenues, coffee bars, and some great restaurants. Temperatures rarely drop below 15C and rainfall is practically zero, although note that the town is subjected to 9 months of morning fog each year. The town is a great base for adrenalin sports such as quad biking and sand boarding in the huge neighbouring dunes, along with kayaking and boat cruises in nearby Sandwich Harbour and Walvis Bay. 
Accommodation: Cornerstone Guesthouse 
Drive time: approximately 5 ½ hours, excluding stops 
 
DAY 10: A MORNING'S CATAMARAN CRUISE FROM WALVIS BAY, AND AN AFTERNOON AT LEISURE IN SWAKOPMUND 
Make the short drive to Walvis Bay by 8.30am and check in for a morning's cruise at the Catamaran Charters café. Depart from the Walvis Bay Yacht Club at around 9.00am and cruise out into the beautiful bay towards Pelican Point Lighthouse, from where large numbers of playful seals can be seen at the Cape Fur Seal Colony. See the local oyster platforms and learn about the industry, and enjoy the area's enormous bird diversity, including flamingos, pelicans and cormorants. Depending on the time of year, and of course on luck, you may also see dolphins, and occasionally the bizarre mola-mola (sunfish), leatherback turtle, Humpback, Southern Right or Orca whale. Return to the yacht club at around 12.30pm. The rest of the day is to spend at leisure in Walvis Bay or Swakopmund. 
Accommodation: Cornerstone Guesthouse 
Drive time: n/a 
 
DAY 11: SWAKOPMUND TO WINDHOEK AIRPORT FOR DEPARTURE
Today's final drive takes you back to Windhoek airport. It's best to arrive at least 2 hours before flight departure in order to allow enough time to fill up at the airport’s petrol station, drop the hired vehicle back, and check in.
Accommodation: n/a
Drive time: approximately 3 ½ hours, excluding stops

Accommodation


Guide price is based on recommended accommodations. Alternative accommodations and upgrades are available. Please get in touch or click on 'alternatives' below for alternatives and upgrade options.

Our rating

7/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Only 8 rooms
- Hands on management
- Swimming pool and day room available
- Easy reach of restaurants and shops

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Stunning dunes location
- Great variety of activities
- Adopted cheetahs in camp
- Horse riding excursions

Our rating

7/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Located on lip of Fish River Canyon
- Spectacular views
- Modern minimalist styling
- Private Reserve

Our rating

7/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Located in Klein-Aus Vista
- Horse riding and biking
- Rooms with views

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Stunning panoramic views
- Affordable yet stylish lodging
- Guided horse riding safaris

Cornerstone Guesthouse

Swakopmund & Walvis Bay

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 2

- Simple but stylish rooms
- Friendly and efficient service
- Located between beach and town

Details

Getting there

Namibia has excellent connections via South Africa with regular flights from Johannesburg and some options from Cape Town. Air Namibia also operates via Frankfurt. Flight from London to Windhoek via Johannesburg start from £780 -£1280 per person

Extensions to Botswana and the Victoria Falls are possible with regular connections.

Flight prices on this route are always cheaper booked in advance, particularly when flying during UK school holidays.

Please let us know your preferred departure airport and we would be pleased to quote for a flight inclusive ATOL protected package.

Price includes

Guide price includes accommodation (B&B in Windhoek and Swakupmond and Dinner and Breakfast included elsewhere), Canyon full day hike in Fish River Canyon, Sundowner Horse Ride at Desert Homestead, Catamaran Cruise in Swakopmundpark, fees, Ford Ranger Double Cab 4x4 or similar, MediVac insurance, cell phone, cool box and first aid kit

When is best?

The months from June to September are winter in Southern Africa but temperatures during the day reach very comfortable early 20 degrees Celsius, just pretty chilly at night but you can keep comfortable with various layers. This is the time of the least / no rainfall making the vegetation less dense and the game easy to spot. You could use a standard sedan vehicle for this journey but a 2x4 makes the trip more comfortable.

Autumn, April-May tends to be a lovely time with all the young being born and the vegetation still green. Spring, late September into early November can have variable weather depending on the previous rainfall but offers excellent game viewing

The summer months November to March tend to be the highest rainfall which is generally when a 4x4 vehicle is suggested; it tends to be hot and humid with afternoon thunderstorms.

Is it for me?

This in depth itinerary exploring Southern Namibia is suited to second time visitors to Namibia and those specifically wanting to visit Fish River Canyon. When combined with our Northern Namibia itinerary, it is also suitable if you are looking for an extensive 3-4 week long journey in Namibia. Namibia is vast and the driving distances on this itinerary are considerable.

What customers are saying after travelling with Tourdust

Average Rating

based on 611 reviews

(4.94/5)

  • Everything worked perfectly! We all found our trekking experience to be the best part of our adventures in Morocco. We were particularly pleased with our guide, Hussain; he did a brilliant job. He is thoughtful, knowledgable, and sweet. He represents you well.

    MissingJacob Moffat reviewing Atlas Valleys & Villages Comfort Treks on 09 March 2017

  • Thanks for organising an excellent holiday for us. It's my first time using Tourdust and I've been really impressed and will certainly be recommending you to friends and family. You provided an excellent level of service all the way through, and the bespoke nature of the trip was fantastic whilst being really good value for money.
    Key highlights:
    - Le Kasbah de Toubkal blew us away - one not to miss!
    - The trek was amazing and my kids loved it. The camping was really fun, the food was excellent, and I'd particularly call out our guide Rashid who was fantastic show especially with my kids.
    - Riad Adore was outstanding - far exceeding my expectations - it was beautiful and we were very well looked after
    - Le Doux Tour was luxurious and a nice relaxing way to end the holiday.
    - Logistics were great and our main driver Mustapha was brilliant

    If there was one build / thing I would change, it's a very small one but some candles / lanterns to use in the evening whilst camping would have made it easier to stay outside for a bit longer.

    MissingMark Dilley reviewing Boutique Marrakech & Atlas Mountains on 07 June 2016

  • Truly another world. The sky was enormous and the summits snow covered. Blue irises, wild herbs and fruit trees flowered on the slopes. Even as I toiled up the dry river bed I gazed in admiration.

    Without exception, everyone was courteous and welcoming. Food was good ( and far too plentiful); accommodation clean. Above all-everything worked! A pick-up was promised for 9.00am. At 8.55 the doorbell rang. Impeccable.

    No praise is too high for the organisation and staff. I am definitely going back.

    MissingTerence Humphreys reviewing Classic Atlas Valleys & Villages Trek on 16 May 2016

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