The North of Namibia
18-Day Self-Drive Tour, Accommodated
Number of Participants: Individual
Tour Price: from 31,000 ZAR pp sharing
Single Supplement: from 7,800 ZAR
This 18 day tour was created for those that have already travelled to Namibia / Africa and would now like to get to know the North of Namibia, which is far less touristy. This self-drive tour begins in Windhoek and takes you through the Erongo Mountains to the Grootberg Pass, where you can look out for the famous desert elephants. You travel via Opuwo, the district capital of the Kunene region, to the Epupa Falls on the border of Angola. Opuwo and the Epupa Falls are both good starting points to visit a Himba tribe to learn more about their culture and habits. After your stopover on the banks of the Kunene River and your visit of the Ruacana Falls you continue in a southerly direction to the Etosha National Park. Following your stay at the Okonjima Camp, you travel back to Windhoek where your self drive tour to the North of Namibia comes to an end.
Day 1-4, Namibia
- Windhoek: National Gallery, National Museum, Botanical Garden of Windhoek
- Erongo Mountains: Bushmen rock art at Paula’s Cave, relaxing, walking, nature drives
- Brandberg: Bushmen paintings
- Petrified Forest: Hiking, Welwitschia plants
- Twyfelfontein: Organ Pipes, Burnt Mountain, Vingerklip
Day 5-12; Namibia
- Grootberg Pass: Game drives, guided walks, rhino or elephant tracking (all optional)
- Opuwo: Fort Sesfontein (six springs)
- Epupa Falls: Hiking along the Kunene River, guided walk to the Epupa Falls with a Himba guide
- Kunene River: Boat cruise, relaxing on the riverbank, Ruacana Falls
Day 13-18; Namibia
- Kamanjab: Game drives
- Etosha National Park: Game drives, Etosha salt pan
- Grootfontein: Hoba meteorite
We have visited all the below mentioned lodges, guesthouses and camps and can therefore recommend them first hand. In order not to only “tick off” all the points of interest but to actually learn more about the visited places, the country and its people, we do not book our clients into big and anonymous lodges, hotels and resort. Instead of the huge impersonal tourism traps we offer you owner-managed guesthouses and private lodges where you have a better opportunity of getting to know more about your destination, while interacting with the staff and owners.
Day 1 Windhoek, Namibia
Distance approx. 50 km; driving time approx. 1h
Once you have landed safely in Namibia and gone through the passport check points, you follow the signs to the rental car counters. After you have collected your vehicle, you leave the airport and drive to Casa Piccolo situated in the suburb of ‘Klein Windhoek’. Take a dip in the swimming pool, take a nap or stock up on snacks for the road at a nearby mall. You can visit the Botanic Gardens, the National Museum and Gallery or choose a restaurant for supper tonight. Overnight at the friendly Casa Piccolo.
Day 2-3 Windhoek, Namibia – Erongo Mountains, Namibia
Distance day 2: approx. 250 km; driving time approx. 3-4h
After a super breakfast, you will drive northwest towards the small town of Omaruru which has become a centre for arts and crafts over the years. Your overnight destination is the Onduruquea Lodge in the beautiful Erongo Mountains. Join a private game drive in the afternoon or the next morning, get spoilt at the wellness centre or treat yourself to yoga (all optional). You will spend two nights at Onduruquea Lodge.
Day 4 Erongo Mountains, Namibia – Twyfelfontein, Namibia
Distance approx. 300 km; driving time approx. 4-5h
Today’s journey to Damaraland takes you past the magnificent Brandberg Mountain – the Königstein Peak (about 2,580 metres) is the highest point in Namibia and the mountain itself has over 1,000 rock art sites. Here you may want to see the famous rock painting ‘White Lady’ before you continue towards Khorixas and visit the Petrified Forest. Look out for the famous Welwitschia plants which grow to over 1,000 years. You will overnight at the Camp Kipwe with its dome-shaped chalets almost set inside the mountain. Twyfelfontein, the Organ Pipes and the Burnt Mountain are not far from the lodge. Watch the sun’s last rays over the boulder-strewn landscape below from the lodge’s thatched veranda before sitting down for a scrumptious supper.
Day 5-6 Twyfelfontein, Namibia – Grootberg, Namibia
Distance day 5: approx. 150 km; driving time approx. 2-3h
After breakfast, you set off to Grootberg Lodge, travelling along the stunning Grootberg Pass. Reaching the top of the pass, you will park in the lodge’s parking space to wait for a 4×4 transfer vehicle to take you further up the steep access road. The lodge is built on a plateau with breathtaking views of the Damaraland. Book a guided walk, game drive or join a rhino or elephant tracking excursion (all optional). The lodge is situated in a private concession area with game such as kudu, oryx, elephant, lion and rhino. You will overnight for two nights in a chalet at Grootberg Lodge, the first community-owned lodge in Namibia.
Day 7 Grootberg, Namibia – Opuwo, Namibia
Distance approx. 300 km; driving time approx. 4-5h
On route north to Opuwo, you should visit Fort Sesfontein (meaning ‘six springs’), which was built in 1896 as a checkpoint to prevent poaching and the smuggling of arms. It was abandoned in 1914, but rebuilt decades later into a lodge with restaurant. Your next stop is the district capital of the Kunene Region. Opuwo is the gateway to Kaokoland and the last chance to fill up with petrol. You will overnight at the Opuwo Country Lodge located on a hill outside the town. .
Day 8-9 Opuwo, Namibia – Epupa Falls, Namibia
Distance day 8: approx. 200 km; driving time approx. 3-4h
A short drive today – up to the Kunune River. The greenery and palms along the river will feel like an oasis compared to the desert landscapes of the last few days. Omarunga Lodge is on the banks of the river, beneath shady makalani palm trees and a short walk from the Epupa Falls. The lodge can arrange visits to a nearby Himba village, sundowner tours, hiking trails and rafting tours (depending on the season). The riverside location is paradise for birders. Alternatively, you can just relax by the pool and enjoy a cool drink on the deck overlooking the river. You will stay two nights at Omarunga Lodge.
Day 10-11 Epupa Falls, Namibia - Kunene River, Namibia
Distance day 10: approx. 200 km; driving time approx. 3-4h
Today’s journey takes you via Epembe to the Kunene River Lodge, further east along the Kunene River. The afternoon is at leisure. Join a boat cruise, go fishing (both optional) on the Kunene River or just bird watch on the deck by the river. The lodge can arrange a visit to a Himba village if you have not yet had a chance. You will overnight for two nights in the deluxe chalets at the Kunene River Lodge and have dinner at their restaurant.
Day 12 Kunene River, Namibia – Hobatere, Namibia
Distance approx. 350 km; driving time approx. 4-5h
After a leisurely breakfast, you leave the river behind and drive south via Opuwo to the Hobatere Concession on the western border of the Etosha National Park. The first highlight of your stay at Hobatere certainly will be the drive through the almost 9,000-hectare private concession area while making your way to the lodge. Join an optional game drive in the afternoon and look out for game such as oryx, eland, warthog, mongoose, giraffe, elephant and with a bit of luck, the rare aardwolf. On their night game drives, you might see the ‘Shy Five’ – antbear, aardwolf, porcupine, African wildcat and bat-eared fox. You spend the night in a rondavel at Hobatere Lodge.
Day 13-14 Hobatere, Namibia – Etosha National Park, Namibia
Distance day 13: approx. 80 km; driving time approx. 1-2h (excl. game drives
You enter the Etosha National Park through the Galton Gate on the western side of the park. The Etosha National Park was founded in 1907 and is one of the most attractive national parks in Southern Africa. The camps in the parks serve as starting points for game drives in the western, central and eastern part of the national park. In the coming days, you will spend most of your time game viewing around the waterholes where elephants, rhinos, giraffes and different species of antelopes come to drink. With a bit of luck you might even be able to spot lions and leopards. Your first overnight will be at theAfter an early start, you drive to the famous Etosha National Park and enter through the Galton Gate in the west. The western region of the park has long been off limits to self-drivers and rare animals such as black and white rhino and the black-faced impala have thrived here. Tonight you will stay at the exclusive Dolomite Camp. The camp is unfenced and wild animals roam between the luxury tents. The next day you will drive east through the park to Okaukuejo Camp. During the dry season, the best place to see a variety of animals is around the waterholes. Have your bird book ready as well; there are 340 bird species in Etosha. Mammals include large herds of elephants, giraffe, eland, oryx, lion and cheetah. If you want to experience the nocturnal wildlife, you can opt to join a night game drive or go to the floodlit waterholes in the rest camp and enjoy the ‘wild cinema’.
The large camps in the Etosha National Park are owned by the government. They are maintained and looked after by state employees who are sometimes not as enthusiastic about their work as we wish they were. Accommodation ranges from basic chalets to standard self-catering units. There are, however, more luxurious lodges outside the park from where you will do day trips into the park. Should you be interested in this option, please let us know and we will gladly amend our offer accordingly.
Day 15 Etosha National Park, Namibia – Mushara Bush Camp, Namibia
Driving time depends on choice of route
When the gates open at sunrise you can be on the road to spot animals, when they are more active than during the midday hours. Today you will slowly cruise to the east of the park, along the vast and seemingly endless salt pan, to reach the Von Lindequist Gate before sunset. Stop at Namutoni for lunch or explore the waterholes north of Namutoni. At sunset you leave the park to drive to the nearby Mushara Bush Camp where you will spend the night in a tented chalet.
Day 16-17 Mushara Bush Camp, Namibia - Okonjima, Namibia
Distance day 16: approx. 400 km; driving time approx. 5-6h
After a leisurely breakfast, you depart for your journey to Okonjima. You will pass Lake Otjikoto, a deep lake with bright blue water which is worth a photo stop. On the way to Grootfontein, you can stop at the huge Hoba Meteorite, which has astounded many scientists in the past. Your destination for today is the 22,000-hectare Okonjima Nature Reserve which is also headquarters of the AfriCat Foundation, a rehabilitation program for predators such as leopards and cheetahs. Learn more about Okonjima’s conservation projects and join optional activities such as game drives, Bushmen walks, hikes or carnivore tracking. From Okonjima you can easily drive to the Waterberg for a day trip. You will overnight two nights at the Okonjima Plains Camp.
Day 18 Okonjima, Namibia - Windhoek, Namibia
Distance approx. 350 km; driving time approx. 4-5h
Today you return to Windhoek, the starting point of your tour. En route you can stop at Okahandja to buy some beautiful handcrafted souvenirs and bargain for some jewellery at the busy market. In Windhoek, you will head to the airport to return your rental car or spend another night in the city (optional).
- Self-drive tour according to the itinerary
- 17 nights’ accommodation in guesthouses, chalets, bungalows or lodges as indicated in the itinerary (or similar)
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary
- Flights (international and domestic)
- Rental car (please contact us for a quote)
- Meals not indicated in the itinerary
- Beverages (alcohol and soft drinks)
- Possible toll and crossing border fees
- National park fees
- Optional activities
- Visa, tips, personal expenses, travel insurance
How safe is a self-drive tour in Namibia?
- In general Namibia is not a lot more dangerous than other countries in the world. Most crimes and acts of violence take place in the townships of bigger cities. Public areas around shopping centres, restaurants, banks etc. as well as the countryside are very safe. Nevertheless you should stick to a couple of rules to avoid risky or dangerous situations. This includes staying away from dodgy areas, walking in the dark, carrying a lot of cash or expensive cameras on you, wearing flashy jewellery and leaving bags or valuables in the car.
What is the infrastructure like (road conditions, shops, petrol stations)?
- Although Namibia generally has a good infrastructure, the roads are not always in the best condition. Most of the roads are good gravel roads and only the highways and a couple of the main roads are tarred. Therefore please always drive with caution.
- Petrol stations can be found alongside all major routes and highways as well as in cities/villages.
- There are more than enough different and well-stocked shops available and many petrol stations also have a little convenience shop.
On which side of the road will I be driving?
- In Southern Africa vehicles are right-hand drives hence driving is done on the left-hand side of the roads.
Do I need an international driver’s licence?
- According to the law, all you need is a valid driver’s licence which has been issued in English and has a photo thereon. If your national driver’s licence has not been issued in English or does not have a photo, you need an international driver’s licence.
- As per the terms and conditions of the rental car companies, only a valid national driver’s licence and a credit cardis required.
Can I enter the national parks with the rental car?
- Most roads within the national parks are tarred or good gravel and all are accessible to rental cars. Please however take note that you have to stick to the rules of the national parks at all time. These include: remaining in your vehicle unless you are in a designated area, sticking to the speed limit of 60 km/h on tar roadsand not littering.
- In the Etosha National Park, guided game drives in open safari vehicles are available and all activities are accompanied by a professional ranger.
How will I be able to find my way around?
- Along with your travel documents you will receive a voucher that includes detailed directions and contact details for all the pre-booked accommodation.
- Some rental car companies provide road maps but as not all of them do, it is advisable to bring a good map with a map scale of at least 1:1,5 mill. with you.
What meals are included and what food can be expected on tour?
- Meals are included as indicated in the itinerary.
- Breakfast usually consists of a full English breakfast and cereals, toast, cheese, jam, fruits, juices, tea, coffee.
- Since most of the days are spent on the road or in the national parks, no lunches have been included.
- At places where you can cater for yourself or you have a variety of restaurants to choose from dinner has been excluded. On days when it’s recommendable to dine at your accommodation dinner has been included. In these cases dinner usually consists of a set menu with local meat, vegetables and rice or potatoes dishes.
What about the money matter?
- You can either exchange your own currency for Namibian Dollar at one of the exchange bureaus at the airport or in town or you can go to an ATM and draw Namibian Dollar at the current rate of exchange. Please note that you need a credit card (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club) and your pin code to draw money. At some ATMs you can even draw money with a Maestro Card.
- Credit cards are also widely accepted in bigger shops but as there are still some shops and petrol stations that do not accept credit cards, make sure you always have some cash on hand.
Do I need vaccinations for this tour?
- As northern Namibia is situated within a malaria area, we would recommend some precautions. Please speak to your doctor or travel clinic about the different prophylaxis and their effects and side effects.
- Although none of the countries visited on tour require proof of immunization against Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio and Hepatitis A & B, we nevertheless recommend those vaccinations.