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26-Night Namibia in Depth on a Budget

“An extended self-drive & camping trip covering all the iconic spots in Namibia”

Budget level: Budget
Country
Namibia
When to Go
All year
Duration
26 Nights
Safari Type
Camping, Self drive
Location
Damaraland, Etosha National Park & Surrounds, Kaokoland, Namib-Naukluft, Northern Namibia, Sossusvlei, Southern Namib & Kalahari, Southern Namibia, Swakopmund, Windhoek

The 26 Night Namibia in Depth on a Budget safari is a fantastic trip for people that are keen to self-drive and camp in Namibia and with the time to do so slowly covering the whole country, from south to north!

The 26-night route takes you to all the iconic locations of Namibia and also let you stay of the beaten tourist track at some amazing locations and properties. The trip is well suited for couples, families and small groups of friends. A sense of adventure, love of a road trip and camping is all that is required for an experience of a lifetime!

The self drive trip starts with an overnight stop in Windhoek to pick-up the fully equipped 4×4 vehicle, making sure all is good to go and stocking up on the essential supplies.

Heading south the next morning the first stop will be the red sand dunes of the Kalahari and then continuing south onto the jaw dropping beauty of the Fish River Canyon. From here the trip takes you north west to the small town of Aus from where the coastal town of Lüderitz, the ghost town Kolmanskop and the Namibia’s wild horses can be experienced.

Then heading north through the Namib Desert destination the private NamibRand Reserve, followed by the magic of Sossusvlei the highest free-standing sand dunes in the world. Following the scenic drive from Sossusvlei to Swakopmund will be a certain highlight of the trip. Then take a break from camping and stay at the magical Desert Breeze on the outskirts of Swakopmund with beautiful views over the desert landscape.

After two relaxing days on the coast it will be time to head north east towards the Brandberg and Spitzkoppe. Camp two nights at the famous Spitzkoppe Campsites and explore all that the region offers, before heading to the World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein, camping at fabulous Mowani.

By this time you should be into the rhythm of driving and camping in Namibia, and it will be time to get more serious as you head north into Damaraland and Kaokoland. The route takes you past Sesfontein, Palmwag and Puros, camping at four remote campsites along the way. After 4 nights of remote camping you will head back south a bit, for a 2-night stay at the glorious Etendeka Mountain Camp for some R &R…..

The next section of the trip takes you to Etosha starting in the west, with stops at Olifantsrus and Okaukuejo, both with famous waterholes in front of camp. This will certainly be the wildlife highlight of the trip and spectacular elephants and rhino sightings are guaranteed! Then head east through Etosha covering the eastern section of the Park, exiting late afternoon and staying at close by Onguma Private Reserve for two fabulous nights.

The last section of the trip takes you slowly south, with a stopover at Okonjima to experience the activities at AfriCat and to Erindi for a comfortable last night at Old Traders Lodge. On the last morning do the short drive to Windhoek, handover the vehicle and transfer to the airport for your flight home.

We guarantee that this will frankly have been one of the best experiences of your life!

Itinerary in Brief

1 Night Windhoek Gardens Guesthouse
1 Night Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch
1 Night Canyon Roadhouse
2 Nights Klein-Aus Vista Eagle’s Nest
2 Nights NamibRand Family Hideout
2 Nights Sesriem Campsite
2 Nights Desert Breeze Lodge
2 Nights Spitzkoppe Campsites
1 Night Mowani Mountain Camp
1 Night Sesfontein Campsite
2 Nights Puros Bush Lodge and Camp
1 Night Kwoharib Campsite
2 Nights Etendeka Mountain Camp
1 Night Olifantsrus Camp
1 Night Okaukuejo Camp
2 Nights Onguma Tree Top Camp
1 Night Okonjima Lodge
1 Night Erindi Old Traders

Safari Rating

adventure
wilderness
wildlife
comfort
photographic
guiding

detailed itinerary

Arrive in Windhoek where you will be met at the airport by the car rental company and transferred to their office for the handover and demonstration of the vehicle and equipment. Check into your guesthouse for some rest & relaxation and then head out late afternoon for shopping and stocking up on supplies for the trip ahead.

Windhoek Gardens Boutique Hotel is located 5 minutes away from the centre of Windhoek, making it a perfect mix of convenience and practicality. The guesthouse boasts 28 uniquely Namibian themed rooms, every room is equipped with Wi-Fi, a well thought out desk area with plenty of space and power points, air con, a coffee station, a balcony and a mini fridge. All rooms are twin bedded and have en-suite bathrooms. Laundry services are available upon request.

Enjoy homely food with a variety of drinks from the in-house cooks and pub, or head out to Joes’ Beerhouse for a unique Namibian dinner experience……

The next morning head south on the main road, destination the Kalahari and the Bagatelle Game Ranch.

Look forward to the stunning red sand dunes of the Kalahari Desert with its unique flora and fauna and be pampered by the magic of extraordinary ambiance and hospitality. True ‘nature sculptured’ Namibia at its very best!

The stay is at one of the least populated places in the world and you can visit the San Bushmen who live in the Kalahari. Listen to the call of the big cats and be enchanted by the sight of the barren nature and the typical camel thorn trees of the Kalahari. You will be surprised by the abundance of animals in this seemingly life-threatening landscape.

There are five extensively equipped campsites with private toilets and showers for your first night of camping in Namibia. You can cook your own meal or enjoy the great food on offer in the restaurant. The owners truly strive to make your stay with them an unforgettable journey into life in the Kalahari!

After the glorious night in the Kalahari pack up camp and head south west to the second deepest canyon in the world, the Fish River Canyon! A sight to behold.

Arrive at the famous Canyon Roadhouse, which has more than just a fascinating interior to offer. Large attractive rooms, positioned around courtyards, make the Roadhouse a comfortable – and convenient – base when visiting the Fish River Canyon, just 14 kilometres away. The canyon resort has a swimming pool, a campsite, a terrace to enjoy Roadhouse specialities like Amarula cheesecake (and the best cappuccino for miles around!) and a walking trail through the hills.

In the afternoon head out to the canyon, or take a guided excursion to the canyon viewpoints, or drive the 4×4 Wildebeest Route towards Canyon Lodge and Village to view zebra and wildebeest on the grassy plains.

Before sunset set up camp in the well-equipped campsite. Sunset is best appreciated from the hill above the lodge looking out onto the flat-topped Holoog Mountain and the Gondwana Canyon Park.

The following morning pack up camp and head north west towards the coast and the small town of Aus, which is the ideal base to explore the coastal town of Lüderitz, the ghost town of Kolmanskop and to see the wild horses of Namibia.

Take a break from camping and stay two nights at the glorious Klein-Aus Vista Eagles Nest self-catering chalets. A mere seven-kilometre drive from the Klein Aus Desert Horse Inn, the Eagle’s Nest chalets are private self-catering retreats, each built individually, combining natural elements and boulders into their interiors in a rustic and luxurious blend. You may just want to stay here forever…

Choose whether to cook in the kitchen, on the fire, or to eat in the Desert Horse Inn restaurant, where take-away breakfast or barbecue packs are also available on request. Eagle’s Nest is an attractive base for those who appreciate boundless space, choices, a sense of the land, privacy, innovation, the out-of-the-ordinary and the spectacular!

Lüderitz is just 120 km away and the ghost town of Kolmanskop only 115 km (tar road). Klein-Aus Vista is the ideal starting point for a trip to both places. Twenty km from Aus, on the way to or back from Lüderitz, visit the Garub waterhole where the wild horses and several other animals of the desert plains can be found. The Wild Horses of the Namib have roamed this harsh habitat since 1915 and are an experience one should not miss.

After a scrumptious Namib breakfast leave Aus behind and head north through the truly spectacular Namib Desert. There are numerous places along the way to stop and take in the vast space that is the Namib, and desert animals such as springbok and oryx can be spotted along the way. Head towards the NamibRand reserve and the Family Hideout for a fabulous two-night camping stay.

This deserted and converted home of Karakul sheep farmers on the farm Stellarine is today known as the NamibRand Family Hideout. It is remotely situated in south-western Namibia, on the NamibRand Nature Reserve one of Southern Africa’s largest private nature reserves.

In 2010 and again in 2015 the owners added an exclusive campsite to their accommodation offerings. Campsite Orion and Campsite Venus are each nestled into the dunes, out of sight and earshot of each other, with a waterhole for animals and birds. Here guests are truly alone with nature but have modern camping facilities such as flush toilets and solar-heated hot showers. The views are stunning. Ample shade is provided for protection from the Namibian sun, and canvas roller blinds for wind protection. Campsite Jupiter, opened in March 2019, located in its own private dune valley, has the same facilities as the other two campsites, but in addition has an enlarged wooden deck with a roof and wind protection, charging station for all your devices, and has a drinking waterhole for animals.

Enjoy the spectacular views over the vast plains and ancient blue mountain ranges, or one of the activities on offer (e.g. 4×4 dune drives or educational walks with the qualified guide) into the glowing red dunes for a close encounter with the fascinating variety of Namib Desert fauna and flora. The kids will love the dune-boarding and endless open spaces or chasing after beetles and lizards scuttling over the sand dunes. A small waterhole just 50m from the veranda attracts a myriad of birdlife as well as oryx, springbok, zebra, bat-eared fox, porcupines and other wildlife. Giraffe may also be seen, if you’re lucky! The exceptional surroundings and clarity of the air provide endless opportunities for photography by day and stargazing by night.

You probably wouldn’t want to leave the Family Hideout but it will be time for one of the highlights of the trip, the dunes of Sossusvlei!

Sesriem Campsite is in the heart of the Namib Naukluft Reserve and it is the gateway to the highest free-standing sand dunes in the world! The campsite is the only camping available inside the park gates giving it unique access to Sossusvlei and the Namib desert as the exterior gate opens one hour after the camping site gate. This privilege ensures that campers at the Sesriem campsites are deep into the desert to watch the sunrise long before the crowds arrive.

Sesriem has been upgraded and offers a tranquil setting on the edge of the Namib. You can view the dunes and beautiful landscapes from your campsite. The campsites are far apart and offer shared ablutions. The campsites are around Camelthorn trees to provide some shelter during your stay in the camp. There is a restaurant and bar and a shop to stock up on supplies. A swimming pool at the centre of the camp allows you to cool off and relax in the midday heat and the bar serves cold drinks.

Sesriem camp is very popular and has 44 campsites each with a designated camping area under the Camelthorn trees. Sossusvlei and Deadvlei are 60 km from the campsite. We recommend rising early and drive towards Sossusvlei to view the sunrise over the Namib dunes. The colours of the Namib Desert especially early morning and late afternoon is spectacular.

At the entry to Sossusvlei is Sesriem Canyon, where centuries of erosion have incised a narrow gorge about 1 km in length. At the foot of the gorge, which plunges down to 30 to 40 metres, are pools that become replenished after good rains. Also a must do while at Sesriem.

Today you will drive from Sossusvlei to the coastal town of Swakopmund with its palm fringed streets, cafes and fabulous restaurants.

The drive is nothing short of spectacular and takes you past Solitaire and through the Guab and Kuiseb Passes. You would probably want to stop around every corner to appreciate the next jaw dropping view! It is however a long day so just keep an eye on the watch and the distance to go…….

Check into the Desert Breeze, a lodge with a spectacular location providing peace and tranquillity with stunning views across the desert landscape on the outskirts of a bustling Swakopmund. Spend two nights here in a room taking another well-deserved break from camping.

Activities around Swakopmund include tours to the coast and the desert and vary from dune boarding, guided nature walks or quad biking, to boat cruises in search of whales and other marine life, or day trips to Sandwich Harbour. The fabulous restaurants of Swakopmund are just a short drive away for a ‘night on the town’ for travellers that have been in the desert for a while…

Today you will head north east and drive to Spitzkoppe, which is one of the most beautiful areas in Namibia, consisting of imposing granite rock formations set on the plains!

Here you can walk in the area and climb up to Bushman’s Paradise, a small basin tucked between the domes of rock, where you can view the rock paintings done by Bushman of the past and gaze at the amazing view. The Spitzkoppe is known to contain at least 37 rock art sites and test excavations at one of these revealed a well-preserved archaeological sequence spanning the last 4000 years.

Camping at Spitzkoppe is world famous! A mountain oasis in the Namib desert, with unique oversized boulders and secret caves, allows the visitor to camp in complete peace and tranquillity. With the majestic Namibian “Matterhorn” as backdrop, and with the next camping site kilometres away, each visitor “owns” the mountain during his time here.

The camp has revamped the restaurant area and added a new ‘lapa’ area all with a ‘shebeen’ themed décor. They are serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is also the best spot for the perfect SUNDOWNER with comfortable seats and hammocks!

Sunsets are spectacular, but only when night falls you are reminded what that over used word ‘awesome’ truly means. Living in a city and have forgotten the unearthly potential that stars embody. At Spitzkoppe, they stretch from horizon to horizon, shimmering in the dry air, unfettered by light pollution or air pollution.

Today you head north into Damaraland towards the World Heritage site of Twyfelfontein and a stay at the campsite of Mowani Mountain Camp, one of our favourite lodges in Namibia.

Between the Ugab and Huab Rivers in southern Damaraland and in the midst of dusty and stunning landscapes lies the sanctuary called Mowani Mountain Camp. Surrounded by massive ochre boulders and fascinating geological formations, the camp perfectly blends in with its wild surroundings.

The lodge owns a nearby campsite hidden amongst the giant boulders of Damaraland, where you’ll find the seven private campsites. Away from the main lodge, as you’d want, secluded, private and serene. Immersed in nature and by the surrounds that make this area what it is (rugged, arid and bare) the campsites are what you’d expect in the middle of nowhere. A spot to park the car and pitch the tent, a basin and wash up area, a cooking area (over fire), a shaded seating area and an open-air bathroom. Enjoy the ground beneath your feet, surrounded by nature. Add the endless view out over the Damaraland landscape and the quiet of being far from much else and you have found yourself a suitable place to call ‘home’ for the night.

Activities in the area are self-guided nature walks and nature drives in search for the desert adapted elephants and other wildlife. Visit the sights of Twyfelfontein: Burnt Mountain, Organ Pipes and rock engravings. For a hint of culture, visit the Damara Living Museum just down the road. A cultural look into the lives of the local people of the area and how they lived in days gone by.

The next morning the REAL adventure starts as you head north/north-east deeper into Damaraland and into Kaokoland. The next 4 nights you will be camping in rustic and remote campsites in this real wilderness area of Namibia!

The first stop is the Sesfontein Campsite close to the village of Sesfontein. Drive past Palmwag and enjoy the ruggedness and tranquillity of the area and the pleasure of basic camping.

Today it will be time for some 4×4 driving as you head along the Gomatum Riverbed towards Puros. There are some alternative routes too and it will be best to take some local advice beforehand. The drive is exciting but not to challenging.

Nestled next to the Hoarusib river, the small Himba village of Puros is a true gem of Kaokoland. Spend two nights at The Bush Lodge & Camp situated a few kilometres upstream under the giant thorn threes that provide well needed shade from the desert sun. The camp offer 6 chalets & 1 family unit on a bed & breakfast or self-catering basis.

We suggest that you pitch your camp in one of the spacious campsites under age-old camel thorn trees. Each site has its own warm water shower and toilet. Dinner (by prior arrangement only) and a bar service is offered to all guests. Enjoy the vast bird and animal-life that visit the camp regularly. What is better than sitting next to your campfire with a cold one whilst watching the elephants or giraffes stroll by….

The camp is situated within the Puros Conservancy. The conservancy was established in May 2000 and covers an area of approximately 3,562 square kilometres, with an estimate population of only 320 people. The main languages spoken by the local Himba people are Otjihima and Otjiherero.

Puros is a small settlement with little infrastructure. There are two local shops that sell basic food items, beer and cold drinks. There is no fuel station, however fuel can be bought from one of the local vendors.

Explore the area especially the dry riverbed of the Hoarusib and the Puros canyon. This is also the ideal location for an authentic Himba experience.

It will now be time to slowly make it back to some ‘civilisation’ heading south towards Sesfontein and the Kwoharib Campsite.

The Hoanib river that runs through the camp is one of Namibia’s few flowing rivers and attracts many bird species. The campsite is ideally situated to explore the spectacular region and is a perfect place to relax, take short walks, photograph landscapes, enjoy the varied flora and fauna and soak up the atmosphere of rural Namibia. Birdwatching here is great as many birds are attracted by the perennial spring in the Hoanib River.

Facilities include four well maintained campsites overlooking the river with braai areas and some shade, basic ablution facilities. There are also two very private campsites next to the stream, shaded by palm trees. There are some basic traditional Damara and Himba huts as well as a bar with cold drinks & snacks. There is no electricity and local guides are available.

This is a community operated camp and it is not always possible to contact them in advance to make bookings. Arrange your campsite on arrival….

After 4 nights of basic camping some luxury awaits, with a 2-night stay at the fabulous Etendeka Mountain Camp!

So, head further back south towards Palmwag turning east towards the Grootberg before reaching Palmwag. The basalt formations and mountains created by ancient lava flows that surround Etendeka Mountain Camp provide dramatic views and an almost surreal landscape that you will probably never get tired of.

Ten discreet Meru tents are cleverly embedded in the nature around the main building of the solar-powered camp. The focus here is on environmentally friendly accommodations that respect nature and allow guests to access the pristine environment.

Etendeka Mountain Camp is all about experiencing nature, so it offers various leisure activities to explore the surrounding nature and animal kingdom. Your days here are spent exploring the area on foot and in open game drive vehicles with the exceptionally knowledgeable guides. Safaris are not fast paced, but rather a privileged introduction to an environment that holds many of Namibia’s unique natural attractions.

Leaving the remote north west of Namibia behind, today you will head mostly east towards the western gate to the Etosha National Park. Enter the Park at the Galton Gate and drive through the Park towards the east covering the less visited western section of the Park. There are a number of fantastic waterholes along the way where you are likely to see large numbers of animals come to drink, including elephant and rhino.

Continue east until you reach Olifantsrus Camp, with what some describe as the “greatest wildlife observation hide in southern Africa!”

Olifantsrus is Etosha’s newest camp and the first accommodation option in the park to offer a camping only experience. Situated in the wilder, more remote and previously less-utilized western section of the park, Olifantsrus is approximately 60kms from Galton Gate, 130kms from Okaukuejo and 50kms from Dolomite Camp.

Rare and shy species such as black rhino and black-faced impala are well-established in this quieter part of the park. Significantly, there are numerous waterholes around Olifantsrus Camp, which means its excellent for game viewing.

Aside from a rawer bush experience, Olifantsrus offers unrivalled access to a magnificent state of the art double story hide overlooking a manmade waterhole that has become particularly popular with elephants, hence the camp’s name (which translates as ‘Elephant’s Rest’).

Guests can get up-close to the animals because the hide overlooks the waterhole. The hide offers a safe game viewing opportunity in a second story hut with glass windows, perfect for cold or windy weather. Getting to the hide is easy as there’s a wooden walkway that takes you to your campsite.

In short, Olifantsrus has everything a dedicated camper is looking for, you will love it here!

The next morning continue to drive east through the park covering the 130 km to Okaukuejo Camp.

This a fantastic drive through Etosha and some of the most famous waterholes are along your way. Take your time and make a full day trip of this, stopping frequently at the waterholes. If you are lucky you might just get that once in a lifetime photo with 8 or more species of large mammals in one photo!

Famous for its floodlit waterhole Okaukuejo Rest Camp is also the administrative centre of Etosha. Most visitors travel though this camp with its characteristic stone tower and Etosha Ecological Institute is also situated within the camp.

Accommodation is provided to suit every need, in premier bush chalets overlooking the waterhole, bush chalets and double rooms, or family chalets. Other facilities include a restaurant, bar, shop, swimming pool, kiosk and camping facilities.

After sunset floodlights illuminate the waterhole. This is the best time and place to see the endangered black rhino. This archaic mammal can often be seen drinking alongside lion and elephant. The number and interaction of the animals is the major drawcard of Okaukuejo Camp. Many visitors spend long hours at night watching the spectacle in anticipation of what will happen next, just one of the best experiences in Africa! It is not uncommon to have eight or more rhino at the waterhole at the same time, not to mention large herds of elephant.

The camp can be busy at times, but it is located inside the Park in a great location and the floodlit waterhole is a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed!

Today you will continue to drive east through Etosha along the myriad of small roads, waterholes and the Pan itself.

You have a good chance to see the famous ‘white elephants’ of Etosha along the way. Do a stopover at Halali Camp and continue east making sure to exit the Park before the gate closes at sunset.

Then do the short drive to Onguma Private Reserve bordering the Park, for a 2-night stay at this oasis. At Onguma you have a number of accommodation options from two different campsites to choose from or treat yourself and stay at the fabulous Onguma Etosha Aoba or Onguma Tree Top. Camping or lodge stay, either way this is a great spot to just take it easy and relax after the long days of driving.

If you are going to treat yourself, we recommend Onguma Tree Camp, which is for everyone who would like to truly experience the bush in all its raw splendour. A place where giraffe, zebra, lion, and many other species of antelope come to quench their thirst. The camp is built on wooden stilts amongst the treetops with full views over one of the most beautiful watering holes on Onguma Game Reserve. The Camp consists of 4 thatched rooms with canvas walls, a deck overlooking the waterhole, a lounge, dining room and interactive kitchen.

Onguma Reserve is inhabited by a diversity of around thirty different mammal species such as kudu, giraffe, eland, oryx, zebra, as well as predators such as lion, cheetah and leopard. The latest addition to the already abundant wildlife at Onguma Game Reserve is a family of black rhinos!

After two relaxing days at Onguma it will be time to start heading south towards Windhoek. Do the short drive past Tsumeb and Otavi to reach Okonjima home to the AfriCat foundation for an overnight stop.

The Okonjima Nature Reserve, a large protected area set amongst the rugged commercial farmlands of central Namibia, comprises a diversified ecosystem representative of both the larger and small mammals of Namibia, as well as most of the country’s endemic birds.

Okonjima is equally famed for frequent leopard, brown hyaena and pangolin sightings on its safaris, as well as The Africat Foundation. Since being founded in 1991, AfriCat’s mission has been to make significant contributions to conservation, while trying to ensure the survival of Namibia’s predators in their natural habitat. It undertakes research and environmental education projects.

Setup camp at the well-appointed Omboroko Campsite for the night.

The next morning continue heading south towards Windhoek and spend the last night of the tour at Old Traders Lodge on Erindi, the perfect stopover close to Windhoek.

The Erindi Private Game Reserve, a 70 000-hectare protected nature reserve with a remarkable biodiversity. In the midst of the reserve is Erindi Old Traders Lodges a place to calm down and come to terms with the fact that the trip has come to an end……

The lodge provides a variety of room types and the rooms, as well as the colonial-style restaurant on the viewing platform, overlook a bustling waterhole. The elegant main building serves as a dining room, where you will be surprised with the culinary diversity morning, noon and evening. For an exciting and at the same time relaxing leisure time, you can enjoy the viewing platform and the spacious swimming pool, as well as other activities such as various game drives by day and night.

On the last morning do the short drive to Windhoek, drop the vehicle at the car hire company and transfer to the Airport for your connecting flight home.

If this trip is not at the TOP of your list of best experiences ever, we will be very surprised! Don’t take our word for it, just come and DO IT!

Have the time to do it slow and in depth? Get in touch!

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