Namibia Nomad: 9 Day Self-Drive Itinerary

Michelle Hollenbeck holding a drink
Curated By

Michelle Hollenbeck

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  • Namibia

  • South Africa

  • Adventure Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Road Trip Travel

  • Outdoors

  • Wildlife

  • Sightseeing

Girl posing in a desert
Curator’s statement

When I discovered Namibia is one of the least visited countries in the world, I thought to myself, “I have to go there.” Africa is by far and wide my favorite continent to travel on. The scenery, animals, people and culture never cease to amaze me. Namibia is no different! Get WAY off the beaten path and journey to a land that time forgot.

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Day 1: Arrive in Windhoek

Arrive in Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia, and pick up your rental car. Check in to your accommodations and get settled. Explore the city and decompress after what will likely have been a lengthy journey. Have a laid-back dinner and drinks at Joe’s Beerhouse, an eclectic experience you will be sure to enjoy.

Day 2: Namib Desert

A vast desert during the daytime

Check-out of your accommodations and begin the four-and-a-half hour drive into the Namib Desert. The distances between towns in Namibia are long, but the sights and scenery are absolutely breathtaking. Check-in to your accommodations in the NamibRand Nature Reserve on the outskirts of the Namib Desert. We stayed at Kwessi Dunes and absolutely loved it here. Have lunch on the deck and watch the oryx's enjoy the watering hole. Spend your days admiring the sand dunes, take an ATV ride, and go for a landscape safari with your guide.

Day 3: Sossusvlei

Dead trees in a dry desert

Today you will day trip to Sossusvlei. This was probably my favorite place in Namibia. It is a large salt pan with towering dunes surrounding that have been here for over three million years. About an hour and a half drive from our accommodations, you will end up at the Naukluft National Park and enter through the Sesriem gate. After purchasing your tickets, you will then drive about another 45 minutes before you reach Sossusvlei. During your drive you will pass “Dune 45” which is one of the most photographed dunes in the world. Stop and take some pictures or hike the dune! Carry on until you end up at Sossusvlei and Deadvlei. Hike “Big Daddy,” the largest dune in the Sossusvlei area, just make sure you brought enough water!

Pro tip: Stay at the Naukluft National Park!

Day 4: Swakopmund

A bird flying over a body of water with other animals in it

Today, you will check out of your accommodations and leave the breathtaking beauty of the Namib Desert behind to head to the coastal town of Swakopmund. This involves a lengthy drive of about six to seven hours, taking you across the Tropic of Capricorn! Keep an eye out for the sign and stop for a picture. Before reaching Swakopmund, make a stop in Walvis Bay and witness the flamingos! Pull into the lagoon and view the tens of thousands of flamingos that call this place home. Continue on about 15 minutes into the quaint town of Swakopmund and check into your accommodations. We stayed at the Swakopmund Guesthouse. Right in the heart of town, it is a perfect boutique hotel to spend a night or two. After you are settled, walk to dinner! We ate at Andy’s Sushi, Oyster and Seafood and were not disappointed. Make sure to get the prawns! They are massive!

Days 5 & 6: Damaraland

Two elephants walking through a grassy area

Today, check out of your accommodations in Swakopmund and embark on a five-hour trek to Damaraland. This beautiful scenic drive will take you through small villages where the Himba tribes live. Arrive in Damaraland and spend two nights here, enjoying safaris, relaxing by the pool at your tented camp, and having sundowners in the bush. You will also get the chance to see the desert elephants who are smaller than the average African elephant and call the desert home. We stayed at Damaraland Wilderness Camp, which was absolutely breathtaking.

Days 7-9: Etosha

A young lion laying down and roaring

On day seven, you will check out of your tented camp and make the four-hour drive north to Etosha. Arguably the best game viewing in Namibia, get ready to see a wide variety of desert-adapted wildlife to include elephants, giraffes, springbok, zebras, lions, and if your very lucky like we were, cheetah! Spend the next two days on safari enjoying these amazing animals in their natural habitats. Our first night at Etosha Heights we were the only guests in camp and were lucky enough to have a private safari drive! We spent quite a bit of time observing two lion brothers that had just enjoyed a meal. The next day we were beyond lucky enough to track a young female cheetah! A true highlight of our time in Etosha.

On the morning of day nine, check out of your accommodations and make the five hour drive back to Windhoek. We flew out late on day nine but you could certainly consider spending one more night in Windhoek and flying out in the morning. 

Need to Know

US passport holders do not require a visa to visit Namibia for less than 90 days. Some European countries DO require a visa to visit Namibia, so ensure you look into this before traveling. The currency in Namibia is the Namibia dollar however the South African rand is widely accepted and is a 1:1 conversion. Make sure you exchange currencies as the US dollar is not generally accepted here. Credit cards are accepted in the major cities but can be hit or miss in the smaller towns. The sole official language of Namibia is surprisingly English, however Oshiwambo is the most common spoken language. Afrikaans and German are also widely spoken.

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Curated Cape Town.

This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Namibia

Michelle Hollenbeck holding a drink

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Michelle Hollenbeck

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