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Best 2 Week Itinerary In Namibia (+ Travel Tips & Maps) (2023 Review)

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Last Updated on October 5, 2023 by Nicole

Namibia is a large African country located in the southwest of Africa, just above South Africa, on the Atlantic Ocean. It borders Angola, Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. It is the driest country in Africa south of the Sahara and offers breathtaking scenery, a lengthy natural coastline, a wealth of African wildlife, expansive deserts and towering mountains. It is one of the most incredible African countries for safaris and exploration and you can easily spend weeks if not months exploring this mesmerizing county. We rented a car and did a 14 day road trip on a Namibian vacation in late January and early February and saw some of the best it had to offer. Here is our exceptional 2 week itinerary in Namibia.

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Lions in Etosha National Park on 2 week road trip in Namibia
A sleeping lion in Etosha National Park.

I have been to Africa several times over the last 38 years. Unfortunately, I only started writing this blog a few years ago, so I have not written about many of my experiences.

However, I have written about how to plan an African safari and a budget safari.

In my opinion, unlike most everywhere else in the world, there is too much mystery about traveling in Africa. In addition, when you rely on a travel agent or travel company, you often feel uncertain about whether you are going to see the animals that you want, or whether you are being charged a fair amount.

In my experience, you are often being massively overcharged. You contact a travel agent in your home country, who then contacts a travel agent or tour operator in Africa, and then, you are presented with an African safari where you are paying commissions to at least 2 different entities, if not more.

So, how do you avoid this?

Read the two articles listed above about how to plan an African safari, then try to do as much research as you can about where you really want to go and what you really want to do and see. Then, try and find a local travel agent.

That is what I did for our Namibian trip. I worked with Allison from Nature Travel Namibia and with her unbelievable guidance, we crafted an incredible Namibian vacation that took our breath away.

If you are looking for other helpful travel tips to help you travel CHEAPER, SMARTER AND EASIER, then join the thousands of subscribers who receive my weekly newsletter filled with the most up to date and best travel tips around. Sign up with this link

Other African Safaris

I have been on many African safaris but haven’t always written about them because I went on them before I started my blog. However, I did write about our ultra luxury safari in Zambia at Chongwe River House on the Chongwe and Zambezi Rivers.

In many respects, this African safari is the complete opposite to our experiences in Namibia. In Zambia, we spent huge chunks of our day on the rivers either traveling to and from the national park where we did our game viewing, or actually doing safaris on the water. According to my husband, it is still his absolute favorite trip that we have ever taken. For more information, please see:

Background

My husband, son and I spent 14 days self driving around Namibia and it was an extraordinary experience. We cancelled our trip to Uganda a couple months earlier because of a deadly Ebola outbreak and scrambled to replace it with something else “nearby”.

I had always wanted to go to Namibia but really knew very little about it except that it had a dry arid and desert landscape with some unique wildlife.

A white rhino in Namibia
White Rhino found near Okonjima Plains Camp in Namibia.

Why Namibia?

I often hear people asking to which African country they should go for their first African safari. Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa are often mentioned. Why?

They are relatively easy to reach from several airports in North America, Europe and Asia. They have an established safari tourism infrastructure and there are lots of tour operators offering trips. In addition, when you start doing your own research about where to go and stay, there is a lot written about these countries and their safaris.

Namibia is very different.

It is difficult to reach. You can only reach it directly from a couple of European and Middle East cities and those flights are long. In most instances, you have to fly to Johannesburg, then transfer and fly to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia.

Add in the time change (if you are coming from North America), a night’s stay in Johannesburg because you can’t easily make the transfer or you just want to be sure you don’t miss your flight because of a late arrival, and already 3 days have passed before you have actually started your vacation in Namibia.

In addition, Namibia is very untouched with a developing tourism industry. We sometimes drove for 3 hours without seeing another car, person or house. You spend hours being in the middle of nature surrounded by astounding natural wonders such as massive sand dunes or mountains. You truly feel like you have found an authentic untouched part of the world. Even more amazing, it never felt unsafe.

I have been on several African safaris over the last 38 years. I have been on safaris in Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana. I have also explored other Sub-Saharan African countries, such as Tanzania (Zanzibar), the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), and the Kingdom of Lesotho. Namibia is unlike any of these African countries and truly a magical find in this world of overtourism.

Climbing up Big Daddy sand dune in Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia
Climbing up Big Daddy sand dune in Namib-Naukluft National Park.

Best 14 Day Namibian Holiday

We drove over 1300 miles (2100 km) on our 2 week holiday in Namibia and saw about 40% of the country. I would have happily spent another few weeks exploring the rest if we had had the time. However, we saw a fantastic overview of what Namibia has to offer.

Below is a map of our 14 day Namibian itinerary. We started by driving north from Windhoek.

In the north, there is dense woodlands to vast plains attracting a variety of wildlife.

As you move southwest, it becomes arid and mountainous until it transforms into the desert and the coast. Wildlife becomes less common as you drive south, but we still came across oryx, giraffe, zebras, as well as others, when we least expected to.

Summer In Namibia

Our 14 day getaway in Namibia straddled January and February. This is summer in Namibia and the “rainy” season.

When I first heard it was the “rainy” season, I was like “no way – I do not want to go halfway around the world to be in the cold and rain.”

I live in Vancouver and if you know winter weather in London, England or Seattle, Washington, then you get an idea at what our rainy season looks like. The rain basically never stops. It’s gloomy and wet.

The “rainy” season in Namibia should really be called something different for tourists because it is barely noticeable. It was beautifully sunny and warm everyday. If it rained, it rained hard for about 15 to 30 minutes, often at night. That’s it.

Namibia is arid and dry so any rainfall is significant and important for the country. As a tourist, it did create some pretty big puddles of water here and there, but they quickly disappeared with the heat of the sun.

Overall, the rain was unnoticeable and had no impact on our days or our experiences. It should not be a factor against coming to Namibia in summer.

A seal at Cape Cross Seal Colony on 14 day holiday in Namibia
A pretty relaxed seal at Cape Cross Seal Colony.

On the contrary, there are lots of advantages to traveling in summer. It is “low” season and you can find some fantastic hotel deals. The national parks are quiet and game viewing is amazing – you are often alone on a game drive even in Etosha National Park, the most popular game park in Namibia.

Some of the game viewing is “harder” as the animals do not have to go to man-made watering holes for their water. Instead, they can drink from the puddles that are created from the rain, off the beaten track.

However, I much prefer to find the animals more naturally and organically, and that is what you end up doing. For me, that is a plus, especially when the game parks are quiet and you can easily spreadout from other tourists during low season.

Views at Okonjima Plains Camp while leopard trekking on 2 week vacation in Namibia
Views while leopard trekking at Okonjima Nature Reserve.

Rental Car In Namibia

We landed in Windhoek after a short flight from Johannesburg and picked up our rental car. We rented a Toyota Fortuner and got a phenomenal rate through Discover Cars.

A couple of issues related to your rental car and driving in Namibia for which you should be aware:

  1. The roads around cities and major highways are paved. However, many other roads are not. They are gravel. You should rent a 4WD car with large clearance underneath it, and make sure that you have at least one spare tire. We did not need our spare tire, but apparently that is unusual.
  2. Give yourself around 2 hours to pick up the rental car at the airport. You have to watch a video about driving in Namibia (a description of what the roads are like and how best to drive on them). They also do a thorough inspection of the car and intently explain its features. Make sure you build in that time into the total amount of time that you need to reach your first destination before dark.
  3. Read your rental car documents carefully. Make sure you are clear about what kind of insurance is already included in the price of the rental (we had lots automatically included in our rental price) and be aware of any extras that the rental agent tries to add that you don’t need.
  4. The rental agency will likely charge your credit card with the security deposit versus put a hold on the amount. That means that when you are ultimately charged your final amount upon your car rental return, your rental will be more expensive than originally quoted because you will be unfairly penalized by the currency exchange rate used by your credit card company. This can be avoided by accepting the rental agencies’ insurance. However, this means that your rental car will still cost more from the cost of the insurance.
  5. NEVER EVER leave a place without filling up your car even if you have 3/4 of a tank left. We almost ran out of gas when we were returned to Windhoek from the Sossusvlei region and we started with 3/4 of a tank. I couldn’t believe that we didn’t come across one gas station on our 4 hour drive back to the capital until we were almost in Windhoek. It was incredibly stressful.
  6. We felt very safe in Namibia. The only instance that anything unpleasant happened was when a police officer pulled us over for something ridiculous and then, said he would accept the equivalent of $50 USD to avoid taking us to the police station to pay the much larger fine. This happened to us once before in South Africa many years ago and we knew this could happen again. We recommend hiding all your money in your luggage and instead have around $20 USD or so in your wallet. If this happens, offer him the $20 while showing your wallet is otherwise empty. He will most likely accept the money rather than get nothing if he takes you to the station. It has worked for us.

Days 1, 2, and 3 at Okonjima Plains Camp

Windhoek To Okonjima Plains Camp

We drove straight from Windhoek airport to Okonjima Plains Camp. It was a very easy drive, mostly highways on paved routes that were easy to follow.

Okonjima Plains Camp is a luxury lodge that sits on the Okonjima Nature Reserve. It sprawls over 50,000 acres (200 square kilometres) of undulating plains, mountainous outcrops, and riverine thickets.

Its’ game viewing includes leopards and white rhinos, as well as other more commonly found African animals such as zebras, giraffes, and oryx. We stayed 2 nights here.

leopard trekking on 2 week holiday in Namibia
Leopard trekking.

Leopard Trekking

What drew us here over other lodges in Namibia is the leopard trekking. This was an unbelievable experience and one that I would highly recommend doing on your trip to Namibia.

Leopards are solitary creatures who roam freely and are as happy sleeping in a tree as they are on the ground. Because of this, they are very difficult to find in the wild.

At Okonjima, once a leopard is fully grown, they safely capture the leopard in the wild (by placing a sedative in some food). Then, they quickly send out a veterinarian who checks on the health of the leopard and puts a collar on it. This collar is loaded with a tracking beacon which allows the guides to pinpoint the whereabouts of a leopard within a defined area.

Leopard trekking either takes place at dawn or a few hours before sunset. You head out in an open air safari jeep with a guide who is assigned a vast area where at least one leopard is located. There is only one safari jeep per area so it is an exclusive experience for all guests. Then, the guide uses his rudimentary tracking device to try and find the leopard.

Leopard safari on 14 day vacation in Namibia
Our guide with his leopard tracking device.

Believe it or not, even with the tracking device it is incredibly hard to find the leopards. There is lot of underbrush and trees, and the leopard’s coloring and spots helps it blend into the scenery. But, once you do, you will never forget your thrilling encounters with this magnificent creature.

leopard tracking on 14 day road trip in Namibia
We discovered two Leopards on our leopard tracking excursion.

Overall Impressions Of Okonjima Plains Camp

This is an expensive lodge which ended up being my least favorite one on our whole trip. The attitude of the management and staff was aloof and unappealing. Everywhere else we went on our 2 week Namibian adventure, everyone was kind and intent on making our stay wonderful. At Okonjima Plains Camp, it felt like money was more important than anything else.

Having said that, you MUST do the leopard experience. It was truly one of the most incredible wild life encounters that I have ever had and I’ve had many.

Accordingly, I would recommend only staying one night, doing the leopard experience, and going elsewhere for your other safaris.

Elephants in Etosha National Park on 2 week Namibian adventure
Elephants in Etosha National Park
Zebra in Etosha National Park on 14 day safari in Namibia
Zebra in Etosha National Park.

Days 3, 4 and 5 at Mushara Lodge Next to Etosha National Park

We drove from Okonjima Plains Camp to Mushara Lodge, located about 5 miles (8 km) from the Von Lindequist Gate on the eastern boundary of Etosha National Park on our 14 day road trip. The drive was easy with lovely views.

Main Lodge at Mushara Lodge on 2 week safari in Namibia
Inside the main lodge at Mushara Lodge.

Mushara Lodge

Mushara Lodge is a beautiful small lodge with luxury accommodation and amazing staff. In the center of the property is a pretty pool with lots of shade, perfect for relaxing in between safaris at Etosha. We stayed 2 nights at Mushara.

Lions in Etosha National park on 14 day trip in Namibia
Lions in Etosha National park on our 14 day trip in Namibia.
Lions in Etosha National park on 14 day getaway in Namibia
Lions in Etosha National Park.

Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is one of the largest national parks in all of Africa (bigger than Kruger in South Africa). It is 13,670 miles (22,000 km) and offers a wide variety of game viewing such as lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas, springboks, two kinds of zebras, elands (and more).

We did two safaris in Etosha with a guide in an open air safari jeep booked through Mushara Lodge. Even though we had our own vehicle and the roads in the National Park were paved and well signed, we thought that we would get a better experience with a guide who knew the Park well.

I am glad with this decision. Our guide knew where to find elephants who are difficult to find in summer. In addition, he was in constant radio contact with other guides who helped direct us to an area where we could find a lion pride. It was also nice to have the high viewing seats offered by the jeep and the ability to take better photos.

Ostriches in Etosha National park on 2 week trip in Namibia
Ostriches in Etosha National Park on our way to Okaukeujo Camp.

Days 5 and 6 at Okaukeujo Camp

We spent the day game viewing while driving from Mushara Lodge to Okaukeujo Camp in Etosha National Park on our 14 day vacation in Nambia. Okaukeujo Camp is located in Etosha National Park, one of only a few lodges located within the Park.

Okaukeujo Camp

Okaukeujo Camp is owned and operated by the Namibian government. It is located in the southern part of Etosha and only 11 miles (17 km) from Anderson Gate.

Okaukeujo Camp had a very different feel to the other privately owned luxury lodges at which we stayed on our Namibian holiday. Accommodation is a lot more basic, service is sketchy, and food is just ok.

The reason that we chose to book a night here was the ability to stay in Etosha National Park after dark and go on a night safari. Also, it was close to one of the exits at the Park and enroute to our next destination on our 2 week vacation in Namibia.

Watering hole at Okaukeujo Camp in Etosha National park on 2 week getaway in Namibia
Man-made watering hole at Okaukeujo Camp in Etosha National Park.

Another reason for staying in Okaukeujo for a night was the enormous floodlit watering hole open to the guests. Animals from Etosha come and go and freely drink the water, allowing you to easily find and watch all kinds of animals just by sitting on a bench and waiting.

In summer, when there is rainfall, the watering hole is less of a draw for the animals as they can find water elsewhere in Etosha. However, most other times of the year, this watering hole is a fantastic and easy spot for animal viewing.

Overall Impressions Of Okaukeujo Camp

Compared to the other accommodation at which we stayed, this was the least impressive from an amenities perspective. However, we did love staying in Etosha for one night, going on the evening safari and seeing the animals around the watering hole. In addition, I also appreciated waking up in the Park, doing a bit more game viewing before exiting Etosha for our next destination.

Days 6, 7 and 8 at Palmwag Lodge

We drove from Etosha National Park to Palmwag Lodge, just over 4 hour’s drive, on our 14 day getaway in Namibia. The drive started on paved roads, but they shortly became gravel. Once we started driving on gravel, we barely saw houses, buildings, people or cars.

The scenery was gorgeous. It started somewhat lush with rolling plains and slowly turned extremely dry, mountainous with red rocks and very little vegetation. It was very beautiful.

Palmwag Lodge

Between Kaokoland and the Skeleton Coast, in the Palmwag Concession (a 550,000 hectare protected area located in the northwestern part of Namibia), lies Palmwag Lodge and Camp, where we stayed for 2 nights.

Views from Palmwag Lodge on 14 day Namibian vacation
Views from Palmwag Lodge.

Palmwag Lodge and Camp offers 3 types of accommodation – in the luxury lodge, Camp To Go, or on a traditional campsite. We chose to spend 2 nights at Camp To Go. In North America, this would more commonly be called “Glamping”.

Camp To Go at Palmwag Lodge on 14 day Namibian holiday
Camp To Go at Palmwag Lodge.

We had an enormous tent with very comfortable twin beds for each of us, a full bathroom, air conditioning, and a full outside kitchen. It was amazing and we loved this experience.

We chose to stay at Palmwag so that we could trek black rhinos on foot. It was extraordinarily hot while we were there, so although the Lodge offered other activities, such as other guided hikes and nature drives, we chose to relax by the pool in our spare time.

Black rhino found during rhino tracking on 2 week Namibian road trip
Black rhino found in Palmwag Concession during rhino tracking.

Black Rhino Trekking

The black rhino trekking was another remarkable experience on our 2 week road trip in Namibia and one that you should try to add to your Namibian itinerary.

Black rhinos are critically endangered and only found in a handful of places in southern Africa. They are very aggressive but have terrible eyesight. They are unable to see a motionless person at a distance of 100 ft (30m). They mainly rely on their strong sense of smell.

Their awful eyesight means that you can safely trek black rhinos on foot with the help of guides so long as you follow strict rules, such as staying a suitable distance away.

black rhino trekking on 14 day Namibian road trip
The three of us in Palmwag Concession for black rhino tracking.

Our Experience Black Rhino Tracking

On our morning trek, a guide and driver from the Lodge drove us around 30 minutes in an open game drive vehicle to the area where the black rhinos roam. Along the way, we picked up two rangers who were experts in rhino tracking.

We dropped off one ranger so he could follow tracks while the other one stayed with us and we continued to drive and search for rhinos. Eventually, a rhino was found by the ranger on foot and we drove to meet him.

At this point, we got out of the jeep and started the trek. We had to walk in a straight line and were told what to do if the rhino charged. However, it was unwarranted.

The rhino that we were tracking was very shy. We followed it for about an hour and got some amazing photos, but we were never too close.

Views in Palmwag Concession on 2 week Namibian holiday
Views of Palmwag Concession where black rhinos roam.

It was a spectacular experience. We were alone in the middle of this dry, rocky mountainous area following this magnificent creature. We didn’t see other animals while trekking, but later saw giraffes and zebras on our drive who somehow are also capable of living in this unforgiving terrain.

Days 8, 9, 10, and 11 at Atlantic Garden Boutique Hotel in Swakopmund

We drove from Damaraland to the Atlantic Garden Boutique Hotel in Swakopmund, a 6 hour drive (without stops), on our 14 day trip in Namibia.

However, we chose to drive through Skeleton National Park where the sand dunes meet the Atlantic Ocean and stopped a few times to explore various sites. Accordingly, the drive took much longer. Nevertheless, this was another astounding day.

road trip through skeleton national park in Namibia
A rare sighting of animals in Skeleton National Park in Namibia.

Initially, our drive from Palmwag Lodge was over and through red rock mountains with spectacular views. However, as we approached the Atlantic Ocean, the landscape became flatter and lost its red color. Instead, it became mostly yellow sand that was either flat or part of enormous sand dunes.

Skeleton National Park

We entered Skeleton National Park at Springbokwasser Gate. It has limited hours of operation so make sure you double check what those are before you leave.

When we were there, it was open from 7:00 am – 3:00 pm. We exited the Park at the southern Ugab Gate and had to do that before it closed at 5:00 pm.

You must pay an entry fee to enter the Park and you should have cash on hand for this. In addition, make sure you have snacks and water, you have checked your tires and have a full gas tank. There is absolutely no services within the Park.

The road is paved. However, there is so much sand and wind coming off of the Atlantic Ocean that the paved road can quickly disappear under a coat of sand. You will likely see trucks that drive the roads all day long clearing the sand much like snow clearing vehicles.

On one side of the road is sand and the Atlantic Ocean and on the other side is more sand and sand dunes. Apart from the occasional attraction along the way, that is all that you see through Skeleton National Park.

abandoned oil rig discovered on road trip through skeleton national park in Namibia
Abandoned oil rig discovered on road trip through Skeleton National Park.
abandoned oil rig found on road trip through skeleton national park in Namibia
Abandoned oil rig.
Shipwreck in skeleton national park in Namibia
Shipwreck in Skeleton National Park.
Shipwreck around skeleton national park in Namibia
Fishing Trawler run aground.

Attractions In And Around Skeleton National Park

We stopped and explored an old abandoned oil drilling rig from the 1970s. Later, we also stopped and saw the shipwreck of the South West Seal, a fishing trawler that run aground in 1976. Both were very cool to see.

Cape Cross Seal Colony

About one hour from the Ugab gate exiting Skeleton National Park, you find Cape Cross Seal Colony.

This colony hosts hundreds of thousands of seals who come to frolic in the ocean, enjoy the good fishing provided by the nutrient-rich waters of the Benguela current, and mate and raise their babies.

For just a few dollars per person (in cash), you can purchase tickets to walk on a raised walkway over and around the seals.

Boardwalk at Cape Cross Seal Colony on 14 day Namibian adventure
Boardwalk at Cape Cross Seal Colony.
Cape Cross Seal Colony on 2 week Namibian adventure
Seals for as far as the eye can see at Cape Cross Seal Colony.

You are absolutely surrounded by seals and in many cases, you are so close to some of them that you could reach out and touch them (which, of course, would be incredibly foolish and dangerous thing to do).

Seal from Boardwalk at Cape Cross Seal Colony on 2 week Namibian trip
Cute seals everywhere at Cape Cross Seal Colony.

There are lots of seals sunbathing and sleeping on their backs and cute baby seals trying to keep up with their moms.

However, there are also fighting seals, even dead, rotting pups who for some reason, have not survived. In addition, the smell of rotten fish is overwhelming.

Atlantic Garden Boutique Hotel in Swakopmund

We drove just over an hour on our 2 week getaway in Nambia from the Cape Cross Seal Colony to the Atlantic Garden Boutique Hotel in Swakopmund for our three night stay.

Swakopmund is a beautiful colonial town filled with German architecture. It has a population of around 50,000 and offers sophisticated and internationally renowned restaurants, wine tastings, and fun shopping.

The Atlantic Garden Boutique hotel was a beautiful modern hotel right in downtown Swakopmund. Our room was large and luxurious and the breakfast was superb. We were able to park our car and walk everywhere. We were 5 minutes from the beach and just steps to excellent restaurants and shops.

View of Atlantic Ocean from outside Swakopmund on Desert Safari
View of Atlantic Ocean from outside Swakopmund on Desert Safari.

Overall Impressions of Skeleton National Park and Drive

I loved Skeleton National Park, seeing the ocean and the vast sandy landscape and sand dunes. It was extraordinary watching how the landscape changed from Palmwag to Swakopmund. In addition, it was amazing seeing the unusual sight of the sand dunes meeting the Atlantic Ocean.

However, this was a long day, with several hours of the same view.

Seals from Boardwalk at Cape Cross Seal Colony on 14 day Namibian safari
Seals everywhere at Cape Cross Seal Colony.

One of the reasons that we chose this route was to see Cape Cross Seal Colony. I would highly recommend including this attraction on your 14 day road trip. It was a truly unique experience.

Swakopmund Attractions

We spent the next couple of days enjoying Swakopmund. We did the Desert Safari which was exceptional. You spend a few hours in the nearby sand dunes with a guide uncovering and learning about all the tiny creatures that somehow live and survive in this seemingly barren ecosystem.

Chameleon found on Desert Safari near Swakopmund on 14 day Namibian adventure
Chameleon matching its surroundings found on Desert Safari.
Chameleon found on Desert Safari near Swakopmund on 14 day Namibian trip
Chameleon decided to change its colors.
Snake on Desert Safari in Namibia
A snake hidden in the desert discovered on Desert Safari.
Little creatures found on Desert Safari in Namibia
The tiny creatures that live in the desert in Namibia.

On another day, my husband and son went deep sea fishing and loved it. I took the sightseeing boat from Walvis Bay and enjoyed seeing the mainland from a different perspective, spotting sea life, and watching seals at another smaller seal colony.

When not on tours, we ate at some extraordinary restaurants and shopped. It was really fun and a welcome change to the outdoor adventure and wildlife experiences that we had had up to that point on our 2 week Namibian vacation.

Views from Big Daddy sand dune in Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia
Spectacular views from Big Daddy dune.

Days 11, 12 and 13 at Desert Homestead Lodge at Sossusvlei

We loved our time in Swakopmund but also couldn’t wait to start on the next part of our adventure. We drove almost 5 hours on our 2 week holiday in Namibia to Desert Homestead Lodge, quickly leaving behind the Atlantic Ocean and entering the world of ginormous red sand dunes; white, salt, and clay pans; and yellowish stone mountains. It was a harsh landscape, empty of much vegetation or greenery, yet still very beautiful.

Desert Homestead Lodge

Desert Homestead Lodge is a pretty lodge offering individual and luxurious thatched cottages for accommodation. The main lodge includes a stunning bar and restaurant with patios offering spectacular views over the valleys, in addition to a pool.

The food was delicious and the atmosphere was elegant yet very friendly and easy going. We really enjoyed our 2 night stay here.

Our room at Desert Homestead Lodge at Sossusvlei
Our room at Desert Homestead Lodge at Sossusvlei.
View from restaurant patio at Desert Homestead Lodge at Sossusvlei.
View from restaurant patio at Desert Homestead Lodge at Sossusvlei.
View from pool at Desert Homestead Lodge in Sossusvlei.
View from pool at Desert Homestead Lodge in Sossusvlei.

Sossusvlei

Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia (the largest conservation area in Africa). The dunes in this area are some of the highest in the world, reaching almost 1300 feet (400 meters).

The dunes of the Namib Desert were created by sand carried by the wind from the coast of Namibia. The sand here is 5 million years old and red in colour because of its iron oxide content.

The wind in the immediate area blows from all directions creating “star dunes”.  This is because the winds cause the sand to form a star shape with multiple arms.

Quad bike tour at Mirage Resort in Namibia
Quad bike tour at Mirage Resort.

Sunset Quad Bike Tour

We did a sunset quad bike tour offered by Le Mirage Resort and Spa on our first night. We wanted to do something totally different and thought that spending a couple of hours on a quad bike (ATV) zipping around the desert and the dunes while watching the sunset would be amazing. And it was! We saw several animals and had incredible views of the valleys.

Private Tour of Namib-Naukluft National Park

The next day, we did a one day private tour through Desert Homestead Lodge and explored all that Sossusvlei and Namib-Naukluft National Park had to offer. It was truly magnificent.

Dune 45

Our first stop on our private tour was Dune 45, named for its proximity to Sesriem Gate. It was located 45km (28 miles) from the gate, along a paved road. You are welcome to climb this dune, but we decided to conserve our energy and climb the biggest one – “Big Daddy”!

Big Daddy in Namib-Naukluft National Park
Harrison climbing Big Daddy in Namib-Naukluft National Park.
Beautiful views of sand dunes in Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park
Beautiful views of sand dunes and Deadvlei in Namib-Naukluft National Park.

Big Daddy

Big Daddy is the tallest dune in the Sossusvlei area and at 1066 feet (325 meters), it dwarfs the other dunes. You can trek to the top of Big Daddy where you can look down onto Deadvlei.

Big Daddy may be the highest dune in the Sossusvlei area, however it is not the highest in the Namib Desert. “Dune 7” has been measured at 1272 feet (388 meters). 

We climbed halfway up Big Daddy. It was very, very difficult. We were one of the first of the day and thus, on every step we took, our feet sunk deep into the sand.

On the occasion that we found existing footsteps, it was much easier as the sand became more compact with each footfall.

At halfway up, we had unbelievable 365 degree views of Namib-Naukluft National Park. In addition, just below us was Deadvlei. At the end of our hike, we literally ran and slid down Big Daddy to Deadvlei at the base, hooting and laughing all the way.

Deadvlei in Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park
Deadvlei in Namib-Naukluft National Park.

Deadvlei

Deadvlei is a clay pan characterized by dark, dead (petrified) camel thorn trees contrasted against the white pan floor. The pan was formed when the Tsauchab River flooded, allowing for the trees to grow. However, the climate changed and the sand dunes rose, blocking the river from reaching the area. 

The trees are estimated to be approximately 900 years old, however they remain, foregoing decomposition because of the incredibly dry climate.

We walked around the area absorbing the contrasting beauty that the red sand dunes, white pan floor and black trees created. It was awe-inspiring.

Hiking through Sesriem Canyon.
Hiking through Sesriem Canyon.

Sesriem Canyon

At the end of our tour, we went and hiked in Sesriem Canyon, located approximately 4.5km from the entrance to Namib-Naukluft National Park. The Tsauchab River shaped the Canyon over millions of years and it is one of the few places in the area that holds water all year round.

The canyon is narrow at places and in some spots, you have to climb over rocks to continue your hike. However, it is worth exploring to see the significant differences between its stunning yellow rock formations and the red sand dunes just a few miles away.

Days 13 and 14 at Avani Windhoek Hotel And Casino

We drove back to Windhoek on our 2 week Namibian road trip. This is where we had over 3/4 tank of gas and didn’t come across one gas station until we were only minutes from Windhoek, almost running out. So, whatever you do, make sure you fill up your gas tank before leaving Sossusvlei.

We were mostly alone on the road on the drive back to Windhoek. We found ourselves on wide country roads, sometimes paved and sometimes not. We drove through tiny towns and villages watching children play and seeing how normal people lived. However, these towns were few and far between.

For the most part, we drove by empty barren land or the occasional spot with a house or car parked nearby. It got greener and more lush as we got closer to Windhoek.

Avani Windhoek Hotel And Casino in Windhoek

Windhoek is the capital of Namibia and not very attractive or interesting. I would not add any extra nights here if you are short of time.

Having said that, the Avani Windhoek Hotel was very nice with large comfortable rooms located in the center of downtown. We arrived in the early afternoon, walked and shopped in the nearby mall, and had fun exploring this other side of Namibia.

The next morning, we flew home.

Last Word

Namibia was extraordinary. It is stunningly beautiful and offers exciting landscapes and wildlife for you to enjoy. It is an untouched paradise of nature, filled with kind and generous people. The next time you are trying to decide where to go for your next adventure, make sure that you consider Namibia.

the authorNicole
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