Uncover Namibia’s southern attractions on this exciting self drive journey. Discover some of the world’s highest sand dunes and the largest canyon after the Grand Canyon.
- Discover both the Kalahari and Namib Deserts
- Explore the second largest canyon in the world
- Climb some of the world’s highest free-standing sand dunes
- Visit the coastal colonial towns of Luderitz and Swakopmund
This vast country, full of huge blue skies, spectacular sand dunes and a harsh but stunning coastline is one of Africa’s most enticing destinations.
Discover Namibia’s southern highlights on this 11 day self-drive. Explore the contrasting Kalahari and Namib Deserts, visit the colonial coastal towns of Luderitz and Swakopmund and gaze in awe at the spectacular Fish River Canyon. Self driving around Namibia is a fantastic way to see the country independently, allowing the freedom to explore at your own pace, discovering captivating landscapes and spectacular wildlife as you go.
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Extend your stay
My favourite memory from my trip to Namibia was watching the sunrise from the top of Dune 45 in Sossusvlei. Climbing 170m of sand was pretty hard going on the legs but it was totally worth it to see the sun emerge from the horizon across the vast orange landscape.Louise Wilson, Travel Specialist - Operations
Itinerary & Accommodation
- Day 1: Windhoek
- Arrive at Hosea Kutako (Windhoek International) Airport, where you will receive your rental vehicle. Once you have sorted out all the formalities for your vehicle, drive to Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia. After checking-in at your accommodation, you can explore the city. Windhoek is a city of many contrasts; modern skyscrapers blend with historic buildings from the German colonial era. Windhoek attractions you may wish to explore this afternoon include the Christ Church (Christuskirche), the capital’s best-recognised landmark, the National Museum of Namibia which houses an excellent display on Namibia’s independence and Katutura, a former apartheid-era black township. Windhoek has a selection of restaurants for you to dine at this evening. Joe’s Beerhouse is a Windhoek institution.
- Day 2: Windhoek – Kalahari Desert
- After breakfast depart Windhoek and drive via Rehoboth, the centre of Namibia's Baster community into the red dunes of the Kalahari Desert. The Kalahari is not a true desert as it receives more rain than a true desert should. It is technically categorised as a fossil desert, meaning that the dunes are usually greener than the Namib Desert and at the start of the year can be covered in flowers. The best known of the Kalahari's inhabitants are the San Bushmen, a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe that have inhabited Southern Africa for at least 20,000 years. The Kalahari is a great destination for birders and here you may see raptors including the martial eagle and lappet-faced vulture. Other wildlife in this area includes giraffe, zebra and meerkat.
- Days 3-4: Kalahari Desert – Fish River Canyon
- A full day's journey takes you south through the desert-dominated landscapes to a picturesque quiver tree forest. This prehistoric tree reaches skyward with graphically forked branches making them rewarding subjects to photograph. Finally, you will arrive at Fish River Canyon where you will spend the next 2 nights. The impressive Fish River Canyon is the biggest attraction in southern Namibia and arguably the country’s most spectacular geological phenomenon. At 27km wide, 550m deep in places and 160km long, it is reputed to be the second largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon in the USA. However, it attracts far fewer tourists meaning you can often experience complete solitude here. The canyon, which takes its name from the 650km long Fish River, is over 500 million years old, with part of the strata formed as far back as 650 million years ago. You will have one free day to explore; there are several different options including scenic drives or hikes in the canyon or along the rim.
- Day 5: Fish River Canyon – Luderitz
- The next leg of the journey takes you via the small historic village of Aus and through the vast barren expanse of the Prohibited Diamond Area, to Lüderitz. Aus is known for its spectacular scenery and wild horses. The wild horses roam the sparsely vegetated plains of the Namib Desert in small groups. Nobody is sure about how they originally came to be there, but over time they have adapted to survive in the harsh desert environment. Keep your eyes peeled for them as you drive past. The German colonial town of Lüderitz lies dramatically sandwiched between the barren Namib Desert and the windswept South Atlantic Coast. Unchanged for many years, the town is full of German art nouveau architecture reminiscent of a Bavarian dorfchen (small village), with churches, bakeries and cafes. Lüderitz is well-known for its fresh crayfish and oysters, even hosting an annual crayfish festival, as well as for the abundant wildlife of the Lüderitz Peninsula which includes flamingo and penguin colonies.
- Day 6: free day in Luderitz
- The most popular excursion from Lüderitz is the ghost town of Kolmanskop. In the early 1900s, Kolmanskop was a thriving town, home to hundreds of diamond workers and boasted a theatre, casino and ballroom. However, the slump in diamond sales after World War I and the discovery of a richer diamond area further south at Oranjemund meant that the inhabitants started to leave, resulting in Kolmanskop being completely deserted by 1956. Uninhabited since then, the buildings have been overtaken by the shifting desert sands, lying knee deep in places and resulting in an eerie ghost town that is a photographer’s paradise. Other activity options include a catamaran tour searching for marine wildlife such as African penguins and flamingos.
- Day 7: Luderitz – Sossusvlei
- Today you travel through some of Namibia's most spectacular scenery. Vast expanses of yellow savannah are dotted with bushes and solitary camel thorn trees. Distant mountain ranges take on different nuances of purple and blue as the day progresses. En route you can visit Duwisib Castle, which was built by Baron von Wolff for his American wife Jayta in 1909; all the furnishings and paintings were imported from Germany. Your destination today is a lodge in the Sossusvlei area, from where you will have excellent opportunities to explore the oldest desert in the world. The Namib Desert is commonly referred to as the world’s oldest desert, dating back at least 55 million years. The desert is a large expanse of moving gravel plains and dunes of all shapes and sizes. Part of the desert, towards the centre incorporates the Namib-Naukluft National Park, which is the largest park in Namibia (50,000 square kilometres) and the third largest in Africa. The Namib Desert is largely unpopulated so there is no light pollution making it one of the best places in the world to stargaze. In 2013 a large part of the desert became a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name of ‘Namib Sand Sea’.
- Day 8: discover Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon
- Today is free to explore Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon. The best time to visit Sossusvlei is close to sunrise, avoiding the heat of the midday sun and taking advantage of the natural light to bring out the best of the strong and constantly changing colours of the dunes - warm tints of apricot, orange, red and maroon, which provide excellent photographic opportunities. Sossusvlei itself is a large, white, salt and clay pan. However, the name ‘Sossusvlei’ is often used in an extended meaning to refer to the surrounding area, including Deadvlei and other neighbouring rust-coloured sand dunes. A climb up the dunes is rewarded by spectacular views and is highly recommended. The most popular dunes to walk up are Dune 45 (80m), one of Sossusvlei’s most iconic dunes, and Big Daddy which at 325m is the highest dune in the area, boasting great views of Deadvlei. Close to Sossusvlei, Deadvlei is a clay pan characterised by dark, dead camel thorn trees which stand in stark contrast against the white pan floor. This afternoon you may wish to visit Sesriem Canyon. Shaped by the Tsauchab River over millions of years, it is one of the few places in the region that holds water all year round. The canyon is 30 metres deep in places and only three kilometres long. You can explore the canyon on foot, admiring its stunning rock formations and cooling off in some of its refreshing pools along the way.
- Day 9: Sossusvlei - Swakopmund
- Before leaving the Sossusvlei area this morning, you may wish to partake in a sunrise hot air balloon ride over this magical landscape; an unforgettable experience. Leaving the Sossusvlei area, you will drive north to Swakopmund, perhaps stopping off at Solitaire en route to taste some of the famous apple pie on sale there. Swakopmund is a German colonial town located on the Atlantic Coast and encompassed by the Namib Desert. This is Namibia’s most popular seaside town and the beaches are pleasant; however the water is normally too cold for swimming. Swakopmund is a pleasant town to wander around and take in its German architecture and colonial history. It is also renowned for its excellent seafood which you may wish to sample tonight, The Tug restaurant is a particular favourite of ours.
- Day 10: free day in Swakopmund
- From Swakopmund, there are several excellent activity options, taking advantage of either its marine wildlife or the surrounding desert. Kayaking is a fantastic way to experience the marine wildlife up close and personal including Cape fur seals in their thousands, bottlenose and Haviside’s dolphins, pelicans and flamingos. If you are lucky, you may also spot whales, leatherback turtles and sunfish. Explore the Namib Desert by 4WD or by fat bike and uncover hidden life under the sand, or take a self-drive in search of some of the country’s oldest welwitschia plants. You may also wish to discover the nearby Walvis Bay Lagoon, the most important wetland in Southern Africa, with 170,000 resident birds around the lagoon and some 200,000 more stopping off on migratory routes. The lagoon is the feeding site for around 80% of all the lesser flamingos found in Southern Africa and about 50% of greater flamingos. It also attracts large numbers of chestnut plovers, pelicans, Caspian, Damara, and swift terns, white-fronted plovers and Hartlaub's gulls.
- Day 11: Swakopmund - Windhoek
- Depart Swakopmund and drive east back to the capital city; Windhoek where your holiday ends.
Accommodation OptionsThis holiday is based on the accommodation shown below.
Olive Grove Guesthouse, Windhoek
- Grade: Standard
- Type: Guesthouse
Olive Grove Guesthouse is situated in a quiet suburb of …
Kalahari Anib Lodge, Kalahari Desert
- Grade: Standard
- Type: Luxury Lodge
Located 30 kilometres from Mariental, Kalahari Anib Lodg…
Fish River Lodge, Fish River Canyon
- Grade: Standard
- Type: Luxury Lodge
Located on the western rim of the canyon, Fish River Lod…
Nest Hotel, Luderitz
- Grade: Standard
- Type: Hotel
Located directly on Luderitz Bay is the Nest Hotel, boas…
Desert Homestead Lodge, nr Sossusvlei
- Grade: Standard
- Type: Luxury Lodge
Located 30km south-east of Sesriem, Desert Homestead Lod…
Upgrade to stay at Sossus Dune Lodge
Stay at the only lodge situated within the Namib Naukluft National Park and visit Sossusvlei before the park gates open, beating the crowds and experiencing this magnificent site in solitude.
ExcursionsFrom kayaking with seals to hot air ballooning over Sossusvlei, Namibia offers a range of optional activities you can choose to include on this holiday. Contact our Travel Specialists for more information.
A unique opportunity to explore the Namib Desert by Fat Bik…
Discover the remote and inaccessible Skeleton Coast from th…
Prices & Dates
Prices from £1,187 per person, based on 2 sharing
10 nights standard accommodation; 6 nights on a bed & breakfast basis and 4 nights on a half board basis ● 11 days Hyundai Tucson (or similar) car rental, meet & greet
International flights • Additional meals and excursions not specified above ● National park fees ● Travel insurance • Gratuities ● Car rental contract fee
How to book
So that we may send you a personalised quote and confirmation of availability, please click on the link below and complete our Enquiry form. One of our Travel Specialists will then be in touch to complete your booking or answer any further questions you might have.
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Speak to a specialist: 1-844-584-0668Book this trip
Our team of Travel Specialists have extensive first-hand knowledge of our destinations and are passionate about travel.