Essential Namibia Self-Drive

from £1300 11 nights | Year Round Exc. flights See price details
  • Departs:
  • Year round


The perfect introduction to Namibia: desert, coast and safari. Spend 12 days exploring this superb self-drive destination on an unforgettable journey to the Namib Desert, Swakopmund, Damaraland and Etosha National Park, with an opportunity to visit AfriCat's Okonjima reserve.


  • Climb the giant sand dunes at Sossusvlei
  • Spot seals and flamingos along the coast
  • Track Damaraland's desert-adapted elephants
  • Study the amazing rock art at Twyfelfontein
  • Stake out a waterhole in Etosha National Park
  • Option to visit the AfriCat Foundation at Okonjima

All the major highlights of Namibia are wrapped up in this fabulous self-drive holiday – ideal for first-timers or those who want to experience a little bit of everything.

You’ll drive into the heart of the Namib Desert along a spectacular avenue of giant dunes leading to the fabled clay-pan of Sossusvlei. You’ll spend time at Swakopmund – Namibia’s adventure capital – with a chance to go kayaking with seals or fat-biking in the desert.

Then Damaraland beckons. The scenery here is breathtaking: vast rocky plains and rust-red mountains… and it’s also a treasure chest of ancient rock art and a stronghold for rare desert-adapted elephant and black rhino. Further north lies Etosha National Park which you’ll traverse – west to east – stopping to view zebra, giraffe, elephant, springbok and other wildlife.

Returning south to Windhoek, you have an opportunity to visit Okonjima where you can find out about the work of the AfriCat Foundation to protect Namibia’s cheetah, leopard and other big cats.

Call our Namibia experts now

Extend your stay

This holiday can be easily combined with Botswana, Cape Town or Victoria Falls to allow you to see all the highlights of Southern Africa in one trip. Please contact us for more information.

Driving through Etosha National Park is one of the highlights of a self-drive trip to Namibia. Most people will drive into one gate through the park and out of another and to really experience it you need to make sure you have sufficient time. Take a packed lunch, go in early and take your time stopping at its many waterholes. You need to be patient; even if you arrive at a waterhole and there is nothing there, wait a few minutes and you might be surprised by what turns up!

Linda Harris, Southern Africa Product Manager

Itinerary & Accommodation

Day 1: Windhoek
Arrive at Hosea Kutako (Windhoek International) Airport, where you will collect your rental vehicle and drive into Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia. After checking-in at your accommodation, you are free to relax or 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 from which to choose, and Joe’s Beerhouse is a Windhoek institution.
Day 2: Windhoek - Sossusvlei
Leave Windhoek and head south through the mountains of the Khomas Hochland into the low plains of the Namib Desert to 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 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: Swakopmund - Damaraland
Depart Swakopmund along the Atlantic Coast towards the north, heading to Damaraland. One of the most scenically beautiful regions in Namibia, Damaraland is also the best place in the country to see animals completely unfenced and in the wild. You will not see animals in large quantities here, but the sightings can be more rewarding. Desert adapted elephants are probably the best known of the region’s unique wildlife but it is also possible to see desert adapted rhino, giraffe and lion in this area too. Damaraland is also home to many interesting geological formations and some of the best examples of bushman paintings and engravings in Southern Africa.
Day 7: Search for desert wildlife & visit the rock engravings at Twyfelfontein
Today is at leisure to explore the local area. Searching for desert adapted elephants is a highlight in this region. Namibia is one of only two countries in the world where you can find desert adapted elephants (the other is Mali). They are not categorised as a separate species but they are special because they have evolved to thrive in the dry, semi-desert environment by having a smaller body mass with proportionally longer legs and seemingly larger feet than other elephants. Their physical attributes allow them to cross miles of sand dunes to reach food and water. Nobody knows how many desert dwelling elephants there are in Namibia, but estimates are between 100 and 600. This afternoon, you may wish to visit the rock art at Twyfelfontein. Namibia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Twyfelfontein features 2,500 examples of bushman paintings and engravings dating back 6,000 years. The rock engravings are found on a number of smooth rock surfaces and most of them depict animals and their tracks. It is recommended that you explore the site with a knowledgeable guide.
Day 8: Damaraland - Etosha National Park (south)
Today you head via Kamanjab to the southern entrance of the Etosha National Park where you will stay tonight. The wildlife jewel of Namibia, Etosha National Park is one of the best game reserves in Africa. Etosha is huge; at 22,270 square kilometres it covers an area larger than Wales and is home to over 100 species of mammals, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibians and 1 species of fish!
Days 9-10: Drives in Etosha National Park
Today you will enter Etosha National Park through Andersson’s Gate and drive searching for wildlife. Etosha is dominated by a huge mineral pan, which covers a quarter of the park and was once a lake the size of Holland. Surrounding the pan is a variety of grass and woodlands amongst which live a wonderful variety of animals, birds, insects and reptiles. Etosha’s highlight is its waterholes; there are dozens of them, some natural while others are artificially fed from boreholes. During the dry season, staking out a position at a waterhole viewpoint is a rewarding way to watch game without moving from one spot. The most numerous antelope species in Etosha is springbok, which can sometimes be seen herding in their thousands. Other common herbivores are giraffe, zebra, eland, wildebeest, kudu and oryx. Black rhinos are more rare but still regularly sighted. Herds of fifty elephants are not unusual and often walk right down the middle of the road giving people in cars an incredibly close and thrilling encounter. When it comes to predators, lion, of which there are thought to be over 1000 inside the reserve, are the most visible. For birders there is a large variety of birds including ground hornbill, lilac-breasted roller, eagles and vultures. Exit the park before sunset at the Von Lindequist Gate in the east and spend the night on the Onguma Private Reserve where you can watch animals congregating at the waterhole located just in front of camp as you enjoy a sundowner drink. The following day, return to Etosha to search for more wildlife.
Days 11-12: Etosha National Park – Otjiwarongo – Windhoek
Leave Etosha behind and head south to Otjiwarongo - the perfect location from which to plan an optional visit to the AfriCat Foundation. This non-profit organisation was founded in the early 1990s with the aim of securing the long-term survival of Namibia’s predators in their natural habitat. AfriCat has saved more than 1,000 predators since its inception and over 80 percent of them have been released back into the wild. The organisation is best known for its cheetah conservation programme, but it also works to protect leopards, lions, hyenas and wild dogs. On a day visit (optional), you can view some of the animals in its Carnivore Care Centre. Highly recommended is upgrading to an overnight stay at either Okonjima Plains or Bush Camp, which will also enable you to join game drives tracking the animals that are being rehabilitated in the 200 square kilometre Okonjima Nature Reserve. As enthusiastic supporters of the AfriCat Foundation, we are proud to have adopted Dune, one of its cheetahs. Continuing south, return to Windhoek Airport where your holiday ends.

Accommodation Options

This 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 …

Desert Homestead Lodge, nr Sossusvlei

  • Grade: Standard
  • Type: Luxury Lodge

Located 30km south-east of Sesriem, Desert Homestead Lod…

Cornerstone Guesthouse, Swakopmund

  • Grade: Standard
  • Type: Guesthouse

The Cornerstone is a small, peaceful guesthouse, located…

Grootberg Lodge, Damaraland

  • Grade: Standard
  • Type: Luxury Lodge

Grootberg Lodge is perched on the rim of the Etendeka Pl…

Etosha Safari Lodge, nr Etosha National Park

  • Grade: Standard
  • Type: Luxury Lodge

Etosha Safari Lodge is set on a hillock only nine kilome…

Onguma Bush Camp, nr Etosha National Park

  • Grade: Standard
  • Type: Luxury Lodge

In the local Herero language, Onguma means, ‘the place…

Frans Indongo Lodge, nr Otjiwarongo

  • Grade: Standard
  • Type: Hotel

Frans Indongo is situated in the heart of a 17,000 hecta…

Upgrade to stay at Okonjima

Home to the AfriCat Foundation, a stay at Okonjima allows you the opportunity to track their rehabilitated big cats in the Okonjima Nature Reserve.



From 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.

AfriCat Day Visit

Enjoy close encounters with cheetahs and other big cats at …

Classic Sossusvlei Scenic Flight, Swakopmund

Witness the majestic Sossusvlei dunes from above

Hot Air Ballooning over Sossusvlei

Experience magnificent views on a once-in-a-lifetime hot ai…

Katutura Township Tour, Windhoek

Explore Windhoek’s township, Katatura visiting two local …

Living Desert Tour, Swakopmund

This fascinating experience really brings the desert to lif…

Marine Wildlife Cruise, Swakopmund

Discover Namibia’s rich marine life on a wildlife cruise

Pelican Point Kayaking, Swakopmund

Enjoy close encounters with seals and dolphins on this exci…

Sandwich Harbour Tour, Swakopmund

Exhilarating Sandwich Harbour 4WD expedition

Scenic Desert Tour by Fat Bike, Swakopmund

A unique opportunity to explore the Namib Desert by Fat Bik…

Skeleton Coast South Scenic Flight, Swakopmund

Discover the remote and inaccessible Skeleton Coast from th…

Windhoek City Tour

Discover the highlights of Namibia’s capital city, Windho…

Prices & Dates

Airfares start from around £700 per person and are quoted separately to the holiday price.

When enquiring, our Travel Specialists will provide the best fare possible from your preferred airline / airport.

Prices from £1,300 per person, based on 2 people sharing

Price Includes
11 nights standard accommodation; 7 nights on a bed & breakfast basis and 4 nights on a half board basis ● 13 days Hyundai Tucson (or similar) car rental, meet & greet

Price Excludes
International flights • Additional meals and excursions not specified above ● National park fees ● Travel insurance ● Gratuities ● Car rental contract fee



FREE hot air balloon ride over Sossusvlei

A once-in-a-lifetime experience
Free hot air balloon ride worth £366pp

SAVE 10% on selected Namibia properties

Travel 15 Jan - 30 Jun 2018
Big savings on stunning Namibian lodges

How to book

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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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