Trip idea / Namibia

Explore Namibia

Desert Wilderness & Wildlife

A family self-drive adventure with a difference

Namibia’s combination of dramatic landscapes, spectacular coastline and game-packed national parks takes some beating. Beyond the fantastic wildlife-viewing opportunities, other diverse activities include scaling sand dunes, meeting local bushmen and kayaking among seals at Walvis Bay. Plenty to fire the imagination, in other words.

The lowdown

  • When To Go:

    The dry summer holidays are best for wildlife, as game congregates around waterholes - although nights are chilly. The Easter Holidays are also a great time to explore.

  • Child Age:

    Namibia’s sheer scale does entail some longer travel days, with typical drives of five to six hours, so is best suited to older children and teens.

Whatever your priorities, we can plan you the perfect Namibian self-drive, staying in some of our favourite hand-picked lodges. Here’s just a taster of what you can do.

  • Climb the beautiful red sand dunes at Sossusvlei.
  • Go sea kayaking and spot dolphins and seals from Walvis Bay.
  • Visit Africa’s largest collection of prehistoric rock art at Twyfelfontein.
  • Head out in search of lion, elephant and rhino in the vast Etosha National Park.
  • Radio-track cheetah and walk with local bushmen at Okonjima.

    Desert Dunes

    After a night of pre-road trip rest in the capital Windhoek, pick up your car and head south-west across the central plateau to the Namib Desert. After around a five-hour drive you’ll arrive at the iconic red sand dunes of Sossusvlei.

    Their scale is simply mesmerising, and climbs up the likes of Dune 45 and even taller Big Daddy are a great way to give older children an active taste of the desert. Some climbs are tough but your efforts are rewarded by eye-popping views of a vast sandy expanse. The whole area is a photographer’s dream, with epic sunrises and crimson sunsets to capture.

    Colonial Coast

    A further five-hour drive takes you north through Kuiseb Canyon to the German colonial coastal town of Swakopmund, where distractions include camel rides and shopping at colourful craft markets. Curious displays about precious local melons and old-style apothecary shops mean the peculiar Swakopmund Museum also merits a visit. Detour to Walvis Bay for cruises or kayaking escapades – ideal ways to spy Cape fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, pelicans, flamingos and a wide variety of seabirds.

    Remote Wilderness

    Continue into the semi-desert wilderness of Damaraland, a rugged and wild northern tract. Here you can take an exciting 4×4 excursion along the seasonal Huab River valley to search for the elusive desert-adapted elephant. Prefer educational activity? The nearby Damara Living Museum reveals fascinating local cultures, while Twyfelfontein houses the largest collection of prehistoric rock art in Africa. Being so empty, this remote region also delivers superb stargazing opportunities.

    Big Five

    Drive north-east to arrive at the enormous Etosha National Park, famous for its dazzlingly white salt pan which shimmers in the heat. During dry season (our summer), abundant game congregate around the various waterholes – including lion, elephant, rhino (both black and white) and the endemic black-faced impala, plus a huge number of bird species. This makes for excellent sightings without the need to spend huge amounts of driving time seeking animals out. Also plentiful are fenced-off, family-friendly lodges with child-friendly activities and swimming pools.

Okonjima

Home of the Africat Foundation

It’s a relatively short journey south into the Waterberg region for a final night at Okonjima, home of the AfriCat Foundation – a charitable organisation which works with local farmers to rescue and relocate Namibia’s big cats. Here you can radio-track cheetah and leopard either on game drives or by foot, then enjoy self-guided walking trails and join a local guide for the interactive Bushman Trail. It’s then a short drive back to Windhoek in time to drop your car and catch your flight home.

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