Self-drive Guide Through Northern Namibia

The northern part of Namibia is much more diverse than southern Namibia in terms of fauna, flora and everything in between. Here you can find a well-known Skeleton coast, many adventures and countless wildlife.

Our Northern Namibia route stretched from Walvis Bay on the coast and all the way to Etosha National Park. Stops along the way included seal colony, shipwrecks and salt mines.

Last post detailing our travel in Southern Namibia ended at the Tropic of Capricorn. We were about half time into our three week long road trip around Namibia and have already changed one vehicle. And the story behind that is we crashed into dry riverbed while driving through beautiful route on C27. Said that, we had already travelled around Fish River Canyon, through the gravel roads of the Kalahari Desert, and witnessed the most beautiful views from the highest dunes in the world. Temperatures in the desert had mounted to +45C, so by the time we’ve reached Walvis Bay, we were relieved by cooler breeze.

Swakompund and Walvis Bay

Between desert and sea lies one of the most unusual and fascinating towns south of the equator.

The town of Swakompund is beyond time; with a dash of old- fashioned German flavour, a sprinkle of Africa and extreme desert location, it is charming anomaly.

It is also a perfect place to rest. After long days of traveling, it’s always a pleasure to park your dusty car, stretch your legs and inhale the fresh, cool sea air.

We spent 4 days in Swakompund, stocked up on supplies, enjoyed great restaurants, and gathered our sanity before we again left so called comfortable Arica. The main draw for tourists here are the various activities on offer. Swakompund is the adventure hub of Namibia! The choice is endless and if you have always dreamt of paragliding, this is your opportunity.

You can also visit a nearby Walvis Bay, which is often referred as a sister of Swakop. The city is home to around 35,000 flamingos. There is also giant pelicans roaming the shores of Walvis Bay.While in Swakompund, we stayed at Indulge Accommodation. It was very close to the beach and served well-missed delicious breakfast! Room had a super comfy bed and we were finally able to catch up on good nights sleep.

This is ‘Swakop’ at its best and time well spent before we continue exploring the extraordinary country of Namibia.

Skeleton Coast

Skeleton Coast goes in traveler’s book as one of the strangest places in the world. And it has an ominous name to match. Fist encountered by brave Portuguese explorers in the 15th century, the region was named “The Gates of Hell” because of its harsh conditions. Local Bushmen tribes know it as “the land God made in anger”. Place holds several thousand shipwrecked vessels scattered across its vast coast. Rough seas, roaring winds and strong ocean currents are primarily responsible for most of these ships fate. Many of the wrecks on the coastline have been completely destroyed by sun, sea and wind but a few are still visible.

Skeleton Coast is also sprinkled with living peculiarities. The Cape Cross seal colony hosts the biggest community of seals in the world; 250,000 in one place, smelling horribly and screaming right at you. To be honest, I found it more terrifying then fascinating, however said that it’s still a great place to get extremely close to wildlife.


Park entrance fee: N$80 + N$10 for the vehicle


Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is one of the cheapest self-drive national parks in Africa. What draws wildlife enthusiast to Etosha is the harsh and hot conditions in dry season, creating incredible animal concentration at the water holes. Majority of them walk miles in order to have a sip of water and that’s where you park your car and enjoy the wildlife.

Our arrival into Etosha came after driving up the Skeleton Coast and through Uis. We had to make an overnight stop, because it was too far away to drive in one go. Also, we were in a desperate need of a shower, as the smell of seals soaked into our hair, skin and clothes.

After spending a night in Uis, we drove some more endless miles until we finally reached Godwana’s Etosha safari camp, which was located close to the southern park gate. Climate changed dramatically since we left Swakompund. Green became more dominant and heavy rains more frequent.

Next day we moved to Okaukuejo campsite and spent all day driving through the park. The road conditions were good, considering we’re traveling with 2×4 and it’s raining often. Our first leg in the park was quite successful as we seen families of zebras, springbok, ostriches and many others.

However, there was no sight of predators. It’s a wet season and wildlife is way harder to spot, due to the fact that animals are no longer concentrated by the waterholes and instead hiding all over the park. By 6pm we called it a day and went back to the campsite, which closes its gate by sunset.

We had plans to drive across the park the next day and spent it exploring Etosha from the Eastern side. With this in mind, we chose to stay at Onguma Bush Camp, enjoying our time by the pool overlooking a watering hole with many springbok.

It takes roughly four hours to drive from Southern gate to Eastern gate. Our second day was a bit different, as we came face to face with curious giraffes and many ‘pumbas’.


Park entrance fee: N$80 per day

Campsites

Godwana Etosha Safari Camp by the southern gate: N$175pp

Okaukuejo campsite: N$275pp

Onguma Bush Camp by the eastern gate: N$220pp


Cheetah Conservation Fund

On the way back to Windhoek, we visited Cheetah Conservation Fund. This is a place you shouldn’t miss. It’s a serious authentic project helping those majestic cats and you also have a possibility to see them from close by. You cannot pet or walk a cheetah here like I did in Zambia but it’s a great opportunity for interaction. Try to get there early in the morning for the Cheetah Run at 8am.


Entrance fee: N$170


How lucky we are to be able to completely immerse ourselves in the magnificence of Namibia. With adrenalin running through our veins and the beauty of the land warming our hearts, it is easy to believe in magic when you’re captivated in a wonder such as the Namib Desert.

Three weeks in the country felt too short. Traveling long-term means we have to compromise and budget often. Hence this trip was a mix of mostly camping and a few carefully chosen fancy places to relax and unwind.

Self- driving is the most popular way of getting around Namibia. Many people rent 4×4 with pop up roof tent and spend all time camping, which is more expensive but at the same time more convenient. However, I can guarantee you can do this trip with smaller car as we did; using a regular tent and driving a volkswagen polo. But you have to stay in at least few lodges, as Namibia has such an exclusive and remote accommodations with breathtaking views!

Planning your trip to Namibia? Read more about our self- drive journey across this beautiful country.

 

 

 

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