Self drive guide through southern Namibia

We arrived to Windhoek from Cape Town with Intercape bus and on the way were greeted by approaching rock formations and empty roads. After picking up the rental car we headed to shops to stock up on food and drink supplies and spend the following night in a hotel before setting up for a three week self drive adventure around Namibia. To really take in the atmosphere and liberating effect that Namibia offers, you must have one very important factor on your side: TIME. Namibia is a beautiful country that requires some slow traveling to truly appreciate it. If you want to spend your days sitting on a beach drinking rum Namibia won’t be your cup of tea. But if you want to witness spectacular sunsets, windstorms and unpredictable temperatures, Namibia will greet you open handed. You will also find peace, beauty and magic in this ancient living space.

Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world that was a result of the separation of the Gondwana supercontinent. The immensity of this magnificent landscape is truly breathtaking. On the way here, we stopped to visit Quiver forest, which gave opportunity to stretch legs and enjoy first encounter with the desert.

After long hours of driving we finally arrived to the campsite, which was 25km away from the main gate to the park.

Next morning we went to a couple of lookouts and made a walk on the edge of the canyon. It is fair to say that when you arrive at the canyon though, its exact location is a bit of a mystery, as the 500m-drop from the flat surface is completely out of sight.

Weather in Namibia is no joke either. Temperatures during the summer can easily reach 45C. And that’s dreading hot when you consider that shade is no existent around Namibian desert. With that in mind, I got myself an extra sunhat!

Namibia is a country that reminds you that the earth doesn’t revolve around you. And facing a canyon just shows how small you are.

The wildlife within the Reserve takes some work to find, but against all odds, it exists. We saw desert zebras, Oryx, ostriches and springboks. Oh yes, and a snake, which apparently found an opportunity to bite me in the leg. Sad face. It made me suffer a lot, even impaired my vision, but after 4 days of what seemed a non-stop pain, I was ready to walk again.

The next day we moved camp and went to Fish River Lodge on the other side. Lodge itself is situated on the edge of eternity, offering spectacular views of the canyon from sunrise to sunset.

It is one of the most isolated places we’ve ever stayed, which gave an incredible out of this world feeling. The rest of the time we spent relaxing by the pool. It’s pretty much the best way to take in the tranquility of the region while escaping the heat with fantastic views.

Fish River Canyon park fees: N$80

Vehicle Entry Fee: N$10

Lost in Kolmanskop

Kolmanskop is Namibia’s most famous ghost town, and is situated in the forbidden territory, 10km away from the port of Luderitz. The abandoned diamond-mining town was once a blooming place despite being in the middle of the desert. In 1908, the railway worker found a sparkling stone amongst the sand and after it was confirmed it was a diamond the news spread like wildfire, sparking a huge, frantic diamond rush. The town soon developed and lived for a bright 40 years. At it’s peak it had a hospital, ice factory, ballroom, bowling alley, school, theater, power station, a trolley system that delivers water and ice every single day, and a sports hall with 300 German adults, 40 children and 800 Owambo contract workers. Town didn’t have any fresh water around and the fact that barrels of water would be delivered by ship from South Africa every week just shows how financially strong Kolmanskop was.

Today, the ghost town still stands in the sand dunes all-empty. The stately homes have been nearly demolished by the wind, and are gradually becoming enveloped by sand. Some years ago the mining company De Beers, restored a number of buildings, and made it into museum.

You can visit Kolmanskop every day until 1pm. Museum also offers a free guided tour that we found super useful.

Also a drive from Aus to Kolmanskop is one of the most beautiful you will see in Namibia. Changing from dry savannah into high sand dunes with temperatures surprisingly decreasing the closer you’re approaching the coast.

Kolmanskop permit costs: $N80

Stunning Sossusvlei

After visiting Kolmanskop we headed for the world-famous Sossusvlei- a picture perfect place home to highest sand dunes in the world and they’re by all accounts striking in scale.

After another super long drive, which is becoming regularity in Namibia, we got ourselves checked into Desert Quiver Camp and spend the rest of the afternoon soaking feet in the pool overlooking the desert and sipping margaritas. Every long hour spent driving gravel roads makes you feel like you deserve treats afterwards. I particularly enjoyed staying here not only for its close location to the park but also the affordable comfort it provides. Chalets are equipped with kitchenette and spoil you with views towards the Elim dune.

You can leave Namibia but it will never leave you… Whoever said that, were damn right! Next morning we spend climbing dunes and showering mind with unforgettable images.

My foot was even able to make it to the top of Dune 45 and trek to Deadvlei.

A notable feature of Deadvlei is that it used to be an oasis with acacia trees, but after water changed its course it became a dead valley with salty white pan floor, creating fascinating and vivid contrast landscape.

Not only fantastic nature makes you remember Namibia forever but also places you stay in. Next night we enjoyed spending in Moon Mountain Lodge. It was the most expensive lodge on our itinerary, but absolutely worth it. What we loved the most about our stay was a private plunge pool overlooking the endless savannah. We spent all evening relaxing, sipping wine and trying to spot some animals. Not to mention the views you wake up to next morning!

The only thing I stress you to remember is to wear closed shoes and take plenty of water. The day we went thermometer was striking 48C! Also sand gets so hot, it can leave blisters on your feet if wearing sandals.

Sossusvlei Park entrance fee: $N80

Vehicle Entry Fee: N$10

TIP: take route C27 and not C14+C19 – it might be slower, but it’s really worth. Scenery is amazing! Only be careful of dry riverbeds, they come is extremely bad forms.

We left Southern Namibia as we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. For the next few days we’ll spend our time recharging batteries in Swakopmund. Old German architecture, Walvis Bay flamingos, and a massive seal colony await us.

This is only the first half of our journey through the country. Stay tuned for our trip across Northern Namibia!

Thank you to Fish River Lodge, Desert Quiver Camp and Moon Mountain Lodge for hosting us! As always, all opinions remain my own

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One response to “Self drive guide through southern Namibia”

  1. Jo says:

    Very useful for my upcomming trip! Easy to read too.

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