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Embarking on a 4×4 Adventure Through Namibia

With its moderate climate, low risk of malaria, abundant wildlife, and safety for travelers, Namibia is an ideal destination for a 4×4 adventure. We’ve decided to embark on this journey, accompanied by my parents, my husband, our 9-year-old son, and 3-year-old daughter.

Organizing the trip ourselves allows us to customize our itinerary, deciding what we want to see and how long we want to stay in each location. We prefer a fast-paced travel style, typically staying in the same location for a maximum of two nights.

Embarking on a 4×4 Adventure through Namibia

After conducting some research, it becomes evident that the optimal way to experience a road trip through Namibia is by car with a rooftop tent. This setup offers a relaxed journey, and children have a consistent place to sleep. You can opt for a car with two tents accommodating two people each, or a single tent for two people. The setup process is straightforward, the mattresses are comfortable, and the tent is surprisingly spacious.

Besides the tent, the car is equipped with a fridge and freezer, pots, pans, a kettle, and two gas burners. Essential outdoor furniture like chairs and a table are also included. While driving on the left side of the road may require some adjustment, the sparse traffic makes any minor mistakes less consequential.

Is a 4×4 Necessary for a Namibian Adventure?

While we initially had our doubts, in retrospect, a 4×4 is a definite necessity. You’re bound to encounter worn-out roads riddled with potholes, making a 4×4 the safest and most comfortable travel option. It’s advisable to purchase ‘own risk’ insurance from your provider in the Netherlands, as it’s more cost-effective than securing insurance from the rental company. While the upfront cost may seem unwelcome, it’s preferable to receiving an unexpected bill upon your return.

Planning Your Route: Left Around or Right Around?

Planning the route is the fun part of any trip! A good strategy is to check out the routes taken by major tour operators. This gives you an idea of the popular spots and where they usually stay overnight. However, to ensure a unique experience, we recommend booking your accommodations elsewhere.

Namibia offers two common routes: left around and right around, with an optional visit to the Fish River Canyon. Our chosen route was to start from Windhoek, travel south, and then head to Etosha through the west coast. We planned our route using Google, taking into account the distance and, more importantly, the travel time. Remember, the correlation between distance and travel time in Namibia is quite different from that in the Netherlands, so factor this in while planning your trip. You can find the best camping sites on Tripadvisor.

While the idea of ‘wild camping’ might seem appealing, it’s important to note that it’s illegal and could result in fines. If you’re considering parking on land that belongs to a tribe, you’ll need to seek permission from the chieftain.

Embarking on a 4×4 Adventure Through Namibia

Windhoek – 2 nights

We began our journey in Windhoek, where we spent two nights at the African Kwela Guest House. This tranquil accommodation offered a pool and a delightful breakfast. A nearby restaurant provided the perfect spot to celebrate our successful flight and anticipate the adventure ahead.

Bagatelle Kalahari – 1 night

Our next stop was Bagatelle Kalahari, our first camping site. The expansive camping area and the adjacent hotel were both fantastic. With a large pool and complimentary cupcakes during tea-hour, it was a perfect blend of luxury and spaciousness. We didn’t waste any time and quickly booked a safari to encounter our first African wildlife.

Garas – 1 night

Heading slightly south, we reached Garas. This artistic campsite, adorned with mysterious tube trees, was our home for the night. An evening storm made our stay in the roof tent quite an experience. From here, we visited the Fish River Canyon, a sight we were told not to miss.

Klein Aus – 2 nights

Our visit to the Fish River Canyon was somewhat disappointing. While the gorge was impressive, the dry and arid landscape was not particularly child-friendly. However, our next stop at Klein Aus made up for it. The campsite was clean and conveniently located at the start of several walking routes.

Sesriem Camping Site – A Night Under the Stars

Our first stop is the Sesriem Camping Site, where we stay for a night to visit the Sossusvlei and its red dunes. The campsite, run by the government, allows early access before anyone else. It’s a popular spot for those who want to witness the sunrise from atop the dunes. The campsite is expansive and features a pool. Sleeping in the desert under a blanket of stars is an unforgettable experience.

Swakopmund – A Two-Night City Stay

Next, we spend two nights in Swakopmund. The transition to city life takes some getting used to. We stay in a luxurious apartment, albeit with cold water. It’s a great opportunity to clean the car and wash our clothes. A nearby shopping mall allows us to restock our food supplies. We make sure to buy water, charcoal, and canned food, and fill up the gas tank at every opportunity.

Doubt Fountain – Two Nights in the Open Air

We then head to Daureb Isib at Doubt Fountain for two nights. The highlight of this place is the open-air shower, offering a private stargazing experience. By 19:00 hours, it’s pitch dark, making it perfect for an early night under the stars.

Kamanjab – A Night Among Giraffes

Our next stop is Kamanjab, where we spend a night at a large campsite run by the Belgian Eva and her husband. The campsite offers beautiful walks where you can encounter ‘house’ giraffes. From here, it’s only a 2.5-hour drive to the national park.

National Park Etosha, Elephant Rush – A Night of Wildlife

Our highlight is the National Park Etosha, where we spend a night at Elephant Rush. Seeing all the animals, such as lions, is an amazing experience, especially for the kids. At the entrance, you receive a picture of all the animals, and you can cross off every animal you come across. The campsite is small, so be sure to make reservations in advance. The facilities, such as the washing room, are tidy. The water hole, accessible via a spectacular staircase, offers a lot of wildlife activity, making it hard to go to sleep.

National Park Etosha – Halali – A Night Among Rhinos

Our final stop is Halali in National Park Etosha, where we spend another night. Halali is larger and also features a spectacular water hole. Here, we spot rhinos, hyenas, and lions. Instead of a long stairway, there’s a tribune on the rocks for viewing the wildlife.

Experience Luxury at Toshari Lodge

Leaving the park is a bittersweet experience, but we find solace in the luxurious Toshari Lodge. This lodge is conveniently located near Etosha, allowing you to spend the entire day exploring. After setting up your roof tent, you can unwind in the lounge, take a refreshing dip in the pool, and indulge in the buffet. This place left such a lasting impression that we still reminisce about it at home!

Immerse in Nature at Waterberg Wilderness Lodge

Our final night in the tent is spent at the Waterberg Wilderness Lodge. This lodge offers private camping spots from where you can embark on stunning walks, either independently or with a guide. We highly recommend the route up to the mountain.

Wind Down in Windhoek

As we return to Namibia, we find comfort and relaxation at African Kwela. This is the perfect place to unwind and prepare for our journey back. After a thorough car cleaning, our adventure comes to an end.

Top 5 Practical Tips for Your Trip

Before you embark on your journey, here are some practical tips to ensure a smooth travel experience:

  • Ensure Proper Documentation: You need English documentation for the kids, which you can obtain from your local council office. Be aware that families have been refused entry at customs due to lack of proper documentation.
  • Download Roadmaps: Use Maps.me to download roadmaps before your trip. It’s advisable to do this while still in your home country as mobile range in Namibia can be limited.
  • Communicate Effectively: If you’re traveling with multiple cars, consider purchasing walkie talkies. They can be very handy on the road and in wildlife parks for spotting animals or reminding each other about the next stop for refueling.
  • Manage Your Finances: Set your credit card to world coverage with no limit before leaving your home country. This is particularly important as the deposit for car rentals can be extremely high.

5. Essential Gear: Headlights for Namibia’s Early Nights

Tip #5: Purchase headlights. In Namibia, the days pass quickly and by 19:00 it’s dark. While candlelight can create a cozy atmosphere for a barbecue, you’ll need more light for activities like reading or brushing your teeth.

Cost Breakdown for a 4×4 Adventure in Namibia

For a 17-day family trip through Namibia with a 4×4, you should budget approximately €7,000. Here’s a breakdown of the specific costs:

  • Car rental including insurance: €1,720
  • Airline tickets: €865 per adult
  • Airline tickets: €725 per child
  • Campsite average: €70 per night/car

Additional costs include groceries, occasional dining out, fuel, excursions, and souvenirs. While a trip to Namibia isn’t cheap, it’s a unique experience that comes highly recommended. If you’re considering a similar trip and have any questions, feel free to ask.

About the Author

This article was written by guest blogger Annemarije. She shares, “Hi there! I’m Annemarije, 38 years old and living in the beautiful Utrecht. I’m happily married to Rutger for years and mother to the cool breakdancer Xander (9 years) and ‘ready for school’ Elize (3 years). Our hobby is sailing which has probably to do with the fact that we are from the province of Friesland. Aside from that we like to passively watch Netflix or actively dancing. Oh, and thinking of our next destination of course!”

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