Planning a trip this September, doing a self-drive of namibia and have a tentative itinerary made that I would love to have critiqued before I start making reservations. Any and all help is very much appreciated.
Arrive Sept 1st (pick up car and equipment and spend the evening in Windhoek) Sept 2 - 3: Waterberg Sept 3 - 6: Etosha Sept 6 - 7: Damaraland Sept 7 - 9: Swakopmund Sept 9 - 11: Sossusvlei Sept 11 - 13: Luderitz Sept 13 - 15: Fish River Sept 15 - 16 Mariental Sept 16 -17 Windhoek Sept 17 fly home
With the time I have, am I missing anything of great importance? Any substitutions that can be suggested, would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much.
I can't help you regarding Luderitz, Fish River or Mariental as we did not have time to see these places and we were rained out of Waterberg (we were scheduled to spend 1 night there), so same issue. I personally think that your agenda is a bit aggressive; we spent 3-1/2 weeks in Namibia in late 2011 and did a self-drive, but had a 4x4 truck (which was great for wildlife viewing). I suspect you might be underestimating the driving times (unless you want to spend 100% of your time behind the wheel). Many of the roads in Namibia are not paved and the distances are quite long and fuel is often a two-hour drive away.
You should look at more time in Etosha. Do you have any specific places in Damaraland you are looking at visiting? There isn't much going on in Swakopmund and while we stayed a couple of nights, in reality, we should have only stopped there to stock up and perhaps spend one night. You can easily cover Windhoek in a couple of days.
You are giving Kaokoland a miss? The Himba in northern Namibia are an interesting visit as are the Bushmen in the Kalahari.
Here are the links to some of our travel pages to Namibia:
Namib-Nauklft National Park - "Namib-Naukluft National Park" - Namib-Naukluft Park by GrumpyDiver
I agree that the itinerary is a bit ambitious, given the speeds you will need to stick to when driving in Namibia. When we went we knew our time was limited and we felt the best way to avoid over-stretching ourselves was to focus either on points mainly north of Windhoek or points mainly south - we settled on north (but made an exception for Sossuvlie). And even then we didn't get to Kaokoland!
Do factor in those driving times. For instance, on your intinerary you have "Swakopmund 9-11 Sept" and "Sossusvlei 11-13 Sept" but you will need most of the 11th to drive between the two, so that seems to leave two days in the Sossusvlei area - except that on the 13th you will be driving to Luderitz! Personally I would cut out your last three stops, add a day to Etosha and a day to some of the other places. This isn't a country where you can very easily drive and sightsee at the same time, so each time you move to a new place you effectively lose a day or part of a day.
Hi GrumpyDiver and toonsarah,
Thank you so much for the detailed response, it really helps to have people's past experiences in Namibia shape our upcoming trip. I think what you have said about distances and destinations makes a lot of sense and am going to adjust the trip accordingly.
Would it make sense to take out Waterberg and add an extra night in Etosha? or is waterberg worth a stop on our way to Etosha from Windhoek? I'm going to adjust Swakopmund, as suggested, and just make it a stop for supplies and add an extra night in Damaraland.
All of the suggestions make complete sense and I guess, like toonsarah suggests, we should focus on one region and we would like that region to be the north, with the exception being Sossusvlei and Luderitz. Do you think it's possible to arrange our itinerary to include Kaokoland but still include Sossusvlei and Luderitz as the only south of windhoek destinations?
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We spent around 5 days in Etosha and that was really just enough to get the flavour of things. The drive from Etosha to Waterberg is fairly long, but on a good road (we drove from !Nhoma to Waterberg in about 8 hours and that is a bit further than the eastern end of Etosha, I think) . We spent 3-1/2 weeks on the ground in Namibia and probably could have fit everything in to 3 if we pushed things.
Culturally, spending a night at Epupa Falls (right on the Namiba / Angola border) and visiting a Himba Village was great. If you drive through Opuwo, you will see them there too (don't know about the villages). Visiting the Bushmen (San) at !Nhoma in the Kalihari was a great experience too. If you are driving a 4x4, Palmwag in north-western Damaraland was absolutely fantastic and we should have spent 2 nights there instead of one. You need a 4x4 to drive through this nature reserve (the tours that are run by the lodge are not to our taste...) We packed a picnic lunch and headed off. Unlike the National Parks, you are allowed to exit your vehicle, which is a totally different experience from Etosha. We also stayed one night in Western Etosha, but because this area has not been open to the public for around 60 years (it opened in mid-2011), the animals stayed well away from the vehicles (which were few and far between). I also highly recommend staying at Okaukeujo Rest Camp; the water hole is illuminated at night and is a fantastic place to see the wildlife and is apparently one of the best places to see black rhinos.
We never got further south than Sessriem, but spent a couple of additional days in Namib-Naumkluft National Park. You do need a 4x4 and experience to drive yourself to Sossusvlei, but the sunset views of the red dunes are fantastic.
If you replace Fish River and Marienthal with Kakaoland you are still going to be stretched for time I think, though marginally less so. You need to think how much it is important to you to see all these places at the cost of spending more time driving. Yes, you 'can 'do it, but don't underestimate the slowness of driving in Namibia compared with what you are probably used to, and also the stress. On these gravel roads the driver must watch the road all the time as there are potholes, big rocks, etc - not to mention the possibility for large animals to be on the road. Look at the mileage, assume an average speed of between 40 and 50 mph, and then work out if you're happy to spend that much time on the road. If you are, go for it - if not, trim the itinerary some more!
Thanks again, your input is invaluable and very appreciated. I don't really have any more questions at the time being, but I will definitely have more in the next few weeks as I work to amend my itinerary.
Thanks so much!!
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I love traveling and love planning trips, with the exception of trimming an itinerary. so I have just a quick question: would you recommend spending some time in Kakoland over time in Luderitz?
P.S. GrumpyDiver, I'm also born and raised in Toronto (now live in San Francisco)
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