From desert elephants to German colonial towns, Namibia has a richness of life in even the sparsest setting -- and its remote wonders are more accessible than you think. If you are hungry to explore this intriguing part of Africa but are not sure where to start, this driving itinerary will introduce you to the best of the country, with convenient lodging options for each stop. Just be prepared to drive.
Begin your trip in
the small, German-influenced capital of Windhoek, with its scattering of
historic buildings. Set among low hills, the country’s geographical
heart and commercial nerve centre is surprisingly low-key. For
overnight lodging, choose between the Rivendell
Guest House, which is quiet, affordable and has a swimming pool, or the
Heinitzburg, a former castle built in 1914.
When driving between
Windhoek and the Skeleton Coast, stop in the town of
Swakopmund, Namibia’s most popular holiday destination. About 360km from Windhoek,
Swakopmund feels like a German Baltic beach resort -- apart from the palm trees
and desert sand. Alte
Brücke’s 23 chalets sleep one to six people, or the Hansa
Hotel is a posh hotel in a building that dates from 1905.
Once you get to the Skeleton Coast, the eerie, desolate
seascape stretches more than 600km from Swakopmund to the Angolan border. From
Möwe Bay northwards is the Skeleton Coast Wilderness, with public access only
by charter flight. Stay at the remote Skeleton Coast Camp
for exclusive access to the wilderness zone – and an exclusive price tag to
match. Outside this zone but still on the Skeleton Coast, Namibia Wildlife Resorts runs the
more affordable Terrace Bay Camp, about 48km north of Torra Bay on the C34
The shifting dunes and flat
pans around Sossusvlei, more than 700 km south of the Skeleton Coast, lie in
the Namib-Naukluft Park,
beyond the park entrance at Sesriem. A road runs from the park entrance to
Sossusvlei, but the last three miles are 4WD only. If you do not have a
suitable car, take the shuttle from the main car park. Or, if you carry plenty
of water, you can tackle the hour and a half walk.
Reaching Sossusvlei in time
for sunrise can be tricky with park opening times. The Kuala Desert Lodge
makes this easier with its own park entrance. The lodge comprises of thatched
or canvas en suite tents with verandas, and the full rate also covers nature
drives and guided visits.
Nearly 500km south
is the diamond
mining town of Kolmanskop, which was abandoned in 1956 and is slowly being
reclaimed by the sands. It is a short drive to the surreal colonial town of
Lüderitz, but before you visit you will need to get a permit from Namibia Wildlife Resorts or through a local
tour operator such as Lüderitzbucht Tours (Bismarck Street; 00-264-63-202719).
In Lüderitz, check out the town’s museum,
and stay at the modern Sea-View
Hotel Zum Sperrgebiet, which has a glassed-in indoor pool, sweeping
terraces and harbour views.
Just 115km away is Klein-Aus Vista, a
10,000-hectare ranch with a guest lodge and several trekking routes, each
taking in fabulous landscapes. The lodge is also well positioned for day trips
to the towns of Kolmanskop and Lüderitz, and staff can arrange trips to see the
wild horses in the Namib Desert.
The article 'A long road trip along Namibia’s coast' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.