This awesome trip was done via 4×4 truck, driving during the day and camping at night. The tourism infrastructure of Namibia is built for these long distance road trips, whether you decide to self drive or not. Similarly, lodging can vary based on budget, as many locations offer both rooms or designated campsites. As you’ll see in the photos, each car comes equipped with foldout tents, cooking supplies, chairs, etc. so a campsite really just constitutes a place to park with water and a bathroom.

Our trip was done through Cardboard Box (, who handled the renting of the car as well as booking each of our campsites. The entire itinerary is quite extensive, so I’ve included it below, verbatim from the site. I’ll focus instead on the customizations we made, as well as the highlights!

HIGHLIGHTS:- Obviously all of the nature. From the animals of Etosha to the Dunes of Walvis Bay there is no shortage of unbelievable sights on this trip.- The Mokoro trip: You pole out in dugout canoes to an island in the middle of the Okavango Delta where you camp for the night. You are fed well, go on walks around the giants islands looking for wildlife, and enjoy two awesome days in and around the depths of the Delta.- The day trip in Walvis Bay. This is a MUST. You can book a combo tour that allows for a morning of kayaking through a seal colony, and an afternoon atop MASSIVE dunes along the coast. This is the best day and one I’ve done twice in my life. I have a feeling I may find my way back again in the future.

EXPERIENCE:- Driving around was easy as we had pre-downloaded maps of the country onto our phones. The cars are left handed stick shift and on the wrong side of the road on gravel roads….. which is fun!- The car comes with a refrigerator, stove, and more!- We cooked for ourselves half of the nights and went to small restaurants the other half. Boiling water for coffee in the morning and eating cold lunches and breakfasts was the norm. Big warm dinners around the campfire the rest of the time!________________________________

Day 1: Windhoek – Sossusvlei

This morning, head south-west via Rehoboth and then along gravel roads into the desert. It is just over a four hour drive but allow longer as it is worth considering a stop at the top of the Spreetshoogte Pass, which offers beautiful views over the Namib plains and rolling dunes. We suggest staying at Desert Quiver Camp this evening as it is close to the park entrance gate which means there isn’t so far to drive if wanting to see the dunes in the early morning when light is at its best and in summer temperatures are bearable.Meals: DinnerAccommodation: Desert Quiver Camp

Day 2: Sossusvlei

It is an hour’s drive from the Namib Park entrance gates at Sesriem to Sossusvlei so this morning is an early start. Either stop at the 2×4 car park and walk along the dry river bed into Sossusvlei or take a shuttle unless you have a 4×4 and feel adventurous. With the growing number of tourists visiting this iconic location, if you are interested in appreciating the desert without hordes of other people you may want to avoid both Deadvlei and Sossusvlei. Just remember to take stock of your surroundings before disappearing into the desert.In the afternoon you can relax around the pool before heading to the nearby Sesriem Canyon.Meals: Breakfast & DinnerAccommodation: Desert Quiver Camp

Day 3: Sossusvlei – Swakopmund

Heading north your route will take you via a scenic stretch of road as far as the Kuiseb Canyon, then you have a vast stretch of gravel plains until you reach Walvis Bay. It often takes 5 hours to drive this section so allow plenty of time and snacks/drinks as there is very little en-route until you reach the coast. You may also want to allow enough time to drive to Walvis Bay Lagoon to see the flamingos, pelicans and other aquatic birdlife. The salt works just south of the lagoon are also worth seeing, a slightly surreal crystalline landscape of pastel pinks, blues and greens. It is then a short hop up the coast to Swakopmund. After settling into your accommodation, head out and enjoy an evening meal.Meals: BreakfastAccommodation: Alternative Space

Day 4: Swakopmund

There are a number of interesting day trips that can be arranged from Swakopmund ranging from sandboarding to exploring the desert on a night walk. Otherwise you can simply relax and wander around the town which has some interesting examples of German colonial architecture. Namibia’s coastline does not offer typical beach tourism as normally it tends to be too cold and misty, a wondrous change from the heat of the interior if visiting during the summer.Meals: BreakfastAccommodation: Alternative Space

Day 5: Swakopmund – Twyfelfontein

Today is a long drive, around 4.5 hours directly via Henties Bay and Uis, and an additional couple of hours if you decide to visit the seal colony at Cape Cross. Once again there are not many options for places to stop en-route so either pack food for lunch or make a plan that includes either Cape Cross Lodge or one of the few options in Uis. It is worth arriving as early as possible at this evening’s destination if you want to visit the rock engravings at Twyfelfontein, as they are best viewed in the afternoon (if not summer months and therefore too hot). Twyfelfontein contains around 2,000 rock carvings and in 2007 UNESCO approved it as a World Heritage Site. The site is one of the largest and most important concentrations of rock art in Africa. Tonight’s accommodation does not have a restaurant so you may want to bring provisions for dinner from Swakopmund.Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Madisa Camp

Day 6: Twyfelfontein – Etosha

Today you head to Etosha, a massive game park that is dominated by a 4731㎡ salt pan and is home to a multitude of animals and birdlife. As one of the most established camps, Okaukuejo attracts an enormous amount of game and your evening might best be spent relaxing at the waterhole here.Meals: None

Accommodation: Okaukuejo Rest Camp

Day 7: Etosha

For the most part game viewing is best done early in the morning and in the cooler hours before the sun sets. The edge of the pan often attracts good sightings but remember that it is worth being patient and stopping off for a while at one spot. Also make sure you pack your binoculars and a Southern African bird book is also a valuable resource.Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Okaukuejo Rest Camp

Day 8: Etosha

Your accommodation this evening is in the central Etosha camp, the smallest of the 3 main camps along the pan and know for having some of the best sightings for leopard. Unlike Okaukuejo, the waterhole is set away from the accommodation and therefore tends to have a more tranquil atmosphere.Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Halali Rest Camp

Day 9: Etosha – Grootfontein Region

You have around 300kms to cover today so you should have plenty of time to include a leisurely drive out of the park before heading towards Rundu. The most likely route will take you via the small and relatively pretty towns of both Tsumeb and Grootfontein where you may want to have a stop for lunch. Roy’s Camp is situated 55kms north of Grootfontein and offers guests simple, rustic accommodation with a quirky twist. There is a small waterhole close to the accommodation that attracts antelope and smaller game such as warthog.Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Roy’s Camp

Day 10 & 11: Grootfontein Region – Divundu

Heading further north, your next destination is around 400kms away. Once you have crossed the vet fence (a boundary to help prevent diseases such as Foot and Mouth) the scenery changes and you pass numerous villages with traditional huts and kraals.Ngepi is nestled among the trees along the Kavango River and a good base from which to explore Popa Falls and Mahango Game Reserve. Boat and mokoro trips, fishing, guided walks and village tours can be arranged from here.Meals: BreakfastAccommodation: Ngepi Camp (treehouse)

Day 12: Divundu – Kasane

There are both a lot of kilometres to travel and borders to negotiate, so an early start is definitely recommended. Crossing the Zambezi Region / Bwabwata National Park (formerly the Caprivi Strip) watch out for elephants as they are often munching only metre away from the road. After crossing into Botswana via Ngoma, you have a short drive to Kasane, a small town that is basically the junction point for Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana and where the Chobe and Zambezi rivers meet. Activities centre around the river and it is definitely worth considering a boat trip. Depending on the time of year you are likely to see elephants, buffalo, hippo and crocs as well as a rich variety of birdlife. The other option is to arrange a game drive into Chobe National Park, which is home to Africa’s largest elephant population but this should be arranged for when you have a full day free.Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Old House

Day 13: Kasane – Vic Falls – KasaneDue to the hassles of taking a vehicle into Zimbabwe, we strongly recommend arranging a day trip to see Vic Falls, if you want to include this Natural World Wonder in your itinerary. Even crossing the border with a guided trip requires a fair degree of patience and fortitude and normally means forking out a fair amount for a Zimbabwe visa. You can visit from the Zambia side but the views are not as spectacular. Once over the border it is an hour’s drive to Victoria Falls. If rains have been good then it can often be difficult to see the falls in April and May due to the amount of spray created. The water is at its lowest during October and early November so generally the best time to visit is sometime between these two extremes. The park is close to town and is an easy stroll with many great locations to take shots of the falls. For the more adventurous there are various adrenalin activities such as white water rafting, high wires and bungee jumping. Return in the late afternoon back to your base in Kasane.Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Old House

Day 14: Kasane

Because of the long drive to Kasane and the lack of time to book any activities other than an evening boat trip, today is open for doing activities in Chobe.Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Old House

Day 15: Kasane – Nata

Hit the road again, commencing the return loop of your trip. It is not that far to Nata (just over 300kms) but the road condition can make this section slower than you might expect. For those who are keen on birding, the Nata Sanctuary is just 20kms south of the town and has 165 species of birds including flamingos, pelicans and the rare crowned crane. As well as the amazing birdlife, there are also a variety of antelope, zebra, wildebeest and other smaller animals. You can either drive yourselves or take a guided tour.Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Nata Lodge

Day 16: Nata – Maun

Similar in distance and time to your previous day’s journey, you head directly west along the A3 to Maun, the hub for trips into the Okavango Delta and Moremi. There is not much to really see in Maun itself so we suggest just having a relaxing evening.Meals: None

Accommodation: Audi Camp (en-suite tent)

Day 17 & 18: Okavango DeltaFor the next 2 days we suggest booking either a trip into the Delta or into Moremi. The former is about being gently poled around the meandering water channels in mokoros, enjoying the rich birdlife and idyllic scenery. The latter is more a land based trip that concentrates on game viewing, of which there is an abundance. We have quoted on the cheaper Delta trip.Meals: Breakfast at Audi and all meals included whilst on tour

Accommodation: Audi Camp

Day 19: Maun – Ghanzi

Today is roughly a 3-4 hour trip to Ghanzi, trying to avoid the goats and cows who tend to wander in the road throughout Botswana. Just before you reach Ghanzi, the small settlement of D’Kar is well worth visiting for its museum and cultural centre, housing a history of the San people and a variety of local crafts. You can also see work by local San artists, for which D’Kar is well known. For those who are further interested in the Bushman traditions, your accommodation this evening offers a Bushman walk that demonstrates some of their tracking and food gathering skills. This must be booked in advance.Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Thakadu (meru tent)

Day 20: Ghanzi – Windhoek

Heading back to Windhoek this is a long day of driving (roughly 6 hours if the border crossing goes smoothly) so we suggest a reasonably early start. There is not much reason to stop en-route and not much in the way of recommendations for lunch stops so a packed lunch may be advisable.

Overall comment on planning the trip:

After lots of research we ended up using Cardboard Box Travel in Windhoek to help us with the planning. They were just terrific, giving us options of where to go and what to do given what were were interested in. They also booked all our hotels, our car and our activities for us and made it all so easy. All at no charge. Their suggestions were perfect. Given our timing we did not go to the famed red sand dunes nor to visit the tribes in the east unfortunately. On the next trip! 

Day 1

Arrive Hosea Kutako Airport in Windhoek. Transfer to Pension Onganga.

Spend Night at Pension Onganga – BB – 1 x family room (two rooms with shared bathroom – one room with a double bed, one room with three single beds). Rental Car delivered directly to the Pension.

We wandered around the pension area and explored a bit then headed to town for dinner at Joe’s Beer House. We had lots of wild game in a great atmosphere and after great jet lag made the kids fall asleep while sitting in front of a fire we headed home.

Sleep: Pension Onganga

Day 2

Drive Windhoek to Okaukeujo in Etosha park – 420 kilometres/all good tar roads/5 to 6 hours driving. Not a lot on the way – lots of open land, some warthogs on the side of the road, a couple little villages. Then you enter the gates of the park and drive to the Okaukeujo chalets.

Once we checked in we did an afternoon game drive. There are no instructions on how to behave with or find the animals -you are on your own. It doesn’t even say to not get out of the car!  We saw giraffes, lions, elephants and more. At the lodge itself there is a a watering hole where the animals come both during the day and at night. At night it was spectacular!

Sleep: Okaukeujo (bush chalets) – BB – 1 x double bush chalet and 1 x triple bush chalet, Etosha Park

Day 3

Game drives!  Such a good way to see on our own without a driver, being part of a group etc. Loved hanging out at the lodge watering hole – there is a viewing area where you can sit and read a book or watch the animals – awesome.

Sleep: Okaukeujo (bush chalets) – BB – 1 x double bush chalet and 1 x triple bush chalet, Etosha

Day 4

Drive to Grootberg lodge. Okaukeujo to Grootberg – 380 kilometres/270 on good tar roads/110 on gravel roads 4 to 5 hours driving. The driving on the gravel roads is very dusty and bumpy and is part of the adventure of Namibia! The Lodge is in the middle of nowhere (all of this area feel like nowhere though!) and then you see the view! It’s like looking out on a little Grand Canyon. There are little individual buildings you sleep in, with views to die for. There is a main lodge with bar, restaurant and pool. You can arrange rhino watching trip, which we did, or also you can visit a local tribe or do other outings.

Sleep: Grootberg Lodge – DBB – 1 x double room and 1 x triple room. This was a splurge stay as it was the priciest place we stayed on the trip by far.

Day 5

For a good part of the day we went rhino tracking with a couple guides. Long drive into the bush, where we finally did spot one. Unfortunate part of trip was seeing a mountain giraffe that had just been shot by a ranger for some reason.

Sleep: Grootberg Lodge – DBB – 1 x double room and 1 x triple room

Day 6

Big driving day! Grootberg to Swakopmund –  445 kilometres and it’s all gravel roads/7 to 8 hours. Lots of dust and very empty. Namibian countryside is very open and vast. But we did not get lost, which was good, nor run out of gas, which was also good. Plus at one point we saw the filming of the Mad Max movie in the middle of the desert which was a highlight after a loooong day of driving! Once in Swakopmund we checked into our hotel and drove into downtown for a German dinner.

Sleep: Alternative Space hotel. 1 x double room and 1 x triple room, Swakopmund

27/07 Alternative Space – BB –

Day 7

We drove to Sandwich Harbour just down the coast a bit. Via Cardboard Box travel we had signed up for a full day combo tour of kayaking and going to the dunes. We weren’t sure about the kayaking, but it turned out to be a highlight of the trip. The seals are everywhere around you and come up right to the boat and swim along with you. It’s like nothing we’d ever experienced – really magical. Then we drove up the dunes – this is one of the few places on earth where the desert meets the ocean – and ran around and then had a champagne lunch atop the dunes overlooking the ocean. We had good weather which helped! A great day.

Sleep: Alternative Space – BB, Swakopmund

Day 8

Also via Cardboard Box we had a 3 hour sandboarding and quad biking tour. They drove us up huge dunes and taught us to lie flat down them on boards and fly down the hill (it wasn’t like snowboarding boards, which we’d done on dunes in Peru). You could choose how hard a hill you wanted to master. Then we did a long quad bike tour – even our 12 year old had his own bike – and it was a bit long by the end but fun. 

We then drove back to Windhoek to our original hotel as we were leaving the next morning for Botswana. Swakopmund to Windhoek – 330 kilometres/all good tar roads/4 to 5 hours. We turned our car in that night and the hotel arranged a taxi to the airport the following morning.

Sleep: Pension Onganga, Windhoek BB

Day 9

Fly to Maun, Botswana on Air Namibia

Taxi to Audi Camp. Spend afternoon swimming, relaxing.

Sleep: Audi Camp, Maun, Botswana

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