Camelthorn Self Drive
Self Drive to Waterberg, Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund & Sossusvlei
Although the Camelthorn is a 10 day self drive safari aimed at the budget end of the market, it still manages to offer a decent variety of accommodation in a selection of Namibia's major tourist attractions. The camelthorn is a well-known and one of the most common trees in Namibia. It prefers sandy soils and grows up to 20m high with a characteristic spreading crown.
Waterberg Plateau is the ideal first destination for this tour. There are some great hiking trails of varying lengths and the scenery is great. Although the plateau is fairly dry on top, there is a lot of surface water and strong permanent springs at the foot of the mountain. This lush and green flora attracts a diverse array of fauna.
Etosha National Park offers an extraordinary wealth of animal and plant life. The Etosha Pan is usually dry, except for periods of heavy rainfall and when northern flood-water flow into i when this happens large flocks of flamingos use the pan for breeding. The park's waterholes are a magnet for attracting game and stunning wildlife action. Self-driving allows for flexible and timely game-viewing.
The drive through Damaraland is an adventurous one. Even though the San rock engravings at Twyfelfontein, the Petrified Forest and the 'White Lady' at Brandberg cannot be missed, the fortunate might get a rare sighting of desert-adapted elephant. Black rhino have converted to the inhospitable conditions, so well in fact that the region hosts the largest population of this species outside of a national park.
Time for a change of scenery. Many tourists consider Swakopmund to be in a bit of time warp. As far as the impressive German architecture goes, it still is. But for the adrenalin junkies and adventure seekers, this is the place to be! Slide effortlessly across the sand on a board or a bike, drift on the sea in a canoe or a cruise, or the birds-eye view from a hot-air balloon.
It's back to those gravel roads for that last excursion, this time into the Namib Desert. Sossusvlei is an enormous ephemeral pan surrounded and protected on 3 sides by sand dunes measuring up to 300m. Deadvlei and Hiddenvlei are 2 other lovely spots worth the effort. From the dunes you take a scenic drive back to Windhoek.
Although it is possible to book this itinerary 'as is', as with all our self drive trips this is entirely customisable. We can add or delete days, change the accommodation used and generally design the tour to suit your individual requirements. Visitors who might prefer a break from driving themselves can arrange a guided safari.
- Day 1: Windhoek - Waterberg
- Head due north out of Windhoek on decent tarred roads through the garden town of Okahandja all the way to and past Otjiwarongo. Overnight not far from Waterberg Plateau - a colourful brick-red sandstone mountain.
Accommodation: Waterberg Camp
- Day 2: Waterberg - Etosha
- Leaving Waterberg return to the main B1 road and continue your journey northwards via Otjiwarongo, Otavi & Tsumeb and then enter Etosha Park via the von Lindequist Gate (on the eastern side of the park, near Namutoni). From here it is an 80km drive to Halali where you will be spending the night, this drive could easily take you several hours as game is plentiful in Etosha and the chances are you will be constantly stopping to view animals. If time allows consider dropping in at some of the waterholes along the route as animals frequently visit these for a drink.
Whatever happens remember you need to be inside the Halali gates before sunset - and speeding, the park speed limit is 60km/h, is strictly not allowed within the park.
- Day 3 & 4: Etosha Park
- It is really worth waking early and heading out on your game drive as soon as the gates open at sunrise. Animals are most active in the cool of the day (early morning & late afternoon) and in order to maximise your chances of good viewings it is worth imitating their behaviour. The roads in Etosha are unsealed gravel roads but are in reasonable condition - and the general tourist behaviour is to drive between various waterholes searching for animals.
As the day gets hotter head for shade, and lunch, at one of the parks three camps, Okaukuejo, Namutoni or Halali. When things start to cool down again head out for another game drive. With two full days in the park you should have sightings of most of the parks inhabitants (although be warned the cats are notoriously hard to find - and of course what you see is determined by luck and more importantly your ability to spot wildlife). These nights will be spent at Okaukuejo Camp, the western most camp in Etosha, it is famous for a very popular (both with tourist and the local animal population) spot-lit waterhole.
- Day 5: Etosha - Damaraland
- Hopefully by now you will have seen everything the park has to offer and are ready to move on. From today onwards the geographical features you encounter will become more striking as you head into the Namib Desert.
Leaving Etosha via the Andersson gate head south to the Town of Outjo and from there westwards to Khorixas. Those interested in geological matters may be inclined to take the short detour from the main road to visit the Vingerklip (Rock Finger). From Khorixas continue westwards until you reach the Petrified Forest, here you will need to pay for a local guide to show you the remains of million year old petrified tree trunks (interesting, if not exactly riveting stuff). Luckily the highlight of this part of the trip is still to come - from here head to Twyfelfontein, this world heritage site has an extremely high density of bushmen rock engravings. After hiring a local guide you will be shown some of the more striking of these petroglyphs.
Leaving Twyfelfontein you head east for only a very short drive and overnight close to the Gauntegab River.
Accommodation: Madisa Camp
- Day 6: Damaraland - Swakopmund
- Heading towards Uis, you may want to stop at Brandberg Mountain, the highest point in Namibia. A fairly hot and sandy walk will bring you to the 'White Lady' rock painting. For many years it was speculated that this Bushman painting was a depiction of a European woman (it seems to have escaped those doing the speculating that the drawing was done thousands of years before Europeans visited the southern part of Africa, and even more worryingly close inspection of the drawing seems to indicate it is not female!)
From the Brandberg you begin driving towards the coast, and after 130km jarring kilometers (this road is often very corrugated) you will arrive at Henties Bay. Here turn northwards along the Skeleton Coast and head for the seal colony at Cape Cross. Despite this being one of the smelliest places in Namibia the seals make for a fascinating time. when your senses can no longer take the pungent smell of seal hop back in your car and drive down the coast, back through Henties Bay and then a further 70km to Swakopmund. On arrival in check into your accommodation before heading out for a drink, dinner and a night on the town.
Accommodation: Alternative Space
- Day 7: Swakopmund
- There are a host of adventure activities to participate in while in Swakopmund. These range from sandboarding through quad biking to sky-diving. No activities are included in this package but they can be pre-arranged when you book this itinerary or left for you to arrange on arrival is Swakopmund
Being a German inspired town good food and beer is never hard to find, so we are sure you will find something productive to do!
Accommodation: Alternative Space
- Day 8: Swakopmund - Sossusvlei
- Leave Swakopmund towards the harbour town of Walvis Bay, the lagoon here attracts a lot of marine & birdlife and is well worth a visit to view the pink flamingoes. You may decide to take a catamaran cruise on the lagoon (not included in package price). Today you have a drive of around 350km's which will take you around 4-5 hours. Your route will take you across the gravel plains of the Namib Desert and through the Kuiseb & Gaub passes.
Aim to arrive at your accommodation in the late afternoon, Desert Camp is a self catering establishment and no meals are included in this package but if you do not want to have the hassle of carrying and preparing your own food meals can be enjoyed at the nearby Sossusvlei Lodge
Accommodation: Sossusvlei Desert Camp
- Day 9: Sossusvlei
- Wake up early and leave your lodge, heading for the Sesriem entrance gate to the Namib Naukluft Park. This gate only opens at sunrise, so there is no point arriving earlier, but driving the 60km from Sesriem through the dunes towards Sossusvlei while the sun rises is a real pleasure. The first major dune you will encounter goes by the imaginative name of Dune 45 - many people choose to stop and climb this dune but we suggest you continue onwards towards Sossusvlei. Park at the the 2x4 car park (unless you have a 4x4 vehicle this is as far as you can drive), Sossusvlei is a further 4km from here but you are already amongst fairly large dunes. The walk along the dry river bed into Sossusvlei is lovely but for the very unfit or terminally lazy there are 4x4 shuttles from the car park to Sossusvlei.
Deadvlei, so named because it is a large pan with sculptural dead trees, is close by and definitely worth a visit. When you have had enough sand - head back to your vehicle (there really is no shame in taking the shuttle back - the sand is likely to be hot, and the walk less pleasant than the one in the cool of the morning)
On your way back to the lodge stop at the Sesriem Canyon - follow the signs from the Sesriem Campsite.
Accommodation: Sossusvlei Desert Camp
- Day 10: Sossusvlei - Windhoek
- If you are looking to completely blow your budget you could consider joining a balloon flight over Sossusvlei this morning. Otherwise after breakfast, pack up and head back to Windhoek. If you are not flying out today we can book you suitable accommodation in Windhoek for tonight.
- All your meals and activities as specified.
A welcome pack including maps and vouchers for the places that you'll be visiting.
See the individual lodges for precise inclusions & exclusions
A 24 hour emergency assistance phone number
- Vehicle & Fuel
Park entrance fees (these need to be paid on arrival).
Tips and gratuities (which are optional).
Any meals or activities not specified.
See the individual lodges for detailed inclusions & exclusions.
- Although we have excluded the cost of renting a vehicle from the quoted rate we are happy to advise you on the best possible vehicle and arrange a rental for you. For an idea of what is available have a look at our car hire in Namibia section
3 Days - A short visit to the sand dunes at Sossusvlei
3 Days - Get away to Swakopmund on the coast - includes sandboarding on the Namib Dunes as well as a dolphin cruise
4 Days - A game viewing trip to the famous Etosha National Park
8 Days - Combines a visit to Etosha National Park, with some time at Swakopmund and then the dunes at Sossusvlei
9 Days - Southern Namibia: Fish River, Luderitz, Sossusvlei with some self catering accommodation.
10 Days - The classic northern and central Namibia trip. Includes Waterberg Plateau, Etosha National Park, rock art in Damaraland, Cape Cross & Swakopmund and ends with two night near the dunes at Sossusvlei.
10 Days - A combination of Namibia & Botswana. Highlights include game viewing in the Etosha Park & a trip in a traditional dug out canoe in the Okavango Delta Panhandle.
14 Days - Two weeks worth of travel allow you to visit everything that is included in the Camelthorn Self Drive and add the vast expanses of southern Namibia. Additional stops include Luderitz, the Fish River Canyon and a night in the Kalahari Desert
20 Days - This includes Waterberg, Etosha, a visit to the densely populated Owamboland region on the Angolan border, Kaokoland and the nomadic Himba People, rock art and desert elephants in Damaraland, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei, Luderitz, the Fish River and Kalahari.
20 Days - A circular route that includes Sossusvlei, the highlights of Northern Namibia, the Zambezi region and Chobe, Vic Falls and the Okavango Delta in Botswana