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Marula Self Drive

Highlights of Southern Namibia | including some self catering

The Marula is a 9 day self-drive accommodated tour that visits the highlights of southern Namibia. Accommodation is in a combination of comfortable lodges, guest houses and self-catering establishments, taking into account the varying days of either long drives or the cross-country route which eventually leads to the Namib Desert. One particular species of Marula, Sclerocarya birrea, a member of the mango family, produces aromatic resin and some are poisonous and can cause severe skin irritations.

Accommodation in Luderitz has been chosen for self-catering purposes. This is the perfect option for those early morning starts, picnic lunches and sundowner drives without sacrificing flexibility, value for money or a good night's sleep.

Beginning in Windhoek there is roughly a 3 hour drive to your first destination Kalahari Anib Lodge. Kalahari Anib Lodge is located about 30 km north-east of Mariental and is an ideal stopover on the way to Southern Namibia. The lodge is nestled in a lush green oasis under high palm trees, set amidst the red dunes of the Kalahari Desert. This area is notable for the green acacias and yellow grasses that grow in the red sand. Next day you will proceedon well-maintained tarred roads to the Fish River Canyon, the 2nd largest of its kind in the world. Stand at the edge on the main viewpoint and admire the stunning views. The Fish River is generally dry but can change quickly into a raging torrent once the rains commence.

Some cross-country driving follows for the shorter journey to Luderitz, a former trading post, fishing and guano-harvesting town that exploded with the discovery of diamonds in nearby Kolmanskop in 1908. The ghost town is only a few km drive from Luderitz and was once a bustling little centre, providing shelter for workers from the harsh environment of the Namib Desert. It soon resembled a German town with large, elegant houses and a comprehensive array of amenities.

Canyon and coast make way for dunes and desert as you head to Sossusvlei, one of Namibia's most spectacular sights and the country's 2nd most popular tourist attraction. It is a clay, almost circular, hard-surfaced depression that is virtually surrounded by beautiful sharp-edged dunes. Beyond lies a formidable sea of rolling sand, stretching in unbroken immensity all the way to the coast. During exceptional rainy seasons such as in 2011, Sossusvlei will fill with water, although usually it is dry.

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. If you do not like the idea of driving yourself the itinerary could easily be used as the basis for a guided safari.

Self Drive Namibia

  • Self Drive: Fish River Lodge Room View
  • Self Drive: Fish River Lodge
  • Self Drive: Fighting Horses
  • Self Drive: Quiver Tree Sunset
  • Self Drive: Fish River Canyon
  • Self Drive: Road To Luderitz
  • Self Drive: Gondwana Sperrgebiet Rand Park
  • Self Drive: Big Dune
  • Self Drive: Social Weaver nest
  • Self Drive: Roaring Dunes
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Day 1: Windhoek to Mariental
The 3hr drive south from Windhoek to Kalahari Anib Lodge is along the tarred B1 road, the lodge is located about 30km north-east of the town of Mariental. Activities include sunrise and sunset scenic drives through Gondwana Kalahari Park and bird watchers can view vultures and marabou storks at the carrion feeding place. Springbok, gemsbok and ostrich can be observed around the lodge. Jackal, hare and porcupine inhabit the dunes and dune valleys of the Kalahari Desert as does the Kori Bustard, the largest flying bird of them all. Huge colonies of weaver birds are resident in the lodge's grounds.
Meals: None
Accommodation: Kalahari Anib Lodge
Day 2: Mariental to Fish River Canyon
Although a fairly long drive to Fish River Canyon looms (c.430km/5hr), it is worth considering visiting the spectacular collection of quiver trees near Keetmanshoop en-route. Canyon Roadhouse is a comfortable and convenient base when visiting the Fish River Canyon, it is located 20km from the main viewpoint of the Fish River Canyon.
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Canyon Roadhouse
Day 3: Fish River Canyon
Resembling a roadhouse of old with a large red roof, the lodge is a veritable treasure-house and a 'must-do' stop when visiting the canyon. The outside area hints of the wonderland interior with its rusty old Chevys and Fords from a bygone era, adorned with corky quiver trees and desert flora. Park your vehicle and step inside. The canyon resort has a swimming pool, a campsite, a terrace to enjoy Roadhouse specialities like Amarula cheesecake (and the best cappuccino for miles around) and a walking trail through the hills.
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Canyon Roadhouse
Day 4: Fish River Canyon to Luderitz
The drive to the Atlantic coastal town of Luderitz heads north west to the small settlement of Aus. The Bahnhof Hotel is a popular lunch stop. As you continue west it is worth noting that the strong wind, which blows for most of the time, can make the final 10km into Luderitz a mini-adventure all on its own. The road may be blocked by the Barchans dune field, which drifts onto the highway until road crews are able to clean them off. The hazardous driving conditions can be compounded by fog.
If you have time on your hands, there is plenty to see and do. The Lüderitz Peninsula, much of which lies outside the Sperrgebiet prohibited area, makes for an interesting half-day excursion. Sturmvogelbucht has a lovely beach and is home to a former Norwegian whaling station, now a rusty ruin. Diaz Point, 22km south of Lüderitz, has a classic lighthouse and replica of Dias Cross erected in July 1488 by Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias.
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Kairos Cottage
Day 5: Luderitz to Klein Aus Vista
Other highlights in and around Luderitz include a boat trip to Halifax Island and it's resident African jackass penguins and a trip to the ghost town at Kolmanskop. A short journey back to Klein Aus Vista follows. The Namib feral (wild) horses graze locally here and mainly in the afternoons. Klipspringer are not far away in the morning either.
Meals: None
Accommodation: Eagles Nest
Day 6: Klein Aus Vista
Klein Aus Vista is the ideal place to enjoy the tranquil and beautiful surrounds. The more energetic might like to try 1 of 2 walking trails starting and ending from Eagles Nest. There is the 12km Eagle Trail, approximately 5hr long and the 4km Mountain Trail, approximately 2½ hr long.
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Eagles Nest
Day 7: Klein Aus Vista to Sossusvlei
Provisions for the next stage of the safari should be arranged in either Aus or Helmeringhausen as there are no other facilities en-route. The scenic drive is between 4-5hr and all on gravel roads. Your destination for the next 2 days Namib Desert Lodge sits at the foot of a red sandstone cliff, which consists of the fossilized dunes of an ancient Namib. It is situated just 60 km north of Sesriem, the gateway to Sossusvlei. Namib Desert Lodge is located in the Gondwana Namib Park, it shares a border with the Namib Naukluft Park.
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Namib Desert Lodge
Day 8: Sossusvlei
The early morning start in order to reach the main gate at Sesriem for sunrise will prove well worth the effort. A 1hr drive from Sesriem to Sossusvlei follows a tarred road along the dry Tsauchab river bed, stopping at Dune 45 to climb and watch the sun rise. Breakfast can be enjoyed under a camelthorn tree. South of Sossusvlei is Deadvlei, just 1.1km from the car park, surrounded on 3 sides by towering red dunes. Left of Sossusvlei is Naravlei named after the many !Nara plants (cucumber-like melons) found on and around the edge of the pan. Finish off your visit with a walk down the cool and shady Sesriem Canyon.
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Namib Desert Lodge
Day 9: Sossusvlei to Windhoek
There is a 5hr drive back to Windhoek, encompassing either Remhoogte or Gamsberg Passes.
Meals: Breakfast
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
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Marula Self Dive

9 Days - Southern Namibia: Fish River, Luderitz, Sossusvlei with some self catering accommodation.

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Jackalberry Self Drive

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Quiver tree Self Drive

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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.

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