Quiver Tree Self Drive
Waterberg, Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei, Luderitz & Fish River
This 14 day self drive tour not only takes in Namibia's main highlights but some of the country's other beautiful and interesting attractions. Your trip starts from Windhoek and heads north to the Waterberg Plateau, a location that has proved to be the ideal refuge for rare and threatened species of antelope and rhino.
For many the drive to Etosha National Park can't come quick enough. There are 2 full and exciting days of game drives to look forward to. The park consists of savannah, woodland and saline desert, home to large mammals, big cats, a variety of antelope, smaller mammals and hundreds of species of birdlife. The journey continues into the beauty and splendour of Damaraland, popular with visitors who prefer exploring remote and wild places. Desert-adapted elephant and rock engravings can also be found.
Before spending 2 nights on the coast, drive to the Cape fur seal colony at Cape Cross. Over 200,000 seals congregate here in the November and December breeding season. Also in this location is a replica of the original padrão (stone cross), planted by the Portuguese explorer and navigator Diego Cão over 500 years ago.
The drive south to Swakopmund offers a welcome respite from inland heat. Once a main German colonial harbour, the old-world charm and relaxed atmosphere sit side-by-side with the many adrenalin sports and adventures available. After relaxing or joining one of the many day trips or adventure activities in this coastal resort, the route heads southwards further into true Namib Desert.
A focal point of your trip will be climbing the enormous sand dunes at Sossusvlei. Over the years the breathtaking scenery and star-shaped dunes have made this a top tourist destination. If it rains sufficiently, as it did in 2011, then the Tsauchab River will flow through Sesriem Canyon to fill the main pan. It is the magnificent towering dunes, with its varying tints and colours, that stop the flow further into the Atlantic Ocean.
From Sossusvlei you head further south along the edge of the peaks and valleys of the Namib Naukluft Park towards the southern coastal town of Luderitz. Its colonial style buildings, stormy bay and diving seals and penguins are slowly but surely attracting the more inquisitive and intrepid type of tourist. Birds, beaches and bays, not to mention the extraordinary ghost town of Kolmanskop, now get their fair share of attention.
Isolation and wind quickly make way for the endless vistas of Namibia's most spectacular geological phenomenon - the Fish River Canyon. The 4/5 day, 85km long Fish River Canyon Hiking Trail, enables hikers to set their own pace, stopping overnight in a camp of their choosing.
The last stop before your drive back to Windhoek is at a lodge in the Kalahari Desert. Not far from here is the photogenic Quiver Tree Forest and Giant's Playground. Some 300 quiver trees, or kokerboom, usually produce bright yellow flowers during the winter months.
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.
- Day 1: Windhoek - Waterberg
- We start your Namibian adventure with an easy 300km drive, the majority of this is on good tarred road followed by a short 24km section of gravel driving. Once you pass through the town of Okahandja the landscape becomes flat and the road is straight - pretty much the only notable geographical feature along this section of the road are the Omatako Mountains. Clearly these mountains have made quite an impression on Namibian's for several centuries as the Herero word 'Omatako' is translated as 'bum' (or 'butt' for our American readers).
On reaching the Waterberg, settle into your accommodation and then scramble up to the top of the Plateau and enjoy the magnificent views of the surrounding plains. A few buck species inhabit the slopes of the mountains, but the real game is on top. The top of the plateau is a wildlife reserve and hosts several endangered species including rhino, sable & roan antelope. Unfortunately (for tourists, not for the animals) the dense bush makes this area unsuited for game viewing, and although there is a guided game drive we recommend you give it a miss - there will be plenty of time for game viewing in Etosha.
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.
You will be overnighting close to Twfelfontein.
Accommodation: Madisa Camp
- Day 6: Damaraland - Swakopmund
- Heading to Uis, you may want to explore the Brandberg Mountain, the highest point in Namibia. A short drive followed by a slightly longer 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 300km'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 accommodation 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: 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: Desert Camp
- Day 10 & 11: Sossusvlei - Luderitz
- Leaving the Sossusvlei area today you drive south along the edge of the Namib Naukluft Park with Luderitz as your ultimate destination. The district D707 road is seldom used but amongst those in the know is thought of as one of the most scenic drives in Namibia. Eventually you will reach a tarred road again at the small village of Aus, here your route takes you westwards through along the restricted diamond area (Sperrgebiet). This section of the Namib is characterised by vast empty plains with small dunes and hills in the distance.
Eventually you will reach the bizarre harbour town of Luderitz where you will spend the next two nights. While in Luderitz you should visit the ghost town of Kolmanskop as well as drive along the rugged and rocky coastline. For the early birds there is a catamaran trip every morning from the harbour which visits points of interest in the area and allows you to see Diaz Point, Cape Fur Seals, the occasional penguin and a host of flamingoes.
Accommodation: Kairos Cottage
- Day 12: Luderitz - Fish River
- Today you will head back towards Aus and then continue inland until turning south towards the Fish River Canyon. Often compared to America's Grand Canyon the Fish River is smaller but still impressive. The main look out point is at Hobas which is around 70km north of Ai-Ais where you will be staying.
- Day 13: Fish River - Kalahari Desert
- From the Fish River the route takes you northward via the town of Keetmanshoop towards the village of Gibeon. From here you head eastwards into the Kalahari Desert the small red dunes are punctuated by long golden grass. Many buck and bird species can be found in Namibia's 'second' desert. This is an area often overlooked by tourists but the beauty and tranquility of the area is amazing. Not far from Keetmanshoop is the Quiver Tree Forest and Giant's Playground. Some 300 quiver trees, or kokerboom, usually produce bright yellow flowers during the winter months.
Accommodation: Accommodation: Anib Lodge
- Day 14: Kalahari Desert - Windhoek
- On the last day of the trip you head northwards back to Windhoek. Your route leads you through the village of Rehoboth before you finally arrive back in Windhoek. If you are flying out tonight you can leave your vehicle at the airport however we can also book you accommodation in Windhoek if you require
- 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