Meerkat Self Drive
Okonjima, Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei, Klein Aus, Fish River & Kalahari
This 14 day self-drive trip takes you around Namibia's main highlights.The accommodation used is a comfortable combination of mid-range establishments, chosen for their location, value for money or excellent activities. The self drive gains it's name from the ever popular Meerkat which were once called ant-cats, a reference to their ant-eating diet and cat-like appearance.
There is no better way to start a Namibian self-drive safari than by visiting Okonjima. The renown AfriCat Foundation, a non-profit organization that is committed to long-term carnivore conservation and rehabilitation, have been based here for years.
Next up is a drive further northwards to Etosha National Park. As self-driving is ideal for early morning or late afternoon safaris, game driving can be much more rewarding here. The combination of savannah and woodland, mainly to the south of Etosha Pan, ensure that vast herds of game roam freely. As the larger mammals and big cats frequent the numerous waterholes, at times together, you will be able to move freely around the reserve. Ornithologists can be on the lookout for some of the 340 bird species that occur in the park.
The adventure in Namibia continues into Damaraland. Driving around this area is both fun and testing. But it will also allow you the flexibility to search for desert-adapted elephants and other desert-dwelling creatures such as black rhino. Natural monoliths and mountains, prehistoric tree trunks and some organ pipes will also form part of the itinerary.
Swakopmund will give you a bit of a rest from driving yourself around the countryside. Besides being a welcome break from the often intense inland heat, the combination of old-world charm and coastal adventure lures people back time after time. Restaurants, bars and coffee shops are plentiful as is the plethora of well-preserved German colonial buildings.
It's time to shake, rattle and roll into the Namib Desert. Sossusvlei's magnificent, mountainous dunes lie at the end of the Tsauchab River. The tallest of them has graced many a photograph or painting as has the ancient camel-thorn trees eerily still lurking around in Deadvlei.
There are 2 more highlights to enjoy on this tour; Klein Aus Vista Namib Feral horses graze locally and the walking trails vary in length and difficulty. Fish River Canyon offers some fantastic photographic opportunities from the Hobas viewpoint. That leaves a night in the Kalahari Desert before your tarred road drive back to your accommodation in 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 & 2: Windhoek - Okonjima
- Today you have about a three hour drive north of Windhoek on the B1 road. Your destination is Okonjima and the AfriCat foundation. Apart from the beautiful location, stunning accommodation and wonderful meals the main reason for visiting Okonjima is to view cats. Activities centre around viewing leopard & cheetah, visiting a night hide and generally learning about what the AfriCat foundation is doing to preserve these wonderful animals. Activities have not been included in this package.
Meals: Brunch & Dinner
Accommodation: Okonjima Bush Camp
- Day 3: Okonjima - Etosha
- Leaving Okonjima 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 4 & 5: 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 6: 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.
Your accommodation tonight is at a lodge close to Twyfelfontein
Accommodation: Twyfelfontein Lodge
- Day 7: Damaraland - Swakopmund
- 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: Cornerstone Guesthouse
- Day 8: 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: Cornerstone Guesthouse
- Day 9: 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
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Desert Homestead
- Day 10: 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.
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Desert Homestead
- Day 11 & 12: Sossusvlei - klein Aus Vista
- 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. This area is well known for it's wild horses of the Namib. You will spend two nights at a lodge near Aus from where you can do a day trip to Luderitz or just spend the time exploring this beautiful area.
Accommodation: Eagles Nest - Klein Aus Vista
- Day 13: Klein Aus Vista - Bagatelle
- Leaving Aus you begin your drive eastwards. At the town of Seeheim head south towards the Fish River Canyon. The viewpoint at Hobas offers a spectacular view over the canyon, but to be honest once you have seen the canyon there is not a lot more to do in the area so you continue your journey northwards back towards Windhoek. Tonight's stop is in the Kalahari Desert, characterised by small red dunes this is a stunning area.
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Bagatelle Kalahari Lodge
- day 14: Windhoek
- It is a fairly quick drive from here to Windhoek, so you can spend the morning exploring the area before heading back to the capital of Namibia. Those flying out can drop their car at the airport and we can arrange accommodation in Windhoek for any one staying behind
- 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 self drive trip to the dunes at Sossusvlei
3 Days - Two nights in the coastal town of Swakopmund, this is the ideal get-away for those living or working in Windhoek. Includes a catamaran cruise on the Walvis Lagoon
4 Days - Elephants, rhino, zebra & giraffe are just some of the animals you can expect to see while you are in Etosha
8 Days - Etosha, Swakopmund & the dunes at Sossusvlei are the highlights of this trip
8 Days - Etosha, Erongo Mountains and Sossusvlei
10 Days - Waterberg, Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei
10 Days - Botswana & Namibia combination self drive - includes Etosha Park and a mokoro trip in the Okavango Delta
12 Days - Okonjima Bush Camp, Etosha, Damaraland, Erongo Mountains, Swakopmund & Sossusvlei
14 Days - Okonjima, Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei, Klein Aus & Kalahari Desert
20 Days - Visits all the best Namibia has to offer including Okonjima, Etosha, Damaraland, elephant tracking, the Erongo Mountains, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei, Klein Aus Vista, Fish River Canyon & Kalahari Deserts
21 Days - Visits the highlights of Central and Northern Namibia, the Zambezi region (formerly Caprivi), Vic Falls & the Okavango Delta in Botswana
24 Days - As you would expect from our longest self drive safari, it visits most of Namibia including Owamboland & Kaokoland - two areas which seldom appear on trips through the country