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Damara Tern Self Drive

Luxury Self Drive to Swakopmund - Namibia

This short self driven excursion from Windhoek to Swakopmund is the ideal get-away for those living or working in Windhoek. While at the coast you will join an expertly guided half-day trip into the Namib Desert and also spend a morning on a catamaran on the Walvis Bay Lagoon. Damara terns rarely venture from the arid desert coastline, except for the sheltered bays and shallow reefs visited here.


The Damara Tern Self-Drive concentrates on the variety of flora and fauna living in the desert. The Walvis Bay Lagoon excursion illustrates the variety of sea creatures and mammals that inhabit Namibian waters. This is a fascinating few days, highlighting the country's coastal creatures, great and small, that survive in the desert or ocean.

Although it is possible to book this self drive safari '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, a guided safari could be arranged.

Self Drive Namibia

  • Self Drive: Central
  • Self Drive: Dolphins
  • Self Drive: Pelican Landing
  • Self Drive: Hohenzollernhaus
  • Self Drive: Jetty
  • Self Drive: Market
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Day 1: Windhoek - Swakopmund
The most straighforward route from Windhoek to Swakopmund is on the 350kms of tarred main road which takes around 3.5hrs. You get a decent view of Spitzkoppe this way. There are a couple of other routes you might want to consider if you are in not too much of a hurry. Both go through the Khomas Hochland Mountains, are considerably longer (approx 7hrs) and meander along gravel roads. One is a scenic approach to the seaside via the Gamsberg and Kuiseb Passes which lead to Walvis Bay and on to Swakopmund. The other goes via the Bosua Pass and takes in a section of the Namib Naukluft Park. Whatever way you choose, Swakopmund offers a welcome respite from the dust and heat of your drive. Once settled into your accommodation you can take a leisurely look around this quant desert town. Meals: None
Accommodation: Strand Hotel (Junior Suite)
Day 2: Swakopmund
After breakfast you transport will call at the hotel around 08h30 for your guided excursion into the Namib Desert. A slow drive along the foot of the dunes takes care not to deviate onto the gravel plains as this will cause unnecessary damage to the environment. The gravel plains are protected and home to nesting Damara terns, which are endemic to this area. Tyre tracks leave scars, which can take up to 100 years to recover. Conservation issues and the geological structure of the desert will be discussed in detail and time is made available to photograph the dunes and surrounding environment.
Your guide will continuously look for tracks (known locally as reading the bushman paper), to determine which animals were active the night before and wherever possible try to catch some of them to show you. Great care is taken in sharing knowledge with you on each desert animal, including emphasis on special adaptations and perfect design used for survival in the desert. Each animal is returned safely to its home.
The journey across the dune belt from east to west in a 4x4 vehicle, lends many opportunities for incredible views of the desert landscape. Your driver's knowledge of sand driving is essential, much appreciated on the top of a dune as you overlook spectacular scenery.
Return to Swakopmund in time for a late lunch. The afternoon is yours to explore the art galleries, eateries and bars, jewellery outlets, shopping centres and arcades not to mention the well-known coffee shops and cafes. Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Strand Hotel
(Junior Suite)
Day 3: Swakopmund - Windhoek
After breakfast you drive to Walvis Bay where you will join a catamaran cruise on the lagoon. Cape fur seals often swim alongside the boat as you enjoy a glass of wine and oysters. Heaviside dolphins are fast swimmers and can often be seen in the water between the 2 hulls. They are often mistaken for porpoises because of their size and blunt noses. Flights of cormorants, scoops of pelicans and a flamboyance of flamingoes add to the adventure. After your voyage you can drive back to the capital city.
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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Dune Lark Self Drive

3 Days - NamibRand Nature Reserve is one of the most beautiful desert areas in Namibia - this fully inclusive trip visits this scenic area

Damara Tern Self Drive

3 Days - Swakopmund on the Namibian coast is the destination of this self drive tour

Guinea Fowl Self Drive

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Red-Knobbed Coot Fly Drive Safari

12 Days - Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Damaraland, Etosha & Ongava Reserves, Okonjima

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