The 24 day Honey Badger Self-Drive Tour is the mother of all our Namibian self-drive safaris. Starting and ending in Windhoek, it reaches the both the northern and southern reaches of the country and lots of the pretty parts inbetween.. Virtually all of Namibia's main tourist attractions are visited. Lookout for honey badgers on your way round. They live in holes in the ground, among rocks, or in hollow logs, stumps or trees and are found everywhere in Namibia except for the Namib Desert.
Your epic self drives begins by heading northwards, towards the ever-looming sheer cliffs and fascinating rock formations of Waterberg Plateau Park, which can be seen for miles around. Rare and endangered black and white rhino are managed here as are buffalo, sable and roan antelope. Enjoy the natural beauty and splendour of Waterberg by foot as well on either a guided or unguided trail.
Spending 4 days at Etosha National Park is a real privilege. It would be wise to do a spot of homework and find out what animals (and birds) visit which waterholes and when. In the dry season, wildlife is lured towards all 3 restcamps and the many waterholes located at the southern edge of the Etosha Pan. For example lion, cheetah, elephant, giraffe and rhino are known to visit Ombika. Okaukuejo is know for antelope, elephant, black and white rhino and hyena, in addition to having the best flood-lit waterhole. Lion kills also happen here. Leopard tend to head for Halali and Chudup near Namutoni. The German fort is also great for birding as is Fischer's Pan in the rainy season for waterbirds.
From numerous species of animals and birds the focus changes once you drive out of Etosha to people. You'll be heading north into the Oshana Region and the main towns of Oshakati and Ondangwa, 2 rather bustling towns with a relaxed and informal nature. The Owambo region has a predominately flat landscape with characteristic stands of tall makalani palms.
Kaokoland is a completely different kettle of fish to Owamboland. Although it is not completely off-limits for driving a 4x2 vehicle, you will need to do some research. Once you've reached Ruacana fill up your tanks and plan ahead. It is possible to walk down around 500 steps to the bottom of Ruacana Falls, so take a raincoat. The drive to Epupa Falls will entail a number of river crossings, steep slopes and loose gravel roads.
The long drive to Palmwag takes you through Sesfontein, the border between Kaokoland and Damaraland. As you near Palmwag drive a bit slower and use your binoculars to search for Hartmann's zebra, rhino and even lions. Elephants sometimes drink right in front of the lodge.
You will now be generally heading south-east towards the Erongo Mountains. You are now in central Namibia. The diverse environment in this region is quite unique, even by Namibian standards. Erongo Wilderness Lodge is the perfect stopover to experience both endemic and near endemic mammal, reptile, bird and plant species.
Swakopmund is now the adventure centre of Namibia. Quad biking is a great way to get around the dunes that even 4x4s can't reach. The slopes and slipfaces of the dunes south of Swakopmund are ideal for sandboarding. Both of these activities have an element of danger. Many visitors prefer to admire the German colonial buildings and architecture with coffee and cake to follow.
Your next drive leaves the Atlantic coast and enters the Namib Desert. Sossusvlei is unbelievably popular, so if you want a bit of solitude try an unnamed dune. To maximize your photographic opportunities at Sossusvlei the softer morning light is better. Sesriem Canyon is best viewed at mid-day, as you get the chance to avoid the heat.
The flat gravel plains and desert make way for the distinct and different landscape of southern Namibia. Wild horses live on the desert plains in a relatively dry region, so they are usually free of diseases and parasites. Aus is not only a physical crossroad, but also the confluence of Succulent Karoo, Desert and Nama Karoo biomes.
The contrast in scenery for the final 4 days mirrors your driving conditions. Gravel roads will eventually give way to tarred but not before 1 night near the Fish River Canyon. From here it is onto the Kalahari Desert to experience the magnificent red dunes for your final 2 days. You will have earned that comfortable last 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.
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.
We start your Namibian adventure with an easy drive on good tarred roads. Heading north from Windhoek you pass through the town of Okahandja and the landscape becomes flat and the road straight. Your first destination is a lodge in the vicinity of the Waterberg Plateau - one of the few places of elevated height in this section of central Namibia.
Leaving Waterberg return to the main B1 road and continue your journey northwards via Otjiwarongo and Outjo into Etosha National Park. You will spend two nights at Etosha Safari Lodge, situated only ten kilometres from the Park's central entrance and a world away from the hustle and bustle of Okaukuejo. The lodge offers top grade Etosha accommodation with easy access to the 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). Remember that National Park gates open at sunrise and close at sunset and the park speed limit is 60km/h. Speeding is strictly not allowed within the park.
Leave Etosha via the King Nehale Gate (north of Namutoni) - here you are entering a much more heavily populated area of Namibia. Around 60% of the country's population live in this small section of the country, so you can expect to see lots of people, markets, cows, goats and lots of cuca shops (bars). For the next two days you will be free to explore the area and the towns of Oshakati and Ondangwa as well as numerous small ... villages in the area. The predominant cultural group in this area are the Owambo people. Ongula Village Homestead Lodge allows you to interact with the people of the area, and participate in their daily routines.
Leaving Oshakati you follow the main road in a north easterly direction towards Ruacana (a waterfall and hydro electric station on the Kunene River). At Otapi stop and have a look at the giant Baobab, a huge hollow tree that has served as a post office, a chapel and a hiding place. From here it is only a short drive to Ruacana Falls, during the raining season the falls are worth a visit as they are a spectacular sight, but ... in dry times of the year all the water is diverted under the falls to the hydro-electic power station. Ruacana is a busy border crossing between Angola & Namibia and here you will meet your first Himba People. They make beautiful jewellery and you can often purchase pieces from them. Take a walk along the Kunene River and if you are interested visit the hydro electric scheme. From here those in a 4x4 vehicle carry along along the Kunene River towards Kunene River Lodge, this is a beautiful stretch of track, closely following the river past local Himba communities. Those not in 4x4s (or travelling in very wet years) have to detour southwards via Opuwo and back up to the river- this may require a slight re-work of the itinerary, and the shifting of a number of nights, depending on how comfortable you are with long drives. Kunene River Lodge is a simple camp on the banks of the Kunene River, it offers spectacular views and some exciting day trips, those wanting a ver special day should consider joining the river rafting tour they offer - this includes some 'not so serious' white river rafting between amazing red rocks, an experience not to be missed.
From Kunene River Lodge, you head south-west to Epembe before heading back towards the Kunene River and Epupa (there is a road along the river between Kunene River Lodge & Epupa - but it is tricky and requires several days and serious equipment to navigate). During the wet season this can be a very tricky stretch of road so plan to have a lot of time to complete the drive. Epupa Falls is spectacular so take time to visit the ... falls and perhaps enjoy a visit to a local Himba village.
Today you have a long drive ahead of you, the roads are often not in good condition on this remote part of Namibia. Palmwag is an oasis which is frequently visited by desert elephant, rhino and other wildlife. You have a full day here and have the option to join one of the guided activities that takes you around the concession area in search of these animals.
Today you have a relatively short drive towards the town of Omaruru. Just west of the town nestled amongst the granite Erongo Mountains is a small part of paradise called Erongo Wilderness Lodge. There are a number of natural attractions on the way such as Brandberg Mountain and the White Lady, Burnt Mountain, the Organ Pipes and the rock engravings at Twyfelfontein. You will spend two nights here allowing you a full day to experience the tranquility that the lodge ... has to offer. This is not a lodge that offers a multitude of activities but you are free to walk around the surrounding veld or just sit on your veranda with a cold beverage and enjoy Namibia. The early morning guided walk offered by the lodge is excellent - with an attentive guide, and the sundowner drives are good value for money and frequently stop at the rock art in Paula's caves.
There are a host of adventure activities to participate in while in Swakopmund. These range from sand-boarding 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!
Leave Swakopmund towards the harbour town of Walvis Bay, the lagoon here attracts a lot of marine and 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 300 kilometers 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 and ... Gaub passes. Aim to arrive at your accommodation in the late afternoon.
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 60 kilometers 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.
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.
Leaving the 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 and your accommodation offers guided hikes, horse riding and scenic drives around the area.
The Kalahari Desert is very different to the Namib - primarily because it receives more rainfall. In some respects the Kalahari is more scenic than much of the Namib as the red dunes with clumps of golden grass growing on them are very photographic. Unsurprisingly, given the higher rainfall, there is also a higher density of wildlife in the Kalahari and you can expect to see fairly large herds of buck species browsing between the dunes.
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
Etosha, Swakopmund & the dunes at Sossusvlei are the highlights of this trip.
Waterberg, Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei.
Okonjima Bush Camp, Etosha, Damaraland, Erongo Mountains, Swakopmund & Sossusvlei.
Okonjima, Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei, Klein Aus & Kalahari Desert.
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.
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