Namibia is a beautiful country that requires some slow traveling to truly appreciate it. There are very few highways and most other roads are gravel, so you will – literally – need to slow down. That being said, it doesn’t mean that you need a month to see Namibia. In fact, many ‘standard’ Namibia trip itineraries are no longer than 10 or 14 days. On the other hand, the distances between the main highlights are very big, so you cannot just visit the ‘top’ places and skip all the rest unless you opt for a fly-in safari. Having said all that, some of the very best, memorable experiences from our trip to Namibia had nothing to do with the most famous places.
No matter how much time you have in Namibia, you will have to make choices. Here are a few things to consider:
- Do you want to visit more places or do you want to see more at fewer locations?
- Do you also want to visit the South (Fish River Canyon) and/or the North (Caprivi Strip) of the country?
- Maybe you even want to combine your Namibian trip with Botswana and Victoria Falls?
- Or do you just stick to the main highlights of Namibia and skip the less known locations?
The choice is completely yours to make depending on your interests, time, budget, and some other factors, like malaria risk, for example. There are two main highlights that you absolutely shouldn’t miss in Namibia and that is Etosha National Park and Sossusvlei. Other highlights include Fish River Canyon, Kolmanskop, Swakopmund, and Twyfelfontein. But there are more – keep reading.
Our Namibia road trip itinerary with kids
It’s important that you understand that it’s a custom-made itinerary we prepared for our family based on our interests and taking into account the fact that we were traveling with three young children under 6.
We opted for multiple nights at several locations and for shorter driving days when we could and we didn’t go to the Caprivi Strip in order to avoid malaria risk.
You could easily shorten this itinerary and still see about just as much as we did in 20-30% less time, certainly if you are camping and are less dependant on the location of accommodations.
Day 1: Arrival in Windhoek. Windhoek – Kalahari desert. Eningu Clayhouse Lodge for 1 night. 110 km – 2hrs.
After picking up the rental car where we also got a short instruction video about driving on gravel, we headed to Windhoek for a short city walk and to stack on supplies of food and drinks for the next few days.
We opted to spend our first night outside of the city, in the Kalahari desert, and I would recommend this to everyone.
We felt that we were in Africa the moment we left the highway. We saw wild animals next to the road and we spent our first afternoon in the hot tub and our first evening dining under the stars.
TIP: Don’t stay in Windhoek. Choose one of the many lodges outside the city.
Day 2: Kalahari desert. Drive to Mariental. Kalahari Anib Lodge for 1 night. 270 km, 4-5hrs.
Long drive through Kalahari desert. We arrived at our next lodge just in time for a late afternoon safari ride and a sundowner. It was the first one during this trip, but we got bitten by a sundowner bug and tried to go on as many sundowners as possible during the rest of our trip.
TIP: Don’t miss Namibian sundowners, do at least one! All lodges in Namibia organise sundowner/safari rides, so make sure you get to your lodge in time for the late afternoon ride.
Day 3: Mariental – Fish River Canyon. Canyon Lodge for 2 nights. 410 km – 6hrs.
Long drive again, but the first part was on a tarmac road. We stopped at the Quiver Tree Forest and made a short walk around the Giant’s Playground before continuing South towards the Fish River Canyon. The last couple of hours we were driving through the desolate and very uninspiring landscape, but the surroundings of our next lodge were so beautiful that we quickly forgot the long drive.
Day 4: Fish River CanyonThere are many possibilities to explore the Fish River Canyon. You can also opt for some other excursions in the area. In the morning we drove to a couple of lookouts and made a walk on the rim of the canyon.
TIP for families traveling with children: In the afternoon we headed to a nearby Canyon Roadhouse for lunch. We chose this place because we knew our kids would love it there – they have a big collection of all kinds of old vehicles. Paradise for our boys!
In the evening we opted for a sundowner walk at our lodge and enjoyed the most beautiful Namibian sunset in style.
Day 5: Fish River Canyon – Klein Aus Vista. Desert Horse Inn for 2 nights. 290 km – 4hrs.A long drive again with some beautiful landscapes along the way. Our lodge is not half as nice as the previous one, but there isn’t really an alternative. There are lots of hiking trails in the area and so we spent the afternoon hiking. The walk was much nicer than we had expected.
TIP: Go hiking in the area around Klein Aus Vista.
Day 6: Klein Aus Vista – Luderitz/ Kolmanskop – Klein Aus Vista. 115 km – 1,5 hrs in one direction.The highlight of the day was our visit to Kolmanskop – a ghost town that was once the home to German diamond miners seeking to make their fortune in the Namibian desert. It’s a real paradise for photographers. Our kids loved it too!
TIP: Go to Kolmanskop early in the morning for better pictures and less people.
We paid a short visit to Luderitz, but found it a rather uninspiring little town. We spent some time hoping to find the wild horses of Namib in Garub. No luck.
Day 7 – Klein Aus Vista – Sossusvlei. Sossus Dune Lodge for 2 nights. 350 km – 5hrs.Long ride again, but it didn’t feel that long since we took the scenic route and drove through the most amazing landscape. Red sand roads, oryx antelopes, ostriches, and all kinds of other wild animals added plenty of distraction for the kids along the way.
TIP: take route C27 and not C14+C19 – it might be slower, but it’s really worth it.
We opted to stay at the Sossus Dune Lodge as it’s the only lodge that is inside the park allowing the guests to get to the Sossusvlei before the sunrise and after the sunset. We went to Elim dune for the sunset.
TIP: Stay inside the park if you can.
Day 8 – SossusvleiDeadvlei, Sossusvlei, Dune 45, and the Sesriem canyon were the highlights today. Top day for the kids as well. They loved climbing the sand dunes and they loved rolling down the dunes even more…
Day 9 – Sossusvlei – Rostock Ritz Desert Lodge for 1 night. 140 km, 2 hrs.
TIP: Stop at Solitaire petrol station/restaurant for some of their famous apple pie.
We opted to break the long drive from Sossuvlei to Swakopmund and spend a night in rostock Ritz Desert Lodge. The lodge itself is not very special, but there are lots of excursion possibilities in the area and they have a meerkat encounter, which was again one of the highlights for the kids. We ended the day with another beautiful sundowner ride and some incredibly delicious food.
Day 10 – Rostock Ritz Desert Lodge – Swakopmund for 3 nights. 230 km – 3,5 hrs.We were so glad to be back in the living world again! We stopped in Walvis Bay for lunch. We could even choose from more than one restaurant! What a luxury.
TIP: Walvis Bay lagoon with thousands of wild flamingos was absolutely the highlight of the day. Don’t miss!
We stayed in Swakopmund, alternatively you can stay in Walvis Bay. The two towns are not far from each other, but we found that Swakopmund has a much nicer atmosphere, more hotel and restaurant choices, and more activities and day trips that leave from there. You can book your Swakopmund accommodation or Walvis Bay accommodation here.
Day 11-12 – Swakopmund and the area
Swakopmund itself is a nice little town with many shops, restaurants and cafés. It’s definitely the nicest town in Namibia and 3 nights is certainly not too much for a stay. In fact, you could easily stay longer and find plenty of things to see and do.
TIP: Have lunch or dinner at the Village Café (Sam Nujoma Avenue).
There are many excursion possibilities in and around Swakopmund, so you will have no difficulties to find something that interests you. You can see and book some of the most popular tours from Swakopmund here. The popular tours include dolphin and whale watching from Walvis Bay, Living Dunes Experience, Moon Landscape and Welwitschia Drive, 4×4 tour to Sandwich Harbour, Quad Biking and Sand-boarding, etc. But there are many more possibilities. For example, you could drive to Spitzkoppe, as we did…
TIP (just for our readers – don’t tell anyone): Even though Spitzkoppe is not included in most Namibia trip itineraries, it’s one of our absolute favourite places in Namibia. It’s only 1,5 hrs drive from Swakopmund and you can make a nice half day-day trip to the area. Take water, picnic lunch and walking shoes with you.
If you are camping, Spitzkoppe has the most amazing campsites you could imagine – don’t miss it!
Day 13 – Swakopmund – Twyfelfontein via Cape Cross. 411 km – 6+hrs. Twyfelfontein Country Lodge for 1 night.TIP: Leave Swakopmund early in the morning if you want to go to Cape Cross first as it’s a long drive to Twyfelfontein and Cape Cross is a bit out of the way. But it’s absolutely worth it! Cape Cross is home to a huge seal colony (tens of thousands of seals live here) and you can get amazingly close to them. An experience like no other!
If you have time left, you can visit Petrified Forest on the road to Twyfelfntein or drive to the Burnt Mountain for sunset.
Day 14 – Twyfelfontein – Palmwag. Palmwag Lodge for 2 nights. 115 km – 1h45.Twyfelfontein UNESCO Heritage Site is absolutely worth the visit. You will be assigned a guide who will take you to the cavemen paintings and will tell you all you want to know about the ancient rock art.
TIP: Go to Twyfelfontein early in the morning before it gets busy. The most recommended walk is the Lion Man Route. Take water with you.
If you are interested in the local culture, pay a short visit to the Damara Living Museum. It’s not an authentic experience as it’s not a real village you are visiting, but one with paid actors, but it’s still interesting to see how people used to live in the area.
Day 15 – PalmwagFree day in Palmwag area. There are several excursion and safari ride possibilities at the lodge. We opted for the safari and Himba village tour and had the most amazing day. The Himba village we visited was not comparable to the Damara ‘living musem’ we saw the other day. We met a real Himba family, saw the way they really live, and interaction with the people was real. Our kids went to play with their children, they were chasing the goats and the chicken and seemed to be having the time of their lives. Safari in Palmwag area was also one of the best ones of our whole trip.
TIP: Visit local Himba village. Read more about our experience visiting Namibia’s indigenous tribes.
Day 16-19 – Etosha National Park
Day 16 – Palmwag – Etosha. Dolomite Camp for 1 night. 230 km – 3.5hrs
Day 17 – Dolomite Camp – Okaukuejo. 180 km – 4hrs. Okaukuejo Rest Camp for 2 nights.
Day 18 – Etosha.
Day 19 – Etosha: Okaukuejo – Mushara. 153 km – 2h15
Etosha is absolutely the highlight of any Namibian trip, but I cannot say the same about the Dolomite Camp. You can read more about our experience and Etosha hotels in my previous post.
There are plenty of possibilities to see wild animals in Etosha. The best times are early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and the best places are around the waterholes. The very best place to see lots of animals without much effort is the Okaukuejo waterhole.
TIP: Stay at Okaukuejo Rest Camp.
Day 20 – Mushara – Otjiwarongo area. 300 km – 4hrs. Frans Indongo Lodge for 2 nights.The only place somewhat worth a visit toady is Lake Otjikoto. It’s more of a place to stretch your legs a bit than anything else.
The area around Frans Indongo was not very spectacular. There are several walking trails, but if I were to go to Namibia again, I would either skip this step or only stay here one night.
Day 21 – Cheetah Conservation Fund and Crocodile FarmCheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is a place you shouldn’t miss. It’s a serious honest project helping the animals and you have several possibilities to see cheethas from close by. Count half a day for the visit.
TIP: If you are traveling without kids, try to get there for the Cheetah Run early in the morning. With children, we could go on a jeep ride and saw plenty of cheetahs from the safety of the car.
We also visited the Crocodile Ranch of Otjiwarongo. You can see lots of crocodiles and even pet one so the kids liked it, but it’s not something you absolutely have to do. A good stop for half an hour for families passing by, but not more.
Day 22-23 – Erindi Private Game Reserve. Old Traders Lodge for 2 nights.
Day 22 – Otjiwarongo – Erindi Private Game Reserve. 270 km – 4 hrs. We drove to Erindi as soon as we could so that we could join some of the activities on the first day already.
Day 23 – Erindi. If there is one lodge I would love to go back to in Namibia, it’s Erindi Old Traders Lodge. It was also the most expensive lodge on our itinerary, but absolutely worth it. We had an all-in package with two safari rides per day and all the meals included. There were many other activities that you can do in Erindi. Visiting local San tribe was one of them. What we loved the most about or stay in Erindi? It was the restaurant terrace at the Old Traders Lodge overlooking the waterhole where we spent many relaxing hours eating cake, sipping cold drinks and watching the animals.
TIP: If you are on a tighter budget, you can stay at the Erindi Camp Elephant and visit the lodge during the day or you can just visit the place as a day tourist and have lunch there.
Erindi is a bit out of the way when driving from Etosha to Windhoek, but you’ll absolutely love it.
Day 24 – Erindi – Windhoek. 220 km – 3hrs. Na’ankuse Lodge for 1 night.Depending on your flight schedule, you could drive straight to the airport and skip Windhoek altogether on the last day. We opted to stay at Erindi a bit longer and drove to the Na’ankuse Lodge close to the airport towards the evening. They do have all kinds of activities at the lodge, but by then we had seen everything we wanted to see and decided to spend a quiet evening at the lodge.
Day 25 – Windhoek and departureSince we had plenty of time before our flight, we headed back to the centre of Windhoek. It was a bit livelier than on the first day of our trip and we enjoyed walking around the Post Street Mall. It’s a pedestrian mall lined with shops, restaurants, office buildings and craft sellers and is probably the liveliest place in town. We had a quiet late lunch at the famous Joe’s Beer House and headed to the airport for the flight home.
As you can see, our Namibia trip itinerary was a mix of seeing a lot and taking our time. As I said, you could easily visit the same places in less time. What could you skip or shorten?
Suggestions for a shorter, 2 or 3 weeks Namibia trip itinerary
- If Kolmanskop is not of much interest to you, you could skip day 6 of the itinerary.
- You could visit Sossusvlei in the morning and leave the area that same afternoon. If you don’t mind driving a lot, and I mean a lot, you could go straight to Swakopmund and skip days 9 and 10. In any case, you can easily skip one day here.
- If you have limited time, you could stay just 2 nights in Swakopmund instead of 3, skip Palmwag altogether (it’s a bit out of the way if you don’t go to the Dolomite Camp) and spend less nights in Etosha.
- You could stay just one night in Otjiwarongo area, see cheetahs in the morning and drive straight to Windhoek. That’s another 3-4 nights less.
- If you opt to stay at Erindi or one of the many other private reserves in the area, you can stay there till the last day of your trip and go straight to the airport from there.
I know that this is a lot of information to digest, so feel free to ask questions. You can leave a reply below.
Planning a trip to Namibia? Get the most out of your trip with these tips:
What I Wish I Had Known Before Traveling to Namibia
Complete Namibia Packing List for a Road Trip
All You Need to Know Before Going on Safari in Africa
Best Place to Stay in Etosha National Park
Why Namibia is the Best African Country for a Family Trip