For my third trip to Namibia, I opted for a 4×4 car with a rooftop tent. I left at the end of the rainy season in March and booked a trip in September at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is what prompted me to take out Allianz Travel’s “holiday insurance” to cover me if I test positive for Covid-19.
Two days before departure, Namibia is finally lifting restrictions on the French: no more PCR testing for travelers with a full vaccination schedule. Since the situation may have changed, I invite you to check the conditions of entry with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country in the Travel Tips for French Citizens section.
This off-road trip through Namibia was mainly aimed at getting to know the wildlife. Let’s go on this new great adventure.
Daan Viljoen Play Park
The first stop on our 4WD road trip is Daan Viljoen Game Park, located just 25km west of Windhoek. After the flight, there was no thought of rushing for reckless kilometers or spending the night in the capital. We wanted our corner of nature as soon as we arrived.
The Daan Viljoen play park is located in the heart of the Khomas Hochland hills. Unlike my first visit, it is very green here. When we arrived, it was raining. Ostriches always hang around the campsite. The male is even quite aggressive with visitors. On the first day we take a short walk, and until the end of the trip we organize 4×4.
The next day we will make our first safari along the 4×4 route of the reserve with a length of 6.5 km. Opportunity to see our first wildebeest, wildebeest, giraffe and some birds. Daan Viljoen is not a mandatory step, but allows you to be in direct contact with nature while being close to Windhoek.
I really love the desert landscapes of Damaraland. It was unthinkable for me not to return there during this off-road trip through Namibia.
First stop in Damaraland, Spitzkoppe campsite. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Namibia and one of the must-have camping spots in Namibia. Resins are scattered. It is wild and fits perfectly into the landscape. Upon arrival we are under a storm. Then, with a wave of a magic wand, the clouds disappear, making way for a clear sky for sunset. Great as always.
Campsite Mowani and Twyfelfontein
The next day we join Movani camping after 4 hours of excellent trekking. We are located at the campsite, which is also well equipped and with great views. We will eat at a neighboring lodge and witness a magnificent sunset.
The next day, the Twyfelfontein rock paintings are on the program. There are over 2,500 of them at this location. They are about 6,000 years old and were probably made by San hunters. There we find a giraffe, here a lion.
The road is short but great to get to Palmwag. We pass some borrowed tracks. Suddenly we find ourselves on the banks of the Aba Khuab River. The water level is quite high. We are embarrassed to go. The guy saw us and gave us instructions on how to cross the road. Four-wheel drive vehicle crosses the river. We watch him carefully and calmly cross the river, putting the vehicle in the 4×4 Low position. Phew, we’re through. Better, because the insurance will not work if you crash into 4×4 while crossing the river 🙂
The Palmwag Concession is located on the border between Damaraland and Kaokoland, the country of the Himba. Covering an area of 5500 km², it consists of desert landscapes inhabited by wild animals: Hartmann’s zebras, Angolan giraffes, oryx, kudu, lions, cheetahs, leopards, as well as black rhinos and desert elephants. I was hoping to see rhinoceros and elephants, but the various concession safaris unfortunately didn’t let me see them.
The density of the fauna is not very important, but the scenery is really great. I am thinking of going back there to spend a few days in the concession and get to the Hoanib River. Access was closed during my visit due to the heavy rains that preceded my arrival.
Safari in Etosha
Most travelers stay in Etosha for two to three days. We stayed there for a week. We explored the national park from west to east every morning and late afternoon looking for wildlife, mammals and birds. What amazes me compared to previous times is that everything is green.
Despite the height of the bush, we managed to observe lions, cheetahs and black-backed jackals. We even got to watch the caracal and of course every imaginable herbivore such as giraffe, plains zebra, white and black rhinoceros, springbok, wildebeest or even black-faced impala. Elephant herds migrated northeast of Etosha. We met only single males.
As for ornithology, we were also spoiled. It’s even a great season for bird watching. The white-bellied bustard is the species we’ve been hearing about for most of the week. It was breeding time. Males, in order to mark their territory, constantly cry to scare off competitors, including four-wheel drive ones.
We really enjoyed it and there were quite a few visitors in the park. The opportunity to watch lions or a cheetah alone is really very pleasant.
Walk on the Waterberg Plateau
The next two days in the Waterberg Plateau National Park were less successful in terms of weather. It was raining heavily when we arrived and the weather forecast was not very encouraging. So we booked a cottage on site for the next two nights. And I think we did well.
I wanted to do two safaris on the plateau, where you have to be with a guide, but I was given to understand that I would not see any fauna, since animals find water everywhere. So we retreated, between two downpours, for two walks:aloe circle and Mountain View. The first one is not maintained and during the rainy season we sometimes have waist-high plants. The second is more borrowed and allows you to climb to the edge of the plateau to enjoy a beautiful panorama.
Animal birds are accustomed to the presence of man. You can walk up to 3 meters to dik-dik, baboons too, but you have to be vigilant.
Our off-road trip through Namibia ended in the Okonjima nature reserve, located between Etosha and Windhoek. This is an old livestock farm that was turned into a 22,000-hectare private nature reserve in the early 1990s after the country gained independence. We left the tent on the rooftop to spend the night at the lodge to end the trip with the icing on the cake.
The reserve is body and soul dedicated to the protection and research of felines, in particular cheetahs and leopards. Okonjima is doing this with the Africat Foundation. The reserve is one of the best places in Namibia to watch leopards thanks to trekking safaris that allow you to meet radio-collared leopards. We stayed there for three nights stalking leopards, watching the fauna of the reserve (zebras, kudu, giraffes, antelopes, springboks) and even watching pangolins at night. A very good nature reserve. We will definitely return…
For more detailed articles on safari I invite you to visit my blog My-Wildlife dedicated to observing and photographing wildlife, mammals and birds. You will find many articles about my safaris all over the world including Namibia.
Practical Information – Driving a 4×4 SUV in Namibia
International flight to Windhoek airport.
Find your plane ticket
Also compare flights with Kayak.
Rent 4×4 or 2 wheels?
Roads A, B, C are accessible to 4WD vehicles, roads D are also generally, but in less good condition and during the dry season. During the rainy season, as during this trip, I recommend the 4×4. If you plan on camping, a 4×4 with a rooftop tent is really great. The back of the SUV has everything you need for camping: table, chairs, gas, dishes… There are two types of tents: full canvas and others with a hard top. I really recommend seconds to use both systems already. Firstly, because it protects better from rain, albeit a rare one; and secondly, it is much easier to assemble and disassemble. I rented my 4×4 from the AutoEurope comparator. The rental cost me just under 100 euros per day for a Ford Ranger Single Cab 4×4 for two people with a rooftop tent and camping equipment.
Useful apps for this SUV trip
I recommend three apps for 4×4 driving in Namibia:
- Google Maps to get around, thinking about downloading basemaps before leaving to get around offline. I also tried Maps.me. Google maps is much more efficient.
- Tracks4Africa: Paid application (€5.99) that allows you to locate yourself on a map and display points of interest such as campsites, supermarkets, gas stations.
- IOverlander: Free app in the same way as Tracks4Africa, but globally. A little messier, but useful.
Guides and naturalists