Africa

Namibia 15-day free travel guide (from Cape Town)

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WOW What a trip! This is the best way to describe 15 days what do we go through Namibia. When we did the trip to Botswana A couple of years ago we were looking forward to crossing the border and visiting the neighboring country. And in the summer of 2016 we take off the thorn. Namibia It has an incredible nature that does not disappoint the traveler and one of the most wonderful places we have visited: The Namib Desert and Deadvlei. Although we warn you that for a trip to Namibia, 15 days are very few and you will spend most of the driving trip. Our itinerary was not perfect and we sinned optimistic about the distances. Even so, here we leave you the summary guide of the 15-day trip to Namibia.

The trip began with a bad footing: a delay in the flight made us arrive 24 hours late and that the 16 days we had planned to stay at 15, so we could not meet the planned itinerary. The intention was to visit Himba territory and the Epupa Falls on days 5 and 6, but the flight delay, fatigue and the unrealistic of the initial itinerary meant that we had to stop machines and recalculate the route. This is the itinerary we finally made:

Day 1: Arrival in Cape Town (night in Cape Town)
Day 2: Route from Cape Town to Noordorewer (Namibia Border)
Day 3: Quiver Tree Forest and Giants Playground (night in Windhoek)
Day 4: Twyfelfontein (night in Khorixas)
Day 5: Looking for accommodation near Etosha NP (night at El Dorado Farm)
Day 6: Free Safari in Etosha NP (night at El Dorado Farm)
Day 7: Auto Safari in Etosha NP (night in Outjo)
Day 8: Etosha NP (night at the Onguma resort campsite)
Day 9: Etosha NP (night at the Onguma resort campsite)
Day 10: Cheetah Conservation Fund (night in Windhoek)
Day 11: Arrival in Sossusvlei and the Sesriem Canyon (night in Sossusvlei)
Day 12: Deadvlei and Sossusvle (night in Sossusvlei)
Day 13: Arrival in Ai-Ais (night in Ai-Ais)
Day 14: Fish River Canyon and return to Cape Town
Day 15: Cape Town and back home

After this experience, and knowing the reality of roads and distances, the perfect itinerary of the trip to Namibia it would have been:

Day 1: Arrival in Cape Town
Day 2: Route from Cape Town to Noordorewer (Namibia border)
Day 3: Quiver Tree Forest and Giants Playground (night in Windhoek)
Day 4: Twyfelfontein (night in Khorixas)
Day 5: Etosha NP (night at Tamboti camp)
Day 6: Etosha NP (night at Tamboti camp)
Day 7: Etosha NP (night at Tamboti camp)
Day 8: Cheetah Conservacy Fund (night in Windhoek)
Day 9: From Windhoek to Sesriem (night in Sesriem)
Day 10: Sossusvlei and the Sesriem Canyon (night in Sesriem)
Day 11: Sossusvlei and the Sesriem Canyon (night in Sesriem)
Day 12: From Sesriem to Ai Ais (night in Ai-Ais)
Day 13: Fish River Canyon (night in Noordorewer)
Day 14: Noordorewer to Cape Town
Day 15: Cape Town and back home

The famous dune 45

Flights to Namibia

The capital of Namibia is Windhoek but this city has few international connections so the flights here are a bit expensive. The main airport in that area of ​​South Africa is Cape Town. In this city we can find good offers, although arriving from there to Namibia will mean losing two days of travel if you choose to go by car. If you decide to take a flight, the companies Air Link and Air Namibia have flights between the two cities and cost about € 200-300 depending on the season.

Car rental in Namibia

This is a topic we were thinking a lot about. The vast majority of roads in Namibia are unpaved and not all are passable with city cars. If you want to visit the same places as us it is not essential to rent a powerful 4 × 4, but it will give you more security and peace of mind. Of course, if you opt for the 2 × 4 version, we recommend that it be a car that has a high chassis, since there are usually stones on the tracks and if you hit the low ones it will cost you a fortune to repair.

After much research, and after thinking well the route we wanted to do, we decided to rent an SUV car with @Avis_Spain. The car we rented was a Hyundai Tucson. The 15 days cost us 8850 rands (€ 550). To this we add a second driver (312 rands / € 20) and hire the moons and wheels insurance (365 rands / € 23). In total it cost us € 593. When we returned it, we left it so dirty with dirt and dust that we were charged 350 rands for cleaning. These types of cars are very popular in August so it is advisable to book as much in advance as possible. By the way, great service @Avis_Spain since they were in charge of notifying the Cape Town office that we would arrive a day later than the one hired.

In Namibia it is very usual to puncture the wheels, so before going you will be very good to make a accelerated course of how to change a tire. One of the ways to avoid punctures on unpaved roads is to lower the pressure of the wheels. That is why it is essential that you ask your rental company what pressure the wheels of that vehicle on asphalt need (tar road) and on track (gravel road). At the gas stations they will put the pressure you tell them and it is dangerous to drive with inappropriate pressure. Likewise, the moons and wheels insurance we recommend it either to avoid having to pay new wheels or simply to appeal to Murphy's law. Luckily, we did not puncture, but those of My Family Passport punctured a few times with a vehicle similar to ours.

To pass the car from South Africa to Namibia is it is necessary to have an authorization letter from the rental company, who will write it to you at the same time you rent the car. Do not forget to ask for it.

Camping equipment rental in Namibia or Cape Town

Namibia is the paradise of campers. Almost all hotels and resorts They have exclusive area for campers with very good facilities. Some even with private bathroom. So we decided to be part of the trip in hotels and part doing camping. What we had very clear is that we did not want to take a car with tents on the roof, because it seemed like a rock having to be opening and closing the tent every day. In principle we thought of renting the camping equipment there, but the hours of the shops made us waste a little time, so we chose to take the material from home.

We took a Quechua 2 ”tent 120 cm wide, two sleeping bags, a 120 cm inflatable mattress and an electric inflator, along with some kitchen utensils (glasses, plates, cutlery and a kettle). We invoice all this in a suitcase, which luckily we did not lose. In addition, we took some Yatekomos that solved some meals.

If instead of being loaded you prefer to rent the material there, in Cape Town you can rent an entire team for € 15 a day at Drive and Camp. In Windhoek you can do it in Camping Hire Namibia the whole team for two people costs from 120 $ NAM (€ 8). If you opt for this option, it is necessary to book in advance again.

How to bill campaign material

The technique was explained to me by my new boss, who is an accomplished camper. Once the suitcase is closed, we tie the handle of the tent to the handle of the suitcase with a flange. At the airport we packed the suitcase so that the store did not suffer damage during transport. With this simple system we had no problem.

4 × 4 rental with tents

90% of the people we saw traveling through Namibia did it with a 4 × 4 with tents on the roof. The rent of a 4 × 4 of these characteristics usually goes from 1600 rands per day (€ 100). The most reputable companies in these rentals are Bushlore, Britz and Kea. Again you have to book months in advance. For example in March Bushlore no longer had 4 × 4 to August.

From Cape Town or from Windhoek

Both car rental and flight will be much cheaper if you do it in Cape Town. The advantage of doing it in Windhoek is that if you don't want to visit the Fish River Canyon (which is the same distance from Windhoek as from Cape Town) you will save time and hours on the road. The rental companies give you the option of leaving the car in another city or country, but you have to pay a supplement. In Avis the supplement is € 300. It is an option to consider to save a day back.

What is the best time to travel Namibia

The best time for travel to Namibia is during the dry season from May to October, since the roads are dry and there are no rivers that cross the tracks. That is why July and August is the best time to travel to southern africa. We went the first half of August. The temperature during the day is about 30 degrees but at night it fell at 5. We wore a fleece and winter pajamas. If you plan to ride a balloon it is recommended that you wear a winter jacket, if not, with the fleece and a light jacket you can pass. If you take the camping equipment from home, the sleeping bag has to be for cold temperatures (at least 0 ºC). The downside of traveling in the winter of the southern hemisphere is the few hours of sun, so you have to get up early to take advantage of the day. In August the sun began to rise around 5.30am and at 6am it was already daylight. At half past five in the afternoon it was twilight and at 6pm it was black night. If you travel at other times of the year you can check what time the sun rises in Namibia on this website.

Track road during the dry season

To consider: South Africa has the same time zone as Spain and in the morning it dawns at seven in the morning. In Namibia it is one hour less, as in the Canary Islands, so when crossing the border you have to remember to set the clocks on time.

Road map and GPS for traveling in Namibia

One of the problems we face when planning the trip is that the methods for calculating distances are not reliable. If you travel on paved roads there is not much problem, since the maximum speed is 120km / h and you usually drive at that speed. The problem arises when you have to travel part of the way along tracks. The maximum track speed is 100km or 80km, but going at that speed is suicide. On track you can't go so fast, since the risk of accident is exponential at the speed that is driven. We in some sections did not go over 40km due to the bad conditions of the road and at the most we got to drive was 65km. That caused us to take much longer than expected in the initial itinerary.

We use the Garmin GPS that we bought on the trip to Botswana but it is best to carry a road map since the GPS usually gets you through the fastest or most direct route and in Namibia that route is often not suitable for all types of vehicles or for less experienced drivers on tracks. A very good idea is to bring a road map. We bought this digital map of Namibia and, although it is quite good, there is some road marked as paved which is actually a track and that made us go wrong. In addition, the indications for reaching Sesriem are not entirely correct. Tracks4Africa is famous for having the best GPS and maps to explore Africa in 4 × 4. In the end, the best map To move around the southern part of the country they gave it to us for free at the gas station in Sesriem. At post of the day You have it scanned.

From this trip we have published the day-to-day diaries. In each of these posts you can find very detailed information about the route and everything we visited in Namibia. But here is a brief summary with the practical information:

Day 1: arrival in Cape Town

The first day we arrived in Cape Town in the afternoon. We went to look for the car at the Avis office and did all the paperwork (hiring extra insurance, authorization letter to take the car from South Africa to Namibia, etc). When we finished it was night and as we were very tired of the plane trip we went directly to our accommodation.

Where to sleep in Cape Town

The first accommodation we booked in Cape Town was the Lazy Days Apartments. Apartments in the Sunset Beach area north of the city and very close to Highway 7, which is the one that connects with Namibia. The apartment for two people cost 750 rands, but we lost the reservation with the delay of the plane.

Room at the Harpers House

By the day we arrived, the Lazy Days was already full, so we booked at the last minute in the Harpers House This is a B&B located in the Green Point area, in the center of Cape Town. This accommodation is an old Victorian house completely renovated. The design is very nice and cozy and the staff excellent, although when booking in a hurry we did not realize that the bathroom was shared. Both the bathrooms and the common areas were great and Stocking, the night manager, was very nice. The double room cost 765 rads and has an interior area to park the car.

On the way back we stayed at the Purple house, in a private room with a lot of style and a super bathroom, in one of the most fashionable and central neighborhoods of the city. The night with super breakfast cost us 80 and we recommend it 100%.

Room at The Purple House

Day 2: from Cape Town to Noordorewer, border with Namibia

At seven in the morning we were already on the road, ahead we had 700km that the GPS said we could cover in about seven hours. At that time of the morning the car marked 7 degrees outside and it was pretty cool. The N7 road is a national road with one lane in each direction. The maximum speed at which you can drive is 120km. In the first hours of travel we did not find any gas station on the same road. What there are are numerous picnic areas where to stop to rest. We made the first refueling stop at the BP Trawal Truck Inn, in the town of Klawer. Springbok is the last large population before arriving in Namibia. There we stopped to eat at Nando's, a fast food Specializing in grilled chicken. We arrived at the border at 3.30pm (South Africa time) and started the paperwork.

How to cross the border between South Africa and Namibia

It is a very simple process but sometimes it can be tedious by the queues. We were lucky and both back and forth we barely queued. Of course, when planning the route reserve an hour just in case.

The border of Viooldrif - Noordorewer is open 24 hours. Upon entering the South African border, a police officer will stop you and take note of the car data and give you a paper. With this paper you have to drive to the offices where you have to park. First you have to go to the door number 1 "Immigration departures", there you deliver the paper along with the passport. Here they seal the exit passport of South Africa. The next step is to go to the door number 2 which is the "Customs" but if you have nothing to declare you can skip it. The last step is done at gate number 3 "South Africa Police Service". Here you basically have to fill in the details of the car and the driver in a list. Once filled, you get in the car and go with the passport and the paper that they gave you when entering towards the exit, where you deliver the paper and you can continue.

Unlike when we crossed the border with Botswana, they didn't look at the car data at any time or inspect the vehicle. I don't know if it's the usual thing or that they didn't want to look.

Upon entering the border of Namibia there was no one at the entrance, so we left the car in the parking lot. We go to the «Arrivals» area, there you have to fill in an entry form with your data. Once filled out you give it to the officer along with the passport where they seal you from entering the country.

If you go by car, the next step is to go to the “Road Administration Fund” office next to the counter where they seal the passport. Here you have to fill out a form, register your vehicle and pay a fee of $ 259 NAD to use the country's roads. As we still had no Namibian dollars and the change is the same as in rands, we paid 259 rands. I think you can also pay with VISA, although I'm not sure.

Upon leaving, the policeman asked us for our passports and the receipt of having paid the fees, were it not for us to have forgotten. To consider: Bring a pair of blue pens to fill out the forms.

Where to sleep in Noordorewer

That night we spent a few kilometers from the border in the Felix Unite Provenade, an African-style cabin complex next to the Orange River. The cabins are very good and the complex has a pool, bar and restaurant. In addition, it has a store that is very well stocked and where we could buy a power adapter. The night cost us $ 1025 NAD. We recommend 100% even if the internet has to be paid.

Kilometers traveled: 714
Departure time: 7 am (South African time, same time use as Spain)
Arrival time: 3.30pm (Namibia time, one hour less than in Spain)
Gasoline spent: 23 liters at 12.22 rands (280 rands)
Punctures en route: 0

Day 3: Quiver Tree Forest, Giant's Play Ground and night in Windhoek

We follow the road route through Namibia. The plan for that day was to reach Windhoek, the capital and stop on the way to visit the Quiver Tree Forest and the Giant's Play Ground. The accumulated fatigue began to weigh and cost us more than we should get going. In addition, we wasted a lot of time looking for a cashier where to get money in Noordorewer. We gave up after trying several of them without success, we stopped to put gas and have breakfast at Wimpy's and started the route. In Keetmanskoop We managed to get money from the cashier at Standart Bank. We made a quick visit to the colonial buildings of the city and headed towards the Quiver Tree Forest.

We take the C16 road from Keetmanskoop and then the C17 to the Gariganus farm. At the reception we pay the entrance fee $ 75. The Quiver Tree Forest is within the same farm and is a visit that we highly recommend, since quiver trees are rarely beautiful.

What we do not advise you is to visit Giant's Play Ground. To get there you have to leave the farm and drive on the C17. A sign at the entrance gives a premonitory warning "to enter at your own risk". The Giant's Play Ground is a land with very curious rock formations, but the route is very poorly indicated and we we got lost. You will read the entry on that day, but with the scare in the body we follow the route until we reach Windhoek. We found a large caravan 100 kilometers before arriving in the capital and it became night on the road. Finally, we arrive at our destination exhausted and wishing to forget that day.

Where to sleep in Windhoek

We stayed at the Urban camp, a campsite with tents style tend with bed included. The bathroom is shared and has a restaurant that is very good. The best is the price: the upper store costs € 39. Nearby is the restaurant Joe's Bearhouse, a reference among visitors to the city. The bad thing is that in August it is very cold in Windhoek and although the bed had an electric blanket when going out to the bathroom it does not go well.

Story of the day in: “Excursion to the Quiver Tree Forest and the Giant's Play Groud”

Travel day: 3
Kilometers traveled: 846
Total kilometers traveled on the trip: 1,560
Departure time: 6:30 am
Arrival time: 19:15 pm
Spent gasoline: 34.15 liters at $ 11.52 ($ 393.40) + 30.17 liters at $ 11.45 ($ 345.15)
Punctures en route: 0

Day 4: Visit Twyfelfontein and its rock engravings

Although that day we got up early, we lost our time in a bad way and ended up getting on track later than expected. The tiredness already weighed too much. That day we planned a very ambitious and unrealistic itinerary: arrive at Kamamjab stopping at visit Twyfelfontein. We have already told you: we calculate the distances with Google Maps and the times it gives are not at all real.

Finally we come to Khorixas at 12h and there we got on the track road, where in principle it takes an hour, but it took two and a half. Finally, we arrive tired to the world heritage site.

Although only a small section of TwyfelfonteinIt is well worth the visit to see these millenary engravings. The tour is guided and costs $ 60 Namibians plus $ 20 for parking.

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