Big open roads and starry night skies – that’s what I’ve been dreaming of for a while now. We were in central and northern Namibia in 2015 and it wasn’t long after we’d left that I started thinking of our next trip. Having spoken to a few people about their experiences of Namibia, I realise that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. A holiday in Namibia is most often a ‘road trip,’ which might not be your thing…of constantly moving or moving often with ‘a lot of space between one point and another’ as the common theme. It’s about packing and unpacking, putting up tents and taking them down, (if you are camping) going to sleep early and waking up early to a cup of flame-brewed coffee and the winter desert chill. It’s about dust, harsh and baron beauty, night time fires to keep you warm and travelling on a network of dirt roads that connect you to Namibia’s extraordinary and diverse landscapes.
When border posts have humour…
With Namibia, it’s the vast landscapes that get me back. Landscapes that make this country a destination that you come back to over and over again. That love of space and nature; with the open road and landscapes that change with every horizon.
This time, we’d travel around the Southern part of Namibia. We set off from Johannesburg at 3am and we travelled a 1000 kilometres in a day. After only a few minutes of entering Namibia, we spotted our first winter rain storm in the distance, an unusual occurrence for this time of year and a welcomed sight knowing that Namibia has been experiencing a severe drought.
There are 2 types of accommodation in Namibia: those ‘at’ the destination and those ‘along the way.’ There are also 2 ways of travelling in Namibia. Book your accommodation (or some of it) or do it like we did and book nothing! It was high season (June – August) so there was a good chance that after a long day of road tripping, we’d arrive at a campsite and it would be fully booked. The trick is to be flexible and ready to rough it a bit if necessary. The reason we didn’t book ahead is because we had no idea what to expect. We avoided bookings to give ourselves more freedom to stay longer in a place if we wanted to. Booking ahead was something that we regretted on our first trip.
For the most part, Namibia has no shortage of accommodation or campsites. It’s quite common for a farmer to branch out into hospitality, starting up a small bed and breakfast or a campsite. You’ll often spot an old farm sign and some form of accommodation being advertised. My only advice is to have a rough idea of the roads you’d like to take and aim to get to your destination around 2 -3 pm so that if it is booked, you have time to make plan B! We had to make plan ‘B’ twice and change our plans just slightly. Plan ‘C’ was to wild camp, as in pick a quiet two track road and find a spot to set up camp and forego the shower and the electricity. But a word of advice, if you do – know where the prohibited diamond mine concessions are…they take trespassers fairly seriously! When a diamond mine such as De Beers has an approximately 50 kilometre barrier/isolation area around its diamond mines – pretty much all of Southern Namibia’s coastline – you know diamonds are the big business and not an open gem field!
Our first night in Namibia was a ‘transit’ stop over. We stayed at the roadside Goibib Mountain Lodge campsite. For N$120 per adult and our kids for nothing, we got a camping platform with a shelter, electrical points and spotless toilets and ablutions. When you have been motoring down a dusty road all day, facilities and ablutions really do make a difference to the road tripper! So much so that on our way home at the end of the trip, we came back to the Goibib Mountain Lodge. We wanted comfort and somewhere we knew. We couldn’t have imagined what we’d choose to do on our return when we were hit by yet another cold front, but I’ll save that for another blog!
Goibib Mountain Lodge and camping, Grunau, South Namibia
8 days later with over 4000 kilometers on the clock, we saw a good portion of Southern Namibia for the short time we had. We’ve also decided to strive for a 4×4 camper van, or a truck converted into some fancy camping mobile and we will not be putting up any tents for at least 3 months! 1 thing we’d do differently next time other than buy a camper van: Pack less.
The daily challenge of packing….
Coming up….The Fish River Canyon, Moonscapes along the Orange river, galloping wild horses and sunsets, Ludertiz with no wind, exploring Ghost Town, a dust storm and experiencing one of the most scenic roads in Namibia, the D707.