Namibia, does that ring any bells? This vast country in southwest Africa is not a destination that often crosses your mind. However, it really deserves your attention. You can’t miss it if you love adventure, animals, crazy landscapes and African culture. Do you dream of a unique and super fun road trip? Look no further than Namibia for your next adventure! It’s time to put your backpack to the test here.
Rent a truck for your road trip in Namibia!
Of course, you’ll need a reliable vehicle to go on a road trip through Namibia. It is impossible to explore this country adequately without one. Public transport isn’t commonplace and is only available in some large cities. Renting a vehicle, therefore, becomes essential, so you don’t miss anything. I warn you; the roads are seldom paved. You will drive most of the time on gravel roads, and they are bumpy, to say the least. But it adds to the charm of the adventure! So choose a 2WD style truck or, even better, a 4WD. You’ll see decked-out trucks everywhere! The fashion here is to drive a truck fully equipped for camping. It’s easy to see why it is so popular when you try it. I can’t imagine exploring any other way!
Nomadic tip: Travel in low season.
Your bargaining power will be 100x greater in the off-season. I never thought I would afford a fully equipped truck with a tent on the roof for long-term travel. It was so overpriced! Yet, in November, we managed to negotiate the rental for less than half of the original asking price. The freedom that this truck gave us is indescribable. The truck allowed us to experience Namibia to the fullest and think outside the box. We managed to negotiate with Africa on Wheels.
Good to know: Make sure you know how to change a tire before setting off. Given the state of the roads, punctures are frequent. It’s not that complicated! You will quickly become an expert in the field. And you’ll easily find locals who will repair your tire inexpensively along the way. Don’t worry!
Here are five bucket list activities for your Namibia road trip:
1. Go on a cheap safari
Are you a big fan of animals? Have you always dreamed of going on an African safari but don’t think you can afford it? Lucky for you, Etosha National Park in Namibia is accessible for less than $ 10 per day per person. You can buy a permit that will allow you to enter with your own rented vehicle. You can then leave, without a guide, in search of giraffes, lions, elephants and other beauties of the African savannah. It is impossible to remain indifferent to the continual spectacle that occurs in the park. It almost feels like we were in a scene from Disney’s Lion King with all the variety of animals on display. We could not get enough!
Nomadic tip: If you’re on a limited budget, you can stay on campsites outside the park, which are much cheaper. You’ll go in through the main entrance (Anderson Gate), where animals will greet you in no time. Your daily permit will be valid from sunrise to sunset. Arrive early!
2. Interact with an authentic Himba tribe
In my opinion, Namibia is worth a visit simply for this reason. Do not miss Opuwo under any circumstances if you are interested in the culture of the country. I spent some of my most memorable travel moments there. Over 50,000 Himba people populate the town. The clash between their appearance and their way of life with modern society is striking. Their story is even more so.
Nomadic tip: To access a typical village, avoid tourist kiosks. In addition to offering overpriced tours, they will probably only lead you to a somewhat gimmicky town that is sure to lack authenticity. Get information directly from the Himba about the opportunity to visit their village. They are charming people, you’ll see! And above all, bring some basic food (flour, cooking oil, potatoes, etc.) when you go. They will be very grateful for your gifts and all the more welcoming.
Nomadic tip: Young Himba children learn English at school. Unless you can speak their dialect, it is a good idea to request access to a translator through them when you arrive in the village. Your experience will only be more enriching.
3. Play in the biggest sand dune in the world
The oldest desert in the world, the Namib Desert, exists in Namibia. This vast orange land will amaze you; you have my word! During your road trip through Namibia, you will be able to go to Sossusvlei, thanks to your truck.
The Namib desert is where you can set foot on the Big Daddy dune! It measures over 325 metres tall, which ranks it number one largest in the world. Once you get to the top, the view of the desert below and beyond is mind-blowing!
Going back down from the dune, you will have the opportunity to walk through Dead Vlei, famous throughout the world for its forest of 700-year-old dead trees. If you geek out on cool photography, you’ll be in creative heaven. You really feel like you are on another planet with this contrasting view.
4) Explore some of the oldest remains in our history
In the Twifelfontein region of Namibia, there is an abundance of ancient stone carvings dating back 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. Visiting the caves that house them will certainly plunge you into a bygone era. Several carvings are still in excellent condition, created at the time by the first Bushmen hunters. Also, in the same region, you will have the chance to see petrified trees. Do not miss them! These are 280-million-year-old trees discovered not so long ago by a citizen of Namibia. Yes! You read that right. They would have washed down a river following an Ice Age, only to be buried under sand and mud. The enormous pressure combined with lack of air perfectly conserved the organic material and turned it into quartz. The trees now rise quietly to the surface of the ground, thanks to erosion, on a site now protected by UNESCO. It is awe-inspiring to walk there.
5. Admire an incredible variety of landscapes
In Namibia, the landscape greatly varies as you ride on its paths. Mountains, deserts, plains, animals, you will see everything. One moment, you’re in the middle of nowhere with zebras on the side of the road. The next moment, you’re in an urban setting with a mega supermarket. Then, we start rolling in an almost lunar environment. Namibia is full of surprises! The new finds are endless.
As a bonus: reconnect with the essential!
Namibia is a very underdeveloped country. Here you can drive for hours without seeing anyone. You’ll experience nothing but nature, singing to your favourite music at the top of your lungs, and the open road. When you run into another person, you greet each other, help each other if necessary, provide encouragement and discuss your travels. Namibians are curious and very kind people. Unfortunately, to a large extent, they are also very poor. But their richness of heart will stay with you. Thanks to them, you will most likely learn more about yourself. It’s a safe bet that when you return, your little daily worries will seem trivial.
Namibia is the perfect place to refocus, put aside your stresses, and realize that deep down, happiness comes the simple things in life.
Are you convinced to add a Namibia road trip to your bucket list?
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This article was originally published in French and adapted in English by Britney Claveau.