Africa overland Namibia Road trip is part of a Overland Africa trip that starts in Kenya (or Arusha depending on participants) and continues south by south-west to cover Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia and South Africa. I provide details, maps, costs, videos, photos and more. It’s an adventure on a shoestring. This post starts at the border of Namibia.
The drive west to the border was easy and isolated. We took our time and arrived at 6:20pm (they close at 6:30 pm). As a result immigration processing was hectic but the upstart was that Ben managed to get his car into Namibia without all the normal paperwork delays.
Namibia seemed deserted when we entered late in the day. We settled on the Hippo Camp next to the river. It was another $10 pp campsite with a waterfront view. The camp was upscale and comfortable.
Africa Overland Namibia – Papa Falls
We’d visited a lot of waterfalls on this road trip and Papa Falls stood out for its sheer lack of elevation or interest. We reached the falls mid-morning and paid our $Namibian 20 entrance fee (around $US 1.50). But we weren’t here for the falls. We were here to swim. Even as we were assured that the crocodiles in the river are small.
Click to watch Episode100, Papa Falls, Namibia
Well past Popa falls we cleared another game checkpoint and continued on the straight monotonous paved road for a total of around 700 km before we reach Roy’s Rest Camp where we did the $10 pp camping thing again. Roy’s is actually a very eclectic waterhole in the desert (yes it includes a pool).
In spite of the long day, Ben whipped up a fire and then did his precision dinner dance again.
Africa Overland Namibia – Hoba Meteorite
The next day we made a short detour to the 800,000 year old Hoba meteorite (found on the “Hoba West” farm) not far from Grootfontein, in the Otjozondjupa Region of Namibia. Say that 3 times. It was discovered by chance when the farmer was plowing his fields. The 66-ton meteorite was then uncovered but never moved due to its weight. It is 82% iron and 18% nickel, with traces of cobalt.
Click to watch Episode101, Hoba Meteorite, Namibia
After the wonders of the Hoba meteorite Ben let air out of the tires to better handle the softer gravel tracts.
It’s incredible that wildlife can exist in this dry and harsh landscape. Yet Ben tells me that the land will become even drier and the animals more exotic, as we work our way west towards the Skeleton Coast.
Game fences keep the regions separated in case of disease and pests (make a call to the experts from pest control cincinnati to eradicate the harmful ones from your garden. Or if not contact the mice exterminator to take immediate action.) which also provides for anti-poaching inspections. Visit this site over here that offers the best home inspection catonsville md which also comes in affordable pricing and excellent services.
Africa Overland Namibia – Palmwag Lodge
Near day’s end we spy an oasis. It’s the Palmwag Lodge. Another desert high-end lodge with a pool that provides camping for $10 pp. A shower, fire and a warm beer were on my agenda.
Palmwag Guide and map.pdf download
Palwag is also one of only two places that provide fuel in a 300 km radius. But supply is not guaranteed so before heading off-road for a next week we fill up the car and 4 jerrycans.You can check out pest control Myrtle Beach for the best pest control services.
Click to watch Episode 102, Palmwag Lodge, Namibia
The next day we went north up the main gravel road to Sesfontein and the location of the old German fort converted into a lodge. Fort Sesfontein was erected in 1896 as a police outpost by Schutztruppe soldiers of Imperial Germany. It was abandoned in 1914 and fell into disrepair soon thereafter. The German police officers manned the fort to combat weapons smuggling and elephant and rhino poaching.
Our target that day was a turn-off to a Hoanib dry river just north of Sesfontein.
Africa Overland Namibia – Hoanib River
At this stage our Namibia drive left the road and followed a dry riverbed. Our goal was to cross the Skeleton Coast National Park and reach the Atlantic Ocean in a very indirect route.
We snaked our way along a dry riverbed or up and over ridges to adjoining valleys. In all cases the landscape was dry with limited vegetation in or along dry riverbeds. I wondered what the wildlife ate and how they found water to drink out here? Following large droppings we eventually discovering a herd of elephants in a dry riverbed. It was surreal. What was even stranger was when one of the elephants decided to leave the dry riverbed and the others followed. We also followed. The lead elephant then let the herd (and us) to a man-made waterhole. They all drank, swam and dusted before heading out across the desert in search of more vegetation.
Click to watch Episode 103, Hoanib Dry River Drive, Part 1, Namibia
Desert elephants are not a distinct species of elephant but are African bush elephants that have adapted to their homes in the Namib. They tend to migrate from one waterhole to another following traditional routes, which depend on the seasonal availability of food and water. They face pressure from poaching, from changes in land use by humans and environmental changes in annual rainfall.
The Kunene Region in northwest Namibia is an area of mostly sandy desert, rocky mountains and stony plains. Elephants have traditionally lived in this area and in the earlier part of the 20th century there were about 3,000 in the region. By the 1980s the numbers had dropped drastically, however since then, conservation measures have been put in place and by 2013 the number were estimated at about 600. In 1995–1996 there were good rains in Namibia and the elephants expanded their range southwards to the Ugab River.
Click to watch Episode 104, Hoanib Dry River Drive, Part 2, Namibia
That evening we camped in sandy bend of the Hoanib River.
The next day we continued our Namibia drive along the dry Hoanib river. A dry land filled with incomprehensible wildlife. It was no time to add air to the tires before leaving the riverbed. We were going to cross over dry high country to enter a different dry river.
The landscape looked like scenes from the Mars Rover. Black burnt stones and unforgiving landscapes. The going was slow and grueling on the tires, the car and us.
Late in the day we dropped into an adjoining valley and followed its dry riverbed until we found a small waterhole (with very little water and no sign of wildlife). It was a perfect wild campsite. I setup camp while Ben went to collect firewood.
Africa Overland Namibia – Lion Country
A short time later he returned excited and told me that he had come face-to-face with a lion. I laughed and didn’t believe him. So he agreed to show me the area, but not on foot. We jumped into the car and he drove up to a ridge a 100 m from our waterhole. We parked and I got out to look out over the ridge. I was startled to find a lion on the other side. He on the other hand was not startled. He simply saw me and immediately began to run towards me. I run for the car screaming like a girl, with a lion in close pursuit.
Once we were safely in the car we waited for the lion to appear. After a while Ben felt brave and tossed a firecracker out the window. The firecracker exploded and three lions ran from under the ledge towards a green patch in the distance.
It looked like the pride consisted of one older male, a young male and female. They run until they reach a patch of greenery. They then watched us for a while before heading into brushes for cover.
I was not happy about our camp location since Ben sleeps in the car and I sleep in a tent. I explained my reservations to Ben and eventually he agreed to move our camp to a new site.
Click to watch Episode 105, Lion Country, Namibia
Our Namibia off-road trip got scary yesterday when 3 lions found us. Let us explain.
Obviously these are active lions.
Africa Overland Namibia – Lions & Elephants in the Desert
Before continue our off-road trip the next day we decided to go back to yesterday’s camp and re-visit the lions.
The lions were easy to find now that we know where they congregated (at the green spot near the waterhole). The older male was clearly intimidated by us. The younger two remained hidden in the green thicket. It was incredible how such a large and lazy looking creature could move so quickly. Yesterday was a lesson all about instinct and that waterholes in a desert that do not have any wildlife around them must be considered cautiously.
Click to watch Episode 106, Lions & Elephants in the Desert, Namibia
After a while we left the lions to returned to the dry river and drive west. Later we left the riverbed to cross the open plateaus. We were searching for another waterhole (tiny and remote) that was on Ben’s map.
Africa Overland Namibia – Hoab Dry River
We eventually reached the Hoab riverbed and the designated waterhole but it was dry. It was still a mystery to me how these animals survived here.
Click to watch Episode 107, Hoab Dry River, Namibia
Dry waterholes. Plan B. Drive south and east until we find the dry Huab river.
Along the way we ran into a serious of sun showers. Raining in sunshine and in a desert. However, within minutes the rain passed and the ground was dry and dusty again.
The dry sandy riverbed, with frequent soft spots, required the use of sand grids and digging. We spend the rest of the day repeating the process.
By evening we were out of the riverbed and in beautiful dunes for the night.
The map showed a marshy area along the river up ahead. We would need to find a way through to the other side if we intend to follow the river to the coast.
Africa Overland Namibia – Desert Rhinos
A rhino scratching rock proved that the desert also held rhino. Rhino like to rub on a jutting stone so much that they polish it smooth over time.
At some point we gave up on the marsh and cross up and over the ridge to meet the river further to the west. During the cross over we fond a shaded depression in a ridge that provided the day’s only shade. It was an ideal spot for a lunch break. It was over 48 C in the sun (118F) so we took full advantage of the limited shade.
After lunch we continued our drive along the dry Huab river in search of rhinos. Our maps showed a waterhole and a set of hides to the west. A hide is a structure from which you can hide and observe the animals. Again, there was no water and the only wildlife where vultures.
Click to watch Episode 108, Desert Rhinos, Namibia
That night we made another dry Huab riverbed camp.
The drive the next day was slow going and tedious. We were in a dry riverbed with steep valley walls boxing us in. It was a natural trap for any wildlife we encountered us and. In this case it was a hyena. No way out so stayed ahead of us and we kept running into him.
Finding elephants in this dry riverbed would be interesting but also a bit scary. If we encounter them in this narrow area they’d have two options. Confront us or keep moving ahead of us like the hyena.
We had been driving in the dry Huab riverbed for days and had just encountered wet elephant droppings. What could that mean? The GPS showed a river junction ahead. That was a good sign. The sooner we made it out of the tight dry riverbed the better.
We joined the main dry river that lead to the coast around mid-day and sure enough we soon discovered the owners of the wet elephant droppings that we had spotted that morning.
We were soon in and among a herd of grazing elephants. After watching them standing still for a while we set off for the Rhino Camp marked on our map. It’s a reserve boundary, inspection station, campground, information center and supply depot all in one.
We cleared the camp and made our way down another riverbed towards the Skeleton Coast and the Atlantic Ocean. It was clear that Ben had an aversion to the main dirt roads. Then again, the riverbed here was actually in better shape than the road.
Africa Overland Namibia – Atlantic Ocean
After 24 days of driving we spotted the Atlantic Ocean at long last. But even here the land is harsh and aptly named the skeleton coast. We parked on the beach for lunch and I took some private time to contemplate our accomplishments, the places experienced and the wildlife seen.
We had started this road trip in Arusha, Tanzania. Driven to the Indian Ocean then zigzagged across Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Namibia. 24 days later we reached the Atlantic Ocean. We had traveled over 7,000 km and from Ocean to Ocean.
Click to watch Episode 109, Indian-to-Atlantic Oceans, (Kenya-to-Namibia)
But we were not done yet.
After lunch we then dug the car out of the sand and then set off south along the coast to reach Cape Cross.
Africa Overland Namibia – Cape Cross Seals & Namib Dunes
In 1486 the Portuguese explorer Cao landed at this site. It was the furthest south that any European had ever visited to date. Here he placed a stone cross, named it Cape Cross naturally and then turned back for Europe.
Cape Cross is also one of the natural sea lion mating areas along the Namibian coast. It is also a favorite spot for large hungry sharks. So perhaps not a good place for a refreshing swim. Plus seal mating areas stink.
At one of the better-known shipwrecks along the Skeleton Coast Ben decided to do some more bartering. This time he was trading for rocks. Namibia is a mining country and well known for exotic stones (mostly diamonds). Ben was happy to get rid of some junk for pretty stones.
But once again Ben felt bored driving on the dirt road south. So near Swakopmund he decided to drive in the world famous Namibian Sand Dunes. While he played like a little boy in the sand, I sat, drink cold drink and contemplated the landscape.
In the distance I could see that Ben was stuck again. He was quite proficient at digging the car out of sand traps. But not so proficient at cresting dune crests it seemed. The sharp clang of metal that I had just heard was the sound of the 5th gear blowing out.
Ben managed to get the car going eventually, but we were now without a 5th gear.
But that didn’t stop him from more playing in the sand, but this time without the car.
Click to watch Episode 110, Cape Cross Seals & Namib Dunes
By day’s end we finally made it back to civilization. That night we stayed in Swakopmund and I slept indoors and in a bed.
But the next day we were off again. Ben was running out of time. We only had a few more days before his flight from Windhoek. But first we needed to visit the Spitzkoppe Mountains.
Africa Overland Namibia – Spitzkoppe Camp
At the campground reception we were told to camp anywhere. And so we did.
We spent the morning exploring before breaking camp and heading east. We spent the late afternoon exploring the strange formations, the rock pools, the ancient rock art, birds and the many small Dassie rats.
The next day on upon exiting the park a roadside trinket stall caught our attention. We decided to trade away the rest of our used clothing, small change and food. It broke my heart to see these kids sitting here in the sun all day tying to trade rocks for food. How many cars could possibly pass this desolate spot in a day? And yet these kids were happy, full of life and so polite. I wanted to take them all back to Europe, feed them and send them too school. But then I wondered at their apparent good will and cheer. Perhaps kids growing up in this harsh and simple environment were happier than those lost in consumerism and individualism.
We took photos, shared our wealth and left them as we found them. Content.
Click to watch Episode 111, Spitzkoppe Camp to Windhoek, Namibia
Windhoek is a clean & modern city and so far removed from the dusty kids we met that morning. We had driven across Eastern and Southern Africa. And meeting those kids outside of Spitzkoppe camp was the highlight of my trip.
In Windhoek we checked into a hostel and began the cleaning and acclimatization process. We would soon go our separate ways and rejoin the busy human race.
Ben parked his Toyota Land Cruiser at a local farm, boarded and bordered a plan back to Europe. That was the end of our Overland Africa trip but not the end for me. I promptly hopped onto a bus for Cape Town, South Africa. Let the adventure continue.
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