The first stop on Mark Bland’s overlanding dream trip was southern Namibia. Got this country in your sights? He shares his recommendations for making the most of the trip.
A base near the border
We had been given sage advice not to drive too far on our first day of the journey after all the build-up, excitement and hard work in the lead up to the trip. This is something that we recommend not only for your first day, but for all legs of your trip as much as you can. As Jo and Paul Marsh always say to me: Overlanding is not a holiday (it can be quite hard work), so allow yourself enough time to actually enjoy it.
We selected Amanzi River Camp as our main base for a few days, aware that inevitably there is always some form of fixing, rearranging and repacking to be done from the outset. We also wanted a few days to acclimatise (a cold Tafel or Radler also helps this!). Furthermore, the little town of Noordoewer has just enough in the way of fuel, local sim cards and supplies to prepare you for your first substantial leg of the trip and your next big resupply. That said, Aussenkehr is always an option if heading that way (in our case we were aiming for Lüderitz).
Taking in the Fish River Canyon
This is a section not to be rushed. Not only due to the truly remarkable surroundings that really come alive when you take the chance to slow down and appreciate them. But also because focus is always needed when tackling the vast network of sand and gravel roads of Namibia. Many an overlander has learnt this the hard way in this beautiful but tough country.
There are two ways to do Fish River Canyon, either in the park itself (Hobas, one of the few decent NWR sites, to my mind) or the likes of Canyon Roadhouse. With its great shop, restaurant and other facilities, the Roadhouse is a sight for sand-weary eyes.
Early morning provides the best light and opportunity to try and take in the beauty of the canyon so if you only have one night here, we suggest an early start. Best yet is to do the morning and come back again for what must be one of the best sundowner locations in Namibia. Just remember to leave yourself ample time to leave the park if you are not staying inside.
Also read: Trekking the Fish River Canyon
Aus, Kolmanskop and Sossusvlei
A favoured stop on the road from Fish River Canyon to Aus is Canyon Farm Yard where the exuberant owner, Meisie, will offer you a cup of coffee and some apfelstrudel. You will also find yourself stocked up with enough padkos to feed you and the entire population of Namibia!
Many travellers often shy away from guided tours; one tour you should do, however, even if it be the only one on your entire expedition, is the guided tour at Kolmanskop. A special shoutout must be made to the brilliant William, our guide for the morning.
For a fresh take on a camping location whilst exploring the areas of Aus and Kolmanskop have a look at some of the excellent campsites on offer in and around the Tirasberg Conservancy.
Much has already been written about the campsites at Sesriem along with the pros and cons of staying inside versus outside the reserve when visiting Sossusvlei. My personal take is to endure the often questionable facilities of NWR in order to get the early start. Then reward yourself with a stay at Gondwana’s Camping2Go the following night (about half way between Sesriem and Solitaire).
Recharging in Swakopmund
Let the car have some time off and check in to a campsite or hotel in Swakopmund and enjoy the opportunity to walk around this magical town. You’ll want to savour all of its treats including great coffee, delicious pastries, exceptional cured meats and more. If you’re itching to explore there are great activities on offer such as the harbour cruise, Living Desert tour and quad biking. On your way out take a turn by the Moon Landscape and marvel at the ancient Welwitschias.
T4A Travel Tips
During an outing to the Moon Landscape, the Goanikontes Oasis makes for a good pit stop. Enjoy lunch or refuel with coffee and cake or ice-cold drinks. The road through the Moon Landscape forms part of the Welwitschia Plains 4WD Trail. Although you don’t strictly need a 4×4 to do it, note that the road is very corrugated and a permit is required. You can get this in Swakopmund (details at the above link).
Also read: Bucket-list experiences in Namibia