Pet-friendly accommodation and efficient borders make a road trip to Namibia feasible for overlanders with dogs. Australian shepherd Panda reports on a trip taken with mom Romi Boom.
My humans love a road trip. Especially long stretches of nothing. Personally, I don’t mind the traffic in town; for me, driving anywhere is the third-most fun any dog could want. After going for a walk (number one) and playing ball (close second).
When the extra spare tire goes up on the roof carrier, we know the road is going to be long. We being yours faithfully and my best buddy, Obi, a Jack Russell. He loves the inside of a car even more than I do. The long trek to the Kalahari we’ve done many times. While our humans check out birds and game in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, we stay in the Kgalagadi Lodge chalet during the day. The kindly cleaning ladies let us out a few times.
Border, here we come
The day we get to show our travel documents, we leave for border control at Rietfontein/Klein Menasse while it’s still dark. Before you can say biltong, we’re in Namibia and rewarded with treats for good behaviour at customs. It’s hard to believe that a road can be that empty, that straight, and that good. At least, that’s according to the conversation up front – apparently, a road grader is your best friend on gravel.
Nothing, absolutely nothing happens for 200km on the C16 until we hit the tar at Keetmanshoop. Shortly afterwards, we encounter roadworks on the B1 with Stop/Go pauses. It’s a long day’s drive but we just chill on the back seat and nap in the sun. We bed down for the night at Hudup Guest House in Maltahöhe.
From Maltahöhe we head for the coast along the C14 dirt road. At Solitaire tour buses jostle for space in a huge parking lot and our mom, joining hordes of tourists, heads straight for the bakery. She’s wildly excited about a white paper bag with a sticky pastry called a pig’s ear! It’s unlike any of the pigs we’ve ever eaten and we only get a nibble since it’s people food.
Dunes, heavenly dunes
Going is slow on the C14 due to mountain passes in the Namib-Naukluft National Park. When the road deteriorates into serious corrugations, Mom keeps saying – one beady eye on the GPS, another on the T4A Atlas – “How much more punishment do we have to take?”. At last we approach Walvis Bay, having driven all the way from the whale watching capital of Hermanus to a place that’s stolen our glory. Instead of whales, we see thousands of fluffy pink flamingos. Oh, moans Obi, if only we could dash outside and give them a bit of a chase.
When we arrive at our Airbnb (Namib Excellence) in Swakopmund, a friendly lady says by way of introduction: “Where are the furry kids? Let them out!” There’s a yummy goody bag for canines in our riverside apartment, and across the street, heavenly dunes. One can run forever and chase sticks until your tongue just about touches the ground. We walk along the riverbed to the camel stables, a major attraction in this holiday town. They’re a bit stinky but we’re not afraid of them since they seem friendly enough.
Game drives and waterholes
The weather in Swakopmund is cold and the fog blanket refuses to lift, therefore not much fishing gets done. After a week we’re happy to move on to the Etosha area, where friends of our humans have invited us to a private farm close to the national park. Finally we learn what game drives are all about. Obi goes nuts when a herd of blue wildebeest start a gallop. My favourites are kudu and impala, who stand stock still – your eye has to be spot on – and then sprint away suddenly. If you ever had the fantastic opportunity to give chase, you’d have to be very fast to keep up with them. “Gnu” and “kudu” are our new best words!
The waterhole on the private farm gets a constant stream of visitors. At sunset, zebras come to fool around in the water. As for myself, I make good use of the plunge pool at the lodge. The heat is something else. Mom swoons around in shorts and sandals and keeps saying, “This is the life.”
Glamping on the way home
On our second last night in Namibia, we do a spot of glamping at Urban Camp in Windhoek. It’s just around the corner from Joe’s Beerhouse. Sleeping in a tent turns out not to be shabby at all. The campsite is pet friendly, there’s even a kennel on the premises that doesn’t quite pass Obi’s sniff test. However, we agree that the restaurant and swimming pool look first class. It’s not sure that I’m allowed in the latter so best not to push our luck, says Mom.
In the far south near Grünau we overnight at Savanna Guest Farm, a historic German sheep farm, which is of particular interest to me. To my great disappointment the farmyard is surrounded by paddocks – horse safaris are a big thing here. It means I’m unable to get close to the sheep to show off my fancy footwork and herding skills.
Our Namibian adventure ends with an uneventful border crossing at Noordoewer/Vioolsdrift. Nobody so much as glances at our paperwork. No fridge? No cooler box? “You’re good to go,” and we’re waved on.
Our humans promise that going forward, we’ll be along for the ride again. As for me, I keep telling the Schnauzer next door that the day I got to eat a pig’s ear was the day after I travelled the longest, straightest, emptiest gravel road anyone could ever imagine. It was also the day after I became a foreign tourist.
How to travel to Namibia with dogs
The inter-territorial movement permit for Namibia is free. You need to get three stamps: one from your home vet, one from a local state vet, and one from the state vet at your destination.
The dog’s annual inoculations must be up to date. Do not skip a year. Both state vets want to check the vaccination booklet.
The state vet in Namibia will want to take a quick look at the dog. You must cross the border within seven days of getting the official stamp from the SA state vet. Repatriation must take place within 30 days.
Guest farms are often welcoming towards dogs and have the kind of space where your pups can really run around. Make direct contact if they don’t advertise as being pet friendly.
When planning the trip, leave enough time for frequent stops so your dog can stretch their legs. Stopping for 15 minutes every couple of hours is recommended and allows for regular body breaks.
Pack a collapsible water bowl and extra water bottles so your dog can stay hydrated throughout.