This safari is ideal trip for people that are keen to self-drive and camp in Namibia, as well as experience the wildlife spectacle on the Chobe River in Botswana, ending with a two night stay at majestic Vic Falls.
The 21-night route takes you to most of the iconic locations of Namibia, the Chobe River and Victoria Falls and is well suited for couples, families and small groups of friends. A sense of adventure, love of a road trip and camping is all that is required for an experience of a lifetime!
Itinerary in Brief
1 Night Windhoek Gardens Guesthouse
1 Night Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch
2 Nights Klein-Aus Vista Eagle’s Nest
2 Nights: Sesriem Campsite
2 Nights Desert Breeze Lodge
1 Night Spitzkoppe Campsites
1 Night Mowani Mountain Camp
2 Nights Etendeka Mountain Camp
1 Night Olifantsrus Camp
1 Night Okaukuejo Camp
1 Night Onguma Etosha Aoba
1 Night Ngepi Camp
1 Night Camp Kwando
1 Night Mwandi View
1 Night The Old House
2 Nights Bayete Guest Lodge
Heading south the next morning the first stop will be the red sand dunes of the Kalahari. From here the trip takes you south-west to the small town of Aus from where the coastal town of Lüderitz, the ghost town Kolmanskop and the Namibia’s wild horses can be experienced.
Then head north through the Namib Desert destination Sossusvlei, the highest free-standing sand dunes in the world! Following the scenic drive from Sossusvlei to Swakopmund will be a certain highlight of the trip. Then take a break from camping and stay 2-nights at the magical Desert Breeze on the outskirts of Swakopmund with beautiful views over the desert landscape.
After two relaxing days on the coast it will be time to head north-east towards the Brandberg and Spitzkoppe. Camp a night at the famous Spitzkoppe Campsites and explore all that this region offers, before heading to the World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein, camping at fabulous Mowani for two nights. Heading further north into Damaraland the next stop is Etendeka Mountain Camp for some R &R and a raw nature experience second to none.
The next section of the trip takes you to Etosha starting in the west, with stops at Olifantsrus and Okaukuejo, both with famous waterholes in front of camp. This will certainly be a wildlife highlight of the trip and spectacular elephant and rhino sightings are guaranteed! Then head east through Etosha covering the eastern section of the Park, exiting late afternoon and staying at close by Onguma Private Reserve for a fabulous night.
The next morning head a little south before turning north-east at Grootfontein towards Rundu on the Kavango River bordering Angola. Follow the road east towards the Caprivi strip and spend a fun night at Ngepi Camp on the river and swim in the famous ‘croc pool’…. Then continue east through the Caprivi strip and do an overnight stop at Camp Kwando on the Kwando River before crossing the border into northern Botswana at Ngoma.
Spend a night at Mwandi View campsites and early the next morning drive through the Chobe NP along the riverfront for one of the best wildlife experiences in Africa! Spend another night in Botswana at Old House in Kasane and do a late afternoon boat trip on the Chobe for a magical sunset whilst watching the elephants come drink with a G&T in hand!
The next morning handover the vehicle and do a road transfer to close by Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Spend two adrenaline filled days at Bayete Lodge in Vic Falls. On the last morning transfer to Vic Falls Airport for your flight home.
We guarantee that this will ‘frankly’ be one of the best experiences of your life!
Night 1: Windhoek, Windhoek Gardens Guesthouse
Arrive in Windhoek where you will be met at the airport by the car rental company and transferred to their office for the handover and demonstration of the vehicle and equipment.
Check into your guesthouse for some rest & relaxation and then head out late afternoon for shopping and stocking up on supplies for the trip ahead.
Windhoek Gardens Boutique Hotel is located 5 minutes away from the centre of Windhoek, making it a perfect mix of convenience and practicality. The guesthouse boasts 28 uniquely Namibian themed rooms, every room is equipped with Wi-Fi, a well thought out desk area with plenty of space and power points, air con, a coffee station, a balcony and a mini fridge. All rooms are twin bedded and have en-suite bathrooms. Laundry services are available upon request.
Enjoy homely food with a variety of drinks from the in-house cooks and pub, or head out to Joes’ Beerhouse for a unique Namibian dinner experience……
Night 2: Kalahari, Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch
The next morning head south on the main road, destination the Kalahari and the Bagatelle Game Ranch.
Look forward to the stunning red sand dunes of the Kalahari Desert with its unique flora and fauna and be pampered by the magic of extraordinary ambiance and hospitality. True ‘nature sculptured’ Namibia at its very best!
The stay is at one of the least populated places in the world and you can visit the San Bushmen who live in the Kalahari. Listen to the call of the big cats and be enchanted by the sight of the barren nature and the typical camel thorn trees of the Kalahari. You will be surprised by the abundance of animals in this seemingly life-threatening landscape.
There are five extensively equipped campsites with private toilets and showers for your first night of camping in Namibia. You can cook your own meal or enjoy the great food on offer in the restaurant.
The owners truly strive to make your stay with them an unforgettable journey into life in the Kalahari!
Nights 3 and 4: Southern Namib, Klein-Aus Vista Eagles Nest
The following morning pack up camp and head south west towards the coast and the small town of Aus, which is the ideal base to explore the coastal town of Lüderitz, the ghost town of Kolmanskop and to see the wild horses of Namibia.
Stay two nights at the glorious Klein-Aus Vista Eagles Nest self-catering chalets. A mere seven-kilometre drive from the Klein Aus Desert Horse Inn, the Eagle’s Nest chalets are private self-catering retreats, each built individually, combining natural elements and boulders into their interiors in a rustic and luxurious blend. You may just want to stay here forever…
Choose whether to cook in the kitchen, on the fire, or to eat in the Desert Horse Inn restaurant, where take-away breakfast or barbecue packs are also available on request. Eagle’s Nest is an attractive base for those who appreciate boundless space, choices, a sense of the land, privacy, innovation, the out-of-the-ordinary and the spectacular!
Lüderitz is just 120 km away and the ghost town of Kolmanskop only 115 km (tar road). Klein-Aus Vista is the ideal starting point for a trip to both places. Twenty km from Aus, on the way to or back from Lüderitz, visit the Garub waterhole where the wild horses and several other animals of the desert plains can be found. The Wild Horses of the Namib have roamed this harsh habitat since 1915 and are an experience one should not miss.
Nights 5 and 6: Sossusvlei, Sesriem Campsite
You probably wouldn’t want to leave the Klein-Aus Vista but it will be time for one of the highlights of the trip, the dunes of Sossusvlei!
Sesriem Campsite is in the heart of the Namib Naukluft Reserve and it is the gateway to the highest free-standing sand dunes in the world! The campsite is the only camping available inside the park gates giving it unique access to Sossusvlei and the Namib desert as the exterior gate opens one hour after the camping site gate. This privilege ensures that campers at the Sesriem campsites are deep into the desert to watch the sunrise long before the crowds arrive.
Sesriem has been upgraded and offers a tranquil setting on the edge of the Namib. You can view the dunes and beautiful landscapes from your campsite. The campsites are far apart and offer shared ablutions. The campsites are around Camelthorn trees to provide some shelter during your stay in the camp. There is a restaurant and bar and a shop to stock up on supplies. A swimming pool at the centre of the camp allows you to cool off and relax in the midday heat and the bar serves cold drinks.
Sesriem camp is very popular and has 44 campsites each with a designated camping area under the Camelthorn trees. Sossusvlei and Deadvlei are 60 km from the campsite. We recommend rising early and drive towards Sossusvlei to view the sunrise over the Namib dunes. The colours of the Namib Desert especially early morning and late afternoon is spectacular.
At the entry to Sossusvlei is Sesriem Canyon, where centuries of erosion have incised a narrow gorge about 1 km in length. At the foot of the gorge, which plunges down to 30 to 40 metres, are pools that become replenished after good rains. Also a must do while at Sesriem.
Nights 7 and 8: Swakopmund, Desert Breeze
Today you will drive from Sossusvlei to the coastal town of Swakopmund with its palm fringed streets, cafes and fabulous restaurants.
The drive is nothing short of spectacular and takes you past Solitaire and through the Guab and Kuiseb Passes. You would probably want to stop around every corner to appreciate the next jaw dropping view! It is however a long day so just keep an eye on the watch and the distance to go…….
Check into the Desert Breeze, a lodge with a spectacular location providing peace and tranquillity with stunning views across the desert landscape on the outskirts of a bustling Swakopmund. Spend two nights here in a room taking a well-deserved break from camping.
Activities around Swakopmund include tours to the coast and the desert and vary from dune boarding, guided nature walks or quad biking, to boat cruises in search of whales and other marine life, or day trips to Sandwich Harbour. The fabulous restaurants of Swakopmund are just a short drive away for a ‘night on the town’ for travellers that have been in the desert for a while…
Night 9: Spitzkoppe, Spitzkoppe Campsites
Today you will head north east and drive to Spitzkoppe, which is one of the most beautiful areas in Namibia, consisting of imposing granite rock formations set on the plains!
Here you can walk in the area and climb up to Bushman’s Paradise, a small basin tucked between the domes of rock, where you can view the rock paintings done by Bushman of the past and gaze at the amazing view. The Spitzkoppe is known to contain at least 37 rock art sites and test excavations at one of these revealed a well-preserved archaeological sequence spanning the last 4000 years.
Camping at Spitzkoppe is world famous! A mountain oasis in the Namib desert, with unique oversized boulders and secret caves, allows the visitor to camp in complete peace and tranquillity. With the majestic Namibian “Matterhorn” as backdrop, and with the next camping site kilometres away, each visitor “owns” the mountain during his time here.
The camp has revamped the restaurant area and added a new ‘lapa’ area all with a ‘shebeen’ themed décor. They are serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is also the best spot for the perfect SUNDOWNER with comfortable seats and hammocks!
Sunsets are spectacular, but only when night falls you are reminded what that over used word ‘awesome’ truly means. Living in a city and have forgotten the unearthly potential that stars embody. At Spitzkoppe, they stretch from horizon to horizon, shimmering in the dry air, unfettered by light pollution or air pollution.
Night 10: Twyfelfontein, Mowani Campsite
Today you head further north into Damaraland towards the World Heritage site of Twyfelfontein and stay for a night at the campsite of Mowani Mountain Camp, one of our favourite lodges in Namibia!
Between the Ugab and Huab Rivers in southern Damaraland and in the midst of dusty and stunning landscapes lies the sanctuary called Mowani Mountain Camp. Surrounded by massive ochre boulders and fascinating geological formations, the camp perfectly blends in with its wild surroundings.
The lodge owns a nearby campsite hidden amongst the giant boulders of Damaraland, where you’ll find the seven private campsites. Away from the main lodge, as you’d want, secluded, private and serene. Immersed in nature and by the surrounds that make this area what it is (rugged, arid and bare) the campsites are what you’d expect in the middle of nowhere. A spot to park the car and pitch the tent, a basin and wash up area, a cooking area (over fire), a shaded seating area and an open-air bathroom. Enjoy the ground beneath your feet, surrounded by nature. Add the endless view out over the Damaraland landscape and the quiet of being far from much else and you have found yourself a suitable place to call ‘home’ for the night.
Activities in the area are self-guided nature walks and nature drives in search for the desert adapted elephants and other wildlife. Visit the sights of Twyfelfontein: Burnt Mountain, Organ Pipes and rock engravings. For a hint of culture, visit the Damara Living Museum just down the road. A cultural look into the lives of the local people of the area and how they lived in days gone by.
Nights 11 and 12: Damaraland, Etendeka Mountain Camp
After the nights of camping some luxury awaits, with a two stay at the fabulous Etendeka Mountain Camp!
So, head further north towards Palmwag turning east towards the Grootberg just past Palmwag. The basalt formations and mountains created by ancient lava flows that surround Etendeka Mountain Camp provide dramatic views and an almost surreal landscape that you will probably never get tired of.
Ten discreet Meru tents are cleverly embedded in the nature around the main building of the solar-powered camp. The focus here is on environmentally friendly accommodations that respect nature and allow guests to access the pristine environment.
Etendeka Mountain Camp is all about experiencing nature, so it offers various leisure activities to explore the surrounding nature and animal kingdom. Your days here are spent exploring the area on foot and in open game drive vehicles with the exceptionally knowledgeable guides. Safaris are not fast paced, but rather a privileged introduction to an environment that holds many of Namibia’s unique natural attractions.
Night 13: Etosha West, Olifantsrus Camp
Leaving the remote north-west of Namibia behind, today you will head mostly east towards the western gate to the Etosha National Park.
Enter the Park at the Galton Gate and drive through the Park towards the east covering the less visited western section of the Park. There are a number of fantastic waterholes along the way where you are likely to see large numbers of animals come to drink, including elephant and rhino.
Continue east until you reach Olifantsrus Camp, with what some describe as the “greatest wildlife observation hide in southern Africa!”
Olifantsrus is Etosha’s newest camp and the first accommodation option in the park to offer a camping only experience. Situated in the wilder, more remote and previously less-utilized western section of the park, Olifantsrus is approximately 60kms from Galton Gate, 130kms from Okaukuejo and 50kms from Dolomite Camp.
Rare and shy species such as black rhino and black-faced impala are well-established in this quieter part of the park. Significantly, there are numerous waterholes around Olifantsrus Camp, which means its excellent for game viewing.
Aside from a rawer bush experience, Olifantsrus offers unrivalled access to a magnificent state of the art double story hide overlooking a manmade waterhole that has become particularly popular with elephants, hence the camp’s name (which translates as ‘Elephant’s Rest’).
Guests can get up-close to the animals because the hide overlooks the waterhole. The hide offers a safe game viewing opportunity in a second story hut with glass windows, perfect for cold or windy weather. Getting to the hide is easy as there’s a wooden walkway that takes you to your campsite.
In short, Olifantsrus has everything a dedicated camper is looking for, you will love it here!
Night 14: Etosha Central, Okaukuejo Camp
The next morning continue to drive east through the park covering the 130 km to Okaukuejo Camp.
This a fantastic drive through Etosha and some of the most famous waterholes are along your way. Take your time and make a full day trip of this, stopping frequently at the waterholes. If you are lucky you might just get that once in a lifetime photo with 8 or more species of large mammals in one photo!
Famous for its floodlit waterhole Okaukuejo Rest Camp is also the administrative centre of Etosha. Most visitors travel though this camp with its characteristic stone tower and Etosha Ecological Institute is also situated within the camp.
Accommodation is provided to suit every need, in premier bush chalets overlooking the waterhole, bush chalets and double rooms, or family chalets. Other facilities include a restaurant, bar, shop, swimming pool, kiosk and camping facilities.
After sunset floodlights illuminate the waterhole. This is the best time and place to see the endangered black rhino. This archaic mammal can often be seen drinking alongside lion and elephant. The number and interaction of the animals is the major drawcard of Okaukuejo Camp. Many visitors spend long hours at night watching the spectacle in anticipation of what will happen next, just one of the best experiences in Africa! It is not uncommon to have eight or more rhino at the waterhole at the same time, not to mention large herds of elephant.
The camp can be busy at times, but it is located inside the Park in a great location and the floodlit waterhole is a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed!
Night 15: Etosha East, Onguma Private Reserve
Today you will continue to drive east through Etosha along the myriad of small roads, waterholes and the Pan itself.
You have a good chance to see the famous ‘white elephants’ of Etosha along the way. Do a stopover at Halali Camp and continue east making sure to exit the Park before the gate closes at sunset.
Then do the short drive to Onguma Private Reserve bordering the Park, for an overnight stay at this oasis. At Onguma you have a number of accommodation options from two different campsites to choose from or treat yourself and stay at the fabulous Onguma Etosha Aoba or Onguma Tree Top. Camping or lodge stay, either way this is a great spot to just take it easy and relax after the long days of driving.
If you are going to treat yourself, we recommend Onguma Tree Camp, which is for everyone who would like to truly experience the bush in all its raw splendour. A place where giraffe, zebra, lion, and many other species of antelope come to quench their thirst. The camp is built on wooden stilts amongst the treetops with full views over one of the most beautiful watering holes on Onguma Game Reserve. The Camp consists of 4 thatched rooms with canvas walls, a deck overlooking the waterhole, a lounge, dining room and interactive kitchen.
Onguma Reserve is inhabited by a diversity of around thirty different mammal species such as kudu, giraffe, eland, oryx, zebra, as well as predators such as lion, cheetah and leopard. The latest addition to the already abundant wildlife at Onguma Game Reserve is a family of black rhinos!
Night 16: Caprivi, Ngepi Camp
You probably won’t want to leave Onguma but it will be time to head east towards the Caprivi and beyond for the next adventure!
So, from Onguma head a little south-east via Tsumeb and Grootfontein, before turning north-east and driving to the town of Rundu on the Kavango River the border with Angola. At Rundu you will turn and drive straight east towards the Caprivi strip. Spend the night at one of the funkiest and most fun campsites in Namibia, Ngepi Camp!
Ngepi (hello) Camp is set on an island under amazing trees with permanent river frontage and surrounded by seasonally flooded swamps. It is a paradise of flooded plains and secret swampy backwaters, teaming with wildlife, as it is nestled between Mahango National park, a few km’s to the south, and Bwabwata National Park directly opposite across the river.
The Camp offers Tree Houses, Family Bush Huts and Campsites. The Camps’ main area has a bar, restaurant, dining area and curio shops and guests can cool off in the unique ‘floating swimming pool’ in the river.
The award-winning Campsites are along the river’s edge, with a grassed camping area and an adjacent parking space for vehicles, trailers and caravans. Take the tour of Ngepi’s world famous funky ablutions – a selection of very unique outdoor showers and toilets!
Ngepi offers the best in adventure and relaxation for everyone such as a Namibian delta experience, sunset & sunrise boat cruises, fishing, mokoro trips, Dragon river rafting, guided nature and village walks, game drives or just relax in the world famous “Croc Pool”!
Night 17: Caprivi, Camp Kwando
The following morning take it easy and do a slow drive through the ‘narrow section’ of the Caprivi Strip towards the Kwando River. After crossing the Kwando at Kongola turn south and make your way to Camp Kwando your overnight stop.
Camp Kwando is set upon the banks of the Kwando River in the Nkasa Rupara National Park between the Botswana border and the Mudumu Game Reserve. The camp offers comfortable tented accommodation as well as good campsites.
The camping is situated close to the main building and the surface is covered by grass and magnificent trees providing shade during the hotter hours of the day. Four private campsites provide a lot of space, private ablution as well as a braai/BBQ place, fireplace and of course hot/cold water and electricity during generator hours. Campers are more than welcome at the bar and to use the pool too.
Activities at Camp Kwando are fishing, birding, boating, village and school visits, self-guided nature trails and self-drive game drives. The camp also offers activities for kids such as a fishing activity during which the children will make their own fishing rods and learn how the local community catch fish. A basket weaving activity allows kids to discover the ancestral technique of basket weaving.
Night 18: Chobe River, Mwandi View
Today you will leave Namibia and crossover into Botswana at the Ngoma border post. The drive from the Kwando to Ngoma is an easy one and can be do via the border town of Katima Mulilo or in the south along the Botswana border and the Linyanti River.
Once crossed over into Botswana you could either enter the Chobe National Park for an afternoon game drive along the river or head straight to your campsite at Mwandi View.
Mwandi View is ideally located along the Chobe river, only 18km from the Ngoma Gate to the north-east. Secured by an electric fence, Mwandi View offers 8 en-suite tents and 1 family tent sleeping 4 people, all on raised decking. Overlooking the Chobe River is a spacious main lodge area made up of a bar, restaurant and an infinity pool.
The lodge also has 9 serviced campsites with shared ablutions, each site accommodating 4 people. The campsites have access to water, electrical plug points and BBQ facilities. The campsite area is situated on manicured lawns with young Natal Mahogany trees.
The lodge offers a variety of activities in the Chobe National Park that can be pre-booked and these include morning or afternoon game drives, depending on the water levels, the lodge may offer canoe trips and morning or afternoon river cruises.
While at Mwandi View, you could either relax at the pool on the main deck with an ice-cold drink enjoying the view or participate in one of the activities on offer!
Night 19: Kasane, The Old House
Today will be one of the highlights of the trip as you will do the famous Chobe riverfront drive all the way from Ngoma to Kasane. Prepare for wildlife overload and some amazing sightings along the way!
Do an early start and enter Chobe NP close to Ngoma and make your way down to the Chobe River. Follow the tracks and explore the park all the way to Kasane. This will be a full day of fantastic wildlife sightings along the way. Try and spend more time in the east where there are fewer travellers than the busier section closer to Kasane. Expect some exciting elephant encounters and if you are lucky lion, wild dog, sable and many more species!
Make sure to get to Kasane around 3pm allowing yourself enough time to settle in and then do the late afternoon boat cruise on the Chobe River. The cruise leaves from the jetty at Old House which is very convenient. The sunset on the Chobe with large numbers of animals coming to drink is a magical experience and perfect G&T time!
Nights 20 and 21: Victoria Falls, Bayete Guest Lodge
Today it is time to say goodbye to your trusted 4×4 which will have been ‘home’ for the last 3 weeks….the vehicle rental company will collect it from Old House and thereafter you will be picked up at the lodge for the hour and half road transfer to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
Settle in at Bayete Lodge in Vic Falls home for the last two nights, in time for a late afternoon boat cruise on the majestic Zambezi River!
Bayete Guest Lodge offers comfortable and affordable accommodation in the heart of the Victoria Falls residential area. It is situated 3km from Victoria Falls Town, and 22km from Victoria Falls International Airport. It is family owned and operated and offers 25 rooms that are set in a lush tropical garden. Central to the lodge is the large teardrop swimming pool, which is hugged by the Caldecott Dining Boma and the Ingwezi Tavern. The Ingwezi Tavern, steeped in history and character, is central to the communal area where guests are able to gather, have refreshments and socialize.
Lodge management are also able to book all of your Victoria Falls transfers and activities. Activities to get the heart racing range from the world-famous bungee jump and gorge swing, to canoeing and some of the best white water rafting on earth. Or if you’d prefer to admire the majestic Falls from above you may like to treat yourself to a micro-light / helicopter flight.
While in town ensure you make time to enjoy a meal at either the River Café, Three Monkey Café, the Zambezi House restaurant on the river, or be sure to watch the sun set on a dinner river cruise on the Boathouse. On the last night consider dining at the Boma for a great African finale to your amazing trip!
Next morning do the 20km transfer to the Vic Falls International Airport for you onwards connection and flight home.
SAFARI FRANK is absolutely convinced that this trip will be one of the very BEST of your life!
One of the BEST self drive camping trips in Africa! Interested? Talk to us!
Contact SAFARI FRANK to get started on your safari of a lifetime!