Self-Drive Safari in Namibia: Freedom to an Enriching Experience

Want an awesome experience in Africa? Rent a 4×4 and set out on an epic journey. Seriously, there is nothing like the feeling of driving yourself through the beautiful landscape, the wildlife, the freedom. It actually ranks among my top 5 travel experiences. So here are my tips to help you plan your journey.

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Namibia: This is my country of choice. It is safe, and has such a crazy diversity of landscapes and wildlife. Namibia is home to Etosha National Park where you can set up a base camp at one of several sanctioned camps and take day drives through the park where you will respectfully experience zebra, lions, elephants, giraffe, and a whole lot more. Stop at a remote watering hole, park and be amazed as you watch an orchestrated wildlife symphony as groups of animals pass right in front of your eyes.
Because you have your own vehicle, you are free to quietly sit and enjoy without the burden of camera snapping tourists elbowing you for position for photos or a tour guide firing up the bus right as that elephant you’ve been eyeing decided to put on a show. Return back to the safe, fenced in camp at night, put up your roof top tent and listen to the wildlife around you (yes, it is a bit unnerving at first to hear lions roaring but trust me, it is truly awesome and safe within the protected campgrounds). Can you tell I REALLY enjoy driving & camping in Namibia?
Here are some photos to inspire your adventure!

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Sit back and enjoy the diversity of wildlife that frequent the watering holes throughout the day. Taken while sitting in my truck.

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Roof top tent!
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Freedom to explore!
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Respect the wildlife! Don’t ever get out of your vehicle and leave plenty of space. This car is too close to this elephant! Y
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A lion deciding the shady spot in the road is hers. Park your vehicle. Be respectful. Enjoy the moment. You are in Africa watching a lion, why rush!
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Zebra crossing. Slow down, respect the wildlife and you will be rewarded with one awesome experiences after another.
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No big deal, just a sunday drive with giraffes.
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Namibia is also the place you get to experience landscapes like this! (Sossusvlei) Your Instagram will become quite popular from this trip πŸ˜‰

There are quite a few 4×4 rental agencies in Windhoek, Namibia (capital city). All of these cater to self-driving safaris.
A couple things to consider to ensure an awesome journey:
– Make sure to triple check your vehicle when picking it up. Pay particular attention to the tires. Make sure they have plenty of tread and also make sure you have TWO full size spares. I got a flat in the literal middle of nowhere and was glad to have another spare. Note, flat tires are common in Namibia and you can have a flat repaired in most
villages/towns.

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Flat tire #1

– Understand the insurance details. You will be driving on many, many gravel roads & there is a good chance you could get a crack in your windshield. Make sure you are covered as some of the stipulations are confusing and you could end up in quite the pickle.
– Most trucks will come with two fuel tanks. You want two tanks as fuel stations can be quite a distance away from each other.
– NEVER pass a fuel station without filling up your tanks. Most stations take a credit card but be sure to have cash on you.
– Driving position is on the right (British). Β Don’t panic, it is pretty easy to adapt but if this is a different side of the road for you, consider paying a little extra for an automatic vehicle so you don’t have to worry about shifting.
– I rented a satellite phone and recommend it for emergencies. You can also rent a GPS which was helpful given the lack of cell service making my usual google maps ineffective.
– Be EXTRA careful driving early mornings and evenings when wildlife is on the move. Actually, be extra careful at all times.

I know all this sounds complicated but it really isn’t if you follow these few simple steps. Aside from a flat tire, I had no other issues my entire trip and drove a LOT of miles all around this wonderful country.
Again, seriously, do this trip! πŸ™‚

 

 

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24 thoughts on “Self-Drive Safari in Namibia: Freedom to an Enriching Experience

    1. Hey there Kierstin! I was there for about two weeks last trip. While there are large tracks of desolation, the distances aren’t that bad so you can cover and see quite a bit of ground in short time. Id even say that one could take a week and see both the wildlife in northern Etosha and the great dunes of Sossusvlei without having to rush.

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    1. Oh most definitely! I know the US has enacted bans on drones in National Parks, not sure what the rules are in Namibia so worth researching prior. Thanks for your comment!

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  1. Geo, thanks for sharing. Inspirational. We were talking about a safari the other day but we’re concerned it would be too touristy. This seems like a perfect way to do it and Namibia crossed my radar a day or so ago in a book. Seems like providence! Definitely going on the list!

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    1. Hi Lyn! Yes, Namibia sounds right up your alley especially if you are looking to go the ‘less touristy’ route. Happy to help you guys when you decide! πŸ™‚

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