Tip: Renting a car with a pop-up tent is the best way to explore Namibia!

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Before we dive into the article, here are some of the most popular tours in Namibia if you’re short on time: 

Popular tours in Namibia

Explore the dunes of Sossusvlei 

Sossusvlei is located in the heart of Namibia’s Namib-Naukluft National Park.The park is known for its striking red sand dunes, unique wildlife, and vast desert landscapes. 

Here are a few of the best dunes to check out in Sossusvlei: 

  • Dune 45 (my favorite)
  • Big Daddy Dune 
  • Elim Dune 

In addition to your lodging costs, there is a daily fee per person and per car for visiting the park. For a two-night stay in the park for two people with one vehicle you can expect to pay 350 Namibian Dollars, or around $19, as of July 2023. This is a recent price increase.

Once you’re in the park, all of the sites are free to visit. 

Hiking Dune 45 at sunrise
Hiking Dune 45 at sunrise
View of Sossusvlei from Elim Dune
View of Sossusvlei from Elim Dune

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Hike Dune 45 at sunrise 

There are few things as magical as hiking a massive sand dune at sunrise. Hiking the famous Dune 45 in Sossusvlei at sunrise is easily one of the best things to do in Namibia. 

Dune 45 is probably my favorite place that I visited in Sossusvlei, and maybe all of Namibia. I have previously visited Morocco so I had experienced sand dunes before, but in my opinion those pale in comparison to the dunes in Namibia.

The red color that glows when the sun hits the sand is truly magical.

It is 45 kilometers from the Sossusvlei entrance to reach Dune 45 (hence the name), so you’ll need to start your morning super early. In order to make it to the dune in time for sunrise, you’ll need to stay within the park. This gives you access to the dunes 1 hour earlier than the public.

Go on a self-drive safari in Etosha

Namibia is known for its incredible wildlife, the best of which can be seen at Etosha National Park. The park is home to hundreds of thousands of animals living within the park grounds, including lions, elephants, giraffes, rhinos and more. There are currently a recorded 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species. In fact, there are over 20,000 zebras living in Etosha National Park alone.

To a lot of people’s surprise the park is actually huge! It takes hours to drive from one side to the other. There are four separate park entrances. The best part is that you can drive it all yourself, without needing to hire an expensive guide.

You’ll want to book your accommodation well in advance, since lodging (especially campsites within the park) book up super fast. The official Etosha website is a great resource throughout your trip.

We splurged on a few nights at Onguma Forest Camp. The staff at Onguma went above and beyond, and it was a super personable experience. Breakfast and dinner are both included, and the food is truly excellent, some of the best that we had while in Namibia

There are some great tour options if you prefer to explore the park with a guide.

As of July 2023, the cost of the daily permit was 150 NAD per person, and 50 NAD per car.

While credit cards are accepted, I highly recommend also carrying cash. The credit card machines were down during our visit, a common occurrence in Namibia. 

Zebra in Etosha National Park
Zebra in Etosha National Park
Close up view of the animals in Etosha
Close up view of the animals in Etosha

Camp under the stars in Spitzkoppe 

Easily one of our favorite things to do in Namibia is to visit – and camp at – Spitzkoppe.

A night camping in Spitzkoppe offers you a night under the stars, far away from the rest of the world. 

There are two main distinctions when it comes to camping in Spitzkoppe, campsites that are located into the park gates, and campsites that are located right outside. 

If you want to stay directly in the park (which I recommend), you need to stay at Spitzkoppe Camping. This is not to be mistaken with Spitzkoppe Tented Camps which is located right outside the park gate. You make a booking in advance but the actual sites are first come first serve, so I recommend arriving early if you want a spot in a view.

These camp spots are more primitive, as no facilities are provided. There is a shared toilet and showers.

We paid 400 NAD per night at Spitzkoppe Tented Camps & Campsites, just outside of the park gate. While it meant that we needed to drive a few minutes to a sunrise spot, our campsite had much nicer facilities (running water, bathroom, electricity) than the camp spots directly in the park.

You’ll need to hire a guide to enter many parts of the park. It’s super affordable and well worth it! Park entry costs about $6 per day per person. If you are staying at a campsite within the park, you’ll automatically need to pay this for each day. If not, you can just pay for a single visit.

Camping in Spitzkoppe
Camping in Spitzkoppe

Wander through the petrified trees of Deadvlei

Located in the heart of Namibia’s Namib-Naukluft National Park in Sossusvlei, Deadvlei is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Africa, and for a good reason!

This basin of petrified trees feels like a scene from a movie, something that you can’t fully grasp even when you’re walking right through it. You’re surrounded by “dead” trees, stuck in a moment in time, surrounded by these bright orange sandy dunes. It is absolutely one of the best things to do in Namibia.

Deadvlei is located 60 kilometers from the entrance of Sossusvlei, down a long paved path. Once you reach the parking lot you have the option of either hopping on a shuttle for the remaining 6 kilometer drive for around $12 round trip, or deflating your tires and driving yourself if you have a 4×4.

From the Deadvlei parking lot it is a 1.2km walk to the petrified tree forest. While the hike itself isn’t super long, the path is sandy and slightly uphill, with no protection from the sun. Make sure that you wear sunscreen and a hat, and pack ample water.

Deadvlei in the early morning (a must-do activity in Namibia)
Deadvlei in the early morning (a must-do activity in Namibia)

Adventure where the ocean meets the dunes 

Located between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund you’ll find the famous Sandwich Harbor, a point in along the southern coast of Namibia where the ocean meets the dunes.

You can visit the dunes with e a guided tour to either off-road or ATV up and down the dunes. You can also go sandboarding down the dunes if you’re looking for a real adventure. These tours are one of the most popular things you can do in Namibia.

Here are a few popular tour options:

If taking a tour to sandwich harbor is out of your budget, you can still find spots close to Swakopmund where you can self climb up a dune that overlooks the ocean.

Enjoy a sundowner

One of the best things to do in Namibia is to experience a sundowner. What is a sundowner you might be asking? Typically this involves heading out in a 4×4 to a beautifully scenic area (usually in search of wildlife) and enjoying some cocktails or ciders as the sunsets,

Sound pretty nice? It really is!

We experienced two traditional sundowners. Our first sundowner was at We Kebi Lodge, just outside of Sossusvlei. Our second sundowner was at Onguma Forest Camp. Both tours cost less than $50 USD and are absolutely must-do experiences while in Namibia.

Meet the Himba women

The Himba are a semi-nomadic indigenous group of people living primarily in the northern part of Namibia. The women are known for their elaborate hairstyles, often involving beads and jewelry. They typically wear a lot of silver metal jewelry and clothing made from animal hinds.

It is typical for Himba women to remain topless, rather than covering up.

Their role in the community as a semi-nomadic community is in caring for the animals, feeding their families, selling their local jewelry etc.

We had an amazing experience meeting a group of Himba women who were selling their goods on the side of the road. Since it was the end of our camping for the trip, we actually gifted our blankets and pillows to them, which was warmly welcomed.

Spend a night with the animals at We Kebi Lodge

Imagine waking up in your own little hut and seeing a rhino outside of your window. Or sipping a cup of tea and having a zebra stoll up to you. These are actual experiences that we had at We Kebi Lodge. If there is one thing do in Namibia, it’s spending a night with the animals at We Kebi Lodge.

The lodge is located just outside of Sossusvlei, about a 45 minute drive (which is short for Namibia road trip standards). We actually saw a herd of wild zebras on the drive which was an unreal experience.

The room costs around $200 USD per night (in 2023), but this includes breakfast and lunch for two people. You also have the option to add on safari sundowners on the property.

We Kebi Lodge

A boutique lodge near Sossusvlei, Namibia. A night at We Kebi provides the unique experience of seeing wildlife up close. Rates start around $200/night and include breakfast and dinner.

Check rates and availability

Visit the deserted town of Kolmanskop

This picturesque deserted town of Kolmanskop is literally the reason that I wanted to visit Namibia in the first place, and ironically we never even visited. Because securing a campground at Sossusvlei was a top priority for us, we needed to plan around that, leaving us only a single day to get to and visit Kolmanskop. Unfortunately it is quite out of the way of many of Namibia’s popular attractions, but I still highly recommend visiting if you have the time – especially if you enjoy photography!

So, what is Kolmanskop and why is it one of the best things to do in Namibia? Kolmanskop is a ghost town in Namibia, located just 10 km away from the port town of Luderitz. You’ll find abandoned homes and shops filled with piles of sand.

The town is not only a unique perspective of a town frozen in time, but a photographers dream!

You can book a self-guided audio tour for just a few dollars.

Look for shipwrecks at Skeleton Coast

The Skeleton National Park stretches along the Northern shore of Namibia. It gets its name from the hundreds of shipwrecks and whale bones scattered along the shores.

The area is vast (stretching over 500 km), so you can find multi-day trips exploring the entire park area by 4×4 and camping.

The Skeleton Coast is also home to one of the largest breeding colonies of Cape fur seals in the world!

If you are short on time, you can join a day trip from Swakopmund to explore the Skeleton Coast.

See rock painting by the bushmen of ancient Namibia

If you’re planning a visit to Spitzkoppe, you can hire a guide to help you explore Bushmen’s Paradise, an area that cannot be explored independently. A tour can be easily booked through your campsite. 

The Spitzkoppe area has been inhabited by the San people, also known as the Bushmen, for thousands of years. These hunter-gatherers were the earliest known inhabitants of the region and left a significant cultural legacy in the form of rock art.

The native people communicated with other tribes, which you can find in the form of ancient rock art paintings.This unique rock art can be found in several different places around the granite peaks, if you know where to look. These rock paintings and engravings are estimated to be thousands of years old and provide valuable insights into the lives, beliefs, and traditions of the San people. The art depicts scenes of hunting, dancing, rituals, and everyday life, offering a glimpse into the cultural heritage of these ancient inhabitants.

Plan a road trip across Namibia

The absolute best thing that you can do in Namibia is take a road trip to explore. And if you’re planning to road trip through Namibia, then I highly highly recommend renting a car. It is by far the best way to explore Namibia. Even better if you rent a truck with a pop up tent on the roof. Namibia is one of the easiest and best places in the world for an adventurous camping trip.

Renting a car in Namibia is expensive, and that’s simply a fact. And it gets even more expensive if you are renting a truck with a camper. But I promise it is so so worth it.

If you are road tripping in Namibia then a truck with 4WD is recommended, even if you don’t plan to go off-road. Many of the roads aren’t in great condition, filled with rocks and potholes. 

If you rent a low clearance car you’ll have to take a lot more precautions to ensure that the conditions are okay on any roads you plan to take. 

We rented a car through Savanna Car Hire and had a great experience.

One of the best things to do in Namibia is to road trip with a camper truck
One of the best things to do in Namibia is to road trip with a camper truck

Spend a night in the country’s capital city

Let’s be honest, Windhoek isn’t nearly as exciting as the rest of what Namibia has to offer. But, you’re probably going to have to spend at least a night here at the beginning or end of your trip, so it’s best to make the most of it!

You can join a cultural tour of the city to understand more of Namibia’s past.

Try the famous apple pie at Solitaire 

On the drive between Sossusvlei and Swakopmund you’ll pass a whole lot of nothing. You can expect a long, uneventful drive for the most part. But along the way you’ll pass the tiny rest stop of Solitaire. 

This is a good place to fuel up on gas or snacks, but also home to Namibia’s famous apple pie. If you’re craving something sweet, I definitely recommend grabbing a slice. 

Enjoy German delicacies in Swakopmund

When you arrive in Swakopmund you might be feeling a bit confused when you realize that the predominant language being spoken in the city is German! This is because this coastal town (known for its sand and sunny beach days) was colonized by the Germans in the 19th century.

You can head to the Swakopmund Brauhaus for some authentic, delicious German cuisine. I highly recommend ordering the schnitzel.

If you want to learn more about the local cuisine in Namibia, you can join a home cooking class while in Swakopmund.

Visit the Walvis Bay flamingos

If you’re driving through Walvis Bay, or planning to stay in Swakopmund, make sure to stop to see the hundreds of flamingos that inhabit the area.

Another option is to join a full-day tour of Sandwich Harbor and Pelican point.

Stay at the a giraffe hotel 

Want the opportunity to sleep with the giraffes? Guesthouse Voigtland is a cheap alternative to the famous Giraffe Manor in Kenya. The boutique guesthouse has their own resident rescue giraffes. You can stay overnight and enjoy a beautiful high tea.

The hotel is just a short ride from Windhoek so its a great first or last night in Namibia.

Giraffe crossing the street in Namibia
Giraffe crossing the street

How much does it cost to visit Namibia?

So you’ve read about all of the amazing things to do, so now you’re probably wondering how much it actually costs to visit this amazing country.

Here are a few breakdown costs based on what we spent traveling as a couple:

  • Campsites: $13-30
  • Park passes: $6-15 per day
  • Sundowner: $30-40
  • 2 weeks of groceries: $100 (per person)
  • Dinner: $20-40
  • 2 weeks of Gas $175 (per person)
  • 4×4 Rental: $110 per day (total)

Where to stay in Namibia

There are some many incredible places to stay during a trip to Namibia, whether you are planning to camp, glamp, or stay at luxury lodges. I have added links to a few of my favorite, top-rated lodging options below for each destination.

Sossusvlei

Swakopmund

Spitzkoppe

Onguma Forest Camp

A luxury lodging experience in Etosha National Park. A delicious breakfast and dinner included. A large watering hole for prime animal viewings. Make sure to join the sundowner tour.

Check rates and availability

Etosha

What to pack for Namibia

What to pack for Namibia? That’s a great question! I have an entire guide on packing for a Namibia road trip that you can check out, but I’ll highlight a few of the essentials for clothing below:

  • 2 pairs of comfortable pants, I like to wear flowy linen pant that are breathable in hot weather
  • 1 pair of jeans or cargo pants
  • 1 pair of leggings or workout shorts 
  • sports bra, 1 regular bra
  • 4-5 shirts, a mix of tanks, tees, and long sleeve
  • 1 light jacket, I love my NanoAir 
  • sweatshirt 
  • 1 dress 
  • 7-10 pairs of underwear 
  • rain jacket, if visiting during the rainy season
  • 1 set of pajamas 
  • 1 pair of hiking sneakers 
  • 1 pair of active sandals, I wore my Tevas literally everyday 
  • 1 beanie, especially if you’re traveling during African winter

Planning a road trip in Namibia? Here are some other articles that you should check out:

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