I love to travel but I hate to arrive. Albert Einstein
Was it a mistake to visit the most beautiful African country at the beginning of my RTW trip? Possibly. Consider yourself warned if you choose to travel to Namibia! I am only 43 days into my Africa trip and it already takes more than some beautiful pink mountain tops at sunset or a herd of zebras along the gravel road for me to stop the car and get out my GoPro.
Cheetah in Namibia at sunset
The 18-day Namibia road trip has been the ultimate highlight of my Africa trip so far. Turns out April is the ideal time to travel in Namibia. It only rained once in 18 days, during the rest of the time we enjoyed blue sky and hot but bearable weather, except when my travel buddies and I chose to walk around the Sossusvlei desert at noon. Still low season, so hardly any tourists at the main travel destinations. No reservations required, we were able to simply show up at any campsite without previous reservation. In Lüderitz the three of us had an entire hostel to ourselves, we actually had to call up the owner in order to let us in.
Early morning at the Sesriem campsite.
Waiting for the sandstorm to calm down to be able to visit the dunes of Sossusvlei and Deadvlei
And to all the naysayers, it is possible to solo travel Namibia on a budget if you can do without much comfort for a few weeks. Of course at my age I would have enjoyed the luxury of staying at expensive lodges just like anybody else 😉 Instead of setting up my 22-euro-tent every evening and hoping for the sandstorm to pass. However, getting a group of travel buddies together to rent a car, camp in the national parks, self-cater and enjoy daily braais was not only a cheap but fun way to travel this region.
My travel budget in a nutshell: 18 days overland in Namibia
Car rental – our cute Ford Figo did the trick, 2WD, no 4×4 needed
€ 700,- car rental for 18 days
€ 260,- fuel to travel all around Namibia
€ 5,- to have an incredibly dirty car get cleaned at the car wash
Accommodation – We could have easily spend 10x more, but I am not planning on finishing my 1-year-travels early and either way we got to use the same facilities at the beautiful lodges
€ 12,-/person/night at the campsite
€ 6,-/day entrance for most national parks
Self-catering – most restaurants actually sell reasonably priced food
€ 25,- cooler to keep your food refrigerated – at some campsites we could make use of the kitchen and fridge
€ 18,-/day in basic barbecue equipment, food & drinks for 3-4 people – this includes 1 bottle of red wine per day
€ 1.50,-/coffee or beer at the campsite restaurant – some places offered free coffee
Being a solo traveler staying at the one hostel not listed in my Lonely Planet during low season, I admit I was extremely lucky to immediately find some travel mates that had a a similar travel schedule. I could have panicked when I arrived in deserted Windhoek on Easter weekend all by myself and booked two 7-day tours to Northern and Southern Namibia with Wild Dog Safaris for € 900,- each (activity package excluded). Or rushed through Namibia and Botswana all the way to Victoria Falls in 14 days with Nomad Tours for € 1100,- (activity package included), which surely would have been fun too. But I wanted to spend more time in Namibia and be able to stop at all the beautiful places along the way.
Quick stop on the moon. Between the Namib desert and the Atlantic ocean
Random river crossing in the middle of the desert.
We made it all the way down the Skeleton Coast in our little 2WD.
Taking a break to enjoy the view at Fishriver Canyon.
Marina, Hervé and I really had a thing for walking around in the middle of the day 🙂
I met several solo travelers and budget travelers in the last weeks who had only made it to Windhoek and Swakopmund (I loved the skydiving in Swakopmund), as both places are easy to reach by public buses. It did enjoy myself not getting up from the couch one afternoon at the Skeleton Beach Backpackers but mostly because I had to process all the impressions I soaked in while driving around Northern Namibia, like during our incredible self-drive safari in the Etosha National Park.
To be honest, I don´t expect to encounter any scenery in Southern Africa as colourful as in Namibia during the next months nor will I have to stop for as much wildlife blocking the gravel road in other African countries, but we will see… Bring it on, Botswana!