South Africa and Namibia are two great destinations to hire a vehicle and hit the road on a self drive safari. Both countries have a great network of roads, plenty of accommodation options from hotels, self catering holiday homes, B&Bs and campsites and is relatively easy to navigate with clear signage on the main roads.
We start and finish our multi country guided self drive tours like our Cairo to Cape, Africa Discovered, and Africa Overland Adventures in Cape Town, South Africa, as it is such an amazing place and one not be missed when visiting South Africa.
South Africa boasts incredible dramatic coastline and the famous Garden Route with plenty to see and do along the way, an array of game parks from public to private exclusive sanctuaries, beautiful hikes and multi day trekking through to cosmopolitan cities with award winning restaurants in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. South Africa is a fabulous developed country offering relatively easy stress free travel that is parallel to Australia or the USA.
Namibia is one of our favourite countries. The vast desert, ancient sites of Twyfelfontein and the Petrified forest, historical towns of Swakopmund and Luderitz , the incredible landscape of Fish River Canyon, and of course amazing game viewing in Etosha National Park, makes Namibia the perfect place for a self drive safari tour. The road network is not as good as South Africa, with very few tar-sealed roads and more gravel roads which may pose a challenge during the rainy season. But Namibia is the perfect destination if you love deserts and open spaces.
Deciding to safari in South Africa or Namibia may tick all the boxes of landscape, wildlife and beaches but for travellers after something “more African” Southern Africa may not be colourful enough, culturally diverse enough or simply not “African” enough with its developed first World amenities.
So why limit yourself to a Namibia or South Africa 4×4 self drive holiday only?
We believe an overland self drive holiday traversing several countries brings you closer to the action, to see and experience the wonders and diversity of Africa. While we are the first ones to put South Africa and Namibia on our itineraries we also firmly believe these two countries alone do not immerse you in the true uniqueness of Africa.
Our multi country self drive expeditions let you experience ancient cultures, take you to incredible natural phenomenon’s like the Victoria Falls in Zambia, to Lake Malawi in the “heart of Africa”, the enchanting island of Zanzibar and spectacular Mt Kilimanjaro. We take our 4x4s game driving through world-famous game parks like Chobe in Botswana, South Luangwa in Zambia, Serengeti in Tanzania and the Masai Mara in Kenya. As we cross borders we experience the unique diversity of each country from the dramatic changes in landscape to meeting incredible characters and staying in a collection of quaint, often off the beaten track, places.
A Namibia or South Africa self drive holiday is wonderful if you are pushed for time, but if you want to explore and experience more of what Africa has to offer, then you cannot beat joining us on one of our 7 to 10 week expeditions.
Read our blog post below, written as we travelled through Namibia and South Africa on our Cairo to Cape Town guided self drive expedition.
Back on the road and this time we made our way to the border of Namibia. The border crossing was painless and quick and before long we were driving through the Caprivi strip. This area of Namibia was under dispute for many years and it is only in recent years that tourists could travel this road. For the first time on this expedition it felt like we were driving on country roads back in Australia. The long straight stretches that seemed to go on forever, the perfect tar sealed roads without a pot hole in sight; all we needed to do was to change the signs warning of Elephants and African Wild Dog crossing for Kangaroo and Emu!!!
We arrived in the small one-horse town of Divundu. The town consists of a service station, a small general store and a bank. We turned off the main road and weaved our way through villages for about 20kms before turning off on a small dirt track to the campsite.
The drive was long, so to know we did not have to drive for a couple of days was welcomed. We spent a day exploring the Northern Namibia delta in Mokoros and then on safari in the game park, a few of us also went fishing while others went on a village walk to see how the locals live. Our time in the Delta did not disappoint and most of us could have spent a few more days relaxing on the shores of the Okavango River while swimming in the croc-proof cage or taking an open bath overlooking the river.
It was time to move on, and our next stop was Etosha National Park. Etosha is Namibia’s No.1 game park, famous for the Etosha Pan surrounded by animals roaming the African savannah. We were a little disappointed with Etosha as over the previous few weeks this part of Namibia had had a large amount of rainfall meaning the grass was high and green and waterholes all over the park were full. Although the concentration of animals was not as great as we had hoped, the park still provided a couple of fantastic days with diverse landscape and herds of animals.
Definitely one of the main highlights was patting domestic cheetahs at a local farm followed by feeding cheetahs. This really was a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend time with the world’s fastest land animal – which in reality is nothing more than an oversized domestic cat. Everything about the cheetah is oversized… what stood out the most was the purring when scratching behind the ear…
The thing that stands out about Namibia is the desert landscape and dirt roads everywhere. There are only a couple of tar roads crossing the country with most of the roads being dirt. For most of our time in Namibia we took the back farm roads giving us a unique insight into how Namibians live off the beaten tourist track.
We made our way along the desert roads to the Skeleton coast. I have never seen nor experienced such a desolate place. The plains are wind swept, the ocean crashes onto bleached white sand with no sign of life anywhere to be found. It is no wonder these treacherous waters and the coastline was called Skeleton Coast; truly nothing survives out here. Although the land is desolate and wind swept, there is a natural beauty making this area of coastline spellbinding.
We drove along the salt roads – roads literally made of salt; I don’t think I have ever driven on salt before. We stopped at Cape Cross and the world’s biggest seal colony. Tens of thousands of seals lying on the beach sunning themselves while others frolicked in the freezing cold waters.
After a couple of days of being windswept, we finally made our way to Swakopmund. A funny little German village in the middle of the desert: a couple of well-deserved rest days to catch up on administration and do some washing.
Dune 45 was our next stop, and the World’s biggest free-standing sand dune before reaching the town of Aus. From Aus we went to Luderitz, to the abandoned old diamond mining town of Kolmanskop. During the tour I looked around and saw everyone kicking the ground (me included) to see if, by some miracle, we could kick up a diamond!!!
Our final stop in Namibia was Fish River Canyon – Africa’s answer to the Grand Canyon. Impressive, it certainly was, as we stood on the rim looking down.
From Fish River Canyon we crossed our last border into South Africa and drove the final couple of days to Cape Town. The group was a little quiet as we all realised the end of our epic intrepid expedition was near. 4 months, 10 vehicles, 22 people – what an expedition, what a group of travellers!
We arrived in Cape Town (Debs and Thiemo were there to meet us) on Sunday afternoon. The initial plan was to enjoy a final meal at the African themed restaurant Mama Africa – but when Debs was trying book it found out they had all of a sudden decided not to open on Sundays… a final reminder that Africa does not work like clockwork! Not to worry, we had a brilliant meal down at the Waterfront, exchanged stories of our highlights and laughed at our anecdotes.
Our final group activity was a wine tour through Stellenbosch. A day exploring wineries and tasting South Africa’s best with a very quaint lunch served in one of the winery restaurants.
We have had our highs and we have had our lows over the past few weeks; but overall we have had an amazing experience that has left many of us with the Africa bug. We will be back!
And so the Namibia and South Africa part of our Cairo to Cape Town self drive holiday comes to a close. (You can read about the other sections of this 7 to 10 week trip here: Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania)
Wish lists are meant to be achieved. That is why we have them!
If time is limited, we will help you tick off one, two or possibly three countries in two to three weeks of travelling. For those who have even more time, it is possible to travel to Africa and see even more of your dreams come to fruition.
Either way, on an Africa Expedition Support multi-country self drive safari, you’ll experience so much more than you would visiting just one country in Africa!
See our many tour options here: