Namibia’s roads are generally well maintained, and while a 4×4 is not essential, it does make the journey easier on the sandy roads and where height clearance is needed. There can be long stretches between destinations, so go prepared: pack enough water, fill up regularly, take extra fuel, and ensure you have what you need to change a tyre. Take a map and plan your Namibia road trip route upfront.
NAMIBIA LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHS: Xenia Ivanoff-Erb
Take it slow
Keep an eye on the speed limits as the penalties are heavy. In urban areas, the limit is 60km/h and it’s 120km/h on tarred roads outside urban areas. While the speed limit on rural gravel roads is 100km/h, it’s advised to keep to 80 as the gravel roads can be unpredictable.
Try to avoid driving at dawn or dusk outside the towns where there are no streetlights as animals tend to be more active at these times. Keep in mind that if you take your car across from SA, you will incur cross-border charges, so consider hiring a car in Windhoek.
If you’re planning to hit the road, try these routes:
The C34 or Skeleton Coast Freeway
The Skeleton Coast in the north of Namibia is named after the whale and seal bones that once littered the shore due to the whaling industry, as well as the skeletal remains of shipwrecks along the rugged coast. It’s eerie, but undeniably beautiful. The C34 takes you from Swakopmund via Hentiesbaai to Terrace Bay in the north. At 460km, you can make this a day trip.
This road takes you through the NamibRand Nature Reserve, the largest private reserve in south-western Namibia’s Namib Desert. The scenery is magical and you’re likely to see a fair amount of wildlife. Lüderitz to Sesriem – the latter is a great stop on the way in and out of the famous Sossusvlei – is a long drive, so it’s advisable to book an overnight stay.
This route, which runs along the border of the Namib-Naukluft National Park between Solitaire and Walvis Bay, is a must-do if you want to see the incredible Kuiseb Pass, to the east of the park. Also on this route is the Gaub Canyon, where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular panoramic views.
Southern Namibia sunset
The Welwitschia Drive
An easy day trip from Swakopmund, this falls within the Namib-Naukluft Park. It’s where you can immerse yourself in nature. The area is known for its extraordinary plants, and the Welwitschia Drive is named after the Welwitschia mirabilis, which is endemic to the Namib desert within Namibia and Angola.
D707 or the Garden Route
Although a ‘back road’ and more remote, the gravel D707 ‘dream road’ between Sesriem and Aus is often described as the most beautiful road in the country. “This part of the Namib is a must-see, especially for self-driving tourists,” says photographer Xenia Ivanoff-Erb. “You do, however, need a 4×4 as the sand is very soft and deep in places.”
The Fish River Canyon
If you’re touring Namibia, you’d be amiss to not visit the famous snake-like Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa. Many people hike it. The hike begins near the most famous view site at Hobas and ends at the Ai-Ais resort. You can also enjoy testing your 4×4 on the steeper roads, stopping at key viewpoints along the way.
Xenia Ivanoff-Erb is a photographer and graphic designer based in Swakopmund, Namibia. She has a passion for Namibia’s wide open spaces and travels the country to capture this wilderness. Her works can be viewed on Facebook and Instagram, and at Photo Galerie.