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Spending two months for family roadtripping in Namibia?


freek en griet

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freek en griet

I’ve been adviced on the Tripadvisor forum to have a look on safaritalk.net and get second opinions on planning our three months selfcatered family roadtrip through Namibia and eventually neighbouring countries.  

 

We decided to have a break at work and spend a long holiday with our three kids (3, 4 and 6 years) at a smooth rythm and as much self catered as possible. After hesitating between Australia and southern Africa we decided to choose for Namibia and SA or other neighbouring countries because it seems the perfect ‘adventourous family-destination’ and it’s cheaper than Australia to rent a 4wd and to stay in campings. We’ll go from january to end of march wich means low season (cheaper, less people so no booking ahead) but off course we’ll take that shower frome time to time as a tradeoff. 

 

 We have three months of travelling, but as we are planning the trip we wonder how much time we should foresee for travelling Namibia on our ease? Would one month be just perfect or could we even spend two months or more before getting out of inspiration? We’d like to discover remote spots too as long as we are allowed to by the car renting company off course. In general, we want to spread the long drives that will be necessary so we’ll stay sometimes several days on campings we like, especially if it’s good for hanging around with the kids. We will rent a 4wd and take our own ground tent and camping gear (so we can leave it at our camping spot an do daytrips). Eventually for money saving we could even split up the renting in a 2wd and 4wd part but not sure yet if it’s that easy to divide our destinations in such way without driving too much kms.

 

 

So hoping to get some ideas and opinions here, especially on the ‘legitime’ timeframe to discover Namibia in a slow rythm as well as on itinary’s or nice spots that usual short term visitors never get to. Considering anyhow to spend the other part of our three months in SA or any other neighbouring countries, suggestions in that direction are welcome as well. Not decided yet on entering malaria risk regions, we rather will tend to avoid them for our children especially because we’ll be there in hot and wet summer. Thanks for your feedback, next days we will read a lot here but now we quickly need to set out the bigger frame of trip, buy tickets and book our transport.

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wilddog

Thats sounds an amazing adventure. Personally not a self driver but we have many members who are and some of whom have done lengthy trips including SA and Namibia etc.

 

I hope you will get replies from these experts fairly soon.

 

@BobsCreek are you around at the moment to reply to this?

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wilddog

@freek en griet i have moved this post to the self driving forum which is the most appropriate thread. 

 

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Welcome to Safaritalk! Your first stop should be here: http://www.safaritalk.net/forum/217-africa/ ; some of the Namibia trip reports are also posted under Self drive.

 

Camping is popular both in South Africa and in Namibia. As you will be 5 persons, look at ground tents. Don't be afraid of sleeping on the ground, there is no danger in doing so even in not fenced camps. And logistically, it is a much better option as you will not have to callapse the roof top tents every day. Adding a self-catering chalet at least once a week, for a good shower, is important. Do this specially in Etosha NP, as some camps like Okakuejo can be very busy with overlanders, and a family house is not that expensive.

 

Namibia in 4 weeks is pushing it a lot, and also skipping far north and Caprivi. 6 weeks is about the proper length of visit IMO. The other 6 weeks you can do JNB - Kruger NP - KwaZulu Natal - Western Cape - Northern Cape circuit.

 

Renting a car will be costly but for 5 persons and camping, you will need a pick-up vehicle like Toyota Hilux. If starting in Jo'Burg then look at what Bushlore has to offer. They have a depot also in Windhoek so their one-way fee will probably be the lowest. They are a serious company with well equipped vehicles.

 

You can do all the bookings yourself. If none else then camps/rooms within National Parks should be booked in advance. For South Africa use Sanparks web site: https://www.sanparks.org/ and for Namibia https://www.nwr.com.na/ . Or you can contact one of many local travel agents. Many of them will not charge you extra as they will be happy with the commission received from final service providers. You will find some names when reading through several trip reports.

 

If coming from South Africa most would start around Fish river canyon area, then driving towards Luderitz, back tracking to Uis and using D707 through Namib Naukluft towards Sesriem (and Sossusvlei). Following the road up north next stop is at Swakopmund. From there either head along the Skeleton Coast, or inldnd via Brandeberg and Twyfelfontein. But do not skip Spitzkoope (close to Swakop) as its scenery is one of the greatest in Namibia.

 

Some have stopped our wilder side of Namibia explorations at Palmwag and hit the western gate of Etosha at Galton Gate. But you might want to drive further towards the Kunene river, for visiting Himbas, and Epupa Falls. Then it will be time for Etosha, west to East. Olifantsrus, Okakuejo, Halali and Namutoni all have campsites, and stay 2-3 nights at each. Exiting Namutoni you should go towards Caprivi strip. Not been there yet but as said, you will find a report here that has it well explaind. Not a marketing but my good friend and fellow self-driver and camper has his own blog and he was just recently in Caprivi (and Namibia): https://safaribug.wordpress.com/ ; his report has just started but in the meantime you can read the one from 2017.

 

What else to add? Once you will have a tentative itinerary do come back for details. When planning the driving distances per day, forget about what Google Maps are saying; I am not the fastest driver on the field, but an average driving speed of 50 km/h (with obligatory pit & photo stops included) on gravel roads (there are many of those in Namibia) and 80 km/h on tar roads is what you should plan to achieve. For me, 300 kms per stage (mostly 1 stage per day), with an occassional longer one (400 kms or so) is feasible. Others will have different limits.

 

It will be a memorable trip. Be aware that all 5 of you will be infected by a very serious bug with only one remedy ... a repeated travel to Africa :)!

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freek en griet

Wow, that is an impressive pile of information - and a very inspiring welcome to this forum. Thanks. Looks like we’re gonna spend some time here. 

 

We started to ask prices for rental from as well Johannesburg as Windhoek and try to get discount for that long rental period. In the meanwhile we are indeed working on a itinerary as we might (or not, because low season?) need to book long stayings on campsites inside NP’s.

 

We still don’t want to exagerate in long distances and one of the rental companies we contacted (Africar carhire, the cheapest untill now) doesn’t allow us to cross Zimbabwe (except Victoria Falls). Therefore we think about planning an itinary that is rather going into making loops from Namibia towards neighbouring countries and back to Namibia. As a general principle, we suppose it is wise to discover first (januari and beginning of february) of the southern parts of Namibia and for example cross the border and discover parts of SA (maybe till the cape) and then close the first loop back to Namibia.  A second part of our trip (the biggest in time I guess) we could get to Etosha, Caprivi (looks wonderfull for the kids) and some Zambia and Zimbabwe (februari to end march) as we suppose this would be more productive in wildlife seeing and driving through (dryer road conditions) as well as less mosquito’s.

 

Main question about this kind of travelling is if we need to pay at each border crossing, meaning going onwards SA ànd backwards. Same for Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Maybe for the latter we can find out a itinary that limits the border crossings going from Namibia to Zambia, then straight to Zimbabwe, Botswana and back to Namibia. This kind of itinary allows us to stay very flexible while travelling, compared to a big loop as we were suggested on another forum.

 

About that serious bug named Africa, I’m afraid we’re already infected J Since we’ve been reading all those trip reports here and since our kids looked for trip reports on youtube we cannot wait to be there.

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Dave Williams

We travelled through Namibia in February and found the weather changed quite dramatically when an 8 year drought came to an end. Camping in a tent in such conditions would not have been much fun especially with young children.I admire your spirit of adventure but I must admit 3 months with three young ones would drive me to distraction however, you know your children better than I do! 

If you were to go to the end of the Caprivi strip you can take an independent tour to Victoria Falls which might be an easier option than driving there. I notice that my excess insurance cover won't cover me in Zimbabwe but will all other African nations if I recall.

I have also noticed that since we went to Namibia in 2017 prices have risen quite dramatically when it comes to tourism. Might not be so noticeable when camping but it is with Etosha chalets.

As @xelas says, allow 6 weeks for Namibia but that also only allows 6 for S.Africa which is also a huge country to cover. 

Don't dismiss Swakopmund either, there are plenty of things to do in the region instead of just wildlife watching.I see so many dismissive comments for those who plan to stay more than a day or so. I have a trip report on ST which might give an idea of the sort of rain fall we encountered just so you are forewarned. We were told rain was highly unlikely but......

 

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Peter Connan

Welcome to ST

 

I personally suspect one could spend at least a year in Namibia and still not see 1/10th of what the country has to offer.

 

However, the question you need to ask yourself is what you are more interested in seeing. 

 

Unfortunately, animals and plants grow best if they have access to plenty of water. But this is also true for mosquitos. Thus, all the wetter areas carry a malaria risk.

 

If you therefore decide to exclude malaria areas, you are excluding the areas where animals are found in high concentrations.

 

But even in the dryer areas there is plenty to see, especially if you can also appreciate landscapes. But take note that all the countries north of South Africa/ Namibia are Malaria risk areas. Thus avoiding Malaria would limit you to SA (excluding the Eastern areas), Southern Botswana and Namibia (excluding Caprivi).

 

This still leaves enough magical places to visit to keep you entertained for far more than three months. And there are a few places in this region where plenty of game can be found. There are a number of National Parks in the more arid regions of SA (including Addo, Karoo NP, Augrabies NP and Camdeboo. Some of the parks further east (Pilanesberg and Marakele for example) can give you a Bushveld experience without risk of Malaria.

 

However, without question the one stand-out park you MUST visit is the Kgalagadi.

 

Other great parks to visit are obviously Etosha and, if you are confident in your abilities also Central Kalahari...

 

Wish I could afford to join you!

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Dave Williams

I keep getting told I should visit the Kgalagadi NP to but getting accommodation isn't easy as it's snapped up the minute it becomes available. I'm also told May is a good month to visit. I have been considering it as part of a S.Africa tour but I think it lends itself better to a Namibia one. Camping  vacancies should be easier to come by than chalets but not all the sites are accessible without a 4x4. I'm also told that the sightings of wildlife tend to be far fewer but better (lack of vegetation I guess) when you so see things. Children might not be too impressed. I have just thought too, our upcoming trip to Kruger has swimming pools in most of the camps....again attractive for the children .... and me if it gets too hot!

 

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13 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

I keep getting told I should visit the Kgalagadi NP to but getting accommodation isn't easy as it's snapped up the minute it becomes available.

Dave, you should contact one of the local travel agents to help you with KTP accommodations. Fred and me knows about just the right person, if you are interested :).

 

Malaria is a serious thing. It kills. But totally avoiding and only staying at malaria-free locations would eliminate a couple of excellent wildlife locations. Luckily some anti-malaria medication is to be taken only when exposed to the possibility of malaria.

 

Yet, adding Botswana and South Africa into the 3 months itinerary, one can stay away from malaria-risk areas and still have tons of wildlife to enjoy. As Peter also I wish I could afford to join you! One day, Peter, one day ...

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Peter Connan
22 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

I keep getting told I should visit the Kgalagadi NP to but getting accommodation isn't easy as it's snapped up the minute it becomes available. I'm also told May is a good month to visit. I have been considering it as part of a S.Africa tour but I think it lends itself better to a Namibia one. Camping  vacancies should be easier to come by than chalets but not all the sites are accessible without a 4x4. I'm also told that the sightings of wildlife tend to be far fewer but better (lack of vegetation I guess) when you so see things. Children might not be too impressed. I have just thought too, our upcoming trip to Kruger has swimming pools in most of the camps....again attractive for the children .... and me if it gets too hot!

 

 

Dave, all three the public campsites operated by SANPARKS (South African Parks Board) are accessible with normal sedans. And they tend to be a bit easier to find. The campsites operated by DWNP (Botswana Parks Board) are theoretically 4x4 only, and also have very few amenities and no fences. However with suitably deflated tires, I would easily take a 2WD pickup to any one of them. But sand driving is a bit of a skill, and if you've never done it, you might struggle to get to Rooiputs. 

 

Having said that, a higher vehicle is a good idea, especially in summer. The verges are quite high, and tend to have "driedoring" growing on them, in some areas forming what is very nearly a hedge, over which you might struggle to see in a sedan.

 

At least two of the campsites also have swimming pools.

 

As for game densities, in the drier periods you will see plenty of game. You will seldom go more than a couple of km without seeing something.

 

 

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