Camping in Northern Namibia

This past Thursday ended a 31-day camping trip across Namibia with some new friends that I had made in Windhoek. What does one do in Namibia for a month as a group of friendly strangers? Personally, I started by heading West and then South and to see some of the more well known Namibian attractions such as Sossusvlei and Fish River Canyon. After the first 10 days, we (Alvaro, Andrea, and myself) returned back to Windhoek to drop off our fourth travel partner Ellie before driving out again to conquer the North. Driving and camping in this part of the country is not for the faint of heart and our fully kitted 4×4 proved to be all too necessary (Van Zyl’s Pass, anyone?). But our rewards for braving the trails were far beyond what I expected. Add Namibia to the growing list of countries with more to offer than I could have possibly imagined back home. A typical day on the road went something like this…

At some time around 630, I’d hear zips and shuffle of blankets and feel the shaking of our connected rooftop tents as Alvaro and Andrea get up to start the day. This served as my alarm clock as we got up every day on the edge of sunrise. It was winter (June/July) in Namibia so it would still be a few hours before the sun warmed things up. Most of my grogginess could be blamed on being woken in the night by the tent flies flapping in the wind or the munching of leaves from two desert elephants just outside of our tents. A typical breakfast, as we huddled around our propane stove in jackets, was coffee with rusks, fried eggs, toast, and bacon. Not so bad for “roughing it”. As we got further and further into the backcountry, our lavish breakfasts were slowly replaced by oats and granola. After breakfast, we would typically finish the dishes from the previous night and pack away our tents which sat on the roof of the car. After reviewing the map we would leave our campsite on the way to our next destination.
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One of the main roads; not many cars passed
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Hello, breakfast

 

We all took turns driving, although the expert routes were covered by Alvaro. I mentioned Van Zyl’s Pass already which is known as the most notorious pass in Namibia. We’re all happy that we completed the pass but at the time there was a thought that our trip would be ending then and there. We also took turns playing music for the car; our playlist was a melange of 70’s and 80’s Argentine rock (Andrea), reggaeton and flamenco (Alvaro), and catching up on a backlog of NPR’s All Songs Considered episodes (guess who?).
During the day we’d get a better sense of the quality of the roads we’ll be driving on. Some days we’d cover 100 kilometers in under an hour and other days we’d do 10 in over five. The app Tracks4Africa was indispensable for giving information about 4×4 trails as well as guiding us to campsites and attractions along the way; although it became increasingly clear why they named it “Tracks” and not “Roads” or “Highways4Africa”. Along the “tracks”, we’d stop at a huge variety of attractions and lookout points ranging from crocodile farms and water holes to sand dunes, shipwrecks, and the largest meteorite on the earth’s surface.
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Kyle & Crocodile
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Despite weeks of desert, there was plenty of water at Epupa Falls

 

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Morning after sleeping in a Himba community campsite; Andrea and baby, Alvaro showing photos

 

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Busy waterhole in Etosha (feat. Impala, Springbok, Elephant, Wildebeest, Gemsbok/Oryx, Zebra, Warthog, Giraffe, Ostrich, Jackal)
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Remembering my nickel allergy after touching the Hoba Meteorite (16.4% Ni)
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3000-year-old baobab tree; 27-year-old human
Although our day drives crossed many different landscapes and brought us to many different sites, our campsite arrival routine was almost always the same: we pull into our campsite area, unpack the stove to make popcorn, pour ourselves some wine and set up the chairs on a lookout point for the sunset. So far, I’ve been sunset chasing in 19 countries over the course of my life, but I don’t think that any other place in the world has that purply-orange hue that the Southern Africa sky gets just as the sun dips below the horizon. After the sun went down we’d make a fire and prepare our dinner (lamb chops on the braai continued to be a favorite) while enjoying the incredible starry nights. In order to kill time while the water boiled or chicken cooked, we’d play some card games, review or path for the next day, and some nights even play some hand-made trivia.
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Cheers to every sunset (Halali Waterhole, Etosha)
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In my natural habitat: atop the nearest hill, glass of wine in hand, stuffing face with popcorn
As I said at the start, I quickly realized the wealth of things to do in Namibia. I’m very lucky to have ‘stumbled’ into this one-month adventure and I can’t imagine my trip without Ellie, Andrea, and Alvaro. If you ever come to Namibia (and you definitely should) I hope you’re as fortunate I as was with my travel partners.
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Travel itinerary:           Cumulative Distance:
12/06 – Windhoek                              0km
13/06 – Spitzkoppe                         268km
14/06 – Swakopmund                    468km
15/06 – Swakopmund                    604km
16/06 – Mirabib                               878km
17/06 – Sesriem                             1111km
18/06 – Helmeringhausen           1486km
19/06 – Hobas                                1822km
20/06 – Ai-Ais                                 1929km
21/06 – Keetmanshoop                 2205km
22/06 – Mariental                          2467km
23/06 – Windhoek                         2711km
24/06 – Otjiwarongo                     2928km
25/06 – Otjiwarongo                     2928km
26/06 – Elandslaagte                     3236km
27/06 – Halali                                  3532km
28/06 – Halali                                 3622km
29/06 – Outjo                                  3724km
30/06 – Kamanjab                          4014km
01/07 – Ruacana                             4323km
02/07 – Enyandi                             4460km
03/07 – ?(Kunene Region)             4642km
04/07 – Opuwo                                4684km
05/07 – Van Zyls Pass                     4834km
06/07 – Marienfluss                       4904km
07/07 – Kaokoland                         4994km
08/07 – Puros                                  5098km
09/07 – Twyfelfontein                   5434km
10/07 – Khorixas                            5570km
11/07 – Spitzkoppe                         5788km
12/07 – Spitzkoppe                         5794km
13/07 – Windhoek                          6080km

3 thoughts on “Camping in Northern Namibia”

  1. Excellent blog and very accurate summary! ! I couldn’t have written a better one! ! We loved our 31 days camping in Namibia! Thank you for your friendship, your bonfire skills, your silent company and the open heart conversations shared along the road. May our paths cross again!! Stay safe, wear shoes and get warm when it’s cold! ! 😉

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    1. I’m so thankful for my time with you as well. I’m sure we’ll see each other somewhere in the future. I’ll be safe but I still don’t think I’ll be wearing shoes…

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