There is much to be said for a fully guided game drive in Etosha National Park, but nothing beats the freedom of choice you have on a self-drive safari during your visit to Namibia.
There are a few things you should consider before you decide on how you would like to experience your Namibian safari though.
Pro’s and cons of a self drive safari
The convenience of having an experienced game guide accompanying you on your drive must be weighed up against the joy of discovering things for yourself, and running the risk of missing out on something due to inexperience.
While exploring under your own steam you are free to linger as you like, where you like, without having to consider the wishes of other tourists. You can pause for a while to watch a small bird or insect doing its rounds, spend hours at a waterhole just waiting, or avoid the crowds by taking roads less travelled.
Photographers enjoy much greater freedoms while on a self-drive safari too, and can snap away in comfort without jostling for position alongside other enthusiasts.
Self-drive safaris do have their drawbacks; such as the actual driving part itself, which can be tiring and at times frustrating, getting lost, or getting into trouble with dangerous species. The last two are easily avoided by making use of a map and following the rules and guidelines of the park. Chat to your fellow travellers in camp about their experiences and learn from them.
Planning your self-drive safari
If you are flying in to the country you can hire a car in Windhoek. While most of the roads in Namibia and Etosha National Park are easily negotiated with an ordinary sedan, a 4×4, SUV or other elevated vehicle is preferable for game viewing. It is a good idea to rest up in Windhoek for a night before undertaking this 4-hour journey.
To reach the park you will travel along the B1 and C38 to enter the park at Andersson’s gate. The drive is a long one, but you will find the roadside littered with diversions such as wonderful scenery craft shops, roadside stalls and galleries which offer opportunities to eat up the time, stretch your legs and enjoy some refreshments.
A suggested itinerary for visitors travelling from Windhoek is to spend 2 nights at Okaukuejo camp, then move on to Halali and spend your last night at Namutoni. You could then leave the park at Von Lindequist Gate and return to Windhoek on the C38 and B1.
Once you have booked your flights, car hire and accommodation in Windhoek, sorted out the paperwork for your travels and planned your route, all you need to do is decide what to pack.
What should you pack for a Namibian safari?
We recommend that you travel light – Namibian temperatures can soar during the daytime. Choose clothing that is cool and breathable, such as cotton items. Shorts and t-shirts or button up shirts are acceptable for daytime wear. You might want to include a smart-casual outfit if you intend to dine in one of the restaurants.
Sandals and trainers are fine for driving around but put in a pair of sturdy boots if you intend to hike anywhere in Namibia.
Sunblock and a hat are vital to prevent sunburn, while a good pair of Polaroid sunglasses will reduce glare while driving. Remember to pack in a pair of binoculars and your camera and don’t forget chargers, memory cards, and somewhere to store your photo’s (there will be a lot of them) such as a laptop.
Namibia is one of the safest and best countries in Africa for a self-drive safari – enjoy the ride!