While South Africa is the most popular country in Africa, Namibia on the other hand, is an untamed beauty without the crowd of tourists, compared to its neighbors. Aside from its spectacular sand dunes, Namibia provides diverse attractions – peaks and desert, beaches, gigantic ravine, rivers, and national parks. Wonderful surprises abound here but Namibia is so vast that in 1 week, you will only be able to explore a small part of it. However, with careful planning and prioritizing, you will be able to maximize your time and see some of the major attractions. This 7-day itinerary is for those who are short on time, but still want to get a good taste of what Namibia has to offer in one week.
Things to consider before traveling to Namibia:
Language – English is the official language of Namibia. Afrikaans, the official language of its previous occupier, is also widely spoken. The country has slowly turned into a multi-cultural society, which is now clearly visible almost everywhere, you’ll often hear people on the street, shops and restaurants speaking just about anything from Spanish and Portuguese, to German and French.
Health – Namibia has several world-class private hospitals and medical centers providing specialist services by highly skilled professionals. In rural area, hospitals deal with primary health care and limited range of health care, trained medical professionals are deployed around the country. Getting a comprehensive travel insurance before departure is recommended as medical costs can be quite expensive.
Recommended vaccinations – If you are arriving from a yellow-fever endemic area, you are required to get vaccinations four to six weeks prior to your arrival in Namibia and a proof of yellow fever vaccination needs to be presented. Hepatitis B vaccines are required for children 0 to 12 years old who have not yet completed series of vaccinations during infancy. Anti-Malaria prescription medicine is highly advised if you are spending a lot of time outdoors or sleeping outside. Vaccines for Hepatitis A and Typhoid are also recommended. See more information here.
Food and water safety – Hygiene standards in relation to food safety is generally high in most restaurants, hotels and clubs. It is safe to eat vegetables, fresh fruits and salads. Chicken, meat and fish are of excellent quality thus you can enjoy Namibia’s local cuisine. Tap water is potable however, not all water in rural areas is safe to drink ergo bottled water is advised.
Weather – Namibia is in a subtropical location with plenty of sunny, dry days. Winter is nothing compared to what is experience in Europe and snow is rare. Rainy months are from May to August and summer is from November to March.
Safety and security – There is currently no nationwide security advisory in effect for South Africa. Check your country’s travel advisory website to get the most up-to-date information for your personal safety abroad. Keep your guard up at all times and avoid any streets that are not crowded. Do not carry debit or credit cards with you, or hide it in your bra or shoes. There were incidences of robbery when offenders will escort you to an ATM and make you take out as much as you can. If you are staying in a hotel, leave your passport and other valuables in the safety deposit box in the reception. Just carry a photocopy of your passport.
Getting around – Considering you only have a week in Namibia, you can either join a group tour or rent a car to get around. If you are renting out a car, always keep the car locked and don’t leave valuables. Do not stop for any hitch hiker or person in trouble on the open road. Avoid night time driving, especially outside urban centers, as there were instances of robberies.
Detailed Itinerary: Namibia for beginners – 7 days of breathtaking views
Day 1: Windhoek to Sossusvlei
Your Namibia adventure starts today! Most people takes a connecting flight from major South African cities like Johannesburg or Cape Town to get to Namibia’s main airport Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) in the capital of Windhoek. Check in to your preferred hotel, before having an afternoon to take in some of the tourists attractions. Windhoek’s metropolitan area is full of things to see and experience – all within easy walking distance.
Where to stay in Windhoek:
You may also skip Windhoek and travel on this day to Sossusvlei. Rent a car in the airport, preferably a SUV to better handle the gravel roads. The drive from Windhoek is approximately 5 hours. Make sure to grab all your camping needs before you hit the road!
Check in at one of the desert lodge near Sesriem Gate, the entrance to the Namib-Naukluft Park. Most accommodation in this area is conveniently located 60 km from the park gates and overlooking the beautiful dunes of Sossusvlei. If you arrive early enough, you may travel to Deadvlei and watch the stunning sun as it sets over the dead camel thorn trees and the white pan floor.
Where to stay around Sossusvlei:
Day 2: Sossusvlei
Hit the road early at around 4:30 in the morning to get to Dune 45, which is one of the most photographed dunes in the world. The desert temperature skyrockets once the sun is up, so make to get to the top of the ridge before that happens. Make sure to use a head lamp and take off your shoes while you ascend. Also, assess your physical condition as climbing the massive dune is harder than most people would expect.
In the afternoon, explore the other star attraction in the country, the Big Daddy Sand Dunes. Known as the tallest dune in Sossusvlei, Big Daddy also offers spectacular desert scenery and overlooks the stunning landscape of Deadvlei.
Day 3: Sossusvlei to Swakopmund
Check out from your desert lodge and prepare for your departure to Swakopmund, a coastal city located in the west side of Namibia. The drive from Sossusvlei to Swakopmund is approximately 5 hours. Sandwiched between the Skeleton Coast and the Namib Desert, the city is a favorite holiday destination of Namibians. Check in to your chosen accommodation and enjoy a delicious meal at one of the restaurants in the Swakopmund Jetty.
Where to stay in Swakopmund:
Day 4: Swakopmund
Dedicate day 5 for some activities in and around Swakopmund. Join a Quad Bike Tour of the Namib Desert, organized by a tour operator. You will be picked up by your guide in your hotel for a 1-day excursion through Swakopmund’s spectacular sand dunes. For adventure and adrenaline seekers, do not miss to try sand boarding, tandem skydiving and paragliding.
Day 5: Swakopmund to Etosha National Park
Check out early from your accommodation in Swakopmund. The drive to get to Etosha National Park is about 5 hours. It may take a little bit longer as this route offers great opportunity for photography. Be careful with road side stops as there were incidences of robberies.
Check in to your safari lodge in Okaukuejo Camp, which is famous for its flood-lit waterhole. In the afternoon, begin your adventure in Etosha National Park in an open safari vehicle. Explore its vast landscapes and marvel at the views of the abundant Namibian wildlife. In the evening, enjoy a delicious Namibian dinner on the deck of your chosen safari lodge. Make sure to check out the waterhole at night as there is a high chance of seeing elephants, rhinos, Giraffes, and lions come to drink.
Where to stay in Okaukuejo:
Day 6: Etosha National Park
On day 6, enjoy a game drive at Namutoni Camp, located at the eastern part of Etosha National Park. At the camp, enjoy the views of the flood-lit King Nehale Waterhole, which is one of the finest safari destinations in Namibia, with abundant wildlife and distinct vegetation. Do not miss to visit the Fisher’s Pan, which is one of the best places to watch large flocks of flamingo during wet months. You can also hop on a late evening open safari vehicle game drive.
Day 7: Etosha National Park
Start early and experience a morning game at Namutoni. It is best to go in the open savannah in the early mornings because predators are out hunting and there is a bigger possibility of sighting four of Africa’s Big Five. As the 4×4 goes deeper into the wilderness, you can spot a rhino or a dozen of them having out together. There is abundance of wildlife in the park that you will surely lose count of what’s been spotted.
In the afternoon, travel to Etosha Pan, a vast expanse of extremely flat salt pan located in northern part of Etosha National Park.
This is the end of a week that hopefully will leave you with memories of Namibia for the rest of your life. Going back home, you would be probably getting a connecting flight from major South African cities like Johannesburg or Cape Town , which could be a great opportunity to explore a little bit more of Africa before heading back home.
Have you been to Namibia? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Single tree on the red dunes of Namibia late afternoon with clouds building up for a thunderstorm to follow among the dunes of a private nature reserve in Namibia (Willem Kruger / Shutterstock.com)