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Deadvlei

NAMIBIA

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Namibia Road Trip: Ultimate 2-Week Itinerary

Namibia is a country like no other. Imagine sunrises over red desert sand, oryx walking in the wind, and hot air balloons suspended over the oldest desert in the world. It’s one of the most unique countries you’ll ever visit and one of the least densely populated in the world, making for long drives blasting music and a whole lot of wonders to see . . . .

Days 1 to 3 - Namibia's desert ghost town and wild horses

Estimated travel time from Windhoek: 8 hours

Many travelers to Namibia never make it to Kolmanskop, Namibia's abandoned diamond-mining town. But Kolmanskop is worth the trip. It's eerie beauty has haunted photographers for decades, and Kolmanskop isn't the only secret hidden in the desert sands. Outside of Kolmanskop in nearby Aus, you'll also find Namibia's wild horses, racing through the desert wind. Spend your first day driving from Windhoek to Ludertiz, your second day exploring Kolmanskop, and the start of your third day driving to Sesriem.

 

Kolmanskop

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Kolmanskop

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1. Kolmanskop, a town frozen in time

Kolmanskop is a “ghost town” in the Namib Desert. Its residents once had the highest incomes in the world, thanks to the rich supply of diamonds found on the desert sands. In the roaring 20s, Kolmanskop had electricity in homes even before Germany did, a heated swimming pool in the desert, and rumor has it, an ostrich to pull their Christmas sleigh.

After diamonds were discovered farther south, Kolmanskop's residents slowly began moving away. By 1954, Kolmanskop became completely abandoned. Now, dunes roll in through open doors and shattered windows, creating a spooky feeling and one of the most unique towns you'll ever see.

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Tickets:

N$130 for standard entry 8am - 1pm; N$330 for a sunrise to sunset photo pass

Tickets can be bought between 8am - 1pm at the Kolmanskop entrance gate or from the tour center in Luderitz. Photo passes must be bought the day before. 

Kolmanskop

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Tip:

To really experience Kolmanskop's eerie beauty, buy the N$330 photo pass and visit for sunrise. When I visited for sunup, I found myself completely alone.

Or was I? 😉 👻

Wild Horses of the Namib

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2. Wild horses of the Namib

As you're leaving Kolmanskop on your way to Sossusvlei, Kolmanskop isn't the only secret hidden in the sand. Look out for Namibia's untamed, wild horses, racing in the desert wind. There's a water hole and hide you can stop at for the best chance of finding them. Witnessing the beauty of these truly wild horses emerging from the desert wind is an experience close to magic.

Namibia Helmeringhausen Apple Cake

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3. Helmeringhausen's apple cake, the real best in Namibia

You probably had no idea there's a war going on in Namibia over who has the best apple pie. Did you? Neither did we! But McGregor's Bakery in Solitaire has long been known for "the best apple pie in Namibia." In my opinion, the apple cake at Helmeringhausen Hotel & Restaraunt is 10x better than the more famous one. On your way from Kolmanskop to Sesriem, make sure to stop here and grab a slice.

Sossusvlei

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Days 3 to 6 - Camping in the desert

Once you arrive from Kolmanskop, spend your first night in Sossusvlei setting up camp and taking in the beauty of the desert. Under the desert stars, try spotting oryx, jackal, and even the elusive Cape fox. Spend at least two full days here getting to know the magic of the Namib Desert, and on your last day, drive from Sesriem to Swakopmund.

Estimated travel time from Kolmanskop: 6 hours  •  Estimated travel time from Windhoek: 4 hours

Sossusvlei
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Stay:

Camp in Sesriem inside Namib-Naukluft National Park, so you'll have longer access to Sossusvlei than visitors staying outside the park. That extra hour before sunrise and after sunset really makes a difference.

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Tip: Not into camping?

Le Mirage is a stunning castle in the desert one hour from Sesriem but right next to Namib Sky, so it’s the perfect place to stay if you’re hot air ballooning at sunrise. Le Mirage even has a lit watering hole, so you can watch oryx visiting at night, and an outdoor suite on top of a tower, so you can sleep beneath the desert sky.

Dune 40

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4. Sunrise in Sossusvlei at Dune 40 or Dune 45

Dune 45, the most photographed dune in the world, is the most popular for sunrise, but we prefer visiting Dune 40, which is 5km closer to the Sesriem gate than Dune 45 and far less crowded.

When we climbed Dune 40 at sunrise, we found ourselves alone at the top, listening to the wind ripple through the sand and watching hot air balloons rising in the distance.

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Fun Fact:

Dune 45 got its name from being 45km from Sesriem.

Guess how far Dune 40 is.

Sossusvlei

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5. Climbing "Big Daddy" dune

"Big Daddy” is 325m and the tallest dune in Sossusvlei. It’s a challenge to climb, as your feet sink into the soft sand, but running down one of the oldest and tallest dunes in the world is so rewarding! Bring plenty of water and start either early in the morning or before dusk when its cooler.

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Getting to Sossusvlei from Sesriem

Sossusvlei is 60km from the Sesriem campsite, and can only be accessed when the park gates open. The last 4kms to Sossuvlei is an unpaved sand road. If you’re not comfortable driving on sand or don’t have a 4x4, you can take the shuttle for 150 NAD roundtrip. The shuttle will take you to Sossusvlei's Deadvlei, “Big Daddy,” and “Big Mama" dunes. If you get your car stuck in the sand, it’s NAD 1,000 for recovery assistance! 🤞

Deadvlei

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Deadvlei

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6. Dusk in Deadvlei

Our favorite time to visit Deadvlei is just before dusk when almost every tourist has returned home. In the overwhelming quiet of the pan, the 1,000-year-old trees cast long shadows beneath the bright blue sky. As the sun begins to set, an overwhelming stillness fills the pan. It’s a quiet that's beautiful beyond words.

 

Just remember to start heading back at least 1 hour before the Sesriem gate closes to have enough time for the 1km hike and drive. Keep in mind if you’re visiting at the end of day, the shuttles aren’t operational, so you’ll have to drive yourself.

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Responsible Travel:

Do not touch or climb on the trees in Deadvlei.

Namib Sky

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Namib Sky

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7. Sunrise hot air balloon over the desert

Namib Sky

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There's nothing like floating peacefully above the world's oldest desert, searching for oryx, fairy circles, and your own shadow in the sand. If you're afraid of heights, this is still a perfect adventure for you. Hot air balloons travel with the wind, so there is no feeling of wind resistance or turbulence. Save for the exciting landing, it'll be easier than your flight to get here. It's easy to see why so many people fall in love with hot air ballooning.

Day 6 - Desert hidden gems

Namibia is full of hidden magic. Spend your sixth day in Namibia packing up camp, and setting out for Swakopmund to explore the wonders of the desert along the way from a pink fridge to a famous apple pie.

Estimated travel time from Sesriem to Swakopmund: 4 hours 30 minutes

Sossusvlei
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Tip: Not into camping?

Le Mirage is a stunning castle in the desert one hour from Sesriem but right next to Namib Sky, so it’s the perfect place to stay if you’re hot air ballooning at sunrise. Le Mirage even has a lit watering hole, so you can watch oryx visiting at night, and an outdoor suite on top of a tower, so you can sleep beneath the desert sky.

Namibia Pink Fridge

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Namibia Pink Fridge

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8. Pink fridge in the middle of the desert

There's a pink fridge in the middle of the desert? Yes. Yes, there is. When I realized I missed this hidden gem on my first trip to Namibia, I knew I had to go back. (We saw a bit more on our second trip than just this pink fridge. Don't worry.) It runs on solar power and is a welcome treat for guests on their way to the Desert Grace luxury lodge. If you ask nicely, hopefully they'll let you see it. Once you start driving towards the Desert Grace, the pink fridge appears on the horizon like an oasis. Inside, there's homemade iced tea and water. How cool is that? 😍

Solitaire

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Solitaire apple pie

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9. Solitaire, retro cars and that apple pie

Luang Prabang is known for its stunning golden temples, with over 30 temples to explore in the city and the surrounding areas. The most famous is Wat Xieng Thong, known for its sweeping rooflines, ornate gilded architecture, and intricate mosaics. Wat Xieng Thong is the oldest Wat (temple) in Luang Prabang. A visit to these temples will not only allow you to appreciate Laos's rich culture and history, but also offer a sense of peace and serenity that is hard to find elsewhere.

Luang Prabang has been a Buddhist spiritual center for centuries. At the heart of the city, you will find several magnificent temples, each with its unique history, architecture, and cultural significance. One of the most iconic is Wat Xieng Thong, known for its intricate gilded carvings, sweeping rooflines, and serene garden. Another must-visit is Wat Mai, with its striking five-tiered roof, ornate facade, and vibrant painting. The most sacred temple is Wat Phu Si, located at the top of a hill that provides sweeping views of the city and the Mekong River.

Days 6 to 9 - Swakopmund, where the desert meets the sea,
and the Skeleton Coast

Spend your first night in Sossusvlei setting up camp and taking in the beauty of the desert. Under the desert stars, try spotting oryx, jackal, and even the elusive Cape fox.

Estimated travel time from Sesriem to Swakopmund: 4 hours 30 minutes

Sossusvlei
Sandwich Harbour

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10. Sandwich Harbour, where the desert meets the sea

You can either book a tour or a guided self-drive. When booking, make sure the tour includes driving in Sandwich Harbour, not just stopping at a viewpoint. Driving in Sandwich Harbour is only possible at low tide, so check the tide schedule yourself before booking a tour (many of the tour companies won’t let you know the tide schedule and will visit the viewpoint instead).

 

We do not recommend driving yourself to Sandwich Harbour without a guide. Even for experienced drivers, it’s a 50km drive from the tarred road to Sandwich Harbour on unmarked sand roads.

 

We hired a private guide for 2,600 NAD who sat in the front passenger seat and instructed us how to drive, where to go, when to speed up or slow down. It was invaluable.

 

for a 5 hour tour of the Pink Lakes, Pelican Point, and Sandwich Harbour.

 

We hired Frans from Nawa Nawa Tours; they have a booking office right outside the entrance to Sandwich Harbour?. They don’t have a website, but you can also book them by phonw or Whatsapp at +264-

 

If you’re adventurous, you can drive on the dunes for 4km on the way back from Sandwich Harbour.

Skeleton Coast

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Skeleton Coast

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11. The Skeleton Coast

The Skeleton Coast is a 500km stretch of coastline with over a thousand shipwrecks, making it the largest ship graveyard in the world. The Portugese called it “The Gates of Hell.” Zeila Shipwreck, the first visible wreck north of Swakopmund, ran aground in 2008; it was being pulled to India to be sold for scraps. Now it sits 55km up the coast from Swakopmund, being bashed by the waves running in and out of its hull. It’s beautifully eerie.

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Tip:

If you have more time, drive further up the Skeleton Coast

and stay at the famous Shipwreck Lodge.

Days 9 to 11 - Spitzkoppe and the Himba people

Spend your first night in Sossusvlei setting up camp and taking in the beauty of the desert. Under the desert stars, try spotting oryx, jackal, and even the elusive Cape fox.

Estimated travel time from Swakopmund to Spitzkoppe: 3 hours

Sossusvlei

Days 11 to 13 - Safari in Etosha National Park

Spend your first night in Sossusvlei setting up camp and taking in the beauty of the desert. Under the desert stars, try spotting oryx, jackal, and even the elusive Cape fox.