Road trip in Southern Africa: Exploring tranquil Namibia

Charlen Raymond
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 WELCOME TO NAMIBIA: Namibia is home not only to vast, open roads but to amazing wildlife, too! Image: iStock ~ iStock

Cape Town - South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries not only on the African continent, but also in the world.

We attract tourists from all over the globe but sometimes its locals can develop a bit of 'cabin fever'; That's when the travel bug sinks in and you start pondering what life is like elsewhere.

Fortunately, there many countries to in Southern Africa. One of the top destinations you can reach by car is Namibia.

More than just 'empty space'

When you think of Namibia, images of a desolate, Mad Max-esque wasteland are conjured. Sure there's plenty of sand dunes, the highest in the world, but the country has a tranquility about it that makes road-tripping through its wilderness the perfect escape from your daily rush in traffic.

READ: 10 things you should know about the refreshed Chevrolet Trailblazer

Driving along the N7 towards Vioolsdrift, the border crossing between SA and Namibia, is about 680km from Cape Town.

Folks from Johannesburg can use the Nakop border control, which is about 920km from the city.

READ: Five countries, 21 days... Here's how to have a epic African Road Trip

Both roads eventually lead to the first real 'town' in Namibia, Grunau, but the long, stretched-out tarmac will seem never-ending and dull. The wildlife is one of the country's best aspects.

Sometimes a bewildered kudu will run (jump) across the road, so keep an eye out for bucks. The national road heading to Windhoek (Namibia's capital) is surrounded by fences, but animals have been known to either trample it or, in the case of the kudus, clear the over 2m-high barrier without any difficulty.

Elephants and giraffes can also be seen grazing just a few meters away from the road.

In summer temperatures can be as high as 40° and in winter between 0° and 23°.

READ: Discover Namibia - 3 Top routes to explore

Do you have any road trip stories to share? Email us or get in touch via Facebook and Twitter.

Money and visas

Fortunately for South Africans, the Namibian dollar is tied to the South African rand; meaning that tourists from the South can buy whatever they need without having to exchange currency. However, the Namibian dollar is not valid in SA and upon your return home make sure that you have exchanged the money you have. Unless you are keen on keeping the money as a souvenir or plan to exchange it at your local bank.

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Visiting Namibia won't require any visas, but a valid passport is needed. 

Car, bakkie or SUV?

Namibia can be explored in a car but there are back roads that require higher ground clearance. Tourists taking on the journey with their cars can do so but it is best not to divert off the tar.

READ8 Quirky reasons to visit Namibia!

Bakkies and SUVs are perhaps the ideal vehicles to visit Namibia, especially given that some of the country's treasures are hidden and away from any main roads.

An important point to note is that the distances between towns can be quite a stretch, so fill up at every opportunity.

Customs and regulations

Duty-exempt items to and from Namibia:

  • 1 litre liquor

  • 2 litres of wine

  • 50ml perfume

  • 250ml Eau de Toilette

  • 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars

  • 250g tobacco

  • Import/export a maximum of 10kg of meat products, fruit and vegetables

  • Other new or used items to the value of N$ 2000.

Vehicle sticker:

The vehicle you're driving requires a sticker indicating the country where the vehicle is registered. For South Africans the vehicle needs a ZA sticker. Rental cars require this too, as well as written permission from the rental company.

All vehicles entering the country are subject to a fee that goes towards Namibian road maintenance.

Do you have any road trip stories to share? Email us or get in touch via Facebook and Twitter.


Tourists to Namibia can expect:

  • Twyfelfontein (Damaraland)

  • Skeleton Coast (Namibian coast line)

  • Kaokoveld (Northern Namibia)

  • Etosha 

  • Fish River Canyon (Southern Nambia)

  • Desert and sand dunes (Swakopmund)

  • Epupa Falls (Epupa)

  • Sesrien Canyon (Sossusvlei)

  • Walvis Bay Waterfront (Walvis Bay)

  • Kolmanskop Ghost Town (Luderitz)