THE JOYS OF SUMMER – route options for the season


Text -Rieth van Schalkwyk

the Summer 2022/23 issue

Take to the road on a summer day. Choose any direction and be welcomed by blue sky and a yellow sun, not to mention glorious sunsets and crisp red sunrise mornings.

Summer in Namibia is the festive and holiday season. It is the time of a great trek northwards from the capital on the central highland, to traditional homes and families or westward to the cool Atlantic coast and social gatherings, big sporting events and lazy beach days.

Since it is summer, our tours will all start at the coast – at Swakopmund. Fly to Swakop on Fly Namibia, drive there along the B1 or be brave and take to the road on your bicycle. One of the famous cycle events in the world, the Nedbank Desert Dash, kicks off at the start of the festive season and holiday fun with a 24-hour, 397km mountain bike challenge crossing the Namib Desert from the central highland to the coast.

All along the coast between Walvis Bay, Langstrand,  Swakopmund and Henties Bay and northwards to the Skeleton Coast you may be at the right spot at the right time to join  beach angling competitions, a Gymkhana event, an open water swimming challenge, a sailing regatta and touch rugby on the beach, just stroll through a Christmas market or join the locals at a beer fest with live music and bratwurst.

That stretch of activity is just a small spec on the Namibian map. When the energy and the crowds get the better of you, be on the road again to where sights and adventures will take your breath away. There are three options in three directions from that spec on the 1,700km long coastline:

ROUTE ONE leads north towards Cape Cross where hundreds of Cape Fur seals converge on the beach – the only place on earth where they don’t breed on islands. Then on to Terrace Bay in the Skeleton Coast Park even if you are no avid angler for the scenery is worth the trip. Another reason visitors go to Terrace is to meet up with a shuttle taking one deep into the Skeleton Coast Park for a night or two at Shipwreck Lodge.

Leave the Skeleton Coast Park the same way you came, but turn inland at the Ugab gate. That will take you into the heart of Damaraland. From here it is gravel all the way to the Brandberg, the Ugab River, Twyfelfontein and its famous rock art sites.  It is also easy to reach Etosha National Park this way.  Take the tar road from Khorixas to Outjo. Enter and leave the park through the Anderson gate after as many days as you can spare. Before the summer rains start in all earnest, activity at the waterholes is something to behold. Make sure to start early, take a break at the swimming pool at Okaukeujo or Halali in the middle of the day and start out again in the late afternoon. The drive back to catch a flight from Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport is on a beautifully tarred road.

ROUTE TWO goes east from the starting point at Swakopmund along the main road past the Rössing mountain to where the gravel road turns left to the Spitzkoppe. Stop at the junction to look at and buy precious stones from the wives and families of small miners who find stones in the mountains. Be settled at your camping site in time to watch the sunset and the way the granite rocks turn pink. Full moon will be magical in this setting and dark moon nights and millions of stars, even more so.

Be up early in the morning to climb at least one outcrop. This is where mountain climbers come to test their skills. But that is for another trip and another time.  Back to the main road and eastwards with the Erongo Mountains on your left. At Karibib take the turn off to Omaruru, then Otjiwarongo and finally to Tsumeb, entering Etosha at the Von Lindequest Gate.  Namutoni is the camp closest to this entrance to the park. After as many days as possible in the park, an interesting detour would be to exit the park at the King Nehale Gate to spend a night or two at the lodge with the same name situated in the land of the Ovambo people. The drive past Omuthiya to Tsumeb takes you back to the B1and on to Windhoek. Except if you add another ten days to the itinerary to drive east through the Zambezi Region with its many parks and conservation areas, crossing the Kavango and Kwando Rivers. Follow the Zambezi to the easternmost tip of Namibia for an extraordinary experience. Then fly back to Hosea Kutako from Katima Mulilo on a scheduled flight. That will save you two days.


ROUTE THREE – Take the scenic route south from Swakop to Walvis Bay between high sand dunes and the ocean. Make a stop at the lagoon to watch flamingos and join a catamaran tour before leaving the coast behind for a few hours drive on the C14 through the Namib Sea of Sand World Heritage Site.

Solitaire is the perfect place for a coffee break if you want to reach Sossusvlei in time for sunset, but a free camping overnight stop at Mirabib will be a memorable experience. Explore the outcrop where ancient peoples looked at the same starlit nights and watched the sun rise over the same flat gravel desert landscape. They did not have the pleasure of breakfast at Solitaire, a scenic flight in a fixed wing aircraft or an early morning hot air balloon flight for a bird’s eyeview of the vlei and the graphic lines of the red dunes surrounding it. A very early rise for a drive through the valley between high dunes from Sesriem to Sossusvlei is a must.  Climb the high dune before it gets too hot and walk to Dead Vlei to take a photograph of the trees on the white pan against the terracotta dunes.

From Sossus the C26 leads through mountains and grassy plains with fairy circles, springbok, zebra and gemsbok to the deep south. Along the way there are lodges and camping sites, in private nature reserves and even an historic “castle”, small villages with traditional type hotels and at the end of the road, Lüderitz – the place which put Namibia on the map because of a diamond.

It need not be the end of the story, because there is still the Fish River Canyon to hike and the Orange River to raft. But that is for another trip in another season.


More to explore

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