Roadtrip Namibia 01 Header

A road trip through Namibia

Unparalleled desolate beauty

Magnificent vistas and a constantly changing landscape. Zebras crossing the road and dassies snuffling outside your tent. And wait until you see those sunsets! A road trip through Namibia is truly unforgettable.

Drive along!
  • Roadtrip Namibia 02 Intro Slider 1
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 02 Intro Slider 2
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 02 Intro Slider 3
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 02 Intro Slider 4
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 02 Intro Slider 5
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 03 Intro Bg Mobile
Roadtrip Namibia 03 Intro Bg
Profile Iris

Text & Photography

Iris van den Broek

“You haven't really experienced Namibia until you’ve had a flat tire and been
covered from head to toe in dust,” says the manager at the campground. It is six o'clock in the evening and the setting sun colours the landscape red. I have arrived at a campsite in the middle of the Kalahari Desert. 


“I have absolute faith in my car,” I say as I nod at my still gleaming white Nissan 4x4 with a rooftop tent. I rented it a few hours ago at Drive Namibia, a small rental company in Windhoek. I love the friendly personal service that is so common at local businesses. Jothea, the company's owner, walked me through every detail of the car and showed me how the convenient rooftop tent works. And indeed, in five minutes I have set it up and am pleased with my accommodations for the next three weeks

Roadtrip Namibia 03 Intro Road
Roadtrip Namibia 04 Kolmanskop Intro Stroke Bg
Roadtrip Namibia 05 Kolmanskop Bg Nick

Kolmanskop

Desert ghost town

From the Kalahari Desert I travel to the small settlement of Aus, from where I continue the next day to legendary Kolmanskop. From 1901 to 1930, this was a busy German diamond mining town but now the desert is slowly devouring what's left of it. I find myself all alone at seven in the morning, strolling down the former main street. It is hard to imagine that less than a century ago this town was home to one of the richest communities in the world. It had a school, a hospital, a bowling alley and even an ice cream factory. During Kolmanskop’s glory days, diamonds were literally just up for grabs. Now all that shimmers in the sand are some rusted lamps and the occasional doorknob. I climb through windows and squeeze through doors blocked by piles of sand. In each room I discover new colours and extraordinary wall papers. As a photographer you can easily spend a day here exploring.

Roadtrip Namibia 05 Kolmanskop Image
  • Roadtrip Namibia 05 Kolmanskop Bg Half Mobile
  • Roadtrip Namibia 06 Kolmanskop Slider 1
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 06 Kolmanskop Slider 2
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 06 Kolmanskop Slider 3
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 06 Kolmanskop Slider 4
    Iris van den Broek

“In the glory days of Kolmanskop, diamonds were literally up for grabs” 

From Aus to Sesriem

Adventurous driving

And then I reach the inevitable end of the paved road! That means continuing along gravel roads, driving over sand, stones and dust, with potholes and bumps and the occasional oryx or springbok. Driving through Namibia can be a challenge, but it only makes the trip more exciting. The beautiful C27 takes me from Aus to Sesriem, where I find the country's number one attraction: the sand dunes of the Namib Desert, better known as the Sossusvlei. Along the way I experience the vast emptiness of this country. On my five-hour drive I encounter only three other cars. However, I do come across a herd of wild zebras thundering across the plains. I stop the car to observe the animals, and listen to the deafening silence. All I hear is the wind and the snorting of the animals.

  • Roadtrip Namibia 08 Aus Sesriem
  • Roadtrip Namibia 09 Dune45 Bg Half Mobile
Roadtrip Namibia 09 Dune45 Bg Half

Sossusvlei

Skeletal trees and towering sand dunes

Roadtrip Namibia 09 Dune45 Image

I camp at the Sesriem Campsite, inside the park gates. This means I can head out to the dunes an hour before sunrise. When I get into my car at 5:15 am. it is still pitch black, but it doesn't take long for the first light to crack the sky. Forty-five minutes later I am standing at the foot of Dune 45, the perfect place to take in the sunrise. But I do have a 300-metre climb to the top. Climbing the sharp crest of a dune is tricky and a surreal experience, but it's totally worth it. The view is spectacular!

Roadtrip Namibia 10 Dune45 Stroke Bg
  • Roadtrip Namibia 10 Dune45 Stroke Bg Mobile

“Walking around Deadvlei feels like you have stepped into a Salvador Dalí painting” 

Another advantage of the early hour is that the sun hasn't yet transformed the desert into a burning furnace. I continue my route to Deadvlei, a salt flat with 900-year-old trees. Like a landscape of tall, mighty fossils, the trees are scattered across the flat. Their branches cast an eerie shadow on the arid salt plane floor amidst the sand dunes. It feels like you have stepped into a Salvador Dalí painting. 

  • Roadtrip Namibia 12 Deadvlei Large
Roadtrip Namibia 13 Deadvlei Bg
Roadtrip Namibia 13 Deadvlei Imgwide
  • Roadtrip Namibia 15 Palican Point Bg

Pelican Point

Sharing a peninsula with 50,000 seals

The next day I drive to the coast where I trade in my tent for two nights in quite an unusual hotel: the Pelican Point Lodge. This luxury hotel is built next to an old lighthouse and sits on an isolated peninsula near the town of Walvis Bay. You have the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the waters of Walvis Bay on the other. This place derives its beauty from its sheer remoteness. Access requires a 20-kilometre drive through the sand. The owner of the lodge wants his guests to completely unwind; there is nothing to do here except surrender yourself to the environment, so I go for a walk across the endless sand plain. Breaking waves crash violently in the surf. Thousands of seals line the beach and frolic in the waves, as  jackals run by on a frequent basis. And then there are the huge flocks of flamingos. This is something you'll never see again!

Roadtrip Namibia 15 Palican Point Full
  • Roadtrip Namibia 16 Palican Point Slider 1
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 16 Palican Point Slider 2
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 16 Palican Point Slider 3
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 16 Palican Point Slider 4
    Iris van den Broek

Spitzkoppe

One with nature

Roadtrip Namibia 18 Spitskoppe 2
Roadtrip Namibia 18 Spitskoppe 1 Nick

My next overnight stop in Spitzkoppe is more rustic, back to basics, but certainly as spectacular. A hidden gem that many people unintentionally skip on their drive, which is a shame, because here you will find one of the most beautiful campsites in Namibia. The few spots are nestled among towering red rocks. Your neighbours are dozens of metres away and there is no electricity or water, no mobile phone reception or internet. Dozens of curious dassies greet me and watch as I cook dinner in my improvised rock kitchen. The best travel experiences take you miles away from your comfort zone.

“The best travel experiences take you miles away from your comfort zone”

  • Roadtrip Namibia 17 Spitskoppe Bg
  • Roadtrip Namibia 19 Etosha Zebras Bg
Roadtrip Namibia 20 Etosha Bg Half

Etosha National Park

World of wildlife

I cross expansive Damaraland to reach the number one wildlife destination in Namibia: Etosha National Park. The park is enormous; it takes me three days to travel from the quiet western part to the east end of the park. Along the way I see an astonishing variety of wildlife. Of course the big five are at the top of my list, but I will have to settle for four, as Etosha is only home to rhinos, lions, elephants and leopards. Number five, the buffalo, unfortunately can't be seen here.

Roadtrip Namibia 20 Etosha Img

I drive by the Sonderkop watering hole at seven in the morning and spot hundreds of animals. Zebras, oryxes, giraffes, springboks and ostriches flock here at dawn to drink water. Suddenly a herd of elephants looms at the horizon. They slowly lumber towards me, kicking up huge dust clouds, as the other animals scamper out of the way. It feels like being in an episode of BBC's Planet Earth, only the voice of David Attenborough is missing. Later I spot two lions, tucked away in the yellow savanna grass. At night, the black rhinos come out. But alas, no sight of the elusive leopard! 

  • Roadtrip Namibia 21 Etosha Slider 1
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 21 Etosha Slider 2
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 21 Etosha Slider 3
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 21 Etosha Slider 4
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 22 Caprivi Bg Mobile
Roadtrip Namibia 22 Caprivi Bg

Caprivi Strip

Face to face with hippos

And after so much drought, finally water! A six-hour-long drive brings me to the Caprivi Strip, a narrow strip of land between Angola and Botswana where the mighty Okavango River flows. After so much desert it is almost strange to see green trees and flowers. And people! This is the Namibian countryside. Children play by the side of the road, women walk by carrying water buckets on their head and there are dozens of shebeens, the rustic bars where people come together. I camp on the bank of the river overlooking Angola. In nearby Bwabwata National Park I spot buffalo (Check!). Bellowing hippos and trumpeting elephants break the silence of the otherwise quiet night. This part of Namibia is very different from the rest of the country.

Roadtrip Namibia 22 Caprivi Img
Roadtrip Namibia 23 Caprivi Stroke Bg
  • Roadtrip Namibia 24 Caprivi Slider 1
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 24 Caprivi Slider 2
    Iris van den Broek
  • Roadtrip Namibia 24 Caprivi Slider 3
    Iris van den Broek
Roadtrip Namibia 25 End

A blast of memories

Filled with unforgettable memories I travel back to Windhoek through the beautiful Waterberg Plateau. Namibia finds its way into your heart. And into your hair, ears, luggage and shoes. The campground manager in the Kalahari Desert was right: the dust does get everywhere! But fortunately I never got that flat tire. And the leopard? That will be a perfect excuse to come back some day.