Southern Namibia Roadtrip…with an 18-month old toddler

IMG_4429WMIn March 2016 our family of 3 embarked on a 17-day road trip to explore the south of Namibia. It was our daughter Ayla’s first big road trip and since she normally hates to be restricted in her car seat, we were a bit nervous about how enjoyable the trip was going to be. For this reason we wanted to be as flexible as possible, so even though we had an idea of a route and of what we wanted to see and do, we decided not to book accommodation in advance.  We made one exception and booked at Sesriem since we wanted to stay inside the park. This was a bit of a gamble since our trip coincided with the South African and Namibian school holidays, but we decided to wing it anyway.

After 4000km of which about 2000km was on dirt roads, we could celebrate a safe and awesome overland trip. We did not have any vehicle problems and Ayla turned out to be a very good traveller. She loved being outdoors the whole day, exploring everything new around her and the interactions with new people. She really blossomed during our trip. We absolutely loved the raw and harsh beauty of southern Namibia and the feeling of openness and remote wilderness you often experienced while travelling alone through the desert. And with our wanderlust spirits awakened again, new travel dreams were born under a roof of stars…Watch this space 😉

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Ayla loved playing outside the whole day, getting dirty and running around
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So much to explore and investigate…who needs toys

In subsequent blog posts we will tell you more about our experiences and share some of our photos, but for know you can have a look at a summary of our trip below.

Trip Summary

  • Vehicle: Toyota Fortuner 3.0 D4D 4×4 with a Conqueror Comfort off-road camp trailer
  • Total mileage: 4000km
  • Trip duration: 17 days
  • Starting point: Somerset West, South Africa

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Our Route

 

Starting from our hometown Somerset West in South Africa, we travelled north via the N7 and entered Namibia at the Vioolsdrift/Noordoewer(A) border post. Once in Namibia we followed the C13 all along the northern banks of the Orange River to Rosh Pinah(B). Still on the C13, we continued north to Aus(C) from where we did a day trip to Kolmanskop and Luderitz(D). After a suggestion from locals, we travelled north again along the C13 but then followed the scenic D707 to Betta. Then from Betta we drove the C27 through the Namib Rand Nature Reserve and up to Sesriem(E). Since we decided that Sesriem would be our northernmost point, we started travelling south again after a couple of days there. To get to Keetmanshoop(F), we first travelled east to Mariental via Maltahöhe on the C19 and then south via the B1. The route we took from Keetmanshoop to Hobas(G) and Ai-Ais(H) was via the B4, D545, C12 and C37. Not ready to head home just yet after our stay at Ai-Ais, we decided to cross the border at Sendelingsdrif with a stop-over in Port Nolloth(I).

In retrospect, the only thing about our route we would change, is to skip the Sendelingsdrif-Port Nolloth section. There is a lot of mining activities between Sendelingsdrif and Alexander Bay so the dirt road  is in bad shape because of all the heavy mining vehicles. Ideally we would also have liked to do this trip in 3 weeks to have more days off from driving or sightseeing.

Namibian dirt roads are generally in very good condition and you can easily do 100km/h when you’re not taking it slow to enjoy the scenery. Just be prepared for a lot of dust, everywhere. No car or trailer is completely dust-proof.

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Accommodation

This is a list of the accommodation we used on our trip and how many nights we spent at each place. We camped everywhere except for Desert Horse Inn where the campsite was full and in Port Nolloth. All the campsites had electricity and ablutions with warm water. Luckily Ayla likes to shower since all the ablutions had only showers and no baths.

Amanzi River Camp, Noordoewer (1 night)

Namuskluft Camping, Rosh Pinah (1 night)

Desert Horse Inn, Klein-Aus Vista (2 nights)

Sossus Oasis Fuel Station (1 night)

Sesriem Campsite, Namib Naukluft Park (3 nights)

Quivertree Forest Rest Camp, Keetmanshoop (2 nights)

Canyon Road Campsite (1 night)

Ai-Ais Hotsprings Resort (4 nights)

Voetbaai Chalets, Port Nolloth (1 night)

TIPS:

  • If your little one is very young or doesn’t like showering, you can always take a small inflatable swimming pool or bucket with that they can bath in.
  • If you are towing a trailer or caravan and plan to do a lot of mileage on dirt roads, I highly recommend you use some form of stone protection. The reason is twofold. Firstly, to protect your trailer or caravan from stones shooting up and causing dents as well as the sandblasting effect of the gravel causing damage to the paintwork. And secondly, to protect your vehicle’s rear window from stones that ricochet off your trailer or caravan. We’ve heard of several incidents where this caused the rear window to break. The form of stone protection you use highly depends on your vehicle and trailer/caravan, and therefore is usually a DIY project. But there are loads of ideas on the internet of different designs people used and a good place to look is on a 4×4 forum.
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Wynand used shade netting with clips and strong elastic rope to make our DIY stone protection net
  • Make sure you have enough cash with you. A lot of places do not have card facilities and this can especially be a problem when buying fuel.
  • If you are taking a new, sealed can of baby milk formula with, open it beforehand to make sure there is indeed a scoop included or take a spare one along. The first night when I opened the new can of formula there was no scoop and we had to estimate the amount of formula until we could find a shop that stocked it two days later.

3 thoughts on “Southern Namibia Roadtrip…with an 18-month old toddler

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