A taste of the Cape-to-Namibia route

Cape-to-Namibia routeCape-to-Namibia routeCape-to-Namibia routeCape-to-Namibia routeCape-to-Namibia route
Cape-to-Namibia routeCape-to-Namibia routeCape-to-Namibia routeCape-to-Namibia routeCape-to-Namibia route

A taste of the Cape-to-Namibia route

You've got your passport, the necessary documents and your map, and you're ready to hit the open road to Namibia. The next step? What to see along the way.

The route from Cape Town to Windhoek, Namibia, along the scenic West Coast, is filled with quaint towns, amazing landscapes and exciting activities. It’s the perfect route for a leisurely road trip, so make sure you set aside at least six or seven days to really take it all in.

According to those heading up travel agencies and others based in travel-related jobs, 4x4-ing is an excellent way to undertake the trip, if you don’t want to miss out on anything along the way. For tourists who have flown into Cape Town and will be hiring a reliable and sufficiently rugged vehicle for their journey, it is advisable to take plenty of water, a comprehensive medical kit, smartphone and camera chargers suitable for the car, a map/GPS device and a list of emergency contact details - just in case.

Heading along the R27, you’ll hit the West Coast National Park, with its herds of eland, kudu, gemsbok, mountain zebra, duiker, ostriches and more in the Poistberg section. If you’re visiting between August and October, the famous spring flowers rarely fail to delight. If those don’t satisfy, about 600km into your journey is Namaqualand in the Northern Cape, which forms part of the only arid hotspot in the world and showcases the richest, most succulent flora on Earth. Those who fly fish or mountain bike may like to extend their stay in the Richtersveld National Park.

The Orange River appears about 800km into the journey – it’s the longest river in SA at 2 200km and forms an international border between SA and Namibia. This adventure wonderland offers white-water raftting for the skilled and brave and, for ornithologists, over 142 species of birds to spot.

A trip to Namibia isn’t complete without a visit to the Fish River Canyon – the second largest in the world after the Grand Canyon. Stay overnight at Ai-Ais Hot Springs, where the water can reach up to 60°C. Here, accommodation options include B&B, self-catering, and a sahdy campsite with hot shower ablutions.

From there, make a detour to Kolmanskop, a ghost town 10km from the port town of Lüderitz. Take a guided tour and visit traditional German houses being reclaimed by the sand. Stay overnight at Klein-Aus Vista in Gondwana, where you can witness wild horses at the waterhole before relaxing with a sundowner or two.

The following day, take a five-hour drive to Sossusvlei, a spectacular site with red sand dunes and a white salt pan. Nearby is the Sesriem Canyon, featuring sedimentary rock 1km in length and 30m deep. From there, continue your drive to Duwisib Castle, a medieval-looking fortress. Overnight at Duwisib Guest Farm.

Wake up early for your drive to Keetmanshoop. About 13km past the town, stop off at the Quivertree Forest. Not actually a tree, these ‘kokerbooms’ are in fact aloe plants, and are particularly characteristic of the dry, arid parts of Namibia. Nearby, you’ll find Giant’s Playground, which is home to strange dolerite boulder formations and mazes. Explore this site for a few hours – the area makes for interesting hiking. This side of the highway also lays claim to the Kalahari Desert, which is home to hyena, lion, meerkat, giraffe, antelope and more in its national parks.

Your last stop, about 90km before Windhoek, should ideally be Lake Oanob Resort. Partake in game drives, boat rides, canoeing, swimming... or simply unwind at the bar – whichever of these activities take your fancy.

Once you finally arrive in Windhoek, be sure to check out the family-friendly Arebbusch Travel Lodge, surrounded by indigenous gardens and nestled on the banks of a river, yet conveniently close to the city centre. Its self-catering options are just the ticket for those on a long-distance driving holiday from the Cape.

When venturing out, a walking tour – possibly pre-booked by your travel guide, is a great way to orientate yourself. Windhoek also offers township tours, horse riding, game drives, an array of coffee shops and restaurants (including a wine bar), hot-air ballooning, and skydiving. If you’re a fan of trains, don’t miss the Trans-Namib Train Museum.

For those not in a rush, no visit to Namibia is complete without factoring in other major attractions such as Swakopmund, Etosha or Erindi Game Reserves, Skeleton Coast and Damaraland – the latter being a conservation area that supports populations of rare desert-adapted elephants. And for the adventurous, push through to the north, up to Caprivi – the Chobe and Zambezi rivers are magnificent – and right up to Victoria Falls. You may even fit in a bungee jump!

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