Cape Town to Fish River Canyon: The Start of an Epic Namibian Road Trip

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Have you ever travelled to a country that took every expectation you had about it and then just blew them to smithereens?

If not, then you need to add Namibia to your bucket list immediately!

I had wanted to visit Namibia for years. I had dreamed about climbing the enormous sand dunes of Sossusvlei, photographing the ghost town of Kolmanskop and exploring the ghostly shipwrecks of the Skeleton Coast.

With so many hopes and expectations, I had set myself up to be disappointed if those expectations didn’t quite mesh with reality…

…but luckily, that didn’t happen.

All the parts of Namibia I had dreamed about were just as special as I had hoped, but what was even more special were all the things I didn’t expect in the slightest.

The ever changing landscapes, incredibly kind locals and seemingly endless surprises were what made our road trip through Namibia one that will not just go on the list of highlights for the year, but will go on the list of highlights for my entire life.

When considering a Namibian road trip, it would be cheaper to fly into Windhoek and rent a car there as this avoids vehicle border crossing fees, however, we decided to rent a vehicle in South Africa (at a higher cost) and drive up the Western Cape into the southernmost part of Namibia, and I gotta be honest with you, after doing this, I’d never recommend doing the cheaper option!

We booked a completely kitted out Toyota Hilux through South Africa 4×4. At around $155 AUD per day this rental certainly didn’t come cheap, but as I found out, these rates are pretty comparable for 4×4 vehicles during peak season, which was when we happened to visit. If you choose to visit during low season (Jan, Feb, March) these rates do drop right down to around $115 AUD per day, but this time of year is unbearably hot in Namibia, so saving money does come with a bit of a catch.

You may be left wondering, “why on Earth would I rent a car in South Africa for a Namibian road trip?”

Well, here’s why.

The Namibian landscapes are jaw-droppingly beautiful from the second you cross the border. Our first day spent driving from Cape Town wasn’t the most exciting in the world, but it allowed Dan to get used to the car on comfortable roads. We crossed the border at Vioolsdrift, which took about an hour (African time) but was relatively simple. By the time we had been stamped into Namibia it was already getting dark, so we headed straight to our first stop, Amanzi Trails River Camp on the banks of the Orange River.

We had never used a rooftop tent before, and it had been years since I had been camping, so cooking dinner and preparing our tent took quite a while – especially since we were doing it in the dark!

However, we ended up sleeping like babies, and when I woke up in the morning I was greeted by some truly stunning first glimpses of Namibia.

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Our trusty beast of a car!
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Our campsite at Amanzi

We had a big day of driving ahead of us, so after soaking up the beauty of the early morning light, we started packing up our tent and getting ourselves ready to continue on our journey.

The roads seemed quite good initially, but those first roads did not end up being a good example of what was to come. 
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Within about twenty minutes the roads had gone from paved, to very far from it.

These roads ended up being some of our favourites from the entire trip. Not only did Dan have an absolute blast traversing the ever-changing terrain, but also, the landscapes were absolutely fricking gorgeous.

Blue skies, jagged mountains, rich red earth and roads that legitimately might only see one car each day all combined to create a region that genuinely felt too good to be real.

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Two seriously happy vegemites after eating our favourite road trip snack… vegemite and cheese sandwiches!

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During this day of driving we got a taste of what makes a road trip in Namibia so unique.

Basically, the landscapes are unique and special, but also, as soon as the novelty of your surroundings start to wear off, they seem to change within seconds. Yes, there is a lot of desert of Namibia, but that certainly does not mean that everything looks the same!

I mean, would you have expected to come across lush green vineyards in the middle of the desert?

Probably not, but in Namibia, you really learn to expect the unexpected.

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This region isn’t renowned for wildlife, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t see any!

On our way to Fish River Canyon we came across baboons, ostriches, springbok and even zebra – often just hanging out on the side of the road…

Or running across it!

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How fricking cute are these baby ostriches?!

You know that whole saying about travel being about the journey, not the destination?

Well, this really does ring true in Namibia.

Our destination for that evening was the incredible Fish River Lodge (stay tuned) but in the end, we had had such an incredibly fun time just driving and exploring; so much so that when we reminisce about our entire four month trip, we will always think of Namibia as the biggest highlight.

I think my love for Namibia might have come across by now, but I truly haven’t fallen so in love with a place in a long time. I always list Greenland and Iran as my favourite countries in the world and it looks like that duo has expanded to become a trio!

I truly cannot wait to share the magic of Namibia with you.

Stay tuned.

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THE  LOWDOWN

Amanzi Trails: This fantastic campsite sits on the border between RSA and Namibia, one night camping costs around $15, click here to learn more
4×4 Vehicle Hire: Fully equipped 4×4 vehicles are available to rent from many companies in RSA and Namibia – we rented a Toyota Hilux from South Africa 4×4 for around $155 AUD per day, which is quite common pricing during peak season
Fish River Lodge: One night in a chalet starts at around $360 for two persons, including lunch and dinner. To learn more and to book, click here
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lenses
Remember: Namibia is all about the road trip and the journey – you’d need at least two weeks to truly do it justice

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

14 thoughts on “Cape Town to Fish River Canyon: The Start of an Epic Namibian Road Trip

    1. Thanks Pooja! All the Namibia posts are now up, I hope this road trip has been as amazing as you expected 🙂

  1. Always wanted to go to Namibia but hadn’t had the chance yet, so can’t wait to read your next instalment!

    nataliesdailylife.wordpress.com

    1. Hopefully you get there one day soon Natalie! All the blogs are now live, I hope you find them useful 🙂

  2. Wow, it looks amazing! Road trips truly give you a different perspective. Being able to stop wherever you want and see the things you want let’s you see a country in ways you just can’t otherwise.

    1. I totally agree. Doing this trip independently cost a little more than going on a tour, but the freedom it gave us made it well worth the extra moolah.

  3. Namibia is great! I´ve done SA and Namibia on 2 different trips and road trip is really the way to do it. Wonderful photos, makes me want to go there again 🙂 Have a safe rest of the journey!

  4. This is a great blog post that took me back to when I visited Namibia last year. I’d never considered driving from South Africa but you’re now giving me ideas for a new road-trip 😉 Gorgeous photography! I can’t wait to see what you get up to in Namibia which is one of my favourite countries!

    1. It really does, I feel like my list of favourite places is so long that I need to actually sit and write it down!

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