We are just back from one of the most incredible travel experiences ever.
Namibia is a real test bed for your feelings and emotions. It is just so magical and impossible to forget.
The colors, the people, the wilderness will stay forever in our heart. In fact, we are already planning to go back for another expedition…but this will be part of another story.
We ventured in Namibia for two full weeks during which we drove for more than 2.500km, we slept in tents in the pure wild under skies full of stars, we cried of happiness when staring at the most amazing natural landscapes ever, we came across ancient and friendly isolated tribes and also clearly enjoyed the incredible wildlife.
Despite we had a lot, it is also fair to say that we focused on visiting just a portion of the country. In fact, with its 830.000 square km, Namibia is a very big Country – it is almost three times the size of Italy or Germany. As such, it is virtually impossible to visit all that Namibia has to offer from north to south in just two weeks.
Based on what we could learn, to visit the entire Namibia in one go, you need to plan for at least a good four weeks.
If you only have two weeks – like we did – you need to be choicefull. We decided to start exploring the “central” part of the country. You can find the map of our itinerary just below:
By following this link, you will also access our Google Map List of lodges and restaurants along the itinerary. As always, please look for Gianmarco Cicuzza to read the reviews. For any query or question please also send us an email at email@example.com.
In Namibia you will experience the ultimate fly and drive “on the road adventure”.
This is why in this post we want to share our thoughts about going for Solo Drive or choosing a Guided Tour.
Solo drive vs. Guided Tour
If you are planning your vacation in Namibia, you might be asking yourself whether going for Solo Drive or a Guided Tour.
To be clear, the Solo Drive is when you will be driving by your own the rented car along the itinerary you choose while a Guided Tour is when you will have someone – possibly a qualified Tourist Guide – who will do the driving and will guide you around the itinerary stages you choose and agreed.
As always in life, there is no right or wrong answer to the question and “it depends” is probably the best thing to say in this case.
Based on our specific experience we will try to give a quick reference guide on how to orientate the decision. At the end of the post you can find our conclusion and also some more practical info.
Driving Solo has clearly advantages in terms of privacy. No matter if you plan to take the trip with your family, friends, girlfriend/boyfriend, etc., driving Solo clearly ensures you spend all your time with your relatives during the trip without any external interference/presence. Even if the guide is the best possible individual, he/she will always be a third party (mostly stranger) to you. Inevitably, this might have an impact on the freedom of expression of the group you are travelling with and clearly something to consider.
However, there are some important aspects you need to consider before embarking in the Solo Drive.
I try to summarize them in the form of a checklist below. Make sure you can tick most (if not all) the boxes below…otherwise your trip to Namibia can easily be not necessarily pleasant:
- You know how to drive in basic off-road conditions. Tar roads in Namibia are very rare (apart from one main highway where it is not very frequent to drive). In addition, there might be situations where you need to engage low gears and you should need to lock/unlock your differentials. You may also need to play with your tyre pressure by inflating/deflating them to accomodate for different roard conditions (sand, gravel, etc). If all these terms and actions sound totally unfamiliar to you than you’d better reconsider the option of driving Solo.
- You know how to change a tyre on a heavy 4×4 car. The maintenance of the gravel roads you will be driving on is not always ideal. The tyre condition of the cars you will be renting may be varied. Net, in Namibia is not infrequent to get a puncture or a tyre explosion. In addition, the ground where you will be laying with your Jack is hardly flat and so replacing a flat tyre can be quite of a challenging experience (beyond being also a dangerous one because the car could fall on you if it is not safely on the jack). We “saved” couple of cars who were stuck with a flat tyre on the side of the road where the occupants had no idea on how to change a tyre…
- You know how to read a map and you are familiar with orientation techniques (including driving with a compass). Road signs in Namibia are not so frequent as we are used to and you could drive long distances without really having a feedback as you are on the right path or not. To be clear: getting totally lost in Namibia is very very difficult (especially if you do not drive off the main roads too much) but getting lost to the point of screwing up your itinerary is possible. That is why ticking this box is important.
- You have enough time to study and review the itinerary before your departure. When you travel on your own you might miss some important/nice landmarks to see unless you have enough time to research them before the departure and include them as a stop in your itinerary upfront. We saw many people driving past amazing view points which were just slightly off the main tracks simply because no one told them about and they did not know
Regardless of your ability on the above points, having a Guided Tour may be a very good asset. The local Guide will (most probably) speak the local language. While english is the official language in Namibia and local people are extremely welcoming, many locals – if not all – feel more comfortable and at ease by speaking Afrikaans. So having someone on your team who speaks that can clearly change the tonality (and the outcome) of certain conversations.
The Guided Tour will help you discover hidden gems. As much as you can prepare yourself for the itinerary, there will always be hidden gems here and there – which are absolutely worth seeing – that you will be missing along the itinerary. The local guide will clearly know that and will take you there.
Having the guide (or someone who does the driving) is essential if you are into photography. This way you can only focus on taking pictures and selecting the best spot for that in full ease while you have someone else driving you around.
Conclusion & Practical Info
Our Namibia trip was featuring a guide.
Despite we like travelling on our own, and despite I could have easily ticked all the boxes above, I think that we could not have done a better choice. Our guide was really an asset during the whole trip and I firmly believe that the success of the expedition was also largely driven by the presence of the guide with us. In addition, we also managed to establish a super positive human connection with him – i.e. we became very good friends by the end of the trip – which clearly is an important aspect.
For this reason, we surely recommend going for a guided tour as it eliminates a lot of the stressful parts and only leaves the enjoyable moments.
Since our guide is one we would definitively recommend to anyone on plant earth – please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org in case you want more details.