Updated: 4 days ago
With its wide-open and dream-like landscapes, Namibia is becoming an enticing destination for adventure travelers. Home to the vast Namib Desert, a wide variety of wildlife, and a wild coastline, it has some of the most spectacular scenery of Africa. It is also one of the few places left in the world where you can drive for hours on the road without seeing anyone (or anything!). With just over 2.2 million inhabitants, Namibia is the 2nd most sparsely populated country in the world. This mix of ingredients is what makes Namibia the perfect road trip destination.
However, this sparsity also brings some challenges for adventure travelers. On one hand, the roads and infrastructure are poorly maintained, with a majority of dirt roads connecting the various destinations. On the other hand, there is a limited amount of places to stay in Namibia, driving up the prices of accommodation.
To tackle these challenges, we rented a 4x4 jeep with a roof tent. Not only was this a unique experience filled with adventure, but it also saved us a whole lot of money on food and accommodation! Learn in this article how to self-drive around Namibia by a 4x4 jeep with a roof tent!
Check out our roadtrip experience camping in Namibia with our 4X4 in the video below!
Renting a 4x4 jeep with roof tent
Namibia Car Rental Companies
A self-driving adventure is the most popular way to explore Namibia. There are various car rental companies that serve this thriving travel demand. Generally, these companies are based in the "main" cities, like Windhoek, Swakopmund, and Walvis Bay. As most international travelers arrive in the capital of Windhoek to start their adventure, this is the most convenient location to rent a 4x4 jeep with roof tent. Windhoek has a wide offer of 4x4 car hire companies to choose from, such as:
We personally booked our 4x4 jeep with Savanna Car Hire. We were very pleased with the jeep and equipment, customer service, and communication. They have a vehicle for every taste: from the more budget options with a roof tent to a more luxurious type of jeeps. We were also picked up by the free shuttle from the airport. This saved us a lot of hassle! Once at the car rental company, we were given crucial information about the rental and the vehicle. The vehicle and equipment were also explained in great detail. We highly recommend them!
What is included in the rental?
Most car rental companies have a fleet of Toyota Hilux and Landcruiser jeeps for camping. These jeeps are comfortable and perfectly built for the remote and harsh Namibian roads. This does not mean that you won't encounter any difficulties. As the road conditions are poor, you should be prepared for car problems. We rented a more budget-friendly Toyota Hilux and one of our tires exploded near the end of our trip! Luckily this didn't take away from our experience, and we would still rent the exact same car today. Basic car tools to replace the tire are included in the rental and will be explained in detail upon arrival.
What is even more exciting about the rental is the roof tent. These tents are relatively comfortable as they are equipped with foam mattresses with sheets, duvets, and pillows. These blankets are definitely a must when camping as it cools down at night! The roof tents themselves are easy to build up and break down. It usually took us about 5-10 minutes to set up our camp.
Besides the jeep with the roof tent, the rental includes the necessary camping equipment to make your holiday unforgettable! This camping equipment typically consists of:
Camping table and chairs
Complete kitchen set (with cutlery, plates, mugs, water kettle, etc)
Gas cooker with gas bottle
BBQ set (or "braai" as they call it)
Dust-free storage box
Fridge/freezer to store food and drinks
Dishwashing basin with dish towels and sponges
At first sight, renting a 4x4 jeep seems pricey. Rental prices range from US$50 to US$200 per day, excluding insurance. However, the daily rates fluctuate a lot during the different seasons (low vs high season) and depend on the length of the rental and type of vehicle you choose. If you are traveling around Namibia for two weeks, expect to spend at least US$1,000 on the rental alone.
On the bright side, you will save money on accommodation and food while camping. As mentioned before, accommodation is limited in Namibia. Most parks and tourist attractions have a range of "lodges", which are very expensive. It is not uncommon to pay $US100 per person for a room in a lodge. This is a big difference with the price of the campsites, typically ranging between US$15 to US$30 per person. With a lack of other cheap accommodation options, camping is the ONLY cheap option. Besides, renting a jeep or SUV without the camping equipment is nearly the same price.
Camping in Namibia
With its year-round warm desert-to-subtropical climate, Namibia is the perfect destination for camping. From the red dunes of the dry Namib Desert to the humid, green forests of the northeast, all regions have plenty of campsites. Look on the map below to get an idea of the campsites that exist (not a complete map).
While some campsites only offer basic facilities, others are attached to luxury lodges. But don't worry, most campsites have amenities like hot water, showers, and flush toilets. In addition, there is an increasing number of 220V power points to charge your electronic devices. Campsites at the major tourist attractions also have a bar and a restaurant, a shop for basic groceries and souvenirs, and at times a pool.
Our camping experience was very pleasant as we found all campsites clean, safe, and comfortable. The only downside is the lack of wireless internet (and sometimes also reception!). We would recommend purchasing a Namibian SIM card upon arrival. It is cheap and especially convenient as not many places have WiFi (or charge money to use their connection!).
Our favorite aspect of camping in Namibia was the unique experience it brought. We had never felt so close to nature and wildlife. The remoteness of some of the campsites makes it a true adventure. Also, this way of traveling around Namibia gives more freedom of movement and the opportunity to explore less-visited parts of the country. You can also use your own vehicle for the safaris so you can go at your own pace!
Things to consider when camping in Namibia
As camping in Namibia is popular, it may be useful to book your campsites at least a month before your trip. This is especially important if you are traveling during the high season (June-August) and want to stay around the major tourist attractions. We went during the low season and no pre-bookings were required. You can book some of the campsites via Booking.com or contact them directly. Find here an interactive map with all the campsites in Namibia.
The distances between Namibia's highlights are huge, so prepare yourself for long drives! The roads also tend to be long and straight, making it hard to stay focused. We recommend taking enough time at each destination so you are not driving the majority of the day. Drives can be as long as 6 hours, with nothing much to explore and see along the way.
Even though the days are warm and sunny, the nights in Namibia can get cold! Especially when traveling during the dry and high season (June-August), temperatures can drop below 0 degrees Celsius. Make sure to bring a warm sleeping bag and thermal underwear! We were lucky to be traveling in January, which is one of the hottest months. But even then we were happy to sleep under my sleeping bag at night!
Although the campsites are usually protected by a fence and/or security guards, there are still wild animals in the area! It is very normal to see animals like oryx and monkeys in the wild. We even saw a porcupine when camping at Waterberg Plateau! However, as you'll be sleeping in your roof tent, you'll feel a lot safer.
Finally, to maximize your camping experience, we suggest that you use your BBQ equipment! Each middle-sized town usually has a supermarket where you can find quality products. We usually shopped at SPAR to get supplies for the next few days of traveling. Self-cooking also saves quite some money on food!
Have you ever been traveling around Namibia by 4x4 with a roof tent? What did you enjoy the most?
Check out our other blogposts of Africa for more inspiration!