Lonely Planet Writer

Just back from: Namibia

Swakopmund Fat Tire Bike Tour -266 Meghan and Adam exploring the world's oldest desert on fat tire bikes © Bold Travel

Lonely Planet Pathfinders Meghan and Adam, creators of the adventure travel blog Bold Travel, have just got back from a 10-day independent safari around Namibia.

Tell us more… We set out on our first African self-drive safari to explore a few of Namibia’s classics. Our 10-day circuit, starting and ending in Namibia’s capital city Windhoek, took us from the dusty salt pan and bustling watering holes of the great Etosha National Park to the wild and ghostly Skeleton Coast and through the orange and purple tinged dunes of the Namib-Naukluft National Park.

In a nutshell… Namibia is the perfect starting point for touring Africa independently. You’ll find excellent road infrastructure, luxurious campsites, friendly people, dramatically varied landscapes and some of Africa’s most epic wildlife viewing. On a Namibian self-drive safari, nature takes center stage and you’ll get a front row seat for the show.

Quintessential experience? An up-close-and-personal encounter with the great black rhinos of Etosha National Park. Namibia is home to nearly one third of the population of this critically endangered species and, thanks to their deeply ingrained conservation efforts over the last 30 years, their numbers are on the rise. But wildlife spotting doesn’t stop with rhinos. Quite simply, Etosha National Park is not only Namibia’s crowning glory; it offers world-class game viewing potential on par with Tanzania’s Serengeti, Kenya’s Masai Mara and Botswana’s Okavango Delta.

Etosha Game Reserve Self Drive Namibia -142 An endangered black rhino in Namibia's Etosha National Park © Bold Travel

You’d be a muppet to miss… A one- or two-day stopover in Swakopmund, Namibia’s quirky German outpost and adventure activity capital. Swakopmund may feel a world away from the rest of Namibia but adventurous sports and outdoor activities abound here, from dolphin and whale watching to sky diving and sand boarding. We had a hard time choosing how to spend our time but in the end opted for a unique fat tire bike tour of the world’s oldest desert.

Good grub? Although we prepared the majority of our meals by campfire, one foodie pit-stop we were sure not to miss was the eclectic Moose McGregor’s Desert Bakery in Solitaire. Though smack in the middle of nowhere, this local haunt is something of an institution if you are making your way south to the dunes of Sossusvlei. Although Moose passed-away a few years back his team ensures that his legacy lives on through their Big Moose apple strudel and other delectable pastry eats. Obviously for investigative purposes we had to sample a few.

Self Drive Namibia Safari -237 A roadside gem dealer sells his loot on the C35 road to Swakopmund © Bold Travel

Bizarre encounter? The feeling of eeriness walking amongst the charcoaled skeletons of camel thorn trees on the Deadvlei salt pan in the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Deadvlei, which literally translates to 'dead marsh' in Afrikaans, was once a lake oasis where the Tsauchab river drained. Over time the moving dunes cut off the flow of the river from the pan, making the area even too dry for the trees to decompose and scorching them into a picturesque petrified forest in the middle of the shifting red dunes.

Get any souvenirs? We couldn’t resist a stop at one of the obscure rock stands lining the stretch of road between Uis and Swakopmund. Gems mining is big business in Namibia (perfect for those interested in geology) and enterprising miners are eager to sell their loot. Though not intending to purchase anything, we liked the stall owner so much we came away with our own small shiny memento from our self-drive.

Adam and Meghan of boldtravel.com completed their Namibia self-drive with support from ASCO Car Hire (ascocarhire.com). Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.