Touring Namibia: Burning Up The Road; In A Cold Sweat

Namibia is a fabulous destination. Before heading off on such a journey, you’d be mistaken to think Namibia is only a walk in the park. Looking back on our month-long trip, words like “fabulous” and sometimes “less-than-fabulous” spring to mind.

Fabulous: Landscapes that make you feel like you’re on the surface of another planet.


Less-than-fabulous: The huge distances you need to travel to get from place to place.

Fabulous: The beautiful camping sites located in tranquil, natural surroundings.

Tips: Ai Ais Hot Springs in the Fish River Canyon, Ameib Nature Camp in the Erongo Mountains, Spitzkoppe Tented Camp in Spitzkoppe, Oppi Koppi Rest Camp in Kamanjab and the Halali and Olifantsrus camping sites in the Etosha National Park.

Namibia Car

Less-than-fabulous: Mile after mile on the worst roads EVER. Within three hours of entering Namibia, we’d already suffered two blowouts. Fortunately, we weren’t far from the camping site, so while Thad The Dad broke out into a cold sweat changing tyres I strapped one kiddo in front and one on my back for a free workout lugging 35 kilos a distance of 4 kilometres!

Fabulous: Brilliant hotels with wonderful gardens and views.

Namibia Swimming pool

Tips: Beach Lodge in Swakopmund for the most colourful sunsets, Safari Lodge in Mariental for rhinos on the porch, African Kwela Guesthouse in Windhoek for the Jungle Feeling in the heart of the city and Si C’est Bon in Otjiwarongo to relax totally in the tropical garden with a separate kids swimming pool and friendly staff members who surprised me on my birthday.

Fabulous again: Animals… animals, everywhere! Thousands of warthogs along the roadside, taking cover at a waterhole to be surprised by thirsty animals appearing from the undergrowth (rhinos, giraffes, elephants, zebras, springbok, cheetahs, lions, hartebeest, etc., etc.) and unimaginably colourful birds…..
And trying to capture it all perfectly with our fantastic Canon EOS M5.

Namibia Rhino

Less-than-fabulous: Baboons. Seriously, these guys are rude and dangerous! We even had to put Jools and Pippa in the car at Ai Ais when they came right up to our breakfast table.

Fabulous: The starry skies – every night! Truly unbelievable!

Fabulous again: Our daughters felt happy and free in the vast natural surroundings. They needed no more than a few sticks, pieces of string, sand and water to amuse themselves for hours. They built themselves a safari park, a KLM plane (with Pippa as the pilot and Jools as the passenger). It was joyful to see them having such fun.

Namibia Camping

Less-than-fabulous: I was quite worried because Etosha is classed as a low-risk malaria region. We made sure that we were well informed and everything turned out fine. The risk of malaria was also why we chose to drive through southern Botswana. We felt we’d taken enough of a risk visiting Etosha.
Tips for Botswana: The Dqae Qare San Lodge at Ganzi and the Masa Square Hotel in Gabarone.

And, to close with the “Sunny Side Up”:

It was precisely the less-than-fabulous things that made our trip through Namibia unforgettable.

It was precisely the less-than-fabulous things that made it possible for us to enjoy the splendour all the more.

It was precisely the less-than-fabulous things that made us grow as people (learning to stay happy and patient during a bumpy four-hour drive in a half broken down car you didn’t trust) and therefore as a family.

You can compare the mind-set you have at the start of a long journey with how you feel about life. If, at the outset, you see it as something scary, if you’re afraid of the bears (or elephants) along the way, and if you think it’s going to take forever, you’ll probably experience it that way.


Or you can learn to see every long journey as an opportunity to discover new and unexpected things. Just the fact that you’re moving forward can bring you pure joy. It’s all about the right mind-set, baby.

A half-full / half-empty car it is.

And as to whether we’d recommend Namibia? Absolutely! But you’ll need to have a spirit of adventure. You’ll be able to turn the less-than-fabulous side of things into an exciting challenge!

Love, Annette

PS: Curious to see moving images? Check out this video!

In October, November and December you can fly directly from Amsterdam to Windhoek for just €900. Windhoek is centrally located and would serve as the perfect point to start and finish your trip.

Posted by:   Annette de Graaf  | 
Join the conversation Show comments


I really understand you :-)
Just had similar experiences when I visited Namibia half a year ago … but it seems that I had a better car ;-) Only 1 flat tire.

Dannii Haakuria

I don’t know which country you traveled by surely not Namibia:
1. Worst roads ever? Which roads did you travel on? A very sane normal person know that when you travel on gravel roads, you ask first for local advice where you rent your vehicle in terms of road conditions, at times you may need to deflate the tires to negotiate sections that could cause havoc and leave your contact numbers with those that need to raise the alarm should you get hiccups in place with albeit no mobile reception, the gravel roads are in top condition if you know how to drive and second the speed limit is 90kph although you will find local drivers at times traveling past you as if you were standing still. Having a blow-out on a gravel road does not constitute the road being bad. Perhaps more the skill of the hands behind the steering wheel than anything really.
2. Huge distances – how on earth is this a negative? What did you really expect? You can fit Belgium, The Netherlands and France into Namibia if you squeeze them in. Typically, because of a mere population of about 2.4 million people, and based on geographic localities, people live in the far flung corners of the country and infrastructure obviously need to be provided for people to travel and conduct business. For us locally, these distances are a walk in the park. From Windhoek to Swakopmund is mere 356km on a tarred road (some of the best roads on the continent are in Namibia). From Windhoek to Etosha is a mere 450km to Tsumeb in the Otjikoto Region and Etosha is a mere 90km from there.
3. Malaria in Etosha? Seriously? Which guidebooks did you read before embarking on this trip? You will get zipped very easily and be at the risk of malaria if you visit the Zambezi Region in the North East of the country where the prevalence of malaria is significantly increased than the remainder of the country. Again, if you visited your drug store before leaving for Namibia, typical protection in the form of malarone etc would have sufficed.

I am not defending Namibia as a country but I find your “less than fabulous” narratives albeit ludicrous and laughable.

Glad you enjoyed the rest of the country. Please come back.


Thanks Dannii Haakuria for articulating my concerns so well. This post is far from the truth and simply misleading.
And you have all the right to defend Namibia. After all it is our marvelous motherland.

Felix Maltchinski

When is the best period to visit Namibia?


Great story ….Namibia made me cry twice. First when i arrived and thought omg what a deserted place. Second when i left and could say goodbye. Hope to visit next year again for the true fabulous feeling with family

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *