Namibia is famous for its huge, red dunes, as you'll see at Sossusvlei.

Namibia Classic Affordable Safari | Dunes, Lagoons, Boulders & Pans | 9 Nights Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Damaraland & Etosha National Park

Driving between lodges on this affordable African safari in Namibia gives you the opportunity to see even more of this ever-changing nation, spending time in Namibia’s most iconic destinations, including Etosha and Damaraland. As a shared trip, with a set departure date, it’s an affordable way to experience breathtaking safari surprises with new friends.

  • A staggering range of scenery beginning with the neat, friendly city of Windhoek and encompassing the sea of red dunes around Sossusvlei. Here there is a great diversity of scale, ranging from the almost infinite vistas of Etosha to the cosy coffee shops of Swakopmund, via the stony but rewarding ground of Damaraland.
  • Opportunities to climb the great dunes of Sossusvlei, soar above the dunes in a hot-air balloon, track desert elephant and black rhino, to trace the artwork of your ancient ancestors at Twyfelfontein, to relax in a hide as let game come to you and to go waterhole hopping in Etosha.
  • The 23 dune chalets and two honeymoon suites of Sossus Dune Lodge almost merge with the landscape, with their ochre walls and golden thatch perfectly matching the palette of their surroundings. The pool could be the only water for miles.
  • From a distance, it’s hard to distinguish the round thatched roofs of Kipwe Suite and nine bungalows of Camp Kipwe from the boulders they’re secreted among, but they are well worth discovering – as is the unique rock pool.
  • Solar-powered Safarihoek Lodge overlooks a waterhole that offers thirsty animals relief, while guests find sanctuary in one of the eight luxury rooms, two standard rooms or luxury family room; or by the pool or in the wine lounge.
  • With just four thatch-and-canvas guest rooms, Onguma Tree Top Camp provides an intimate Etosha retreat, each with an outdoor shower for starlit ablutions, and views over a busy, scenic waterhole.

Two nights at Sossus Dune Lodge

We were chuffed we’d chosen to spend two nights in Windhoek after our international flight as it gave us the chance to replenish our energy levels for our affordable African safari. We had our first proper taste of Namibia (springbok fillet and a beer named after the city) on the second night, at the exuberantly quirky Joe’s Beerhouse, then rose before the sun for our trip to Sossusvlei. It was a random Tuesday (the standard departure day for this shared safari), but chatting to the other two couples we’d be travelling with we agreed it felt anything but mundane. What a journey it proved to be – via the small towns of Rehoboth and Mariental, before turning towards the coast on deserted gravel roads. Our minds and hearts opened up just as the landscape did.We instantly fell in love with Sossus Dune Lodge. It was such a perfect fit with the rocky plains, golden grasses and rolling red hills that it could have been there forever. Was it the wooden walkways that put a spring in our steps, or the sense of freedom that came with having limitless views? Keen to stretch our legs, we joined our guide to walk to the nearby Sesriem Canyon, learning about hardy desert plants and industrious tok-tokkie beetles. The canyon, with its hidden waterhole, had lost none of the allure it once had as a vital oasis.Our next day began with pre-dawn stargazing, and coffee served the non-milky way. Desert breezes tugged at the fringes of the thatch on our dune chalet and wakened our appetites. We ate breakfast on our deck as the sun spilled colours into the landscape like a precocious painter. Our morning game drive yielded an encounter with a lone gemsbok, seemingly lost in thought halfway to the crest of a dune. Later, as the shadows lengthened, and the colours cooled, we explored Sossusvlei at sunset, and it was so beautiful that we had to remind each other to breathe.

We were chuffed we’d chosen to spend two nights in Windhoek after our international flight as it gave us the chance to replenish our energy levels for our affordable African safari. We had our first proper taste of Namibia (springbok fillet and a beer named after the city) on the second night, at the exuberantly quirky Joe’s Beerhouse, then rose before the sun for our trip to Sossusvlei. It was a random Tuesday (the standard departure day for this shared safari), but chatting to the other two couples we’d be travelling with we agreed it felt anything but mundane. What a journey it proved to be – via the small towns of Rehoboth and Mariental, before turning towards the coast on deserted gravel roads. Our minds and hearts opened up just as the landscape did.

We instantly fell in love with Sossus Dune Lodge. It was such a perfect fit with the rocky plains, golden grasses and rolling red hills that it could have been there forever. Was it the wooden walkways that put a spring in our steps, or the sense of freedom that came with having limitless views? Keen to stretch our legs, we joined our guide to walk to the nearby Sesriem Canyon, learning about hardy desert plants and industrious tok-tokkie beetles. The canyon, with its hidden waterhole, had lost none of the allure it once had as a vital oasis.

Our next day began with pre-dawn stargazing, and coffee served the non-milky way. Desert breezes tugged at the fringes of the thatch on our dune chalet and wakened our appetites. We ate breakfast on our deck as the sun spilled colours into the landscape like a precocious painter. Our morning game drive yielded an encounter with a lone gemsbok, seemingly lost in thought halfway to the crest of a dune. Later, as the shadows lengthened, and the colours cooled, we explored Sossusvlei at sunset, and it was so beautiful that we had to remind each other to breathe.

Two nights at a Swakopmund guest house

It wasn’t hard to pick a highlight of a day that began with a hot-air balloon flight over the Sossusvlei dunes, like mariners cast adrift on an ancient sea. As we came down to earth with the gentlest of bumps, my partner joked that we had another tick on our basket list. Ahead of us lay the road to the coastal town of Swakopmund; via the rusting car wrecks in the one-shop town of Solitaire, before continuing to where the desert abruptly stopped just before the surf. Squeezed in between was a town that was more Germanic than African.Our Swakopmund guest house perfectly captured both elements, with wooden carvings, starched white sheets and lace curtains. We’d been told great things about the food in Swakopmund – the only problem we had was running the gauntlet of excellent cafés. We reasoned that replacing a meal with Kaffee und Küchen was a perfectly valid choice, especially after we tried one particularly devilish slice of dark chocolate tart. We spent a happy afternoon exploring antique shops in the shadow of the candy-striped lighthouse before a superb seafood dinner as we watched the moon’s reflection shimmering across the waves.All that cake must have been weighing heavily on our consciences, as we felt that a more strenuous morning was called for the following day. We were almost caught by the lure of a fishing trip, but in the end, we swooped down on the chance to go dune boarding just outside town. It was everything we loved about snowboarding, only with one obvious difference. The views out to sea from the top of the dune almost matched the thrill of racing down one of its faces, and we burned off a lot of cake walking back up through knee-deep, but gloriously coloured, sand.

It wasn’t hard to pick a highlight of a day that began with a hot-air balloon flight over the Sossusvlei dunes, like mariners cast adrift on an ancient sea. As we came down to earth with the gentlest of bumps, my partner joked that we had another tick on our basket list. Ahead of us lay the road to the coastal town of Swakopmund; via the rusting car wrecks in the one-shop town of Solitaire, before continuing to where the desert abruptly stopped just before the surf. Squeezed in between was a town that was more Germanic than African.

Our Swakopmund guest house perfectly captured both elements, with wooden carvings, starched white sheets and lace curtains. We’d been told great things about the food in Swakopmund – the only problem we had was running the gauntlet of excellent cafés. We reasoned that replacing a meal with Kaffee und Küchen was a perfectly valid choice, especially after we tried one particularly devilish slice of dark chocolate tart. We spent a happy afternoon exploring antique shops in the shadow of the candy-striped lighthouse before a superb seafood dinner as we watched the moon’s reflection shimmering across the waves.

All that cake must have been weighing heavily on our consciences, as we felt that a more strenuous morning was called for the following day. We were almost caught by the lure of a fishing trip, but in the end, we swooped down on the chance to go dune boarding just outside town. It was everything we loved about snowboarding, only with one obvious difference. The views out to sea from the top of the dune almost matched the thrill of racing down one of its faces, and we burned off a lot of cake walking back up through knee-deep, but gloriously coloured, sand.

Two nights at Camp Kipwe

We imagined that the beam of the lighthouse still connected us to Swakopmund as we headed northwards along the Atlantic coast as far as the surf fishing hotspot of Hentiesbaai, where we turned inland. We crossed the Tsiseb Conservancy, where we spotted our first antelope of the day, and soon became conscious of the looming mass of the Brandberg mountain, Namibia’s highest peak. The massif was a constant presence on this stage of our journey, but it had its work cut out to compete with the stark beauty of the Damaraland scenery that was unfolding all around us.Camp Kipwe was an arresting site: it appeared as though an avalanche of boulders had been caught in suspended animation, with the rounded roofs of the guest rooms peeking out from among the huge, smooth rocks. Once inside our room, we gazed out over the Aba-Huab valley and agreed that Namibia just kept getting better and better. In the afternoon, we travelled back in time to visit the nearby rock art galleries of Twyfelfontein. Our guide told us that the name meant ‘doubtful spring’ but there was no uncertainty as to the artistic flair of the early Namibians.Along with (intriguingly enough) a penguin, black rhino featured prominently at Twyfelfontein, and that piqued our interest. Having learned that these were no ordinary rhino, but a limited-edition desert-adapted version (an even tougher type of black rhino … this we had to see) we signed up to try and track them as part of an extended game drive. Although we were unsuccessful, our guide’s passion for these creatures meant that we learned a great deal about them, and even saw where they had used an isolated dead tree as a rubbing post. We’d have to scratch that itch another time.

We imagined that the beam of the lighthouse still connected us to Swakopmund as we headed northwards along the Atlantic coast as far as the surf fishing hotspot of Hentiesbaai, where we turned inland. We crossed the Tsiseb Conservancy, where we spotted our first antelope of the day, and soon became conscious of the looming mass of the Brandberg mountain, Namibia’s highest peak. The massif was a constant presence on this stage of our journey, but it had its work cut out to compete with the stark beauty of the Damaraland scenery that was unfolding all around us.

Camp Kipwe was an arresting site: it appeared as though an avalanche of boulders had been caught in suspended animation, with the rounded roofs of the guest rooms peeking out from among the huge, smooth rocks. Once inside our room, we gazed out over the Aba-Huab valley and agreed that Namibia just kept getting better and better. In the afternoon, we travelled back in time to visit the nearby rock art galleries of Twyfelfontein. Our guide told us that the name meant ‘doubtful spring’ but there was no uncertainty as to the artistic flair of the early Namibians.

Along with (intriguingly enough) a penguin, black rhino featured prominently at Twyfelfontein, and that piqued our interest. Having learned that these were no ordinary rhino, but a limited-edition desert-adapted version (an even tougher type of black rhino … this we had to see) we signed up to try and track them as part of an extended game drive. Although we were unsuccessful, our guide’s passion for these creatures meant that we learned a great deal about them, and even saw where they had used an isolated dead tree as a rubbing post. We’d have to scratch that itch another time.

One night at Safarihoek Lodge

Throughout our affordable African safari we were torn between not wanting to leave our newest favourite place in Africa and being excited to see what the next destination on our itinerary would bring us. The drive through Damaraland to the fringes of the legendary Etosha Pan – northern Namibia’s safari mecca – was a case in point. We wanted to look back and ahead all at once, so we settled for watching the sometimes jagged, sometimes smooth landscapes glide past. Unlike on some game drives, there was plenty of time to get to know our local guide – who was briefly relieving Prince, our driver-cum-guide for the overall trip – and learn more about his world.The more modern, angular structures of Safarihoek Lodge were softened by their thatched roofs and didn’t feel out of place. We’d heard great things about the photographic hide close to the lodge, and we weren’t disappointed. Resolving to get better acquainted with the cosy wine lounge later, we whiled away the afternoon alternating between the two different levels of the hide; now looking down on the striped backs of zebra; now at beak level with the vultures squabbling over a piece of skin so desiccated that no moisturiser could restore it. Between the reflections, splashes and dust, we took some wonderful shots.

Throughout our affordable African safari we were torn between not wanting to leave our newest favourite place in Africa and being excited to see what the next destination on our itinerary would bring us. The drive through Damaraland to the fringes of the legendary Etosha Pan – northern Namibia’s safari mecca – was a case in point. We wanted to look back and ahead all at once, so we settled for watching the sometimes jagged, sometimes smooth landscapes glide past. Unlike on some game drives, there was plenty of time to get to know our local guide – who was briefly relieving Prince, our driver-cum-guide for the overall trip – and learn more about his world.

The more modern, angular structures of Safarihoek Lodge were softened by their thatched roofs and didn’t feel out of place. We’d heard great things about the photographic hide close to the lodge, and we weren’t disappointed. Resolving to get better acquainted with the cosy wine lounge later, we whiled away the afternoon alternating between the two different levels of the hide; now looking down on the striped backs of zebra; now at beak level with the vultures squabbling over a piece of skin so desiccated that no moisturiser could restore it. Between the reflections, splashes and dust, we took some wonderful shots.

Two nights at Onguma Tree Top Camp

The drive to our last lodge was no mere transfer, but a transport of delights. It became a long and rather wonderful game drive through Etosha National Park, skirting the edge of the main pan as we drove east. Along the way, we had kudu dart across in front of us, and we exchanged curious glances with herds of black-faced impala, a new species for us. Onguma Tree Top Camp proved to be the smallest lodge that we stayed at, which only heightened the welcome sensation of getting away from it all.To make the most of the golden light, we left again almost immediately to spend the afternoon waterhole-hopping in Etosha. It was a good call – Luisa, a Spanish guest on our shared safari, had proven to have the sharpest safari eyes, and she quickly spotted our first big cat of the trip, a slightly gaunt lioness feigning indifference as a knot of kudu drank on the far side of one waterhole. The inner tussle between fleeing danger and obeying their thirst was very evident. A journey of giraffe – those most ungainly of drinkers – wisely chose to continue to a different watering point, and we followed some way behind them to ultimately get wonderful images as they relaxed enough to drink.The next day the waterhole in front of the camp also provided excellent viewing, especially of birds. Flocks of them twisted and turned in the air like smoke before settling, sipping, and suddenly departing. Between birding, journaling and snoozing, we passed an agreeably lazy day in camp without wasting a moment. Even learning from our fellow guests that we had missed a near-miss pounce by yesterday’s lioness only made us regret that she faced another hungry day. A day ‘at home’, that rarest and most underrated of safari indulgences – was the perfect end to our time in Namibia. The great wine didn’t hurt, either.Of course, we weren’t quite done yet. Our final drive back to Windhoek was punctuated by a fascinating visit to the AfriCat Foundation at Okonjima, where we learned about conserving Namibia’s large predators – not least from irate cattle farmers. As we arrived, the vets had just started a minor procedure on one of the resident cheetah (too habituated to be returned to the wild). It was an immense privilege to be able to examine this speedy cat – temporarily stilled by anaesthetic – at such close quarters. We saw clearly how the cheetah is designed to outrun, trip and strangle its prey.

The drive to our last lodge was no mere transfer, but a transport of delights. It became a long and rather wonderful game drive through Etosha National Park, skirting the edge of the main pan as we drove east. Along the way, we had kudu dart across in front of us, and we exchanged curious glances with herds of black-faced impala, a new species for us. Onguma Tree Top Camp proved to be the smallest lodge that we stayed at, which only heightened the welcome sensation of getting away from it all.

To make the most of the golden light, we left again almost immediately to spend the afternoon waterhole-hopping in Etosha. It was a good call – Luisa, a Spanish guest on our shared safari, had proven to have the sharpest safari eyes, and she quickly spotted our first big cat of the trip, a slightly gaunt lioness feigning indifference as a knot of kudu drank on the far side of one waterhole. The inner tussle between fleeing danger and obeying their thirst was very evident. A journey of giraffe – those most ungainly of drinkers – wisely chose to continue to a different watering point, and we followed some way behind them to ultimately get wonderful images as they relaxed enough to drink.

The next day the waterhole in front of the camp also provided excellent viewing, especially of birds. Flocks of them twisted and turned in the air like smoke before settling, sipping, and suddenly departing. Between birding, journaling and snoozing, we passed an agreeably lazy day in camp without wasting a moment. Even learning from our fellow guests that we had missed a near-miss pounce by yesterday’s lioness only made us regret that she faced another hungry day. A day ‘at home’, that rarest and most underrated of safari indulgences – was the perfect end to our time in Namibia. The great wine didn’t hurt, either.

Of course, we weren’t quite done yet. Our final drive back to Windhoek was punctuated by a fascinating visit to the AfriCat Foundation at Okonjima, where we learned about conserving Namibia’s large predators – not least from irate cattle farmers. As we arrived, the vets had just started a minor procedure on one of the resident cheetah (too habituated to be returned to the wild). It was an immense privilege to be able to examine this speedy cat – temporarily stilled by anaesthetic – at such close quarters. We saw clearly how the cheetah is designed to outrun, trip and strangle its prey.

What sets it apart

Even before we began our affordable African safari, we had begun to get a sense the scale of the adventure we were embarking on. Although the drives between lodges were four hours or more in each case, this could not have been further from our daily commute back home. The time was well spent connecting with the other guests, and getting to know Prince, our wonderfully wry and knowledgeable driver and safari escourt who was the one constant on this undulating safari, staying with us throughout.The landscapes were otherworldly; we felt like alien visitors on our own planet. Little touches of hospitality made sure we always felt welcome, however … it seems that the more unforgiving the landscape, the warmer the greetings and the more genuine the smiles.The idea of the journey being the destination is admittedly something of a cliché, but the scenery alongside Namibia’s gravel roads made every transfer an event. We loved the camaraderie of the road – each time we stopped to take a photograph (a word to the wise: allow extra journey time for this!), any motorist coming the other way would stop to check we hadn’t broken down.This was the first safari that we’d been on where the wildlife occasionally took a back seat to the habitats. Not that there wasn’t plenty of game – the waterholes in Etosha were especially active, and the effort involved in finding some of the more elusive species made the sightings even more special. It was just that Namibia, scenically, is a nation set apart.The San call it the ‘land that God made in anger’ but we didn’t see rage in the rocks; just furious, passionate creativity everywhere we looked.

Even before we began our affordable African safari, we had begun to get a sense the scale of the adventure we were embarking on. Although the drives between lodges were four hours or more in each case, this could not have been further from our daily commute back home. The time was well spent connecting with the other guests, and getting to know Prince, our wonderfully wry and knowledgeable driver and safari escourt who was the one constant on this undulating safari, staying with us throughout.

The landscapes were otherworldly; we felt like alien visitors on our own planet. Little touches of hospitality made sure we always felt welcome, however … it seems that the more unforgiving the landscape, the warmer the greetings and the more genuine the smiles.

The idea of the journey being the destination is admittedly something of a cliché, but the scenery alongside Namibia’s gravel roads made every transfer an event. We loved the camaraderie of the road – each time we stopped to take a photograph (a word to the wise: allow extra journey time for this!), any motorist coming the other way would stop to check we hadn’t broken down.

This was the first safari that we’d been on where the wildlife occasionally took a back seat to the habitats. Not that there wasn’t plenty of game – the waterholes in Etosha were especially active, and the effort involved in finding some of the more elusive species made the sightings even more special. It was just that Namibia, scenically, is a nation set apart.

The San call it the ‘land that God made in anger’ but we didn’t see rage in the rocks; just furious, passionate creativity everywhere we looked.

DAY 1–2

Deadvlei is dotted with fossilised trees. © Pete Dunning

After being collected from your accommodation in Windhoek at 8am, you’ll begin a road trip, heading southwest through the scenic Khomas Hochland highlands before descending down the Great Escarpment into the Namib Desert, stopping for a picnic lunch along the way. In the midafternoon, you’ll arrive at Sossus Dune Lodge in Sossusvlei, where you’ll spend two nights.

DAY 3–4

Swakopmund is a sleepy seaside town.

A road trip will take you from Sossus Dune Lodge and northwest through Namib-Naukluft National Park, via the impressive Gaub and Kuiseb canyons. You’ll meet the coast at Walvis Bay and then continue north to a guest house in Swakopmund, where you’ll spend two nights.

DAY 5–6

Sesriem Canyon is breathtakingly beautiful.

A road trip will take you from a guest house in Swakopmund, headed north and east into Damaraland, passing the Brandberg en route. After a stop at Twyfelfontein, you’ll arrive at Camp Kipwe, where you’ll spend two nights.

DAY 7

Waterhole-hopping in Etosha lets you easily locate game. © Safarihoek Lodge

A road trip will take you from Camp Kipwe over the Grootberg Pass to visit a local Himba settlement and school. You’ll then head east through the small town of Kamanjab before arriving at Safarihoek Lodge in southern Etosha, where you’ll spend the night.

DAY 8–9

Onguma Tree Top Camp is on the eastern edge of Etosha. © Onguma Tree Top Camp

A game drive will take you from Safarihoek Lodge, through Andersson’s Gate in southern Etosha National Park to Halali (where you may stop for lunch), and then via several waterholes to Namutoni Camp in the east. Before sunset, you’ll arrive at Onguma Tree Top Camp, where you’ll spend two nights.

DAY 10

The flat stretches of Namibia are perfect for cheetah.

A road trip will take you south from Onguma Tree Top Camp to Okonjima’s AfriCat Day Centre, via Tsumeb, Otavi and Otjiwarongo. You’ll then continue south, being delivered to your accommodation in Windhoek in the late afternoon.

  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, taking into account when you’d like to travel, how long you’d like to be away for, who you’d be travelling with, what accommodation you’d prefer, how you’d like to get around, what safari experiences you’d like to include, and more.
  • Rather than mislead you by publishing approximate prices that wouldn’t likely meet your needs, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you. Simply enquire nowour quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of prices, we’ve created three safari categories, defining them by what they typically include and their low- and peak-season price ranges. Click here to read about classic affordable, luxury and really high-end safari trip prices.
  • This is a classic affordable safari idea, click here to read more about this type of safari.

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