Tag: Skeleton Coast

Namibia itinerary with kids

10 reasons to visit Namibia with kids

Since our overlanding travels through Africa earlier this year, many people have asked me – which African country is the best for first timers? Whilst Morocco would be an obvious choice as it’s only a 4 hour flight from the UK and is relatively straight forward getting around using public transport or hiring a car, it’s not really the answer people are looking for. When people think of Africa, they’re imagining epic open landscapes and spotting the Big Five on a classic African safari. My answer is therefore Namibia.

Read: Our Namibia itinerary with kids

Namibia itinerary with kids

There are many tours that can show you the sites of Namibia. However, we strongly recommend going it alone. Hire a 4×4 with roof tents from Bush Lore or Britz, grab your Tracks 4 Africa Namibia map (this is the overlanding ‘Bible’), and hit the road. This allows for flexibility of time and makes travelling Namibia with kids much more relaxing. A trip to Africa should be an adventure after all! You may like to read Our Namibia itinerary with kids.

Namibia itinerary with kids

Here are ten reasons why you should visit Namibia with kids:

1. Affordable safaris and incredible wildlife

The national park entry fees of Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya (as well as other African countries) are extortionate in comparison. When you’re travelling with kids, especially young ones, you don’t want the added pressure of activities costing the earth and stressing over getting bang for your buck. Entry to Etosha National Park is N$80 per adult per 24 hours (that’s £4.30 at the time of writing!) and children under 15 are FREE.

Etosha National Park, in the North of Namibia, was perhaps our favourite safari experience in Africa. The vast open plains and abundance of wildlife make for very easy wildlife watching, and often all you need to do is park up by a watering hole and watch the wildlife come to you. During our three-day self-drive safari we saw lions, rhinos and plenty of zebra, giraffe and elephants.

Read: ETOSHA National Park, Namibia: THE BEST safari in Africa for young kids

There are also stinky seals to meet at Cape Cross! Tens of thousands of seals congregate on this headland to socialise, jostle over space and feed on the plentiful fish. There is a walkway that takes you right up close to them. Our boys found the seals, with their comical walk and arguing, to be absolutely hilarious. Plus there are hundreds of flamingos to watch on the salt pans just outside Walvis Bay.

Namibia itinerary with kids

2. Sand dunes

What kid doesn’t love running down (or even better, rolling down) a sand dune? Head to Sossusvlei for those fine crimson dunes backed by striking colbalt skies, or pull over on the road through Damaraland or to Walvis Bay, for the perfect (sand)pit stop.

overlanding Africa with kids

Running down Dune 45 in the Sossusvlei area of the Namib Desert.

3. Playgrounds

Although we love our kids to experience the natural world as their playground, now and again, the conventional playground with swings and slides is what everyone needs. You will come across good quality playground in most large towns in Namibia. The boys particularly enjoyed this colourful playground right opposite a pub 😉

Namibia with kids

Playground in Swakopmund

4. Good quality campsites

Namibia has some of the best campsite we have ever stayed in, in the world. Seriously. We even stayed in some where there was an en-suite bathroom and private kitchen area! Admittedly, you pay a little bit more for them in comparison to other campsites in Africa. But generally, they are around USD25-30 per family  per night (under 4’s free) and totally worth it.

Namibia itinerary with kids

Camp ground at Alte Brücke, Swakopmund

We did come across some rather basic campsites, but the incredible location more than made up for the lack of running water (such as the campground at Cape Cross in the photo below).

Namibia itinerary with kids

Campground right on the beach at Cape Cross

Try and book campsites in advance, particularly if travelling through the high season (May to September). However, we travelled through Namibia in June and never booked any campsites; although we did snag the last spot on more than one occasion.

5. Good roads

Namibia was the first country we drove through on our overland African adventures where we could finally put our foot down. Many of the main roads are perfectly paved with tarmac. There are still sand roads, and quite a few salt roads (particularly through Etosha and the Skeleton Coast), but these are generally well maintained.

Namibia with kids

Driving the open roads of Damaraland

There were however long stretches of corrugated roads in places (a ripple effect on dirt roads), which our top heavy old Land Rover really struggled with and we had to take it painfully slow.

6. Fussy eaters catered for

In most towns across Namibia, you will find westernised supermarkets selling quality fruit and vegetables, steaks and German sausages, the most scrumptious freshly baked breads, and all the usual food you find back home. There are large supermarket chains (Shoprite, Pick n Pay) and your little ones certainly won’t go hungry, however fussy they are.

7. Good medical care

This is always a worry for parents as kids are always falling over things, scraping their knee, and sometimes much worse. Namibia is a developed nation, and as such, you will find high quality doctors and hospitals. However, Namibia is also a large and sparsely populated country. We did end up visiting areas that were more than a days drive from a hospital. Always ensure that you have some basic first aid knowledge and access to a good medical kit.

8. Lower malaria risk

Malaria risk is only present in the North of the Namibia, and much of the country is low risk. Refer to the NHS Fit For Travel page for up to date advice.

You may notice that Etosha is just in the ‘high risk’ section. However, it is believed that the winter months in Etosha are malaria-free. This is because mosquito need water to breed and Etosha is totally bone dry during these months. Although, as always, consult a qualified travel practitioner (not necessarily your GP).

9. One of the safest African countries

Safety is often people’s primary concern when visiting Africa. Too frequently the problems of some countries are projected onto the entire continent. However, every in country Africa is different from it’s neighbour and Namibia has been politically stable since gaining independence from South Africa in 1990.

Most people have a trouble-free visit to Namibia. The most likely problem they encounter is puncturing a tyre on corrugated roads. There have been reports of street crime towards tourists in Windhoek, but this can be avoided by being sensible. Do consult the UK Governement Travel Advice before travelling to Namibia.

10. Good climate

With an arid climate and more the 300 days of sunshine each year, you don’t have to worry about the rains too much in Namibia. There will often be a backdrop of big blue open skies to those epic otherworldly landscapes. Visitors are also in for some seriously jaw-dropping sunsets and sunrises.

Namibia itinerary with kids

Sunset over Damaraland

However, along the Skeleton Coast, don’t be surprised with the think fog rolling in from the Atlantic; it has caught out many fishing vessels in the past, which you’ll spot rotting away, abandoned on the windswept beaches. Do also bear in mind that the nights can get bitterly cold in winter. Pack a cold-weather sleeping bag, as well as hats and gloves for those early mornings getting the tents down.

 

Have you visited Namibia with kids? Would love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

Namibia with kids

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Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet? The Namibia and Botswana guide was invaluable to our research.

You may also like to read:
Ultimate family packing list for overlanding Africa
Things to do in South Africa with kids
Tips for a safari with kids under the age of 5

 

Africa Highlights

Travelling Africa with kids: our top 10 highlights

What a truly epic adventure the last few months have been! It seems only yesterday I was announcing that we were off to Africa. Whilst there have been some seriously tough moments – record-breaking torrential rains in Tanzania, obstructive border guards in Malawi, and countless times we’ve had to turn our Land Rover around due to impassable roads – travelling Africa with kids has honestly been the best experience of all of our lives!

READ – FAQ: Travelling Africa with kids.
Includes details on safety, route planning, 4×4 hire, border crossings, and much more.  

This was our route around Southern Africa. You can read our itineraries for each stage, which provides a day by day account and our accommodation each night:

PART 1: South Africa and Mozambique
PART 2: Malawi
PART 3: Tanzania
PART 4: Zambia
PART 5: Namibia

Namibia itinerary with kids

Below are our top 10 highlights of our adventures overlanding Africa with kids. However, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, the absolute highlight of this trip has been the luxury of time. It’s the time to be on our own schedule, time not distracted by other commitments, time to just simply share day by day experiences together. Time has given us the flexibility to stay longer in a place we liked, or move on if we fancy; to change our route and our ideas for this trip on a whim. But as we come to the end of this trip, I still wish we had just a little bit more time.

Namibia itinerary with kids

But without further ado, decided by Mummy and Daddy Lynn over a few glasses of South Africa’s finest red whilst sat in a campsite in Swakopmund, Namibia, here are our top ten highlights of our African overland adventures with kids that have taken us through South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia and back to South Africa. We unfortunately didn’t make it to Botswana and Zimbabwe (we needed more time!), but will save them for another adventure.

1. Skeleton Coast (Namibia)

The most stunning drive we have ever experienced where we felt like we were at the ends of the earth. The road to the Atlantic coast is an other-wordly landscape draped with unusual sandstone formations, traversed by a gravel road that cuts through the valley. Once road meets the ocean there were sand dunes, abandoned mines, untouched beaches, and shipwrecks to explore.

2. Mt Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)

Our visit to Tanzania was timed with the worst rains in over a decade. As such, Mount Kilimanjaro was completely shrouded in cloud as we approached its foothills. I was gutted. I had been desperate to see the iconic peak for too long. Still, we held tight at a campsite in Marangu and on the second morning the skies cleared to the most incredible view. Due to the uncommonly heavy rains, Mt Kilimanjaro’s peak was completely covered in snow. Just beautiful.

Tanzania itinerary with kids

3. Victoria Falls (Zambia)

Nothing quite prepares you for the sheer thundering immensity of Victoria Falls. And it’s not like you don’t get any warning; the spray is visible for miles around and the sound is the first thing you hear in the morning. But it’s not until you reach the first viewpoint that the true spectacle really hits you – literally. We got soaking wet as bucketloads of spray poured over us! We visited at the end of May, right at the end of the wet season with the falls at full volume. It was such a treat to stay at the Victoria Falls Waterfront, right on the banks of the Zambezi with restaurant views over to the plumes of spray bellowing up from the falls.

zambia itinerary with kids

4. Mating lions outside Ruaha National Park (Tanzania)

We had initially planned to camp overnight in Ruaha National Park, but we changed plans once we saw that the campground was covered in plastic litter and inhabited by a rather protective family of elephants. As the sun started setting on the horizon we drove away from the park gates, a little perturbed at the costs of entering the park, and stumbled across two mating lions in the road. Let’s just say they like it a little rough, and the deep roars from the male made my hair stand on end. We kept our distance and in throes of violent passion the male clocked us and released a deafening roar. I immediately understood and fumbled the ignition to get the Land Rover away, heart racing. An experience I will never forget.

Tanzania itinerary with kids

5. Etosha National Park (Namibia)

Due to it’s other-worldly landscape, so different from all the safaris we have done in Africa, and for the sheer ease of spotting its abundant wildlife, Etosha had to be in the top five. Spending the morning with a pride of lions surrounding the car and watching a lonesome rhino pass by was certainly memorable. However, our favourite experience in Etosha has to be venturing to the floodlit watering hole near to the campsite once the boys were asleep to watch local wildlife visit to drink and socialise (us parents took it in turns so the boys weren’t left alone). You can read here why we think Etosha is the best safari in Africa with kids.

6. Hippos on the Zambezi (Zambia)

We arranged a private boat cruise at the lodge we were camping at (Gwabi Rivier Lodge) to take us along the river. We must have seen at least 50 hippos that morning! And the boys particularly loved it as they got to drive the boat too! The campsite at Gwabi is right on the river, so we would fall asleep to the sounds of hippos grunting away.

7. Sunset cruise Lake Malawi (Malawi)

Lake Malawi was the centrepiece for much of our travels in Malawi. We drove from its southern-most point, all the way up the Western shoreline into Tanzania. Our favourite spot on the lake was Chembe Eagles Nest, Cape Maclear, where the water is calm and crystal clear. A sunset catamaran cruise was the perfect way to experience the lake.

Malawi itinerary with kids

8. Barra Beach (Mozambique)

The beaches of Mozambique completely blew us away. Long stretches of pristine silky sand as far as the eye could see. For ease of getting to, quality of campsite and sheer beauty, Barra was our favourite. Our campsite was a stone’s throw away from the sand and we mostly had the beach to ourselves. Half an hour down the road is the old colonial town Inhabane, with it’s crumbling architecture harking back to it’s Portuguese past.

9. Tarangire National Park (Tanzania)

In protest to the obscenely high park fees for Serengetti National Park, we decided to head to Tarangire instead. Our rash decision was rewarded with seeing hundreds of elephants in the wild without another soul around! But the true highlight was camping overnight in the park with the African stars above, no fence to guard off wildlife and roars of lions in the distance. I didn’t sleep a wink that night for listening out for wildlife, but certainly one of our most memorable.

Tanzania itinerary with kids

10. Mount Mulanje (Malawi)

Rising from the tea plantations of Southern Malawi, majestic Mount Mulanje seemingly soars to the heavens. With little legs, we didn’t really entertain the notion of a three-day hike to the summit. Instead, we settled for a splendid hike up to a waterfall on the mountain, where you can enjoy a refreshing dip. With our then 2 and 4 year old boys, the round trip took us about 3 hours. But most would do it 2 hours. We surprisingly bumped into Mini Travellers on our mountain hike who have written up a review of their hike up to the waterfall on Mount Mulanje. On return to our campsite, we were surprised by a performance from some local orphans, as part of Malawi Music Fund. The voices from this choir gave me goosebumps; rich tones and beautiful a capella harmonies. It was then magical to watch the views of the Mount Mulanje being cast aflame by the setting sun.

 

Disclaimer: We are sometimes offered complimentary accommodation and tours in return for an honest review. However, as always, these are my own words and opinions. 

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The Lonely Planet Africa, and the Tracks4Africa Africa Southern Traveller’s Atlas were invaluable throughout our travels.


You may also like to read:
We’re off to Africa!
Medical kit list for families travelling Africa
AFRICA OVERLAND Part 1: South Africa and Mozambique itinerary with kids

For more posts on Africa, head to our AFRICA page.

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