A Solo Traveller's Guide to Namibia

Namibia | kolibri5/Pixabay
Namibia | kolibri5/Pixabay
Photo of Gill Lange
25 January 2018

If you’re looking to get away from it all and clear your head for a while, then there’s no better place for this than Namibia. Its wide open spaces call for quiet contemplation while the essence of existence hangs in the air. Solitude is one of Namibia’s gifts, but it can also get lonely out in the oldest desert in the world. Here is Culture Trip’s guide for a solo traveller in Namibia.

Just me, myself and I

Those who need to get away from all of life’s demands will find Namibia’s emptiness eminently appealing. If it’s some me-time you’re looking for then one of the best things to do is hire a car and just drive. There is no need for a co-pilot as traffic, with the exception of the bigger cities, is almost non-existent. Pulling off on the side of the road to scrutinise a map or reset the GPS is therefore easy and unlikely to invoke any road rage.

Road traffic in rural Namibia | © katja/Pixabay

Solo travellers especially, though, should bear in mind that Namibia is an enormous and often isolated place, where modern technology could quite easily let you down. So it’s always sensible to have a good old road map handy.

Solo but looking for friends

If you’re the kind of traveller who prefers a hearty chinwag, as opposed to hours of silence, then consider hooking up with a tour group. This is a great way to cover all the highlights of the country and can be enjoyed by young and old alike. Although you may be restricted by a set tour itinerary, on the plus-side you should never be short of conversation.

Travellers in Namibia | © Colin and Sarah Northway/WikiCommons

Crime is rare

For solo travellers, Namibia is one of the safest destinations to choose in Africa. Due to the sprawling size of the country and low numbers of local inhabitants, petty crime and theft are generally not big concerns. This is not to say that one should be complacent, and common sense should always prevail. Windhoek, Namibia’s capital and most populated city, is the most prone to petty crime, while out in the dunes of Sossusvlei travellers are more at risk of getting a flat tire than becoming a victim of lawlessness.

Windhoek City | © elvirahattingh1/Pixabay

Always check in with someone

While losing yourself in the desert may sound enticing, the hard reality is that you really don’t want to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere without another soul knowing where you are. Road conditions in rural areas of Namibia are not great, and potholes can swallow up entire vehicle tires, sometimes more than one a day. Once stranded, it could be anything up to 24 hours before another vehicle passes your way. At least if you’ve told someone where you’re headed, then they’ll know in which direction to send the search party.

Lonely desert road | © kolibri5/Pixabay

It’s also a good idea to be well-prepared if a crisis does arise. Bottled water, a few snacks and some ready cash should be kept close at hand. Remember that gas stations are few and far between when travelling outside of the cities, so carrying extra fuel could help get you out of a tight spot.

Don’t rush it

This is especially true for solo travellers following a self-guided itinerary – and another gift that Namibia gives, to seemingly make time stand still. If you’re following your own schedule and have no one to please but yourself, then it’s almost guaranteed that pleasure will be found in simply marching to your own beat. Stop, linger, delay the departure, wait and watch. The stunning desert landscape of Namibia is far from monotonous, but only those who have the patience will be rewarded with its hidden magic.

Desert lion waits patiently | © itprax/Pixabay

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