Solo travel in Etosha
Namibia is a marvellous country for solo travellers, safe, accustomed to tourist needs and with excellent transport and communications infrastructure. This takes care of a lot of the anxiety about travelling to Etosha for many. One can easily take to the open road alone in a hire vehicle, and proceed to explore the park – but not all wish to. Besides the fact that striking out into a foreign country on one’s own can be intimidating, the distances are impressive, and driving for some is tiring. Even self-driving in the park itself – the primary activity – can be exhausting if one is always behind the wheel.
Okonjima Omboroko Campsite
If being a solo driver is not a concern, those not after too much luxury might like to know that Etosha rest camps are often busy and the potential to meet others . The floodlit waterholes at the main camps are also ways to enjoy wildlife sightings with others, and one can book guided drives where shared animal sightings can be enjoyed. Solo travellers will enjoy all regions of the park – just remember that eco-camps Dolomite, in the west, and Onkoshi, in the east are the quietest, if priciest options. All roads to Etosha’s gates are tarred, but travellers planning on going further to Damaraland, or north via the western side of the park, will have to tackle some dirt.
Certain solo travellers to Etosha will appreciate handing over all responsibilities and booking in at an all-inclusive lodge outside the park. Meals and game drives will be on offer when needed, leaving travellers free to admire the landscapes, relax in patches, and concentrate on what they can see through binoculars and cameras. Wake-up calls will help you up make dawn-patrol game drives, and cold drinks and meals will magically appear as and when needed. Many self-drive to their lodge accommodations, and then happily park for the duration. In this case, thanks to Namibia’s long empty roads, it’s a good idea to let your lodge know when you hope to arrive. Note that some areas en route will not have mobile phone connectivity.
Those soloists who are chasing passions such as birding and wildlife photography can investigate specialised tours that cater to the particular needs such guests have.
Solo travellers do have the disadvantage of not being able to share rates. Most accommodations will charge a single supplement, and it can be steep. Ask about specials and low season rates as these make certain establishments more affordable.
Some lodges also attract more honeymooners and couples who stare at each other with an intensity others lavish on the wildlife! A Discover Africa consultant will know which lodges and camps are more likely to welcome singles, provide communal dinners and meals, and offer private dining should you wish to retreat. As accommodations around Etosha cater to self-drivers and independent travellers as well as fully-inclusive guests, there can be less mixing of guests than at remote safari lodges in other countries. Some seat self-driving solos at individual tables; singles booked on fully-inclusive trips are more likely to eat as a group with other guests. If this important to you, do ask your travel expert for advice.
A guaranteed, ready-made “group” can be found – by taking a small-group guided tour. These range in quality and comfort levels, but there are some excellent operators with fine guides – the kind who can identify a small bird on the wing and know what medicinal uses a plant has. Most have set departures and itineraries, and will include Etosha as part of a trip that takes in a range of Namibian highlights. These can work out quite reasonably as they include most meals, park fees, accommodation and of course, that invaluable peace of mind. Groups of no more than seven are desirable. Whether lodges, luxury tented camps or actual “real” rough-and-ready camping, there should be an option to suit all budgets. Single supplements for your own tent or room are likely.
For those with seriously deep pockets, there is also the option of a private guided trip, which can be customised to focus on regions of primary interest.
- Self-drivers should travel with plenty of drinking water in case of breakdowns. Tap water can be drunk in Etosha unless otherwise stated.
- Low-season rates may provide solo travellers with a better deal.