Swakopmund • Skeleton Coast NP • Windhoek • Sossusvlei (approx. 1,100 km)
The road: Sweeping the wreck-strewn flats of the Namibian coast is one of the world’s most iconic routes, but be warned: it can get quite similar. So try to discover more than just the coast, starting in Swakopmund before descending into the dunes of Sossusvlei via the country’s charming colonial capital, Windhoek.
Where to stop: Take time out of Swakopmund to wander its Germanic streets and promenades, or explore the dunes near Walvis Bay. North of the city, the Coastal Road (C34) runs 440km to Mowe Bay, but it’s enough to taste. With only a handful of branch lines en route, head west to Hentiesbaai, after detouring north to Cape Cross, where a vast reserve of Cape fur seals can be spotted in winter (November-December).
From there, head to the Central Highlands to explore the hilltop setting of colonial Windhoek, a five-hour drive from the coast. Finally, descend to the towering red dunes of Sossusvlei (via the C24/C14), where you can either climb ‘Big Daddy’ (its highest dune at 325m) or drive the salt pans. Along the way, stop at the peaceful Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park for scenic camping and some 200 species of birds scattered along its cool mountain trails.
Make a detour ? North of Windhoek, the B1 road passes Etosha NP, home to black rhinos and lions, and Waterberg Plateau NP, which sits on the slopes of Table Mountain. Return to the capital via the escarpments and baked valleys of Damaraland, with a taste of the northern Skeleton Coast.