Top tips for travelling with kids in Namibia

If you asked our kids what their favourite holiday was, Namibia will likely be top of the list. Maybe it was the thrill of sleeping in a roof top tent, or running up the sand dunes and enjoying the wide open spaces, or was it the wildlife? Maybe it was just the opportunity to enjoy some quality off-grid time with the family?

We have been fortunate to take our kids on a couple of trips to Namibia, as well as organising tailor-made trips for other families. Here are our top tips for enjoying travelling with kids (big or small) in Namibia.

The best way to get around when travelling with kids in Namibia

When travelling with kids, the freedom to have your own vehicle is priceless! Not every destination suits self-drive, but Namibia really does. In our opinion, Namibia is one of the best self-drive destinations in the world (read more about why Namibia is such a great self-drive destination). And with roads like this (and very few cars to share them with), what’s not to love?

4×4 with camping capabilities

There are plenty of options for hiring vehicles in Namibia. A popular choice is to hire a 4×4 that has been set up for camping which gives you the opportunity to enjoy some of the great campsites in Namibia. For a family of four, a 4×4 with two rooftop tents can work well, although if you are travelling with teenagers it might be worth asking the hire company to add a ground tent to your set up to give everyone a bit more space at night. When we took the kids to Namibia for the first time they were 2 and 4, and while it meant we were each sharing a tent with one of our kids, it gave us a bit of comfort knowing everyone was off the ground when we were camping in wildlife areas.

Campervan

Another option is to hire a campervan. Now considering how much we love overland travel, it may surprise you that we were a bit snobbish about campervans. That was, until we had an incredible week in a campervan in Kruger National Park! Travelling with small kids, a campervan can really be a sanity saver – something about having a loo on board with young kids perhaps? It also meant that we could happily go out for endless game drives and the kids could entertain themselves if they got bored of looking for the leopard that continued to elude us on our Kruger trip.

What if you aren’t keen on camping?

If you aren’t the camping type, then self-driving in Namibia is still a great option, especially if you are travelling with kids. Unless you go looking for sandy tracks, you can travel in a standard 2×4 sedan, but a 4×4 gives you a bit of extra height which is great especially for game viewing in Etosha National Park, one of Namibia’s unmissable highlights.

Be realistic with your itinerary

If you have travelled with us on one of our Overland Truck Trips, you will be no stranger to long travel days. Weirdly small kids don’t seem to cope nearly as well with being in a vehicle for extended periods!

When we plan trips with our kids (or when we plan tailor-made trips for families with kids), we are very mindful of keeping the drive days as short as possible. We also try to include some multi-night stops along the way to give them a break from travelling. Sometimes a long travel day is unavoidable, but we found that the kids really got into the travelling and were able to keep themselves entertained (often without resorting to screens) and enjoyed the uninterrupted family time. Although of course sometimes we did consider building walls inside the vehicle to keep them separate…

Include kid-friendly activities

There are some activities the whole family can enjoy, like game viewing in Etosha National Park, the seal colony at Cape Cross, exploring the funky town of Swakopmund, visiting cultural villages… but including some activities that appeal to the kids can make everyones’ trip more enjoyable.

Here are some of our favourites kid-friendly activities in Namibia.

  • National Marine Aquarium in Swakopmund is a small and simple aquarium, but enjoyable for young kids
  • Snake Park in Swakopmund is a definite no-no if you are Ophidiophobia, but if anyone in the family is keen on reptiles with no legs, it’s well worth a visit.
  • Salt pans of the Luderitz peninsula were good fun to explore with the kids
  • Playing in the dune fields near Dune 45, Deadvlei and Sossusvlei, or behind Swakopmund
  • Swimming – worth looking for campsites with a pool if you are travelling in the warmer months
  • Exploring the rocks and rock art of Spitzkoppe
  • Camping – we know not everyone is a fan of camping, but we love it and our kids love it even more. Sitting around a campfire, sleeping in tents, stargazing, enjoying the wildlife that comes in to visit. Oh, and marshmallows of course.

Snacks

Snacks are an inevitable part of life with kids, and travelling with kids is no different! You will find all the usual snacks available in the supermarkets. But if you are looking for some Namibian “padkos” (literally “road food”), then don’t forget to pick up some biltong or droewors (dried beef or dried sausage).

Most major towns have well-stocked supermarkets. You will also find some road side stalls along the way where you can stock up on local products.

Sneak in some learning

If you are heading to Namibia, it’s fair to assume that Etosha National Park will probably be on your itinerary. Nothing sparks interest in kids like seeing wild animals just a few metres away. A good guidebook can help make the experience even more interesting. It can also give the kids something to keep them occupied when you are looking for animals. Teaching kids to use binoculars requires a very particular type of patience…

Some great guidebooks include:

If you want to pick up these books or others while you are on the road, we found Die Muschel in Swakopmund to be a great bookstore.

Best time of year for travelling with kids in Namibia

Namibia can get very hot in summer. And the nights can be very cool in winter. So aiming to visit Namibia in Spring or Autumn is the safest bet. Unfortunately it is peak season, but it’s peak season for a reason. Try to avoid Namibian/South African school holidays if you can. That said, Namibia is a country where you can be assured of finding wide open spaces and overcrowding isn’t something you need to worry about too much!

Ready to head off?

If you would like us to help you plan a family trip to Namibia, please get in touch! We offer tailor-made tours which are great for groups of family and friends (can be guided or self-guided), or we can provide expedition support if you are heading off in your own vehicle.

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