Overland Travel: Sesriem – Walvis Bay, Namibia


Today’s travel experiences would have us travelling through the rugged rural landscapes of Namibia. Leaving the comforts of our camp in Sossusvlei, we’d head over land from Sesriem through the Namibian desert tundra to the coastal city of Walvis Bay. The drive was surreal, spectacular and remote; something any adventure traveler would enjoy.

This post is one chapter on our trip to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and the United Arab Emirates. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines AAdvantage & Alaska Mileage Plan. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Activity: Overland Travel Sesriem to Walvis Bay, Namibia

“The Driving Route from Sesriem to Walvis Bay covered Desert to Coast topography and was among some of the most rural adventure drives of my life”

Checking out the Sesriem Canyon:

We departed the Sossus Dune Lodge and called in at Sesriem Canyon on the way out of town. It is located right across from the Sossus Dune Lodge entrance. A short clamber down what appeared to be a small river bed actually turned into a large deep ravine that contained water at one time over its life cycle.

Walking into the Sesriem Canyon
The Depths of the Sesriem Canyon
Deep cavities of a natural canyon
Dry Beds of a Canyon

Departing Sesriem for Walvis Bay:

Three Hundred and Twenty Kilometers Travelled.

After we explored, we left the Sesriem Canyon and started trucking North towards Solitaire. The route today was as follows. Like our earlier inbound trip, it was posted at 4 hours and change but was more like 6 hours actual time, including some stops. It was a pretty amazing drive along this route and one that I will easily remember for it’s scenic, desolate, isolated and rugged geography that was unlike anywhere that I had driven ever before.

A Four Hour Route through Nowhere

We started out Northward on Route C19. The views were of rural mountains without a soul around.

Rural Mountains
Travelling on C19

We frequently spotted the Social Weaver building nests in the rural trees found on the side of the road. …

The Sociable Weaver Nests
The Sociable Weaver Nests

We approached the desert town of Solitaire and stocked up on supplies.

The Shade in the Town of Solitaire
An antique gas pump against Cactus at Solitaire
The Filling Station at Solitaire
Wild Animals Checking Out the Scenery at Solitaire

We took lunch again at Solitaire as seen above before tanking up the truck with diesel and heading West on C14: a road that was in fairly good condition. When I mean that the road was in good condition, it was free of pot holes and debris. The next 234 km were mostly unpaved and packed gravel. There were a few paved spots in river beds and on the canyon hills but that was about it. There also happened to be very few people around as you can see from the photographs.


Heading West Towards the West African Coast:

We passed through some strong mountainous scenery, with game along the side of the road that included Impala, Oryx and Ostrich. The road was not completely fenced in all areas so we kept our eye out for wildlife.

The Decision Maker: West towards Walvis Bay
Wild Oryx on the Side of the Highway
Wild Oryx on the Side of Route C14
Travelling on the Namibian Highway of C14
Wild Ostriches Checking us Out
Vast Landscapes
Lone Joshua Trees

Crossing the Tropic of Capricorn:

As we continued our journey, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. When you travel, there are some stories and milestones that make for great stories. You don’t get many opportunities to say that you drove through Africa and crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. As a result, we stopped for a photograph. We had the whole stop to ourselves and for once, there was no waiting for bystanders to get out of the way to get the right photograph.

Our Truck and the Tropic of Capricorn
Miles Away from Anywhere

The setting was pretty surreal. It was a marker line in the middle of nowhere surrounded by beautiful mountains

Local Mountain Views
Desolation all Around
Nothing like the Required Selfie

Passing through River Valleys:

Getting onwards with our trip, we passed through several mountain passes; Namibian style. These weren’t the typical interstate or highway mountain passes that we had at home, rather they were roads cut into the sides of mountains allowing the roadway to pass through canyons or hill sides and through dry river beds. Once again, there was some fascinating and rugged natural scenery as we passed through these two passes which had a lot of moonscape type of terrain.

Namibian Mounted Passes
A Road Cut Through Canyons
Terrain Similar to What I’d Expect on the Moon
Pausing to Take in the Scenery
Vast Rural Nothingness
Isolated Bridges over Dry Waterways
Walvis Bay only 140 km!

The last part of the drive across the Tumas flats was pretty unexciting. We had about an hour of nothing, except for the odd power pole and burnt out car, which meant in some strange way that we were getting somewhere closer towards civilization. There was still the hot desert heat and the car thermometer read between 30 – 31 degrees Celsius.

Trucking along the Tumas Flats
Speeding through Nothingness

Approaching Walvis Bay at Dune 7:

As we approached town, the Walvis Bay Sand dunes were ever present on the north side of the highway. We stopped at the locally famous Dune 7, where several locals were having a BBQ / Braii party with their car stereos pumping loud music as they took turns running up and down the shady side of the sand dune slopes. The sand here was much more grey and sandy coloured than the golds and reds of the Sossusvlei desert area.

Hanging Out with the Locals at Dune 7, Walvis Bay, Namibia
Climbing for a Thrill
Local Entertainment: Sliding Down Dune 7
Going for a Slide

We entered into town and headed towards the Pelican Point Lighthouse. The sand was almost taking over the highway on the C14.

Walvis Bay Sand Dunes Near Town
Vast Sand Dunes at Walvis Bay

My Thoughts on Driving Across the Namibia Desert

It was a fascinating day of driving across a vast tundra that didn’t have anyone around. I think we saw maybe 4 cars going the opposite direction the entire day, maybe less than 5-7 people total in our 6 hour drive. It had some spectacular sights along the way. It was pretty neat to get a selfie at the Tropic of Capricorn; certainly not something that you get to do everyday.

If you’ve driven this route, did you enjoy the isolation and experience as much as we did?

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