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Namibia – Flying Versus Driving Safaris

June 3, 2024  By: Gretchen

Namibia is more than twice the size of California – nearly 820,000 square miles! It is a country with many natural wonders to explore and a tremendous amount of ground to cover, and we are often asked which is better – a flying safari or a driving safari?

The short answer is both driving and flying have advantages and disadvantages. We usually recommend flying to maximize spending time at your destination, rather than getting to it. But there are times when driving has its advantages, particularly if you are staying in the central part of the country.

game drive with elephants

Namibia has an extensive network of tarmac and, more commonly, gravel and dirt roads and a driving safari in Namibia allows for a very immersive experience. When traversing the country with your expert driver-guide, you have the chance to really take in the country’s incredible, ever-changing landscapes. You might find a quaint and wildly remote stop for a cup of coffee, or a place to stretch your legs with a vista you never even imagined existed.

sunset in Namibia

Driving also allows you to have the same driver-guide for your entire trip, giving you the chance to get to know the individual expert that is sharing their country with you, which can be a very rewarding experience. A driving safari is generally less expensive than an all-flying safari and is really the only way to get a sense of Namibia’s incredible vastness. The distances between destinations and the incredible scenery you see along the way will leave you awed.

Self-driving in Namibia is also an option, though we do not recommend this for our clients due to long drive times, the likelihood of getting lost, missing out on information from a local guide and the inherent dangers of extremely long drives on gravel roads through areas without cell or emergency services. .


There are small airstrip throughout Namibia so a flying safari allows you more time at each destination as you travel between them more quickly. Flying also helps you absorb some of the country’s immensity such as the chance to soar over its ‘sand sea’ of dunes along the coastline and Namibia’s famous and fascinating shipwrecks. Additionally, there are areas of Namibia where it is more practical to fly, such as when visiting the ghost town of Kolmanskop. The drive takes around 8 hours one way and the only real attraction in the area is Kolmanskop itself, which can be explored in half a day.


Flying can bring you to the most remote areas of the country with ease, whereas driving to some of these destinations can be time consuming and arduous. You will still have expert guides throughout your trip – a different one at each destination. It is possible to have a single guide travel with you on your safari, but this will add considerable cost. It is important to keep in mind that flying safaris require that you adhere to weight restrictions – typically no more than 40 lbs (total between all bags) in soft-sided luggage. The weight allowance could be less on a charter flight depending on the number of passengers.


But why not have your cake and eat it, too? When practical, we recommend a combination of flying and driving on your Namibia safari to experience the best of both worlds. Enjoying the slower pace of a drive where you can see the landscapes on a human scale, gain local knowledge from your guide and stop to enjoy your surroundings when you wish, perhaps with a picnic under a tree or on the beach, makes for an intimate and revelatory experience of Namibia. Exploring parts of it from the air is also amazing – especially taking a scenic flight over the Skeleton Coast to take in its stark desolation and beauty, along with its many shipwrecks or its remote, moonlike northern reaches!

walking on the coastline

Are you ready for your own customized safari in Namibia?

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Photos courtesy AAC Journey Specialist Sara Stark, Ultimate Safaris and Namibia Tourism