Driving Cape Town to Namibia: Where to stop along what feels like the never-ending N7

2020-02-05 11:45 - Marisa Crous
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It's about 1500km drive from Cape Town to Windhoek. If you're Gauteng-based, you're probably more likely to fly, but those based in the Western Cape love to self-drive the heck out of that 15 hours of non-stop N7.

Up the West Coast, into the Northern Cape and across the border they go, into a landscape of contrasts.

To make the drive a bit more fun, make it a proper road trip and trek your way up this route over the course of two or three days. That's right, stop to smell the desert roses, so to speak. 

First do your check-list: 

  • Passport and all relevant documents needed for the border
  • Snacks, water and an extra container of petrol for the road - some parts are very few and far between in terms of refreshment and petrol stops
  • Be sure to book your accommodation for along the way ahead of time, as you don't want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere without a place to stay
  • Take all necessary medication with you

Here's where to stop en route: 

Clanwilliam - 2 hours 30 minutes from Cape Town

It has always been known as one of those super warm small towns you drive through on your way to another destination. Situated in the Olifants River valley, close to the Cederberg’s 100-kilometre-long mountain range flanked by vineyards and citrus orchards, it's ideally located for hikers, foodies, and all-round nature lovers.

READ: Clanwilliam can be an oasis, even in 40°C heat  

Go chill in the local Spar and enjoy a bit of air-conditioning before driving on in 40 degrees heat (many people are known for doing this actually), or go visit the beautiful gardens at Yellow Aloe Guest House.

You can also check out the rooibos route in the town and surrounds. The absolute raw, rugged peaks, and clean mountain air and streams dotting the landscape provide the ideal growing environment for rooibos, so go try the Rooibos Experience at Velskoendraai Farmer's Market. 

Kamieskroon - 4 hours and 50 minutes from Cape Town 

Visit the tiny Northern Cape Town of Kamieskroon along the way to Windhoek, where for a short period of time every year it is wrapped in a delicate blanket of multi-coloured florals.

The Namakwaland flower season starts the second week of August, so be sure not to miss it if you happen to find yourself in this neck of the woods. 

Also stop at the nearby small, but punchy 10 000-hectare Goegap Nature Reserve for more wild flowers and roaming wildlife like springbok, gemsbok, and even the endangered Hartman's Zebra.  

READ: SA desert, one of the darkest spots on the planet, named a Nat Geo top trip for 2020 

Stay over in Namaqua National Park - 5 hours and 30 minutes from Cape Town

Almost 6 hours on the N7 from the Mother City, by the shore you'll find the Namaqua National Park. Stay among the fields of flowers as you take in a star-studded evening sky, staying in a tented camp right by the Atlantic Ocean. Close enough to feel the spray.

Sleeping here is the perfect pit stop along your way to the desert. 

Keetmanshoop - 9 hours and 30 minutes from Cape Town

You've crossed the border, but there is still a lot of road ahead of you. So do your eyes, body and soul a favour by giving them a bit of a stretch.

Go check out the Quiver Tree Forest Rest Camp in Southern Nam, about 14km from Keetmans. Either stay at the rest camp for the night and indulge in the stunning landscape where stargazing is the main event, or do a quick visit and picture for the Gram, before heading onto Windhoek, about another 5 hours away. 

READ: Namibia 4x4 adventure: The winter road trip you've been itching to plan

Kolmanskop and Lüderitz - take a sandy pilgrimage, 3 hours from Keetmanshoop

Time to ghost town like you've never before ghost-towned.

If you take a detour to the coast, you'll find Kolmanskop first. Just about 10km inland from the port town of Lüderitz, this sandy tourist destination is run by Namibia-De Beers.

It used to be a small, but rich mining village, which got its name from a transport driver, Johnny Coleman who chose to abandon his ox wagon on a small incline opposite the settlement during a sandstorm.

Be sure to take a ghost tour to really get some perspective and take your picture in the bathtub sat on a sandy dune.

From here you can venture further and check out the windy and wonderful, one-street town of Lüderitz. Spooky but not as creepy, this harbour village known for its colonial architecture, brightly coloured German Art Deco style buildings and fresh local seafood, is great for a quick stroll or if you have enough time and the experience, you can even go for a scenic dive. 

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