You must think what kind of blog is that now? From flying first class to Namibia to hitchhiking in Namibia? That is a huge contrast! I admit, it totally is. But you know me: always in for an adventure and for everything a first time. Hitchhiking in Namibia was not planned but more or less born out of necessity. And what an adventure it turned out to be…
Getting around Namibia
Namibia is a huge country and I kind of underestimated that. On top of that it is the second least densely populated country in the world after Mongolia. Getting around Namibia is a challenge! There is no thing such as public transport. Although there is a South African company called Intercape that serves some places in Namibia, but the bus schedule is a bit odd to say at least. For example a bus back to Windhoek from Keetmanshoop leaves at 03.30am. Yes in the middle of the night! During the day? No scheduled busses! The train? Haha let’s not even speak about that! Once a week! :)
If you are looking for Namibia travel tips of how to get around, then keep on reading!
After the volunteering project in South Namibia (more about that later on my blog) I needed to travel about 400 kilometers through the country and when I asked around the only option was basically to either rent my own car or to go hitchhiking. I chose the last option and it was going to be my first hitchhiking adventure in my life.
Hitchhiking was something I always wanted to try but never really needed to do. Mostly when traveling there is well-organized public transport and in cheap countries you can take long distance taxis. I know like no one else how to travel on a budget as I was backpacking around the world for many years, but so far never needed to beg for a ride. Even when I arranged my Namibia itinerary I did not think I would have to go hitchhiking, but when you travel plans change constantly.
My experience hitchhiking in Namibia
From Karasburg to Keetmanshoop
For locals hitchhiking is totally normal and a guy I met at the conservation project took me under his wing. He was going in the same direction. We walked to an old gas station and he kept on telling me how easy it would be. I asked him if we didn’t need to put our thumbs up, but he was like: no need brother just follow me! When we reached the gas station I quickly understood what he meant. Hitchhiking in Namibia is not really what it’s like anywhere else. Basically you are looking for a shared taxi at designated places.
At least this was a new experience and turned out to be a great story for my Namibia travel blog.
As soon as we got to the gas station Raul asked a guy standing next to his car if he was going to Keetmanshoop. Yes brother, but we need two more people! Oh damn that was easy. Raul fixed us a ride in less than a minute.
This did not feel like hitchhiking actually, it was too easy. It took about an hour though before we found two other people to join us and we could finally head out. Literally 50 meters after departure our driver stopped at a gas station to fill up his tank. I was like dude we just waited more than 1 hour at a gas station, what the hell! Then I discovered something new about hitchhiking in Namibia: you have to pay! Oh ok, no problem of course, but this was a new way of hitchhiking to me.
The 215 kilometers took us a little over 2 hours: I paid $10.
At this time I already started losing my patience. Not for the $10 but for the process of waiting for so long for basically a taxi.
It was good fun though. Two young girls got into the car with us and Raul was our DJ. I learned some great new African tunes and the girls taught me how to dance.
Part 1 of my hitchhiking in Namibia adventure was a small success. But I wasn’t there yet…
If you are looking for a Namibia itinerary for 7 days including Etosha, Skeleton Coast and Sossusvlei, click on the link!
From Keetmanshoop to Fish River Canyon
From Keetmanshoop onwards I had to say goodbye to Raul, as he was traveling in another direction. I needed to travel a good 70 kilometers West and then needed to go South towards Fish River Lodge, my final destination. Asking around was not really successful! I was going to one of the most expensive lodges in the area so when I told them my direction I saw the dollar signs in their eyes! All I thought was: damn it people I am not paying for this lodge it is just another job for me. But of course no one would understand me if I would explain it to them.
Getting around Namibia was difficult at least to say. Patience is key and I don’t have a lot of that!
Some people asked $150, other would say $100 and another one $80. It was still 175 kilometer and Google Maps told me it was 2h 40min drive, so I kind of understood that they did not ask $20. But damn I was totally losing my patience at this time.
I also have to add that I was a little chicken and did not even try to stand on the side of the road with my thumb up. Looking back now I would have easily got a ride! It would probably have made an even better story for my Namibia road trip blog, but wait until you see the video! ;)
Eventually I ended up paying $28 for a 70-kilometer ride, which took me 40 minutes. Hitchhiking in Namibia started to look like mission failed!
Hitchhiking in its pure form: still never tried!
The last bit: 102 kilometer on a gravel road
We approached the crossing for Fish River Lodge and the guy slowed down. This gravel road I asked him? Yes brother here it is! Damn it, really? I got out of the car and yes there was a sign saying Fish Rover Lodge 102 kilometers! Alright then…
And then there I was in the middle of nowhere. Who drives into this road? A dead end dirt road more than a 100 kilometers long! Why did I decide to go hitchhiking in Namibia!
It took only 10 minutes though before the first car showed up. A friendly couple from Scotland with their toddler stopped. What are you doing here they asked me. Looking for a ride I said with a big smile, finally hoping to get into a car and reach my destination! Damn sorry man we are not going in that direction! We just came to have a little chat!
Noooooooooooo way! It made me laugh it almost was too good to be true!
The couple left and I waited 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours and not a single car turned into this stupid dirt road. It was getting dark and I decided to call the lodge and abort my mission hitchhiking in Namibia. It was a cool adventure and I still have to laugh looking back at the video. Although I think I don’t have the patience to hitchhike it was a great adventure.
Namibia travel tips on how to get around
Hitchhiking in Namibia was fun and it made a good video! But for real, getting around Namibia is not easy! Keep that in mind when you travel to Namibia. This country is may be not really made for solo travelers, but at least everything is an adventure in this country.
There are designated gas station in every town where people gather to travel onwards. These unscheduled mini busses are basically private transport services. First ask around how much you have to pay before you ask a driver for a ride. About $5 per 100 kilometer is a fair price. But from Keetmanshoop to Windhoek, which is 500 kilometer I only paid 170 N$ ($14). Make sure you get to the right gas station and then getting around Namibia with these public transport services gets a lot easier.
Rather rent a car? Have a look at this self-driving Namibia itinerary for 1 week!