THE BEST WAY TO WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA
From LAX, Lufthansa and British Airways offer connecting service (change of plane) on Air Namibia; Delta, Virgin America and American offer connecting service on South African Airways. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $1,325, excluding taxes and fees. If you have time to add a day's drive in each direction, start in Cape Town, South Africa.
WHEN TO GO
Seasons are the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere. Skip the Kalahari summer and rainy season and aim to visit between May and September. Take a sweater for cool desert nights.
Major car rental agencies are all represented at Windhoek airport, but car rental in Namibia requires careful planning. Although the country's paved highways are some of Africa's best, some attractions lie along corrugated gravel roads that can make you feel as if you've been strapped to a paint-can shaker. A 4x4 isn't strictly necessary, but you'll be more comfortable. If you're driving the car from South Africa, you must ask the agency for special paperwork for the border crossing.
Namibia is a safe country, among Africa's most prosperous. The climate and emptiness are a traveler's greatest threats: Carry water in your car and check the spare tire. Cellphone coverage is rare outside of settlements.
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 264 (country code for Namibia) and the local number.
WHERE TO STAY & EAT
Unless you're in a town, plan on eating where you stay; there won't be other options. Around Fish River Canyon and Sossusvlei, many lodges have similar names, so be careful which one you're booking.
Cañon Lodge, Fish River Canyon; 61-230066, http://www.gondwana-collection.com/home/accommodation/canyonlodge. This company has several similarly named lodges near the canyon, but Cañon Lodge is unique. The B&B rate is $122 a person, based on double occupancy, plus $28 for dinner.
Kratzplatz Guesthouse, 5 Nachtigal Street, Lüderitz; 63-202458; http://www.kratzplatz.com. This friendly guesthouse has a bar so loud, friendly and local that it would be at home in any number of rough-and-ready towns in the American West. However, the characters holding up the bar are diamond miners, not cowboys. The B&B rate is $36 a person, based on double occupancy.
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, Sossusvlei; (888) 882-3742 in the U.S., http://www.andbeyondafrica.com. You could spend more on luxury accommodations in Sossuvlei, but this is plenty: $482 a person a night (or $434 a person if staying four or more nights). Expensive, but a free-standing private suite, three gourmet meals a day, most alcoholic drinks, private game drives, flawless service and unlimited questions for the resident astronomer are included. No single supplement for solo travelers.
TO LEARN MORE
Namibia Tourism Board, http://www.namibiatourism.com.naCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times