There is no doubt that for any wildlife enthusiast Namibia offers an opportunity to experience game viewing on a limited budget compared to other parts of Africa. I guess the time of year will greatly impact on the numbers and species and their ease of finding as we found to say nothing of tourist numbers and prices.
Our visit lasted 25 nights plus 2 in the plane. Others might not have the time or the money to extend the visit to that length and at a guess our trip cost something in the region of £6-6.5K so not exactly inexpensive but when compared to the original quote of £8k for 7 days guided camping in Botswana ( and that didn't include flights) it's a drop in the bucket. I continue to be staggered at the cost of packages. Typically it seems a 14 night stay in Namibia following a route resembling ours to a large degree would cost somewhere in the region of £11k for two, but then you are part of a larger group and you lose the independence to stop or go whenever you want. It is so easy to organise it all yourself too.
Could we have done it even cheaper? Possibly yes. We could have found alternative places to stay but that would have meant changing the routes, we could have cut our the trips but that would have reduced our pleasure. God forbid, we could have given up the evil drink but it's so inexpensive in Namibia it wasn't a consideration.
How about camping? Well, my brief searches don't seem to make it that much of a saving overall. The cost of hiring a Hillux type vehicle with a tent on top is expensive but with the reduced excess added it seems prohibitive and you are left sleeping in less than total comfort. In the wet season I would definitely advise to think twice. I would also consider that for 7 of our 25 nights we paid less than £50 per night for accommodation, the reduced excess camper insurance costs a lot more than that per day. Yes, places like Dolomite camp are fairly expensive and the alternative of camping in Olifantsrus is £135 cheaper per night so it's a case of swings and roundabouts depending on how you structure your visit.
So how about the downsides ?
Obviously the seasons impact on a variety of aspects but the only real downside I could think of for this particular trip is the photographic limitations of shooting largely from a vehicle. You are not allowed to get out of your car in the National Parks or drive off road. Very sensible but limiting. I guess that's why waterholes are an attraction as you are more likely to have the animals come to you.
I'm sure safari purists would be quick to discount mass tourism as they take their 90 minute turn to have a one on one with a Mountain Gorilla and I must admit, the photographic opportunities when you take an off road and out of vehicle experience appear to be considerably better and more rewarding. That said I hear tales of vehicles jockeying for places around a subject in places like the Mara Mara and having experienced similar in Yala NP,Sri Lanka it's not for me. True wilderness is becoming more difficult to find it seems, or maybe it isn't. Maybe the answer is to avoid the well publicised spots and head elsewhere.
Anyway, whatever your decision I hope I have helped in some small way in deciding on Namibia as a destination and given an insight on what can be achieved.
Good luck and safety in your travels wherever they take you.