Upon arrival at Hosea Kutako (Windhoek) International Airport you will be warmly welcomed by your private guide. Kick-start your adventure with approximately an hours’ drive to Windhoek, where you will spend the night. The rest of the afternoon is available for you to relax and settle into your accommodation, with the option to explore Windhoek’s shops and craft market if desired. That evening, enjoy dinner with your guide as you discuss the itinerary for your upcoming safari.
Namibia’s capital, Windhoek is a bustling metropolis that is unexpectedly neat and orderly, though this is perhaps less surprising when one considers it was a German territory for many years. This is the main port of call for most tourists and all travellers pass through the city at least once. Situated in a pretty valley, Windhoek boasts buildings very much in the German architectural style. The German presence can be strongly felt in the food, restaurants – and, of course, the beer. The Namibian beer is said to be the best in Africa and is brewed in Windhoek.
This morning you will leave Windhoek in your safari vehicle, accompanied by your guide, who will drive you southwest through the scenic Khomas Hochland highlands before you head down the Great Escarpment into the Namib Desert below. A picnic lunch will be served at a scenic location on route. You will arrive at your choice of accommodation in the late afternoon and will stay for two nights while you explore the remarkable sights of the Namib Desert with your guide. If there is still time today, your guide will take you to visit Sesriem Canyon, a scenic nearby attraction, or you can choose to relax and soak in the scenic and tranquil surroundings.
Sossusvlei, situated at the heart of the enormous Namib-Naukluft Park, is one of the highlights of any trip to Namibia. Easily accessible to visitors, Sossusvlei is a clay pan that is only rarely filled by water but is nevertheless a place of awe-inspiring beauty. Visitors to the region will be left spellbound by the magnificent ochre-coloured sand dunes, which rise over 300m (985 feet) into the sky – among the highest sand dunes in the world.
Next morning you will rise early for a magical excursion into the Namib Naukluft National Park with your guide, entering the park gates at sunrise to capture the dunes while the light is soft and shadows accentuate their towering shapes and curves. This area boasts some of the highest free-standing sand dunes in the world. Your guide will give you an insight into the formation of the Namib Desert and the fascinating creatures and plants that have adapted to survive in these harsh environs. Once you have explored the area to your heart’s content, you can enjoy a relaxing picnic breakfast in the shade of a camel thorn tree. Return to your accommodation in the early afternoon, stopping off to view Sesriem Canyon, if you haven’t already done so the day before. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure (from experience, this is usually welcomed after an exhilarating morning in the dunes).
Hot air balloon rides, helicopter flips and scenic flights over the majestic desert landscape, as well as horse riding adventures, are also available nearby at an additional cost.
Today’s fascinating drive takes you northwest through the awe-inspiring and ever-changing landscapes of the Namib Naukluft National Park, including the impressive Gaub and Kuiseb canyons. You will reach the coast at the port town of Walvis Bay, visiting the lagoon to see the interesting mix of pelicans, flamingos and other sea-birds before continuing north to Swakopmund, where you can enjoy the pleasant seaside location and cooler coastal air for the next two nights. In the afternoon there will be time to wander around town and along the waterfront on foot if you wish before heading off to dinner at the popular Tug Restaurant by the jetty, which specialises in fresh seafood.
As an alternative to the drive from Sossusvlei to Swakopmund you may like to take a scenic light aircraft flight over Sossusvlei and along the Diamond Coast (optional extra at additional cost). This will give you a bird’s eye view over the dunes, sea, abandoned mining camps, shipwrecks, Sandwich Harbour and salt pans before you land at Swakopmund Airport. Your guide will drive to meet up with you in Swakopmund later in the day.
The charming little coastal retreat of Swakopmund on Namibia’s western coast retains a strong German flavour, from its cobbled streets and picturesque buildings down to its typical German restaurants and pubs. This town is traditionally a holiday spot for locals and foreigners alike, with many opportunities for adventure sports and some good old-fashioned fun. Swakopmund is an ideal place to relax after a few days in the desert. Wash off the sand and sample some of the finely-brewed local beer and seafood, including fish, lobster and the utterly delicious oysters.
After an early breakfast, your guide will drive you along the scenic coastal road to Walvis Bay for a memorable seal and dolphin cruise within the outer lagoon and harbour. This is an ideal way of seeing Cape fur seals, dolphins, pelicans, flamingos and a wide variety of other sea birds. If you are lucky, there is also the chance of seeing whales, leatherback turtles and sunfish. Snacks, including local sparkling wine and fresh oysters, will be served during the course of the cruise. You will return to the jetty at roughly 12h30, after which you may like to explore Walvis Bay further before returning to Swakopmund for an afternoon at leisure at your guesthouse or in town. You may also like to partake in some of the many other activities that Swakopmund has to offer, which include camel rides, scenic flights, quad-biking in the dunes, sky diving or vibrant township visits. Choose to set off on foot to meet a local doctor and find out about the herbal medicines used by the Nama people or visit a local kindergarten and spend the evening enjoying the lively vibe of an informal shebeen (all at extra cost).
After breakfast you will leave Swakopmund and head into the Damaraland of north-western Namibia. You will head inland, passing Namibia’s highest mountain, the Brandberg, and make your way towards Twyfelfontein. Typified by displays of colour, magnificent table-topped mountains, rock formations and bizarre-looking vegetation, Damaraland offers some of the most breath-taking scenery on your safari. The present day landscape has been formed by the erosion of wind and water, as well as geological forces that have formed rolling hills, dunes, gravel plains and ancient river terraces. It is the variety and loneliness of the area, as well as its scenic splendour, that will reward and astound you, giving you an authentic understanding of the word ‘wilderness’.
If time allows this afternoon, your guide will take you to visit the nearby attractions of the Twyfelfontein rock engravings (recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Burnt Mountain and the Organ Pipes. There should be the opportunity to include this in the activities planned for tomorrow if you do not have sufficient time today. Return to your accommodation in time for a sunset walk in the area.
The breathtaking mountain region of Damaraland is situated on the eastern side of the Skeleton Coast National Park and southwest of Etosha National Park. An assortment of desert-adapted wildlife such as elephant, rhino, zebra and lion live in this near-barren landscape. A not-to-be-missed attraction is the picturesque Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain, which is home to thousands of ancient rock paintings, most notably The White Lady. The rocky outcrops of Twyfelfontein feature exceptional Bushmen engravings, which are considered to be some of the best preserved etchings on the continent. Visitors to Damaraland can view one of its more unusual habitats – the Petrified Forest, which dates back millions of years and offers a haunting landscape of gigantic fossilised trees, some up to 30 metres (100ft) in length.
After an early breakfast you will be treated to an exciting 4x4 excursion along the ephemeral Aba Huab River valley to explore this remarkable region and to search for game, including the elusive desert adapted elephants, if they are in the area. Damaraland is home to a variety of desert adapted wildlife and hidden desert treasures. You will return to your camp for lunch. In the afternoon you may visit Twyfelfontein and other nearby attractions if you haven’t already done so, take a walk with your guide in the area surrounding the camp or simply relax and enjoy some well-deserved leisure time.
Day 7-10 - Etosha National Park
Today’s route takes you northeast towards Etosha National Park, travelling via the farming centres of Khorixas and Outjo, with a stop at the fascinating Petrified Forest along the way. Just south of the Etosha National Park you will enter the private Ongava Game Reserve and enjoy wildlife sightings as you drive way through the reserve to the accommodation of your choice. If time allow, your guide will take you into on your first game drive in the Etosha National Park this afternoon, returning to camp just before the park gates close at sunset.
Today is spent game-viewing in the Etosha National Park from your private safari vehicle. You will make your way through the breadth of the park, entering at Andersson’s gate on the southern boundary. You will then make your way across the park via Okaukuejo, Halali, and Namutoni, stopping at selected waterholes along the way to observe the game gathered there. You will leave the park through the eastern Von Lindquist Gate before it closes at sunset, arriving at your selected accommodation in good time to freshen up for dinner.
Etosha is one of Africa’s great wildlife parks and Namibia’s prime wildlife conservation area. Spanning a vast 22 300 km² (8 610 square miles), it consists mostly of grassy plains around a huge salt pan, which becomes a beautiful lake after heavy rains and attracts large flocks of pink candy-floss-coloured flamingos. Etosha hosts a vast array of animals, including the Big Five, as well as giraffes and rare and unusual species like the black-faced impala, Hartmann’s mountain zebra and the smallest antelope in the world, the Damara dik-dik. Large herds of elephant can also be seen, while predators range from lion to black-backed jackal. The wildlife in Etosha congregates around the watering holes, making for exciting and productive game viewing.
Apart from its wildlife, Etosha is also known for its immense salt pans, which covers 4 731 km² (1 827 square miles) at the heart of the park. Formed by a massive lake that gradually evaporated, this vast stretch of shimmering salt forms a picturesque contrast to the rich range of wildlife found in the park.
Today will be a full day of exciting game viewing within the eastern section of Etosha National Park. After discussion with your guide, you can opt to go into the park in the morning and the afternoon and return to your camp for lunch and an early afternoon rest, you can choose to head back west to spend more time in the area around Halali or you can head north past Fischer’s Pan and up into the Andoni Plains. Either way, you will return to the comforts of your accommodation before sunset.
Day 11 - Okonjima Reserve
After breakfast you make your way to the AfriCat Foundation, visiting Lake Otjikoto en route. You will arrive in time to enjoy lunch at Okonjima, which is located at the base of the Omboroko Mountains near Waterberg. Here you can enjoy the welcoming atmosphere, superb accommodation and fantastic activities, starting with a guided afternoon excursion.
Okonjima Reserve is situated just west of the renowned Waterberg Plateau Park, amidst the vast plains scattered with remnants of ancient sandstone outcrops that skirt the Omboroko Mountains. A Herero name meaning “place of the baboons” this spectacular area is home to the world-famous AFRICAT Foundation, which supports the conservation of the world’s largest free-ranging population of cheetah and Namibia’s large wildcat population. Created as a refuge for rehabilitated predators, the reserve is a haven for cheetah, leopard, spotted hyena and African wild dog, as well as several species of antelope.
Among the carnivores being researched and rehabilitated at AFRICAT are cheetah, leopard, lion, caracal, wild dog and hyena. Visitors to the area can embark on interpretive tours of the Foundation as well as enjoying breathtaking nature drives.
Adventures include tracking cheetah and leopard on foot, bird watching and the opportunity to embark on the Bushmen Trail, during which guests can experience a day in the life of a San Bushman.
Night drives set off after dinner, providing a glimpse into the nocturnal life of the predators, as well as magnificent viewing of the star-studded skies. Keen hikers can set off into the majestic solitude of the desert on a selection of nature trails, while bird watchers will be sure to spot and photograph a number of colourful species.
After a leisurely breakfast, you will depart for Windhoek in the late morning. The drive will take you through the town of Okahandja, where you can stop at the craft market. On arrival in Windhoek you will be driven to Windhoek International Airport to check in for your flight home (departure flight must be no earlier than 16h00 to allow for drive back to Windhoek).