You will be met at Windhoek Airport by your guide and transferred 1-hour to your hotel in this small capital city. Check in and relax under warm blue Namibian skies
Today we travel 5-hours from Windhoek through ever-changing landscapes and dramatically beautiful desert scenery to the great Namib Desert.
The terrain becomes more arid as we travel towards 21 Sossusvlei, whose great mountains of sand are a monument to the extreme forces of nature.
We explore Gondwana Namib Park and Namib Naukluft Park before checking into our lodge. The petrified dunes of the dry riverbed of the Dieprivier are a special attraction, as these are fossilised remnants of an ancient desert that is now overlaid with the sands of the younger Namib. After the unpredictable desert rains (mid November/mid December), colourful desert flowers burst forth here and provide a delightful display.
The Lodge is situated close to Sesriem and the Dunes Gate into Namib Naukluft Park, so very convenient for early morning visits to the sand dunes at Sossusvlei. Each guest room has an en-suite shower, fan, safe and veranda. Wi-Fi is available in the main areas only and all meals are buffet style.
Set out early this morning, by 4x4, into the famous sand dunes at Sossusvlei, as this is the coolest part of the day and the best for photography.
This clay pan is surrounded by some of the highest dunes in the world – an endless sea of reddish sand stretching all the way to the distant horizon. These monumental star shaped dunes, some as high as 1,000 ft (325 m), were formed by strong multi-directional winds.
The warm tints of sand range in colour from apricot to orange, red and maroon - and contrast vividly with the stark white clay pans at their base. You will be astonished by surreal Deadvlei, surrounded by some of the highest dunes and Sossusvlei, where the mostly dry Tsauchab River abruptly ends. These dunes afford endless vistas across the desert landscape and the sea of sand.
Also visit the narrow gorge of the impressive Sesriem Canyon , with its rock pools fed by the Tsauchab River during the rainy season. The name is derived from the six “rieme” (leather thongs) that early pioneers used to draw water from these pools. Afterwards return to your lodge, with afternoon at leisure.
Today we drive 6-hours through the starkly beautiful Gaub and Kuiseb Canyons of the Namib Desert to the beach resort of Swakopmund with its old lighthouse (with picnic lunch included).
Swakopmund is situated on the Atlantic Coast where the cold Benguela Current sweeps up from Antarctica, releasing no moisture into the prevailingly onshore winds – hence the very low rainfall and desert conditions. Fog is common along the coast in the early mornings and late afternoons and this is what gives life to the desert-adapted flora and fauna of the region. The cold current is also highly oxygenated, causing it to teem with marine life.
Check into your hotel and relax on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Each bedroom features an en-suite bathroom with bath and shower, air-conditioning and WiFi.
This morning we drive 30-minutes to Walvis Bay for a 3-hour Marine Cruise. Here you can see a resident school of dolphins and large colony of Cape fur seals at Pelican Point, whilst enjoying oysters and champagne on board.
Marine bird life is also abundant and includes pelicans, terns and large flocks of flamingos which live in the shallow waters surrounding the harbour. You should see many Cape cormorants and hopefully some more elusive birds such as the Cape gannet, Pomarine skua and African black oyster catcher. You may also see migrating whales in season (September to October).
Your afternoon is at leisure to relax at the beach resort of Swakopmund.
A full day on the road today as we drive 6-hours from Swakopmund to Damaraland (with picnic lunch included).
Leaving Swakopmund, we drive northwards towards the barren Skeleton Coast, renowned for its many shipwrecks and inhospitable coastline. There is small lichen reserve here, where a relatively large variety of these slow growing organisms are protected.
We then head inland to timeless Damaraland - home of the Spitzkoppe and Brandberg Mountains, the highest in Namibia. Damaraland is one of the least populated and most geologically diverse areas in Africa and home to the rare desert elephant and rhino. Take time to enjoy some of the fascinating rock formations in these vast uninhabited open spaces, where magnificent semi-desert flowers can grow after good rains. You can also see the desert-adapted Welwitschia Mirabilis plant - the oldest living desert plant on earth.
At Twyfelfontein, which means 'Doubtful Spring', we view ancient Bushman Paintings - a World Heritage site. Over 6,000 years ago San communities engraved and painted over 2,500 pictures here. These have been well preserved in this dry environment and the hills are strewn with rock art - making this an open-air museum.
Afterwards we continue to our lodge in Damaraland and in the evening enjoy the incredible night skies.
This area is renowned for some of the best examples of Bushman paintings and rock engravings in southern Africa and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Today we travel northwards for 4-hours to Etosha National Park, one of the largest and greatest game parks in Africa. Etosha owes its unique landscape to a vast shallow depression – the Etosha Pan. During the dry season it becomes an expanse of white cracked mud, shimmering with mirages and spiralling dust devils, with its open pans offering magnificent game viewing. Etosha is home to over a hundred different species of mammals including elephant, rhino, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, lion, cheetah and leopard.
Check into your lodge situated close to the southern entrance to the park.
Day 8, 9, 10:
Today is devoted to game viewing in the famous Etosha National Park, which surrounds an enormous salt pan that is the size of the Netherlands.
As you will have your own driver/guide, you have the flexibility of discussing preferred routings and travelling times with him each day (with picnic lunch included). However we recommend setting off early each morning as soon as the park gates open (05h30 to 06h00 depending on the season) to take advantage of the best game viewing conditions of the day, with all game drives taken in his vehicle.
A series of waterholes throughout the park guarantees rewarding game viewing, with Etosha being renowned for its vast arrays of plains game and predators, which are more easily seen on these open plains. You can also hope to see springbok, oryx, black-faced impala and the small Damara dik-dik.
Note: Vehicles are not allowed to drive off-road in any national park in Namibia. You have the option of booking optional open-top game drives offered by the Park rangers.
Today we depart from Etosha National Park and transfer southwards for 3-hours to Okonjima.
This is the home of the Africat Foundation dedicated to the preservation of Namibia’s large carnivores, but especially leopards and brown hyena. Leopards can be radio-tracked from the game viewing vehicle. Check in to your lodge before enjoying an afternoon game activity in the reserve.
Note: Ensure you arrive at your lodge in good time, as they stop serving lunch at 2 pm.
Okonjima Lodge was the original homestead of the Hanssen family, today the headquarters of the Africat Foundation, which rehabilitates cheetah, leopard, wild dog and hyena. Plains Camp offers standard and view rooms with panoramic windows overlooking the bushveld. Bush Camp is situated at the edge of a wilderness area and offers a combination of earthy ochre walls, glass windows and khaki-green canvas. Each en-suite bedroom has a ceiling fan and safe. Other facilities include a viewing hide and swimming pool. As some rooms are a long walk from the main lodge, if you have mobility issues please request one of the closer rooms.
After an early morning game activity in the Africat Reserve, we travel 3-hours to Windhoek.
Along the way we stop at the Kavango craft market in Okahandja. The Kavango woodcarvers ply their trade at this large open-air craft market on the outskirts of town - one of the best places in Namibia to purchase woodcarvings.
Continue to Winhoek, check into your hotel and relax under warm blue Namibian skies.
Transfer to Windhoek Airport for your flight home
WHAT IS INCLUDED: Accommodation and meals as specified in itinerary. Airport and other transfers as specified. Park entrance fees, unless specified as "payable locally" in your itinerary or lodge notes.
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED: All flights and optional extra activities and drives. Drinks & refreshments, unless specified. Optional activities, unless specified. Tips, telephone calls & other personal expenditure. Visa fees in countries where these apply