This 14-day Namibian Experience itinerary offers an extremely comprehensive tour of Namibia. There are two nights at Sesriem and Sossusvlei where you will stroll among the world’s highest sand dunes, in the world’s oldest desert. You will travel south through the stark and tortured beauty of the Southern Namib to the tiny fishing centre of Luderitz. Our journey takes us via Aus to the area surrounding the mighty Fish River Canyon and on to the weird Quiver Trees and Mesosaurus Fossil Site before heading to the Kalahari area of Namibia. We return to Windhoek for one night and then on the second half of the trip where the seventh night is included in the price in a quality Windhoek guest-house. You will also meet close-up-and personal the Big Cats at Okonjima, the amazing wildlife in Etosha National Park and have first-hand experience of the Stone Age culture of the Himba Tribes. Namibia’s highest mountain in beautiful desert Damaraland is next and then on to Namibia’s premier seaside town, Swakopmund on the Skeleton Coast before returning to Windhoek.
Day 1 - Windhoek – Kalahari (280 km) (LD) (camping)
You will be collected at your Windhoek accommodation between 07:30 & 08:00
We start our journey south on the main highway, travelling through the thin strip of Kalahari Desert that protrudes onto the eastern side of Namibia. Stopping at small towns along the way including Rehoboth, traditional home of the Baster people and on to Kalkrand where you bid the main road farewell and head off into the Kalahari. The Kalahari Desert often surprises people when they first see it. It is very different from the Namib. First of all, remember that the Kalahari is not a desert. It receives more rain than a true desert should. The Kalahari is a fossil desert. Don’t expect to find tall Sossusvlei-style dunes devoid of greenery here. The Kalahari’s dunes are very different. They are often equally beautiful, but usually greener and less stark – and with this vegetation comes its ability to support more flora and fauna than a true desert. Late this afternoon we hop onto an open vehicle for a late afternoon sunset drive.
Day 2 - Kalahari – Fish River Canyon area (500 km) (BLD) (camping)
An early morning departure to the town of Mariental and south to Keetmanshoop. Just outside the town you have the opportunity of visiting the Mesosaurus Fossil Site. We travel via the town of Keetmanshoop for overnight camping on the Fish River area. Here you have the opportunity of seeing the Quivertree. Quiver trees are not in fact trees, they are a type of aloe, (Aloe Dichotoma), so called because the branches fork “dictomously”. These weird looking plants dot the landscape in this part of the world and are locally common, however they are one of the world’s rarest flora species.
Day 3 - Fish River area – Luderitz (430 km) (BL) (Accommodation)
The Fish River Canyon in Namibia is (allegedly) the 2nd largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon. The immensity of this magnificent landscape is truly breath taking. The towering rock faces and deep ravines were formed by water erosion and the collapse of the valley due to movements in the earth’s crust over 500 million years ago. Today the canyon measures 160km long up to 27km wide and almost 550m at its deepest. It is fair to say that when you arrive at the canyon though, its exact location is a bit of a mystery as the 500m vertical drop from the flat dry plateau is completely out of view.
Early morning we head to the main view point where we can see how impressive this canyon actually is. This is an ideal opportunity for photos and to spend some time experiencing this amazing sight. Viewing from the top we can see the river sparkling in the sunlight far below us, and can barely imagine how many millennia it took for the forces of erosion to carve such a magnificent vista. Time to pack up camp and move on to our next destination, the coastal town of Lüderitz where its colonial-style buildings cling to the rocks overlooking the bay, on some days a deep iridescent blue, on others grey and stormy, the crisp fresh climate, fishing boats bobbing up and down on the Atlantic horizon, penguins and seals diving beneath the waves, give the town a curious other-worldly allure. We aim to arrive at our guest house during the late afternoon. Dinner will be at client’s own expense tonight.
Day 4 - Luderitz – Aus (125 km) (BLD) (camping)
There is time to join an optional extra excursion, a marine trip., take a cruise around Luderitz bay and, weather permitting, to Halifax Island to see the Jackass Penguins. N.B: The boat cruise is subject to availability and, if undertaken, will be for the clients own risk and expense. Time to explore Luderitz Town with its traditional German architecture and later we will take a drive out to Diaz Point to see the bird life, hopefully a few seals and the stone cross replica, originally erected by the Portuguese mariner Bartholomew Diaz.
Straight after the marine trip we drive out to Kolmanskop, a desert ghost town about 20 km out of Luderitz. It was built in the 1920’s during the diamond rush and was abandoned when bigger and better diamonds were found further along the coast. The area is still abandoned and the desert has encroached over the entire town, giving an eerie feeling and real meaning to the word “ghost”.
We sleep tonight at Klein Aus Vista, a private reserve, beautifully located in the Aus Mountain Range, (Huib-Hoch-Plateau region). The road takes us through the “forbidden Zone” so named because in years gone by, the alluvial diamonds found in Namibia were simply scattered across the desert and we again have time to enjoy sunset over the mountains.
Day 5 - Aus – Sesriem (340 km) (BLD) (camping)
Turning north, we once again head deep into the ancient southern Namib, travelling on small gravel roads and passing some tiny rural communities along the way. The scenery is harsh, and sometimes forbidding. The process of erosion in these areas is well advanced and we pass time rounded “koppies” arid terrain and outcrops of tortured rock.
Traversing this bleak yet beautiful landscape, the terrain begins to change and we cross some open grass savannah and farmlands before the terrain begins to give way to the immense red sand dune desert of the Namib. We aim to arrive at our camp during the late afternoon and watch the colours glow and change on distant mountains to the east.
Day 6 - Sesriem – Sossusvlei – Sesriem (120 km) (BLD) (camping)
A pre-dawn start is essential this morning as we want to catch the soft light of the sunrise on the desert. After passing through Sesriem, the gateway to the dunes and driving into the heart of the dune field, we reach Sossusvlei itself by walking the last 5 km through the dunes. The walk is like nothing else, in the cool of the morning, with soft sunlight just beginning to play over the dunes creating a sharp light and shadow contrast across the whole desert. Ancient mineral pans, stunted camel thorn trees and the chance of seeing a gemsbok or maybe an ostrich make the photo opportunities perfect. We spend the morning in and around Sossusvlei, also visiting dune 45, and as the day wears on we return to Sesriem for lunch to escape the heat of the afternoon. As the day cools off in the late afternoon we will take a short excursion to the Sesriem Canyon.
Day 7 - Sesriem – Windhoek (350 km) (BL) (accommodated)
After breakfast we begin our journey, over the mountains and along scenic roads, back to Windhoek. We will travel over the Naukluft Mountains and also the Khomas Hochland Range, through beautiful mountain passes on our way back to civilization. We are due back into the city in the late afternoon / early evening and you will be dropped off at your accommodation on our return.
Day 8 - Windhoek – Okonjima/Africat (300 km) (LD) (camping)
You will be collected between 08:30 & 09:00. We will travel north, stopping at small towns along the way including Okahandja, where we have time to visit Namibia’s largest wood carving market. The market is operated on a local co-operative basis and is one of the best places to shop for truly Namibian souvenirs. Continuing north, passing through farmland, we aim to arrive at Okonjima during the middle afternoon, giving us time to set up our camp and to relax in the shade for a while before heading out on to the property to take part in the afternoon’s activity.
Okonjima is the home of the Africat Foundation, a specialist conservation concern that centres its operations on the African Big Cats, particularly cheetah. This afternoon you will be taken on a tour during which you will be able to meet, close-up-and-personal, some of the cheetah that are going through the Africat rehabilitation programme. Most of the animals currently living at Okonjima have been rescued from various desperate situations, being orphaned or caught in a trap, and the aim of the rehabilitation process is to attempt to re-introduce them into the wild. After our educational tour we will return to our camp and prepare for dinner under the African stars.
Day 9 - Okonjima/Africat – Namutoni / East Etosha region (300 km) (BLD) (camping)
An early start and continuing north we pass through some small towns, making short stops for fresh supplies and fuel. Continuing on to our East Etosha, Namutoni region camp we again aim to arrive in time for lunch, giving us time to relax before heading into the park during the cool of the late afternoon for our first game drive.
Day 10 - East Etosha region – Okaukuejo, Etosha National Park (BLD) (camping)
A full day’s game driving. We again leave early to enjoy the cool morning air as we game drive our way through Etosha to Halali camp, situated in the middle of the park. Along the way we visit several waterholes and are afforded splendid views of the massive Etosha Pan. The game viewing is usually excellent and we have the chance to tick off a few new species that are not normally seen on the Namutoni side of the park.
We stop at Halali for a rest and a leisurely lunch. There is time to visit the Halali waterhole and to make use of the swimming pool and bar facilities before continuing on our way and game driving down to Okaukuejo, Etosha’s main rest camp and resort where we will check in and set up camp. Originally the site of a German fort built in 1901, Okaukuejo now houses the Etosha Ecological Institute, founded in 1974; the round watchtower is a remnant of the fort.
After your evening meal there are still more chances to see Etosha’s big game at a floodlit waterhole, situated on the boundary of our camp and easily reachable within a minute or two on foot. The waterhole has been described as one of the “best game viewing opportunities in Southern Africa” and the ideal venue to witness peculiar animal politics. Black rhino, Africa’s tallest elephants, lion and numerous species of antelope are regular visitors during the cool, dry season.
Day 11 - Okaukuejo – Grootberg area (310km) (BLD) (camping)
Leaving Etosha we begin our journey south with a relatively short drive to the small town of Kamanjab. Within this area you have the opportunity of visiting a Himba Village – the only traditionally functioning Himba community outside the far north Kaokoland region of Namibia These tribes-people have migrated here, lifestyle and customs intact, and are following their traditional way-of-life in their village on a farm, the exact location of the site varies as the Himba occasionally roam to a new location. We will learn about marriage customs, traditional food and the mysteries of the “Holy Fire” religion.
From here it is a short drive on to The Hoada Community Campsite which is located among beautiful granite hills and mopane trees. To add an eco-friendly touch, the hot water system works in combination with the barbecue area, therefore whilst your meal is being prepared, your water will be warmed up for your shower! We overnight – camping under the stars.
Day 12 - Grootberg area – Twyfelfontein (190 km) (BLD) (camping)
Today we head into one of the most beautiful desert regions in Namibia, Damaraland. We drive west via the Grootberg Pass and then take a detour to visit the ancient Bushman rock engravings at Twyfelfontein. At this location we will have a local guide to conduct us on a short guided tour before we set up camp for the night.
Day 13 - Twyfelfontein – Swakopmund, Skeleton Coast (420 km) (BL) (accommodation)
From here we head deeper into the desert and pass Namibia’s highest mountain, The Brandberg, (2573 m) and more beautiful Damaraland scenery. We make a stop in the small town of Uis, an old mining town, and one of the best places to buy semi-precious stones, for which Namibia is famous. Here, rough Amethyst, Tourmaline etc can be found at bargain prices.
From here we turn directly west and cross the gravel plains on our way to the Atlantic Ocean and the SkeletonCoast. Meeting the ocean at HentiesBay, we first head north along the coast to visit the seal colony at CapeCross. At certain times of the year as many as 100,000 Cape Fur seals congregate. The next destination is Swakopmund, following the Skeleton Coast into Namibia’s premier seaside town. We aim to arrive in the late afternoon giving us time to explore the town on foot before sunset. Tonight we take the chance to sample one of the excellent restaurants. The seafood in Swakopmund is superb. Your guide will offer to organise a group meal in a local restaurant for this evening. Participation is recommended but by no means required. Dinner is for the client’s own account.
Day 14 - Swakopmund – Windhoek (BL) (350 km)
The drive back to Windhoek today will take about 4 and a half hour. We will depart around lunch-time, giving us time to spend the morning relaxing in Swakopmund. It has many superb shops, a good stretch of beach (although the Atlantic here is quite cold) and an open-air curio market. There is also a very good museum and the Namibian National Marine Aquarium is located in Swakopmund.
Alternatively, there are various optional activities that can be arranged. These include aeroplane and microlight flights over the desert, scenic drives, fishing trips (both from the beach or in a boat), four-wheel motorcycle (quad bike) trips into the desert and over the sand dunes around Swakopmund, sand boarding trips (also in the dunes), skydiving, surfing, bird-watching and many other activities are available. Your tour guide will discuss all the possible options with you before you reach Swakopmund and will offer to make bookings in advance of your arrival. (N.B. All extra activities and excursions in Swakopmund are subject to availability and are made at the client’s own risk and expense). This is the last day of our trip and after lunch we will transfer you back to the capital city where you will be dropped off at your accommodation in the late afternoon / early evening.