Arrive at Windhoek Airport, collect your hire car and drive to your hotel in Windhoek.
Check in and relax under warm blue Namibian skies.
Today drive 5-hours from Windhoek through ever-changing landscapes and dramatically beautiful desert scenery to the great Namib Desert. The terrain becomes more arid as you travel towards Sossusvlei, whose great mountains of sand are a monument to the extreme forces of nature. Explore Gondwana Namib Park and Namib Naukluft Park before checking into your 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), you may be fortunate enough to see the colourful desert flowers that burst forth here and provide a delightful display.
Today we recommend an optional tour to Sossusvlei. An early start is imperative as this is the coolest part of the day and the best for photography, as you travel by 4x4 vehicle into this famous clay pan surrounded by some of the highest sand dunes in the world – an endless sea of reddish sand stretching all the way to the distant horizon.
Its monumental star shaped sand dunes, some up to 1,000 ft (325m) when measured from the base, were formed by strong multi-directional winds. The warm tints of sand ranging from apricot to orange, red and maroon, contrast vividly with the stark white surface of the clay pans at their base. This provides photographers with a spectacular display of images to capture.
Climbing one of these dunes affords the energetic traveller an unforgettable experience of endless vistas across a sea of dunes. Time will also be taken to explore the impressive conglomerate gorges of the Sesriem Canyon, with its rock pools fed by the Tsauchab River. The erosion of many centuries has resulted in a narrow gorge, which in the rainy season sometimes fills the rock pools. The name Sesriem is derived from the six “rieme” (leather thongs) that early pioneers used to draw water from these pools.
At leisure to enjoy the stark beauty of the Namib Desert.
Enjoy one of the optional activities offered in the region, such as horse riding or a pre-dawn Hot Air Balloon Ride over the majestic sand dunes. Alternatively simply relax and enjoy the spectacular desert landscape surrounding your lodge, with amazing star gazing in the evening.
Today drive for 6-hours through the starkly beautiful Gaub and Kuiseb Canyons of theNamib Desert to the beach resort of Swakopmund with its old lighthouse.
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.
At leisure to relax at the beach resort of Swakopmund.
As this is Namibia’s playground, a wide variety of activities are on offer, including aMarine Cruise to see seals, dolphins and whales in season, a Namib Desert tour, and quad biking or paragliding in the sand dunes. Alternatively simply relax at a quaint coffee shop or walk along the sandy beaches.
A full day on the road today as you drive 7-hours from Swakopmund across the barrenSkeleton 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.
You can stop to see the thriving population of seals at Cape Cross Seal Reserve and the many gannets and other sea birds in this area, before continuing 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.
At leisure to explore Twyfelfontein, meaning "Doubtful Spring" and declared a World Heritage site to preserve the many ancient rock paintings and engravings left by the early San Bushmen.
The slopes of the area are strewn with boulders dotted with thousands of their rock art and paintings – making it a virtual open-air museum (entrance fee payable locally).
Afternoon at leisure around the swimming pool, or join an optional afternoon game drive along the dry river beds in search of rare Desert Elephants.
Today drive 4-hours through Damaraland 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 cheetah, leopard, lion, elephant, rhino, giraffe, zebra and wildebeest.
Check into your rest camp near the southern entrance to the park (park fees payable locally on entrance).
Today is devoted to self drive game viewing in the famous Etosha National Park, one of the largest wildlife conservation areas in Africa surrounding an enormous salt pan that is the size of the Netherlands. We recommend setting off early each morning as the camp gates open (05h30 to 06h00 depending on the season), to take advantage of the best game viewing conditions of the day.
Explore the vast Etosha Pan, which offer magnificent game viewing opportunities including springbok, oryx, black-faced impala and the small Damara dik-dik. A series of waterholes throughout the park guarantees rewarding game viewing, with Etosha being renowned for its vast arrays of plains game and its “great cats” which are more easily seen on the open pans - including cheetah and leopard.
The rest of the morning is free to relax by the swimming pool, before setting out again in the late afternoon for another game drive. With over 100 different species of mammals and reptiles in Etosha National Park, you can hope to see giraffe, hyena, kudu, springbok, warthogs, baboons and many other interesting animals. Etosha is also a bird watchers paradise, with hundreds of recorded bird species and many migrants during the summer months.
After a beautiful African sunset, enjoy the balmy evening and pristine stars of the Milky Way as you have never seen them before – as well as the spectacular Southern Cross.
Today spend the whole day exploring Etosha National Park, as you drive to your next rest camp in this great game sanctuary.
Enjoy spectacular game viewing on the open pans, where game is more easily visible, as well as wonderful viewing at the rest camp waterholes.
Today drive southwards for 5-hours through central Namibia to Okonjima. Travel through the mining centre of Tsumeb, where a rich ore pipe is mined for copper, zinc, lead, silver and a variety of unusual crystals. Also pass Lake Otjikoto where in 1915 the retreating German forces dumped weapons to prevent them from falling into the hands of the South African Union Forces. Several of these weapons have been recovered and can be viewed at the Tsumeb Museum.
Continue to Okonjima, the home of the Africat Foundation dedicated to the preservation of Namibia’s large carnivores, but especially leopard and cheetah. Namibia accounts for 25% of the world’s population of the endangered cheetah, which can be radio-tracked on foot in the rehabilitation area where they roam freely and catch their own prey. Leopards are also frequently seen from the viewing hide or can be radio-tracked from the game viewing vehicle.
Check in to your lodge and settle in, before enjoying a game activity in the reserve.
After an early morning game activity in the Africat Reserve, drive 3-hours through central Namibia to Windhoek Airport for your flight home.
Price per person sharing: 924 GBP (Subject to change and availability)