Namibia – Desert & Beyond

Namibia offers classic safari experiences in the Namib Desert, Damaraland and Etosha National Park.

Country Information

Namibia

Namibia - Desert & Beyond Enrichment Series

(Countries Visited)

Namibia


(Interest Type(s))

Sustainable Travel

,

Safari Tours

,

Adventure Travel


(Tour Length)

12 Days


Tour Highlights

Starting at: $12,910
  • New graphic smExplore one of southern Africa’s largest private nature reserves, NamibRand Nature Reserve
  • Scale some of the world’s highest free-standing sand dunes at Sossusvlei
  • Visit Twyfelfontein, known for some 2,500 ancient petroglyphs
  • Journey to the renowned Etosha National Park for an amazing safari experience
  • Travel to Okonjima, home to the AfriCat Foundation, a wildlife sanctuary dedicated to the survival of Africa’s big cats

Day 1: Windhoek, Namibia
Today our representative meets you on your arrival at the Windhoek International Airport. You are taken into the city for a short city tour, of Windhoek, Namibia’s capital.  The city nestles among rolling hills, bounded by the Eros Mountains in the east, the Auas Mountains to the south and the Khomas Hochland in the west. It is an eccentric meeting place between Africa and Europe, the modern and the old. On the main street, you discover well-preserved German colonial buildings are in sharp contrast with modern architectural styles; and see Herero women in their traditional Victorian dresses alongside executives dressed in the latest fashions.  You are escorted to your hotel close to Windhoek’s city center in the quiet, peaceful suburb of Eros. Set in an olive tree plantation, this new, luxurious hotel provides exclusive suite accommodation with beautiful views over the olive trees towards the Windhoek Mountains. Accommodation is offered in premier suites or junior suites. Premier suites boast their own expansive balcony and plunge pool. All suites have their own lounge area and dining room, giving you the option of enjoying meals in your room, or with other guests for meals at the main restaurant. The en suite rooms offer all the added luxuries of satellite TV, fully-stocked mini-bar, premier wine selection, direct-dial telephone, air conditioner, hair-dryer, wall mounted safe, personal computer for internet access, complimentary wireless internet access, goose-down duvets, 100% cotton linen and style in abundance.  The remainder of the day is at leisure.  The Olive All-Suite Hotel 

Day 2: Windhoek / Sossusvlei / NamibRand Nature Reserve
After breakfast, you are transported to Eros Airport, where you meet your pilot and board your scheduled light aircraft flight to the Sossusvlei area. Upon landing at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge’s airstrip, you are met by your local lodge guide.  This afternoon, you can opt to explore the NamibRand Nature Reserve, which was begun as a conservation initiative in 1984 and now extends over 180,000ha of pristine Namib Desert. The reserve shares a common border of nearly 100km with the Namib - Naukluft National Park to the west, while the imposing Nubib Mountain range forms a natural border to the east. The particular attraction of NamibRand is its diversity of desert landscapes, representing virtually all facets of the Namib Desert. Expansive sand and gravel plains and endless stretches of grass savannah alternate with majestic mountain ranges and vegetated dune belts of deep red sand. The variety of flora and fauna is as fascinating as the color nuances of the landscape, which change continuously throughout the day.  Before NamibRand became a private nature reserve, it consisted of sheep farms, surveyed and allocated in the early fifties to ex-soldiers of World War II. Today, the NamibRand, once used for Karakul sheep farming, has been restored to its natural state and is again home to indigenous animals and plants. You desert lodge is in the northern foothills of the NamibRand Nature Reserve, and designed to make the most of its breathtaking surroundings while providing a sophisticated and luxurious stay. The lodge consists of glass and stone curves, where walls and windows fold away completely to open out to the grassy plains, distant dunes, and mountain ranges. Each spacious, air-conditioned suite features a shaded deck, split-level bedroom and living room with fireplace for cool evenings, en suite glass encased bathroom and outdoor shower. Star gazing is a highlight with a star-viewing sky light in each room and an observatory with a powerful telescope. Guided activities on offer to explore the local reserve include scenic 4x4 nature drives, fascinating walks and exhilarating quad-biking excursions. Sossusvlei Desert Lodge (B,L,D) 

Day 3: Namib Naukluft National Park
This morning, you set out early for an excursion into the Namib Naukluft National Park, entering at sunrise to capture the sheer magic of the dunes in the soft morning light and shadows accentuating the shapes and curves of the sand. The park is famous for its towering apricot-colored sand dunes, among the highest free-standing sand dunes in the world measuring up to 300 m/984 ft above their surroundings. Your local lodge guide will give you an insight on the formation of the Namib Desert and its myriad of fascinating creatures and plants that have adapted to survive these harsh environs.  Once you have explored the dune fields to your heart’s content you can enjoy a relaxing picnic breakfast in the shade of a camel thorn tree. Return to your lodge in the early afternoon for a late lunch, stopping off to view Sesriem Canyon along the way. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure or you may like to enjoy another guided excursion on the lodge reserve.  Until the encroaching dunes blocked its course around 60,000 years ago, the Tsauchab River once reached the sea. Sand-locked pans to the west show where the river previously flowed before dunes shifted its endpoint to where it currently gathers at Sossusvlei. Roughly once a decade rainfall over the catchment area is sufficient to bring the river down in flood and fill the pan. Sossusvlei is the biggest of four pans in the vicinity. Another, famous for its gnarled and ghostly camel thorn trees, is Deadvlei, which can be reached on foot over 1km of sand. Deadvlei’s striking camel thorn trees; dead for want of water, still stand erect as they once grew. They survived until about 900 years ago when the sand sea finally blocked the river from occasionally flooding the pan. Sossusvlei Desert Lodge (B,L,D)  

Day 4: NamibRand Nature Reserve / Damaraland
After a leisurely breakfast, you are transferred back to the airstrip where you board your scheduled light aircraft flight to Damaraland. The flight route begins with an amazing bird’s eye view of Sossusvlei and the great dune sea that stretches to the coast. You then fly north along the coastline (fog permitting) over abandoned mining camps, shipwrecks, Sandwich Harbour, salt pans and Walvis Bay lagoon before you land at Swakopmund Airport to refuel. From there, you continue north and inland into the heart of Damaraland and your camp, set on the rugged the northern slopes of the Huab River. This private paradise offers stunning silence, beauty and tranquility with nine large luxury canvas tents, each with en suite bathroom.  The dining room, pub and curio shop are combined under canvas and an open fire is enjoyed close by. On arrival at your camp, you meet your private naturalist guide, who will accompany you for the remainder of your journey. This afternoon, you can either enjoy a walk in the local area with your guide or simply relax at camp and soak in the beauty of your surroundings. Damaraland is typified by magnificent table-topped mountains, rock formations and bizarre-looking vegetation. The present day landscape has been formed by the erosion of wind, water and geological forces that have formed rolling hills, dunes, gravel plains and ancient river terraces.  The solitude of the area as well as the scenic splendor gives you an understanding of the wilderness. Activities here include nature walks and nature drives. The expert and experienced guides will give you a new insight into this unique desert environment.  Damaraland Camp (B,L,D) 

Day 5: Damaraland
After an early breakfast, you will be treated to an exciting 4x4 excursion along the ephemeral Huab and Aba Huab River valleys to explore this remarkable region and to search for game, including the elusive desert-adapted elephants if they are in the area.  In habitats with sufficient vegetation and water, an adult elephant consumes as much as 300 kg/661lbs of food and 230 liters/61 gallons of water every day of its life. Other large mammals include black rhinoceros and giraffe. Their ranges extend from river catchments in northern Kaokoveld as far south as the northern Namib. Rivers course northwards from the Ugab to provide them with possible routes across the desert, right to the Skeleton Coast. The biggest are the Hoarusib, the Hoanib, the Huab and the Ugab rivers.  The elephants in Kaokoland and the Namib walk further for water and fodder than any other elephant in Africa. The distances between waterholes and feeding grounds can be as great as 68 km/42 mi.  The typical home range of a family herd is some eight times as big as ranges in central Africa where rainfall is much higher. They walk and feed at night and rest during the day. To meet their nutritional and bulk requirements they browse on no fewer than 74 of the 103 plant species that grow in their range. Not a separate species or even a subspecies, they are an ecotype unique to Namibia in Africa south of the equator. Elephants in Mali on the southwestern fringe of the Sahara Desert are the only others known to survive in similar conditions.  Damaraland is home to a variety of desert-adapted wildlife and hidden desert treasures. You will normally take a picnic lunch and stop to take that in the shade of a large Ana tree, or you also have the option to return to camp for lunch, if you prefer.  This afternoon, you can opt for a visit to the Twyfelfontein, one of Namibia’s key national monuments as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its ancient petroglyphs strewn across boulders and slabs of red sandstone.  Some 2,500 prehistoric engravings depict wildlife, animal spoor and abstract motifs, which feature mainly circles. Stone tools and other artifacts found at Twyfelfontein suggest that hunter-gatherers occupied the site over a period of perhaps 7,000 years. This is perhaps the largest and finest collection of petroglyphs in Africa. The engravings show animals such as elephant, giraffe, kudu, lion, rhinoceros, springbok, zebra and ostrich that once used to drink from a fountain at the bottom of the hill.  Burnt Mountain is a rounded hill located a few kilometers from Twyfelfontein  that appears to catch fire at sunrise and sunset. Its fantastic range of colors at dawn and dusk are due to a chemical reaction that took place roughly 125 million years ago when molten lava penetrated organic shale and limestone deposits, resulting in contact metamorphism. In ordinary sunlight it is a dull black.  Blackened rubble lies to one side like cinders from the original fire. The Organ Pipes are another geological curiosity in the area consisting of a mass of perpendicular dolerite columns that intruded the surrounding rocks about 125 million years ago and have since been exposed in a ravine due to river erosion. Damaraland Camp (B,L,D)    

Day 6: Damaraland / Ongava Game Reserve & Etosha National Park
Today after a very early breakfast, you set off on your journey to the Etosha National Park, traveling via the Grootberg Pass. Along the way, your guide will take you to visit a local Himba settlement. But the HImba people are semi-nomadic, and move locations with no notice. They are one of the last truly traditional peoples of Namibia and, indeed Africa. Here, you will learn about the customs and traditions of this very proud nation.  The Himba, Tjimba and other Herero people who inhabit Namibia’s remote northwestern Kunene Region are loosely referred to as the Kaokovelders.  Basically, Herero in terms of origin, language and culture, they are semi-nomadic pastoralists who tend to move from one watering place to another. For many centuries they have lived a relatively isolated existence. Himba are the largest group of Kaokovelders. They are a tall, slender and statuesque people, characterized especially by their proud yet friendly bearing. The women especially are noted for their unusual sculptural beauty, enhanced by intricate hairstyles and traditional adornments. They rub their bodies with red ochre and fat, a treatment that protects their skins against the harsh desert climate. The homes of the Himba of Kaokoland are simple, cone-shaped structures of saplings, bound together with palm leaves and plastered with mud and dung. The men build the structures, while the women mix the clay and do the plastering. A fire burns in the headman’s hut day and night, to keep away insects and provide light and heating. A family may move from one home to another several times a year to seek grazing for their goats and cattle. Men, women and children adorn themselves with necklaces, bracelets, anklets and belts made from iron and shell beads. With their unusual and striking designs, these items have gained a commercial value and are being produced on a small scale for the urban market. Sculptural headrests in particular are sought-after items. En route to your lodge, break for a picnic lunch. You arrive very late in the afternoon or early evening at your lodge in Ongava Game Reserve, a private game reserve along the southwest border of Etosha National Park, much of it made up of saline depressions or ‘pans’.  The largest of these pans, the Etosha Pan, can be classified as a saline desert in its own right. The Etosha Pan lies in the Owambo Basin, on the northwestern edge of the Namibian Kalahari Desert.  Until three million years ago, it formed part of huge, shallow lake until the Kunene River changed course.  Today, it fills with water only when sufficient rain falls to the north in Angola. The park consists of grassland, woodland and savannah and has about 114 mammal and more than 340 bird species.  The Ongava Game Reserve is also home to those same species – elephant, lion, giraffe, blue wildebeest, eland, kudu, gemsbok (oryx), zebra, rhino, cheetah, leopard, hyena, honey badger and warthog, as well as the endemic black faced impala.  The scenery is attractive with large open plains blending into Mopane tree woodlands and granite outcrops.   Savor some time at leisure, which can be spent appreciating the unique surroundings and enjoying the game viewing at the camp’s floodlit waterhole.  Ongava Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 7: Southern Etosha Boundery / Eastern Etosha National Park
Today you scout for wildlife as you drive across the park, stopping at waterholes and for game sightings along the way before exiting through the eastern Von Lindequist Gate to arrive at the luxurious Onguma Plains Camp in the late afternoon.  Lunch is served ‘a la picnic’ en-route and after your arrival at Onguma – the Fort, which is positioned to give guests unrivalled views of the spectacular Namibian sunset.  Overlooking the beautiful scarceness of the Etosha Pans, your camp offers uncompromised luxury. Each suite has sprawling views of Etosha and Fisher’s Pan, and has a spacious bathroom with both an indoor and  private outdoor shower. From every corner of your suite, wooden decks and sun-loungers invite you to come out and play. Elaborate antique African doors, raw plastered walls and elegant furnishing fuse classic African style with a touch Moroccan and Indian themes. At Onguma - The Fort, the diverse wildlife can be enjoyed from the comfort of your suite, on a sunset game drive or from the main tower – offering unparalleled views of this unique landscape. Zebra, giraffe, lion, a variety of antelope and superb birdlife will accompany you during your stay. After dinner you have the option to go on a night drive for the opportunity to see some of the nocturnal animals found on the reserve.  Onguma - The Fort  (B,L,D) 

Day 8: Etosha National Park
Set out today for a full day of exciting game viewing in the eastern section of Etosha National Park. You guide also offers you the opportunity to go on to Halali or you can concentrate on the areas closer to Namutoni and north to Fischer’s Pan. You also have the option to return to the lodge for lunch, or to stay out for the whole day in the park to maximize your game viewing experience. This afternoon you will be treated to an exciting afternoon drive on the Onguma Game Reserve.  The reserve is situated on the eastern side of Etosha and bordering Fisher’s Pan, and has more than 30 large animal species, including kudu, giraffe, eland, oryx, hartebeest, zebra, impala and many more roam freely, as well as predators such as lion, cheetah and leopard.   After dinner, you can join a night drive on the reserves for another look at the night hunters found on the reserve. The rest of the evening can be spent game viewing at the camps’ floodlit waterhole. Onguma – The Fort (B,L,D)        

Day 9: Etosha National Park / Okonjima, Africat Foundation
After a leisurely breakfast, head south via Otjiwarongo.  You can stop a few kilometers outside Tsumeb to visit Lake Otjikoto, actually a sink hole.  Arrive at Okonjima and the AfriCat Foundation, located at the base of the Omboroko Mountains.  This is a wonderful highlight on which to conclude your safari. Here you can enjoy the welcoming atmosphere, superb accommodation and fantastic activities.  You can begin with a guided excursion and a visit to the night hide after dinner.  Okonjima is home to the AfriCat Foundation, a wildlife sanctuary that focuses on the research and rehabilitation of Africa's big cats, especially injured or captured leopard and cheetah. Close encounters with these majestic big cats are an unforgettable highlight of your safari. Activities include leopard tracking by vehicle, a visit to the cheetah welfare project and to the night hide where nocturnal animals such as porcupine, caracal, honey badger and even leopard may be seen. Overlooking a waterhole, with the sandstone Omoroko Mountains as a backdrop, the Okonjima Bush Suite is nestled in the open acacia thorn veld amidst a secluded wilderness area. The Okonjima Bush Suite consists of two separate, private, en suite bedrooms under a magnificent thatched roof, with a fully equipped kitchen. The living space boasts a spacious lounge, a dining area under-roof or outside under natural shade, and an open wood-burning fireplace. There is also a uniquely designed pool.  The bedrooms have high roofs with fans, air-conditioning and when needed, heating facilities.  Each room has two queen-size beds, of which one can be wheeled outside onto the terraces for a night under the stars!  The doorways have an elegant but practical, ‘scroll-down’ canvas partitioning that contains heavy-duty gauze screens. On either side, two large glass-paneled windows enhance your 180º vista.  The zip-fastened, secure, tent-style canvassing not only provides sufficient light, but also contributes to the impression of living in the wild by delivering the audible ambience of your surroundings, while still maintaining a degree of comfort and safety. Each bathroom has both an inside shower and a spectacular, outside bush-shower, together with a beautiful, colonial, bath-with-a-view.  Each bedroom has a Wi-Fi or dial-up, internet connection with ample workspace. A personal host/hostess and chef attend to your needs while you enjoy the exclusive guide and game-drive vehicle, thus setting the pace that bests your family.  Okonjima Bush Suite (B,L,D)

Day 10:  Okonjima - Africat Foundation
This morning, you can choose to participate in a guided activity such as the radio-tracking of the rehabilitated spotted hyenas on the Large Carnivore Tracking Trail, go on one of our self-guided walking trails for some excellent bird watching. Return to the Bush Suite for a sumptuous brunch. Your early afternoon can be spent relaxing by the swimming pool overlooking the waterhole and enjoying the tranquility of the sun until you go out on another AfriCat excursion after ‘coffee and cake’ in the afternoon.  Okonjima Bush Suite (B,L,D) 

Day 11: Okonjima / Windhoek
After a final morning activity, return to Bush Suite for breakfast. You depart for Windhoek in the late morning, via the town of Okahandja, arriving in mid-afternoon.  If time allows, you will have the option to visit the Woodcarvers Craft Market in Okahandja for some last-minute curio shopping before continuing on to Windhoek.  Upon your arrival in Windhoek, you will be transferred to your hotel for your last night in Namibia.  Olive Exclusive Boutique Hotel (B,L,D)     

Day 12: Windhoek / Depart
This morning, your guide will transfer you to the International Airport in time for your outgoing international flight back home.  (B)

Land price, per person, double occupancy:  January 11 – May 31, 2014 from $12,910. June 1 - October31, 2014 from $14,250.

Single room supplement and child rates available upon request.

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