You will be collected at your Windhk accommodation between 07:30 & 08:00
We start our journey south on the main highway, traveling 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.
The lodge lies on the edge of the Southern Kalahari in the mixed tree and shrub Savanna. The ranch is characterised by huge red sands dunes running parallel, and in a northern-westerly to south-easterly direction. This 'Spirit of Africa' atmosphere, coupled with service, delivered with graciousness and charm, in an unashamedly luxurious setting, will be the hallmarks of this establishment, providing excellent value and unforgettable memories for the discerning traveller.
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 al, (Al 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. We will continue to the Canyon Roadhouse for the overnight. Due to its elaborate d cor Canyon Roadhouse has acquired a sort of cult status in Namibia: the good old days of the automobile are celebrated in the theme restaurant and bar. Enjoy a slice of the legendary Amarula cheesecake among coachwork arranged with loving care. The geology, flora, fauna and history of the area are explained on display boards at the Canyon Information Centre. Situated directly on the road to the Fish River Canyon, 14 km from the gate to the viewing points, Canyon Roadhouse offers 24 immaculate en-suite rooms with air conditioning, a swimming pool and a petrol station.
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 upand move on to our next destination, the coastal town of L deritz 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 the Nest Hotel during the late afternoon. Dinner will be at client's own expense tonight.
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".
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 lodge during the late afternoon and watch the colours glow and change on distant mountains to the east.
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, we head into the heart of the dune field, reaching Sossusvlei on foot, trekking the last 5 km through the dunes. Landscape photo opportunities abound in the cool of the morning, with dawn's soft light first illuminating the dunes from crest down the back slope, then blazing orange everywhere, creating a powerful contrasting vista across the whole desert. Ancient mineral pans, stunted camel thorn trees and the chance of seeing a gemsbok or ostrich makes it essential to remember your camera!
We spend the morning in and around Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, also visiting dune 45. Sossusvlei is where you will find the iconic red sand dunes of the Namib. The clear blue skies contrast with the giant red sand dunes to make this one of the natural wonders of Africa and a photographers heaven.
The ancient clay pan at Deadvlei was once an oasis, studded with acacias and fed by a river that suddenly changed course, leaving the earth to dry up along with the trees it previously supported. So dry were the climatic conditions that the trees never decomposed instead they were entirely leached of moisture so that today, 900 years later, they remain as desiccated, blackened sentinels dotting the pan's cracked surface. Surrounded by the red-pink dunes of the Namibia Desert, they create a surreal spectacle that is a photographer's dream.
Dune 45 is renowned for its elegant shape, which along with its position close to the road have earned it the distinction of 'most photographed dune in the world'. If you're not keen for the strenuous hike to the top of Big Daddy, Dune 45 is a more forgiving alternative, standing at only 80 metres and featuring a much gentler gradient.
As the day wears on we return to Sesriem for lunch, escaping the heat of the afternoon. As the day cools off in the late afternoon we will take a short excursion to the Sesriem Canyon. Sesriem Canyon, a deep chasm carved through the rocks by water, is a striking natural feature of the area that is best explored on foot. Stony walls rise up sharply on both sides of the canyon, while birds roost in its crags and lizards dart along the ledges. The canyon's name was coined when early settlers used it as a water source, using six lengths of leather ('ses riem six thongs) tied together to lower buckets into the water at the base of canyon. We then return to the lodge for the overnight.
After breakfast we begin our journey, over the mountains and along scenic roads, back to Windhk. 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 after 16:00 and you will be dropped off at your accommodation on our return.
You will be collected between 08:30 & 09:00 am. 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 Mount Etjo Safari Lodge during the middle afternoon. 'Etjo' means a place of refuge. Since 1975 Mount Etjo Safari Lodge has been the heart of the Okonjati wildlife sanctuary, offering African wildlife and guests from around the world more than just a place to stay, but a safe haven, tranquil surroundings and the opportunity to engage in the pristine beauty of African wilderness. At Mount Etjo Safari Lodge, the African traveller will leave with his heart and mind enriched and his soul set at ease by having found peace and harmony in the African natural world. The vibrant bird life at the Lodge is testimony to the beautiful gardens at the Lodge. Enormous palm trees, endless grass fields and a flamingo pond invite you to take a walk and a look around. The Lodge is built to face a large lake where animals regularly quench their thirst and hippos come to visit. Further in the distance lingers the magnificent Mount Etjo mountain, completing the picturesque scenery.
The unique architecture of our rooms, furnished and beautifully decorated in a splendid combination of luxury and African style will contribute to the exceptional experience of staying at Mount Etjo Safari Lodge. The Lodge is furnished with 22 luxury rooms, each with en-suite bathroom. Most of the rooms are situated next to the swimming pool which overlooks the watering hole where numerous animals come to drink during the day and night, while others overlook the spacious garden where the flamingos frolic. Various types of accommodation is available to suit the personal needs of young and old. The Lodge is fully wheelchair-friendly.
Today is an early start and as we continue 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. The lodge centres on an old German Fort overlooking the King Nehale waterhole; an elevated decked walkway provides excellent opportunities for enjoying the surrounding scenery, wildlife and the spectacular sunsets. The Fort has been developed into a hub of activity, offering two restaurants, a relaxation lounge, a bar, crafts boutique, curio shop, jewellers and bookstore. Accommodation is provided in comfortable double rooms or bush chalets.
It's 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.
Today we travel through the previously restricted area of Western Etosha National Park, exiting via the Otjovasandu Gate. Overnight at the Hobatere Lodge.
The name Hobatere means "Find me", and once you do, you will enjoy a warm welcome and personalized service. Hobatere Lodge is located 80 km north of Kamanjab on the western border of the Etosha National park, situated in a concession area of 32 000 ha, which is home to a wide selection of game including Lion, Leopard, Oryx, Eland, Cheetah, Giraffe, Hartmann's Mountain Zebra and Elephant. The activities centre around day or night game drives, bird watching and guided walks, affording guests ample opportunity to view the abundance of wildlife and endemic species in the area. (Activities are optional and not included) The Lodge also have a hide overlooking a nearby waterhole and a sundeck with panoramic views, which is floodlit for part of the night.
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.
Our journey today takes us 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. Twyfelfontein is a World Heritage Site boasting one of the richest rock art concentrations in Africa. Thousands of tourists come to this site each year to view some 2, 500 Stone Age rock engravings. The area is home to 17 rock art sites, which collectively encompass 212 engraved stone slabs. There are an additional 13 sites displaying rock paintings.
Overnight at Twyfelfontein Lodge. The Lodge is situated in the heart of the Twyfelfontein Uibasen Conservancy and boast 56 en-suite twin rooms, reception, lounge, curio shop, open dining room, bar and swimming pool. In construction utmost care was taken to reduce the visual impact on the environment and to blend into the mountainside with the use of thatch roofs, natural stone and paint colours toning in with the surrounding rock formations.
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 Skeleton Coast. Meeting the ocean at Henties Bay, we first head north along the coast to visit the seal colony at Cape Cross. At certain times of the year as many as 100,000 Cape Fur seals congregate. The seals can be viewed from a walkway at a distance of roughly 200 metres. 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. Founded in 1892 as the main harbour for German South West Africa, Swakopmund is often described as being more German than Germany. Now a seaside resort, Swakopmund is the capital of the Skeleton Coast tourism area and has plenty to keep visitors happy. The quirky mix of German and Namibian influences, colonial-era buildings and the cool sea breeze make it very popular. 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.
The drive back to Windhk today will take about 4 and a half hours. 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 back to the capital city where you will be dropped off at your accommodation in the late afternoon / early evening.