You will be collected between 08:30am & 09:00am. We 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 place of refuge. Since 1975 it has been a wildlife sanctuary and tranquil safe haven, to enjoy the beautiful African wilderness, for wildlife and guests.
We travel via the towns of Otjiwarongo and Tsumeb to a lodge situated on the outskirts of the park on private land offering a more intimate and comprehensive experience. As the closest lodge to Etosha National Park, Mokuti is only four minutes drive from the eastern Von Lindequist Gate near the historical Namutoni Fort and is located on its own private 4000 hectare nature reserve, which shares a common border with this fascinating wildlife reserve. All rooms here are air conditioned, the lodge also offers the only open air African Boma in the area.
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. 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. Our driving distance today is short, for game drives. Okaukuejo is located 17 kms from the southern entrance of the park, and famous for its flood-lit waterhole, where visitors can observe at close quarters a spectacle of wildlife congregating and interacting.
Today we travel through the previously restricted area of Western Etosha National Park, exciting via the Otjovasandu Gate. The Kaokoveld is a dry, mountainous and relatively undeveloped region that takes in the harsh beauty of the Skeleton Coast and the coppery sands of the northern Namib Desert. The area is inhabited by three main ethnic groups - the Damara, Herero and Himba people - each with their unique customs, traditions and rituals. We overnight tonight at the Hobatere Lodge. Hobatere means 'find me', and once you do you will enjoy a warm welcome and personalised service. The Hobatere lodge is situated 80 kms north of Kamanjab on 32000 ha of land which is home to a wide selection of game. The lodge also has a hide overlooking a nearby waterhole and a sundeck with panoramic views.
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 on the farm. We will learn about marriage customs, traditional food and the mysteries of the "Holy Fire" religion. Visiting a Himba village provides a good opportunity to learn about the inner workings of local village life. However, you need to be aware that the commercial reality of permitting this fascinating glimpse of culture necessitates the sale of handicrafts and other items. Of course you are under no obligation whatsver to purchase these items, however should be aware they will be offered.
Our journey 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 before heading to our overnight stop. The Twyfelfontein Country Lodge is situated in the heart of the Twyfelfontein Uibasen Conservancy and constructed with care to reduce the visual impact on the environment and blend into the mountainside.
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 there can be as many as 100,000 congregating Cape Fur seals. 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 enjoy the opportunity 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 this evening in not included in the price of the safari and will be for the client's own account. Approximate driving distance today is 420km. Overnight Swakopmund Lifestyle B&B and Apartments.
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). After lunch we will make our way to the capital city and you will be dropped off at your accommodation in the late afternoon / early evening. Overnight at Galton House, a mere 10 minute drive from the centre of town.
You will be collected at your Windhk accommodation between 08:00 & 08:30am.
We travel out over the Eros Mountains and along scenic roads on our way south-west to the desert. We also pass over part of the Naukluft Mountains, which are of particular interest for the ancient geological history of this part of the country. Heading down from Namibia's central plateau by way of the beautiful Remhoogte Pass, we reach open plains and the tiny settlement of Solitaire. We cross some open grass savannah and farmlands before the terrain gives 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. Overnight at the Sossusvlei Lodge, situated at the entrance to the Namib Naukluft Park.
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 will return to the lodge for the overnight.
After breakfast we begin our journey back to Windhk, following a different route, ascending the massive Gamsberg Pass in the Khomas Hochland Mountain Range on our way back to civilization. We are due back in Windhk late afternoon / early evening and you will be dropped off at your accommodation on our return.
Note - there is no accommodation tonight included in the trip. Please ask us if you would like assistance to arrange this. Additional cost applies.