This tour boasts the well–known tourist attractions of Sossusvlei and Etosha, but you also may hike up to rock paintings at Brandberg or stroll the sand filled ruins of the ghost town of Kolmanskop.
Day 1: Arrive at Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport from where I will collect you folk and take you to an excellent guesthouse in Windhoek. The rest of the day is yours to relax and catch up on some sleep, especially if you have been on the long flight or, if you are up to it, go on a sight seeing tour of Windhoek. Go out to dinner in the evening to one of the good local restaurants.
Day 2: Travel from Windhoek via the spectacular Spreetshoogte pass and the aptly named little settlement of Solitaire, to the an excellent and unique lodge situated on the Namib Rand Nature Reserve (about 190 000 ha), the largest private game reserve in Namibia, arriving there in the late afternoon.
Day 3: Go for a most interesting game drive across this huge reserve in open top Land Rovers that lasts most of the day, accompanied by local rangers. Here you will see a totally different aspect of the sand dune desert – rolling dunes covered in short perennial grass interspersed with camelthorn trees (Acacia erioloba) – all backed onto the plains and mountains to the west. This Lodge is fairly expensive, but one of the benefits is that it is situated in a spectacularly beautiful desert environment and it includes a full day sightseeing trip.
It is also possible to go for a balloon trip over the dunes in the early morning, with a champagne breakfast thrown in. This however, will require an additional day (please advise when making your reservations) since one can only fly in the early morning when the air is still cold enough and if the wind is not blowing too strongly. The location that you fly from is situated 30 km to the north of the Lodge, and one has to get up very early to get there in time for the flight. This too is expensive, but many people who have been ballooning here think it is worth every cent, but the choice is yours.
Day 4: Leave very early to drive to Sossusvlei where you will see some of the highest and most spectacular dune scenery in the world – a photographer and naturalist’s paradise! Visit the interesting little Sesriem Canyon on the way back, which was sculpted by water in this desert environment. We will take lunch and refreshments with us, as is done every day of the trip, and this will be had in the desert somewhere. Carry on to one of the good guest farms/lodges in that vicinity, depending upon availability, especially during the peak European holiday season (July to September).
Day 5: Leave after breakfast for Swakopmund again via Solitaire and the gravel plains of the Namib Desert Park. On the way we will visit the Kuiseb Canyon Viewpoint, to see the area where two intrepid German geologists lived for two years during WW II. Travel further through the desert towards the Moon Landscape, close to Swakopmund, stopping off en route to look at the very rare Welwitschia plants that only occur in southern Angola and Namibia. Overnight in Swakopmund. Dinner at a good local restaurant.
Day 6: After breakfast, drive 30 km south to the harbor town of Walvis Bay where you will go on a most interesting dolphin cruise around the bay. Visitors are assured of seeing Cape fur seals (some of which jump up onto the boat), two different species of dolphins, and if very lucky maybe a whale or two, as well as many different species of sea birds, including flamingos and pelicans. A delicious light lunch consisting of sea food and light snacks is served on board the boat.
Those who do not wish to go on the boat trip, can go on an exploration excursion to discover the wonders of the desert – most people are amazed at the variety and amount of living creatures to be found in the desert. Spend the afternoon at your leisure relaxing or sightseeing in Swakopmund, which is late 19th century little German town set along the Atlantic coast of Africa. There is a lot to see and everything is within easy walking distance. Dinner at a different local restaurant. Spend another night at the same guest house or hotel.
Day 7: Travel north up the coast to the Cape Cross seal colony, stopping en route to look at the lichen fields growing in the desert. Visit the huge Cape fur seal colony at Cape Cross and the Dias Cross, marking the spot where Portuguese explorers first landed in 1486. Carry on further north into the Skeleton Coast Park or via Uis, depending upon the condition of the rivers and roads. As you leave the Skeleton Coast Park, traveling eastwards, one enters the stark but beautiful region of southern-central Kunene province, with its characteristics flat-topped basalt mountains. Stay over at one of three lodges situated close to the Twyfelfontein rock art site.
The smaller exclusive lodge is set amongst beautiful granite boulders and the second one is a much larger lodge which caters for larger groups and the third one is a small rustic camp with its own airstrip from where guests can choose to go flying in either a balloon, micro-light or fixed wing aircraft. All three are new lodges and very good, but it will depend upon which one you would prefer to stay at, as well as the availability.
Day 8: After an early breakfast visit Twyfelfontein, one of the most important archaeological sites in southern Africa, with hundreds of rock engravings, which is due to be declared a World Heritage Site. Thereafter you will be taken to the local airstrip where you will be collected and flown on to a very remote Camp situated either on the banks of the Khumib River in the Skeleton Coast Park or on the Kunene River where you will spend three days exploring this remote terrain. All activities and meals are included during the three days that you will spend here.
Days 9 & 10: Stay over at one of the luxury camps in the Skeleton Coast Camp, exploring this fascinating area with its many places of interest.
Day 11: After breakfast you will be flown from the Skeleton Coast Camp to the airstrip at Palmwag, where you will be met by your host from the Mountain Camp where you will spend the next two days in a wonderfully tranquil location. You will be housed in a big fully furnished tent with adjoining bathroom facilities and since the camp is run on solar power, you will enjoy absolute peace and quiet.
Day 12: During the early morning you can choose to go on a hike with Bonnie, the resident guide who will show you many interesting sites and share his extensive knowledge of the area with you. During the afternoon you will be taken on an outstanding game drive in this very remote area with the possibility of seeing some of the rare desert adapted black rhinos as well as some of the more common game and birds of that area, such as oryx, kudu, springbok,giraffe, mountain zebra, steenbok etc. Pieter will meet up with guests during the late afternoon.
Day 13: After breakfast we will be transferred to the Palmwag Lodge, from where we will leave for the Okaukuejo or Halali Rest Camps in the Etosha National Park, via the Grootberg (Big Mountain) and the little village of Kamanjab or if you prefer to we can stay over at one of the up-market lodges, situated close to the entrance gate of the Etosha National Park – the choice is yours. The accommodation in the ENP is clean and tidy but not luxurious (in need of some upgrading) but, you have the advantage of being able to sit at the floodlit waterhole during the evening and possibly see everything from springbok, oryx, kudu, hartebeest, wildebeest, lion, hyena, jackal, black rhino, elephant etc. coming to drink – a truly wonderful African spectacle.
Day 14: After breakfast and again watching game coming to drink at the adjoining waterhole, we continue in an easterly direction viewing game en route to Halali Rest Camp where we will have lunch. After a short rest continue further eastwards to Fort Namutoni, the most easterly camp in the Park, viewing game on the plains and at various waterholes. This is a restored German colonial police fort, which is now used as a tourist camp. You too you can either stay in the rest camp or at one of the excellent private lodges situated close by.
Day 15: Leave after breakfast from Fort Namutoni (or from the Lodge) and have a last look at some game at the waterhole, stopping off at Lake Otjikoto, which is a dolomite sinkhole lake, close to mining village of Tsumeb. The German colonial forces dumped their ammunition and cannons in this lake shortly before surrendering to the South African troops in 1915. After Lake Otjikoto travel to Tsumeb for tea and then on to Otjiwarongo for lunch before carrying on to the excellent Okonjima Lodge, home of the AfriCat Foundation, 55 km south of Otjiwarongo, en route to Windhoek. In the Etosha National Park you are not guaranteed to see any of the large predators because the Park is so big and these animals are often secretive, but at Okonjima visitors will be able to see lion, leopard and cheetah up close. These animals are kept in very large camps and not in small pens, and they often have to be located by means of radio collars.
Visitors can also participate in several other activities on offer game drives, bush walks, Bushmen trails, bird viewing from hides etc. Visitors can choose to stay at either the Main Camp or at the new Bush Camp. This is an up-market lodge and Okonjima and the AfriCat Foundation were recently chosen as Namibia’s Leading Safari by The World Travel Awards. It offers very good value for money as there are many different activities to choose from visits to the lions, cheetahs and leopards. Bushman trail, visit to the waterhole to watch birds and the nocturnal animals that come to drink and all our previous guests have really enjoyed their stays here.
Day 16: Spend a second full day at Okonjima, participating in the various activities on offer or just relaxing as you wish.
Day 17: Depart for Windhoek airport, stopping off in Windhoek for some hours if time allows, before flying home. The other benefit of staying at Okonjima is that Windhoek is only three hours away by car, so guests can easily reach the airport on the day of their departure.