Day 1 – Windhoek/Sossusvlei: You will be met by your private safari guide at approx. 7:30 am (hotel for pre-night booked separately). This morning you will depart with your group from Windhoek in your safari vehicle with your private guide and drive southwest through the scenic Khomas Hochland highlands before heading down the Great Escarpment into the Namib Desert below, stopping for a picnic lunch at a scenic location along the way. You will arrive at Dead Valley Lodge in the mid-afternoon and you will stay here for two nights whilst you explore the remarkable sights of the Namib Desert with your guide. If there is still time today, your guide will take you to visit Sesriem Canyon, a nearby geological attraction, or explore Elim Dune. However, if you prefer, you can just relax and soak in the scenic and tranquil surroundings at Dead Valley Lodge.
Sesriem Canyon has evolved through centuries of erosion by the Tsauchab River which has incised a narrow gorge about 1.5 km long and 30 meters deep into the surrounding conglomerates, exposing the varying layers of sedimentation deposited over millions of years. The shaded cool depths of the canyon allow pools of water to gather during the rainy season and remain for much of the year round. These pools were a vital source of water for early settlers who drew water for their livestock by knotting six lengths of rawhide thongs together, hence the canyon and surrounding area became known as Sesriem.
Dead Valley lodge opened in July 2019 and is situated inside the Namib Naukluft Park, in-between the park gate at Sesriem and Elim Dune. It is therefore next to the road leading down to the world-famous Sossusvlei Dunes and “Deadvlei”. The lodge offers 20 free standing, climate-controlled luxury tented chalets, each with adjoining bathroom and a panoramic view of the Namib Desert with towering red sand dunes, rugged mountain ranges and arid desert savannahs. The lodge restaurant serves delicious Namibian style meals, and guests can also relax in the picturesque bar by the swimming pool while looking out over the local desert scenery towards Elim Dune.
Dead Valley Lodge opened in July 2019 and is situated inside the Namib Naukluft Park, in-between the park gate at Sesriem and Elim Dune. The lodge offers 20 free standing, climate-controlled luxury tented chalets, each with adjoining bathroom and a panoramic view of the Namib Desert with towering red sand dunes, rugged mountain ranges and arid desert savannas. The lodge restaurant serves delicious Namibian style meals, and guests can also relax in the picturesque bar by the swimming pool while looking out over the local desert scenery towards Elim Dune.
Day 2 – Sossusvlei: This morning you will rise early for a magical excursion with your guide in the Namib Naukluft National Park, normally setting off before sunrise to capture the dunes whilst the light is soft and shadows accentuate the towering shapes and curves. This area boasts some of the highest free-standing sand dunes in the world and your 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 Sossusvlei, Deadvlei and surrounding dune fields to your heart’s content you can enjoy a relaxed picnic brunch in the shade of a camel thorn tree. You then return to Dead Valley Lodge in the early afternoon in time for a late lunch, with the option to visit Sesriem Canyon afterwards if you haven’t already done so the day before. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure (from experience, this is usually welcomed after an exhilarating morning in the dunes).
This most frequently visited section of the massive Namib Naukluft National Park has become known as Sossusvlei, famous for its towering apricot colored sand dunes which can be reached by following the Tsauchab River valley. Sossusvlei itself is actually a clay pan set amidst these star shaped dunes which stand up to 984 feet above the surrounding plains, ranking them among the tallest dunes on earth. The deathly white clay pan contrasts against the orange sands and forms the endpoint of the ephemeral Tsauchab River, within the interior of the Great Sand Sea. The river course rises south of the Naukluft Mountains in the Great Escarpment. It penetrates the sand sea for some 55 km before it finally peters out at Sossusvlei, about the same distance from the Atlantic Ocean. Until the encroaching dunes blocked its course around 60,000 years ago, the Tsauchab River once reached the sea; as ephemeral rivers still do in the northern half of the Namib.
Sand-locked pans to the west show where the river previously flowed to 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. On such occasions the mirror images of dunes and camel thorn trees around the pan are reflected in the water. 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 0.5 miles 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. Dinner and overnight at Dead Valley Lodge.
Day 3 – Swakopmund: The fascinating drive today takes you northwest through awesome and ever changing desert landscapes of the Namib Naukluft National Park, including the impressive Gaub and Kuiseb canyons. You will meet the coast at the port town of Walvis Bay and then continue north to Swakopmund where you can enjoy the pleasant seaside location and cooler coastal air for your next two nights. There will be time this afternoon to explore the town and wander along the waterfront on foot, before heading off for dinner at a popular restaurant which specializes in locally harvested seafood.
Swakopmund resembles a small, German coastal resort nestled between the desert and the sea. It boasts a charming combination of German colonial architecture blended with modern hotels, shops, restaurants, museums, craft centers, galleries and cafés. Swakopmund had its beginnings as a landing station in 1892 when the German Imperial Navy erected beacons on the site. Settlers followed and made attempts to create a harbor town by constructing a concrete Mole and then an iron jetty – which attempts were ultimately unsuccessful. The advent of World War one halted developments, and the town sank into decline until half a century later when infrastructure improved and an asphalt road opened between Windhoek and Swakopmund. This made reaching the previously isolated town quicker and easier and it prospered once again to become Namibia’s premier resort town. Although the sea is normally cold for swimming there are pleasant beaches and the cooler climate is refreshing after time spent in the desert. Dinner and overnight at The Delight Hotel Swakopmund.
The Delight Hotel Swakopmund is conveniently located within short walking distance of the ‘Mole’, this modern, uplifting and inviting hotel is the ideal base for one’s stay. Each en-suite room is designed with comfort in mind and is equipped with air-conditioning, tea/coffee station, fridge, TV, complimentary WiFi and safe.
Day 4 – Swakopmund: After an early breakfast, your guide will drive you along the scenic coastal road back south to Walvis Bay for a memorable kayaking adventure within the outer lagoon. After meeting your kayaking guide you will be taken on a short scenic drive to Pelican Point to see its lighthouse and windswept beauty, stopping briefly at the salt works to view the variety of birdlife on your way to the launch point. The kayaking is an ideal way of seeing Cape fur seals, Heaviside and bottlenose dolphins, pelicans, flamingos and a wide variety of other sea birds. If you are lucky, there is also a chance of seeing whales, leatherback turtles and sunfish. During the course of the day the guide will stop and inform you about the environment and light refreshments will be served on the beach before heading back to Walvis Bay.
Alternatively, you also have the choice to partake instead in a memorable motorized boat seal and dolphin excursion within the outer lagoon and harbor should the kayaking not appeal. You then have the opportunity to explore the waterfront area of Walvis Bay further before returning to Swakopmund for an afternoon at leisure at your guesthouse or out in town. Activities such as scenic flights, sandboarding and more can all be booked at an extra cost. Dinner and overnight at The Delight Hotel Swakopmund.
Day 5 – Damaraland: Continuing on your safari today, the road takes you north and east into the wonderful and diverse region of Damaraland. You pass Namibia’s highest mountain, the Brandberg which peaks at 8,442 ft above sea level, and take time to view game and absorb the vastness of the scenery along the way. Damaraland is typified by displays of color, 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 which have formed rolling hills, dunes, gravel plains and ancient river terraces. It is the variety and loneliness of the area as well as the scenic splendor which will reward and astound you, giving one an authentic understanding of the word ‘wilderness’. If time allows this afternoon your guide will take you to visit the nearby attractions and geological sites of the pre-historic Twyfelfontein rock engravings (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) – if not there is plenty of time to see them tomorrow.
Strewn over a hillside amongst flat-topped mountains of red sandstone, Twyfelfontein’s boulders and slabs of red sandstone hold some 2,500 prehistoric engravings that depict wildlife, animal spoor and abstract motifs. It is perhaps the largest and finest collection of petroglyphs in Africa. Dinner and overnight at Camp Kipwe.
Camp Kipwe lies in the heart of Damaraland and is nestled amongst an outcrop of giant granite boulders, just a stone’s throw away from the ephemeral Aba Huab riverbed, where desert-adapted elephants often traverse. Each thatched bungalow is simply but tastefully furnished with ensuite open-air bathroom. The center of the camp holds the alfresco dining area, bar, lounge and reception with a fireplace nearby to relax beside in the evenings. A refreshing swimming pool and sunset lookout with lovely views also complement the camp.
Day 6 – Damaraland: After an early breakfast you will be treated to an exciting 4×4 excursion along the ephemeral Aba Huab and 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. Damaraland is home to a variety of desert adapted wildlife and hidden desert treasures. As the elephants are mostly active in the mornings you will normally have the best chance to see them then before returning to camp for lunch. However, if all the safari participants agree, you also have the option to take a picnic lunch and stop to enjoy that in the shade of a large Ana tree by the riverbed, ideally while watching a herd of elephant browsing nearby. Your guide will arrange to fit in a visit to Twyfelfontein and other nearby attractions at a suitable time if you haven’t already done so the previous day. On return to camp there should be time to take a walk into the local area with your guide if desired, or simply relax and enjoy some well-deserved leisure time. Dinner and overnight at Camp Kipwe.
Day 7 – Etosha National Park: Today you set off on your journey to the Ongava Game Reserve, which is situated on the southern border of Etosha National Park. The Ongava Game Reserve is effectively a private game reserve, spanning over 70,000 acres along the southwest border of Etosha National Park. The reserve is home to a wide variety of game including lion, leopard, giraffe, rhino, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, gemsbok (oryx), kudu, steenbok and much more. The scenery is attractive with large open plains blending into Mopane tree woodlands and dolomite outcrops. Arrive in time for an afternoon game drive. Dinner and overnight at Ongava Tented Camp.
Ongava Tented Camp has eight large comfortable Meru-style tents with ensuite facilities, open air showers and private verandas. The main area, built of stone, canvas and thatch, fronts onto a much-frequented waterhole; watching wildlife coming to drink from here or from the swimming pool is a favorite pastime.
Day 8 – Etosha National Park: Today you will be treated to an exciting morning guided game drive into the Etosha National Park, to see more of the wide variety of game and bird species that are to be found there. There is then time to relax by the refreshing swimming pool before you head out again for an afternoon game drive into Etosha before exiting the park before sunset.
Alternatively, you can opt to spend the whole day out in the park and either take lunch by one of the other rest camps in the area, or have a picnic while watching game at a particularly productive waterhole in the area. Once you are back, the rest of the evening can be spent game viewing at the camp’s floodlit waterhole while enjoying dinner, and afterwards.
Etosha National Park covers over 85,000 square miles, much of which is 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 that was reduced to a complex of salt pans when the major river that fed it, the Kunene, changed course and began to flow to the Atlantic instead. If the lake existed today, it would be the third largest in the world. Etosha is the largest of the pans. It is nowadays filled with water only when sufficient rain falls to the north in Angola, inducing floods to flow southward along the Cuvelai drainage system. The Park consists of grassland, woodland and savanna. Game-viewing centers around the numerous springs and waterholes where several different species can often be seen at one time. The Park boasts some 114 mammal and over 340 bird species. Wildlife that one might see includes 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. Meals and overnight at Ongava Tented Camp.
Day 9 – Etosha National Park: Another morning dedicated to memorable game drives within the southern section of Etosha National Park with your guide. You return to camp for lunch and an early afternoon rest, spending your final afternoon on a game drive on the private Ongava Game Reserve. You then return after sunset with enough time to freshen up and enjoy your final ‘safari dinner’ overlooking the camp’s floodlit waterhole. Meals and overnight at Ongava Tented Camp.
Day 10 – Windhoek via The AfriCat Foundation: Your early departure will take you south from Ongava via Outjo and Otjiwarongo to reach Okonjima’s AfriCat Day Centre, a wonderful highlight with which to conclude your safari. Okonjima is home to the AfriCat Foundation, a wildlife sanctuary which focuses on the research and rehabilitation of Africa’s big cats, especially injured or captured leopard and cheetah. You arrive in time for lunch before embarking on an exciting and informative game drive and tour of the center. Here you will learn about the function and vision of the AfriCat Foundation and will also get to meet some of the Foundation’s special captive carnivore ambassadors.
PLEASE NOTE: There will be no tracking of wild cats on this visit. Should you wish to add this activity, we would be happy to recommend a 1-2 night extension (at additional cost, see below for details). After the excursion and freshening up, the journey continues further south to arrive back in Windhoek in the late afternoon, just as the sun is setting.
You will be dropped either at the Windhoek International Airport or to the accommodation of your choice (overnight at additional cost). NOTE: If you choose to flying out this evening, departure flights must be no earlier than 9 pm. A final night in Windhoek is highly recommended!
Optional: Post-Safari Extension
You have the option to extend your safari for an additional night or two at Okonjima Bush Camp. This affords you the opportunity to get a more in-depth insight into the work being done by the AfriCat Foundation as well as enjoy a range of activities on offer by the lodge. Accommodation includes all meals, local drinks (excl. premier and imported brands) and 2 activities per person per day. The night hide and night drive activities are excluded but can be arranged direct at the lodge, subject to availability.
Interested in this trip? Give us a call or drop us an email.