This Namibia Highlights Safari starts and ends in Windhoek, Namibia.
Cover many of the most famous and intriguing highlights of Namibia - a land of contrasts, sweeping dunes, open plains and a dramatic coast.
Experience solitary vistas stretching to the horizon, spectacular natural wonders and the unique fauna and flora of Namibia. A Namibian Safari of a lifetime - an extravaganza of deserts, cultures and wildlife!
This Namibia Highlights Safari starts at our hotel in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. Meeting up at 14h00 your safari guide gives you a short overview on the adventure ahead and what to expect.
We spend the afternoon exploring the city of Windhoek, driving to various highlights. In the evening we visit the famous Joe’s Beerhouse (or a similar) for dinner. Over a hearty meal (own expense), your guide tells you more about the upcoming journey.
On the morning of day two, we leave Windhoek, setting off south to the wide plains of the mesmerizing Kalahari Desert. We follow the winding road from the central plateau to the desert, passing through remote rural lands scattered with small farming towns - a road less travelled.
Along the way, we stop to meet the locals where possible, to get a sense of the people and cultures of Namibia. We reach our overnight lodge in Kgalagadi late this afternoon.
Day three starts with a delicious breakfast before we make our way to the nearby Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, crossing into South Africa. This transfrontier park consists of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana.
Kgalagadi is a massive game reserve that covers nearly 40 000km² of rugged Kalahari wilderness with swathes of shifting red dunes. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is considered one of the best places in the world to see big cats in the wild, hosting sizeable populations of lions, leopards and cheetahs. About 1700 predator species roam freely in the vast park, among them the famous black-maned lions of the Kalahari.
Most of the day is spent driving through the arid Northern Cape region of Kgalagadi, in South Africa. Our game drive takes us in search of the big cats and other wildlife, as well as the rich birdlife found in this pristine and wild area. Tonight's accommodation is located amongst the camel thorn trees in the remote park, where we enjoy a beautiful sunset at the end of the day. At night the skies light up with an incredible blanket of stars and we fall asleep to the sounds of nocturnal creatures against the quiet backdrop of untamed nature.
An early start on day four allows us to catch the sunrise over the red dunes of the open Kalahari, before enjoying a scrumptious brunch.
Then it is time to pack up and cross the border back into Namibia, following an incredibly scenic route through the Kalahari Desert region. Traversing tall dunes, we take in breathtaking views en route to Keetmanshoop, and then the Fish River Canyon.
The second largest canyon in the world, the Fish River Canyon is truly one of the most remarkable natural wonders on earth. Reaching the massive fissure surrounded by barren, lunar landscapes we head to the rim of the canyon, stopping to admire the stunning views. After gazing over the huge canyon we continue to the natural hot springs at Ai-Ais, where we overnight.
This morning we take a short walk on the floor of the Fish River Canyon to see the rugged terrain up close and get a sense of the sheer size of this geological feature.
Then we drive along secluded roads to the mighty Gariep River, formerly named the Orange River. This is the longest river in South Africa, forming the natural border with Namibia. Moving from rocky hills and desolate lands we enter the more vegetated zone along the river, stopping for lunch and a quick swim in the river. In the afternoon we venture into one of the most ancient deserts in the world - the Namib. Our next lodge is in the charming hamlet of Aus in the Namib Desert region of southern Namibia.
Up at the crack of dawn, we travel across the gravel plains of the Namib, experiencing the wide horizons of this desert country.
Nearing the icy Atlantic Ocean we stop in Kolmanskop. Once a thriving mining town today Kolmanskop is a ghost town being reclaimed by the encroaching desert sands. We explore the deserted town on foot, seeing the old buildings and enjoying an interesting tour that reveals the story of this peculiar place.
From Kolmanskop it is a short drive to the port town of Luderitz, along one of the harshest stretches of coast in Namibia. We walk around the seaside town with its old art nouveau architecture, where it feels like time has stood still. We visit the Dias Cross which marks the place where Portuguese explorer, Bartholomew Dias, landed in Lüderitz Bay on 1488.
After exploring the quirky town of Luderitz we head back inland into the Namib Desert region, stopping to witness the wild horses of Namibia along the way back to our lodge in Aus.
Day seven begins at an easy pace, with time to walk through Aus and enjoy breakfast at the lodge.
Then we journey deeper into the inhospitable Namib Desert, admiring the stark scenery as we go. We cross bare plains, passing undulating red-orange dunes and tall, stony mountains as we travel to our next remote lodge. We spend the next two nights at a comfortable lodge, located at the base of a rocky outcrop in a concession area of the Namib Rand Nature Reserve. The desert lodge serves as a base for our explorations in Namib Rand, where we go on bush walks and both day and night game drives.
The Namib Rand Nature Reserve, one of the largest private conservation areas in Southern Africa, borders on the Namib-Naukluft National Park to the west. This vast protected area covers diverse habitats of the Namib, hosting rare and unique flora and fauna, including many desert-adapted species.
We wake up to the solitary scenes of the vast desert surrounding the lodge, soaking up the calm and quiet of the Namib. We spend the day in the huge Namib Rand Nature Reserve, where your guide shows you the marvels of the desert plants and animals found here, telling you more about these distinctive life forms. We can relax during the heat of the day before embarking on a desert drive in an open safari vehicle.
The Namib Rand Reserve covers about 202 000 ha of south-western Namibia, protecting the unique ecology and biodiversity of this part of the Namib Desert. Ecotourism provides funds for the running of this nature reserve which incorporates important wildlife migration corridors.
Oryx (or gemsbok) and springbok are the most commonly sighted large mammals, with other antelope including kudu, steenbok and hartebeest and klipspringer. The nature reserve is also home to leopards, zebras, giraffes, hyenas, black-backed jackals, aardwolf, bat-eared foxes, caracals, wild cats and genets. We are also sure to spot plenty of the 150 bird species recorded here, as well as reptiles, insects, rodents, amphibians and invertebrates.
Up early this morning and off to the Namib-Naukluft National Park to visit two of the most famous desert highlights in the country - Sesriem and Sossusvlei. These must-see landmarks are featured in the most iconic images of Namibia - capturing the essence of the striking desert landscapes. Driving across the arid, sun-baked plains we head to Sesriem Canyon and take a walk in the deep gorge. Walking along the floor of this narrow canyon we see the exposed faces of sedimentary rock layers formed over the ages.
From Sesriem we continue to the renowned Sossusvlei Dunes, said to be the highest sand dunes on the planet. A 4x4 vehicle is used to cover the last stretch to Deadvlei, a salt pan surrounded by towering dunes. Here we walk into the dune fields, taking in the spectacle of the giant red-orange sand dunes under blue skies. The pan itself is a flat area of cracked white earth scattered with dead trees and some tufts of vegetation - a surreal and captivating sight.
After exploring the unforgettable scenes of the striking Namib-Naukluft we make our way to our lodge in the heart of the wild desert.
On day 10 we drive through the Namib-Naukluft Park admiring the exposed and severe lunar landscape. Our travels take us via an ancient Welwitschia 'forest' to see these strange and hardy plants, and then on to the lagoon at coastal Walvis Bay, to do some bird watching.
Our destination for the day - Swakopmund, the main adventure activity hub of Namibia. We spend the next two nights at a comfortable lodge, conveniently located in the town. You are free to go sightseeing in this historic town, founded by German colonialists in 1892. Swakopmund is a pleasant town, easily explored on foot - a good way to see the old German architecture, attractions and sidewalk cafes.
On day 11 you have time to participate in exciting activities (own expense), in and around the town, including skydiving, sandboarding and quad biking. You can also eat out (own expense) and sample the nightlife of vibrant Swakopmund on days 10 and 11 of our Namibia Accommodated Overland Safari.
Today we drive north along the dramatic Skeleton Coast, so-called for the notoriously dangerous conditions that have caused many a shipwreck. Tracing the Atlantic Ocean coastline, we stop at the Cape Cross Seal Colony to see one of the largest colonies of Cape Fur Seals in the world up close.
Then we leave the coast behind and make our way across the largely uninhabited plains of semi-arid Damaraland in the Kunene Region.
Our destination: the tallest mountain in Namibia, the Brandberg, which means 'Burnt Mountain'. Arriving at the ashen-looking peak we explore the area on foot, walking up the mountainside to visit the renowned White Lady Bushman rock paintings, dating back some 2000 years. Keeping an eye out for birds we may even spot brightly-coloured, endemic lovebirds.
Tonight we stay at the base of the towering Brandberg Mountain, keeping an eye out for desert-adapted elephants.
On day 13 we travel into Etosha National Park - the game viewing highlight of this safari!
Etosha is Namibia's premier safari destination, hosting an abundance of Africa's wildlife and birds. The national park is dominated by a large salt pan - the Etosha Pan, which stretches out in a seemingly endless expanse of desolate terrain.
We spend two nights at comfortable accommodation inside the national park, embarking on game drives in this vast and captivating wilderness area. We are highly likely to encounter elephants, black-faced impala, springbok, zebra and giraffes, as well as black rhinos in certain areas. Lions are frequently sighted, and other predators include cheetahs, leopards, hyenas and jackals. On one of the evenings in Etosha, you can visit the floodlit waterhole of the rest camp to spot animals and birds coming to quench their thirst and cool down.
Time for one more game drive in Etosha National Park, going in search of wildlife action and sightings missed thus far. Next, we make our way out of Etosha Park driving south to the compact Waterberg Plateau National Park, a diverse and scenic reserve. Waterberg is home to a surprising variety of animals, including rare antelopes, and over 200 kinds of birds.
In the afternoon we hike up the Waterberg massif to soak up the views out over the red-hued Kalahari plains and rocky hills. Tonight we stay at the foot of the Waterberg, surrounded by nature.
On our final day, we set off early, driving back to Windhoek where our overland safari adventure began. We arrive back in modern civilization by about 13h00, allowing time for late afternoon or evening flights onward.
Post-safari accommodation is available in Windhoek and can be booked through African Budget Safaris.
This tour involves a fair amount of walking, so a small daypack is advisable. Seasonal Malaria precautions are advisable and are locally obtainable. During winter the nighttime temperatures can fall below zero and during summer the daytime temperatures can reach the forties, so be prepared for this. Most major currencies can be exchanged on arrival in Windhoek and other centres, but banking hours do apply. Credit cards are generally accepted.
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