Windhoek – Sossusvlei – Swakopmund – Damaraland – Etosha National Park
For those looking for a comprehensive taste of Namibia and its gems, then this is the itinerary for you. The goal here is to jam-pack 10 glorious days with a mix of as many diverse experiences as possible, from scenic drives to desert explorations, boating excursions, walks in the wild and much more. Not only will the experiences be varied, but so will the places, people and creatures you encounter along the way. Having derived its name from the Namib Desert, Namibia is a fascinating place full of contrasts waiting to be discovered. With man having made so little impact on the country’s landscape, Namibia is a genuine reflection of nature in its truest form and a country well worth spending an extended amount of time in.
After arriving at Windhoek Airport, you will collect your rental car and drive to the private Kulala Wilderness Reserve in Sossusvlei. Undoubtedly Namibia’s premier tourist attraction, the spectacular red-orange dunes are a sight to behold. Sossusvlei is a mud pan created by a transient desert river that flows through the desert every five to 10 years. It’s the high percentage of iron in the sand that gives it its rich colour, and contrasted against the brilliant blue skies and stark white salt pans, makes for the most stunning images. Many of the dunes reach over 200m, with the largest one, “Big Daddy”, being close to 380m high. Due to a lack of water, many of the local Acacia trees die, unable to even decompose, only adding to the intriguing eeriness of the place. You’ll spend time on the iconic dunes on scenic drives taking in the splendour of the surrounds and unique wildlife. Expect to see the small mammals and reptiles who have adapted to live in the arid desert setting, as well as ostriches and antelopes. Keep your eyes peeled for the amazing Namib Desert beetle that survives the harsh conditions by collecting water on its bumpy back surface during the early morning fogs.
Make your way by road to the picturesque town of Swakopmund, enjoying the incredible coastal scenery along the way. The charming seaside town is known for its eclectic mix of European and African cultures – not only does it boasts a distinct beach resort feel, but it is a wonderful example of German colonial architecture. You’ll explore the beautiful Atlantic coast on a “Dolphin and Seal” catamaran cruise that sets off from Walvis Bay (weather permitting). Apart from the many things to see and do during the day, at night the town comes alive with its string of bars, clubs, restaurants and coffee shops.
On Day 5 you will travel north up past Brandberg Mountain (otherwise known as “Fire Mountain”, the second largest monolith on earth and highest mountain in Namibia, its name is inspired by the orange glow created on its surface by the setting sun) via the Ugab Save the Rhino Trust Camp to the Damaraland region. The mountain has some engravings and carvings, as does Twyfelfontein. Deriving its name from the tribal Damara people, Damaraland offers fascinating environments and landscapes ready to be discovered, from vast grasslands to gorges, mountains and desert. Geological dolorite features such as Burnt Mountain and the “Organ Pipes” have been caused by weathering and stand tall as amazing feats of nature. The Petrified Forest is over 200 million years old and is made up of ancient wood that has been petrified in river silt and slowly exposed by erosion, while the Spitzkoppe is an ancient volcanic remnant very popular with climbers (much like the Brandberg). Enjoy game drives and nature walks as the stark desert beauty gets showcased, as does the amazing, desert-adapted wildlife, like black rhino, ostrich, elephant and springbok.
On Day 8 you will transfer by road to your accommodation in the private Ongava Game Reserve on the boundary of the world-renowned Etosha National Park. Both are the highest density wildlife areas within Namibia, so it’s here where your animal viewing will be second to none. The national park became a national park in 1967 and its name describes a “Great White Place”, very fitting since it is dominated by the very vast Etosha Pan, a long, dry, salt lakebed which forms part of the Kalahari Basin. The savannah area around the pan is home to a variety of creatures, most notably herds of elephant. Zebra, blue wildebeest, the endangered black rhino, springbok, lion, leopard and antelope, as well as migratory birds and flamingo, are prevalent – this is truly a safari experience unlike any other.
On your last day you will drive south again before catching your international flight home from the Windhoek Airport.