18 Day Self Drive safari

Namibia

Safari Includes

  • TBA

Safari Excludes

  • Gratuities, items of personal nature

Itinerary

Your Stay

Contact us for your Namibia Safari Quote

About This Safari

Number of days: 18 days/17 nights
Accommodation: standard/ mid-market/ camping

Gallery

Itinerary

Welcome to Namibia!

  • Upon arrival at the airport a representative will meet you at the Windhoek International Airport and transfer you to office in Windhoek.
  • Please note after collecting your luggage, you enter the arrivals hall and the representative will be waiting with a welcome sign with your name on the board.
  • Our meet & greet agent will liaise with the car rental company with regards to your arrival time at their office and will meet with you to do your meet & greet.

Windhoek

The springs of Windhoek (pronounced VIN-took) attracted pastoralists long before time was measured with alarm clocks, breakfast runs and train schedules. But since 1840 random claims and several skirmishes for dominion over the precious water have culminated in a city with more facets than a flawless diamond.

Pensions and neo-Gothic churches jostle with craft markets and shebeens as the German heritage of early years is led astray by the vagaries of Africa’s whims. The town itself is small as capitals go with around 230 000 inhabitants making up a little over 10% of the national population.

There are many useful words to describe Windhoek and, as your most likely point of arrival and departure, all those words will sing like a rufous-tailed palm thrush at the break of dawn: small, clean, safe, convenient, modern, interesting, cheap, and warm. More words exist but we’ll let you make them up after your visit.

In Windhoek there are many interesting historical buildings, museums, galleries and craft shops. The city has several good restaurants and modern shops and services making it an excellent base camp from which to launch your Namibian adventure. If you’re the museum-visiting type, then don’t miss the Owela Museum, Alte Feste Museum, the Geology Museum and the Transport Museum.

Interesting historical buildings to tick off your list are the Clock Tower, Elephant Column, the War Memorial, Christus Kirche, Alte Feste and the Ink Palace (Parliament).

Galleries featuring Namibian art and craft include the Bushman Art Shop and Museum and the National Art Gallery of Namibia. There are also street markets where local artists sell their crafts, fabrics and art.

Other interesting features: National Botanical Garden, Meteorite Fountain, National Theatre of Namibia and the Warehouse Theatre.

Approximate distance: 42km | Approximate travelling time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Please feel free to ask the person at reception to assist with making a reservation for you at a local restaurant of your choice for dinner.

Excellent restaurants in Windhoek:

  • Stellenbosch Bistro & Wine Bar
  • Joe’s Beerhouse (very local)
  • Olive Exclusive

Accommodation: Villa Violet | Includes: Bed & breakfast

 

Kalahari

Fanning out from Botswana and stretching from the Caprivi in the extreme north-east to the Orange River in the south, The Kalahari is a vast basin of semi-arid plains, dry savannah and moist woodland.

In the southern Kalahari, attractions are few and very far between and that in itself is one of the major attractions of this endless land. Large camel-thorns and shepherd’s trees dot the grassy plains and your field of vision may well cross a time zone with enormous skies and a chirrupy silence your only companions.

The semi-arid plains and dunes support diverse and fascinating plants, birds and animals that have adapted to life in a virtually water-free world. The gemsbok can go for months on end without water and have special blood-cooling systems at the base of their brains. The camel thorn is a large and hardy acacia tree that thrives in sandy soils thanks to a taproot that can extend to three times the tree’s height.

Now the fun begins. 

  • Before leaving, please remember to stock up on drinks and snacks for the road as shops are few and far between. The route goes south via the B1 through Rehoboth, home of the Baster people and then on towards Mariental.

Spend the remainder of the day enjoying the facilities offered by the lodge and the surrounding area.

Lodges and game parks with five-figure acreages offer game viewing, birdwatching, scenic drives, walking safaris, and cycling tours. The Kalahari biome supports about 50 species of mammal and over 200 species of bird. Aside from the wildlife the parallel lines of brick-red dunes, grassy troughs, and acacia trees make for some excellent photographic opportunities.

For an off-the-beaten-track detour, visit Brukkaros – an enormous volcano-like crater rising 600m above the surrounding planes and erstwhile home to a heliograph and a Smithsonian observatory. Both stations have been washed away by the sands of time, but the clear night skies and endless desolation remain.

The quiver tree – so named after San hunters were observed using its branches to make quivers – is an endemic giant aloe and the quintessential tree of Namibia. The country’s most impressive stand of these striking plants is in the Quiver Tree Forest outside Keetmanshoop. Near the forest is the Giants’ Playground, an astonishing outcrop of balancing Basalt Rocks rising out of the level plains, and the Mesosaurus Fossil.

 

 

Namib Naukluft

Today you will make your way west from Mariental towards Büllsport. Your route will take you on the C19 heading westwards towards Maltahöhe. From here you will then head north onto the C14 and towards Büllsport.

Approximate distance: 225km | Approximate travelling time: 3 / 4 hours

The Naukluft Mountains are a massif (a connected group of mountains) in central Namibia, forming the easternmost part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park. They are known for their wildlife, including mountain zebras and leopards. The mountains have many small streams and waterfalls, while the Never Ending Hills lie to their east.

On arrival check in and then enjoy the afternoon lying by the pool or going on nature walks.

Accommodation: Büllsport Guestfarm

Hiking is the main activity at Büllsport Guestfarm. There are 15 marked and maintained hiking routes, in and around the farm or into the nearby Naukluft Mountains, including the famous Quiver Tree Gorge walk.

Back at the Guestfarm you will spend the remainder of the day relaxing.

Naukluft Plateau with Quiver Tree Gorge Hike

  • Duration: complete hike: about 6 hours
  • Starting: complete hike: Old Police Station
  • Equipment: walking shoes, hat, minimum 3 litre of water, snacks/fruits

Accommodation: Büllsport Guestfarm | Includes: Dinner, bed & breakfast

Namib Naukluft Park

Scratch the surface of the world’s oldest desert and you may find little more than an endless expanse of parched plains and dunes with a few dry river beds and rocky mountain ranges cutting up the horizon.

Delve into the details of this 15-million-year-old wilderness area and you will find a fascinating world of plants, insects, animals and birds that have adapted and thrive in the only true desert biome in southern Africa.

At just under 50,000sq km, the Namib-Naukluft Park is one of the largest conservancies in Africa. The park is an amalgamation of several reserves and the landscape and habitats change dramatically from north to south and east to west.

Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon are synonymous with the park but there’s a lot more to see and do that rewards a slow meander from one end to the other.

The Namib Desert supports a total of 650 plant species – a quarter of all Namibian flora – and a tenth of these are endemic to the desert. The welwitschia is an ancient tree that is a family, genus and species combined. Discover beetles with drain pipes, dancing lizards with double tanks, burrowing geckos, desert adders, pure-bred wild ostriches, water-carrying Namaqua sand grouse and meditating moles. Namib specials include Barlow’s lark, Benguela long-billed lark, Damara tern, Dune lark, Gray’s lark and Rüppell’s korhaan.

Mammals in the park include Hartmann’s mountain zebra, gemsbok, klipspringer, duiker, steenbok, leopard, baboon, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, African wild cat, caracal and aardwolf. All have adapted to the desert conditions.

The NamibRand in the south is one of the largest private reserves in Africa. Stretching south-west from Sesriem towards Betta the park covers 2,100sq km of desert dunes, vegetated valleys, vast plains and towering mountains.

Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon are the focal point of the park and there are many lodges and camping options in the area. The 60km drive into Sossusvlei from Sesriem takes you through towering dunes and grassy plains and ends on the edge of the Great Sand Sea with spectacular scenery and some of the world’s tallest dunes.

The Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park was proclaimed in 1968 to protect a rare breeding herd of endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebra; the 1979 amalgamation with the Namib National Park and outlying areas allowed for migration of gemsbok, zebra and other game into the new Namib-Naukluft Park. The mountains support rock-dwelling plants, aloes and trees: look out for euphorbia, acacias and quiver trees; the foothills support denser broad-leafed species like sycamore figs, larger acacias, shepherd’s trees and wild olive trees. Large mammals and an abundance of birds add to the wonder of this spectacular corner of the park. Hiking and 4×4 trails are particularly suited to this region.

The park tends to level out as you travel north and the endless vista, punctuated with rocky canyons and craggy outcrops, is captivating. A well-protected wilderness area, the only places to stay are rudimentary, no-frills, no-facilities, no-people camping grounds. A string of them wind through this area and all make the most of the spectacular northern Namib-Naukluft. The desert-adapted birds, plants, insects and mammals all make an appearance on the grassy plains and rocky knolls.

A lone crossroads settlement with a lone fuel pump, a general store and a small lodge has become an institution as much a part of Sossusvlei as Dune 45 or Dead Vlei. Percy makes his own bread at Solitaire and even if you’ve just had breakfast and coffee you’ll want to stop in and poke around this intriguing middle-of-nowhere-and-aptly-named speck on the horizon.

The Welwitschia Drive, in the northern extremity of the park, follows a circular route with 13 beacons signalling excellent specimens of this fascinating plant as well as lichen fields, dollar bushes, the moonscape and some interesting historical and geological sites.

Sossusvlei

Today you will be heading west from the Namib Naukluft area towards Sesriem. The route will take you from the Guestfarm to the Sesriem gate. Travelling on the D854 you will head south-west towards the C19. Continue on the C19 until you reach the turnoff towards the Sesriem gate on your left from here you will then make your way to the Sesriem gate.

Approximate distance: 90km | Approximate travelling time: 2 hours

As you drive slowly along the way, stopping to view some wildlife like baboons, ostrich, springbok and oryx as well as sociable weaver nests. The scenery changes from highland shrub acacia savannah, open plains and rock formations to the Namib Desert floor of the wide-open spaces. Vegetation also varies from beautiful camel thorn and wild ebony trees to their desert adapted counterparts like the shepherd’s tree, “stinky shepherd’s” tree, rock wild figs and many shrubs/grasses.

This is one of the highlights of this safari … The Sossusvlei dunes area, one of the most beautiful places to be seen! Ask the lodge staff to wake you early enough to have a quick breakfast and then drive to the gate at Sesriem. From the gate to the 2X4 parking is a tar road, 60 kms long but it will take at least an hour … speed limit is 60 kph and it is so beautiful, you will stop often for photography!

The sand dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert are often referred to as the highest dunes in the world. Various arguments are laid out to support this claim, but all miss the point, which is that Sossusvlei is surely one of the most spectacular sights in Namibia. Located in the Namib Naukluft park, the largest conservation area in Africa, and fourth largest in the world – the sand dunes at Sossusvlei are just one excellent reason to visit Namibia.

The best time to view Sossusvlei is close to sunrise and sunset; the colours are strong and constantly changing, allowing for wonderful photographic opportunities. The midday heat is intense and best spent in the shade while sunset also offers excellent photo opportunities at Sossusvlei.

‘Vlei’ is the Afrikaans word for a shallow depression filled with water (well, a depression that might sometimes be filled with water!), and the name ‘Sossusvlei’ should strictly only be applied to the pan that lies at the place where the dunes close in, preventing the waters of the Tsauchab River from flowing any further – that is, on the rare occasions that the river does flow as far as this.

Sossusvlei

Sossusvlei is one of the most spectacular sights in Namibia with red sand dunes rising 300m into the air. Climb a sand dune, explore the Dead Vlei or balloon over the great Sand Sea.

Star dunes with up to five crests rise 300m into the air and rank among the biggest in the world; the dune valleys are marked by vast clay pans where the Tsauchab River gave up its fight to reach the sea. More than 60,000 years ago, the encroaching dunes stopped the ephemeral river from reaching the sea with over 50km still to go. Besides the dunes and pans of Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon, a sideshow of activities and sights has developed around the region and there are plenty of game lodges that provide additional desert-adapted activities.

Plants and birds are the dominant life form in this desiccated realm and they support a tiny world of mammals, reptiles and insects that, in the absence of coastal fog, seldom wander far from the river course and its pans.

Sossusvlei is one of four pans in among the towering dunes, the others being Dead Vlei – so named because of the petrified camel thorn trees that survived for a few hundred years after the dunes blocked the river; !Nara Vlei – which has a number of endemic !Nara bushes eking an existence from the scarce water that occasionally makes it down from the Naukluft Mountains; and Hidden Vlei which is a barren amphitheatre some distance beyond Dead Vlei.

To protect the fragile wilderness, only day trips are allowed into Sossusvlei. You can drive the 60km road lined with enormous iron-oxide dunes, precious gemsbok and gnarled acacia to within a few km of the pans and dunes in a 2WD. If you don’t fancy the extra hike you can get to within a short walk from the pans in a 4×4 and some judicious sand-track man oeuvres; or you can use the shuttle service. Beat the haze and the people by getting there at sunrise when the dunes are burnt sienna and the sky is almost too blue for your polariser.

Give yourself an hour at sunset to climb Elim Dune, which is about 5km from Sesriem and you’ll probably want to stop and get some postcard shots along the way.

Sesriem Canyon is a narrow gorge 30m deep that is evidence of shallow seas and wet periods of days gone by with layers of round eroded pebbles embedded in the calcrete strata. The canyon is usually filled with pools of water good for a refreshing dip after the exhausting dunes.

Ballooning over the Great Sand Sea gives an excellent perspective of the expanse of dunes and the total silence – between flame-blasts – lends an eerie touch to this exhilarating experience.
Sossusvlei brings out the creative photographer in everyone – provided you beat the mid-day haze. Surreal shapes, colours, textures and landscapes are accentuated by the ancient trees and desert-adapted wildlife like gemsbok, springbok and ostrich.

Swakopmund

A drive north (and then west) goes through the gradual change from mountains and dunes to rolling grass-covered hills with scattered acacia trees to Swakopmund, a quaint resort town by the sea with an obvious German heritage at odds with its bleak surrounds.

Look out for the endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebra as you leave; stop at Solitaire, about 80km from Sesriem for some home-made bread and an ice-cold drink; Kuiseb Canyon has some shady picnic spots; you can see springbok and pure-bred wild ostrich across the vast gravel plains of the Namib.

This is a fascinating drive today:

  • Solitaire to refuel and do not miss out on the amazing apfel strudel
  • Cross over the Tropic of Capricorn which is a popular photo stop
  • Drive through the Gaub Canyon and then a little while later, the Kuiseb Canyon which was home to two 2nd World War renegades where they hid for 2 long years
  • There is so much more to mention.

You can stop in Walvis Bay for lunch before continuing on to Swakopmund and then spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure, walking through this beautiful town or continue through without stopping in Walvis Bay, which will give you some time for an afternoon activity in Swakopmund. Choose from the many that this beautiful coastal town has to offer.

Alternatively, travel via the Namib Naukluft Park route to the Welwitschia Plains and Moon landscape. This is the same route as above except, about 20 kms after driving through the beautiful Kuiseb Canyon, turn north onto the D1998. You will then turn right onto the D1982 before turning left onto the D1985 to meet up with the C28. Turn left onto the C28 and continue on this road to the coast. The area is signposted but remember you need a park permit, which you can obtain at the Sesriem office the day you go to Sossusvlei.

Approximate distance: 350km | Approximate travelling time: 5/6 hours – can be longer as it depends how often you stop

Ask your guesthouse/hotel or guide for recommendations where to eat this evening as he can help you to make bookings where necessary.

Swakopmund is a lovely town situated on the Skeleton Coast at the mouth of the Swakop River. The town hosts a wide range of superb restaurants and other interests such as:

  • Karakulia weavers market
  • Marine Aquarium
  • Street markets
  • Museum
  • Krystal Gallery and lots more

While not exactly beach destinations on account of the cold water and chilly breeze, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay have an almost overwhelming choice of sights and activities on offer. If you’re the kind who likes to relax and absorb the atmosphere at your own pace there’s plenty by way of cafés, curio shops, galleries, museums, markets and beach walks to fill your day.

Or choose from a range of organised activities including a fascinating guided walk into the living desert; a scenic flight along the surreal Skeleton Coast or the excellent Walvis Bay marine cruise: think game drive on a yacht with oysters and champagne.

And at the end of it all enjoy a fabulous dinner, seafood being the obvious speciality, at one of many convivial restaurants with a view of the sun setting over a turbulent Atlantic Ocean.

Today you have a full day in Swakopmund to take advantage of the many activities offered and the variety of amazing sights to see in this coastal town, where the dunes meet the sea. Surrounded by the ancient Namib desert and the inhospitable – but bounteous – Atlantic Ocean, the two towns of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay are alive with activity and adventure.

Even though only just over 100 years old, Swakopmund has a lovely rich history with a tinge of colonial architecture, especially of German descent.

 Suggested activities:

  • Dolphin Cruise Laramon Boat Cruises
  • Dolphin Cruise Combo with Sandwich Harbour Laramon Boat Cruises
  • Living Desert Eco Tour Batis Birding Safaris
  • Night walk Batis Birding
  • Quad biking Desert Explorers
  • Dune Boarding Alter Action
  • Scenic Flights Scenic Air or Pleasure Flights

If you do not feel like taking part in an organized activity, you could take a drive to the lagoon at Walvis Bay, or a drive to the Moonlandscape … or just relax.

Swakopmund

Surrounded by the ancient Namib desert and the inhospitable – but bounteous – Atlantic Ocean, the two towns are alive with activity and adventure.

When the British annexed the natural harbour of Walvis Bay, Germany was left with mile upon mile of barren shoreline in which to find a decent port. They chose an area north of the Swakop River for want of a better location and set to work building a port. It failed. And that early failure saved what was later to become Swakopmund. The town’s early growth spurt – with typically German art-nouveau and neo-Gothic styles – faltered early in the 20th century when Germany’s control of the country was ceded to South Africa losing all maritime operations to Walvis Bay.

Swakopmund wallowed in stagnation until a tar road connected it to the highlands of Namibia and thousands of affluent Windhoek residents. The old parts remain a charming relic of times gone by and the town has developed into a delightful seaside resort with recreation and relaxation high on its list of priorities.

For Walvis Bay, on the other hand, the future was never in doubt. On a coastline almost 1600km long, Walvis Bay is one of only two natural harbours – the other is Lüderitz – and this has guaranteed the bustling town a steady maritime trade and a host of industrial offshoots. Industry aside, Walvis Bay has many attractions, not least of which, is its massive populations of seabirds and shorebirds in a vast lagoon and south of the town at Sandwich Bay.

Swakopmund has many interesting German-influenced buildings from the early 1900s in a variety of styles: Kaiserliches Bezirksgericht – or State House; Woerman House and Damara Tower; the Alte Bahnhof – a fairytail railway station; the Kaserne; the neo-baroque Lutheran Church; and Haus Hohnezollern – purportedly a brothel in its hey day. The Museum has displays of archaeology, ethnology, flora, fauna, history and mining; the Marine Aquarium is an engaging display of inshore reef marine life; coastal birds and a cross-section of the Benguela Current.

For its size, Swakopmund has an astonishing array of restaurants that serve mainly seafood, steak and many German staples. We will recommend a few when you make your booking.

Swakopmund and Walvis Bay have a lot on offer for the adventure-seeker: quad-biking, sand-boarding, dune-boarding, horse-riding, mountain biking, skydiving, surfing, surf and offshore fishing, dolphin cruises and diving – although the water temperature is below friendly. And Rossmund Golf Club is developing into one of the world’s best desert courses.

Walvis Bay is famous for its wetland birds. The greater wetlands area consists of the tidal lagoon, man-made salt pans and an arm of sand that ends at Pelican Point. The Walvis Bay lagoon has been recognised as by the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance. The bay supports over 40 species of bird and its population exceeds 150,000 – the greatest concentration of shorebirds and seabirds in southern Africa. Half are intra-African migrants, just under half are Palearctic migrants and the remainder coastal residents.

Notable species include flamingos, plovers, grebes, European and African black oystercatcher pairings, pelicans, terns, plovers and gulls.

South of the town and virtually inaccessible is the impressive Sandwich Bay, which also has a massive population of wetland birds.

Damaraland South

A recommended early start this morning to your next destination, Damaraland, where enormous granite outcrops and dolerite dykes have been carved by ice, wind and rain over eons.

Grassy plains, tree-studded riverbeds and endless open skies add to the grandeur and make this area one of the most scenic in Namibia. The drive to Damaraland takes up to six hours because there is much to see and do along the way…. Possibly even longer if you stop often to take in the natural beauty along the way.

Approximate distance: 315km | Approximate travelling time: 5 / 6 hours

Be sure to look out for the small settlement Wlotzkasbaken roughly 30 kilometres from Swakopmund and the shipwrecks along the way, as you drive along the Skeleton Coast via Henties Bay to Cape Cross to see the largest breeding cape fur seal colony in the world. The stench of 100,000 seals can be a tad over-powering so a handkerchief to cover the nose is a must.

From here, back-track towards Henties Bay and then inland along the C35 to Uis which is a small closed-down tin mine. Enjoy some lunch, re-fuel and head north towards the Brandberg.

Spending two nights here you will be able to enjoy the surrounding area.

 Accommodation: Brandberg White Lady Lodge

Damaraland

Damaraland is where you will find Namibia’s wildlife; that typical African safari with teeming plains herds, fearful predators, noble giants and an underworld of fascinating plants, insects, birds, reptiles and mammals.

Southern Damaraland, from Swakopmund up to the Huab River, has many geological and historical attractions and is a popular region for rugged off-road camping expeditions. The land rises slowly up towards the great escarpment and volcano-induced peaks break up the endless plains.
Northern Damaraland up to the Hoanib River has the greatest concentration of game. The terrain rumples into grassy hills dotted with mopane and acacia trees as you travel north-east over the plateau towards Etosha National Park.

The area is divided into several enormous private game reserves, known as concessions that support most species of Namibia’s large game and provide some of the best birding and wildlife experiences in the country – and southern Africa for that matter.

Southern Damaraland

Giant inselbergs, formed millions ago when lava was all the rage, rise sheer and jagged from the barren plains of the inner Namib Desert. Most impressive of these are Spitzkoppe and the Brandberg Massif – which, in addition to being the highest peak in the country, has the allure of ancient rock paintings and the intriguing White Lady of Brandberg.

Two very large volcanic craters, also millions of years old, hold evidence of Namibia’s earliest inhabitants and, at 22km across, Messum Crater is an astonishing sight. It has lost most of its outer ring but has the most fascinating rock formations and ancient plants such as the Welwitschia, a variety of lichens, lithops and other desert-adapted flora.

The Organ Pipes are a series of dolerite pipes that, oddly enough, resemble organs pipes – though these ones were created 100 million years ago and are probably a bit out of tune by now.

Over 200 million years ago, a great flood swept enormous trees into the desert. These trees were fossilised by the sand and formed what is now a Petrified Forest.

If for no other reason than its great name, you should visit Wondergat: Gat means hole in Afrikaans.
As a result of some lava-induced chemical reaction over 100 million years ago, Burnt Mountain undergoes a spectacular transformation from dull grey to a hundred fiery reds every sunrise and sunset.

Among the red sandstone boulders and hills at Twyfelfontein is the most impressive collection of petroglyphs in Africa. Around 2,500 ancient rock paintings and engravings feature animals, tracks and abstract symbols. The exact age is unknown but archaeological evidence indicates that hunter/gatherers lived here more than 7,000 years ago.

Damaraland North

 

Today you will make your way from the Brandberg White Lady Lodge north towards the Palmwag area.

Head back onto the C35. From here you will then make your way towards Twyfelfontein on the D2612.

The highlights of Twyfelfontein are the Twyfelfontein rock engravings, Burnt Mountain, Organ Pipes and Petrified Forest. This area, in the dry river beds, is also where there is an opportunity to see the desert adapted elephants. They do move around over vast areas so it cannot be guaranteed that you will see them. Continue north onto the C39 and head towards Palmwag.

Northern Damaraland

Northern Damaraland rises to the Etendeka Plateau and the ground becomes more vegetated as you move north-east towards Etosha National Park. The main attractions are the private concessions that adjoin the great park and here is where you will find that classic African safari – with a Namibian edge.

The famous desert-adapted elephants traverse this vast dry land in search of water and the world’s only naturally occurring population of black rhino co-exists with the Damara communities. The endemic black-faced impala, Damara dik-dik and Hartmann’s mountain zebra thrive in the region as do several endemic species of bird including Rüppell’s korhaan, Herero chat, Monteiro’s hornbill,
bare-cheeked babbler, Carp’s tit and Hartlaub’s francolin.

Endemics aside northern Damaraland’s hilly savannah supports a large number of species including lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, eland, kudu, giraffe, klipspringer, steenbok, gemsbok and springbok. Birdlife is prolific with over 33 raptors recorded including cuckoo hawks, Egyptian vultures and peregrine falcons – the world’s fastest animal.

The list of wildlife, birds, plants and smaller fascinations is almost endless

 

Etosha South

This morning after breakfast, you head east to the southern area of the Etosha National Park, one of your highlights when visiting Namibia.

Approximate distance: 400km | Approximate travelling time: 5-6 hours

From Palmwag Lodge, you head east over the Grootberg Pass to Kamanjab where the gravel road ends. Refuel and stock up on some more snacks before heading east on the tar road (C40) for 145kms before turning left (north) onto the C38. After 80kms, you will reach to entrance to one of the highlights of your tour, the Etosha National Park.

The first section to Kamanjab is a lovely gravel road but the rest is a bit “boring” so good to complete this section. There is an option to visit the Himba village at the Otjikandero Village close to Kamanjab but this needs to be booked in advance as they are not open to the public all day.

A visit to the Etosha National Park is one of the highlights of traveling Namibia. Etosha, which was declared a game reserve by the German colonial administration back in 1907, covers an area of more than 22 000 sq kms. In its centre lies a vast saltpan surrounded by grass and thorn savannah, Mopani bushland in the west and dry forest in the north-east. About two million years ago, this area was an enormous lake, fed by the Kunene River. However, the lake slowly dried up because over time, the river changed its course.

The pan is just about always dry. However, in the southern parts there are have water-holes scattered throughout this area and form the basis of life for countless game. In years of good rain, sections of the pan are flooded and become home to many bird species, a specialty being flamingos that come here to breed.Be it a lion or an elephant, a giraffe or a zebra, almost all African animal species (except the Cape Buffalo) are represented in this huge game reserve, approximately the size of Wales in the UK.

There is an estimated number of 250 lions in the park, 300 rhinos, 2500 giraffes, 6000 zebras and more than 2000 elephants. The dainty springbok are especially numerous; at least 20 000 of them roam the reserve. Often, they can be observed in enormous herds of several hundred animals.

The Etosha National Park has a good infrastructure. Well-maintained gravel roads (un-tarred) lead to the waterholes, where game viewing is at its best.

Accommodation: Taleni Etosha Village  | Includes: Dinner, bed & breakfast

Etosha National Park

Today is a full day game drive as you drive slowly east through the Etosha National Park stopping at numerous waterholes along the way. Remember to pay your entry fee at Okaukuejo and stock up on some provisions for the road. The best way to do game drives in Etosha is a slow drive to various waterholes and then sitting at these waterholes for a while. Obviously, there are great opportunities to see game along the way as well.

The shop at Okaukuejo is normally reasonably stocked for snack and drinks and I do suggest an Etosha map which is in the form of a booklet … great for the park as well as a momento. Below I do mention a few waterholes but as it is a huge reserve and animals move freely throughout, there are no rules! So, move around and be on the lookout everywhere for wildlife. Animals like lions would normally be close to a waterhole whereas cheetah, normally in the plains. Springbok, zebra and other plains game can be seen anywhere.

Even though only about 140kms between Okaukuejo and Namutoni, it can take all day as the whole day is, in effect, a game drive … what a bonus!

Great waterholes between Okaukuejo and Halali would be:

  • Okaukuejo waterhole Nebrownii Gemsbokvlakte
  • Olifantsbad Homob Salvadora
  • Rietfontein (one of my favourites) Halali

Between Halali and Namutoni and the eastern Von Lindequist Gate:

  • Hobas Okerfontein Kalkheuvel
  • Chuddop Klein Namutoni (great late afternoon)

After a full day of game driving you can cool down with a splash in the pool or just a little bit of relaxation at your campsite.

Accommodation: Namutoni Resort

Today day you have a full day to spend inside the park enjoying self-drive game drives. You can go all day or opt for AM and PM excursions. Bear in mind that you can also arrange at the lodge reception to go with their guide and vehicle on a drive (optional extra).

Good places to visit in the eastern side:

  • Fischer’s Pan Tsumcor Andoni Plains
  • Klein Okevi Chuddop Klein Namutoni

Spend another lovely evening at the lodge enjoying a spectacular dinner while you reflect of what you have seen over the last few days!

Accommodation: Namutoni Resort

Etosha National Park

Etosha is one of the few places, maybe the only place, where some of the best game viewing would be during the heat of the day when plains game in their hundreds congregate at the waterholes to drink.

As vegetation in most areas is sparse, the animals have learnt to drink during the day when predators are inactive, and it is the safest time to be out in the open. It is not uncommon to see up to 7 different species of game at any waterhole.

The park supports 114 species of mammal and over 340 species of bird including numerous endemics and rarities. At the heart of the park is a salt pan that is surrounded by sparse shrubs and grassy plains that become hilly mopane woodlands as you move away from the sunken saline desert.
Like everything in Namibia, the pan is ancient – 2 million years or so – and was formed when a great continental upheaval diverted the Kunene River towards the sea, leaving a massive inland lake that soon dried up. Usually a shimmering white horizon, the pan fills with water after a good rainy season and becomes a vast knee-deep lake.

About 30 springs and waterholes along the pan’s southern edge attract large concentrations of every representative species in the park – especially in the dry season, which runs from April to September.
The list of mammals and birds is long and Etosha National Park is an excellent self-drive destination: the roads are excellent and the waterholes clearly marked. All you have to do is drive there, turn your engine off and wait.

Wildlife you are likely to see, at close quarters if you spend some time at the waterholes, includes a growing number of rhino – both black and white – and the endemic black-faced impala and Damara dik-dik. The Namibian trademarks, gemsbok and springbok, are common and there are good numbers of southern Africa’s big game including elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, caracal, brown and spotted hyena, eland, roan, kudu, wildebeest, red hartebeest, Hartman’s mountain (only in the west) and Burchell’s plains zebra, and black-backed jackal.

Birding is excellent, particularly after good rains when up to a million flamingos may congregate in the pan. Etosha is one of only two places in southern Africa where blue cranes and greater and lesser flamingos breed. Raptors are common with 46 species recorded including the Bateleur, martial, Wahlberg’s and tawny eagles; and Egyptian, African white-backed and lappet-faced vultures. Ostriches, secretary birds, kori bustards and black korhaans are easily spotted around the pan; and there are several specials including violet wood-hoopoe, Rüppell’s bustard, Caspian plover, pygmy and red-necked falcons, three varieties of babbler and the pink-billed lark.

Photography at Etosha National Park is exceptional: the waterholes allow for unobtrusive close-ups and dramatic angles of the wildlife while the salt pan throws up a backdrop of shimmering white beneath a parched blue sky.

Next to Etosha Pan is Fischer’s Pan. During the rainy season, it is often filled with water and is an excellent birdwatching site. West of Okaukuejo is an unusual stand of Moringa trees – normally found on rocky hillsides – called The Phantom Forest for its inexplicable presence on a sandy plain.

Waterberg

After a leisurely breakfast, you leave the Etosha National Park area and head to your next destination, the Waterberg Plateau.

Heading towards Tsumeb and then south via Otavi and Otjiwarongo you will turn off approximately 30km from Otjiwarongo to the Waterberg Plateau. Another 72km you will reach the Waterberg Plateau, continue to your accommodation.

Approximate distance: 370km | Approximate travelling time: 4 / 5 hours

Please note their main gate is closed for arrivals during the following hours:

  • 11.30 – 14.00 hours due to Lunch service provided to the residing clients.
  • 18.00 for summer
  • Late arrivals must be announced accordingly, thank you!
  • Please note that their check in time for the bungalows is 14.00.

Unfortunately they cannot accept credit cards. Please bring cash Euro, Rand, or N$ along for the extras. In cash emergencies, guests are given the invoice in Euro to transfer into the Wabi account after departure.

Accommodation: Wabi Lodge | Includes: Dinner, bed & breakfast

Waterberg

The plateau rises 200m above the surrounding plains and creates a diversity of habitats. The Waterberg Plateau Park and surrounding game farms are the base for numerous conservation-related research projects.

Often skipped out, or at best given a single night’s layover, as people race for pole position at a waterhole in Etosha National Park up north, the Waterberg has many game farms and lodges that warrant a longer stay. The plateau, which is a remnant of an enormous ancient plateau, rises 200m above the surrounding plains and creates a diversity of habitats. The Waterberg Plateau Park and surrounding game farms are the base for numerous conservation-related research projects.

The plateau supports open grassland and broad-leafed woodland; the foothills and plains are marked by savannah woodland with acacia the dominant tree. Several springs well up to provide lush undergrowth and yet another wildlife habitat. Age-old geological attractions en route to the northern regions offer interesting diversions and provide some spectacular scenery.

Rare species including white rhino, buffalo, and sable and roan antelope have been introduced to the Waterberg Plateau Park and the existing game includes giraffe, kudu, leopard, hyena and cheetah. While no match for Etosha National Park as a wildlife destination, the park has two excellent – and very popular – long walking safaris that provide a fascinating close encounter with Namibia’s wilderness. One is guided with no set route and the other is a self-guided demarcated trail.

Several excellent game farms have developed over the years and offer exceptional private safaris with luxury accommodation and good numbers of Africa’s big game. The Cheetah Conservation Fund is several amalgamated game farms with private lodges on the western side of the Waterberg Plateau Park. The AfriCat Foundation is part of luxury lodge/game farm combination, Okonjima Lodge Plains Camp, where they rehabilitate animals such as cheetah to be re-released into the wild.

Windhoek

After breakfast you will get ready for the last leg of your journey taking you back to Windhoek. The route is a tar road traveling through commercial farms, mostly cattle farms so there is not that much to see. Your route will take you through Okahandja and then on to Windhoek.

Drop off your vehicle at Car Rental office and be transferred to your accommodation.

Approximate distance: 300km | Approximate travelling time: 3 / 4 hours

Take some time to relax and please feel free to ask the person at reception or your guide to assist with making a reservation for you at a local restaurant of your choice for dinner.

Accommodation: Villa Violet | Includes: Bed & breakfast

Tour ends

After breakfast you will be met by representative and transferred to the Windhoek international airport in time for your return flight.

Please note that you must be at the airport 2 hours pre-departure.

Travel safe and we hope to welcome you back soon!

Your Stay

Villa Violet

The Guesthouse

With just six rooms, you’ll be lucky to get a booking at Villa Violet – one of the top rated B&B guesthouses in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital.

Ben and Heidi, with years of hospitality industry experience between them and speaking English, German, French and Flemish/Afrikaans, are the consummate hosts. With contagious enthusiasm, they have made Villa Violet into the very definition of a bed and breakfast guesthouse where you get a personal welcome from the owners, friendly and intimate service and exceptional value for money.

Villa Violet is a smart and attractive guesthouse tucked away in a quiet neighborhood of northern Windhoek and is a great place to start or end your safari or self-drive holiday in Namibia. You will easily find Villa Violet coming from the airport; it is close to the central areas of Windhoek; and you are within stumbling distance from the legendary eisbein and stein of Joe’s Beerhouse.

The rooms at Villa Violet open onto small patios making an ideal spot to relax and read a book or have a cup of tea while you chat with Ben and Heidi. Rinse your travel-weary bones in the swimming pool or retreat to your air conditioned room with a book from the small library.

The décor as simple, elegant and modern with hotel-like amenities including wireless internet, flat-screen cable TV, climate control, tea/coffee, personal safe, honesty bar and hair dryers.

Facilities

6 ensuite double rooms; air conditioning/heating; fans; mini safe; minibar; hair dryer; satellite/cable TV; wi-fi; free coffee/tea; library; swimming pool; garden; airport transfers; secure parking; laundry service; healthy continental buffet breakfast included

Optional extra activities

Villa Violet is a close working partner with The Potjie Verein and Agriculture Training Centre community-programmes; Windhoek city day tours; Katutura township tour and market visit; craft market; museums; African art galleries; curio shops; golf and other many other sports; surrounding farms; restaurants and shops

Büllsport Guestfarm

The Lodge

Büllsport Guestfarm offers a laid-back atmosphere not far from the Naukluft Mountains. Horse-riders and hikers always enjoy a couple nights here on what is a real Namibian farm.

The welcoming owners pride themselves on a down-to-earth and friendly approach. As it is some 50kms from the well-known village of Solitaire, self-drivers often opt to break their journey here en-route to the stunning dunes at Sossusvlei.

Büllsport is one of the oldest farms in Namibia and is rich in history, wildlife, fauna and bird life. They have their own game, cattle and sheep and also breed Namibian horses, one of only a few registered studs in the country.

Dinner is served at beautifully laid out table in the spacious dining room, which features a large glass sliding door which opens onto the patio and into the garden. You will be treated with a 3 course dinner, accompanied by selected wines. Experience peace and tranquility in the garden under big palm trees and enjoy the sparkling pool.

Facilities
14 comfortable rooms, toilets are separate from bathroom/shower; restaurant; swimming pool; Wi-Fi connection.

Optional Extra Activities
Sossusvlei day trip, Archaeologist Trail, Bulls Head Trail, Scenic Farm/Game Drive, Kudu Trail, Ridge Trail, Zebra Trail, Rock Arch Trail

 

Brandberg White Lady Lodge

The Lodge

At the end of a long, dusty, bumpy road is an oasis called the Brandberg White Lady Lodge: a pool, a cool drink and a secluded shady campsite with the Brandberg Mountain – Namibia’s highest point – in full view.

Accommodation options vary at the Brandberg White Lady Lodge but we mostly use the campsite for its secluded spots, sheltered by evergreen dollar bushes and shaded by beautiful acacia and mopane trees. Permanent tents with private ablutions are a great semi-camping option and the lodge does also have basic en suite chalets. But Damaraland is all about the scenery, the sky, the tranquility and what better way to experience this wonderful setting than under the stars around a campfire.

The lodge offers guided tours to the Brandberg’s famous ancient rock art and engravings – of which the “White Lady” is one – as well as guided desert elephant tracking expeditions. These “ellies” cover great distances every day in search of water and food so it’s real luck-of-the-draw stuff if you get to see them. But the scenery alone more than makes up for it with a palette saturated with every conceivable iteration of brown from the light tan grasslands to burnt red rocky hills (Brandberg translates to Fire Mountain as it changes to a dusky red at sunset).

The campsites share rustic open-air ablutions with flushing toilets and wood-fired boilers ensuring a piping hot shower. A short walk from the campsite, the main lodge offers its amenities to all guests including a swimming pool and garden complete with resident meerkats, a restaurant, lounge, bar and battery-charging facilities. A rocky hill rises up behind the lodge providing a wonderful scenic view of the area – especially at sunset with a gin and tonic or other such celebratory drink.

Facilities
Camping, permanent tents and chalet accommodation; shared ablutions with hot water and flushing toilets; swimming pool; restaurant; bar; battery-charging facility

Optional Extra Activities
Guided desert elephant drives; guided walks to the Brandberg Mountain rock art; self-guided hiking; birding; cultural activities include traditional singing and dancing at dinner

Etosha Village

The Lodge

Offering exceptional value, the refurbished Etosha Village is a comfortable, welcoming safari lodge near the southern entrance to Etosha National Park. Retaining its eco-conscious credentials – the bricks were salvaged from mining debris, grey water is filtered and re-used in the vegetable garden, water is solar heated, and the kitchen produces a fair amount of high-quality composting material – Etosha Village had a major refurbishment in mid-2016 and what an upgrade.

Brick has replaced canvas, sleek tiles have replaced creaky wood decking and the en suite bathrooms are smart, shiny and functional. From the outside, the chalets are full of life and texture with gabion foundations, balustrades filled with pebbles, a graveled forecourt and woven latte poles covering the roof. Inside, while a tad on the austere side, the rooms are spacious, practical and well-appointed with air conditioning, en suite bathroom, sofa bed good for two under-12s (the Village is one of a few child-friendly safari lodges in Etosha), fridge, tea/coffee, safe, balcony and a large gazebo to the side. Comfortable twin beds with soft cotton are a given.

The living areas have also retained their charm and casual comfort with a large swimming pool surrounded by loungers and parasols and a smaller pool adjacent to a third toddler-friendly pool. The food at Etosha Village is fresh and the staff here, recruited from the nearby village and trained in-house, are famous for their friendly and enthusiastic service.

Breakfast and dinner are sizeable buffet spreads and lunch is a small a la carte menu with local venison specialities. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate and juice are on the house all day and the open-air bar is a convivial spot to share a drink and a tale or just gaze into the night sky.

Being just minutes from the southern gate is ideal for daily access to Etosha National Park for guided game morning and evening drives in an open-sided safari vehicle. The vehicles accommodate up to 10 people and if that’s a bit crowded or constrained, Etosha is one of the easiest self-drive game reserves in Africa: arm yourself with a prepared breakfast and lunch or a picnic hamper from the well-stocked supply store and spend the day at any number of quiet waterholes. A good reference book, binoculars and of course your camera should be required equipment.

Facilities
Full board or dinner and breakfast accommodation in 45 chalets; en suite bathrooms with solar heated showers; air conditioning; fridge; tea/coffee; personal safe; balcony and gazebo; restaurant; bar with big-screen TV; three pools including a toddler paddling pool; curio and supply store; landing strip; campsite

Optional Extra Activities
Morning, afternoon and evening game drives into Etosha National Park in an open air vehicle with an experienced nature guide; self-drive into the park; bush dinners

Namutoni Resort

The Resort

Located on the eastern edge of the vast Etosha Pan and south of Fisher’s Pan, Namutoni is a basic, no-frills lodge that overlooks a floodlit waterhole. The German fort around which it is built makes for a bizarre first encounter and the morning and evening bugle calls add to the surreality.

Accommodation is in bungalows of varying size or self-catering camping. The rooms are all air-conditioned and have en suite bathrooms. The large and popular pool is shaded by some grand Makalani palm trees and the lodge has a buffet restaurant and a well-stocked bar.

Facilities
En suite bungalows; air conditioning; camp site; swimming pool; restaurant; bar; kiosk; museum; filling station

Optional extra activities
Game viewing at the floodlit waterhole in front of the lodge; bird watching; game drives through Etosha

The floodlit waterhole has a thatched game-viewing hut and a low stone wall to hide behind. Game viewing here is allegedly not as amazing as the other four lodges in Etosha – namely Dolomite Camp , Onkoshi Camp , Okaukuejo and Halali – probably on account of those bugle calls – but you’re certain to have some excellent sightings; and the sunset over the pan is quite astounding.