Fetch you from the airport and take you to a good guest house, i.e. Casa Piccolo www.natron.net/tour/casapiccolo 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 many good restaurants in town.
From Windhoek we will travel via the Khomas Hochland to a lodge located close to Sesriem Canyon, i.e. Sossusvlei Lodge, www.sossusvleilodge.com or Sossus Desert Camp, www.desertcamp.com (or some other nearby lodge, depending upon availability) where we will spend the night. Spend the rest of the afternoon taking it easy.
Get up very early to drive the 60 km from Sesriem to Sossusvlei at sunrise see some of the highest and most spectacular dune scenery in the world – a photographer’s paradise, especially in the early morning or late afternoon. It is justifiably considered to be the top tourist destination in the southern region of Namibia.
After spending several hours amongst the Sossusvlei dunes, and maybe visiting the Dead Vlei, with its skeletal, ancient (700 years+) dead Acacias trees surrounded by huge dunes, we will return to Sesriem to have a look at the Sesriem Canyon. This canyon was carved out of the conglomerate (which was deposited approx. 20m years ago) by the Tsauchab River that carries on down to Sossusvlei. Visiting the fascinating Sesriem Canyon gives one some idea of how much of the desert and surrounding areas have been shaped by water, strange as it might seem. We will take breakfast, lunch and refreshments with us (as is done every day of the trip), to be enjoyed in a desert environment.
After visiting Sossusvlei and Sesriem we will travel north to a lodge which is situated at the base of some very interesting petrified sand dunes where you will go on a superb scenic late afternoon sundowner drive to the top of these dunes i.e. Namib Desert Lodge, www.gondwana-collection.com, or one of the other lodges in the vicinity depending upon availability.
After an early breakfast leave for Walvis Bay and Swakopmund via Solitaire (the most aptly named settlement in Namibia) - famous for the farm shop and Moose’s apple pie - and the gravel plains of the Namib Desert Park. On the way we will visit the Kuiseb Canyon Viewpoint, where two German geologist hid out for almost three years during WW II because they wanted nothing to do with the war (read “The Sheltering Desert” ISBN 0 86852 150 7 by Henno Martin).
In Swakopmund (the activity centre of Namibia, so there are many activities to partake in) we will book into one of the many good guesthouses for three nights, i.e. Secret Garden Guesthouse, www.natron.net/tour/secretgarden; Sandfields Guesthouse, www.sandfieldsguesthouse.com; The Stiltz, www.thestiltz.com , or one of the up-market hotels, i.e. Swakopmund Hotel & Entertainment Centre, www.legacyhotels.co.za; Hansa Hotel, www.hansahotel.com.na; Swakopmund Boutique Hotel; Rossmund Golf Lodge (one of only five desert golf courses in the world, with 200+ springbok wandering all around) etc.
The afternoon is yours to do as you wish. There is plenty to do and see in Swakopmund, http://www.namibiatourism.com.na/swakopmund-and-walvis-bay/ ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swakopmund because it is a very charming little late 19th century “German” town, set on the desert coast of Africa and everything is within easy walking distance. Namibia is well known for its excellent German jewellers, who make some of the most beautiful jewellery imaginable, both traditional and contemporary, and both Windhoek and Swakopmund have several outstanding jewellers as well as some excellent leather merchants (including a workshop where visitors can have coats etc. made to order). Do bear in mind that our overseas visitors can get the 15% VAT refunded on items bought, provided they obtain a tax invoice from the seller and can show the articles at the airport when they apply for the tax refund (be sure to get to the airport a bit earlier).
Yet another option to consider is to undertake a mid-afternoon flight across the Namib Desert down to Sossusvlei, and from there across to the cold Atlantic coast where desert and ocean meet and then back again along the coast to look at some of the shipwrecks and seabirds to be found here. One has no idea of how large and how spectacularly beautiful the desert is, and such a flight helps to put everything into perspective. Do please bear in mind that the flight should be reserved in advance, especially during the peak tourist season (optional extra for your own account).
Tonight we will have dinner at either the Secret Garden Bistro or one of the good local restaurants.
After breakfast, we will drive 30 km south to the harbour town of Walvis Bay where you will go on a most interesting cruise around the Bay, see www.namibiancharters.com www.mola-namibia.com ; www.namibiancharters.com etc. Visitors are assured of seeing Cape fur up close (some even jump up onto the boat) as there is a large colony on the sand spit close to the lighthouse on Pelican Point; two different species of dolphins, maybe a whale or two or a huge sun fish, as well as many different species of sea birds, including flamingos and pelicans. A delicious lunch consisting of sea food and light snacks is served on board the boat since there are many thriving oyster farms in the Bay which produce some of the best oysters in the world and you will be able to have your fill of these.
A more adventurous option for those folk who wish to get up close to the seals is to go kayaking amongst the seals, www.emkayak.iway.na (see their photo gallery) since you can get up close to them as they are not afraid of being approached by people on the kayaks.
Those guests who wish to experience both the boat excursion as well as a most interesting 4x4 excursion all along the sea down to Sandwich Harbour can choose to do what is called a Marine Dune Day excursion, www.sandwich-harbour.com: instead of only doing the boat cruise you will go on a shorter cruise after which you will be transferred to a 4 x 4 vehicle and driven 50 km down the coast to Sandwich Harbour (which was used by the American whaling fleet during the 19th century), travelling between the sea and the dunes. From there you will be driven back through the dunes (both up and down!) to Walvis Bay - a really memorable trip (including a very good picnic lunch in the dunes). This trip is more expensive, but many guests consider it to be one of the highlights of their tour. Do let me know which of the various options you prefer as the quote only includes the regular boat cruise (or the Living Desert Adventure).
The afternoon is yours to do as you wish and this evening we will have dinner in another of the good restaurants in town.
This morning you will go on a “Living Desert” excursion in the dunes close to Swakopmund to discover the wonders of the Namib Desert, www.living-desert-adventures.com. This is a fascinating experience and most people are totally amazed at the variety and amount of living creatures to be found in the desert.
Those guests who are more interested in natural history can instead choose to go on an excellent and most interesting quad bike excursion (slow and suitable for novice riders) into the Kuiseb River delta, www.kuisebonline.com, where apart from wonderful desert scenery; they will discover huge shell middens as well as remains of the ancient nomadic coastal dwellers, fossilled rhino and elephant and human foot prints and many other fascinating bits of information!! Please let me know which excursion you would like to go on.
Later during the afternoon, you will go on a fascinating Combined Tour, that will introduce you to many of the other interesting aspects of the Namib Desert i.e. Moon Landscape Visit, Welwitschias, Sundowner, Dinner in the Desert (something different) and a Night Walk. This is particular tour is very special and is only available to one group at a time, so it has to be reserved well in advance.
Soon after leaving Swakopmund, we will stop off to look at the huge lichen fields growing on the Namib Desert gravel plains. There are approx. 100 different lichen species growing in the Namib, many of which have not yet been properly identified.
From the lichen fields we will travel via the little village of Henties Bay and Uis, past the Brandberg (the highest mountain in Namibia) and Outjo to the Etosha Safari Camp, www.gondwana-collection.com, which is situated only 10km south of the Etosha National Park gate, and this is where we will spend the night. This is a fairly long day in the vehicle, so we will stop off en route for a light lunch.
After breakfast we will leave for the Etosha National Park, via where we will book into Okaukuejo Rest Camp, www.nwr.com.na for the night, or one of the good nearby lodges if it is fully booked. The afternoon will be spent driving around game viewing in the vicinity of the camp. Okaukuejo has an excellent, floodlit waterhole where guests can sit and watch game coming and going after dark as well as in the morning. At Okaukuejo you can also choose to go on a guided night drive (optional extra), which can be very interesting.
After an early morning game drive (returning for breakfast and looking at the game at the camp waterhole - if it has not rained in the area), we will continue travelling eastwards, viewing game on the plains and at various waterholes, en route to Halali Rest Camp, where we will be spending the second night in the ENP.
The afternoon will again be spent game viewing and we will return to the camp because all guests have to be back before sunset. Halali too has an excellent waterhole where guests can sit and watch the coming and going of the many species of game i.e. elephants, rhinos, giraffe, kudu, gemsbok (oryx), springbok, black-faced impala, lions, leopard, hyenas, jackals etc., but being in a game reserve and not a zoo, you cannot be assured of what you might see. Here too you can choose to go on a night drive (optional extra).
Continue further eastwards viewing game on the plains and at various waterholes as far as Fort Namutoni, the most easterly camp in the Park, where we will stop for lunch. Namutoni is a restored German colonial fort, which is now used as a tourist camp. The rest of the afternoon will be spent game viewing in the vicinity as there are several local waterholes. During the rainy season the Etosha Pan is fed by water coming from the Omuramba Owambo and then the flamingos and various other waster birds can be seen breeding here.
We will leave the Park shortly before sundown for one of the excellent private lodges where you will be spending the night. There are several lodges close to the Park boundary to choose from and the costs vary from lodge to lodge. I will try to book Onguma Bush Camp www.onguma.com, (tel. no. +264 67 22 9112) as it is very good with excellent food, failing which, I will book you into one of the other good lodges in the vicinity.
After leaving the lodge, our first stop will be to visit Lake Otjikoto, a dolomite sinkhole lake close to the old mining village of Tsumeb into which the German colonial forces dumped their ammunition and cannons in 1915 shortly before surrendering to the South African troops. From Lake Otjikoto we travel to Tsumeb for coffee and cakes and then southwards to Otjiwarongo in time for lunch.
After lunch we will carry on to the excellent Okonjima Lodge, www.okonjima.com, located 55 km south of Otjiwarongo, en route to Windhoek. Okonjima is the home of the AfriCat Foundation (a non-profit organisation committed to the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores, especially cheetah and leopards).
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. The guests can also participate in several other activities on offer i.e. game drives, bush walks, Bushmen trails, bird viewing from hides etc. Visitors can choose to stay at one of the following places: Main Camp, the new Bush Camp or the Villa (increasing in price). I have used the Bush Camp rates in the quote.
This is an up-market lodge and OKONJIMA and the AfriCat Foundation were chosen as Namibia's Leading Safari by The WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS www.worldtravelawards.com several years ago. Although expensive, it offers very good value for money and all our previous guests have really enjoyed their stays here. However, if it is too expensive (look at the rates on their excellent website), I can then book you in at the Waterberg Plateau Park, www.nwr.com.na some 100km to the east, but not of the same standard.
You will spend the whole day here and you will be able to go on several of the various activities on offer - see what is on offer under ACTIVITIES on the Okonjima website, www.okonjima.com.
This morning after a leisurely breakfast we will return to Windhoek (only three hours), where you can spend the morning and early afternoon either at your leisure or doing some last minute shopping before leaving for the airport in time to catch your late afternoon flight home.
This is a fairly expensive tour (I refuse to compromise on good quality accommodation and food), but the guests who have done it, all thought it was excellent. It will include the following: All transport in an air-conditioned vehicle fitted with a fridge; driver/guide with extensive experience; all accommodation; all meals; refreshments; water in the vehicle; entrance fees plus 15% VAT – no extra hidden costs. Only tips, laundry and alcohol / drinks at the table and optional extras are excluded, otherwise the only extra money you have to bring is what you wish to spend on yourself.
We try at all times to provide top quality service so that you may have a holiday to remember and we look forward to being of service to you and your friends.