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.
There are several excellent craft operations in the Windhoek area (including the Namibia Craft Centre) and it would be very easy to go and visit these, because then you would be able to see the craft people at work i.e. carving beautiful wooden picture frames; the embroidering of exquisite Hardanger table cloths (work now done by some of the local women, which is hardly practiced in Norway anymore where it originated from) etc.
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 jewelers 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).
Leave early and travel 500km to a working farm, east of Keetmanshoop, where you can look at the delicate imprints of the Mesosaurus fossils which used to live in the ancient Mesosaurus sea that was formed when Gwondwanaland started breaking up more than 120 million years ago, firstname.lastname@example.org . On the same farm you will also see hundreds of beautiful quiver trees (Aloe dichotoma) growing amongst some lovely rock formations. These fascinating fossils and aloes are unique to this part of the country and the scenery is a photographer's paradise. We will sleep in the small rustic chalets (clean and neat, but not luxurious) with en suite bathroom facilities and have a genuine Southern African “braai” (barbeque) this evening.
Leave after breakfast to visit the Fish River Canyon, approximately 200km SW of Keetmanshoop. Although the Fish River Canyon is only a third as big as the Grand Canyon, it is the second largest canyon in the world and certainly worth having a look at. Stay over at the unusual Canon Roadhouse (or Canon Lodge, if you would prefer it) which is situated amongst some lovely granite hills close to the Fish River Canyon (or one of the other Gondwana Collection facilities, www.gondwana-collection.com, it they are fully booked).
We will make an early start and head for the little village of Aus, on the eastern edge of the Namib Desert, and from there down through the seemingly endless and fascinating Namib Desert to the small, late 19th century harbour town of Luderitz, where huge diamond deposits were discovered early in the 20th century, resulting in a big diamond rush. Luderitz is known for its old-world charm and distinctive German colonial architecture. Spend the night at a good guest house, Haus Sandrose, www.sandrose.com or an hotel, www.nesthotel.com, in town (please let me know your preference).
Spend the morning visiting the various places of interests in and around Luderitz i.e. Kolmanskop, Namibia's famous diamond ghost town, 10km east of Luderitz in the Sperrgebiet, where diamonds were mined from 1908 until the 1940's, when it died a slow death; visit the Dias peninsula where the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias, planted a stone cross in 1488 during his explorations of the African coast
Set off during mid-afternoon for the little village of Aus (120km), where we will be spending the night at Klein Aus Vista (www.namibhorses.com), in either The Eagles’ Nest cabins located amongst beautiful granite boulders, complete with en suite facilities or in the new Desert Horse Inn bungalows. Here you can either spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the fascinating and spectacular landscape or just relaxing in peace and quiet.
Set off after breakfast and en route we stop off at Duwisib Castle, which was built by the legendary Baron Von Wolff for his American wife, Jayta, and only completed in 1909. Visitors can look at some of the original furniture and artworks which was transported all the way from Germany (ditto for the building material) to Luderitzbucht and across the Namib Desert by ox wagons, a century ago.
From Duwisib we will carry on 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.
The road from Aus to Sesriem runs between the escarpment on the east and the Namib Desert on the west and is considered by many to be one of the most scenic in Namibia.
Get up very early to drive to Sossusvlei on the edge of the Namib Desert, with its monumental sand dunes - the top tourist destination in the southern region of the country. Here you will 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. Visit the fascinating Sesriem Canyon on the way back to get some idea of how much of the desert and surrounding area has 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, which will introduce you to many more 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.
This is a long day and we far to go, so we have to leave early, so as to get to Cape Cross by ten o’clock in the morning, when the gates open. Stop off en route to look at the huge lichen fields growing in the desert.
Visit the huge Cape fur seal colony at Cape Cross (one of the largest on the African continent), and also have a look at a replica of the padrão which the Portuguese explorer, Diogo Cão, planted there in 1486, during his journeys of exploration down the African coast.
Carry on further north into the Skeleton Coast Park (depending upon the condition of the roads after the rains) where a picnic lunch will be had next to the sea. As you leave the Skeleton Coast Park, travelling eastwards, one enters the stark but beautiful region of the southern-central Kunene province, with its characteristics flat-topped basalt mountains. Stay over at one of four lodges (or at a tented camp) situated close to the Twyfelfontein rock art site. The smaller, exclusive lodge, Mowani, www.mowani.com is set amongst beautiful granite boulders where visitors stay in lovely big Meru tents, while the second one is a charming small camp, Camp Kipwe (part of Mowani (excellent food and very personal attention as they only accept a maximum of sixteen guests and my personal favourite – used in the quote). The third one is a much larger lodge, Twyfelfontein Country Lodge, www.namibialodges.com, which caters for larger groups. The fourth one, Camp Xaragu, www.xaragu.com is a more basic tented camp, but it is very neat and clean. All four are new lodges and very good, but it will depend upon which one you would prefer to stay at, as well as the availability and affordability, so it is best to let me know well in advance what your preference would be (costs vary).
(**Optional extra** If you wish, you can go on a magical early morning balloon flight over the fascinating landscape, but this has to be reserved well in advance and it is expensive, http://www.ballooning-namibia.com/en/
Visit the fascinating Twyfelfontein rock art site (which has just recently been declared a World Heritage Site), one of the most important archaeological sites in southern Africa, where hundreds of rock engravings can be seen, some dating back thousands of years. Carry on afterwards and spend the night at a very good lodge close to the western boundary of the Etosha National Park. Guests can choose between staying at a secluded lodge, Huab Lodge, www.huab.com, where you can relax in a hot spring, enjoy an aroma therapy treatment or go on a slow scenic/game drive; or at the very unusual Onjowewe, “House in the Rocks” Lodge, www.namibiajjtours.com, where the guests can also visit the “Otjikandero Himba Orphan Village, which is located on the farm, if they wish. PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOU PREFERENCE.
Enter Etosha National Park through the Otjovasandu Gate situated on the western boundary of the Etosha National Park and spend the day driving around game viewing in the vicinity. This evening you will overnight at the brand new Dolomite Camp, www.nwr.com.na.
This morning we will drive +- 180km through the western section of the ENP to Okaukuejo Rest Camp, www.nwr.com.na , where we will be spending the evening (or at the Etosha Safari Camp, www.gondwana-collection.com , just south of the Andersson Gate, if you would prefer to stay there). This western area of the ENP is normally closed to the general public and chances of seeing game here is fairly good, depending upon when last it received rain. Okaukuejo has a floodlit waterhole which is excellent for viewing game at night as well as in the morning (except if it has rained recently, because then the game drink in the veld and do not come down to the waterhole), so that you do not have to go any distance at all to see a truly wonderful Africa spectacle. All meals are to be had at the camp restaurant.
After breakfast and watching game at the waterhole, continue in an easterly direction viewing game to reach Halali Rest Camp in time for lunch. After a siesta during the hot part of the day, go on another game drive in the late afternoon. Halali also has an excellent, floodlit waterhole where guests can sit and watch game coming and going after dark. All meals are to be had at the camp restaurant.
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, as it is very good, and the food is excellent, failing that I will try one of the other ones in the vicinity.
Leave your lodge en route after breakfast and the 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 Main Camp (Garden Cottages), 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.
Continue on down 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.