Day 0: Flight to Africa
Day 1: Rivendell Guesthouse, Windhoek
Land at Windhoek International Airport today and clear customs before heading into the arrivals hall where you will be met by our transfer driver holding a sign. From here you will be escorted to the city centre and onto Rivendell Guesthouse. Once you have had the chance to settle in, we will be on hand to meet you and hand over your vouchers, road map and itinerary and to answer any last minute questions you may have.
Located in Namibia’s capital city Windhoek, Rivendell caters for guests who enjoy homely, comfortable accommodation at a reasonable price. They are for many, “the last homely house before the wilds”! Their emphasis is on friendly hospitality and helpfulness, whether it be reserving a table at the best restaurant in town or organising a day trip around the city.
Accommodation: comfortable rooms.
Meal Plan: Breakfast only.
Days 2 - 3: Wolwedans Dune Lodge, Namib Rand
Leaving Windhoek this morning as you head down south today and onto Wolwedans Dune Lodge. South of Sesriem is the NamibRand Nature Reserve, one of Namibia's Southern Africa's biggest privately owned reserve covering an area of some 200,000 hectares close to Sossusvlei. NamibRand is bordered by the Naukluft Park in the west and the impressive Nubib Mountain range in the East. The special attraction of the reserve is the diversity of desert landscapes where mountains plunge into endless grassy plains, interspersed by red vegetated dunes.
Game species found in the reserve include gemsbok, mountain and plains zebra, springbok, red hartebeest, bat-eared fox, spotted hyena, cape fox and African wildcat. The more rocky areas are inhabited by kudu, klipspringer, baboon and leopard while the dunes harbour a rich and diverse micro-fauna. Over a hundred species of birds have been recorded. Accompanied by experienced guides, visitors are introduced to the Namib Rand Nature Reserve's desert habitat with its diverse fauna and flora.
The Dunes Lodge is perched on top of a dune plateau, overlooking panoramic vistas in all directions and capturing the beauty of the desert in a most memorable way. Building style is a combination of wooden structures and canvas blinds, opening up to the desert beyond. The lodge reflects the ambience of a tented camp, but provides the comfort and protection of a permanent building.
Accommodation: Each of the nine spacious chalets with en-suite bathrooms sports a private veranda, which connects you to vast stretches of untouched sand. Sleeping with your canvas blinds open is just like sleeping under the stars. Each chalet has an en-suite bathroom fitted with hot shower, 2 washbasins and flush toilet. All chalets are equipped with solar-powered lights.
The main complex - which was completely rebuilt during 2003 - consists of two lounges, a number of sundowner decks, a fireplace, a tea deck, a library, the wine cellar and two dining rooms. The lodge also has a swimming pool, which is suspended above the sand. All communal areas of the lodge open out onto decks with superb views. The variety of recreational space makes a visit both exciting and relaxing.
Meal Plan: Full Board & Activities included.
Days 4 - 5: Sossus Dune Lodge, Sossusvlei
In July 2007 Namibia Wildlife Resorts opened the first lodge inside the vast Namib-Naukluft Park, Sossus Dune Lodge. As the lodge is situated within the park, you will benefit from being able to reach Sossusvlei before sunrise, and to stay until after sunset, a unique attraction in this famous area.
On the morning of day 4 you can wake early and drive from the lodge towards Sossusvlei, around 70km. Enjoy the eerie silence of the desert before other travellers are allowed to enter at sunrise and make the most of the solitude! The last section of the road into Sossusvlei is 4x4 area only and you can either leave your vehicle at the car park and proceed either on foot (a beautiful walk), or take the shuttle which usually runs between here and Sossusvlei which is 5km away.
The shuttle costs approximately N$100 per person return. Enjoy the amazing scenery of the desert, and maybe take a short walk to Deadvlei, a bizarre collection of ancient camelthorn trees, or climb the nearby dunes.
Sossus Dune Lodge also offers optional guided tours including guided morning or sunset tours to Sossusvlei, nature drives, guided after dinner stroll and star gazing or guided walks to Sesriem Canyon.
Accommodation: Built in an environmentally sensitive manner, primarily from wood, canvas and thatch, the accommodation is styled around an ‘African village’ design. Stunning chalets, ensuite, and set int eh heart of the desert.
Meal Plan: Dinner & Breakfast
Days 6 -7: Cornerstone Guesthouse, Swakopmund,
Drive to the coast this morning, travelling along the C19 & C14 roads, via Solitaire. These roads are all gravel until you reach Walvis Bay, and the mountain passes are quite steep so please drive very carefully! You may like to stop at Walvis Bay to see the famous lagoon, a wetland of international importance and home to many bird species including the greater flamingo.
Cornerstone Guesthouse is a small, private and peaceful bed and breakfast an easy walk away from the sea and the town centre of Swakopmund on Namibia's fascinating Skeleton Coast. Within a few minutes from the guest house you can walk to beaches, cafés, restaurants, lively pubs, Swakopmund tourist attractions and a variety of interesting shops and markets.
Swakopmund itself is a fascinating and intriguing resort town, complete with German architecture, monuments, historic buildings, well maintained gardens, palm lined avenues, coffee bars and great seafood restaurants. Temperatures rarely drop below 15C and rainfall is practically zero, however, the town is subjected to 9 months of morning fogs each year. These damp and grey conditions often result in cool temperatures persisting the whole day, but this mist band, stretching up to 30km inland, gives water and life to the deserts plants & animals giving rise to 80 types of lichen and the ancient Welwitschia plants. The many ingenious adaptations to water collection, like the Tok-Tokkie beetle which condenses vapour on its raised back, make for fascinating walks and drives in the ‘Moon Landscape’ or ‘Welwitschia Drive’, located close to the town.
In addition, there are many adventure activities such as sand boarding, tandem parachuting, fishing & quad biking which can be arranged prior to arrival. They can also recommend some excellent day trips including the marine sanctuary of Sandwich Harbour, a unique environment comprising towering dunes, a freshwater lagoon and the wild Atlantic Ocean. Alternatively, a half day boat cruise from Walvis Bay may offer the opportunity to see dolphins, fur seals and many species of marine birds. Please ask them for advice on restaurants, the more popular ones should be booked in advance and they are happy to do this for you.
Accommodation: Occupying a quiet corner of Swakopmund’s old town, near the marine museum and the old brewery, Cornerstone Guesthouse offers the charm and intimacy of a family-run B&B combined with the modern amenities of a luxury hotel. All rooms have en suite bathrooms with large solar-assisted showers and modern fittings.
They offer an inclusive breakfast with a fresh selection of fruits, juices, yoghurts, breads, preserves and eggs and bacon cooked to order. Wash that all down with your choice of either freshly brewed coffee or tea and you'll be ready to explore the attractions of Swakopmund and the Skeleton Coast.
Meal Plan: Breakfast
Day 8: Twyfelfontein Lodge, Damaraland
Continue your journey this morning, driving towards Damaraland. The scenery changes slowly today from wide, open gravel plains to the mountainous region of Damaraland. Perhaps take a detour to visit the fur seal colony of Cape Cross which opens each day at 10am. You will then turn inland just north of Henties Bay where petrol is available, and follow the C35 before turning onto the D2612. You will drive past the Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain, and onwards to the dry Huab River. Look out for the rare desert elephant along your drive.
You will arrive at Twyfelfontein Country Lodge this afternoon. The scenic bar and restaurant overlooks the dry, boulder strewn plains and you may enjoy relaxing around the swimming pool this afternoon. Alternatively you could take part in an optional nature drive searching for desert elephant, or perhaps hire a mountain bike to explore the nearby area.
Twyfelfontein: Maybe make an excursion to the Twyfelfontein rock etchings and paintings today, a local guide will escort you around the ancient hillsides which are open for guests between 08:00 and 17:00. This area is covered in numerous fascinating examples of San rock art and is well worth a visit where a local guide will explain the area to you. The ‘Burnt Mountain’, an interesting area of volcanic rock, is also close by as are the dolomite ‘organ pipes’.
Petrified Forest (only include if travelling from Etosha): You may like to take a look at the Petrified Forest on your way, a bizarre collection of largely intact gymnosperm trees that have been preserved and transformed into stone by ongoing anaerobic conditions. Local guides will escort you around this unique geological attraction. Make sure that you only stop at the site marked with an official government brown signpost as the local people have set up many unofficial Petrified Forest sites along this road which don’t really offer much apart from a curio stall!
Burnt Mountain & Organ Pipes: The ‘Burnt Mountain’, an interesting area of volcanic rock, is also worth visiting (preferably at sunset). This area is an amazing sight as the sun shines over these rocks, giving the impression of flames moving over the mountain. Another intriguing site is the ‘Valley of the organ pipes’ situated across the road from the Burnt Mountain. This strange formation was formed when basalt slabs were gouged out by a river thousands of years ago.
Accommodation: The Lodge is situated in the heart of the Twyfelfontein Uibasen Conservancy and has 56 en-suite double rooms, reception, lounge, curio shop, open dining room, bar and swimming pool. In construction utmost care was taken to blend into the mountainside with the use of thatch roofs, natural stone and paint colours toning in with the surrounding rock formations.
Meal Plan: Breakfast and Dinner.
Days 9 - 10: Grootberg Lodge, Damaraland
From Twyfelfontein, make your way north to the C39, turn left and travel northwards until you take the C43 towards Palmwag. A few kilometers before Palmwag, turn right onto the C40 and drive through beautiful scenery to the Grootberg Pass. Park at the top of the pass where a representative of the lodge will radio for a 4x4 transfer to transfer you the short distance up the steep incline to the lodge itself.
Perched on the lip of the Grootberg Plateau, with an infinite view down the Klip River Valley, lies Grootberg Lodge. This benchmark project in mainstream tourism draws the local #Khoadi// Hoas community into the many benefits of the tourism industry. The community owns the lodge which was built using EU funding, and the management and staff training has been subcontracted out to a private lodge management company while the community becomes self-sustainable.
The 12 000 hectare exclusive use area that the lodge encompasses boasts a myriad of Damaraland flora and fauna, with Desert elephant, Black rhino and even lion occasionally ghosting an appearance. For travelers making their way between Swakopmund and Etosha, the lodge provides the ideal midway stopover, whilst allowing guests to experience the true wilderness that is Damaraland.
Rhino tracking included on day 9. Departure is at 6.00am after an early breakfast at the lodge. The guide, along with the game trackers will take the guests in an open 4x4 game vehicle down to the Klip River. Part of the tracking will take place on foot, with the possibility of between 1 to 3 hours walk at the most. At lunchtime there will be a stop near the springs where people can enjoy some refreshments. It's almost a full day activity going along bumpy roads and walking in rocky terrain, so not advisable for the faint-hearted. Damaraland is one of the few last places where the wildlife roams freely thus we cannot guarantee sightings.
Accommodation: The lodge consists of 11 thatched en suite chalets, with hardwood verandas that project one into the impossible view. Gorgeous feather duvets, polished concrete floors, delicious rooibos and honey soaps, home-grown salads and vegetables and endless, endless views.
Meal Plan: Breakfast and Dinner.
Days 11 - 13: Okaukuejo Rest Camp, Etosha National Park
Make your way further north via Kamanjab & Outjo on the C38 to Etosha National Park, entering via the Anderson Gate and on to Okaukuejo.
Etosha in general offers excellent game viewing opportunities by either day while simply driving or by night from floodlit waterholes. The Park is dominated by the vast Etosha salt pan, and many water holes exist, joined by a network of well maintained gravel roads to enable visitors the best chances of seeing the many inhabitants of Namibia’s premier wildlife reserve. Species present in the Park include lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, rhino, giraffe & zebra in addition to many antelope and bird species. You will need to pay park entry fees of approximately N$80 per person per day and N$10 per vehicle. These unfortunately cannot be paid in advance. Okaukuejo & Halali rest camps can be visited for lunch, a swim or simply a quick break, each camp having a restaurant, small shop & petrol station. Care should be taken to be back in the rest camp before sunset when the Park gates close.
Okaukuejo was the first tourist camp to open in Etosha and it currently functions as the administrative hub of the park, and home of the Etosha Ecological Institute. It is situated at the western end of the pan, and about 120km north of Outjo. The Okaukuejo waterhole is often voted as the best of all the rest camp waterholes and enjoys an amazing array of wildlife. Animals that come appear to be oblivious of the camp – unaware of the bright lights or the people sitting on benches just behind the low stone wall. The light doesn't penetrate into the surrounding bush. It creates something of a stage - with the water at its centre - focusing the attention on the animals that come to drink. Among the regulars are elephants and jackals, while lion and black rhino often visit in the dry season.
Accommodation: Beautiful chalets over looking the waterhole where you can watch wildlife from your own doorstep. Ensuite and tastefully decorated you will not want to leave!
Meal Plan: Breakfast.
Day 14: Okonjima Bush Camp, Otjiwarongo area
Drive to Okonjima today and arrive in time for lunch, or for the afternoon activities which begin at 15h00 in winter or 16h00 in summer. To reach the lodge, follow the signposts off the main B1 road approximately 50km south of Otjiwarongo. Follow signs to Okonjima Bush Camp.
Okonjima is home to the Africat Foundation, which works with farmers and the public to conserve the big cat species of Namibia. The project is there to educate the local communities on how to work with big cat species rather than capturing them and removing them from arable land and includes a local school. The hopes are to extend their environmental education efforts to high school and even university undergraduates in the future.
One of the first steps along this route is to reinstate visits to the Africat clinic and education centre. Other unique activities here include lion viewing, nature walks, cheetah & leopard tracking, and bushman walks. On the day of arrival you will be invited to join an afternoon activity, usually tracking leopard in the immense reserve. After dinner you will also be offered the opportunity to visit a night hide where many nocturnal animals, including porcupine, honey badger and leopard are frequently sighted. The following morning you will be taken on a drive to visit some of the 60-70 cheetah presently being rehabilitated or in some cases cared for on a more permanent basis.
You will have the opportunity to view feeding, see the veterinary/research and learn more about AfriCat’s work. As you are staying for two or more nights this afternoon may be spent in the company of a tracker who will teach you about the ancient San (Bushman) culture.
Accommodation: Maintaining a quintessential bush flavour, the lodge offers Edwardian safari elegance, subtly combined with modern necessities and comforts. The large, spacious rooms open out onto the grass and acacia savannah. Each split level room has a day bed, bar, tea & coffee facilities. The large bathrooms contain his and hers sinks. Perhaps choose to sleep with the blinds open allowing you to enjoy the unique stillness of the African night.
Meal Plan: Fullboard and all activities.
Day 15: Fly Out, Windhoek, Windhoek International Airport
After what I hope will have been a fantastic few days you will make your way back to Windhoek & Rivendell. Here you will be able to freshen up or have a chance to look around the town before making your way back to the International Airport, to drop off your car and meet your onward flight home.
Listed below are hotels/lodges/resorts that the safari tour operator can accomodate for you.