The Kalahari is the largest sand basin in the world. Almost devoid of rock, it covers an area of 900,000sq km. Contrary to popular belief it is not a desert but a semi-arid savannah biome. Oxide-red dunes and grassy plains dotted with gnarled, stunted acacia trees form an evocative landscape that supports a surprising diversity of wildlife.
The Namib Desert covers the entire Namibian coastline of over 1,500km and sweeps up to 200km inland. At a shade over 20 million years, it is the planet's oldest desert and has an astonishing diversity of landscapes and habitats.
Etosha National Park is unique. Its waterhole culture forces the plains game to drink during the middle of the day when predators are most lethargic; thus it's not uncommon to have a collage of several different species in the same frame. Lions, elephants and several endemic species of antelope and birds - including 46 raptors - add to the game viewing excitement.
Day 1: Windhoek ( 1 night )
You will be met by your guide on arrival. A friendly face to welcome you and who will be with you for the duration of your tour. You will then transfer to your accommodation in Windhoek.
When you're there: If time allows, your guide can take you on a short city tour. Your guide will hand you your travel package and give you a briefing and orientation on what to expect over the next few days as your adventure begins. Things are flexible so chat with your guide as you go along. Ask as many questions as you like. That's what having a guide on tour is all about. The remainder of the day can be spent relaxing at your own leisure. For dinner tonight, dine at the hotel or let your guide take you into town to one of his favourite spots.
The Weinberg Windhoek
The Elegant Guesthouse
Day 2 & 3: Sossusvlei ( 2 nights )
Travel south to the Namib Desert for the next two nights. The drive takes four to five hours. Ask your guide to stop in at the shops if you wish to get some snacks and drinks for the road and anything else you might need. Today your Namibian adventure begins as you leave the city behind you.
On the way: The drive reveals the transition from Kalahari thornveld to the true desert of the Namib; Lilyveld, a valley 30km north of Maltahöhe, springs into bloom for about a week after good rains; Duiwiseb Castle is an interesting diversion 70km south-west of Maltahöhe. The Spreetshoogte (or Remhoogte Pass) is magnificent with the incredible views, a good place for photos, to stretch your legs and for a coffee break or picnic lunch.
When you're there: Your guide will wake you early for your excursion into the dunes and Sossusvlei. Grab a coffee and a rusk and off you go. The best time to be in the dunes is at sunrise (when the gate opens), it's cooler and the lighting brings the dunes to life. Remember your essentials: camera, sunscreen, a hat, closed walking shoes and water. Explore the world's highest dunes and a sheltered pan with petrified trees that are hundreds of years old; climb the dunes and look out over a sea of sand. Your guide will know the best times to visit the best places and ensure you have the ultimate experience. He'll give you the low-down on the area, tell you how the dunes were formed and take you to all the not-to-miss highlights. Plus he can take a picture of you in the vlei. Proof that you were there.
Desert Quiver Camp
Day 4 & 5: Swakopmund ( 2 nights )
Breakfast or another early morning activity before you make your way from the hot south to the cooler coast of Swakopmund, a quaint resort town by the sea with an obvious German heritage. It's a 5 to 6 hour drive but there's loads to do and see along the way. Your guide will make sure you stop for photo opportunities and to share insight with you on the ever changing landscape.
On the way: Look out for the endemic Hartmann's mountain zebra as you leave; stop at Solitaire, about 80km from Sesriem for some home-made bakes and an ice cold drink; meander through the Gaub and Kuiseb Canyons; cross the Tropic of Capricorn; detour to see the welwitschias and moonlandscape.
When you're there: Explore the coastal towns of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. The lagoon is a RAMSAR wetlands site. Go see the thousands of flamingoes, pelicans and numerous waders. Here they feed in the nutrient-rich shallows. There are loads of restaurants, shops and attractions in Swakopmund; spend an extra day making the most of the cool air and refreshing sea.
There are loads of activities to take part in on the Skeleton Coast; a boat cruise of Walvis Bay where you meet dolphins, sea lions, pelicans and terns; quad biking, which is an exciting way to experience the sand dunes; a scenic flight over the desert or head off to Sandwich Harbour to see where the dunes run into the sea.
Swakopmund Luxury Suites
Day 6 & 7: Damaraland ( 2 nights )
Time to head off to the harsh, arid, dry and desolate expanses of Damaraland. An area characterised by enormous granite outcrops, grassy plains, dry riverbeds and endless open skies. Get ready to experience some of the best sunsets. The drive to Damaraland can take all day depending on the route taken.
On the way: Drive along the Skeleton Coast to Cape Cross - the largest breeding cape fur seal colony in the world. Have lunch at Cape Cross Lodge or picnic at some suitably serene and other-worldly spot; stop at the lichen fields and a salt pan that is an excellent birding spot; visit the Twfelfontein rock paintings, Burnt Mountain and the Organ Pipes. The other alternative is to head up the coast and only make your way inland further north. A chance to see some old ship skeletons.
When you're there: Nature drives to search for the famed desert-adapted elephant, black rhino and giraffe; among other hardy plains herds look out for Hartmann's mountain zebra; spend more time exploring the Twfelfontein rock paintings and other highlights of the area. If you leave very early and take the route option via Uis (skipping Cape Cross), you could stop en-route to hike up the Brandberg Mountain (make sure it's not too hot, the days get warm in these parts). It's the highest inselberg in Namibia - it's highest point is at 2,573m.
Mowani Mountain Camp
Twyfelfontein Adventure Camp
Day 8: Etosha National Park - South ( 1 night )
The drive to Etosha National Park is a scenic few hours through more of Damaraland's vast beauty. Gravel roads (for the most part) will get you to Outjo and then it's on to the southern gate of the park.
On the way: The route is almost too short to stop, barring a quick stop at the Petrified Forest, a comfort stop at Outjo and a picture of the Ugab Terrace or Vingerklip (on a short detour).
When you're there: Etosha has an estimated 250 lions, 300 rhinos, 2,500 giraffes, 6,000 zebras, 20,000 springbok and 2,000 elephants. That's not all. There are also a large number of lesser and common plains herds, and abundant birds. Welcome to safari in Namibia. Game viewing in Etosha is something truly special. Your guide will take you on game drives in the park. The surrounding lodges all have private reserves with equally impressive wildlife numbers and they offer private game viewing activities on the reserves with lodge guides.
Day 9 & 10: Etosha National Park - East ( 2 nights )
Through the park from south to east it's a full days drive or spend only the morning making your way along to the other side. Check in to your lodge and then head back into the park for the afternoon.
When you're there: On private reserves - bush walks and game drives. Morning and afternoon or full day drives with your guide into Etosha.
Onguma Bush Camp
Day 11: Windhoek ( Departure / End of Tour )
You have a long drive ahead of you today: up to six hours. The roads are all paved so it's a comfortable ride to arrive in time for your onward flight or a night in Windhoek.
On the way: Okahandja has the largest wood carvers' market in Namibia. Ask your guide to stop along the way. He'll ensure you get to the airport in time (2 hours prior to your departure flight). Bid your guide, now friend, farewell and journey safely back home.