This trip really is the best of Namibia in just over two weeks. It's based on our popular Namibia Highlights Safari with an extension to the south to include the Kalahari, Fish River Canyon, Luderitz on the Skeleton Coast, Sossusvlei of the Namib Desert before heading north via Swakopmund and Damaraland up to Etosha National Park and ending in Central Namibia near Waterberg with a visit to The Africat Foundation or the oldest game farm in Namibia.
From start to end you have your own private safari converted vehicle, pop up roof and all, and your own private guide. Sit back and relax. Let your guide do the driving and show you every highlight and all the secret spots along the way. Let your guide show you what really makes Namibia special, beyond what meets the eye.
Day 1: Windhoek ( 1 night )
Welcome to Namibia's capital, Windhoek. A small city but it’s relative when the whole of Namibia only houses 2.5 million people. Compare that with the 325 million in America let alone the almost 1.5 billion in China. It’s in the central highlands and is a good place to start.
On the way: You’ll be met by your guide who will give you your travel documents and welcome pack. Get to know one another and discuss your adventure that lies ahead.
When you're there: You’ll be taken to your B&B and the rest of the day is your own. If you fancy a wander, check out Namibia’s oldest cathedral, Christ Church. Next door is the National Museum of Namibia where you can orientate yourself by viewing the city from the observation deck. Go shopping or go for a beer, or do both if time permits. You could ask your guide to give you a tour of the not-to-miss things to do in town.
The Weinberg Windhoek
The Elegant Guesthouse
Day 2: Kalahari ( 1 night )
The Kalahari is a great thirst land. A sandy wilderness, which is vast and red. The drive today from Windhoek to the Kalahari will take 3-4 hours. it's about 245km.
On the way: After breakfast, you’ll still have time to nip into Windhoek and do a spot of shopping before heading south.
When you're there: Explore the Kalahari. It's strange to think that even with all that sand, it’s still not considered a true desert because it sees too much rain. It's an area of beautiful dunes and a multitude of little grass clumps. It covers eastern and southern Namibia. Look out for the black maned Kalahari lions, known for their darker manes.
You’ll have dinner and breakfast here. You can take a game or nature drive or try the Bushman experience to learn about the first settlers of this area.
Zebra Kalahari Lodge
Camelthorn Kalahari Lodge
Day 3: Fish River Canyon ( 1 night )
Next you're off to the impressive Fish River Canyon. You’ll drive for ages along gravel roads to get there, but it’s worth it. Photos rarely reveal the reality of this massive ravine in the ground. The largest canyon in the Southern Hemisphere.
On the way: Today is all about the journey and leaving the Kalahari, you'll get to Fish River Canyon in about 7-8 hours time. It's approximately 440km. Your guide will head south via Mariental and Keetmanshoop to the Karas region. Stop to see the Quiver Tree Forest, the great aloe trees of the Kalahari, although technically, they’re plants. They’re normally pretty solitary so it’s very unusual to see this forest of them. Then head 5km down the road to Giant’s Playground, another geological phenomenon. Namibia sure is packed with them.
When you're there: As the second most visited tourist attraction in Namibia (so they say), there are lots of excellent viewpoints at Fish River Canyon. It’s big though, so you won’t feel crowded as you appreciate the long, thin, meandering river. Look out for the Nama padloper tortoise, endemic to Namibia, they like to hide in the rocks and crevices around the canyon. Let your guide take you to a viewpoint to watch the sunset. What an end to the day. Then enjoy dinner and get some rest as tomorrow your journey continues.
Fish River Lodge
Day 4 & 5: Luderitz ( 2 nights )
Good morning. Enjoy breakfast and then you’re off to the wild and windy shore of diamond town, Luderitz. Surrounded by the Namib Desert there’s only one road in...
On the way: Take a final look at the canyon and then you’ll head west towards the coast. Fish River Canyon to Luderitz will take about 5-6 hours (385km). You’ll drive through Aus on the way - look out for wild desert horses. They’re thought to be the only feral herd in Africa. How they got here remains a mystery, but the explanation of World War One mutineers, seems the most likely reason.
When you're there: Diamonds were discovered in Lüderitz in 1909. The excitement caused a diamond rush and a surge in the town’s prosperity. This led to the building of the adjacent mining settlement, Kolmanskop. One full day is set aside for Luderitz and Kolmanskop. Your guide can show you the town. Visit the museum and choose a restaurant for lunch and dinner overlooking the sea. Kolmanskop is approximately 10km away. An elegant place which grew as greed flourished but then, richer diamond deposits were found elsewhere and with that, Kolmanskop was left to the elements. An abandoned ghost town which the desert is reclaiming.
Luderitz Nest Hotel
Alte Villa Boutique Guest House
Day 6 & 7: Sossusvlei ( 2 nights )
Talking of desert... Your next destination is the Namib Desert and the giant sand dunes of Sossusvlei.
On the way: Today you will head north. Back track through Aus. You’ll go via Helmeringhausen, which is not much but a small town in the dust, and end up in Sossusvlei. It will take approximately 7-8 hours with 505km of driving. You'll arrive, relax and freshen up. Have some dinner and then retreat for the night.
When you're there: Welcome to your day at Sossusvlei. The sand here is millions of years old. Access to the area is from the Sesriem Gate, close to the eponymous canyon. It was heaved out of the rock a long, long time ago. Ravished by the Tsauchab River. The Sossusvlei dunes are about an hour from the entrance. Sossusvlei, the Dead Vlei, Dune 45, Big Daddy and Elim Dune will be your focus for the day. You can go back to the lodge for lunch or arrange a lunch pack to take with you on the dunes. If you do the latter, you might want to head home in the late afternoon for a rest before dinner. Optional extras you may enjoy include a guided Sossusvlei trip, a nature drive or a hot air balloon safari (recommended).
Desert Quiver Camp
Day 8 & 9: Swakopmund ( 2 nights )
Today you're heading to Swakopmund. Founded in 1892 as the main harbour for the Imperial German colony, but, of course, Swakopmund was home to the Nama people many years before that. During World War the harbour was allowed to silt up as maritime operations moved to Walvis Bay. Turned out it did Swakopmund a favour as it swiftly became a handsome holiday resort and Walvis Bay was left looking sterner and more industrial. The drive from Sossusvlei to Swakopmund will take approximately 5-6 hours (350km).
On the way: Leaving the dunes, you’ll be heading north via Solitaire where you can buy something rather excellent from the bakery on the way. It’s also the only petrol station between Sossusvlei and Swakopmund so if you’re running low, top up. You’ll cross the Tropic of Capricorn - there’s nothing but a sign which says, ‘Tropic of Capricorn' but it's a great spot for a photo as you are at a significant point on planet Earth. You’ll drive through the Gaub and Kuiseb Canyons and then the Namib Gravel Plains will take you to the coast. You can go to Swakopmund via Walvis Bay but it’s rather wonderful to detour via Ganab and visit the truly weird Welwitschia Plains. This route will take you to see the Welwitschia plants. They're really old and despite looking a mess, they actually only have 2 leaves. In fact, they only EVER have 2 leaves and some are thought to be 2000 years old. They’re so old they’re classified as living fossils. Marvel at them and then drive on to the Moon Landscape - a landscape that looks like the moon... who’d have thought? Then head to the sea.
When you're there: Watch the Atlantic waves crash on to the Swakopmund beaches. You have one full day here - and there is a lot to do between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. You could go on a dolphin boat cruise, dune quad biking or even sand boarding. Sea kayaking too if you're up for it. The Sandwich Harbour excursion is a must to experience the Skeleton Coast, where giant sand dunes run straight into the ocean and boy do they create a picture. You can see flamingos at Walvis Bay Lagoon too. Dining is a treat and there are lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from.
Swakopmund Luxury Suites
Day 10 & 11: Damaraland ( 2 nights )
From the town of Swakopmund you’re off to the wilderness of Damaraland. A huge, untamed landscape of immense beauty. It’s remote and there aren’t many humans. 445km, it will take about 7-8 hours.
On the way: Take a drive along the Skeleton coast to visit the Cape Cross Seal colony. There are thousands of them, they are cute but, boy, do they smell. Hold your nose. On your way stop at the Lichen Fields and at the ship wreck between the holiday town Wlotskasbaken and Henties Bay, then it’s a drive through the plains to Uis and north to the Twyfelfontein area and rock art.
When you're there: Head to the Huab River, it’s one of the coast’s most important corridors for desert adapted elephants. They’re impressive creatures. They are still fundamentally African bush elephants but being desert adapted to their harsh living environment, has given them smaller bodies, longer legs and bigger feet. All the better for crossing miles of sand to reach water. Other animals to look out for include rhino, giraffe, oryx, springbok and ostrich. Enjoy a guided nature drive or go it alone. To understand the people who call this place home, take a trip to the Damara Living Museum. Damara people will walk you around traditional huts and show you other aspects of their lives and the ways they used to live traditionally. Breakfasts and dinners are at the lodge beneath the starry skies.
Mowani Mountain Camp
Twyfelfontein Adventure Camp
Day 12: Etosha National Park - South ( 1 night )
Etosha, undoubtedly one of the highlights of Namibia. Get in the car and get ready to get even closer to nature. It’s a 325km drive which will take approximately 4-5 hours.
On the way: After breakfast, head east towards Khorixas to stop at the Petrified Forest. Once upon a time, 280 million years ago, this was a forest of timber. Now they are fossils. When you’ve taken your photos head back to Khorixas and travel east to Outjo and north to your lodge. It’s really close to the southern entrance of Etosha, the Anderson Gate.
When you're there: If there’s time go into Etosha for an afternoon drive and - depending on how many times you stop along the way- you should arrive at your lodge in time for lunch. It’s an optional extra but it’s there if you want it. When you go inside the park your first stop will be Okaukuejo. Pay your entry fee here (or rather your guide will), top up your supplies of drinks and snacks and get one of their maps showing the various waterholes. Loads of mammals, loads of birds. It's a wildlife extravaganza. It’s dinner and B&B here.
Day 13 & 14: Etosha National Park - East ( 2 nights )
Lion, leopard, cheetah, zebra, giraffe, rhinoceros. The list goes on. Today, you’ll drive from one side of the park to the other and it's all about the game viewing.
On the way: Waterholes. Wildlife. Watch them come and go.
When you're there: It's up to you how you spend your time. You can either do it all in a day or do a separate morning and afternoon drive. You can opt for a packed lunch and drive with your guide or, as an optional extra, you could go in the lodge’s open safari vehicle with their guide. Dinner and B&B.
Onguma Bush Camp
Day 15: Waterberg ( 1 night )
If you didn’t see a cheetah in Etosha, you will today. You're off to the central parts of the country.
On the way: Your guide will drive you 315km for 4-5 hours. Head south via Otavi and Otjiwarongo to Otjiwa - Namibia's oldest game farm or Okonjima - the home of The Africat Foundation.
When you're there:
At Otjiwa, there's plenty to do on top of just soaking in the beauty of the area and the views. Go for a game drive, a game walk or even track white rhinos. A special experience indeed. Dinner, bed and breakfast included.
At Okonjima you get to visit the Africat Foundation, founded in 1991. A reserve that works to conserve Namibia’s large carnivores in their natural habitat. They focus on research projects such as Rehabilitating Captive Cheetahs, as well as educating young farmers and school children. Aim to arrive by 1400 by the latest to enjoy some rather marvellous tea, coffee and cakes. Then it’s time for an afternoon excursion. Dinner and B&B.
*You’ll have 2 activities included with the lodge when staying at Okonjima.
Okonjima Luxury Bush Camp
Otjiwa Safari Lodge
Day 16: Windhoek ( Departure / End of Tour )
You’re trip is nearly done. You’re Windhoek bound.
On the way: It’s a 3-4 hour drive to Windhoek, 225km. Get up early, have a quick snack and then go for a morning activity to the Africat Foundation. You could also go for a drive in the animal enclosure which is more of a game reserve really. Then it’s back to the lodge for breakfast before you leave.
When you're there: When you arrive in Windhoek you’ll be dropped off and transferred to the airport. Bear in mind it’s about an hour’s drive away and you do need to check in 2 hours before your flight. Bid your guide farewell. Wishing you safe travels.