With one week in Namibia, travelers can safari through world-renowned Etosha National Park, visit coastal Swakopmund, and marvel at otherworldly Namib Naukluft Park—part of the oldest desert in the world. Hike some of Africa's highest sand dunes, check out the iconic petrified trees of Sossusvlei, and spot wildlife uniquely adapted to survival in Namibia's otherworldy ecosystems. 

Highlights

  • Safari in Etosha National Park, the best place to spot black rhinos
  • Dig into German architecture and adventure sports in Swakopmund
  • Climb some of the biggest dunes in Africa in Sossusvlei
  • Pay a visit to beautiful Sesriem Canyon

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Windhoek to Etosha National park Etosha
Day 2 Etosha National Park Etosha
Day 3 Etosha National park to Swakopmund Swakopmund
Day 4 Swakopmund Swakopmund
Day 5 Swakopmund – Sesriem (186 miles) Sesriem
Day 6 Sossusvlei – Sesriem Sesriem
Day 7 Sesriem area – Windhoek (279 miles)  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Windhoek to Etosha National Park

Lionesses at a watering hole in Etosha National Park
Lionesses at a watering hole in Etosha National Park

First stop: safari. Travel north from Windhoek to Etosha National Park, passing through farmland and stopping in quaint towns along the way. Arrive at Anderson Gate by mid-afternoon and take a game drive to Okaukuejo, Etosha’s main rest camp and resort, to set up camp. 

After your evening meal, there are still more chances to see Etosha’s big game at a floodlit waterhole, situated on the boundary of camp and easily reachable within a minute or two on foot.  This is one of the best game viewing opportunities in Southern Africa, and the ideal venue to witness peculiar animal politics after dark. Black rhino, Africa’s tallest elephants, lions, and numerous species of antelope are regular visitors during the cool, dry season.

Day 2: Etosha National Park

Elephants in Etosha
Elephants in Etosha

Get up early for a full day of safari, starting off at sunrise toward Halali Camp in the middle of the park.  Along the way, visit several waterholes and take in splendid views of the massive Etosha Pan.  The game viewing is usually excellent and you'll likely have the chance to tick off a few new species that are not normally seen on the Okaukeujo side of the park.

Return to Okaukeujo Campsite for the evening. After dinner, you have the option to see more of Etosha’s big game at the floodlit watering hole.

Day 3: Etosha to Swakopmund

German colonial architecture in Swakopmund
German colonial architecture in Swakopmund

A relatively long drive today will take you via the towns of Outjo, Otjiwarongo, Omaruru, and Usakos to coastal Swakopmund.  Founded in 1892 during German colonial rule, it served as the territory’s main harbor for many years.  Today, this town straddles the desert and the Atlantic ocean, enhanced by lush green lawns, palm trees, and carefully tended public gardens.  Architecture from a bygone era adds to the time-out-of-place atmosphere of Swakopmund.

Day 4: Swakopmund

Swakopmund on the Atlantic coast
Swakopmund on the Atlantic coast

Explore Swakopmund at your own pace today.  With shopping, a good stretch of beach (though the Atlantic here is quite cold), and an open-air curio market, this seaside town makes for a pleasant stop.  Swakopmund is also home to a very good museum and the Namibian National Marine Aquarium.

If you're in the mood for something more active, there's plenty of adventure to be had just outside of town. Take a flight over the desert, book a fishing trip from the beach or on the water, ride a quad bike over the desert sand dunes, take a bird-watching tour, and more—adventure seekers can even go sky-diving. 

Day 5: Swakopmund – Sesriem

One of the many out-of-commission cars decorating the outpost of Solitaire
One of the many out-of-commission cars decorating the outpost of Solitaire

Head about 25 miles south to Walvis Bay,  where you'll spend the morning touring a large marine lagoon which is home to a vast array of marine bird life—and specifically, flamingos. Get back on the road across the endless Namib gravel plains, finally reaching the mountain desert. You'll traverse both the Kuiseb and Gaub passes—both require driving to riverbeds at the canyon bottoms before making the steep climb back up to spectacular panoramas. 

Again, the scenery changes as you make your way down to the dune fields. Cross open savannah and farmland before the terrain begins to give way to the immense red sand dunes of the Namib Desert From here, it's only a short distance to our next stop: the truly tiny town of Solitaire, a quirky outpost decorated with colorful out-of-commission cars from a bygone era. Arrive at camp during the late afternoon, where you'll have dinner and watch the distant mountains glow in the changing light.

Day 6: Sossusvlei – Sesriem

Deadvlei
Deadvlei

Rise early for an excursion into the Namib "Sand Sea", including the famous Sossusvlei dune belt. This area has some of the highest known sand dunes in the world. Sossusvlei is situated at the end of the Tsauchab River, a dry riverbed that only flows in the years of exceptional rainfall.

Sossusvlei is a word from Nama descent, which directly translated means "a place with many endings." Many visitors to Namibia say that no part of the desert is more stunning than Sossusvlei, with its monumentally high dunes, the shadows of their sinuous crests continually changing as the day waxes and wanes. The warm tints of the sand, ranging from pale apricot to brick orange and deep red, contrast vividly with the dazzling white surfaces of the deflationary clay pans at some of their bases.

Spend the morning visiting Dune 45 and the iconic Deadvlei trees. In the afternoon, return to Sesriem to escape the heat before a short excursion to the Sesriem Canyon, a small and picturesque canyon carved over millions of years into the Tsauchab River.

Day 7: Sesriem – Windhoek

WIldlife becomes uniquely acclimated to the arid Namib Desert
WIldlife becomes uniquely acclimated to the arid Namib Desert

After breakfast we begin our journey back to Windhoek following a different route, ascending the massive Gamsberg Pass in the Khomas Hochland Mountains on our way back to civilization. Then, head to the airport for your departing flight.