- Explore Namibia's world-famous sand dunes and salt pans
- Take a self-drive safari in Etosha National Park
- Get off the beaten track in the diverse Zambezi region
- Go on safari in Botswana's Chobe National Park
- See the Zambezi River plunge over the mighty Victoria Falls
|Day 1||Arrive in Windhoek, Drive to Sossusvlei||Sossusvlei|
|Day 2||Tour Sossusvlei, Drive to Swakopmund||Swakopmund|
|Day 3||Drive to Damaraland, Explore||Damaraland|
|Day 4||Drive to Etosha National Park||Etosha National Park|
|Day 5||Etosha Self-Drive Safari||Etosha National Park|
|Day 6||Explore Etosha National Park||Etosha National Park|
|Day 7||Etosha Full-Day Safari||Etosha National Park|
|Day 8||Drive to the Zambezi Region||Caprivi|
|Days 9-10||Zambezi Safari Adventures||Caprivi|
|Day 11||Drive to Botswana||Chobe National Park|
|Day 12||Chobe National Park Safari||Chobe National Park|
|Day 13||Visit Victoria Falls||Victoria Falls|
|Day 14||Depart Victoria Falls|
Day 1: Arrive in Windhoek, Drive to Sossusvlei
Welcome to Namibia! You'll be greeted at Windhoek airport by a representative from the car rental company, who'll help you complete all the procedures for your self-drive adventure. In the afternoon, drive five hours south to Sossusvlei, where you'll get your first taste of the never-ending dunes of the Namib Desert. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its shifting sand sea, Namib is the world's oldest desert.
Day 2: Tour Sossusvlei, Drive to Swakopmund
This morning you'll venture into Namib-Naukluft National Park, which is the largest conservation area in Africa. Tour the Sossusvlei dune belt, a dry riverbed with some of the world's highest sand dunes, including Dune 45 and the 1,000-foot-tall (300 m) Big Daddy. As the light changes throughout the day, these towering sand masses transform into shades of orange, red, and gold.
You'll also discover Deadvlei (Dead Marsh), a white-clay valley that was once full of water from the Tsauchab River but has since dried up. Now, the cracked floor is decorated with dozens of stranded dead camelthorn trees up to 900 years old. Continue to Sesriem Canyon, which was formed up to four million years ago by the Tsauchab River. Early settlers used ses (six) riem (leather rope straps) to lower a bucket into the 100-foot (30-m) deep canyon to collect water, hence the name.
After lunch, drive north to the coastal city of Swakopmund, a former German port originally occupied by the Herero people that lies at the mouth of the Swakop River. Stroll through its peaceful streets lined with European-style timber houses. Finish the day with a walk on Swakopmund's beach and wooden pier, followed by a feast of bratwurst and Bavarian beer in a German-themed restaurant.
Day 3: Drive to Damaraland, Explore
Today you'll drive north along the Skeleton Coast, where the Atlantic collides with the Namib Desert. This creates a veil of thick fog responsible for numerous shipwrecks that litter the coastline, which you'll stop to photograph. You'll also spot hardy plant species and various animals, birds, and insects that have adapted to survive in this hostile environment.
Eventually, head inland toward Damaraland, where you'll find prehistoric rock paintings and geological formations carved by wind and sand over the centuries. The Twyfelfontein region is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its collection of over 2,000 rock petroglyphs. These red-ochre designs were made by Namibia's nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes an estimated 6,000 years ago.
Spend the afternoon touring some of Damaraland's striking geological formations. These include a set of dolerite pillars referred to as the Organ Pipes and Namibia's tallest peak, Brandberg, nicknamed "fire mountain" for its sunrise and sunset glow. Don't miss the eerie Petrified Forest, a group of trees uprooted some 200 million years ago and frozen in sediment. After the trip, return to your lodge in time for a sundowner.
Day 4: Drive to Etosha National Park
Set off early for the three-hour drive to Etosha National Park's southern gate. Stop for a break along the way at the small town of Outjo and the mountain viewpoint at Ugab Terrace for photos of Damaraland's landscape. You'll arrive at Etosha in time for lunch, then devote the rest of the day to exploring the park independently.
The Indigenous Ovambo people know Etosha as "the great white place" for its mammoth salt pan. At 1,900 square miles (4,920 sq km), it's the biggest in Africa and is visible from space. Etosha is also home to hundreds of birds and animal species. Take an evening game drive through the park, visiting its many spring-fed waterholes for wildlife spotting, then fall asleep to the sounds of the African bush.
Day 5: Etosha Self-Drive Safari
This morning you'll head out in your vehicle to explore Etosha, returning to your campsite in the heat of the day for lunch and a rest. During the drive, look out for some of the park's diverse wildlife, which encompasses over 114 species of mammals and 350 bird species. You're likely to see everything from Burchell's zebras and black-faced impalas to oryx.What's unique about Etosha is that animals congregate around its waterholes during the dry season, providing the best wildlife viewing in Namibia. Park beside the water to watch predators, game, and colorful birdlife mingle. Drive back to your lodge late afternoon to sip a cool sundowner and have dinner.
Day 6: Explore Etosha National Park
Enjoy another full day in Etosha, driving at your own pace around the park. Make your way to the Halali area for lunch, a region well-known for its magnificent game viewing. Here, the watering holes draw an astonishing variety of animals and birds from miles around, as they're the only water source in the area. Okaukuejo's teeming waterhole has earned a reputation as one of the top game-viewing destinations in southern Africa.As you explore the park, you'll pass vast herds of plains game, such as springboks and kudus, as well as everything from warthogs to giraffes, elephants, and spotted hyenas. For the best chance of seeing Etosha's more elusive animals like leopards and honey badgers, head out early for sunrise game drives or at dusk as nocturnal creatures start to appear.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 7: Etosha Full-Day Safari
Savor a final day in Etosha National Park. Ask a guide at your lodge for tips on where to encounter wildlife, or grab the detailed maps of the park available at each resort, curio shop, and filling station. If you want a break from driving, book a nature walk to get up close to smaller creatures and plants, or go on a safari with a knowledgeable guide who'll help you seek out rarer animals.Be sure to take in the distinctive landscape along the way, which features over 20 types of vegetation, and marvel at Etosha's famous salt pan, which was once a colossal lake before it dried up. If you visit during the rainy season, water floods the pan, creating algae-filled lagoons that attract migratory birds, such as flamingoes that feed on the lagoon's algae.
Day 8: Drive to the Zambezi Region
Leave Etosha and embark on a full-day road trip to the Zambezi Region (formally known as the Caprivi Strip), renamed for its proximity to Africa's fourth-longest river, the Zambezi. The 520-mile (840 km) drive leads east on paved roads, making for a comfortable journey.As you go, stop to see Otjikoto and Lake Guinas, one of Namibia's two permanent natural lakes created by collapsed karst caves. You'll also get to see the Hoba Meteorite near Grootfontein, which weighs over 60 tons and is the largest known meteorite of its kind in the world. Take a coffee break at Roy's Camp, arriving in the Zambezi in the late afternoon in time to relax before dinner.
Days 9-10: Zambezi Safari Adventures
Over the next two days, enjoy a self-drive safari adventure in the Zambezi, which is famed for its water-logged wildlife viewing. This strip of land sticks out from the northeast of Namibia, bordering Botswana, Angola, and Zambia. Although just 280 miles (450 km long), the area is swarming with animals thanks to its diverse landscape of valleys, flood plains, woodlands, and five perennial rivers.
You'll explore the Mahango Game Park in eastern Bwabwata. The Okavango River flows in this area, creating a lush landscape with grasslands and forests filled with papyrus and giant baobab trees. As you drive, look out for some of Zambezi's incredible wildlife, which includes 450 species from African wild dogs and elephants to plains game like zebras and antelope. Birders will also love the Zambezi region, which is home to 70 percent of the country's bird species.
Stop for a river cruise or water safari, floating down tranquil rivers where you may spot hippos and crocodiles. On the banks, watch out for exotic birds and animals who come to drink at the water's edge. You'll likely see wetland birds like wattled cranes, northern carmine bee-eaters, and fishing owls. You'll also have the option to organize bush walks, bird-watching excursions, and fishing trips through your lodge.
Day 11: Drive to Botswana
Say goodbye to Namibia this morning and drop off your vehicle in Katima Mulilo, the unofficial capital of the Zambezi region, located on the banks of the river. Your driver will cross into Botswana at the Ngoma Gate, which overlooks the beautiful Chobe River floodplain.The last 37 miles (60 km) of your journey pass through Chobe National Park, a 4,400 square mile (12,000 square km) slice of wilderness named after its river. As you drive, you'll notice a variety of landscapes, from plains and swamps to grasslands and forests, which are all home to a kaleidoscope of African beasts. Settle into your lodge in Kasane, your base for exploring the national park, and sip a cocktail overlooking the water.
Day 12: Chobe National Park Safari
Enjoy a wildlife-studded safari in Chobe, Botswana's first national park. You'll pass through the park's various ecosystems, from the riverfront to the Linyanti swamps and remote Savuti region. On the way, you'll notice plenty of wildlife; Chobe is home to the world's largest concentration of African elephants, a host of big cats and game, and 440 recorded bird species.You'll visit the Chobe riverfront, where you can take a safari boat along the water for supreme wildlife sightings. Witness pods of hippos, swooping African fish eagles, and all kinds of animals drinking and bathing. You may even spot unusual species like the roan and oribi antelopes. Return to your lodge after for dinner and a relaxing evening.
Day 13: Visit Victoria Falls
Cross over the border into Zimbabwe this morning, the final country on your African safari. The 43-mile (70 km) drive takes you to the town of Victoria Falls and its famous nearby waterfall. Take an optional, self-guided visit to the UNESCO-listed Victoria Falls, known by its native Lozi name as Mosi-oa-Tunya, "the smoke that thunders." Head to a viewing platform to watch the Zambezi River plunge over a cliff into a series of gorges.Next, you'll have lunch and settle into your self-catering lodge in Victoria Falls. The afternoon is yours to enjoy, and there's a range of exciting activities on offer. Book an exhilarating helicopter flight over the falls and the nearby game park, take a cruise on the Zambezi River or even indulge in a nail-biting bungee jump. Be sure to visit the town's local open-air curio market, where you can shop for souvenirs.
Day 14: Depart Victoria Falls
This morning your African safari adventure comes to an end. You'll be transferred from your hotel to Victoria Falls International Airport for your flight home. Safe travels!