- Explore sand dunes and salt pans in Sossusvlei
- Discover Damaraland's ancient rock art
- Stargaze in NamibRand Nature Reserve
- Enjoy a 4WD adventure along the Skeleton Coast
- Spot wildlife on an Etosha National Park safari
|Arrive in Windhoek & Drive to NamibRand, Sundowners & Stargazing
|Guided Nature Walk & Game Drive
|Guided Sossusvlei Tour & Relaxing Massage
|Drive to Swakopmund
|4WD Skeleton Coast Adventure
|Drive to Damaraland
|Drive to Etosha South & Evening Game Drive
|Explore Etosha National Park
|Drive to Windhoek & Depart
Day 1: Arrive in Windhoek & Drive to NamibRand, Sundowners & Stargazing
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. There'll be time to pop into the city for supplies before driving south to the luxury Kwessi Dunes Lodge in NamibRand Nature Reserve, a protected 770-square-mile (2,000 sq km) stretch of the Namib Desert.
You'll get your first taste of Namibia's iconic desert scenery as you drive into NamibRand. Watch the gravel plains, rust-red dunes, and grassy savannas stretch into the horizon, bordered by the Nubib Mountains. Settle in with a sundowner drive, where you'll watch the sunset transform the colors of the desert while sipping a drink. Look out for all kinds of animals, from zebras and ostriches to oryx and elegant gazelles.
NamibRand is one of the world's only Dark Sky Reserves, with clear, unpolluted skies perfect for stargazing. Absorb magical views from the skylight above your bed and at your lodge's on-site observatory, which has a state-of-the-art Celestron CPC 1100 GPS (XLT) computerized telescope. You'll see everything from the Milky Way to neighboring galaxies, constellations, and satellites.
Day 2: Guided Nature Walk & Game Drive
Start this morning with a nature walk from the lodge. Your private guide will point out evidence of nocturnal animal activity and explain how the desert's flora and wildlife have adapted to survive in this volatile environment. You'll also learn about NamibRand's mysterious fairy circles that dot the landscape.
Continue your tour after lunch with a game drive, bumping across the dunes in a 4WD. As you go, search for NamibRand's many desert-adapted species, such as kudus, aardwolves, and bat-eared foxes. You may even spot shy cheetahs stalking through the plains if you're lucky. The reserve is also a haven for over 150 bird species that live in this stark habitat.
Take an optional horseback safari or scenic helicopter flight for a different perspective of NamibRand. Travel on established trails over dunes and along watercourses, passing wildlife along the way, or take to the skies for a bird's-eye view of the Namib Desert. You'll soar over jagged mountains and dune fields, with your helicopter pilot pointing out key sights as you fly.
Day 3: Guided Sossusvlei Tour & Relaxing Massage
Today, venture into the 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 favorite photo spot in Namibia. This white-clay valley 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, which refuse to decompose in the arid climate. After a long day of exploring, take some time to relax this evening with a massage and spa session.
Day 4: Drive to Swakopmund
Say goodbye to NamibRand this morning and head to the infamous Skeleton Coast. The drive will take you north to Solitaire village, then west to cross the Tropic of Capricorn. Along the way, you'll traverse the Namib Desert's endless gravel plains, Ghaub Nature Reserve, and the Kuiseb Canyon. Your journey continues along the moon-like Skeleton Coast to Swakopmund.
You'll stay in 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 along its peaceful streets lined with European-style timber houses, stopping to visit the Swakopmund Museum or National Marine Aquarium. 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.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: 4WD Skeleton Coast Adventure
Spend a day exploring the Skeleton Coast on a 4WD adventure. Here, the Atlantic collides with the dunes of the Namib Desert, creating a veil of thick fog responsible for numerous shipwrecks. The trip starts at Walvis Waterfront, where you'll get to see the Walvis Bay Lagoon, which is a magnet for coastal birds and flocks of flamingoes.
Continue to the Kuiseb River Delta, where animals such as springboks and jackals live. Weather and tide permitting, you'll stop on the beach in Sandwich Harbour to see its rich wetlands and mudflats, which support endangered species and endemic flora. If the beach isn't accessible, you'll head to a higher lookout spot instead.
Your guide will prepare a picnic lunch on the beach or atop a dune overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, serving a selection of oysters and snacks accompanied by wine, beer, and soft drinks. Afterward, you'll drive through the Namib Desert, spotting creatures like the fog-basking beetle, dancing spider, and golden mole. Travel over spectacularly high dunes on the way to the beach, where you'll board a leisurely cruise back to Swakopmund.
Day 6: Drive to Damaraland
Set off from Swakopmund this morning, heading north along the Skeleton Coast to Damaraland. En route, visit the holiday town of Wlotzkasbaken, take in the desert's unique lichen fields, and explore the eerie Zelia shipwreck, a stranded fishing trawler. There's also time to stop in Henties Bay to visit the world's largest breeding colony of Cape fur seals at nearby Cape Cross.
Finally, head inland to Damaraland, a dramatic region of grasslands, gorges, and mountains where the Indigenous Herero, Himba, and Damara people live. The area is particularly famous for its prehistoric rock paintings and geological formations carved by wind and sand over the centuries. Check into your high-end lodge and enjoy the scenery, which is home to everything from desert elephants and rhinos to extensive birdlife, including 33 different types of raptors.
Day 7: Twyfelfontein Tour
Spend today discovering Damaraland's highlights. Begin by visiting the Twyfelfontein region, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its collection of over 2,000 rock petroglyphs. Marvel at the red-ochre designs made by Namibia's nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes an estimated 6,000 years ago. Your guide will also highlight the Namib Desert's typical animals and plants, including the "living fossil plant," welwitschia, which can live up to 2,000 years.
Next, tour 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 collection of trees uprooted some 200 million years ago and frozen in sediment. After the tour, return to your lodge for dinner.
Day 8: Drive to Etosha South & Evening Game Drive
The day starts with a 220-mile (350 km) drive north to Etosha National Park, known by the Indigenous Ovambo people as "the great white place" for its 1,900 square-mile (4,920 sq km) salt pan, which is visible from space. Etosha is one of Namibia's top safari destinations due to its many spring-fed waterholes, which offer supreme wildlife sightings of over 114 species of mammals and 350 bird species.
Settle into your lavish lodge in Ongava Private Game Reserve, 74,000 acres (30,000 ha) of protected land that borders Etosha, set close to the park's southern Anderson's Gate. Your lavish lodge in Ongava showcases views of the rugged landscape and offers exciting activities such as rhino tracking, nature walks, and scenic sundowners.
Settle into your lodge, then head out for a guided evening drive in Ongava Game Reserve. Wildlife thrives in this protected conservancy, which is famed for its population of endangered rhinos, lions, and endemic species like the black-faced impala. Your guide will take you to the best wildlife viewing spots in Ongava, and you'll enjoy a classic African sunset to end the tour.
Day 9: Explore Etosha National Park
Spend today exploring Etosha National Park; your lodge has a full range of activities for you to enjoy, including safaris. Park up beside a waterhole with a picnic and watch African predators, grazing game, and colorful birdlife mingle. You'll also learn about Etosha's distinctive landscape, which features a mammoth salt pan and over 20 types of vegetation. In the rainy season, water floods the pan, creating lagoons that attract migratory birds like flamingoes.
Guided walks are also available and are a great way to get up close to the park's unusual plants and insects. Walks include a trip to Anderson's Hide for unobtrusive animal viewing at the camp's waterhole. You can also request a trip to the Ongava Visitor Centre, where dozens of in-depth displays tell the story of the area's geology and history in an interactive exhibition.