- Stargaze and explore sand dunes in NamibRand Nature Reserve
- Discover Damaraland's ancient rock art
- Enjoy a 4WD adventure on the Skeleton Coast
- Go on an Etosha National Park safari
- Encounter leopards and cheetahs at the AfriCat Foundation
|Day 1||Arrive in Windhoek, Drive to the Tiras Mountains||Tiras Mountains|
|Day 2||Desert Yoga, Explore the Tiras Mountains||Tiras Mountains|
|Day 3||Drive to NamibRand Nature Reserve||NamibRand Nature Reserve|
|Day 4||Guided Sossusvlei Tour||NamibRand Nature Reserve|
|Day 5||Drive to Swakopmund||Swakopmund|
|Day 6||4WD Skeleton Coast Adventure||Swakopmund|
|Day 7||Drive to Damaraland||Damaraland|
|Day 8||Guided Nature Drive & Twyfelfontein Tour||Damaraland|
|Day 9||Drive to Etosha South||Etosha South|
|Day 10||Explore Etosha South on Safari||Etosha South|
|Day 11||Drive to Etosha East||Etosha East|
|Day 12||Explore Etosha East on Safari||Etosha East|
|Day 13||Drive to Okonjima Nature Reserve & Leopard Conservation||Okonjima Nature Reserve|
|Day 14||Visit the AfriCat Foundation, Drive to Windhoek & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Windhoek, Drive to the Tiras Mountains
Welcome to Namibia! You'll be greeted at the airport in Windhoek by a representative from the car rental company, who'll help you complete all the procedures for your self-drive adventure. There's time to pop into the city for supplies before you drive south to your luxury lodge in the Tiras Mountains.
The Tiras Mountains lie in southwest Namibia, on the edge of the Namib Desert. Red, saw-toothed peaks draw rock climbers and hikers to this lesser-visited area, which is home to luxe farm lodges and camps. Thrilling 4WD safaris and dune tours allow you to spot all kinds of desert-adapted animals, and you can savor long evenings admiring the star-filled night sky.
Take an optional late-afternoon drive in the Tiras Mountains. Bump across the Mars-like landscape in a 4WD as your guide points out rock formations and plants adapted to this arid environment. You're also likely to see various animals, from ostriches and springboks to brown hyenas and jackals. End the drive by sipping on a selection of drinks while watching the sun slip down into the horizon.
Day 2: Desert Yoga, Explore the Tiras Mountains
Wake early for a calming desert yoga class. Your experienced yoga master will lead the session, which is suitable for all abilities and held near the pool, fostering a sense of mental and physical peace to begin your day. Alternatively, take an optional sunrise tour of Sossusvlei's red-orange sand dunes in nearby Namib Naukluft National Park, followed by a champagne breakfast.
Spend the rest of today exploring the Tiras Mountains by foot, 4WD, or horseback with an expert guide. You'll be surrounded by wildlife and desert scenery, set against the Tiras Mountain range. Return in the evening for dinner and stargazing; your lodge has a selection of telescopes to spot sparkling constellations. Ask your guide about arranging extra experiences such as hot air balloon trips and private bush dinners.
Day 3: Drive to NamibRand Nature Reserve
This morning you'll drive north to NamibRand Nature Reserve, which is one of the biggest private reserves in Southern Africa, covering a 770-square-mile (2,000 sq km) section of the Namib Desert. You'll get your first taste of Namibia's iconic desert scenery as you drive in. Watch the gravel plains, rust-red dunes, and grassy savannas stretch into the horizon, bordered by the Nubib Mountains.
For a new perspective of the Namib Desert, take an optional hot air balloon safari this morning. Take flight as the sun rises, watching the light hit the rippling dunes, desert plains, and mountain ranges. The aerial views make for spectacular photos. After an hour of floating across the sky, land for an exclusive champagne breakfast in the desert.
Day 4: Guided Sossusvlei Tour
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.
When you return to NamibRand, absorb views from the skylight above your bed and at your lodge's on-site observatory tonight, which has a state-of-the-art Celestron CPC 1100 GPS (XLT) computerized telescope. NamibRand is one of the world's only Dark Sky Reserves, with clear, unpolluted skies perfect for stargazing. You'll see everything from the Milky Way to neighboring galaxies, constellations, and satellites.
Day 5: Drive to Swakopmund
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
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.
Arrive 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.
Day 6: 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 7: 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 Zelia Shipwreck. 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.
Within the dramatic landscapes area of Damaraland, you'll find prehistoric rock paintings and geological formations carved by wind and sand over the centuries. Check into your lodge in the Palmwag Concession, a 1,359,000-acre (550,000 ha) protected slice of wilderness. A diverse array of wildlife is sustained here by the Uniab River, which runs through the concession.
Day 8: Guided Nature Drive & Twyfelfontein Tour
Spend today discovering Damaraland's highlights, starting with an early-morning nature drive. Your guide will search out flora and fauna unique to the area, and if you're lucky, you may spot desert elephants and rhinos. Soak up the dramatic landscapes and enjoy drinks and snacks as you traverse the wilderness in a 4WD.
Next, you'll visit 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.
The tour continues with 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 9: Drive to Etosha South
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, which lies close to the southern Anderson's Gate of Etosha National Park. Your lodge showcases views of the rugged landscape and offers exciting activities such as rhino tracking, nature walks, and scenic sundowners.
Day 10: Explore Etosha South on Safari
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 Andersson'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.
Day 11: Drive to Etosha East
Experience more of Etosha's wonders as you drive from the south to the east section of the park. This will take a full day, as you'll stop at plenty of waterholes to observe wildlife along the way. Visit Halali Camp for a leisurely lunch and dip in their pool, or have a picnic overlooking a waterhole. Check into your lodge in this remote corner of the park. You'll enjoy views of the boundless plains studded with baobab trees, waterholes, and grazing game.
Day 12: Explore Etosha East on Safari
Today is yours to roam Etosha National Park. Choose from a selection of activities at your lodge, which may include guided nature walks, private bush dinners, and stargazing experiences. Head out on a morning or afternoon safari for more incredible wildlife viewing and pause for a sumptuous breakfast or lunch picnic spread. End the afternoon at an epic sunset viewpoint while enjoying a cocktail.
Day 13: Drive to Okonjima Nature Reserve & Leopard Conservation
Leave Etosha today and drive three hours south to Okonjima Nature Reserve, a 54,360-acre (22,000 ha) haven for Namibian wildlife, full of lush riverine forests and plains, surrounded by the Omboroko Mountains. Okonjima is famed for its thriving population of leopards, brown hyenas, and endangered pangolins. The reserve is also home to the AfriCat Foundation, whose mission is to ensure the conservation and rehabilitation of African predators such as cheetahs, wild dogs, and lions.
Head out this afternoon with an AfriCat guide to observe leopards in Okonjima. Some of the leopards in the reserve are radio-collared for research purposes, which makes these elusive animals easier to spot. During the drive, you'll help with data collection for the leopard conservation project and also look out for brown hyenas, which are being monitored in a new program. Witness fascinating interactions between these two apex predators in the reserve.
Day 14: Visit the AfriCat Foundation, Drive to Windhoek & Depart
Spend your final morning back at the AfriCat Foundation, where you'll learn more about the non-profit organization's vital conservation work. Founded in 1991, the foundation is family-run and has saved over a thousand predators to date, releasing 86 percent of them into the reserve. You'll also visit a large enclosure where rescued cheetahs roam while they await their return to the wild.
Finally, make the four-hour drive back to Windhoek, where you'll drop off your rental car in time for your flight. Safe travels!
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