Veer off Namibia's tourist trail on this two-week adventure safari. You'll track rhinos, discover prehistoric rock paintings, and embark upon a six-night wild camping adventure in the remote Kunene region. Next, tackle Namibia's infamous Van Zyl's Pass by 4WD to discover hidden valleys inhabited by the Himba people and go on a safari in Etosha National Park. End with a visit to the AfriCat Foundation, where you'll spot endangered leopards and cheetahs.


  • Track rhinos in Palmwag Concession
  • Wild camp in the remote Kunene region
  • Drive a 4WD over the infamous Van Zyl's Pass 
  • Go on a safari in Etosha National Park 
  • Take part in leopard conservation at the AfriCat Foundation

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Windhoek, Drive to Spitzkoppe  Spitzkoppe National Park
Day Drive to Damaraland, Afternoon Game Drive in Palmwag  Damaraland
Day 3 Half-Day Rhino Tracking Damaraland
Day 4 Drive to Kunene Kunene
Day 5 Explore Epupa Falls Epupa
Day 6 Drive to Van Zyl's Pass Kunene
Day 7 Drive into Marienfluss Valley  Marienfluss Valley
Day 8 Drive to Khumib River Khumib River
Day 9 Drive to Purros Purros
Day 10 Drive to Khowarib Khowarib
Day 11 Drive to Etosha South Etosha South
Day 12 Game Drives & Walking Tour in Etosha South Etosha South
Day 13 Drive to Okonjima, Leopard Conservation Drive Okonjima Nature Reserve
Day 14 Visit the AfriCat Foundation, Transfer to Windhoek & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Windhoek, Drive to Spitzkoppe

Catch a sunrise before you depart
Watch the sunset over Spitzkoppe

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. Next, drive west through Namibia's limitless plains to your first destination, Spitzkoppe.

Spitzkoppe is a collection of hulking granite mountains that lie in the world's oldest desert, the Namib. Known as the Matterhorn of Africa for its shape, Spitzkoppe has become one of the country's most iconic landmarks, drawing hikers and rock climbers who come to scale its challenging peak.

Take some time to settle in before embarking on a sunset tour. You'll travel in a 4WD perfect for observing wildlife and photographing the landscape. Stop to discover ancient cave paintings at Small Bushman's Paradise, spot animals at the Zebra Pool, and admire Spitzkoppe's famous rock arch. Soak up sunset views accompanied by drinks and snacks to end the tour.

Day 2: Drive to Damaraland, Afternoon Game Drive in Palmwag

Stay in the remote Palmwag Concession

This morning, drive yourself north to Palmwag Lodge in Damaraland, a dramatic region of grasslands, gorges, and mountains. The area is particularly famed for its 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.  

This afternoon you'll take a game drive in the Palmwag Concession. Bump across the rocky basalt landscape, which was created over 125 million years ago by magma eruptions. Your guide will point out some of Palmwag's resident wildlife, which includes springboks, giraffes, and rare species like desert-dwelling elephants and spotted hyenas. Keep an eye out for endemic birds such as Ruppell's korhaan as you drive.

Day 3: Half-Day Rhino Tracking

Track endangered rhinos

Managed by the Save the Rhino Trust, Palmwag Concession has Africa's largest free-roaming population of black rhinos, which you'll encounter on today's tracking expedition. Thanks to the trust's work protecting these critically-endangered creatures from poachers and habitat loss, their numbers are slowly increasing within the concession. 

Head out with a guide and expert tracker who knows each rhino by sight. You'll travel to off-the-beaten-track areas in an open game vehicle and then follow on foot to observe rhinos from a respectful distance. While the main focus is tracking rhinos, you're likely to spot many other animals during the tour, from kudus to oryx and mountain zebras.

Day 4: Drive to Kunene

Meet the Himba people in Kunene

This morning your six-night wild camping adventure begins in Kunene, Namibia's mountainous northwest. Kunene is a land of endless savannas, valleys, and mountains dotted with villages belonging to Namibia's Indigenous people. The region is named after the mighty Kunene River, which acts as a border between Angola and has provided a vital water source for the Himba people for centuries. Today, the river is a haven for whitewater rafters, kayakers, and hikers who come to marvel at its crashing waterfalls.

Drive north with your team to Kunene's capital, Opuwo, to pick up supplies for your trip. You'll meet the area's Himba and Herero women who sell fresh produce and handicrafts in the market. Continue your drive, passing Ruacana and traveling along the Kunene River to Swartbooisdrift. Here, you'll visit the Dorsland Trekkers Monument, commemorating the 1881 Dorsland migration from Namibia across the Kunene River to Angola. Tonight, your team will set up camp by the Kunene River Lodge.

Day 5: Explore Epupa Falls

Visit spectacular Epupa Falls

Spend today exploring the natural and cultural wonders of Kunene. On the way to Epupa Falls, you'll stop at several Himba villages with a local guide to meet the residents and learn about their lives as pastoral nomads. You'll hear how the Himba people make mud-thatched houses, herd cattle, hunt, and forage from the land.

Continue to Epupa Falls–Epupa means "falling water" in the Herero language. This epic 200-foot (60 m) cascade lies on the Kunene River, where it forms a natural border between Namibia and Angola, creating a lush landscape that attracts birds and animals. Watch the water plummet into a series of natural rock pools where you can take a cooling dip before setting up camp for the night. 

Day 6: Drive to Van Zyl's Pass

Tackle the infamous Van Zyl's Pass

Depart Epupa this morning, heading south to the small Herero-Himba village of Okanguati before turning west into the most remote part of Kunene. Rough, boulder-strewn tracks surrounded by dramatic mountain scenery lead you to Otjitanda, the start of the infamous Van Zyl's Pass.

Van Zyl is one of Namibia's highest and most demanding passes to traverse, following a path carved by other off-road adventurers. The drive is steep and requires dodging through boulders and ravines. Stop to wild camp tonight in the Otjitanda mountains before tackling the final section of the pass tomorrow.
Plan your trip to Namibia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 7: Drive into Marienfluss Valley 

Discover the lush Marienfluss Valley

Wake early for your challenging drive up to the highest point of Van Zyl's Pass, which sits at an elevation of 2,230 feet (985 m) above sea level, between two mountain ranges. You'll be rewarded with magnificent views of the secluded Marienfluss Valley, which is only accessible by 4WD and rarely visited by tourists. Complete the nail-biting descent and celebrate at the foot of the pass before settling into camp by the Kunene River.

The Marienfluss Valley is a 1,275-square-mile (3,300 square km) conservancy home to around 350 Himba people and wildlife, such as big cats, giraffes, kudus, and crocodiles. While dunes dominate the western section, grasslands cover most of the valley providing grazing for the Himba's cattle. Marienfluss is famed for the thousands of fairy circles that dot its landscape; according to Himba legend, a fiery-bubble-breathing dragon created these mysterious circles.

Day 8: Drive to Khumib River

Rocky landscapes of the Kunene Region
Explore the rock-strewn landscape

Continue your off-road journey through the Hartmann Valley, a lunar-like landscape of rock and sand that forms part of the Namib Desert. The scorched valley stretches for about 43 miles (70 km). As you drive, look for desert-adapted creatures like elegant oryx and springbok. You'll pass the famous red drum, which marks a vital split in the road, and dusty Himba villages with mud-and-stick rondavels.

The seasonal Khumib River brings life to this part of Kunene, flowing to the Skeleton Coast during the rainy season in November, February, and March. The Khumib is surrounded by vast rock-strewn plains, deep canyons, and salt pans that are best traversed in a 4WD. Khumib offers exciting safaris, bird-watching tours, and expeditions to see the Skeleton Coast's eerie shipwrecks.

Day 9: Drive to Purros

Drive to the desert town of Purros

Today you'll drive south along the Hoarusib, one of Namibia's most scenic ephemeral rivers. Stop at a Himba village, where a guide will introduce you to the villagers and teach you about their lives as semi-nomadic pastoralists. Learn how the Himba herd cattle and how the women make their emblematic jewelry and thick ochre body powder. You'll have the chance to shop for Himba handicrafts before you continue to the desert town of Purros.

Purros is a small village surrounded by semi-desert terrain, with rolling hills and never-ending plains dotted with scrubby vegetation and saucer-topped acacia trees. The landscape is home to desert wildlife, such as black rhinos and elephants, which you'll spot as you drive along in your 4WD.

Day 10: Drive to Khowarib

Hike in the Khowarib Gorge 

Make your way south this morning to explore the Hoanib River, one of 12 seasonal rivers in western Namibia. Look out for the Clay Castles as you drive, striking geological formations that soar hundreds of feet into the sky. You may also see animals from brown hyenas to lions and steenbok. Stop at Sesfontein (Six Fountains), a former German checkpoint that's now a lavish lodge, before arriving in Khowarib.

Settle into Khowarib, a tiny village set between Kaokoland and Damaraland. Set within the deep Khowarib Gorge near the banks of the Hoanib, the village acts as a launching point for adventures into the region. You can hike along the riverbed through the gorge, looking for birds and animals, including jackals and genets. Look out for ancient rock art carved into the valley as you hike. 

Day 11: Drive to Etosha South

Park beside a teeming waterhole in Etosha National Park

Say goodbye to Khowarib and drive six hours east to Etosha. This national park is 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.

Check into your lavish lodge in Ongava Private Game Reserve, which lies close to the southern Anderson's Gate of Etosha National Park. The lodge showcases views of the rugged landscape and offers exciting activities such as rhino tracking, nature walks, and scenic sundowners.

Day 12: Game Drives & Walking Tour in Etosha South

Spot African wildlife on an Etosha safari

Spend the day exploring Etosha National Park on a half-day game drive. 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. 

This afternoon, you'll have the chance to take a two-hour guided walking tour in Etosha, subject to the season and guide availability. Exploring on foot is a great way to get close to the park's unusual plants and insects adapted to this arid environment. Your guide will look out for animal tracks and dens, pointing out smaller species of creatures often missed on a game drive. If you're lucky, you may even have the opportunity to approach a white rhino.
Finish the day with an evening drive in Ongava Game Reserve, which covers 74,000 acres (30,000 ha) of protected land where wildlife thrives. The reserve is famed for its population of endangered rhinos, lions, and endemic species, such as the black-faced impala, which you can keep an eye out for during the drive. Enjoy a classic African sunset to end the tour.

Day 13: Drive to Okonjima, Leopard Conservation Drive

Etosha South to Okonjima
Observe leopards in Okonjima

Your Etosha safari adventure ends this morning. Drive 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 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, Transfer to Windhoek & Depart

Cheetahs in Okonjima Private Nature Reserve
Catch a glimpse of cheetahs at the AfriCat Foundation 

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.

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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Map of Off-the-Beaten-Track Namibia Adventure - 14 Days
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