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This is Namibia at its very best, a wilderness destination of outstanding beauty at every turn. This trip can be arranged as a self drive or fully guided itinerary.

This is an itinerary designed to introduce you to some of the most beautiful and extreme environments that Namibia has to offer. Visiting some of the country’s most notable locations, the route will take you far north to the arid salt pans of Etosha National Park, deep into the remote and rugged Kunene where desert elephant battle against the harsh conditions and sustain a remarkable existence along ephemeral rivers, then along the Skeleton Coast whose shores bare witness to the unforgiving ferocity of the South Atlantic ocean, before finally arriving deep in the Namib – one of the most ancient and hauntingly beautiful desert landscapes in the world.

The itinerary is best experienced as a self drive, allowing you the freedom to manage your own routine and drive from area to area (full detailed directions will be provided), whilst making use of the expertise of local guides for in-depth guided excursions in each location. A fully guided option is possible, as are alterations to reduce or extend the duration of the itinerary.

Suggested itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart UK

  2. Days 2-3 : Arrive Windhoek, transfer to Okonjima

    Upon arrival, you will be met by our representatives who will drive you the short distance to collect your 4x4 vehicle. A full briefing and introduction to the vehicle and its equipment will be provided before you get behind the wheel and begin your journey, normally late morning - before lunch!

    You will follow a lead car, through Windhoek, in order to be safely guided onto the main road that leads north and after only about 2 hours, you will reach Okonjima, home of the Africat Foundation, where you will be able to unpack and relax in the beautiful private reserve.

    Suggested accommodation: Okonjima Main Camp, 2 nights, full board. 
    Activities: Game drive, game walk, education centre visit

  3. Days 4-5 : Ongava Private Reserve & Etosha National Park

    Leaving after breakfast, it is only another 3 hours’ drive north to the gates of Etosha National Park.

    Suggested accommodation: Private Lodge, Ongava Private Reserve, 2 nights, full board.
    Activities: Etosha National Park Game drives

  4. Day 6: Western Pan, Etosha National Park or Northern Damaraland

    There are two options today; either continue exploring Etosha National Park and drive through its very remote and barren Western Pan to a highly luxurious small private lodge on the edge of the park’s western boundary, or drive into the stunningly beautiful northern reaches of Damaraland, an ancient and culturally important area of the country which is home to the Damara tribe.

    Twyfelfontein is a rocky site situated in the Kunene Region of north western Namibia and contains one of the largest and most important concentrations of rock art in Africa. There are some 2,500 rock engravings on 212 slabs of rock, with an additional 13 panels embracing further examples of rock paintings. Stone artefacts and 'stone tool manufacturing debris' can also be found here.

    As Twyfelfontein lies in a valley, it is flanked by the slopes of a sandstone table mountain, covered in a hard patina. The early Stone Age artists, probably the work of San hunters, chiselled through this incrustation to produce their art work and in time the patina reformed over the engravings protecting them from weathering. Stone Age hunters and animals were attracted to this small perennial spring, the only one of its kind in the area.

    Suggested accommodation: private lodge in Western Pan Etosha OR Twfelfontein, 1 night, full board.

    Important Note: due to its exclusivity, to stay in the private lodge of Etosha’s western pan, we advise booking at least one year in advance, to avoid disappointment.

    Activities: Cultural sites: Ancient rock art, the petrified forest, Dora Norwas (organ pipe rocks)

  5. Day 7: Into the Kunene and its Ephemeral Rivers

    Whether you are waking up in Twfelfontein or the Western Pan of Etosha, it will only be a maximum of a 2 hour drive to a private lodge in the Palmwag or Etendekka concessions. Arriving by the late morning, you will leave your own vehicle at the lodge and rendezvous with your local guiding team, who will lead a 4x4 expedition into the heart of the Kunene. For the next four days you will be passengers of a 4x4 vehicle driven by your guide in search of desert adapted elephant, rhino and perhaps some of the more elusive predators that roam this painfully beautiful region.

    This safari starts by heading into the breathtaking landscapes of a mountainous area teeming with game. Springbok, oryx, kudu, ostrich, jackal, zebra, giraffe, hyena, occasionally lion, leopard and cheetah provide excellent photographic opportunities for wildlife photography in this vast open wilderness area. With a bit of luck you will encounter the endangered black rhino and the famous desert elephant, which roam the area in absolute freedom.

    The trail continues through game rich valleys and river beds, through gorges and past springs in search of fresh tracks and, if lucky, you will follow the guide for a few kilometres on foot and hopefully have the opportunity to enjoy the spellbinding experience of finding the rhino or the elephant in its natural habitat.

    Accommodation: mobile tented camp, 1 night, full board
    Activities: Guided game drive & walking safari

  6. Day 8: Ephemeral Rivers of Kaokoland

    After breakfast a short hike is usually taken, to briefly inspect the night’s game activities around camp, before continuing into the upper Mudorib River where there is a good chance of encountering black rhino or desert elephant, despite the dry and harsh desert environment.

    Later today you will arrive in the Hoanib River, a dry river bed densely overgrown with nutritious acacia trees providing the necessary fodder for the desert adapted elephant. Here, there are optimal chances to encounter one of the breeding herds of these giant creatures during the following game viewing drives through the valleys and side arms of this unique natural paradise.

    Accommodation: mobile tented camp, 1 night, full board
    Activities: Guided game drive & walking safari

  7. Day 9: Ephemeral Rivers of Kaokoland

    It will be an early departure today, in a northerly direction, following the course of the Tsuxub river all along the eastern skeleton coast boundary into the Hoarusib river. Once again, you will have a good opportunity to encounter plains game and desert elephant.

    This afternoon’s camp will be set up in the Purros community camp site with sharing ablutions and you can have the afternoon visiting a himba village in the area, and then enjoy a sundowner excursion into the scenic and beautiful Hoarusib river.

    Accommodation: mobile tented camp, 1 night, full board
    Activities: Guided game drives, Himba experience

  8. Day 10: Ephemeral Rivers of Kaokoland

    Your return journey will bring you back to the starting point of this mini expedition, and follow the game filled valley of the Gomatum river.

    Again, the experience of finding a breeding herd of desert elephant will be the highlight of today’s journey and a brief visit to the village of Sesfontein and its fort is well worth it; a previous Schutztruppe outpost of the former German colonial time and its six natural springs providing the village with fresh water.

    A picnic lunch will be taken and you can enjoy a refreshing swim in the pools of warm water at Ongongo, before arriving back at a lodge in the Palmwag area in the late afternoon.

    Accommodation: private lodge, 1 night, full board
    Activities: Guided game drives

  9. Day 11: Swakopmund via Skeleton Coast National Park

    Today you will head south and take what is arguably one of the most impressive roads in the country – perhaps even Southern Africa! Also known as the “Highway to Hell”, a graded gravel road heads due west, through the low lying dunes of the Skeleton Coast for almost 100kms until it reaches the shores of the South Atlantic Ocean.

    From a point near Torra Bay, the road then heads south and slowly edges its way ever closer to the shores of the ocean until finally, you find yourself driving on its beaches and negotiating your way around the wrecks of vessels old and new.

    Here, a safari is less about the wildlife (though seal colonies are major attractions along the coast), and more about witnessing the beautiful landscapes, shaped and eroded by the unrelenting elements of this brutal coastline.

    The journey will take most of the day, and upon exiting the Skeleton Coast National Park, a tarred road will hug the coastline until you reach the colonial town of Swakopmund, where you will have two nights and a full day to rest, refuel and enjoy an array of wonderful seafood restaurants (and exquisite apple strudel!).

    Accommodation: guesthouse, 2 nights, full board
    Activities: various optional activities including a sea-kayaking seal safari, or dolphin watching

  10. Day 13: Edge of the Namib

    Leaving Swakopmund, your journey will continue along the coast until Walvis Bay were you will head into the awesome Namib Desert.

    Seldom visited by tourists, and heavily restricted by a concession, the Desert Research Foundation is situated on the Kuiseb and is one of the most important natural sites of the entire country.

    Flowing only once every 5 to 10 years, the Kuiseb River is one of the largest and rarest of all the ephemeral rivers in the country and forms a natural barrier preventing the ever ‘north-blown’ Namib Desert from pressing further up the country.

    Here, the desert falls from the sky like a curtain; towering dunes descending into the dried river bed in one enormous wall of orange Kalahari sand. Researchers and scientists travel from all over the world to study desert adapted species, desert climates, arid vegetation and many more subjects here, and a small selection of basic overnight accommodation allow visitors to be given a tour of the facilities, and understand more about the importance of this awesome location.

    Accommodation: hut accommodation, 1 night, self catering (full board may be possible on request)
    Activities: Research Station Tour, Kuiseb walk, scorpion walk, guided astronomy tour

  11. Day 14: Heart of the Namib

    Leaving the Desert Research Foundation, you will rejoin the main road which leads into the Namib-Naukluft National Park, where the landscapes become a mass of hard rock and the geological scars of plate-technics, reveal vertical lines of strata cutting deep into the Tiras and Naukluft Mountains.

    Slowly the desert re-appears, first as a far and distant mirage of orange before becoming ever more present and impossible to ignore. 

    Accommodation: private lodge, 2 nights, full board
    Activities: Living Desert tour

  12. Day 16: Windhoek

    You will have the day to return to Windhoek, where your vehicle can either be collected from your accommodation, or you can deliver to the depot and be transferred.

    There are plenty of good restaurants in the capital to enjoy an evening meal, and excursions out to the townships, where women’s collectives have formed themselves as local charities providing much needed employment and support to the local community are a great places to purchase authentic hand-made souvenirs including jewellery, cloths, and toys.

    Accommodation: guest house, 1 night, breakfast included

  13. Day 17: Depart Windhoek

    Depending upon your flight time, you may have time to enjoy a morning tour of the township and do some souvenir shopping, before then being transferred to the airport for an overnight flight back to the UK.

  14. Day 18: Arrive UK

You should note: The following additional options can easily be incorporated into the itinerary: Waterberg Plateau, Spitzkoppe, Kolmanskopp & Luderitz, trekking in the Naukluft Mountains or Fish River Canyon, 3 nights fly-in safari (Skeleton Coast private Concession),

Key info

Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 18 days from £4,745 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 16 days from £3,745 pp
  • When to go: Apr-Jan
  • Activities available:
    • Camping
    • Culture
Featured locations:

The Africat Foundation

The Africat Foundation is set high upon the edge of a rugged escarpment with beautiful panoramic views. The surrounding woodland is a birdwatcher’s paradise sustaining over 200 species and their cheetah project provides a fascinating insight to their welfare work and opportunities to track on foot or in vehicles.

  • Where: Otjozondjupa Region
  • Ideal for viewing: cheetah, Hartlaub’s francolin, leopard, Monteiro’s hornbill, rockrunner
  • Excellent for: Walking safaris, Vehicle safaris

Etosha National Park & Ongava Reserve

Etosha is considered to be one of the finest sanctuaries in southern Africa. It is famous for its vast, dazzling saltpan with permanent waterholes, which attract a multitude of wildlife particularly during the dry winter. The neighbouring Ongava Private Game Reserve offers the attraction of tracking rhino on foot.

  • Where: Oshikoto & Oshana Region
  • Ideal for viewing: black rhino, black-faced impala, damara dik-dik, African elephant, lion
  • Excellent for: Walking safaris, Vehicle safaris, Just Conservation

Damaraland

Damaraland is an ancient area of arid plains, deep chasms and dramatic red, rocky peaks, dominated by the huge Brandberg Mountain. With the Atlantic coast nearby, sea mists drift inland providing sustenance to various desert life forms and natural laws of food and water dictate the movement of the desert elephant.

  • Where: Erongo Region
  • Ideal for viewing: black rhino, desert elephant, springbok, white-tailed shrike, augur buzzard
  • Excellent for: Walking safaris, Vehicle safaris

Namib Naukluft Park & Sossusvlei

The Namib Desert is the oldest in the world and, with no light pollution and clear night skies virtually guaranteed, it is also one of southern Africa’s finest stargazing areas. However, the most remarkable sight is at Sossusvlei, where the world’s highest sand dunes tower more than 300 metres.

  • Where: Karas, Hardap & Erongo Regions
  • Ideal for viewing: aardwolf, cape fox, gemsbok, springbok, lanner falcon
  • Excellent for: Walking safaris, Vehicle safaris

Swakopmund

Swakopmund is a charming Germanic seaside town, from where there are many excursions. In particular, Walvis Bay has huge colonies of Cape fur seals and is a world-renowned sanctuary for over 160,000 resident birds, as well as a feeding station for around 200,000 waders and terns on their migration routes.

  • Where: Erongo Region
  • Ideal for viewing: cape fur seal, Heaviside’s dolphin, Damara tern, Namaqua chameleon, yellow mongoose

Windhoek

The pleasant, relatively modern city of Windhoek is Namibia’s capital, and is the starting point of most wildlife safaris. A small city of contrasts, it combines modern Europe with modern Africa, together with a sprinkling of attractive old buildings of German architecture.

  • Where: Windhoek
  • Excellent for: City stopover

The Skeleton Coast

The Skeleton Coast is one of the most beautiful places on earth, with everything from soaring dunes and plains to deep canyons, mountains, saltpans and freshwater springs. Travelling by light aircraft provides stunning views of the shipwreck littered coastline and its remarkable natural features.

  • Where: Erongo & Kunene Regions
  • Ideal for viewing: brown hyena, cape fur seal, desert elephant, gemsbok, Hartmann’s mountain zebra
  • Excellent for: Walking safaris, Flying safaris, Vehicle safaris
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Kulala Desert Lodge

Kulala Desert Lodge consists of 12 thatched and canvas chalets in the heart of the Namib Desert, in a large private reserve bordering the Namib-Naukluft Park. The main verandah overlooks a waterhole, and there are early morning guided drives to the nearby spectacular red dunes of Sossusvlei.

Little Kulala

This luxurious desert retreat is situated in the private Kulala Wilderness Reserve, bordering the Namib-Naukluft National Park and adjacent to the dunes of Sossusvlei. Each of the eleven thatched, climate-controlled kulalas has its own plunge pool and rooftop skybed for romantic stargazing.

Little Ongava Camp

Little Ongava is the ideal camp from which to base your activities when visiting Etosha. Its wonderful chalets are built along the crest of a hill with spectacular views onto the plains below. Accommodation comprises three spacious suites, each with their own plunge pool and a view of the floodlit waterhole.

Okonjima Plains Camp

Home to the AfriCat Foundation, one of the world’s largest cheetah and leopard rescue programmes, the design of this camp is a tribute to the history of cattle-farming in Okonjima. The complex offers three levels of accommodation, and there is a traditional thatched area for dining.

Ongava Lodge

This luxurious property is on one of the largest private reserves in Namibia, and offers accommodation for 20 guests in ten comfortable chalets. The lodge has a floodlit waterhole, and wildlife activities include safaris in both Ongava Game Reserve and Etosha, walking safaris and night drives.

Ongava Tented Camp

This camp is one of Namibia’s best kept secrets. Located in the much-lauded Ongava Game Reserve, south of Etosha National Park, it overlooks a nearby waterhole. Constructed from stone, canvas and thatch, the camp accommodates 16 guests in eight large, comfortable, Meru-style tents.

Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp

Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp is a luxury lodge situated on a large private reserve, affording easy access to Sossusvlei, but also offering privacy and exclusivity. Built into a mountain using rock, timber and thatch, it provides a cool refuge, with spectacular views across the desert to the rugged mountains and dunes..

Wolwedans Dune Camp

Positioned on the edge of a 250-metre high dune in a totally pristine setting, Dune Camp sleeps a maximum of 12 guests in comfortable and spacious tents. A generous deck allows for safe sleep-outs under the stars, and the charm of the camp lies in its tranquil, intimate atmosphere.

Wolwedans Dune Lodge

Perched on a top of a dune plateau, Dunes Lodge offers panoramic vistas in all directions, and makes a perfect base for exploring the awe-inspiring desert. Accommodation is in nine spacious chalets with en-suite bathrooms and private verandah, and there is also a swimming pool suspended above the sand.