CONSERVATION SAFARI (16 Days / 15 Nights)
Namibia was the first country in the world to include environmental protection in its constitution. Approximately 17% of its surface area is protected either as a national park, game reserve, conservancy exceeding the 10% prescribed by IUCN. The Marine Protected Area stretches 400km along the coast and 30km offshore. Protection of the Black Rhino in western arid regions has resulted in Namibia being one of the few countries in Africa with growing populations within as well as outside national parks. In private sector, several Non-Governmental Organisations assist the government in conservation and development. These include the Namibia Nature Foundation, Save the Rhino Trust, Cheetah Conservation Fund, AfriCat Foundation and the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations (15 NGOs and University of Namibia). A total of 161 private game reserves are registered with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. During this 16-day tour we will be visiting some of the prime conservation areas, including game reserves and Organisations, getting to experience some conservation work while enjoying wildlife and scenery.
Day 1 & 2
Okonjima (AfriCat Foundation)
Leopard Tracking, White Rhino Tracking on foot, Pangolin Tracking, Visit to the AfriCat Centre
Day 3 & 4
Visit the Cheetah Conservation Fund and Wildlife Veterinary Centre, Game Drives in Etosha
Day 5 & 6
Full Day Game Drive in Etosha West, Night Drive, Game Drive in Hobatere Concession, Learn more about Lion/Farmer Conflict
Day 7 & 8
Hoanib River Game Drive, Desert Adapted Lion Conservation
Day 9 & 10
Sundowner Drive, Game Drive, Desert Adapted Black Rhino Tracking on foot
Desert Adapted Elephant Tracking, UNESCO World Heritage Site Visit (Rock Engravings)
Day 12 & 13
Skeleton Coast National Park Drive, Cape Cross Seal Reserve, Living Desert Tour, Catamaran and Sandwich Harbour Tours
Namib Desert Preservation- Sand Dunes, Deadvlei, Sesriem Canyon
Overnight in Windhoek
Outbound Flight from Windhoek
Day 1- Okonjima (The AfriCat Foundation)
After meeting your Specialist Guide, you will drive to Okonjima Nature Reserve, which is the home to the AfriCat Foundation. Founded in 1993, the AfriCat Foundation is primarily dedicated to conservation of large carnivores. The Foundation lies on a 22000 hectare Okonjima Private Game Reserve. This afternoon you will visit the center and learn more about Namibia’s carnivores and their fight for survival and the Human-Wildlife Conflict challenges that face both man and carnivore. Both Okonjima and AfriCat are dedicated to creating conservation awareness through environmental education at all ages and levels, rehabilitation and reintroduction programmes, and conducts constructive wildlife research. We get a chance to see their ambassador Cheetahs during this tour.
Day 2- Okonjima (The AfriCat Foundation)
We will go for White Rhino tracking. Okonjima is home to a small population of Southern White Rhino that are constantly monitored by the reserve’s anti-poaching team. On this activity, guests will do a walking safari where we will approach the rhino on foot. The activity is more of a game drive first with high chances of encountering one of the collared leopards that are wild and free roaming in this 220km2 closed ecosystem. Other mammals found here include Plains and Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Oryx, Brown Hyeana, Giraffe, Chacma Baboon, Greater Kudu, Sable Antelope, Aardvark, among others.
In the afternoon, we will go for Pangolin tracking. The reserve has a healthy population of this elusive and endangered mammal and they conducting a research, therefore they have some that can be tracked using VHF radio telemetry. Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal worldwide hence threatening their future survival. All 8 species of pangolin worldwide are listed on the IUCN’s red list of threatened species and prohibited from international commercial trade under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). All though our primary focus will be pangolin, we are still conducting a game drive and chances of seeing other mammals along the way. Special birds include Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, Rockrunner, Damara Red-billed Hornbill, Monteiro’s Hornbill, White-tailed Shrike, Yellow morph of Crimson-breasted Shrike, Ruppell’s Korhaan, Carp’s Tit among others.
Day 3- Etosha South
After breakfast we will head towards Etosha, past the Cheetah Conservation Fund. CCF was established in 1990 to develop a permanent conservation research centre for Cheetah. The aim of the organization is to secure habitats for the long term survival of cheetah and their ecosystem through multi-disciplined and integrated programs of conservation, research and education. Besides seeing their ambassador cheetahs, we will learn more on historic distribution of the Cheetah and how their range and numbers have diminished. We learn how they breed the Anatolian shepherd and Kangal dogs to become livestock guard dogs. Now, and for thousands of years, the breed is used to guard small livestock against wolves and bears in Turkey. These are placed with Namibian farmers as puppies. The puppies bond with the herd or flock. As they grow up, their size and loud bark help to scare predators away. After lunch we will make our way to Etosha and do the afternoon game drive in the Etosha National Park.
Day 4- Etosha South
We have a full day in the Etosha National Park, with a lunch/siesta break in between. It is a 22 270 km2 park with 114 mammal species and over 350 bird species. Etosha means “Great White Place” in local Oshindonga language, referring to the 4800 km2 salt pan that covers 23% of the park’s surface area. Mammals include Black and White Rhinoceros, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, African elephant, Plains and Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras, Southern Giraffe subs. angolensis, Eland, Gemsbok, African Wild Cat, Spotted and Brown Hyeana among other animals. It was declared a game reserve in 1907. The area was approximately 100 000 km2 covering the current park and most of Kaokoland- between the Kunene and Hoarusib rivers. The aim was to stem the rapid depletion of the animals in the area and protect all of the land through which seasonal migrations passed. It was reduced to 60 000 km2 in 1958 and to the current size in 1970.
Day 5- Hobatere
We have another full day in the Etosha, driving from the southern part to the less visited western Etosha. This park is semi-arid hence animals depend on contact springs, water level springs, artesian springs and a couple of man-made waterholes for water. We will be visiting these waterholes all day along as we drive through the park. Hobatere is outside the park on the western side and belongs to #Khoadi//Hoas Conservancy. The primary objective is to increase the benefits to the local community, reducing human-wildlife conflict and also conservation of the area. Covering an area of 8 808 hectares, this concession is a conservation success story because the of creation of Trust Fund for Traditional Authorities financially benefits the conservancy and contributes to reducing human-wildlife conflict. The fund also provides tuition fees for students from families who cannot afford them. The lodge supports the community with projects such as building clinics, schools, water points and a community kitchen for the elderly and vulnerable people. After dinner we will go for a night drive, with luck we might encounter nocturnal animals like Aardvark, Cape Fox, Bat-eared Fox, Aardwolf, Small Spotted Genet.
Day 6- Hobatere
We will do both morning and afternoon game drives around the concession with local guides. We will learn more about the plant and bird life, admire the amazing termite mound structures among big mopane trees. If we are lucky, we might even spot a herd of elephants or local pride of lions, while birding enthusiasts will appreciate the large variety of species. AfriCat North, primarily the AfriCat Foundation field-base for lion research, human-wildlife conflict mitigation and community support. They operate around Hobatere concession and other areas western Etosha. The Namibian Lion Trust is an NGO that conducts research and monitoring of Lions outside Etosha where coexist with cattle farming communities. Their conservation programs including employment of local Lion Guards, GPS collaring and Predator Proof pens to mitigate lion-farmer conflict.
Day 7- Hoanib River
After breakfast, we will drive towards the desert into one of the most important conservation ephemeral rivers in Namibia, the Hoanib River. Being 270 km in length, the Hoanib River goes all the way to the sea and borders northern Damaraland and Kaokoland. There are thriving populations of Desert Adapted Elephants, Oryx, Steenbok, Springbok, Black-backed Jackals, Small spotted Genets, Southern Giraffe subs. Angolensis among others.
Day 8- Hoanib River
We will do a full day game drive in search of desert-adapted wildlife. As far as conservation is concerned we will learn more about Desert Adapted Lion Conservation. With approximately 120 of their kind left, Desert Adapted Lions are a rare group of carnivores that have adapted to survive in one of the harshest, most unforgiving landscapes on earth. With numbers dwindling as human encroachment threaten their future, sightings are few and far between. However, with luck, one might see them. They are asset to Namibia and we need to conserve and manage them wisely for the benefit of the Namibian people, as well as the broader international community. The Desert Lion Conservation in a renowned organization that collaborates with Government, local communities, the tourism industry, and NGOs to further lion conservation and address human-lion conflict. They basically collect baseline ecological data on the population dynamics, behaviour, and movements of lions.
Day 9- Palmwag/Grootberg Area
We will drive after breakfast to Palmwag Concession. It covers 4500km2 wilderness area not bordered by any fence. After lunch we will relax before embarking on a sundowner drive in our own vehicle in the afternoon.
Day 10- Palmwag/Grootberg Area
An early morning starts with a packed breakfast; we will head out in search of Desert Adapted Black Rhino. We will be taken by local guides and Rhino Rangers. The Namib Desert is home to the last truly wild stronghold of black rhino. This activity involves 4 x 4 driving in a rugged terrain, and walking safari to get to the rhinos if lucky. These mammals are not in a fenced area but in an open ecosystem. It is a joint venture of the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the communities, Save Rhino Trust and other Non-Governmental Organizations in conservation of Black Rhinos. The programme of Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) seeks to empower people living in rural areas to manage and benefit from their natural resources. This activity might take the whole day, however there is still a possibility of a late afternoon sundowner drive in our vehicle.
Day 11- Twyfelfontein
We will head towards Twyfelfontein after breakfast, exploring the Huab and Aba-Huab Riverbeds in search for Desert Adapted Elephants. We will learn more about an organization: Elephant-Human Relations Aid (EHRA) whose mission is to implement practical solutions that help combat elephant-human conflict, and thereby secure a future for Namibia’s desert elephants. One of their approach is building protective walls around water points, educating locals on conflict mitigation tactics and continuous monitoring of the different elephant herds. In this desert, Elephants, livestock and humans share water points of which water is very scarce. This results in conflicts. In the afternoon, we will visit the Bushman Rock Engravings around Twyfelfontein. This area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, and consists of over 40 000 rock engravings done by the San people 2000 years ago. This is a 45-minute walk and conducted by local guides.
Day 12- Swakopmund
After breakfast we will head to the coast through the Skeleton Coast National Park. The Namibian Skeleton Coast National Park is renowned for its cold and unpredictable Benguela Current of the Atlantic Ocean that contends with the dune and desert landscape. After lunch we will make our way to the Cape Cross Seal Reserve. This is a 60km2 Reserve and has the largest Seal Colony in the world, with numbers up to 240 000 at a given time. There is a lot of controversy in terms of conservation of Cape Fur Seals versus harvesting them.
Day 13- Swakopmund
We have options for this day. All optional activities start in the morning after breakfast:
The Living Desert Tour
This tour is done in the Dorob National Park, in the sand dunes. Dry bone, without a trace of moisture and as dry as a weathered bone! These terms may be used to describe this unique biome with sneaky creatures that have adapted to living in harsh environment. For these little creatures either camouflage or agility to faking deaths, helps in serving food on the table or avoid being someone’s meal somehow.
This is a 4 to 5-hour tour conducted by passionate and experienced desert specialists who are desert conservationists as well. If lucky you might see the desert “Little Five”; Shovel-nosed Lizard, Namib Sand Gecko, Namaqua Chameleon, Namib Desert Sidewinding Adder and the Cartwheeling Spider (“Dancing White Lady”). Birds of interest include Gray’s Lark, Tractrac Chat, Damara Tern among others. You should be back around lunch time and enjoy a stroll around the Swakopmund city or take any optional activities that we can arrange for you in advance.
Catamaran and Sandwich Harbour Combo.
This takes the whole day and is done in Walvis Bay. Your guide will drive you to Waterfront in Walvis Bay after breakfast. You start with the Catamaran tour, and might get entertained by Cape Fur Seals and Pelicans on the cruise. Depending on the time of the year and luck , one might encounter Whales, Dolphins, Leatherback turtle and Seals.
After lunch you then proceed to the Sandwich Harbour, on an adventure 4 x 4 sand dune driving. This is one of the 5 RAMSAR sites (Wetlands of International Importance) where the dunes meet the sea. The coastal desert environment is characterized by pale sand dunes with traces of black shades of magnetite, implying they are of greater aesthetic value as well being a photographer’s playground.
You might encounter Black-backed Jackal, Oryx, Springboks on your way in dry riverbeds. In the wetlands and mudflats there is great diversity of sea birds.
Day 14- Sossusvlei
We will drive towards Sossusvlei in the morning after breakfast. This afternoon we will visit the Sesriem Canyon.
Day 15- Windhoek
An early morning start will see us getting into the Namib Naukluft Park. Early morning light shining on the red sand dunes gives one great photographic opportunities and memories of the magnificent Namib Desert. The Namib Naukluft Park is the third largest National Park in Africa covering and area of 50 000 km2 . The Namib desert has been arid for about 80 million years, with true desert conditions predominating the last 15 to 20 million years. Various wildlife thriving in this area includes Gemsbok, Springbok, Brown Hyeana, Black-backed Jackal among others. If lucky you might see the only true Namibia Endemic bird, the Dune Lark among various birds in this area. We will visit the most photographed sand dune in the area, Dune 45. Depending on your energy levels, climbing one of the highest sand dune in the area, the Big Daddy, is quite fun. A visit to the Dead Vlei is worthwhile. This a white clay pan with dry Camel Thorn trees that are believed to have been dead 800 years ago. The area is so dry that the trees have not decomposed. After lunch, we will leave for Windhoek.
Day 16- Departure
This marks the end of our Conservation Safari.