NAMIBIAN HIGHLIGHTS EXTENDED (9 Nights/10 Days)
This tour gives you an insight into Namibia’s main attractions, mainly the sand dunes, the coast, semi-arid Damaraland, Etosha National Park and one of the renowned conservation organization on a private game reserve, the AfriCat Foundation. We will spend more time at the coast, Damaraland and Etosha National Park. This implies that in Damaraland, we have a chance of tracking the infamous Desert Adapted Elephants in one of the 12 ephemeral rivers in Namibia. We will experience hands on conservation efforts on the Okonjima Private Game Reserve, which is home to the AfriCat Foundation and the latter is dedicated to the big carnivore conservation. The southern side of Namibia has a unique biome, different from most parts of the sub-region.
Scenic Drive to Sossusvlei, Afternoon Sundowner Drive
Dead Vlei, Sand Dune Climbing (“Big Daddy” or Dune 45), Sossusvlei, Sesriem Canyon, Scenic Drive, Walvis Bay Lagoon
Catamaran Tour, Sandwich Harbour Tour, Living Desert Tour
Drive through Skeleton Coast National Park, Shipwrecks, Cape Cross Seal Reserve
Desert Adapted Elephant Tracking, Rock Engravings
Etosha National Park
Petrified Forest enroute to Etosha, Afternoon Game Drive in Etosha
Etosha National Park
Full day Game Drive from South to East Etosha
Etosha National Park
Morning and Afternoon Game Drive in Eastern Etosha
AfriCat Foundation Centre, Leopard Tracking
Day 1– Sossusvlei
Your guide will pick you up either from the airport or accommodation in Windhoek. We will drive southwards to the desert through scenic landscapes that may include mountain passes depending on the road being used. You will have a lunch stop along the way to Sossusvlei. We will be in Sossusvlei area before sunset and enjoy the sundowner drive in the desert.
Day 2– Swakopmund
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 a visit to the Sossusvlei we will then visit the Sesriem Canyon. It is about a kilometer long and 30 (100ft) meters deep and might have some water, quite important for animals to drink it. After lunch we will make our way to the Coast past scenic Gaub and Kuiseb passes. We will go past Walvis Bay Lagoon for some interesting water birds including Flamingoes. We will then overnight in Swakopmund and enjoy some dinner in some of the best restaurants.
Day 3– 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 you 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 will 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.
After this busy day, your guide will pick you up to Swakopmund.
Day 4- Damaraland
We will leave the Coastal environment, drive inland past a couple of Shipwrecks. This day we will visit 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. It could be the second largest city in Namibia if these animals were humans! After this activity, we will then go 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. It is described as the world’s largest ship cemetery because of various shipwrecks found along the coast. The Bushman called the coast “the land God made with anger” and early Portuguese explorers refer to it as “Gates of Hell”. However, the name Skeleton Coast refers to visible bones of whales that died when they get stranded on this coastline. This is a rarely visited park in Namibia with eye-catching landscapes that ranges from sweeping vistas of windswept smaller sand dunes, to rugged canyons with walls of richly coloured rocks and extensive mountain ranges. Wildlife here includes Oryx, Springbok, Black-backed Jackal, Ostrich, Brown Hyeana, Desert Adapted Elephant, Black Rhino and Lion. Because of the harshness of the area, these animals do not occur in huge numbers and not very easily spotted, so let’s keep our eyes peeled.
Day 5- Damaraland
We will explore the Aba-Huab and Huab Rivers in search for desert adapted wildlife including Elephants, Black Rhino, Oryx, Springbok, Giraffe among others. After lunch, 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. It is a 45-minute walk conducted by local guides.
Day 6- Etosha South
After breakfast, we will proceed to the Petrified Forest. This is a geological formation that happened 280 million years ago. Huge trees were carried by a river and buried here. Sand was deposited around them, creating ideal conditions for the cells of the wood to be replaced by silica and thus became petrified. It is thought these trees are Dadoxylon arberi, the same tree responsible for coal fields in Europe. This is a half an hour walk done by knowledgeable local guides. We will proceed to Etosha and we should be in time for an afternoon game drive.
Day 7- Etosha East
We will have a full day game drive in our own vehicle. This includes a lunch stop somewhere in the park. 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 from the southern to the eastern part of the park.
Day 8- Etosha East
We will have more of a relaxed day of morning and afternoon game drives in the eastern part of Etosha, with a 3 to 4 hour break in between. This implies we will be back at the lodge around mid-day and go back into the park late afternoon. Enjoy the siesta or swimming pool and the tranquility of the lodge. Besides the 114 mammals found here, 340 bird species are known to occur in Etosha National Park. About a third are migratory including European Bee-eater, and several species of waders. Ten of Etosha’s 35 raptor species are migratory. Those mostly commonly seen are Lappet-faced Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Hooded Vulture, and on very rare occasion, Cape, Egyptian and Palm-nut Vultures have been recorded. 8 species of Owls have been recorded, including Pearl-spotted Owlet and White-faced Scops-Owl.
Day 9- Okonjima Nature Reserve
After an early morning start, we will make our way 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. Before lunch, 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 the ambassador Cheetahs during this tour. We will go for Leopard tracking in the afternoon.
Day 10- Windhoek
Depending on your outbound flight, we either leave early or do a morning game drive at Okonjima and overnight in Windhoek. This marks the end of our trip