This 18 night self-drive trip around Namibia takes in all the major highlights of this fascinating country, starting from Windhoek all the way south to the Fish River Canyon, across to the coast to Swakopmund, then further north to Damaraland and Etosha and ending with tracking leopards. If you have the time, this will certainly be a holiday you will never forget.
Namibia gives you a feeling of grand emptiness found in very few places on the planet. Here, you can drive for hours and encounter only a couple of cars on the road, making you seem magically and wonderfully alone in a barely-discovered Africa.
Highlights of this itinerary include:
Sundowners in the Kahalari Desert
Visiting the Fish River Canyon at sunrise - Africa's second largest canyon
Watching the wild horses canter across the Namib Desert
Exploring the ghost town of Kolmanskop - once a thriving diamond boom town, now just long forgotten and buried in the sand
Climbing the red sand dunes at Sossusvlei for that 'top of the world' feeling
Sandboarding or quad biking at Swakopmund
Tracking the desert elephant in Damaraland
Exciting game drives in Etosha National Park
Morning bush walk as the sun rises over the African bush
Tracking leopard and knowing that you are contributing towards a non-profit organisation whose mission is to save Namibia's last carnivores by staying here
You need to be prepared to do a lot of driving, but it will definately be worth it!
Arrive into Windhoek Airport. Go through Immigration, collect your luggage and clear Customs, then make your way into the Arrivals Hall. You will be met here by your transfer driver, he will wait for you in Arrivals with a name board. There is an ATM and a money exchange booth at the airport so you should be able to change or withdraw money if you need to. They are not always open/working but there are other options in the centre of town. The drive into Windhoek takes around 45 minutes, so you can relax in air-conditioned luxury and enjoy the scenery on the way to your first destination.
Galton House is situated in Windhoek's affluent suburb of Eros, and is a haven of peace and tranquility.
Once you have checked in, our representative will call to see you and go through your itinerary in detail, answering any last minute questions you may have and handing over a full holiday pack, including full directions and a map, a cell phone with a pre-paid SIM, a first aid kit, a cool box and Emergency Evacuation Cover.
Your hire car will also be delivered during this time, and our representative will help you with the paperwork.
18 Day Car Rental: Group W (Ford Ranger Double Cab 4x4 or Similar)
Set off after a leisurely breakfast for the drive to Kalahari Anib Lodge, which is located about 3 hours south of Windhoek. Each room either overlooks the Kalahari open savanna or the pool area. Morning or sunset game drives are the perfect way to getting acquainted with the Kalahari Desert. With panoramic views across the Kalahari dunes, this is something to remember forever.
Head off this morning for the 440 km drive to Fish River Lodge - the only lodge situated directly on the edge of Namibia's Fish River Canyon, with breath taking views over the canyon from sunrise to sunset. The Fish River Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world and during your stay here, awaken your senses with an easy un-guided walk from the lodge along the rim of the canyon, providing spectacular scenery, space to breathe and time to reflect.
Your next stop on this trip is Aus - home to the legendary wild horses who live in the surrounding Namib Desert and also close to the eerie ghost town of Kolmanskop, where the desert sand has blown in and around the deserted buildings here, burying some almost completely in sand.
Set off after breakfast for the 5 hour drive (approximate) to Desert Homestead Outpost. Set within a 7,000 acre private nature reserve, Desert Homestead Outpost offers endless panoramic views from every room or from the restaurant, lounge and pool terrace. On your full day here, set off early for the drive to Sossusvlei itself. An endless sea of shifting sand dunes, Sossusvlei is a worldwide sensation and easily Namibia's most iconic feature. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013, this far-reaching wave of giant orange dunes stands in startling contrast to the deep blues skies overhead and is punctuated only by stretches of cracked white vlei scattered with petrified trees.
Drive to Swakopmund (approx 370 km / 5 h 30 mins), Namibia's busiest resort town which offers a huge array of activities, an interesting German heritage, and is also home to some of the friendliest people in Southern Africa. Maybe visit the nearby seal colony, or just enjoy a day of relaxation at this mid-way point of the trip.
Allow about 5 hours to drive to Camp Kipwe. Huddled in the rocks, with sweeping views across the Aba Huab valley, Camp Kipwe is full of surprises, starting when you first arrive. It appears as if rocks have tumbled down the hill to reveal this gem of a camp. Enjoy an early morning game drive in search of elusive desert dwelling elephants, hike in the ancient surroundings of the Aba Huab River or travel back in time at Twyfelfontein, Namibia's first World Heritage Site.
Drive to the Etosha National Park (approx 450 km / 5 h 30 mins) and onto Okaukuejo Camp, which is situated in the Park itself. The main attraction of Okaukuejo Camp is that it overlooks a permanent waterhole which is floodlit at night. Here a wide diversity of wildlife congregate and interact from lion to rhino to elephant and antelope. The spectacle starts at dawn, with animals coming in large numbers to quench their thirst. The activity continues throughout the day until late at night. In the early evenings, it is not uncommon to have black rhino, elephant and lion all drinking at the same time. During your stay here, drive across Etosha's plains in your own car, searching out the wildlife.
Spend the day driving across the Park and onto Onguma Bush Camp - an old-world style safari camp. The lounge and dining areas overlook a stunning waterhole that affords great opportunities to see nature at play around the clock. You don’t even have to leave the camp to see game – they come to you!
Africa takes on a new perspective when you experience it on foot as the first explorers did. A bush walk is a unique physical, mental and spiritual adventure through nature. Experience the sights, smells and sounds of the Namibian bush by conducting an early morning leisurely walk accompanied by an experienced armed ranger. When you return from your walk, head off in your own car again to explore Etosha for the last time.
Drive to Okonjima Nature Reserve (approx 215 km / 2 h 30 mins). Situated halfway between Windhoek and the Etosha National Park, Okonjima Nature Reserve is equally famed for frequent cheetah and leopard sightings on its safaris, as well as The AfriCat Foundation. Since being founded in 1991, AfriCat's mission has been to make significant contributions to conservation, while trying to ensure the survival of Namibia's predators in their natural habitat. It undertakes research, community support and environmental education projects, as well as conservation work to rehabilitate carnivores such as cheetah and hyena.
Depart this morning on a guided Leopard Tracking Activity. This activity offers the best chance to view wild leopard in Namibia, as well as those collared for research purposes, in their natural habitats. Research programme leopard are actively tracked during the drive, and their collars are also an invaluable resource for locating, and then returning to the reserve, cats which have migrated to surrounding farmland where they are perceived as threats to livestock. During the drive, the guides log all the information about the tracked leopards. To date, this research has uncovered some amazing facts - so for example, its was always thought that leopards were completely solitary and a mother will raise the cub alone, now they know that when a female gives birth, she introduces the cub to the sire, and OCCASIONALLY Okonjima have spotted the father leopard on baby sitting duties while the mother hunts. This behavior has never been recorded anywhere else in the world.
This afternoon, a highlight at Okonjima is learning about their big-cat passion with a visit to the headquarters of The AfriCat Foundation at the Carnivore Care Centre. After an informative afternoon, end the day with a sundowner in an area of the Okonjima Nature Reserve which has a high density of the secretly-social and rarely-seen brown hyena.
Drive back to Windhoek's Hosea Kutako International Airport, return your hire car at the Car Rental Returns, and check in for your flight home. Passengers are advised to check in 2.5 hours prior to their international flight departure.