Pre-Tour: August 4-10, 2019
Southern Namibia Highlights
- Travel with one of Namibia’s most well-known naturalist guides
- Do game drives over the yellow grasses and red sand dunes of the Kalahari.
- Photograph the strange silhouette of the Quiver Tree
- Gaze at the grand view of one of the world’s largest canyons.
- Tour the historic diamond mining ghost-town of Kolmanskop
- View the untamed horses of Namibia’s remote south
- Marvel at the astounding Landscapes surrounding the Tiras Mountains
Main Tour: August 10-22, 2019
Northern Namibia Highlights
- Travel with one of Namibia’s most well-known naturalist guides (Day 2 – 10).
- Climb some of the world’s highest free-standing sand dunes at Sossusvlei.
- Track for desert-adapted elephants.
- Visit an authentic and remote Himba settlement.
- Memorable and exciting guided game drives within the renowned Etosha National Park, from the vantage point of a specially modified, air conditioned 4×4 with pop tops.
- Game viewing at a floodlit waterhole at night.
- Visit the Cheetah Conservation Fund – the global leader in research and conservation of cheetahs
Please note hotels and lodges are subject to change.
Day 1 (04 August 2019)
Arrive in Windhoek (L, D)*
*Meals included (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
Today your local guide will meet you on your arrival at Windhoek’s International Airport off your arrival flight. You will then head by road to Na’an ku sê Lodge and Wildlife Sanctuary, located 42 km east of Windhoek. This delightful lodge and wildlife sanctuary will give you a wonderful introduction to Namibia’s wildlife and bush veldt. We suggest arriving at least by midday so that you have time this afternoon to enjoy the fantastic activities on offer, including a carnivore feeding tour and a children’s petting farm where kids can encounter young animals such as meerkats, baby steenbok and baby baboons. Dinner is included in tonight’s stay at the lodge.
Naankuse Lodge : Located just a twenty minute drive from Windhoek International airport and nestled in the stunning African veld, this Lodge is perfectly situated to start or finish a trip to Namibia. There is a range of enjoyable activities including an exciting carnivore feeding tour. The Lodge is crafted from ecologically clean material including solid logs and glass to complement the beautiful wilderness setting. Guests will find six luxurious, individual chalets and a tranquil dining area with stunning views, bar and swimming pool. There are also five beautifully appointed and fully equipped holiday houses available for hire. The Lodge provides a breathtaking backdrop for weddings and conferences. Marlice van Vuuren, one of Namibia’s most well-known conservationist, together with her husband Dr. Rudie van Vuuren and their pharmacist friend Chris Heunis started Naan Ku Se Wildlife Sanctuary in 2007. Na’an ku sê is committed to playing a key role in conservation and the protection of the Namibian wildlife, land and people. When one stays a few days at the luxurious Na’an ku sê Lodge as a guest one has the unique hands on opportunity to take part in the conservation of threatened African wildlife and vulnerable communities. All revenue from the Lodge, which is a registered charity in Namibia, goes directly to benefit our work with wildlife conservation and supporting the poverty stricken San community.
Overnight: Naan Ku Se Wildlife Sanctuary
Day 2 (05 August 2019)
Windhoek to Southern Kalahari (B, L, D)
Begin with an early breakfast at Naan Ku Se Wildlife Sanctuary after which you then depart in a southerly direction in your private safari vehicle and make your way through Rehoboth, into the Kalahari Desert. You will arrive at Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge in time for lunch. Once you have settled in at the lodge, you can spend your afternoon relaxing by the pool, before joining a scenic sundowner nature drive as offered by the lodge.
Kalahari: Kalahari sands cover much of eastern Namibia. They widen towards the north to include the Caprivi Strip and the Owambo Basin along with the Etosha Pan. Within southern Africa, the Kalahari is loosely thought of as a desert, but little of it really is. Only the southernmost part, with average rainfall of 150-250 mm per year inside Namibia, is dry enough to be described as a desert. The rest is semi-desert. A vast basin in the interior of Africa south of the equator, the Kalahari reaches into parts of Namibia from its heartland in Botswana, with a mantle of parched sand that places is over 300 m deep. Virtually devoid of surface rock and stones, it is largest expanse of sand in the world, with a total area of about 900 00 km. It spreads into nine countries between the Orange River and the equator.
Kalahari Red Dune Lodge: Set amidst the red dunes of the Kalahari, this lodge is made up of 12 freestanding chalets and a main building. Each en-suite chalet has been constructed to incorporate natural material to blend in with the natural surroundings and offers views out onto a nearby waterhole. The main building, set on a natural island in a dry lake, comprises a large sundowner terrace, a restaurant with an open fireplace where meals are served, reception area, bar and swimming pool.
Overnight: Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge
Day 3 (06 August 2019)
Kalahari to Fish River Canyon (B, L, D)
This Morning after breakfast you depart to continue driving south to Fish River Canyon where you will stay for two nights within close proximity of the Canyon viewpoints. On the journey today you will stop off at the fascinating Quiver Tree Forest and Giants Playground, located west of Keetmanshoop. You then proceed into Namibia’s Deep South and enter the 1 120 km² Gondwana Canõn Park to reach Canon Roadhouse. Gondwana Canõn Park is a stunning nature reserve providing a wonderful base from which to explore the neighbouring Ai-Ais and Fish River Canyon Transfrontier Park. This afternoon you can enjoy photography of the Fish River Canyon from the striking viewpoints at Hobas.
Quiver Tree Forest: A popular subject for photographers, the Quiver Tree Forest harbours around 300 Quiver Trees (Aloe dichotoma), also referred to by its Afrikaans name Kokerboom. Actually an aloe plant rather than a tree, these attractive succulents reach skywards with graphically forked branches, splitting into pairs, hence the name ‘dichotoma’. The Quiver Tree is one of the most interesting and characteristic plants of Namibia’s very hot and dry southern regions. The name Quiver Tree refers to the traditional use of the branches by Bushmen and Hottentot tribes to make quivers for their arrows. On average the trees are about 3 m to 5 m tall (reaching up to 9 m in height) and can be up to one meter in diameter at ground level. The larger trees in the forest are around 200 to 300 years old. They produce bright yellow flowers during the winter months (June and July) and their trunks are smooth and shiny with light creamy to silvery-grey bark which peels and forms intricate rectangular and diamond-shaped patterns as the tree matures. The Quiver Tree mostly occurs in black rock formations (dolerite), needed to anchor the plants which have a shallow spread root system.
Giants Playground: Across the road from the Quiver Tree Forest is the Giants Playground, an impressive jumble of dolerite boulders which are roughly 180 million years old. It’s called the Giant’s Playground because of the way the massive dolerite boulders are placed on top of each other like a giant’s building blocks. Molten magma pushed its way through fissures in the underlying rock, creating dolerite dykes that have since been exposed as the surrounding sedimentary rock has eroded, leaving the harder dolerite boulders to undergo further weathering into the bizarre formations we see today. Wandering through the maze of boulders is fascinating, but care must be taken not to become lost in the extensive rocky labyrinth.
Nama Karoo Desert & Gondwana Canõn Park: The Nama Karoo desert system takes up a large area in the interior of South Africa and southern Namibia, including Gondwana Canõn Park. It even reaches as far north as Angola in a narrow strip along the Great Escarpment. The Nama Karoo separates the eastern tree and shrub savannah from the Namib in the west and also marks the western border of the summer rain area. Karoo means ‘semi-desert’ in the language of the Khoi-San, however, with mean annual rainfalls of 80 to 220 mm and a water deficit factor of 15 to 25 mm the Nama Karoo can well be regarded as a desert. During the summer months (November to February) temperatures soar up to 45 degrees and in winter they may drop to minus 8 degrees, depending on the area. Compared to the neighbouring Succulent Karoo the air here is drier. This probably accounts for the fact that there are less leaf and stem succulents. Examples are the leafless Euphorbia virosa and the Aloe dichotoma (Quiver Tree). On the whole, dwarf shrubs are predominant with the exception of dry riverbeds lined by trees. Tufts of annual grasses scatter the plains. The Nama Karoo in southern Namibia was originally inhabited by the San. From about 1750 onward several Nama people started to settle there. The area between the Canyon, the Orange (Gariep) River, the Löwen River and today’s eastern border was the domain of the Bondelswart Nama.
Cañon Lodge: Cañon Lodge is located in the Gondwana Canon Park, only 20 km from the Fish River Canyon. The 25 en-suite chalets are built from natural stone and have thatched roofs. Nestled against massive granite boulders, your accommodation will leave you in no doubt about having nature on your very doorstep. A lot of the food that is served in the unique restaurant is grown locally on site – from the fresh vegetables to the cold meats and cheeses. For the more adventurous horse riding is offered and there are a number of places one is able to go to stretch ones legs.
Overnight: Cañon Lodge
Day 4 (07 August 2019)
Fish River Canyon (B, L, D)
Today will be spent exploring this remarkable area with your guide who will take you to the nearby Fish River Canyon viewpoints where the magnitude of this imposing geological feature can be best appreciated. In addition to nature drives you may like to discover less obvious wonders on foot along marked walking trails in the area. There is also the option to go horse-riding if appeals (available at extra cost as required).
Fish River Canyon: Standing at one of the lookout points at the edge of the Fish River Canyon you will catch your breath at the sight of such incredible vastness. Far below, immense gorges meander through the valley of rock. The Fish River Canyon is about 160 km long, up to 27 km wide and 500 m deep. It is considered to be the second largest canyon on earth – after the Grand Canyon in the United States. Just as impressive as the Fish River Canyon’s dimensions is the chronometry of its formation. About 350 million years ago the earth’s surface caved in along cracks in its crust and a rift valley with a width of 20 km emerged. It still is recognisable today. The Fish River chose the rift for its course. Due to the low gradient, the river meandered through the valley in wide loops; but when the ancient southern continent of Gondwana disintegrated 120 million years ago, the rims of the African fragment were lifted and the altitude in relation to the sea level rose. Starting from its mouth, the Orange River dug deeper into the earth and the Fish River, as a tributary of the Orange River, followed suit. Thus its shallow meandering riverbed turned into today’s winding system of gorges.
Overnight: Cañon Lodge
Day 5 (08 August 2019)
Fish River Canyon to Luderitz (B, L, D)
This morning is still spent on a guided walk along the edge of the canyon. After breakfast you depart in a westerly direction in your private safari vehicle, towards Luderitz. You visit small town of Aus and in the vicinity see whether you may come across the Feral Horses. You arrive in Luderitz in the later afternoon and the rest of the afternoon is at leisure. Dinner tonight is had at the hotel.
Wild Horses: An intriguing feature of the sperrgebiet is the legendary desert horses seen from the road when traveling between Luderitz and Aus. There are several theories regarding their origin. One is that they are descendants of the horse stud belonging to Baron von Wolf, who built Duwiseb Castle 160 km north east of Ghaub. A more likely theory is that they are German Schutztruppe abandoned Aus during the South West African Campaign in 1915. About 100 km east of Luderitz, a signpost indicates the turn-off to Ghaub, maintained water point where the wild horses can be observed and photographed as they come back to drink.
Luderitz Bucht: The town of Luderitz stands in isolation on a great frontier between the desert and ocean. Beyond the structures huddled together beside the bay and a lighthouse on the peninsula, the surroundings are much as Bartlomeu Dias found them in 1487, when his flotilla of three small ships first sailed into the uncharted anchorage. The town lands form an enclave in the sperrgebiet, 26 000 km of coastal desert rich in diamonds. The greater part of the sperrgebiet lies to the south. Northward the dune fields of the great Sand Sea sprawl overland to the horizon and far beyond. Luderitz was built on a windswept, rocky hillside and ridge beside the bay. Behind the town, out of sight from the sea, a black-top road runs into the interior. Outside the town limits it passes Kolmanskop, now a ghost town, where diamonds were first mined in the Namib. The next town is Aus; 125 km to the east, across the desert. Luderitz is located on the only part of the Namibian coast with a rocky shore. A peninsula with numerous coves, locally called fjords and bays, just out of the coast at an angle to form the bay proper. Three small islands – Penguin, Seal and Flamingo – lie within the bay. Shark Island was once also an Island in the bay, but a solid causeway now joins it to the mainland. It encloses the harbour and yacht basin.
Nest Hotel: The Nest Hotel in Luderitz offers 68 double rooms and 3 suites, all sea facing, and luxurious appointed. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms, direct dial telephones, air-conditioning, televisions and coffee facilities. There are also 3 paraplegic friendly rooms and non-smoking rooms are also available. The private beach, sauna, swimming pool bar with a view over the Luderitz Bay enhance your stay. The restaurant offers an excellent variety of seafood, freshly attained out of the vibrant fishing harbour. This opportunity should not to be missed.
Overnight: Luderitz Nest Hotel
Day 6 (09 August 2019)
Fish River Canyon to Luderitz (B, L, D)
This morning you depart for a guided tour of the Kolmanskop Ghost Town. You spend the afternoon exploring the Luderitz Peninsula.
Kolmanskop Ghost Town: Namibia’s most famous ghost town, Kolmanskop, is situated in the Sperrgebiet about 10 km inland from Luderitz. It was named after a transport driver named Johnny Coleman, who lived in the settlement of Aus at the turn of the century. During a force sandstorm he was forced to abandon his ox wagon on the small incline from where Kolmanskop can be seen. It stood there for a while; giving rise to the name Colemanshuegel, which eventually became Kolmanshop. In 1908 the railway worker Zacharias Lewala found a sparkling stone amongst the sand he was shovelling away from the railway line near Kolmanskop. August Stauch, his supervisor, was convinced he had found a diamond. When this was confirmed, the news spread like wildfire, sparking a frantic diamond rush and causing fortune hunters to converge in droves on Kolmanskop. It soon became a bustling little centre with a butchery, bakery, furniture factory, soda water and lemonade plant, four-skittle alley, a public playground and even a swimming pool. The town’s development reached its pinnacle in the twenties, with approximately 300 German adults, 40 of either children or 800 Owambo contract workers living there. In spite of, or probably because of, the isolation and bleakness of the surrounding desert, Kolmanskop developed into a lively little haven of German culture, offering entertainment and creation to suit the requirements of the affluent colonialists for whom large, elegant houses were built. The well-equipped hospital boasted southern Africa’s first X-ray machine. However, when richer diamond deposits were discovered further south, operations were moved to Oranjemund. Today the ghost town’s crumbling ruins bear little resemblance to its former glory. The stately homes, their grandeur now scoured and demolished by the wind, 3 are gradually becoming sand. In 1980 the mining company CDM (now Namdeb) restored a number of the buildings and established a museum for tourist viewing.
Overnight: Luderitz Nest Hotel
Day 7 (10 August 2019)
Luderitz to Tiras Mountains (B, L, D)
This Morning after breakfast you leave the coast and Lüderitz behind today as you make your way north into the Namib Desert, keeping a lookout for the legendary feral desert horses along the way. From Aus you head north through spectacular scenery of the Tiras Mountain Conservancy driving on the famous D707 until you reach the recently opened Kanaan N’aankuse Desert Retreat where you will be staying for the next two nights. This area is one of the most picturesque in Namibia.
Feral Horses: An intriguing feature of the Sperrgebiet is the legendary desert horses seen from the road when traveling between Lüderitz and Aus. There are several theories regarding their origin. Some considered that they were descended from farm animals that had escaped, or were horses of the stud belonging to Baron von Wolf, who built Duwiseb Castle north east of Garub and another theory is that they are descended from the German Schutztruppe who abandoned Aus during the South West African Campaign in 1915. New recent research carried out by Telané Greyling in 2005 suggests that the herd was drawn from all of the above as well as the South African army. About 100km east of Lüderitz, a signpost indicates the turn-off to Garub, a maintained water point where the wild horses can be observed and photographed as they come back to drink.
Kanaan Naankuse Desert Retreat: is the latest offering of the Namibian rehabilitation and conservation organisation – The Naankuse Foundation. Encompassing 33 000ha nature reserve and is home to free roaming mountain zebra, kudu, springbok, ostrich, oryx, caracal, hyena and jackal. Kanaan is situated perfectly as a stop-over between the main tourist attractions of Sossusvlei, Luderitz, Fish River Canyon, and Orange River areas. Kanaan Naankuse is described as the highlight of the D707, because of its diverse scenery between the Tiras Mountains and the beautiful red Namib dune belt. Road D707 is also known as the most scenic route in Namibia. Ambassador carnivores from our Conservation Project include Cheetah and Caracal and the photography of these is just so much easier on this property both for the animal and the photographer. Tiras Mountains Sunset Drive included
Overnight: Kanaan Naankuse Desert Retreat
Day 8 (11 August 2019)
Tiras Mountains to Sossusvlei (B)
This Morning after breakfast you make your way further north into the Namib Desert heading north through spectacular scenery of a section of the Namib Rand Nature Reserve before reaching Desert Homestead Lodge in the early afternoon.
This also marks the end of your 8 Day pre – tour, today you will be meeting the rest of the party who will be making their way from Windhoek, whom you will join for the main tour.
Please note hotels and lodges are subject to change.
Day 1 (10 August 2019)
Arrival in Windhoek, Villa Vista (D)*
*Meals included (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
After landing at Windhoek’s International Hosea Kutako Airport, about 40km outside of Windhoek, you will be welcomed by a representative of Ultimate Safaris who will transfer you into town and to Villa Vista Guesthouse where you will stay overnight in their beautifully designed rooms. After this you will be checked in at Villa Vista to freshen up from your flight and relax before dinner which has been included for you at one of the city’s renowned restaurants.
Windhoek Capital City: Windhoek, Namibia’s capital nestles among rolling hills, bounded by the Eros Mountains in the east, the Auas Mountains to the south and the Khomas Hochland in the west. It is a meeting place between Africa and Europe, the modern and the old. In the capital’s main street, well-preserved German colonial buildings are in sharp contrast with modern architectural styles, while Herero women in their traditional Victorian dresses mingle with executives dressed in the latest fashions. Centrally located within Namibia, Windhoek is an excellent starting point for an adventurous holiday for many visitors to the country and an ideal base from where to explore the rest of the country.
Villa Vista is an upmarket accommodation establishment situated in a quiet neighbourhood close to the Windhoek city centre (approx. 1.2km). Being well situated makes it a true home hidden in the big city life. All the rooms are individually decorated in a unique style, using wood, glass, candles and natural elements. Looking out over the garden, swimming pool, town, western mountains and afternoon sunsets, the open terrace offers a romantic and peaceful experience. Facilities include a sauna, swimming pool, gym and free Wi-Fi service provides the luxury of being able to finish-off some last minute work and send emails. A laundry service is available on request.
Overnight in Villa Vista – www.villavista.com.na
Day 2 (11 August 2019)
Windhoek to Sossusvlei area (B, L, D)
This morning your personal guide will collect you from Villa Vista after a hearty breakfast. You then depart Windhoek in your safari vehicle and drive southwest over the scenic Khomas Hochland highlands before you head down the Great Escarpment into the Namib Desert below, stopping for a picnic lunch at a scenic location along the way. You reach Desert Homestead Lodge before lunch, a base from you can explore the remarkable sights of the Namib Desert with your guide. If there is still time today, your guide can take you to visit Sesriem Canyon, a nearby geological attraction, you can relax and soak in the scenic and tranquil surroundings at the lodge.
Desert Homestead Lodge: Desert Homestead is ideally located only 31.5 km from Sesriem, the gateway to the Namib Naukluft National Park. Accommodation is in comfortable thatched ensuite chalets, designed with little touches in mind that characterise the Homesteads homey hospitality. Meals can be enjoyed within the indoor dining room complete with candles and fireplace, or alternately on the traditional wide farm verandah with lanterns and stars adding to the ambience. There is also an inviting swimming pool to cool off and a guest lounge and library to curl up indoors. For keen horse riders morning and afternoon rides can be arranged.
Overnight – Desert Homestead Lodge – www.deserthomesteadlodge.com
Day 3 (12 August 2019)
Sossusvlei / Namib Desert (B, L, D)
After an early wake-up call and a cup of coffee and some cereal you depart for Sossusvlei. You enter the Namib Naukluft National Park gates at sunrise to capture the dunes whilst the light is soft and shadows accentuate their towering shapes and curves. This area boasts some of the highest free-standing sand dunes in the world. Your guide will give you an insight on the formation of the Namib Desert and its myriad of fascinating creatures and plants that have adapted to survive these harsh environs. Once you have explored the area to your heart’s content you can enjoy a relaxing picnic breakfast under the shade of a camel thorn tree. After this you set off and make your way into the NamibRand Nature Reserve, arriving at the Wolwedans Dunes Lodge in the early afternoon. The afternoon can be spent on a magical sundowner nature drive within the NamibRand Nature Reserve.
Sossusvlei: This most frequently visited section of the massive 50,000km² Namib Naukluft National Park has become known as Sossusvlei, famous for its towering apricot coloured sand dunes which can be reached by following the Tsauchab River valley. Sossusvlei itself is actually a clay pan set amidst these star shaped dunes which stand up to 300m above the surrounding plains, ranking them among the tallest dunes on earth. The deathly white clay pan contrasts against the orange sands and forms the endpoint of the ephemeral Tsauchab River, within the interior of the Great Sand Sea. The river course rises south of the Naukluft Mountains in the Great Escarpment. It penetrates the sand sea for some 55km before it finally peters out at Sossusvlei, about the same distance from the Atlantic Ocean. Until the encroaching dunes blocked its course around 60,000 years ago, the Tsauchab River once reached the sea; as ephemeral rivers still do in the northern half of the Namib. Sand-locked pans to the west show where the river previously flowed to before dunes shifted its endpoint to where it currently gathers at Sossusvlei. Roughly once a decade rainfall over the catchment area is sufficient to bring the river down in flood and fill the pan. On such occasions the mirror images of dunes and camel thorn trees around the pan are reflected in the water. Sossusvlei is the biggest of four pans in the vicinity. Another, famous for its gnarled and ghostly camel thorn trees, is Deadvlei which can be reached on foot over 1km of sand. Deadvlei’s striking camel thorn trees, dead for want of water, still stand erect as they once grew. They survived until about 900 years ago when the sand sea finally blocked the river from occasionally flooding the pan.
Sesriem Canyon: Sesriem Canyon has evolved through centuries of erosion by the Tsauchab River which has incised a narrow gorge about 1.5km long and 30m deep into the surrounding conglomerates, exposing the varying layers of sedimentation deposited over millions of years. The shaded cool depths of the canyon allow pools of water to gather during the rainy season and remain for much of the year round. These pools were a vital source of water for early settlers who drew water for their livestock by knotting six (ses) lengths of rawhide thongs (riems) together, hence the canyon and surrounding area became known as Sesriem.
Overnight: Desert Homestead Lodge
Day 4 (13 August 2019)
Sossusvlei to Swakopmund (B, L, D)
The fascinating drive today takes you northwest through awesome and ever changing desert landscapes of the Namib Naukluft National Park, including the impressive Gaub and Kuiseb canyons. You will meet the coast at the port town of Walvis Bay and then continue north to Swakopmund where you can enjoy the pleasant seaside location and cooler coastal air for your next two nights. There will be time this afternoon to explore the town and wander along the waterfront on foot, before heading off for dinner at a popular restaurant which specializes in locally harvested seafood.
Swakopmund: Swakopmund resembles a small, German coastal resort nestled between the desert and the sea. It boasts a charming combination of German colonial architecture blended with good hotels, shops, restaurants, museums, craft centres, galleries and cafés. Swakopmund had its beginnings as a landing station in 1892 when the Imperial Navy erected beacons on the site. Settlers followed and attempts to create a harbour town by constructing a concrete Mole and then iron jetty failed. The advent of World War 1 halted developments and the town sank into decline until half a century later when infrastructures improved and an asphalt road opened between Windhoek and Swakopmund. This made reaching the previously isolated town quicker and easier and it prospered once again to become Namibia’s premier resort town. Although the sea is normally cold for swimming there are pleasant beaches and the cooler climate is refreshing after the time spent in the desert.
The Delight Hotel Swakopmund: Amongst the town’s captivating contrasts and old traditions, Gondwana’s Delight is a fresh breeze in the desert. Conveniently located within short walking distance of the ‘Mole’, this modern, uplifting and inviting hotel is the ideal base for one’s stay. Every effort is made to surprise and delight guests with thoughtful touches and locally inspired reasons to smile. Each en-suite room is designed with comfort in mind and is equipped with air-conditioning, tea/coffee station, fridge, TV, complimentary WiFi and safe.
Overnight: The Delight – www.gondwana.com
Day 5 (14 August 2019)
Grootberg Plateau via Cape Cross (B, L, D)
Continuing on your journey you head north along the coastal road into the Skeleton Coast National Park to explore some of the more accessible areas of the park. Your guide will take you past the salt works and guano platforms in the hopes of spotting flamingos and other aquatic birds, then on to the intricate lichen fields. You then continue further north traversing the Ugab and Huab River deltas in the direction of Torra Bay. You will stop for a picnic lunch at a scenic location along the way before heading east and inland via Springbok Water into the wonderful and diverse region of Damaraland. You go on to stay at Grootberg Lodge which is the only wholly owned community lodge in Namibia, and is an example of changing times when it comes to business ownership. The afternoon can be spent on a guided walk (optional) with your Ultimate Safaris guides along the top of the breathtaking Grootberg Plateau and also learning about the trials and challenges involved in the running of this unique community project.
Lichen Fields: The Namib Desert appears to be bare of plant life, however, lichens grow in great diversity where they are able to draw moisture from the sea fogs. If it were not for the fog, the plants would have no source of water. Lichens are a combination of algae and fungi, so technically they are not true plants, and it is the fungus that forms the body, called the thallus. They lack common names and usually occur on the central Namib’s gypsum crusts, in huge numbers and a variety unknown to the rest of the planet. Some of the intricately branched Namib lichens almost resemble corals, whilst others look like dried leaves. Lichens grow where there is a combination of light and high humidity; the light to provide energy for photosynthesis, and the moisture to keep the association between fungi and algae hydrated. This goes some way to explaining their abundance in the Namib, where large amounts of sunshine, fog and dew provide the daily light and moisture requirement. Lichens grow extremely slowly, but stabilize the surface and prevent soil erosion. These plants are now recognized as a vital component of the Namib environment, and most areas are protected. They provide food for a variety of invertebrates and even springbok at times. It is estimated that some of these lichen fields are hundreds or even thousands of years old, as they can survive long periods of drought. However, the plants die if they are disturbed. Unfortunately, vehicle tracks are one of the most evident threats to lichen fields, and once they are damaged, require decades to grow back. The bright, orange-coloured lacy lichens on the surface of pebbles are often carried away by visitors wanting a memento of the Namib. This is to be discouraged, as the lichen will gradually fade and die when removed from its natural habitat. The most extensive lichen fields are found north of Swakopmund.
Grootberg Lodge: Perched on the rim of the Grootberg Plateau, Grootberg Lodge offers unsurpassed views over the Klip River Valley below. Each of the charming 12 en-suite rock and thatch chalets gaze out over the gorge, where black eagles hunt just below the level of your private deck. The lodge main area with restaurant, bar and swimming pool are also designed to maximise the stunning views. This pristine wilderness can be explored either on foot or by vehicle to encounter the inhabitants of this remote biosphere. Desert adapted elephant, black rhino, giraffe, kudu, oryx and lion are just some of the animals that roam this area.
Overnight: Grootberg Lodge – www.grootberg.com
Day 6 (15 August 2019)
Grootberg Mountains (B, L, D)
After an early breakfast you will be treated to an exciting 4×4 excursion along the ephemeral to explore this remarkable region of Damaraland and to search for game, including the elusive desert adapted elephants if they are in the area. Damaraland is home to a variety of desert adapted wildlife and hidden desert treasures. As the elephants are mostly active in the mornings you will normally have the best chance to see them then before returning to camp for lunch. However, if all the safari participants agree, you also have the option to take a picnic lunch and stop to enjoy that in the shade of a large Ana tree by the riverbed, ideally while watching a herd of elephant browsing nearby.
Desert Adapted Elephant: In habitats with sufficient vegetation and water an adult elephant consumes as much as 300 kg of roughage and 230 litres of water every day of its life. Consider what a herd of them would eat and drink in a week or a month or a year. Finding an African elephant in a desert? Well, yes and not only elephant, but other large mammals as well, such as black rhinoceros and giraffe. Their ranges extend from river catchments in northern Kaokoveld as far south as the northern Namib. Apart from the Kunene River, seven river courses northwards from the Ugab provide them with possible routes across the desert, right to the Skeleton Coast. The biggest are the Hoarusib, the Hoanib, the Huab and the Ugab Rivers. Desert adapted elephant in Kaokoland and the Namib walk further for water and fodder than any other elephant in Africa. The distances between waterholes and feeding grounds can be as great as 68 km. The typical home range of a family herd is larger than 2,000 km², or eight times as big as ranges in central Africa where rainfall is much higher. They walk and feed at night and rest during the day. To meet their nutritional and bulk requirements they browse on no fewer than 74 of the 103 plant species that grow in their range. Not a separate species or even a subspecies, they are an ecotype unique to Namibia in Africa south of the equator, behaviourally adapted to hyper-arid conditions. Elephant in Mali on the southwestern fringe of the Sahara Desert are the only others known to survive in similar conditions. Overnight: Grootberg Lodge
Day 7 (16 August 2019)
Grootberg Lodge to Southern Boundary of Etosha National Park (B, L, D)
Today after an early breakfast you set off on your journey to the Etosha National Park. Along the way your guide will take you to visit a local Himba settlement – you may have to search for a while as the semi-nomadic Himba people sometimes move location with no notice. They are one of the last truly traditional peoples of Namibia and have little time for conventional practices. Here you will learn about the customs and traditions of this very proud nation, and will be given insight into their beliefs, way of life and everyday routine.
After visiting the Himba you will head east through the small town of Kamanjab before heading on for tonight’s destination at Etosha Safari Lodge. A picnic lunch will be had at a scenic location along the way and arrival will be in the very late afternoon or early evening (after a long but rewarding day).
The Himba: The Himba, Tjimba and other Herero people who inhabit Namibia’s remote north-western Kunene Region are loosely referred to as the Kaokovelders. Basically Herero in terms of origin, language and culture, they are semi-nomadic pastoralists who tend to tend from one watering place to another. They seldom leave their home areas and maintain, even in their own, on which other cultures have made little impression. For many centuries they have lived a relatively isolated existence and were not involved to any noteworthy extent in the long struggle for pasturelands between the Nama and the Herero. The largest group of Kaokovelders is the Himba, semi-nomads who live in scattered settlements throughout the Kunene Region. They are a tall, slender and statuesque people, characterized especially by their proud yet friendly bearing. The women especially are noted for their unusual sculptural beauty, enhanced by intricate hairstyles and traditional adornments. They rub their bodies with red ochre and fat, a treatment that protects their skins against the harsh desert climate. The homes of the Himba of Kaokoland are simple, cone-shaped structures of saplings, bound together with palm leaves and plastered with mud and dung. The men build the structures, while the women mix the clay and do the plastering. A fire burns in the headman’s hut day and night, to keep away insects and provide light and heating. A family may move from one home to another several times a year to seek grazing for their goats and cattle.
A Himba woman spends as much as three hours a day on her toilette. First she bathes, then she anoints herself with her own individually prepared mixture which not only protects her skin from the harsh desert sun, but also keeps insects away and prevents her body hair from falling out. She uses another mixture of butter fat, fresh herbs and black coals to rub on her hair, and ‘steams’ her clothes regularly over the permanent fire. Men, women and children adorn themselves with necklaces, bracelets, anklets and belts made from iron and shell beads. With their unusual and striking designs, these items have gained a commercial value and are being produced on a small scale for the urban market. Sculptural headrests in particular are sought-after items.
Etosha Mountain Lodge: Etosha Mountain Lodge is situated in the Kamanjab Region, bordering the South- Western boundary of the Etosha National Park. Etosha Mountain Lodge consists of 1 suite and 6 chalets, built with privacy in mind and with a breathtaking view. The main complex, also with wonderful view includes a reception area, lounge, dining room, bar, swimming pool with teak deck and wine cellar (grotto) where you can taste the best wines. A number of game species can be found here including black Rhino and white Rhino, Giraffe, Eland, Mountain Zebra, Kudu, Oryx, Cheetah, Leopard, Springbuck, Blue Wildebeest, Warthog, Duiker, Black-faced Impala and sable antelope.
Overnight: Etosha Mountain Lodge – www.etoshaheights.com
Day 8 (17 August 2019)
Southern to Eastern Boundary Etosha National Park (B, L, D)
Today you game drive your way across the Park in an easterly direction, stopping at selected waterholes and for game sightings along the way before exiting through the Von Lindequist Gate to arrive at Onguma Bush Camp just as the sun is setting. Lunch is served en-route and after your arrival at Onguma you will have time to freshen up and relax before dinner.
Onguma Bush Camp: Onguma Bush Camp consists of 8 twin bedded standard rooms which includes 3 loft-rooms with a children’s sleep area for 2 children in the loft, 6 twin bedded Waterhole/Pool-View Rooms, 3 family units with 4 beds, 1 Settler’s Room (formerly the honeymoon suite) as well as 2 single tour guide rooms. The Waterhole/Pool-View Rooms are built with views of the newly enlarged waterhole or views across the pool. Even the freshwater swimming pool has a lovely view of the waterhole. 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! A small games and meeting room, further increases the versatility of this much loved camp. Any game drives on the Onguma Reserve need to be arranged through the lodge staff and management as guests are not permitted to drive through the reserve in private vehicles.
Overnight: Onguma Bush Camp – www.onguma.com
Day 9 (18 August 2019)
Eastern Etosha National Park (B, L, D)
Today is available for a full day of exciting game viewing within the eastern section of Etosha National Park. After discussion with your guide you can either opt to go into the Park in the morning and the afternoon and return to Camp for lunch and an early afternoon rest; or you can head back west across to spend some time in the area around Halali; or you can head north past Fischer’s Pan and up into the Andoni Plains if you prefer. You will return to the comforts of Onguma Bush Camp before sunset.
Onguma Game Reserve: Situated on the eastern side of Etosha and borders Fisher’s Pan. Onguma Game Reserve has more than 20,000ha of protected land and wildlife. The nature reserve boasts over thirty different animal species consisting of plains game including kudu, giraffe, eland, oryx, hartebeest, zebra, impala and many more roam freely, as well as predators such as lion, cheetah and leopard, being common residents of the area. Onguma Game Reserve is now also proud to be home to a family of black rhinos! More than 300 bird species can also be viewed at Onguma Nature Reserve. Overnight: Onguma Bush Camp
Day 10 (19 August 2019)
Onguma Bush Camp to Cheetah Conservation Fund (B, L, D)
After breakfast this morning you make your way south from the Etosha National Park to reach Cheetah View Loge and the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Here you can enjoy the welcoming atmosphere, superb accommodation and fantastic activities; starting with a guided afternoon Cheetah Drive (at additional cost).
Cheetah Conservation Fund: CCF’s focus is on research, conservation and education. An extensive modern Visitor and Education Centre encourage visitors to learn about cheetahs, their habitat and issues of conservation, with an opportunity to see resident non-releasable cheetahs, acting as ‘cheetah ambassadors’ for the species. A stop over at CCF makes a very worthwhile, enjoyable and informative visit for the tourist. The large modern Education Centre houses a museum that provides visitors and students the opportunity to learn more about the behavior and biology of the cheetah, and the Namibian ecosystem that supports Africa’s most endangered cat species. The excellent graphics and interactive displays in the Centre bring the visitor through the history of the cheetah from pre-history to modern times, and explain how their range and numbers have diminished. Other exhibits show where the cheetah fits into the cat species family tree, how the cheetah differs from the 36 other cat species, how the cheetah is adapted for a high speed sprint and its specialized hunting techniques, and finally, the cheetah’s life-cycle from cub to adult. A life-size ‘play tree’ shows the importance of these trees in a cheetah’s territory. Continuing through the Education Centre, the visitor can learn about other aspects of conservation and the work of CCF: for example, how the cheetah lives within an ecosystem together with prey, and how farmers can live with cheetahs on their land by using non-lethal predator control methods, a prime example being the use of Kangal Anatolian Livestock Guarding Dogs from Turkey. CCF has been promoting the use of these dogs since 1994, breeding and donating them to Namibian farmers to guard their flocks. Finally, a Future Room highlights the need for continued research so that humans and nature can live together. The Research Centre houses a veterinary clinic, laboratory and main offices. The Visitor’s Centre has a large meeting room, gift shop, verandah and the predator prey ground’ outside is a learning area for school groups and children of all ages. Enjoy the view of the Waterberg Plateau from the verandah, and relax in the landscaped courtyard with native gardens and an attractive sculpture of a cheetah. Check in for the next three nights. Sundowner included
Overnight: Cheetah View Lodge – www.cheetah.org
Day 11 (20 August 2019)
Cheetah Conservation Fund (B, L, D)
Today can be spent on activities as organized by Cheetah View Lodge (CCF). These include a morning cheetah run, visits to the enclosure holding cheetahs which are scheduled to be released back into the wild, and a visit to the research centre as well as time spent with scientific and other staff working on CCF conservation projects. (Some activities are at additional cost).
Overnight: Cheetah View Lodge
Day 12 (21 August 2019)
Cheetah Conservation Fund (B, L, D)
Today can be spent on activities as organized by Cheetah View Lodge (CCF).
Behind the scenes, model farm and creamery tour and the genetics lab tour
Overnight: Cheetah View Lodge
Day 13 (22 August 2019)
Cheetah Conservation Fund to Windhoek (Departure) B
You will rise early this morning for a sumptuous breakfast. In time up you will be met by the local representatives and depart for Windhoek via the town of Okahandja where you can stop over at the craft market if appeals. Upon your arrival into Windhoek you will be transferred to Windhoek International Airport to check in for your onward flight (departure flight must be no earlier than 5:00 pm)
END OF TOUR
COST – LAND ONLY
$4,399 CAD per person, based on twin sharing
($400 CAD single room supplement)
$6,149 CAD per person, based on twin sharing
($750 CAD single room supplement)
$10,298 CAD per person, based on twin sharing (save $250!)
($1000 CAD single room supplement)
Land only. Price does not included international airfare
Based on 10 people, double occupancy
DEPOSIT AMOUNT: $750 CAD per person (non-refundable)
FINAL PAYMENT: May 4, 2019
More than 71 days prior to departure = loss of non-refundable deposit
Between 70-46 days prior to departure = 75% loss
45 days or less prior to departure = 100% non-refundable
For more information, please contact us. Ready to book? Please click on the button below, print, then fill out the form and return it by fax to 1-613-238-4747 or 1-800-665-4432.
- Pre-Tour: 7 nights accommodation, including local taxes
- Main Tour: 12 nights accommodation, including local taxes
- Combination Tour: 18 nights accommodation, including local taxes
- All transfers and transportation is by private vehicle with driver
(Any individuals travelling outside the group arrangement must
organize own transportation)
- Arrival Meet & Greet guide assistance, Departure guide assistance
- Local guide with group from Day 2 – 13 – English speaking
- Professional Photographer Host (French/English speaking)
- Sightseeing and admissions as per the itinerary
- Meals as indicated (B-full breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner)
- Namibia passenger liability & evacuation insurance
- All airfares, departure taxes & fuel surcharges, seat selection
- Travel and emergency medical insurance (mandatory)
- Personal items
- Meals not listed in itinerary
- Tips & Gratuities
- Optional excursions and activities
- Visa/passport handling fees
Vanessa Dewson has volunteered with the Cheetah Conservation Fund of Canada to help with their website and organized a tour in 2018 to visit the project in Namibia. Join her on this amazing adventure and discover what makes Namibia such a magical place. Check out the blog from the 2018 tour here. Read more about Vanessa here.