The starting point for this trip is the Arebbusch Lodge. For those on the group transfer, we spend an hour in the capital city to change money and collect supplies and then drive to the Arebbush Lodge on the outskirts of the city.
Today we head southwest through the spectacular scenery of the Namib-Naukluft Park to our first campsite at Sesriem. This National Park, one of the largest in the world, is home to one of the driest and oldest deserts on earth. It contains the finest desert scenery in Africa, if not in the world, with towering jagged rock formations and incredible lunar landscapes.
Today we spend all day in the Namib Desert. Rising early we catch the tallest sand dunes in the world in the best light and have the opportunity to climb one of the dunes as the sun rises, truly one of Africa's greatest sights. We can either walk to Hiddenvlei or catch a transfer (optional extra) to Deadvlei where ancient acacia trees in the desert form an eerie scene. If we're lucky we may see gemsbok or ostrich among the sand dunes. In the afternoon we visit Sesriem Canyon before continuing onto our camp an hour away.
A long, but very scenic, drive through the Namib-Naukluft Park to Swakopmund. En route we visit Walvis Bay for lunch and to see local flamingos. Swakopmund is a small German colonial resort town with quaint cake shops and coffee houses and a centre for adrenaline activities.
Today is spent in and around Swakopmund. There is time to go fishing, relax on the beach, or enjoy a cream tea and a seafood dinner along the front. If you're keen for some action, there are enough options for the whole family - take an optional dolphin watching cruise, experience the thrill of quad biking over the sand dunes or try the popular new sport of sand boarding.
After a relaxing start we leave the cool breeze of the Atlantic Ocean behind and head inland towards Namibia's highest mountain, Brandberg, in Damaraland. The Damaraland area is famous for the desert elephants which roam in the Ugab River. Star gazing is normally spectacular from this remote area.
We travel a further into Damaraland to Twyfelfontein. This rocky country is remarkable and makes for spectacular driving. It's here that we'll find ancient and well-preserved rock-paintings, as we take a walk among the most extensive collection of San engravings in Southern Africa. We then take a scenic drive to the Petrified Forest (260 million years old) to see how the wood has been metamorphosed into stone. From here we take a drive of about an hour to lodge in the town of Khorixas for the night.
The first day is spent with a scenic drive to Etosha. We should arrive in time to do a late afternoon game drive before setting up at our camp, which has an excellent waterhole for viewing game at night! Our itinerary allows plenty of time to really enjoy this fabulous game park.
Day 10 - 11
Etosha is a huge park with a mix of forest and grassland surrounding a large saltpan. Etosha is home to a great variety and number of game, which is easy to find as the animals congregate at different times around the waterholes. There are waterholes near the camps, and it is not uncommon for us to spend many hours watching a gala performance of animals: wildebeest, zebra, impala, springbok, kudu, elephant, giraffe, lion and even rhino are all common sights here. Those with patience are frequently rewarded by one of the greatest game spectacles in Southern Africa. Etosha is also a good place for birds, with plenty of water birds on the lakes and weaverbirds and hornbills in the trees. While in Etosha we move from Okakuejo to a camp in either Namutoni or Halali (they both have waterholes). These camps now offer optional night drives which you can book and pay for on arrival.
Today we visit the Cheetah Conservation Centre. The cheetah is the fastest animal on earth, capable of reaching speeds of 75mph and accelerating faster than most sports cars. Unfortunately the cheetah is also the most endangered big cat in Africa. You will have the chance to meet the local residents who cannot be released back into the wild, as well as visting the education centre and museum. We then drive to Otjiwarongwe.
This morning we drive to the Waterberg Plateau, a 200 metre high gigantic flat-topped plateau covered with bushveld. It is one of the more fertile areas in Namibia and very colourful especially after the rains. Here there are several walking trails, including one leading to a spectacular viewpoint near the top of the plateau for a great view.
A drive of three and a half hours or so brings us back to Windhoek. Those not travelling with the group to London will leave us during the day.