Arrive in Windhoek where we will be picked up at the airport and driven 20kms west of town to the Daan Viljoen Game Reserve. This afternoon we will get to stretch our legs with our first hike (time permiting depending on the flight arrival time). The walk will last approximately 3hrs to cover the 10kms of undulating terrain and reaching up to 1850m. We should see giraffes, Mountain zebras, kudu, oryx and other game.
This morning we drive to the Waterberg National Park with its red-sandstone plateau home to numerous wildlife species. After lunch we will climb onto the plateau and follow one of the walking trails on a 2hr game walk before returning to camp where we can relax by the pool.
After breakfast we transfer to the Cheetah Conservation Foundation where we will learn about the plight of this beautiful cat and its import role in the local ecology as well as how Namibian farmers work together to maintain the highest population of wild cheetahs in Africa. From here we continue to our camp at the Frans Indigo Game Reserve. In the late afternoon we will hike for about 3hrs to a view point have more opportunity to look for local game in the reserve.
Today we spend the day with one of Namibia's oldest tribes, that of the San Bushmen, learning about their traditions and history. These hunter-gatherers have inhabited Southern Africa for over 20,000 years and are recognisable by their short stature and distinctive features. Today, some 30,000 San live in Namibia, though only a small minority still live a fully traditional life.
Day 6 - 7
Our next stop is a 2 day safari in Etosha National Park. Etosha is a huge park of mixed forest and grassland centred around a large salt pan and is home to a great variety and number of game. Animals congregate around waterholes making wildlife spotting particularly good in this park. The waterholes next to the excellent campsites offer a real show and it is not uncommon for us to spend all night watching a gala performance of animals: wildebeest, zebra, impala, springbuck, kudu, elephant, giraffe, lion and even rhino are all common sights here. Take plenty of camera memory and lots of patience and you will be 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 (when filled with water), and weaverbirds and hornbills in the trees. Whilst we aim to spend both nights in the same campsite, we may have to move camps due to availability. (1B, 1L, 1D)
Leaving Etosha behind we head to Kamanjab and visit the Himba community who live here. The Himba are one of the most charismatic indigenous people anywhere, most still living a traditional pastoral life. Modern clothes are still scarce amongst the Himba who normally wear just a loin-cloth or skirt made of animal hide. The women cover themselves in an ochre paste and have distinctive braided hairstyles which change with age and marital status.
Today we head towards Namibia's highest mountain, Brandberg, standing at 2,560m. After lunch we will walk through a very scenic gorge to the most famous ancient San rock-painting, the White Lady (about 3hrs round trip). We will overnight on the Ugab River bed, known for its Desert elephants.
We drive west through what many believe to be the oldest desert in the world, the Namib, reaching the cool Atlantic Ocean and the German town of Swakopmund. This chocolate-box top town may, at first seem at odds with its surroundings. Settled by Germans its many coffee and cake shops are more reminiscent of Vienna than of the desert.
Today is a free day to enjoy one of the many optional activities on offer in and around town. At sea you can go deep-sea fishing and dolphin watching, in the desert you can go sand-boarding and quad-biking and in the sky you can fly over the skeleton coast. Or, if none of these options appeal, you can spend the day enjoying the fantastic cakes, walk along the beach or in the nearby dunes or just watch the world go-by. At sunset we drive a short distance out of town and have a 2.5hr guided night walk learning about desert life.
We continue our journey South stopping at Walvis Bay with its flamingoes. From here we continue through the ever changing desert to Sesriem, the gateway to Sossusvlei and the highest sand dunes in the world.
Getting up early we head into the park and drive by towering sand dunes till we reach Dune 45 which we will climb as the sun rises bathing the surrounding dunes in soft light and bringing out the ochre-red sand colour. Coming back down to find breakfast waiting we will then continue to the car-park from where we start our 3hr walk to Hiddenvlei. We return to Sesriem Camp for lunch before continuing to our lodge in Solitaire.
We drive back to Windhoek in time for our evening flight.