11-Day Extended Classic Namibia Safari
When going on safari in this beautiful country, you want to make sure that you experience the highlights of Namibia. This 11-day safari will take to you to three of Namibia’s must-see natural wonders.
We will visit the Namib Desert and Sossusvlei which is home to some of the highest sand dunes in the world. Then we move on to Swakopmund where the desert and the coast come together. We will then make our way up along the Skeleton Coast and turn inland into the dramatic and scenic Damaraland. Last but not least we will move on to Etosha which is one of Africa’s best game viewing destinations.
This Namibia Safari is a Private Guided Safari, customized for you by our expert team. Any element can be tailored, starting with your planned tour dates, activities, accommodation etc.
Full Itinerary – Extended Classic Namibia Safari
Sossusvlei and the Namib Desert
Welcome to Namibia! After arriving at Hosea Kutako International Airport outside the country’s capital city of Windhoek, your Nature Travel Namibia guide will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall of the airport with your name on a signboard. After loading your luggage into the vehicle, we will start making our way to our first destination; iconic Sossusvlei.
We will not have much time to spend in Windhoek itself, but it is a very interesting small city nonetheless. It sits at 1,700 metres (5,600 feet) above sea level (12th highest capital in the world) in the Khomas Hochland plateau area between the Auas and Eros mountain ranges. It is home to about 400,000 people at a low density of only 63 people per square kilometre and has over 300 sunny days per year.
We will drive through the Khomas Highland and down the escarpment via one of the many scenic mountain passes into the Namib Desert. This journey will take about 4 to 5 hours, depending on the number of stops for photographs. We will certainly start seeing some of Namibia’s fantastic fauna and flora along the way, including Common Ostrich, Gemsbok, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Sociable Weavers or even a Greater Kudu.
The Namib is the oldest desert and boasts the highest sand dunes in the world. This area is one of the most spectacular in all of Namibia and always one of the highlights of any visit to the country.
We will reach our accommodation in the afternoon and if there is time it might be fun to walk around the lodge grounds looking for interesting smaller fauna and local flora. Our accommodation for tonight is in an area perfectly situated to explore the surrounding desert and its many attractions.
Sossusvlei and the Namib Desert
After an early breakfast we will depart for an exciting morning excursion to Sossusvlei and nearby Dead Vlei, where we will spend a couple of hours. Sossusvlei is where you will find the iconic red sand dunes of the Namib. The clear blue skies contrast with the giant red sand dunes to make this one of the natural wonders of Africa and a photographer’s heaven. It is one of the top tourist destinations in all of southern Africa and a must-see attraction when visiting Namibia. Sossusvlei itself is actually the pan or valley floor that we will park our vehicle on, and is surrounded by massive dunes on almost all sides.
We will have plenty of time to enjoy some of the many highlights that surround Sossusvlei itself:
• Dune 45, the most photographed dune on earth (situated 45 km past Sesriem on the road to Sossusvlei)
• Hiddenvlei, perfect if you are looking for solitude in the desert
• The magnificently tall Big Daddy dune
• Deadvlei, a paradise for photographers, as it is punctuated by blackened, dead acacia trees, in vivid contrast to the shiny white of the salty floor of the pan and the intense orange of the dunes
• Sesriem Canyon, a narrow gorge of 1 km long and up to 30 m deep slashed into the earth by the Tsauchab river millions of years ago. The name derives from the Afrikaans for the 6 lengths of ropes that were needed to haul water out of the gorge to the top with containers in days gone by.
After lunch and a well-earned siesta, we will join the lodge for a sundowner nature drive where we will look for anything from Gemsbok and Springbok to Black-backed Jackal, along with some interesting bird species and even reptiles and smaller creatures. We will return to the lodge in time for dinner and good night’s rest.
After a relaxed breakfast at the lodge we will depart for the coastal town of Swakopmund, driving through the vast Namib-Naukluft Park to get there. It is a beautiful drive of about 4 hours, and if time allows we will stop for the famous Apple Pie in the small desert oasis town of Solitaire, a true Namibian tradition that should not be missed.
Our entire drive today takes place in the Namib Sand Sea, one of Namibia’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is the only coastal desert in the world that includes extensive dune fields influenced by fog. Covering an area of over three million hectares, the site features gravel plains, coastal flats and rocky hills within the sand sea, a coastal lagoon and ephemeral rivers, resulting in a landscape of exceptional beauty. Fog is the primary source of water in the site, accounting for a unique environment in which endemic invertebrates, reptiles and mammals adapt to an ever-changing variety of microhabitats and ecological niches.
Swakopmund has made a name for itself as the activity and sport capital of Namibia, but this town offers so much more. Sandwiched between the hot, arid desert and the cold waters of the Atlantic, Swakop (as the locals call it) is one of the most fascinating colonial towns in all of Africa. It is a heady mix of South African, Namibian and German cultures, architecture, languages and cuisine. For the adventurous there is quadbiking, sandboarding, kitesurfing, skydiving, angling, mountain biking, scenic flights over the coastline and much more. It is the most popular holiday destination in the country, with both locals and foreigners loving the laid-back atmosphere, good restaurants, top coffee shops, many activities and the temperate climate. Swakopmund will be our home for the next two nights.
Nearby Walvis Bay, Namibia’s major harbour town, is well known for the lagoon and its prolific bird life. The Walvis Bay lagoon and salt pans are regarded as the most important coastal wetland in southern Africa, as over 150,000 migrant birds spend the summer months there. Over 150 different bird species have been recorded in this region, along with 11 types of chameleons, lizards and geckos, and 13 species of mammal (including Pygmy Rock Mouse, Littledale’s Whistling Rat and Setzer’s Hairy-footed Gerbil) that also reside in the area.
We will reach our accommodation in Swakopmund in time for a stroll around the town or even an optional adventure activity. We will have dinner at one of the many excellent restaurants in town and a good night’s rest; tomorrow is another exciting day!
Living Desert Adventure
After breakfast in Swakopmund we will depart for a Living Desert Experience, a unique adventure indeed and a real eye opener!
We will encounter and learn more about the fascinating wildlife of the Namib Desert with the help of a local expert. This seemingly dead environment supports a wealth of animal and plant life that have adapted in wonderful ways to survive and thrive here. We will look for geckos, scorpions, snakes, lizards, birds and beetles as well as the incredible plant life that survives in this harsh and seemingly inhospitable environment. Some of the special creatures we might see include Namib Sand Gecko, Namaqua Chameleon, Shovel-snouted Lizard, Tractrac Chat and even Peringuey’s Adder.
Once we are back in Swakopmund we will enjoy lunch and explore the town with optional activities like quad-biking or sandboarding. Other optional activities that could be arranged include scenic flights over the coastline and dunes, or a boat cruise out of Walvis Bay harbour.
We will all return to our lodge to freshen up and enjoy another dinner in Swakopmund before settling in for another good night’s sleep.
Skeleton Coast and Damaraland
Today we continue our safari northwards along the Skeleton Coast. This bleak and evocatively named area is one of the most unusual coastal wildernesses on the planet, protecting about a third (500 km) of Namibia’s long coastline. It has a longstanding reputation of being a dangerous sea passage for sailors, and indeed the Portuguese sailors used to call this area the “Sand of Hell”, referring to the fact that even if one did survive a ship running aground, the harsh desert would almost certainly provide one’s final resting place.
After visiting one of the many shipwrecks along the coast for some dramatic photographs, we will turn inland towards spectacular Damaraland. We will drive past the Brandberg (literally “fire mountain”), Namibia’s highest mountain, with the highest peak at 2,573 meters (8,441 feet) above sea level.
In the distance we will also see the Spitzkoppe (sharp head), one of Namibia’s most recognizable landmarks. It’s shape has inspired its nickname, “The Matterhorn of Africa”. It was first climbed in 1946 and is now a popular climbing destination with local and foreign mountaineers alike, with plenty of technical climbs available.
This beautiful mountainous region is home to an assortment of scientifically important desert adapted wildlife such as African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros and Lion, which somehow survive and thrive in this near-barren landscape. We hope to see some of them; a special treat indeed!
We will be at our lodge in time for a sundowner drink while we enjoy the view over this rugged but beautiful landscape.
After breakfast we will visit the famous Twyfelfontein. Meaning “uncertain spring” in Afrikaans, it is a massive open-air art gallery that is of great interest to international rock art connoisseurs, and another of Namibia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The 2,000-plus rock petroglyphs, estimated to be 6,000 years old, represent one of Africa’s largest and most noteworthy concentrations of rock art. Most of these well-preserved engravings represent rhinoceros. The site also includes depictions of elephant, ostrich and giraffe, as well as drawings of human and animal footprints, all done in red ochre. Here we will also look out for the Namib Desert’s weird-looking living fossil plant, the Welwitschia.
Damaraland is also famous for its several important geological rock formations that are not to be missed, including the “organ pipes” arrangement (a distinctive series of dolerite pillars that have been exposed by erosion), the “petrified forest” (believed to be more than 200 million years old) and the much-photographed “burnt mountain” (a flat-topped mountain that derives its name from the piles of blackened limestone at its base). We will visit some of these today, while keeping an eye out for the desert adapted animals of the area. There is also the option today of going our for a game drive specifically looking for the desert adapted animals; this will be communicated by your guide. We will return to our beautifully situated lodge for dinner. Tomorrow we are off to Etosha!
Etosha National Park(south-western side)
After an early breakfast we will depart for Etosha National Park, about 4 hours’ drive away to the northeast. The landscape here, as in most parts of the country, is truly dramatic and we will stop for regular photographic opportunities.
We will arrive at our lodge on the southwestern side of Etosha late in the afternoon and settle in to our accommodation.
Undoubtedly one of the great parks of Africa, the huge Etosha National Park in north-central Namibia covers more than 22,300 km2 (8,620 sq mi) and is synonymous with big game and wide open spaces. The name Etosha actually means “great white place” referring to the massive (130km long and 50km wide) dry pan in the middle of the park, believed to have been formed over 100 million years ago.
We will enjoy dinner and sit around the camp fire reminiscing about our wonderful trip so far. Remember to look up before settling into your bed tonight – the African night sky, undisturbed by city lights out here in the bush, is truly amazing.
Etosha National Park (south-western side)
We will enjoy morning and afternoon game drives in Etosha today, returning to our lodge in the heat of the day for lunch and to relax.
Your guide will decide, with your input as to your fauna and flora sighting preferences, what the best routes will be to follow. All our guides know Etosha intimately and will make sure you see all that this great African wildlife park has to offer.
Etosha is home to a staggering amount of wildlife, both common and rare, including several threatened and endangered species. The mammal list is at over 110 species, including four of Africa’s Big Five, Cheetah, Giraffe, Spotted Hyaena, Zebra (2 species), Greater Kudu, Springbok, Gemsbok (Namibia’s national animal), Common Warthog, Honey Badger and many more. In the drier months of the year, almost all the animals tend to congregate around the waterholes dotted around the massive park. They come to drink water and are inevitably followed by predators; this allows us to sit and wait at some of the waterholes and wait for the action to come to us. This is what sets Etosha apart from other parks in southern or east Africa; unique indeed!
Tonight we will again sit around a fire after dinner, chat about the day’s sightings and enjoy another spectacular African night sky.
Etosha National Park (western side)
We have another full day to enjoy Etosha today, but we will also slowly make our way to the eastern side of the park, where we will overnight for the next two evenings.
Etosha not only boasts some fantastic mammals, but also has a bird list of more than 350 species, including regional specials like Kori Bustard, Blue Crane, Violet Woodhoopoe, Ruppell’s Parrot, Pygmy and Red-necked Falcon, Bare-cheeked and Southern Pied Babbler, and Burchell’s and Double-banded Courser. We will naturally look for these on our drives in the park, as well as around our lodge grounds.
Furthermore, Etosha is a photographer’s dream, with the contrasts in light, colour and textures particularly dramatic. Many a guest’s “lifer shots” of African animal and bird species were taken in this park. The sunrises and sunsets are particularly spectacular, so better get those cameras and phones ready!
After another fantastic day in the park, we will return to our lodge for dinner and a good night’s rest.
Etosha National Park (eastern side)
Today is our last day in exciting Etosha. We will again do morning and afternoon game drives and return to the lodge for lunch and a siesta in the heat of the day, when the animals are less active.
Named a game reserve in 1907 by the governor of then-German South West Africa, Etosha was elevated to the status of national park in 1967 by an act of parliament of the Republic of South Africa which administered South West Africa during that time. Since then it has become one of the main reasons visitors from all over the globe come to Namibia, and annual numbers are over 200,000. Although Etosha is best known today as a spectacular refuge for an abundance of animals, it is also a part of the world that is providing critical evidence for the existence and evolution of ancestral animals. The rocks in the hills near Halali camp have revealed fossil life as old as 650 million years!
We will arrive at our accommodation in the late afternoon, freshen up and enjoy our last dinner together.
After an early morning game drive or a relaxing final breakfast together we will depart for Windhoek. It is a 5 to 6 hour drive southwards to the capital.
In Windhoek we will take you to the Hosea Kutako International Airport for your homeward flight or for your connecting flight if you decide to combine this safari with an extension to the Caprivi, Victoria Falls, Botswana, Zambia or South Africa. We will gladly assist with accommodation in Windhoek should you need to stay over.
Do you have a quick question about this Namibia Safari? Speak to a specialist at