13-Day North Western Wilderness Safari
This 13-day safari allows us to explore one of the last remaining true wilderness areas in Africa, Northwestern Namibia. Because of its rugged terrain, it receives less tourists and local inhabitants are mainly the OvaHimba Tribe with population density of 1 person per 2km2. The whole Kunene region is approximately 115 000 km2 and it has an open ecosystem where desert adapted wildlife migrate over large distances in search of food and water which is scarce in this rather arid area.
We will be exploring the main river beds which are usually dry with a few water sources. These include Ugab, Huab, Uniab, Hoanib and Hoarusib ephemeral rivers. We will visit the Damara and OvaHimba tribes, to learn more about their culture and every day way of life.
Bordering Namibia and Angola is a perennial river, the Kunene. We will explore it after our stay at the Epupa Falls. Our last stay will be the western side of Etosha National Park from the Galton gate side. Our accommodation will range from remote camping to luxury lodges. This safari can start in either Windhoek or Swakopmund and ends in Windhoek.
Arrival in Windhoek and departure to Brandberg
Welcome to Namibia! Your Nature Travel guide will meet you at your Windhoek accommodation or at the Hosea Kutako International Airport. After loading your luggage into the vehicle, we will start making our way to the Brandberg area. Our drive will be a scenic one and some of the main geological landmarks we will pass on this journey are the Erongo, Spitzkoppe and Brandberg mountains. From a geological point of view, all 3 of these mountain ranges belong to the Post-Karoo complexes, which are all of magmatic origins.
We will be on the lookout for some free-roaming wildlife as well as some special Namibian bird species like Herero Chat, Tractrac Chat and Ruppell’s Korhaan.
After arriving at our lodge in the late afternoon we will check in and freshen up. We have the option of exploring the Ugab River for some desert adapted wildlife that this area is renowned for. We will enjoy our first Namibian dinner at our wonderful lodge.
After an early breakfast and coffee, we will make our way to the White Lady rock painting. This landmark is located within Namibia’s highest mountain complex, the Brandberg (2,573m above sea level). There are over 1,000 known rock shelters on the Brandberg that house more than 45,000 individual paintings of animals, human figures or glyphs. Of these, the most popular one is the White Lady painting. Our guided hike to the painting will take about 3 to 4 hours in total.
After an exciting morning we will return to our lodge for lunch. We will have some time to relax in the pool during mid-day or take a walk around the lodge area for spectacular birding.
In the late afternoon we will explore the Ugab River during our sundowner drive. Depending on the amount of energy we have left, a night drive is worthwhile after dinner to explore some of the nocturnal mammals and birds of the area.
After a relaxed morning and breakfast, we will make our way to the Twyfelfontein area. We will visit the Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings, Burnt Mountain and Organ Pipes.
Twyfelfontein is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of only two in Namibia. Meaning “uncertain spring” in Afrikaans, it is a massive open-air art gallery in the northwestern Kunene region that is of great interest to international rock art connoisseurs.
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.
We will spend about one hour on a guided walk amongst hundreds of engravings before we continue to our lodge where we will spend the next 2 nights.
We will reach our lodge mid-afternoon and after settling in we have the option to do a short game drive in our own vehicle. During our drive, we will explore the dry riverbeds that surrounds our accommodation.
We will enjoy dinner at our lodge.
After breakfast we will do a morning game drive and explore the conservancy. If we are lucky we might encounter some of the desert adapted African Elephants amongst other wildlife. This drive will take us up to lunch time and we have some time to relax before our afternoon excursion.
In the afternoon we will visit the Petrified Forest. It is an interesting geological phenomenon whereby millions of years ago huge trees, Dadoxylon arberi, were washed away and buried. They could not decompose because they were immediately covered by a mudstone layer. Silicon then fused into the trunks of the trees taking their shape, then exposed by erosion over years. The same tree is responsible for coal fields in Europe.
On our way back we will go past the Damara Living Museum to learn more about one of the main tribes of Namibia, the Damara people.
We will arrive back at our lodge late afternoon and after freshening up, meet up for dinner.
After a wonderful breakfast, we will set off on our journey northwards. This will be our first day of camping on the trip. Our drive will be a scenic one, where we will watch the landscape change as we head to our next destination.
We will reach our campsite just in time for lunch. It is situated within one of Namibia’s best-run conservancies in an area between Kaokoland and the Skeleton Coast, where the flat-topped Etendeka mountains and the carpet of rich red rock greet the tributaries of the Uniab River. The lodge close to the campsite overlooks the sweeping northern Damaraland landscape peppered with green euphorbias. It truly is a beautiful place!
After lunch we will depart for an afternoon game drive in the 600,000 hectare Palmwag concession, looking for African Elephant, Gemsbok, Springbok, Chacma Baboon, Giraffe, Steenbok, Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra and Lion. This area is also great for seeing many of Namibia’s near-endemic birds like Monteiro’s and Damara Red-billed Hornbill, Ruppell’s Parrot, Benguela Long-billed Lark and Ruppell’s Korhaan.
Upon returning to our campsite we will enjoy a great dinner at the nearby lodge while going over the plan for tomorrow’s exciting Rhino tracking activity.
Palmwag and Rhino tracking
Today will be one of the highlights of our safari! After an early breakfast we will depart and dedicate most of the day in tracking down one of Kaokoland’s Black Rhinos that call this beautiful but harsh habitat home.
Black Rhinos are native to eastern and southern Africa, and although the animal is referred to as black, its colours vary from brown to grey. Unlike other Black Rhino populations, the ones of this region of Namibia are usually unsociable, tending to live in small groups. A mother will remain with her calf for around two and a half years; enough time for the youngster to obtain all the vital methods of surviving in one of the toughest habitats on the planet!
These specially adapted individuals can withstand scorching heat; in excess of 40°C (100°F), but can also cope with the below freezing temperatures common after dark in Namibia’s arid regions. Black Rhinos are least active during the heat of the day (between 10am and 3pm) when they take to the shade of large rocks. They become more active after dark when the temperatures drop.
Black Rhinos are browsers (i.e. they eat trees, bushes and shrubs), as opposed to their White Rhino cousins, which are grazers. Remarkably, the Namib Desert Black Rhino has evolved to survive without water for 2 or 3 days! The population density of the Black Rhino in the desert plains of northwestern Namibia is only one rhino per 100 km2, and still the Black Rhinos in Namibia make up to one third of the world’s remaining rhino population!
The area where we will be walking and driving today holds the only population of Black Rhinoceros outside a protected area anywhere in the world. They do cover huge distances in search of food and water and have big territories so it might take a great tracking effort to find them. During the tracking we will encounter various other species of game.
After our fantastic morning we will have lunch back at the lodge and enjoy a short siesta. In the afternoon we will join a game drive with Palmwag Lodge. The concession is rich in reptiles, including Kaokoland Sand Lizard, Namaqua Chameleon, and Anchieta’s and Namib Rock Agama.
There are also some strange-looking but fantastic flora, including Welwitschia, Toothbrushtrees, Bottle Trees, euphorbias, Leadwood Trees, Shepherd’s Trees and more. This seemingly lifeless part of Namibia is indeed a treasure trove of incredible species!
We will return to our campsite and have dinner at the lodge that will hopefully include some local delicacies, and then enjoy a good night’s rest.
After breakfast, we will continue our journey northwards, deep in into the Kaokoland. Our destination for the next two days is the community campsite in the village of Purros. Nestled next to the Hoarusib river, the small Himba village of Purros is a true gem of Kaokoland.
We will stop for lunch and in the afternoon visit a Himba Village to learn more about their everyday way of life.
Known as the last true nomadic tribe of Namibia, the Himba has a unique and wonderful culture. The Himba, who currently number between 30,000 and 50,000 individuals, have been plagued by severe droughts, guerrilla warfare (during Namibian independence and the Angolan civil war) and the German forces that decimated other groups in Namibia. Despite Himba life nearly coming to a close in the 1980s, they have persevered and their people, culture and tradition remain. Himba women are known for their unusual sculptured beauty, enhanced by their complex hairstyles and traditional beautifications. In the Himba culture a sign of wealth is the cattle you had owned during your lifetime, represented by the horns on your grave. The cattle are therefore kept as a sign of wealth, whereas the sheep and goats are bred for food. Only occasionally are the livestock sold for cash.
We will spend a couple of hours learning about their history, culture and get an insight into their daily lives.
Late afternoon we will make our way to our campsite. After setting up camp and settling in, we will meet up for dinner and discuss our wonderful day.
After enjoying a wonderful bush breakfast, we will spend the day exploring the Hoarusib River and be on the lookout for some desert adapted wildlife. The desert adapted African Elephants are completely dependent on water from this river. Desert adapted Lions are also present in this area but are generally quite difficult to find. There are approximately 150 desert adapted Lions in the Kunene region, widely distributed over an area of 52,000 km2.
We will enjoy a packed lunch or return to camp and have the afternoon to further explore the river area. The area around Purros is rich in wildlife and we will be on the lookout for African Elephant, Giraffe, zebras, rhinos and more. We return to our campsite for another wonderful dinner under the African stars.
Epupa Falls (Kunene region)
After an early breakfast we will continue our safari northwards towards the Kunene river and more specifically Epupa Falls, which forms Namibia’s northwestern border with Angola. Kunene is one of the fourteen official regions of Namibia and is located in the far northwestern corner of the country.
Kunene’s western edge is the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, and in the north it borders Angola’s Namib province. Compared to the rest of Namibia, it is relatively underdeveloped. This is due to the mountainous, inaccessible geography and the dryness that significantly hinders agriculture. It is, however, home to an abundance of wildlife. This includes a wealth of desert adapted wildlife, including the largest population of free-ranging Black Rhinoceros in the world, African Elephant, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Spotted Hyaena, Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Springbok and Gemsbok.
The region gets its name from the 1,050 kilometre (650 miles) long perennial Kunene river, which forms the northern border with Angola. There are all sorts of exciting activities to be enjoyed on and long the river, from boat cruises and canoeing to white-water rafting and fishing. It is also a birdwatching hotspot, with many localised and highly prized species occurring here.
We will stop at Opuwo, the capital of Kaokoland, for fuel and lunch before driving the last 130km to our campsite on the banks of the Kunene River.
After settling in at our campsite and enjoying a refreshing swim, we will visit the famous Epupa falls, a series of waterfalls that stretch over 1.5km with the longest drop being 37m. The Kunene river is about 500m wide at this point. The name “Epupa” is a Herero word for “foam”, in reference to the foam created by the falling water. Despite being difficult to reach, the falls are a major visitor attraction in Namibia, because of the largely unspoiled environment, with fig trees, baobabs, palm trees, and coloured rock walls framing the falls.
We will enjoy dinner on a deck overlooking the river, with the sounds of falls remaining with us throughout the night.
After breakfast we will depart for our next destination, about a 3 hour drive from Epupa. We will stay in a beautiful lodge overlooking the Kunene River.
For birdwatchers this area is highly rewarding. Some very special species occur here that are very difficult to see anywhere else in the southern African subregion. These include Rufous-tailed Palm Thrush, Grey Kestrel, Cinderella Waxbill and Angolan Swallow, to name just a few.
After lunch and a couple of hours to relax we will depart for an afternoon and sundowner cruise on the Kunene river before enjoying dinner on the deck overlooking the river.
Hobatere – Etosha West
This morning after breakfast we make our way south to our next destination on the western side of Etosha National Park.
The Hobatere Concession covers an area of 33,000 hectares, and will be our destination for the day. It is the main corridor for movement of wildlife from Etosha to outside the park, which is not very desirable as it creates conflict with farming communities nearby.
Our lodge located inside the Hobatere Concession is our home for the next two nights. The beautiful lodge is nestled on the banks of the Otjovasandu river. After checking in and freshening up we will meet up for dinner and then enjoy a night drive afterwards.
Hobatere – Etosha West
Today we will spend the full day in Etosha National Park. We will enter the park at Galton gate located on the western section of this wonderful park. Undoubtedly one of the great parks of Africa, Etosha 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 saline pan in the middle of the park, believed to have been formed over 100 million years ago.
Because of the different habitat we will encounter species like Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra and Roan Antelope together with the general Etosha species. African Elephant, Lion, Gemsbok, Greater Kudu, Hartebeest and Plains Zebra are all present in good numbers in this section of Etosha.
We will arrive back at our lodge late in the afternoon in time for our sundowner drive on the concession. We will return to our lodge early evening and enjoy our last dinner together on this amazing safari.
Departure to Windhoek
After breakfast we will do a quick game drive before making our way back to Windhoek (5 to 6 hour drive) or continuing for an additional couple of nights in Etosha’s eastern section. Alternatively, we can spend a night at the Waterberg Plateau National Park close to Otjiwarongo. Please contact us for suggestions on possible extensions.
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 Strip, 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