8-Day Southern Namibia Safari
With our Southern Namibia safari you will explore the spectacular natural beauty and main attractions of this part of Namibia. We will start off in Windhoek and spend a night in the Kalahari savannah near Mariental. We will visit the Canon Park and the Fish River Canyon before heading for Aus, Luderitz, Kolmanskop and of course the famous wild horses of the Namib. We will then travel to one of the natural highlights in Namibia, Sossusvlei before finishing the safari in coastal town of Swakopmund. From here we can continue the safari towards Damaraland and North-western Namibia or a few nights in Etosha National Park.
**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 – Southern Namibia Safari
Arrival in Windhoek, off to the Kalahari
Welcome to Namibia! After arriving at Hosea Kutako International Airport outside the country’s capital city of Windhoek, your 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 start our adventure with a drive southward towards the beautiful Kalahari savannah of the south of Namibia.
We will not spend much time in Windhoek, but it is a fascinating small city nonetheless. It is encircled by magnificent mountains, expansive valleys and fertile farmlands. The landscape of the Greater Windhoek area is characterised by vast valleys, thick scrub, rocky hills, and covered in golden savannah. 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.
Our journey is about 3 hours long, but it is well worth it! We are heading south to our first stop at a lodge situated on the eastern edge of the Namib desert about 30 km (18mi) from the town of Mariental. The small town of Mariental is important as it lies near the Hardap Dam, the largest in Namibia, which supplies a big area with precious water and also controls the flow of the Fish river.
Upon arrival at our lodge you will realise that this is a place of the famous red sands of the Kalahari. We hope to arrive in time for an afternoon game drive on the private reserve that the lodge is situated in. We will look for Gemsbok, Common Wildebeest, Common Ostrich, Cape Porcupine, Sociable Weavers with their massive nests, Steenbok, Springbok, Kori Bustard, Hartebeest and other interesting fauna and flora. We will remember to stop and watch the sunset – in the Kalahari they are better than almost anywhere else on earth.
The lodge has a wonderful pool to cool off in and the chef will ensure your first taste of Namibian cuisine is one to remember! This really is the perfect introduction to the beauty of the southern part of Namibia.
Quiver Tree forest and Canyon Park
After a relaxing breakfast at our Kalahari lodge we will continue south for a visit to some interesting natural phenomena near the town of Keetmanshoop.
The natural Quiver Tree forest outside Keetmanshoop comprises about 250 specimens of this weird-looking aloe and was declared a National Monument in 1995. The Quiver Tree Aloidendron dichotomum gets its English common name from the San people’s practice of hollowing out the branches of the tree to form quivers for their arrows. The “dichotomum” in its scientific name refers to how the stems repeatedly branch into two (“dichotomous” branching) as the plant grows.
The Quiver Tree has several uses, both for humans and for fauna species. The young flower buds can be eaten and have a similar appearance and taste to asparagus. Sugarbirds are drawn to these flowers in winter where they feed on the nectar produced by the flowers. Sociable Weavers use the tree’s branches for their huge communal nests, where their young and unborn are safe from predators. Large trunks of dead trees are also hollowed out and used as a natural fridge by desert-dwelling tribes. Water, meat and vegetables are stored inside it. The Quiver Tree is an extremely tough tree that may reach an age of over 100 years and a height of approximately 7 metres if left undisturbed.
Near the forest, there is another site of natural interest for its geology, the Giant’s Playground, a vast pile of large dolerite rocks, and a fantastic place for some interesting postcard-quality photographs.
We will reach our beautifully-located lodge, check in and have lunch. This will be our home for the next two nights. We are in the 125,000 hectare (483 sq mi) Gondwana Canyon Park, established in the 1990s to protect the unique flora and fauna of this beautiful area. More than ten farms’ fences were ripped out to create this nature reserve, granting free roaming to the local wildlife. It is only a short distance from the Fish River Canyon.
We will depart for an afternoon game drive in the lodge’s private reserve, hoping to see more game like Gemsbok, Springbok, Greater Kudu, Klipspringer, two species of zebra, while learning about the geology of this rugged area. If we are extremely lucky we may even spot the elusive Leopard among the rocks. We will return to the lodge for dinner and good night’s rest.
Fish River Canyon
After a relaxing night under the vast, star-filled African sky and a hearty Namibian breakfast we will explore the nearby Fish River Canyon. We will return to the lodge for lunch and a siesta in the heat of the day, and go out on either an afternoon game drive or nature walk in the park. We can also swop things around and go for a morning park excursion and visit the canyon in the afternoon. We will discuss the options and communicate them clearly to you.
With a depth of up to 550 metres (1,800 feet), the Fish River canyon is the largest canyon in Africa and the second largest in the world. The enormous ravine meanders along a distance of 100 miles (160 kilometres) and is up to 17 miles (27 kilometres) wide in some places.
The Fish River canyon probably formed about 500 million years ago during the rainy pluvial times. The gorge was not only created by water erosion, but also through the collapse of the valley bottom due to movements in the earth’s crust. Standing at a lookout point on the canyon rim will allow you to feel the magnitude of Earth-time in relation to the fleeting brush of human life; a humbling but exhilarating experience at the same time.
Because the Fish River is being dammed further north at the Hardap Dam near the town of Mariental, it only contains a small amount of running water. In winter the river bed is often completely dry or reduced to just some puddles here and there. However, after rainfalls in summer the river can, incredibly, become a raging torrent.
The Fish River canyon has also become a popular hiking destination. However, the strenuous hike requires good physical health and can only be undertaken during the cooler winter months (between May and September). The hike is 86 km in length and takes 5 days. Unofficial running through the canyon has subsequently evolved into the annual Fish River Canyon Ultra Marathon which held its inaugural race in 2011. This technical marathon follows most sections of the hiking trail, testing the athlete’s capabilities to the extreme. The current record is held by South African AJ Calitz, at a shade over 8 hours!
We will return to our beautiful lodge in the early evening, have dinner and enjoy another good night’s sleep.
Sperrgebiet and Aus
We will get up early this morning and do a short drive to a higher spot to watch a spectacular sunrise with a cup of coffee and some traditional rusks; an unforgettable experience indeed.
We will return to the lodge for breakfast and shortly thereafter make our way in a northwesterly direction towards Aus and Luderitz, enjoying the ever-changing landscapes as we drive.
We will pass close to the Orange river which forms the border between the countries of Namibia and South Africa, as well as drive close to the Sperrgebiet. It is a huge restricted diamond mining area (Sperrgebiet is German for “Prohibited area”) of 26,000 km2 (10,000 sq mi) that covers 3% of Namibia’s total land area, and is jointly owned by the Namibian government and global diamond company De Beers. Interestingly, mining only takes place in five percent of the Sperrgebiet, with most of the area acting as a buffer zone.
Members of the public are banned from entering most of the area, despite the creation of a national park there in 2004. It is an area of incredible biodiversity, with almost 800 plant species, along with animals such as Brown Hyaena, and birds like African Oystercatcher and the endemic Dune Lark.
Our lodge for the next two nights is situated in an accessible area of the Sperrgebiet park in the Aus mountains, offering incredible views over the surrounding plains. It is where streaks of Namib sand merge with the bleached grasses of the Pro-Namib in a sensuous slow dance of splendour. The nearby settlement of Aus (meaning “big snake” in the local Khoekhoe language) has an interesting history and also features the coldest winters ever recorded in Namibia.
We will enjoy an afternoon drive in the Sperrgebiet park and return to the lodge for dinner and another night under African skies.
Lüderitz, Kolmanskop and the Wild Horses
We will have the full day to explore the surrounding attractions, including Lüderitz, Kolmanskop and the Wild Horses of the Namib.
The harbour town of Lüderitz is the only other “big” town in the south of Namibia with the exception of Keetmanshoop. The town is known for its colonial architecture, wildlife (including South African Fur Seals and African Penguins) and an interesting museum. It is named after controversial colonial figure Adolf Lüderitz but was discovered by Bartolomeu Dias in 1487, who erected a stone cross on the southern peninsula. For centuries the town operated as a trading post, with whaling, seal hunting, fishing and guano harvesting at the forefront. In the early 1900s it even experienced a short diamond rush, when nearby Kolmanskop was built. These days the town lures tourists with beautiful architecture, a new waterfront area and some good restaurants. We will walk and drive around the town and its attractions and enjoy the sights.
Just outside Lüderitz lies the ghost town of Kolmanskop, where we will also walk around and take some interesting and thought-provoking photographs. This previously bustling diamond town was abandoned in 1956 when richer diamond-bearing areas were found further south, and these days fights a constant struggle against being buried under the shifting sand of the desert. The town has been used as the setting for several films and television series.
Our final attraction for today, apart from the wonderful landscapes we will have around us all the time, is the rare and famous Wild Horses of the Namib. Their origin is unclear, but they are most likely ancestors of the horses from German breeding programs, released from various farms and camps in the early 20th century, especially during World War I. The Namib Desert Horse travels extensively, searching for food, water and shelter from the climate and insects. Due to scarcity of water, the Namib Desert Horse sometimes goes without water for as long as thirty hours in summer and has been known to go close to 72 hours without water during the winter, significantly longer than most horses, even other feral herds. There are between 100 and 180 of them left, and they roam the sparsely vegetated plains of this arid environment in small groups, often coming to drink from the man-made trough at the Garub, some 20 km west of Aus. From a hide we can watch the horses and take pictures; a rare treat.
We will make our way back to the lodge, enjoying the late afternoon light, then have dinner and a good night’s rest. Tomorrow we head north!
Aus and off to Sossusvlei
We will be up early and after breakfast depart for a half day tour of the surrounding desert landscape. From a local expert we will learn about the fascinating fauna and flora that survive, and even thrive, in this harsh and seemingly dead landscape. We could see interesting plants, geckos, lizards, snakes, small mammals, and we will also learn about the geology and history of the area. Alternatively we can organise a morning of hiking in the beautiful Aus mountains.
After lunch we will depart for Sossusvlei, driving through the NamibRand Nature Reserve with its spectacular scenery. It is a 2,150 km2 (830 sq mi) private nature reserve that shares a border with the Namib-Naukluft National Park to the west and the Nubib mountains to the east. The reserve in has been proclaimed as Africa’s first International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR), which means that it is one of the best places on earth to star-gaze.
The total drive time for today is about 5 hours, but it will be spectacular. We will arrive at our lodge near the entrance gate to iconic Sossusvlei by late afternoon and enjoy a great dinner and an early night in preparation for tomorrow’s early start.
Sossusvlei and Swakopmund
After an early breakfast and coffee we will depart for a morning excursion to Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei.
This 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. Dead Vlei is a paradise for photographers, as it is punctuated by blackened, long-dead trees, in vivid contrast to the shiny white of the salty floor of the pan and the intense orange of the dunes. We will also stop at scenic Dune 45 on the way, probably the most photographed dunes on earth.
*Please note: we can easily arrange a day or two extra for you in Sossusvlei for the many attractions that can be enjoyed here. Please enquire before the safari departs.
After lunch we will depart for Swakopmund via the Namib-Naukluft National Park. 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.
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.
We will arrive at our hotel in Swakopmund in the late afternoon, and hopefully have time for a stroll around this interesting town. 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.
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 have dinner in town (for your own account) and return to our hotel for a good night’s rest.
Swakopmund to Windhoek
After a relaxing final breakfast together we will depart for Windhoek. It is a 4 to 5 hour drive east wards to the capital. We will drive through the Namib Desert for the last time. It is the oldest desert and boasts the highest sand dunes in the world.
*Please note: we can easily arrange a day or two extra for you in Swakopmund/Walvis Bay for the many activities that can be enjoyed here. Please enquire before the safari departs.
During our last drive remember to keep an eye out for some wildlife before we reach Windhoek. We might see Common Ostrich, Gemsbok, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Sociable Weavers or even a Greater Kudu.
In Windhoek we will either take you to your hotel (if you are planning a longer stay in the capital), or 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 Victoria Falls, Botswana, Zambia or South Africa. We can also extend this safari northwards to Damaraland with its desert adapted elephants, and also to world renowned Etosha National Park. 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