AT A GLANCE
Our Ultimate Namibia Self Drive Safari offers you the opportunity to explore the best of Namibia at your own pace. On this 19 Day safari you will start off by exploring Southern Namibia and visit attractions like the Kalahari, Fish River Canyon, Kolmanskop, Wild Horses of the Namib before spending time at Sossusvlei, one of the most scenic places in Africa. From here you continue northwards to Swakopmund and the Skeleton Coast as well as Damaraland where you might see the famous Desert adapted Elephants and learn more aobut the Himba and Damara Cultures. The safari will end with 4 nights in Etosha and 2 nights at Waterberg both destinations offering fantastic game viewing.
DAY 1: Arrival in Windhoek and off to the Kalahari
After meeting you at Windhoek International Airport and handing over your vehicle and vouchers, you will depart for the beautiful Kalahari savannah of southern Namibia. You will drive for about 250km and will arrive at our lodge in time to settle in and enjoy lunch before you can depart for an afternoon game drive on the private reserve. Animals like springbok, oryx, red hartebeest, black-backed jackal, porcupine, steenbok, ostrich and many more inhabit the acacia and grass savannah that cover the red sand dunes of the Kalahari Desert. This will be the perfect introduction to the beauty of the southern section of Namibia.
The Kalahari is an exceptionally beautiful living desert a large semi-arid sandy savannah draped over a gently rolling inland sea of sand covering most of Botswana and large parts of Namibia and South Africa. It is also the last bastion of the San people with the modern world having enveloped all the other areas they once roamed.
Here in Namibia it is typically red sands covered in thin, wispy, mostly golden grass and dotted with acacia trees and wide ranging wildlife including gemsbok, impala, jackals and cheetah.
Day 2: Quiver Tree Forest and Fish River Canyon
After a relaxing breakfast you will continue southwards and after visiting the Quiver Tree Forest and Giant’s playground near Keetmanshoop you will arrive at your lodge in the Gondwana Canon Park close to the Fish River Canyon. The Quiver Tree (Aloe dichotoma) is a symbol of southern Namibia and several hundreds of them can be seen growing together and they live up to a 120 years. After a quick lunch and settling in you can depart for an afternoon sun downer drive within the reserve. Besides looking for game like oryx, springbok, kudu, klipspringer, mountain and Burchell’s zebra that inhabit the park you will also learn about the geology of this fascinating area. Your lodge is situated just 20 km from the Fish River Canyon.
The intermittent Fish River has created Africa’s largest and the world’s second largest canyon. Hot, dry and stony the 160 km long, at times 27 km wide and 550m deep canyon is awe inspiring. At the southern end are the renowned hot springs of Ai-Ais.
Day 3: Fish River Canyon
After enjoying a great night’s rest and a big Namibian breakfast you will use the morning to explore the fascinating Fish River Canyon. It is the second biggest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon in the United States and is one of Namibia’s biggest attractions. The Fish River Canyon reaches a depth of 549 m and a width of up to 27km. It is about 160km long. After returning to your lodge for lunch and a short break you can do an afternoon game drive in the park or alternatively you can do a morning walk in the park, visit the canyon in the afternoon and have time for a quick walk to watch the sun set with a sun-downer drink in your hand. You will again stay in the same lodge as last night.
Day 4: Aus and the Wild Horses of the Namib
You will be up early today and do a very short drive to a higher location to watch the sun rise with a cup of coffee in your hands. Watching an African sunrise is a truly unforgettable experience. You will return to the lodge for breakfast shortly thereafter and after checking out you will continue your safari in a westerly direction towards Aus and Lüderitz enjoying the ever changing landscape as you drive. At this point you will be close to the Orange River which forms the border between Namibia and South Africa as well as the restricted diamond area called the Sperrgebiet. Your lodge for the next two nights are situated in the Sperrgebiet Park and within the Aus Mountains offering great views over the surrounding plains. You can enjoy a late afternoon scenic drive within the reserve.
This region is typified by the Succulent Karoo. The distinctive climatic characteristics of the Succulent Karoo make it different from all other deserts in the world. Rainfall is reliable and predictable, falling mostly in winter, and prolonged droughts are rare. The Succulent Karoo’s botanical diversity is unparalleled by any other arid region on earth and is the world’s only plant hotspot that is entirely arid.
This ecoregion is home to greater than 5,000 higher plant species, nearly 40 percent of which are endemic, and 18 percent of which are threatened. It has the richest succulent flora in the world, harbouring about one-third of the world’s approximately 10,000 succulent species. Other unique features include the diversity of miniature succulents (435 spp.) and geophytes (bulb-like plants 630 spp.). The ecoregion is also a centre of diversity and endemism for reptiles and many invertebrate taxa, especially monkey beetles (Rutelinae: Hoplinii).
The Namib Desert ecoregion to the north is characterized by extremely low and variable summer rain (less than 50 mm per year), and extremely sparse plant cover, dominated by ephemerals. To the east lies the Nama Karoo ecoregion, a low open shrub land with variable grass cover and highly variable rain that falls mainly in the late summer months.
Day 5: Luderitz and Kolmanskop Ghost town
You will have the full day explore the surrounding attractions which include Lüderitz, Kolmanskop and the Wild Horses of the Namib. Lüderitz is the only other “big” town in the south except for Keetmanshoop. You can visit Diaz cross (erected in 1488 by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Diaz) and also enjoy lunch at one of the seafood restaurants overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Kolmanskop is an old deserted mining ghost town with a fascinating history. It was started when diamonds were discovered 1908 and deserted in 1930 when diamond mining around Kolmanskop ended. On your way back you can visit the Garub water point where you have a great chance of seeing a few of the famous Wild Horses of the Namib. You will also learn more about where they originated from as you make your way back to your lodge.
Day 6: Namib Desert and off to Sossusvlei
You will be up early and after breakfast and can depart for a half day tour of the surrounding desert landscape. You will learn about the Fauna and Flora as well as the geology and history of the area. You will be a lot further west and closer to the Atlantic Ocean and it is fascinating to see how the landscape and wildlife have changed during the last few days. Alternatively you can organise to do a hiking trail in the beautiful Aus Mountains. After lunch you will depart for Sossusvlei driving through the NamibRand Nature Reserve with its spectacular scenery along the way. You will arrive at your lodge near the entrance gate to Sossusvlei by late afternoon and enjoy a great dinner and early night in preparation for your early start to Sossusvlei tomorrow.
The Namib is the world’s oldest desert, and although it stretches along the entire length of Namibia’s coastline, the Namib commonly refers to the vast sea of sand from Lüderitz to Swakopmund. For a big sandy desert, the scenery is remarkably varied, with the giant red dunes of Sossusvlei being the most famous part.
Because of how old it is the Namib is home to numerous species that don’t occur elsewhere and although no humans live in the desert an amazing array of flora and fauna manages to survive here. Famous species include the Welwitchia – a living fossil plant, endemic chameleons, fur seals along the coast, brown hyenas, jackals and remarkably one of Africa’s largest antelope the Gemsbok. The name Namib is of Nama origin and means “vast place” and vast it certainly is.
Day 7: Sossusvlei
After an early breakfast and coffee, you can depart for a morning excursion to Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei. You should stop at the scenic Dune 45 along the way and spend a couple of hours at both Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei. Some of the dunes in the area are a few hundred meters high but the view from the top for those that dare is one you will never forget.
Day 8: Namib Naukluft National Park and Swakopmund
After breakfast you will depart for Swakopmund via the Namib Naukluft National Park. You will spend the night at a guesthouse and have dinner at one of the top restaurants in Swakopmund. Please note that dinner tonight is not included and for your own account.
Swakopmund is a very popular holiday destination for many Namibians and will probably be the only place that you will visit on the Namibian safari that has a real town feel to it. Wedged between the Namib Desert and the cold Atlantic Ocean, Swakopmund which is known for its very relaxed atmosphere, has something for everybody. There are plenty of great restaurants and bars, good shopping opportunities and fascinating architecture. For the adventurous there’s quad biking, sand-boarding, skydiving, beach angling and scenic flights over the coastline and Sossusvlei to name a few. The nearby Walvis Bay, Namibia’s major harbour town is well known for the lagoon and its prolific birdlife.
Founded in 1892 as the main harbour for German South West Africa, Swakopmund is often described as being more German than Germany. Now a seaside resort, Swakopmund is the capital of the Skeleton Coast tourism area and has plenty to keep visitors happy. The quirky mix of German and Namibian influences, colonial-era buildings and the cool sea breeze make it very popular.
Day 9: Swakopmund and the Skeleton Coast
Today you will have the whole day to explore this wonderful town and all the activities that is on offer. Besides the activities mentioned in yesterday’s itinerary we can recommend a Living Desert adventure or a dolphin and seal cruise in the Walvis Bay lagoon. We should book these in advance so please let us know if you are interested. You will again stay in the same Guesthouse.
Day 10: Cape Cross Seal Reserve and Damaraland
Today you continue your safari northwards along the Skeleton Coast. After visiting a shipwreck and the massive Cape Fur Seal colony at Cape Cross Seal Reserve you will turn inland towards Damaraland. You will drive past the Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain with the highest peak at 2573 meters. Your Lodge for tonight are situated amongst the Granite rock formations and it’s the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding Damaraland.
Twyfelfontein is a site of ancient rock engravings in the Kunene Region of north-western Namibia.
Day 11: Damaraland
You have the whole day dedicated to explore this unique area that is considered by most to be the most scenic and dramatic landscape in Namibia. Damaraland is home to the Desert Elephant and although you might find them with a bit of luck we would recommend joining the lodge on a game drive to try and find them since the local guides know the local movement and whereabouts of these giants as they move great distances in search of food and water. Damaraland is famous for its geological rock formations and we recommend that you visit the burnt mountain, organ pipes and Petrified Forest where we will also find the Namib’s living fossil plant, the Welwitchia mirabilis. Also stop at Twyfelfontein where you find thousands of rock engravings and is Namibia’s only world heritage site. We will stay in the same lodge as last night and will enjoy a good night’s rest after the busy day.
Day 12: The Himba Tribe
Today you will continue your journey further north into Damaraland. Here you can visit a local Himba village offering you the opportunity to learn more about this amazing nomadic tribe.
Huge, untamed and ruggedly beautiful Damaraland is an exceptionally scenic landscape of open plains and spectacular rock formations. The major attractions are Spitzkoppe, the Brandberg, Twyfelfontein, Vingerklip and the Petrified Forest.
Day 13 & 14: Central Etosha National Park
After breakfast you will depart for Etosha National Park where will spend the next 4 nights. Etosha is one of Africa’s biggest and best National Parks and one of the main tourist attractions in Namibia. It is 22 912km2 in size of which the Etosha Pan, a shallow depression that only holds water after good rainy seasons, is 5000km2 in size. Etosha is known for its spectacular game viewing and the waterholes attract huge numbers of game in the dry season when all the open water has dried up. During the rainy season the park the dry grassland is transformed into a green oasis and this is the time you find baby animals in huge numbers. 114 Species of mammal are found in the park and it is the best place in the world to see Black Rhino. Other game include elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, giraffe, honey-badger, black-faced impala, kudu, eland, Damara Dik-dik, warthog and big herds of springbok, zebra, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest and oryx. More than 300 species of birds are found here and it is brilliant for finding raptors. One of the highlights of the park is flood-lit waterholes at the 3 main camps where game viewing continues long after the sun has set. Between morning and afternoon games drives you can relax at the pool or camp waterhole.
The Etosha National Park is Namibia’s premiere game viewing experience, situated in the northwest of Namibia and is an area well known for its wildlife. Vegetation ranges from dense bush to open plains attracting a diversity of wildlife. In the heart of the Park is The Etosha Pan – a shallow depression that covers an area of 5000sq kilometres. Dry and shimmering for most of the year, the pans fill up with water after good rains to a depth which is seldom deeper than 1m. In the dry season wildlife is attracted to perennial springs and waterholes that makes for excellent game viewing.
Day 15 & 16: Eastern Etosha National Park
From here you will make your way across the park in a full morning game drive to Mushara Lodge on the eastern boundary where you will spend the next 2 nights. I love this lodge and part of the park with excellent game viewing and am sure you will enjoy this as well.
Day 17 & 18: Waterberg
After breakfast you will make your way southwards towards the sandstone cliffs of the Waterberg Plateau National Park which will be your last stop before heading back to Windhoek.
Named for the springs that emanate from its foothills, the Waterberg Plateau National Park is a fascinating geological site of compressed sandstone crags, 200-year-old dinosaur footprints, and petrified sand dunes. The area’s natural water sources make it far more fertile than its environs and the park is blessed with a plethora of plant and animal species, including leopards, rhinoceros, vultures, cheetahs, bush babies, ferns and fig trees.
Day 19: Departure
After a relaxing breakfast you will drive back to Windhoek from where you will begin your journey home.