18 Day Ultimate Namibia Classic
A fantastic itinerary that includes all the major highlights of Namibia from the Fish River Canyon and Sossusvlei to visiting the Himba tribes of the north and the wildlife of Etosha.
Guided or Self Drive option available.
CLASSIC – a range of good, mid-market lodges and hotels
Day 1 Windhoek / Kalahari
Depending on your flight’s arrival time, you can either stay one night in Windhoek or drive the three hours on mostly paved roads to the Kalahari desert area of namibia.
When you’re there: The lodges offer scenic drives, game viewing activities and nature trails. The sunsets are spectacular and a good excuse for a gin and tonic
OVERNIGHT: AUAS GAME LODGE – Bed, Breakfast & Dinner
Situated only 43 km south of Windhoek, the Auas Game Lodge offers 12 comfortable double en-suite bedrooms on a 10 000 hectare game farm with the emphasis on individual hospitality, ideal for smaller groups and families, who want to enjoy the panoramic view and the tranquillity of nature.
Day 2 Kalahari / Fish River Canyon
Drive the 500km south on paved roads to the Fish River Canyon. At 160km long, 27km wide and 550m deep it is one of world’s major canyons.
On the way: Brukkaros is an extinct volcanic crater on a scenic ring road; the Quiver-Tree Forest is a short diversion just before Keetmanshoop.
When you’re there: Guided excursions to the Fish River Canyon; scenic flights over the canyon; hiking trails; horse trails; scenic drives; game viewing
OVERNIGHT: CANON VILLAGE – Bed, Breakfast and Dinner
Situated just 20 km from the famous Fish River Canyon, Cañon Village hugs the foot of a sweeping rock face in Gondwana Cañon Park. With its Cape-Dutch cottages and thatched restaurant this little village is the ideal starting point for exploring the canyon. The daily life of the area’s early inhabitants, the Bondelswart-Nama, is depicted on murals in the restaurant and chalets. Take part in excursions on horseback, drives and walks in Gondwana Cañon Park or enjoy a break at the swimming pool.
Days 3 & 4 Wild Horses
The three-hour drive to Aus, on the south-eastern corner of the Namib-Naukluft Park, is half paved, half good gravel road. Arrive in time for a refreshing lunch.
On the way: Stop at the northern viewpoint for an excellent early-morning picture of the canyon; the drive spans the transition from the Kalahari to the Namib Desert.
When you’re there: Exclusive trips into the Southern Namib-Naukluft Park to see the feral horses; hiking trails; scenic drives. Visit Luderitz on your second day: Kolmanskop ghost town; Diaz point; boat trip to Halifax Island; Bogenfels rock arch; bird watching; coastal and historical tours.
OVERNIGHT: KLEIN AUS VISTA – Dinner, Bed and Breakfast
Klein Aus Vista is situated 2km from Aus in southern Namibia. Apart from offering accommodation the lodge also organises mountain biking, horse riding and is the ideal place for hikers.
Day 5 Namib Desert – Sossusvlei
The road today is stunning with amazing desert scenery whilst heading north along the eastern edge of the Namib Naukluft Park to arrive in the Sesriem area late afternoon.
This day is excellent for those who want to take landscape photos! Wide open plains, sociable weaver nests as well as some desert loving animals such as oryx, springbok and ostrich
OVERNIGHT: DESERT HOMESTEAD – Dinner, Bed and Breakfast
Situated 31.5km from the Sossusvlei entry gate, this newly rebuilt lodge has been skillfully designed to incorporate all the features that guests loved about the original lodge, whilst enjoying the benefit of a pristine location.
Extra activities include horse riding, sun-downer drives, guided walks, hiking, ballooning, quad biking and flight excursions.
OVERNIGHT: NAMIB DESERT LODGE – Dinner, Bed and Breakfast
Namib Desert Lodge sits at the foot of a red sandstone cliff, the ‘fossilised’ dunes of the protomorphic Namib. Situated just 60 km north of Sesriem, the gateway to famous Sossusvlei, the lodge is an ideal starting point for an excursion to the highest dunes in the world.
Among tall trees and palms are 21 rooms en suite, a restaurant and swimming pool, all of which invite you to linger and relax.
Day 6 Namib Naukluft Park / Sossusvlei / Dead Pan / Dune 45
Early morning rise to be at the Namib Naukluft Park gate at Sesriem in time when it opens at sunrise. After paying the entry fee, drive west to the beautiful Sossusvlei area where most of the morning will be spent on dune climbing, photography and to visit the amazing Dead Pan. A stunning area, especially early morning!
Star dunes rise up to 300m into the air and rank among the biggest in the world; the dune valleys are marked by vast clay pans where the Tsauchab River gave up its fight to reach the sea. More than 60,000 years ago, the encroaching dunes stopped the ephemeral river from reaching the sea with over 50km still to go.
Besides the dunes and pans of Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon, a sideshow of activities and sights has developed around the region and there are plenty of game lodges that provide additional desert-adapted activities. Plants and birds are the dominant life form in this desiccated realm and they support a tiny world of mammals, reptiles and insects that, in the absence of coastal fog, seldom wander far from the river-course and its pans.
This is a photographer’s haven especially in the morning light when the shadows magnify the sharp edges of the dunes, the red Namib sands shine and the area is just so beautiful. The Dead Pan is also one of the most beautiful places to visit, a short hike from one of the parking areas. For the adventurous and fit, climb one of the biggest dune sin the world, Big Daddy!
On the way back to the lodge, stopover at Dune 45 which is probably the most photographed dune in the world. A visit to the enchanting Sesriem Gorge is also recommended where evidence of wetlands of days gone by is in clear evidence.
The afternoon is free to relax after the early morning rise and/or to go on a drive or a short hike in the area.
OVERNIGHT: DESERT HOMESTEAD or NAMIB DESERT LODGE – Dinner, Bed and Breakfast
Days 7 & 8 Kuiseb Canyon / Welwitschia / Swakopmund / Skeleton Coast
A drive north (and then west) goes through the gradual change from mountains and dunes to rolling grass-covered hills with scattered acacia trees to Swakopmund, a quaint resort town by the sea with an obvious German heritage at odds with its bleak surrounds.
Look out for the endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebra as you leave; stop at Solitaire, about 80km from Sesriem for some home-made bread and an ice cold drink; Kuiseb Canyon has some shady picnic spots; you can see springbok and pure-bred wild ostrich across the vast gravel plains of the Namib; the lunar landscape; look out for the Welwitschia plant.
Swakopmund is a lovely town situated on the Skeleton Coast at the mouth of the Swakop River.
The town hosts a wide range of superb restaurants and other interests such as:
– Karakulia weavers market – Marine Aquarium – Street markets – Museum – Krystal Gallery and lots more
A visit to Swakopmund is not complete without taking a break at Café Anton for tea/coffee and fresh cake!
– The Tug … excellent for seafood – The Lighthouse Restaurant … a superb family style restaurant – Erich’s … a wide range of fish and meat dishes – Brauhaus … German style cuisine and excellent beef steaks!
The first morning is set aside for an excursion to the Walvis Bay lagoon, a RAMSAR wetlands site, where thousands of flamingoes, pelicans and numerous waders feed in the nutrient-rich shallows. The afternoon is free to spend in Swakopmund.
Optional extra activities: – scenic flights over the Skeleton Coast (recommended) – Dolphin boat cruise at Walvis Bay (recommended) – Dune 4X4 quad biking etc
The drive from the Sossusvlei area to Swakopmund will take 5-6 hours depending on how often the group stops at scenic and other interesting sites.
OVERNIGHT: SWAKOPMUND GUEST HOUSE – Bed and Breakfast
One of the newest guest houses in Swakopmund comprises of 12 superbly furnished rooms. Each room is individual, subtle changes to every room but keeps the lovely atmosphere throughout. All rooms have a small coffee station, fridge, television and telephone. Center of town with a wide range of restaurants is literally two blocks away with the beach a 5 minute walk.
OVERNIGHT: SANDFIELDS GUESTHOUSE – Bed and Breakfast Small, up-market establishment with 5 double/twin rooms, all with en suite bathrooms and own natural stone fireplace. In the rooms white linen combined with natural, muted stone and sand colours, laminated wood flooring, warm rosewood detail and a natural stone fireplace create a light, airy but cosy atmosphere. The guesthouse is situated in a peaceful residential suburb and has a lovely large tranquil, private garden to relax in. Only 2 blocks from the sea and a 5 minute drive from town centre.
Day 9 SkeletonCoast / Cape Cross / Damaraland
Destination Damaraland where enormous granite outcrops and dolerite dykes have been carved by ice, wind and rain over eons.
Grassy plains, tree-studded riverbeds and endless open skies add to the grandeur and make this area one of the most scenic in Namibia.
The drive to Damaraland takes up to five hours because there is much to see and do along the way.
Drive along the Skeleton Coast via Henties Bay to Cape Cross – the largest breeding cape fur seal colony in the world. The stench of 100,000 seals can be a tad over-powering so a handkerchief to cover the nose is recommended
Enjoy lunch at Cape Cross Lodge or picnic at some suitably serene and other-worldly spot on the way to Uis. Along the way, top at the lichen fields and a salt pan.
If time permits this afternoon, visit the Twyfelfontein rock engravings and paintings, the Petrified Forest and the Organ Pipes.
If the day was too interesting and arrival at the lodge is too late, visit Twyfelfontein the next morning.
Distance today will be about 400 kms but can take from 6 – 8 hours … depending on how often and for how long the stops are taken.
OVERNIGHT: TWYFELFONTEIN LODGE – Dinner, Bed and Breakfast
Twyfelfontein Lodge is situated in the Uibasen Twyfelfontein Conservancy, approx. 5km from the renowned historical site with some of the best specimens of rock engravings and paintings in Southern Africa. The Lodge boasts 57 en-suite double rooms, restaurant, bar and swimming pool. Other popular attractions include Burnt Mountain, the Organ Pipe rock formations, Doros Crater and Petrified Forest
Days 10 & 11 Etendeka Concession / Crystal Walk
Morning visit to the Twyfelfontein rock engravings and bushman paintings before heading north-west via the “back-route” to the veterinary control gate at Palmwag Lodge. The group will be collected by their lodge guide (mid-afternoon) and driven through this beautiful area to their remote lodge.
The following full day is spent in this beautiful area with a nature walk in the morning and a game drive in the afternoon, a really wonderful rustic place to visit! One of the tour highlights.
Drive from Twyfelfontein to parking area where Etendeka guide will collect the group:
About 200 kms (2-3 hours) Follow the scenic back roads for about 100km to either the Etendeka or the Palmwag Concession – two of Namibia’s best private concessions and jointly covering thousands of hectares in Damaraland.
The road winds through rocky outcrops and grassy plains typical of Damaraland; the drive is short enough to visit the interesting rock formations and San rock art if you missed them on the way in. Elephant tracking on foot and 4WD; the Crystal Walk at Etendeka; exceptional Damaraland experience with desert-adapted wildlife, plants and birds; scenic drives; luxury overnight hiking trails.
OVERNIGHT: ETENDEKA MOUNTAIN CAMP – All Inclusive
Etendeka Mountain Camp offers a unique, pristine wilderness experience which will appeal to photographer, naturalist, astronomer and geologist alike, as well as lovers of peace, quiet and open space. Each of the ten walk-in, shaded tents are provided with two beds, linen, towels wash basin, a bush shower with hot and cold water, a flush toilet and electric light. Water is of high quality, but in short supply so laundry is not done at the camp.
Day 12 Opuwo / Himba Tribes
After breakfast, the group will be driven back to the veterinary control fence, to their vehicle from where they drive north to Opuwo.
The drive will take about 3-4 hours, an interesting road passing through “Stof” pass and past some Herero and Himba villages.
Late afternoon would be a good time to visit some traditional Himba villages where these people still live tending their goats and cattle. For self-drive clients, it is suggested to make use of the lodge guide who knows the “best villages” and also to translate and negotiate the taking photographs.
OVERNIGHT: OHAKANE LODGE – Dinner, Bed and Breakfast
Ohakane Lodge is a 13 bedroom establishment, all with en-suite facilities and air conditioning, situated in the middle of Opuwo in Kaokoland. The gateway to the beautiful Kaokoland and its people, the Ovahimba.
OVERNIGHT: OPUWO COUNTRY HOTEL – Dinner, Bed and Breakfast
Situated on a hilltop to the north west of Opuwo, the lodge overlooks the valleys and mountains, giving magnificent sunsets at 360° views. An ideal base from where to explore the culture and traditional-rich lifestyle of the Ovahimba people. The impressive thatched main building is within easy reach to Kaoko Otavi, Epupa Falls and Swartboois drift.
Day 13 Hobatere
Depart from Opuwo today and head south east to the western side of the Etosha National Park, the Hobatere private game reserve. Enjoy a late afternoon game drive on this private concession. About 200 kms (2-3 hours).
Steve (the owner of the lodge) is one of the leading naturalists in Namibia. His knowledge of birds, plants, animals and, recently, butterflies is astonishing and his enthusiasm is addictive.
Optional game drive this afternoon (extra cost).
OVERNIGHT: HOBATERE LODGE – Dinner, Bed and Breakfast
Situated on the western border of Etosha National Park, wildlife on the 32 000ha Hobatere concession area includes elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah and many more. Accommodation is in 12 twin-bedded bungalows with en-suite facilities and a rustic tree house overlooking a waterhole.
Days 14, 15 & 16 Etosha National Park
2007 … Etosha Celebrated its Centenary!
The drive to Etosha National Park will take about three hours travelling via Kamanjab and Outjo to the southern area of the park.
A visit to the Etosha National Park is one of the highlights of traveling Namibia. Etosha, which was declared a game reserve by the German colonial administration back in 1907, covers an area of more than 22 000 sq kms. In its centre lies a vast saltpan surrounded by grass and thorn savannah, Mopani bushland in the west and dry forest in the north-east. About two million years ago, this area was an enormous lake, fed by the Kunene river. However the lake slowly dried up because over time, the river changed its course.
The pan is just about always dry. However, in the southern parts there are have water-holes scattered throughout this area and form the basis of life for countless game. In years of good rain, sections of the pan are flooded and become home to many bird species, a speciality being flamingos who come here to breed.
Be it a lion or an elephant, a giraffe or a zebra, almost all African animal species (except the cape buffalo) are represented in this huge game reserve, approximately the size of Wales in the UK.
There is an estimated number of 250 lions in the park, 300 rhinos, 2500 giraffes, 6000 zebras and more than 2000 elephants. The dainty springbok are especially numerous; at least 20000 of them roam the reserve. Often, they can be observed in enormous herds of several hundred animals.
The Etosha National Park has a good infrastructure. Well-maintained gravel roads (un-tarred) lead to the waterholes, where game viewing is at its best. In the three rest camps/resorts Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni, chalets and camping sites are available as well as restaurants, stores and swimming pools.
Two full days (three nights) are set aside to spend on game drives and game viewing at various waterholes in the beautiful game reserve. View numerous species of animals drinking at the same waterhole, not often seen in other African parks!
OVERNIGHT: AT NAMIBIA WILDLIFE RESORTS BUNGALOWS AT HALALAI and/or OKAUKUEJO or AT A LODGE ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF THE PARK
Okaukuejo (Namibia Wildlife Resorts) Breakfast & dinner Okaukuejo is Etosha’s oldest and most popular resort. A floodlit waterhole visited by plenty of game especially after sunset gives Okaukuejo special character, with its luxury and standard bungalows, camping facilities, museum, swimming pool and restaurant complex. Halali (Namibia Wildlife Resorts) Breakfast & dinner The name Halali comes from a German word signifying the bugle call made to announce the end of the hunt.
The camp is spread out amongst shady mopane trees and has en-suite rooms in self-contained bungalows. Leading to the summit is a small dolomite hill with a footpath, referred to as the Tsumasa Trail.
Onguma Bush Camp Dinner & Breakfast Onguma is one of Namibia’s best kept secrets. Situated on the eastern side of Etosha, bordering Fisher’s pan, here you will be afforded the opportunity to experience Africa in all her beauty and diversity. Extra optional activities such as guided game drives to Etosha National Park are on offer.
Day 17 Waterberg
Exit Etosha today and head south via Otjiwarongo to the Waterberg Plateau Park area for the last night on safari (About 390 kms (4-5 hours).
The drive to the Waterberg is between 4 and 5 hours depending on where you are coming from.
The Waterberg Plateau Park has several excellent hiking trails, the wildlife and birdlife and scenery make for a good hike; private game farms in the area offer game viewing and some have active conservation programmes like the Cheetah Conservation Fund.
OVERNIGHT: WATERBERG GUEST FARM – Dinner, Bed and Breakfast
Waterberg Guest Farm is a small lodge on a big farm close to the Waterberg Plateau. The four double rooms have en suite bathrooms and two secluded bush chalets have additional outdoor showers. The main living area has a swimming pool, a large lounge, a library stocked with natural history books and a large bar.
Day 18 Windhoek
Head back to Windhoek today, stopping at the wood carvers and curio market in Okahandja. About 250 kms to Windhoek + 50 kms to airport (4-5 hours)