10 Day Namibia Highlights – Self Drive or Guided Holiday
This 10 Day Namibia Highlights tour can be done on either a self-drive basis in a hire vehicle or alternatively as a guided tour.
The journey leads you to a facinating discovery of this vast and facinating country including the Kalahari, the Namib Desert, the Skeleton Coast, Damaraland and Etosha National Park.
The Kalahari is the largest sand basin in the world and almost devoid of rock, and it covers an area of 900,000sq km. The Kalahari is actually not a desert but a semi-arid savannah biome. Oxide-red dunes and grassy plains dotted with gnarled, stunted acacia trees form an evocative landscape that supports a surprising diversity of wildlife.
The Namib Desert covers the entire Namibian coastline of over 1,500km and sweeps up to 200km inland. At a shade over 20 million years, it is the planet’s oldest desert and has an astonishing diversity of landscapes and habitats.
Etosha National Park is truely unique. Its waterhole culture forces the plains game to drink during the middle of the day when predators are most lethargic; thus it’s not uncommon to have a collage of several different species in the same frame. Lions, elephants and several endemic species of antelope and birds – including 46 raptors – add to the game viewing excitment.
Day 1 & 2 : Explore the dunes of Sossusvlei
Arrive at Windhoek Airport and met by a representative. With keys in hand and excitement building, you will travel south to the Namib Desert for the next two nights. The drive takes about four hours.
Your drive will reveal the transition from Kalahari thornveld to the true desert of the Namib; Lilyveld, a valley 30km north of Maltahöhe, which springs into bloom for about a week after good rains; Duiwiseb Castle is an interesting diversion 70km south-west of Maltahöhe.
Enter Sossusvlei at sunrise and remember to take plenty of film or memory, sun cream, a hat, walking shoes and water. Explore the world’s highest dunes and a sheltered pan with petrified trees that are hundreds of years old; climb the dunes and look out over a sea of sand. Private reserves in the area reveal fascinating flora, fauna and ancient desert landscapes.
Optional extra activities:
- Sossusvlei with lodge guide
- Balloon flight
- Nature drive/s
Overnight: The Desert Homestead [ Moderate ] or Kulala Desert Lodge [ Luxury ] – Dinner, Bed and Breakfast
Day 3 & 4: Swakopmund
A five-hour drive north takes you through the gradual change from mountains and dunes to rolling grass-covered hills with scattered acacia trees. Swakopmund is 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.
Visit the Walvis Bay Lagoon – a RAMSAR wetlands site – where thousands of flamingoes, pelicans and numerous waders feed in the nutrient-rich shallows; restaurants, shops and attractions in Swakopmund; spend an extra day making the most of the cool air and refreshing sea.
Among the many organised activities, we recommend a scenic flight over Skeleton Coast; a comfortable and informative boat cruise of Walvis Bay where you meet dolphins, sea lions, pelicans and terns; and quad biking, which is an exciting way to experience the sand dunes.
Optional extra activities:
- Walvis Bay boat cruise
- Combine boat cruise with Sandwich Harbour (recommended)
- Living Desert Tour
- Dune quad biking
- Sandboarding and lots more
- Overnight: Sandfields Guest House [ Moderate ] or Zum Kaiser Hotel [ Luxury ]
- Bed and Breakfast
Day 5 & 6: Visit the Petrified Forests of Damaraland
Destination Damaraland where enormous granite outcrops and dolerite dykes have been carved by ice, wind and rain over aeons. 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 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: take a handkerchief to cover your nose; lunch at Cape Cross Lodge or picnic at some suitably serene and other-worldly spot; stop at the lichen fields and a salt pan that is an excellent birding spot; visit the Twfylefontein rock paintings, the Petrified Forest and the Organ Pipes.
Options of Game drives on private reserves in search of the famed desert-adapted elephant, black rhino and giraffe; among other hardy plains herds look out for Hartmann’s mountain zebra; spend more time exploring the Twfylefontein rock paintings, the Petrified Forest, Vingerklip and the Organ Pipes; hike up the Brandberg Mountain, Namibia’s highest point at 2,573m.
Overnight: Damara Mopane Lodge [ Moderate ] or Mowani Mountain Camp [ Luxury ] – Dinner, Bed and Breakfast
Day 7: Safari in Southern Etosha National Park
The drive to Etosha National Park is a scenic few hours through more of Damaraland’s singular beauty. The southern gate is much closer to southern Damaraland and will take about three hours.
The route is almost too short to stop, barring a comfort stop at Outjo and a picture of the Ugab Terrace.
When you’re there: Etosha has an estimated 250 lions, 300 rhinos, 2,500 giraffes, 6,000 zebras, 20,000 springbok and 2,000 elephants.
This on top of a large number of lesser and common plains herds, and abundant birds makes game viewing in Etosha something special. The surrounding lodges all have private reserves with equally impressive wildlife numbers and they offer private game viewing activities into the park.
Why visit Etosha National Park
- Temporary water in the Etosha pan attracts huge flocks of flamingos
- Annual migration of wildebeest, zebra, springbok and oryx
- Frequent sightings of leopard
- Floodlit waterholes
- Excellent game viewing
Overnight: Etosha Village [ Moderate ] or Ongava Lodge [ Luxury ] – Dinner, Bed and Breakfast
Day 8 & 9: Eastern Etosha National Park
The drive through Etosha National Park to your next lodge on the eastern side of Etosha is a scenic few hours of game driving. The drive can take anything from 2 hours depending on how often you stop for game viewing.
When you’re there: Your lodge will offer guided game drives into Etosha and game walks in the private reserve.
Overnight: Mushara Bush Camp [ Moderate ] or Mushara Outpost [ Luxury ] – Dinner, Bed and Breakfast
Day 10: Windhoek
You have a long drive ahead of you today: up to six hours. The roads are all paved so it’s a comfortable ride to arrive in time for your onward flight or a night in Windhoek.
On the way: Okahandja has the largest wood carvers’ market in Namibia