AT A GLANCE
When going on safari in this beautiful country, you want to make sure that you experience the highlights of Namibia. This 11-day safari will take to you to three of Namibia’s must-see natural wonders.
We will visit the Namib Desert and Sossusvlei which is home to some of the highest sand dunes in the world. Then we move on to Swakopmund where the desert and the coast come together. We will then make our way up along the Skeleton Coast and turn inland into the dramatic and scenic Damaraland. Last but not least we will move on to Etosha which is one of Africa’s best game viewing destinations.
This safari can be booked as a small group safari, customized to your specific requirements and travel dates.
Arrival in Windhoek
Welcome to Namibia! After arriving at Hosea Kutako International Airport outside the country’s capital city of Windhoek, your Nature Travel Namibia 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 will make our way back to Windhoek.
It is a very interesting small city, located at 1,700 metres (5,600 feet) above sea level (12th highest capital in the world) in the Khomas Hochland plateau area of the centre of the country. 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.
You will receive a briefing about the exciting trip ahead and then you will be dropped off at a bed & breakfast or small hotel or lodge in the city for your first night in Namibia. We can make suggestions for dinner tonight; Windhoek has many excellent dining establishments. Note that all meals today will be for your own account.
Sossusvlei and the Namib Desert
After a good night’s rest we will depart for the first highlight of this safari; iconic Sossusvlei.
We will drive through the Khomas Highland and down the escarpment via one of the many scenic mountain passes into the Namib Desert. This journey will take about 4 to 5 hours, depending on the number of stops for photographs. We will certainly start seeing some of Namibia’s fantastic fauna and flora along the way, including Common Ostrich, Gemsbok, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Sociable Weavers or even a Greater Kudu.
We will reach our accommodation in the afternoon and if there is time it might be fun to walk around the lodge grounds looking for interesting smaller fauna and local flora. Our accommodation for tonight is in an area perfectly situated to explore the surrounding desert and its many attractions.
Sossusvlei and Swakopmund
After an early breakfast we will depart for an exciting morning excursion to Sossusvlei and nearby Dead Vlei, where we will spend a couple of hours. Sossusvlei is where you 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; real postcard quality stuff!
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. We will have time to enjoy some of the many highlights that surrounds Sossusvlei itself:
• Dune 45, the most photographed dune on earth (situated 45 km past Sesriem on the road to Sossusvlei)
• Hiddenvlei, perfect if you are looking for solitude in the desert
• The magnificently tall Big Daddy dune
• Deadvlei, a paradise for photographers, as it is punctuated by blackened, dead acacia trees, in vivid contrast to the shiny white of the salty floor of the pan and the intense orange of the dunes
• Sesriem Canyon, a narrow gorge of 1 km long and up to 30 m deep slashed into the earth by the Tsauchab river millions of years ago. The name derives from the Afrikaans for the 6 lengths of ropes that were needed to haul water out of the gorge to the top with containers in days gone by.
After lunch we will depart for the coastal town of Swakopmund, driving through the vast Namib-Naukluft Park to get there. 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.
Our drive this afternoon is wholly 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, it is a place of exceptional beauty.
We will enjoy a wonderful dinner in Swakopmund (for your own account) and spend the night at a comfortable guesthouse or small hotel in town. This is our home for the next two nights.
Swakopmund (Living Desert Experience)
Today you will have the whole day to explore this wonderful town and all the activities that is on offer.
We can highly recommend the Living Desert Experience, a unique adventure indeed! You will encounter and learn more about the fascinating wildlife of the Namib Desert with the help of a local expert. We will look for geckos, scorpions, snakes, lizards, birds and beetles as well as the incredible plant life that survives in this harsh and seemingly inhospitable environment. Some of the special creatures we might see include Namib Sand Gecko, Namaqua Chameleon, Shovel-snouted Lizard, Tractrac Chat and even Peringuey’s Adder.
Once we are back in Swakopmund we will enjoy lunch and explore the town with optional activities like quad-biking, sandboarding or an ocean cruise to look for dolphins and seals.
Swakopmund has made a name for itself as the activity and sport capital of Namibia, but this town offers so much more than just something for adrenaline junkies. 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 an eclectic mix of South African, Namibian and German cultures, architecture, languages and cuisine. It is also the most popular tourist town in the country, with both locals and foreigners loving the laid-back atmosphere, good restaurants, many activities and the temperate climate.
We will again have dinner in Swakopmund (for your own account) and spend the night at the same guesthouse or small hotel as last night.
Skeleton Coast, including Cape Cross Seal Reserve
Today we continue our safari northwards along the bleakly stunning Skeleton Coast of the Atlantic ocean. This evocatively named area is one of the most unusual coastal wildernesses on the planet, protecting about a third of Namibia’s long coastline. It has a longstanding reputation of being a dangerous sea passage for sailors, and indeed the Portuguese explorers used to call this area the “Sand of Hell”, referring to the fact that even if one did survive a ship running aground, the harsh desert would almost certainly provide one’s final resting place.
We are here to see some of the many shipwrecks along the coast, but also to visit Cape Cross and its famous seal colony. It is the breeding place of over 200,000 South African Fur Seals Arctocephalus pusillus. It is a protected area owned by the government of Namibia with the official title of Cape Cross Seal Reserve, and is also a National Heritage Site. We will be able to view the seals from a 200m long walkway, constructed of recycled plastic. Apart from the seals, there are also other fauna to be seen here, including Brown Hyaena, Black-backed Jackal, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, Grey Phalarope, Damara Tern, Cape Teal, Black-necked Grebe and African Black Oystercatcher.
Next we will turn inland towards spectacular Damaraland. We will drive past the Brandberg (literally “fire mountain” in Afrikaans), Namibia’s highest mountain, with its peak at 2,573 meters (8,441 feet) above sea level. In the distance we will also see the Spitzkoppe (“sharp head” in German), one of Namibia’s most recognizable landmarks. Its shape has inspired its nickname, “The Matterhorn of Africa”. It was first climbed in 1946 and is now a popular climbing destination with local and foreign mountaineers alike.
Our lodge for tonight is situated amongst the beautiful granite rock formations and it’s the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding Damaraland.
We 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 adapted African 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.
This beautiful mountainous region is also home to an assortment of other scientifically important desert-adapted wildlife such as rhino, zebra and lion, which somehow survive and thrive in this near-barren landscape. We hope to see some of them; a special treat indeed!
Damaraland is also famous for its several important geological rock formations that are not to be missed, including the “organ pipes” arrangement (a distinctive series of dolerite pillars that have been exposed by erosion), the “petrified forest” (believed to be more than 200 million years old) and the much-photographed “burnt mountain” (a flat-topped mountain that derives its name from the piles of blackened limestone at its base).
We will be at our lodge in time for a sundowner drink while we enjoy the view over this rugged but beautiful landscape.
Etosha National Park
After an early breakfast we will depart for Etosha National Park, about 4 hours’ drive away to the northeast. We will spend three nights there!
On the way there we will stop at Twyfelfontein, another of Namibia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Meaning “uncertain spring” in Afrikaans, it is a massive open-air art gallery 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. Here we will also look out for the Namib Desert’s weird-looking living fossil plant, the Welwitschia, which is also the name of Namibia’s national rugby team.
We will arrive at our lodge on the southwestern side of Etosha late in the afternoon and settle in to our accommodation.
Undoubtedly one of the great parks of Africa, the huge Etosha National Park in north-central Namibia 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.
Etosha is a photographer’s dream, with the contrasts in light, colour and textures particularly dramatic. The sunrises and sunsets are particularly spectacular, so better get those cameras and phones ready!
We will enjoy dinner and sit around a fire reminiscing about our wonderful trip so far. Remember to look up before settling into your bed tonight – the African night sky, undisturbed by city lights out here in the bush, is truly amazing.
Etosha National Park
We will enjoy morning and afternoon game drives in Etosha today, returning to our lodge in the heat of the day for lunch and to relax.
Your guide will decide, with your input as to your fauna and flora sighting preferences, what the best routes will be to follow. All our guides know Etosha intimately and will make sure you see all that this great African wildlife park has to offer.
Etosha is home to a staggering amount of wildlife, both common and rare, including several threatened and endangered species. The mammal list is at over 110 species, including four of Africa’s Big Five, Cheetah, Giraffe, Spotted Hyaena, Zebra (2 species), Greater Kudu, Springbok, Gemsbok (Namibia’s national animal), Common Warthog, Honey Badger and many more.
Etosha also has a bird list of more than 350 species, including regional specials like Kori Bustard, Blue Crane, Violet Woodhoopoe, Ruppell’s Parrot, Pygmy and Red-necked Falcon, Bare-cheeked and Southern Pied Babbler, and Burchell’s and Double-banded Courser.
Tonight we will again sit around a fire after dinner, chat about the day’s sightings and enjoy another spectacular African night sky.
Etosha National Park
We have another full day to enjoy Etosha today, but we will also slowly make our way to the eastern side of the park, where we will overnight on our last night of the safari.
Named a game reserve in 1907 by the governor of then-German South West Africa, Etosha was elevated to the status of national park in 1967 by an act of parliament of the Republic of South Africa which administered South West Africa during that time. Since then it has become one of the main reasons visitors from all over the globe come to Namibia, and annual numbers are over 200,000. Although Etosha is best known today as a spectacular refuge for an abundance of animals, it is also a part of the world that is providing critical evidence for the existence and evolution of ancestral animals. The rocks in the hills near Halali camp have revealed fossil life as old as 650 million years!
We will arrive at our accommodation in the late afternoon, freshen up and enjoy our last Etosha dinner together.
The Okavango River (Caprivi Strip)
After breakfast we will depart for the Caprivi, one of Namibia’s hidden secrets. The Caprivi with its lush green woodland and big rivers is completely different to what we experienced in Etosha, and more proof that Namibia is not all about sand and deserts!
Caprivi, or the Caprivi Strip or just “the panhandle”, was named after German Chancellor Leo von Caprivi, who negotiated the acquisition of the land in an 1890 exchange with the United Kingdom at the infamous Berlin Conference. Caprivi arranged for the strip to be annexed to German South West Africa in order to give Germany access to the Zambezi river and a direct route to Africa’s east coast, where the colony of German East Africa (now part of Tanzania) was situated. The river later proved unnavigable and inaccessible to the Indian ocean due to the largest waterfall in the world, the Victoria Falls, being in the way! During the 1970s and 1980s the Caprivi Strip was at the heart of the Namibian war of liberation, with the South African defence force hunkering down along the entire stretch of land. At Namibia’s independence in 1990 it became one of the thirteen regions of the country.
The panhandle protrudes eastward for about 450 km (280 mi) from the north-eastern corner of Namibia, and is about 32 km (20 mi) wide on average. Thanks to generous annual rainfall, it is a land of fertile, flat floodplains surrounded by perennial rivers. The Caprivi is bordered by Botswana to the south, and by Angola and Zambia to the north, and crossed by the Okavango, Kwando and Zambezi rivers.
The area is incredibly rich in wildlife, and has become an ecotourism hotspot, with massive growth potential still to be realised. The Caprivi Strip is the best place to see the critically endangered African Wild Dog in Namibia. It is also an important corridor for African Elephant herds moving from Botswana and Namibia into Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
It is a long drive for us today to get to the western side of the Caprivi, but it will be worth it. Our lodge is situated on the banks of the mighty Okavango river, with stunning views all around.
The Okavango river begins in Angola, and then flows into Botswana, draining onto the Moremi Game Reserve, a total length of 1,600 km (990 mi). Before it enters Botswana, the river drops 4 metres in a series of rapids known as Popa Falls, a favourite with photographers.
After arriving and settling in we can either relax or do a late afternoon game drive in nearby Mahango National Park or a sundowner boat cruise.
After dinner on the lodge deck we will enjoy a good night’s rest after the day’s journey while listing to the sound of hippos.
The Okavango River (Caprivi Strip)
After breakfast this morning we can do a mixture of game drives in Mahango and Bwabwata National Parks and a boat cruise on the Okavango River if we didn’t do one the previous afternoon. Other additional optional activities that could be arranged include a mokoro trip or trying your hand at catching the legendary Tiger Fish.
Mahango and Bwabwata National Parks form the “Mahango Core Area”, as well as being part of the much larger Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) that incorporates 16 parks in 5 countries over its vast 520,000 km2 (201,000 sq mi) area. Bwabwata National Park, or just “Buffalo” to the locals, is named after a village in the reserve and means ‘the sound of bubbling water’, and was established in 2007. On the eastern side of the Okavango river is the other smaller part of the core area, namely Mahango Game Reserve. It was established in 1986 and covers an area of 24,462 hectares (95 square miles).
It is a flat region of grassland, swamps, shrubland, floodplains and riverine woodland, with a few sand dunes on the horizon. The deciduous woodlands are dominated by trees such as wild seringa, false mopane, camelthorns and Zambezi teak.
The parks are home to almost 100 large and numerous small mammal species, including African Elephant, big herds of African Buffalo, plenty of Hippopotamus, the rare Roan and Sable Antelopes, Greater Kudu, Red Lechwe, Sitatunga, Lion, Leopard, African Wild Dog, Cheetah, Spotted Hyaena, the vulnerable Spotted-necked Otter and many more.
The area is recognised as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International, and almost 450 bird species have been recorded in these two parks and surrounds. The list includes regional specials like Black-winged Pratincole, Slaty Egret, Wattled Crane, Western Banded Snake Eagle, African Skimmer, African Pygmy Goose, Coppery-tailed Coucal, White-backed Night Heron, Allen’s Gallinule and Dickinson’s Kestrel.
The parks also contain almost 1,000 flora species in 88 different families, along with many reptiles (including some huge Nile Crocodiles), amphibians and fish species.
A favourite and famous spot in Bwabwata is Horseshoe; as the name suggests, a large oxbow lake on the Kwando river with picturesque white-sand beaches, surrounded by beautiful Zambezi teak woodlands.
Between game drives we will have lunch back at the lodge while enjoying more stunning views of the Okavango river. We will also return to the lodge for dinner and another night under the great African sky.
The Kwando River & Bwabwata National Park (Caprivi Strip)
After breakfast you will continue our safari further east along the Caprivi Strip.
After a drive of about 3 hours we will reach our next lodge and have lunch. It is situated on the banks of the beautiful Kwando river. The Kwando, also spelled Cuando sometimes, is 731 km (454 mi) long and runs from the central plateau in Angola into the Linyanti swamp in the north of Botswana. Below the swamp, the river is called the Linyanti river and, farther east, the Chobe river, before it flows into the mighty Zambezi river.
In the afternoon we will explore this section of the Bwabwata National Park, or maybe even venture into the 737 km2 (285 sq mi) Mudumu National Park, with a mixture of game drives and boat cruises. We will see elephants, and plenty of them! Besides the pachyderms, we will try and find African Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, African Wild Dog, Cheetah, Spotted Hyaena, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, Sable and Roan Antelope, Lechwe, Sitatunga, Tsessebe and many other mammals.
From an avian perspective we will look for all the local specials we looked for yesterday, along with other great birds like Rufous-bellied Heron, Black-faced Babbler, Swamp Boubou, Collared Palm Thrush, Meves’s Starling, Southern Ground Hornbill, Bennett’s Woodpecker, African Wood Owl and many more.
We will return to the beautiful lodge for dinner and a good night’s rest. Tomorrow we cross the border into Botswana!
Chobe National Park
After a final morning activity in Bwabwata National Park you will be transferred to Kasane, driving through Katima Mulilo, the unofficial capital of the Caprivi Strip and a town that played a vital role in the South African Border War (1966 to 1990) and the Caprivi Conflict (1994 to 1999). Katima, as the locals call it, is located on the banks of the Zambezi river in lush riverine vegetation, and is a haven for an incredible amount of bird species, as well as naughty monkeys!
You will cross into Botswana at the Ngoma gate, which must surely be one of the most scenic border posts anywhere, as it overlooks the breathtakingly beautiful Chobe river floodplain.
The last 60 km of your journey will be in Chobe National Park. The 12,000 km² (4,400 sq mi) Chobe park, taking its name from the river of the same name, covers an incredible diversity of ecosystems, ranging from arid plains and dry channels to fertile grasslands, dense woodland and watery swamps. Its diverse habitats support a high density and rich variety of animals and birds (over 500 species). It was Botswana’s first national park, established in 1967.
After settling in at your lodge in Kasane you will enjoy a sundowner drink while revelling in the great view over the Chobe river. Kasane is a small town bordering Chobe and is the perfect base from which to explore the park. It is not uncommon to have wildlife walking right down the town’s main street! It is close to Africa’s “four corners”, where Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe almost meet. The town briefly obtained international fame when actors Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton remarried here in 1975.
You will enjoy another great dinner at the lodge and fall asleep to the sounds of the African bush; listen for the “good lord deliver us” of the Fiery-necked Nightjar and the “who who, who-are-you” of the African Wood Owl. Africa is special indeed.
Chobe National Park
Your entire day is dedicated to exploring Chobe!
You will do a game drive and a boat cruise and depending on the time of the year and water levels, you will decide which to do first.
Chobe is home to some of Africa’s highest concentrations of game, with the region boasting the largest continuous African Elephant population on the continent, about 80,000 individuals at the last count. Seeing these giants crossing, playing in and swimming in the Chobe river is a sight you will never forget.
Apart from the large number of pachyderms, Chobe is also known for its excellent game viewing boat cruises along the Chobe river, which attracts plenty of animals and birds, and offers guests some of the best sunset views anywhere in Africa. In the southwestern area of Chobe lies the Savuti Marsh, hosting some of Africa’s highest year-round concentrations of wildlife, especially predators. Chobe’s Lions are world renowned for having learnt how to prey on African Elephants, occasionally even adults!
You will naturally see lots and lots of ellies, but you will also search for African Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, African Wild Dog, Hippopotamus, Nile Crocodile, Giraffe, Sable Antelope, Puku (at the southernmost limit of its range), Lechwe, Waterbuck, Bushbuck and huge herds of zebra.
Some of the special birds you could see include Southern Carmine Bee-eater, African Spoonbill, Racket-tailed Roller, Copper Sunbird, Brown Firefinch, Orange-winged Pytilia, Slaty Egret, Rosy-throated Longclaw, African Skimmer, Rock Pratincole, Half-collared Kingfisher and White-crowned Lapwing.
Chobe is also famous for being the base for many world renowned wildlife photographers. Many award-winning photos, videos and documentaries have been captured here. You will be returned to your lodge in Kasane for dinner and a good night’s rest.
After breakfast you will cross the border into Zimbabwe which will be your third and final country that you visit on this safari. It is a short drive of about 70 km and don’t forget to keep an eye open for wildlife along the way.
After arriving in Victoria Falls town you will continue straight to the falls which is also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya – “The Smoke that Thunders” (the visit to the falls is an optional extra). It is the largest waterfall in the world by volume, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. However, no amount of cold facts can prepare you for the sight of the unfathomably vast and powerful falls. It truly is majestic, and a must-see for adventure and wildlife travellers from all over the globe.
After lunch and settling into your self-catering lodge you will have the afternoon open for any of the following additional activities which is not included in the price: helicopter flights over the falls and the game park (this is a brilliant experience and can be highly recommended), bungee jumping, walking with Lions, elephant-back safari and sundowner boat cruise on the Zambezi River. The sky is the limit in Vic Falls!
You should also visit the local open air curio market on our way to the airport. Please note that dinner tonight is for your own account. Your lodge will be situated in Victoria Falls town itself.
After a relaxing breakfast you will fly out of Victoria Falls International Airport or we will continue our safari onto the rest of Botswana, Zimbabwe or Zambia. Please arrange your transfer directly with your lodge or hotel – this is for your own account.
We can easily extend this safari to include some of the fantastic parks in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana or South Africa. Please enquire and we will gladly assist.
Do you have a quick question about this Safari? Speak to a specialist at