AT A GLANCE
This 8 day active safari is tailormade for guests who are looking to combine being active with the Namibia safari experience. This unique Dune Explorer will take you to the best stops in Namibia.
This Private Guided Safari can be booked for any date as per your planned travel dates
Start of safari in Windhoek, transfer to the Kalahari
Welcome to incredible Namibia!
Your exciting adventure starts the moment your Nature Travel guide picks you up this morning at your hotel, guesthouse or even at the Hosea Kutako International Airport just outside Windhoek. 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, rocky mountains and expansive valleys 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. The city’s architecture, culture and cuisine scene are heavily influenced by its South African and German history.
Our journey today is about 3 to 4 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.
On our drive south you will start getting a feel for the Namibian landscape that we at Nature Travel love so much. It is all about wide expanses and undulating sand dunes at first glance. But when you look a little closer you start seeing all the small things that make this a wonderland… Plants, insects, small mammals, birds and more than all survive and thrive in this seemingly inhospitable environment. During our drive we will certainly start seeing some of Namibia’s fantastic larger fauna too, including Common Ostrich, Gemsbok, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Sociable Weavers or even a Greater Kudu.
Upon arrival at our lodge you will realise that this is the place of the famous red sands of the Kalahari. The Kalahari is a large, semi-arid, sandy savannah desert, extending for a massive 900,000 km2 (350,000 sq mi), covering much of southwestern Botswana, parts of Namibia and the northwestern regions of South Africa. The surrounding Kalahari Basin covers over 2,500,000 km2 (970,000 sq mi), extending further into Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, and encroaching into parts of Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The name Kalahari is derived from the Tswana word Kgala, meaning “the great thirst”, or Kgalagadi, meaning “a waterless place”.
The high iron oxide content in the soil is what makes the sand of the Kalahari that characteristic red, and especially in the correct light, it is a sight that stays with you forever. It also gives the Kalahari an otherworldly, almost Mars-like, feel and look.
The San people have lived in the Kalahari for 20,000 years as hunter-gatherers, and have developed some ingenious ways to stay alive and thrive in this harsh environment. Interestingly, despite the apparent utter lifeless wilderness, the Kalahari is not a true desert. Parts of the Kalahari receive as much as 250 millimetres of rainfall, albeit erratically, throughout the year, and therefore the Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert.
The flora of the Kalahari includes camelthorn, blackthorn and silver cluster-leaf trees (acacia species) and many other herbs and grasses, and even flowers like the Devil’s thorn flower. The Kiwano fruit, also known as the African horned melon, is endemic to a specific region in the Kalahari desert, and is just one example of a feast of edible plants that include wild cucumbers and the creeping tsamma melons, favoured by traditional tribes of the area as well as all sorts of animals.
We will check in and take our luggage to our rooms. We just love this lodge, and you will too. The laid-back homely atmosphere makes everyone feel instantly welcome, and the food and service are top notch.
We hope to arrive in time for an afternoon game drive on the private game 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.
If there isn’t time for an afternoon game drive we will walk around the lodge grounds looking for interesting smaller creatures, or maybe take a dip in the wonderful pool.
We will then get together for dinner, and the chef will ensure your first taste of Namibian cuisine is one to remember. Afterwards we will head off to bed for a good first night’s sleep in Namibia.
Full day exploring the Kalahari
Today we have a full day to explore the wonders of this part of Namibia.
We will start with a hearty breakfast at the lodge and then go on a morning dune walk, guided by one of the lodge’s expert local guides. Refreshments and a light snack will be provided, and we will learn a lot about the fauna, flora and geology of this beautiful landscape.
We will return to the lodge and then head off on another exciting adventure and the first bicycle activity of this safari. We will go on a self-guided E-bike (Electric Mountain Bike) tour of the game reserve that the lodge is situated on. This is an incredibly fun way of seeing the Namibian landscape and its fauna and flora, and we guarantee you will have a great time. The bikes are of a very good quality and can handle this harsh environment with ease. Although the bikes are electrically powered, you still have to pedal to engage the powerful motor, so there’s still a little bit of work to do. But it really is loads of fun!
We will return to the lodge for lunch and some time to relax in your room or around the pool or bar area.
In the late afternoon we will go on a guided sundowner drive. We will be out for about 3 hours and a light snack and refreshments will be provided. Make sure your cameras have enough memory space for all the pictures you are going to take! The optimum time to experience the Kalahari colours is when the sun dips in the late afternoon and lights up the sand as if glowing from an inner fire. At this time the Earth seems to pause for the Kalahari’s magic; you will love it!
After making some great memories and taking some special photographs we will return to the lodge for dinner and some time to socialise. Hopefully the staff will light a big fire for us; nothing beats sitting around the fire with a drink in hand in the Kalahari desert, with only the night sounds and millions of stars for company. A truly magical experience! Later we are off to bed for a good night’s rest. Tomorrow we travel into the desert.
Transfer to Namib Desert
We will start the day with an early breakfast and then a short walk on the lodge’s well-marked walking trails just to loosen the legs up. Then we will check out and say goodbye to the wonderful staff.
From here we head northwest to our next accommodation at the foot of ancient red sand dunes on the eastern edge of the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The park has an area of 49,768 km² (19,216 sq mi), making it the largest game park in Africa and one of the ten largest in the world. It is constantly being enlarged by the government and private organisations alike, in order to create an even larger conservation area.
The unfenced park is situated against the Atlantic coast and borders the Dorob Park to the north, the restricted diamond mining area to the south and it shares the border with the private NamibRand Nature Reserve to the east. In the northeast the Naukluft mountains form part of the Park as well.
The vegetation of the Naukluft area is semi-desert savanna. It is home to some of the rarest and weirdest plant species in the world, including the Welwitschia, large lichen fields, several aloe species, cluster figs, acacia thorn trees and many different Euphorbia species. The park boasts some fantastic animal species too, including Steenbok, Springbok, Gemsbok, Greater Kudu, Hartmann’s subspecies of Mountain Zebra, Dassie Rat, Chacma Baboon and Klipspringer. Additionally, over 200 bird species have been documented in the park and surrounds.
Importantly, the park includes the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world, that extends far beyond the borders of the park and includes the whole of western Namibia. The part of the Namib within the Park is about 500 km long and between 100 to 180 km wide. Here the highest dunes worldwide are found, which reach a height of up to 300 metres.
The characteristic red colour of the dunes developed over many millions of years, and was deposited into the Atlantic Ocean from the Orange River much further south. The Benguela current then carried this sand northwards, to be deposited back onto the land by the ocean’s surf. From here the wind carried the red sand inland to form these dunes over time.
This rippling “dune sea” of the Namib-Naukluft National Park was proclaimed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013, and officially named the Namib Sand Sea.
During today’s drive of about 5 hours your camera will work overtime, with vast desert vistas all around, complemented by a green ribbon of riverine trees and purple-blue mountain ridges in the distance. We will also drop down from the escarpment down into the desert down one of the steep mountain passes; a strange experience to have in a country most people think is flat and low!
We will either enjoy a packed picnic lunch somewhere in a dramatic spot during our drive, or we might just reach our accommodation in time for a late lunch.
We will reach our beautiful lodge and check in, taking some time to appreciate our dramatic surroundings. The lodge lies at the foot of ancient fossilised dunes, with amazing landscape features all around. Down-to-earth and homely, it is a place to put our feet up, explore, discover and love forever.
In the afternoon you can grab a trail map and go and explore the surrounding desert by electric fatbike or by foot on one of the walking trails. It is really a fun activity!
Upon returning to the lodge, we can cool off in the pool with a sundowner in hand, marvelling at the landscape around us.
Then we will get together for dinner and some socialising, before settling in for a good night’s rest. Remember to listen out for some owls or nightjars, or even a jackal calling, while on your way to your room; this is the Namibia we love!
Full day exploring the desert, including iconic Sossusvlei
We will start this morning with a very early breakfast, and then depart for our full day excursion into the “heart of the Namib”, iconic and world famous Sossusvlei.
Situated within in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, Sossusvlei is possibly Namibia’s most spectacular and best-known attraction. It 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.
Sossusvlei literally translates to “dead-end marsh”, as it is the place where the dunes come together preventing the Tsauchab River from flowing any further, some 60km east of the Atlantic Ocean. However, due to the dry conditions in the Namib Desert the river seldom flows this far and the pan remains bone-dry most years. During an exceptional rainy season the Tsauchab fills the pan, drawing visitors and photographers from all over the world to witness the surreal and spectacular sight of ducks and even flamingos in the middle of a reflective, glassy “lake” in the middle of the desert! When the pan fills it can hold water for as long as a year.
We will arrive at Sossusvlei early, as it is the best time for photographs and not too hot yet, and have plenty of 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 world famous 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.
The area has been the setting of a number of local and international commercials, music videos, and movies, especially of the fantasy genre, and you will soon see why; it really is mind-blowingly beautiful and utterly different here. All our guides have visited Sossusvlei and the surrounding attractions many times, and yet all of them come back to the office after every trip and still marvel at this amazing place, wanting to go back soon.
Despite the harsh desert conditions, there are a wide variety of plants and animals that have adapted to survive here, and we hope to see some of them today. These include insects, reptiles, birds, mammals and many desert adapted plants, flowers and fruits, like Namibia’s national plant, the bizarre Welwitschia. We will certainly keep our eyes open for any interesting species of fauna and flora, including mammals like Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Gemsbok, Springbok, Klipspringer, Steenbok, Common Duiker, South African Ground Squirrel, Cape Hare, Yellow Mongoose, Common Rock Hyrax, Bat-eared Fox, and even Leopard if we are very lucky.
Avian specials in this area include Verreaux’s and Martial Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Lanner and Pygmy Falcon, Burchell’s and Double-banded Courser, Kori and Ludwig’s Bustard, Rüppell’s Korhaan, Double-banded and Namaqua Sandgrouse and more. There are of course also many reptiles in attendance, so look out for Namaqua Chameleon, Puff Adder and much more.
We will return to our lodge in the late afternoon and have some time to freshen up. There is the option to go on a sundowner drive with the lodge’s expert guide this evening.
Then we will once again get together for dinner and a chat late into the night under the star-filled African sky. Then we will settle in for the night after a great day in the Namib desert.
Transfer to Swakopmund via Solitaire
We will get together for our last breakfast in the desert, then pack our bags and make our way to our final destination of this fantastic tour. We are heading for the coast!
The drive will take about 4 hours, and takes place entirely 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, so have your cameras ready!
We will also make a quick stop at the legendary small desert oasis town of Solitaire. As the nearest big towns are Walvis Bay (233 kilometres/145 miles away) and Windhoek (251 kilometres/156 miles away), it has been a common stopover and meeting place for tourists from all over the globe for more than 60 years. Solitaire is not only famous for being the only fuel stop between Sossusvlei and Swakopmund, but also for McGregor’s Bakery, which proudly serves its world-renowned fresh apple pie on a daily basis. Try one, they are delicious!
We will reach our comfortable guesthouse in Swakopmund (our home for the final three nights on the tour) in the mid-afternoon and have some time to take in the beauty and charm that is Swakopmund.
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. 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 take a stroll form our guesthouse and enjoy a wonderful dinner in Swakopmund town; we can decide where we want to eat tonight, but we can highly recommend the seafood establishments in town. Here the fish really is freshly caught!
After a nice dinner with a view over the Atlantic we will return to our guesthouse and get a good night’s sleep, because tomorrow another full and exciting day awaits us!
Living Desert Experience and Fatbike City Tour
Today you will have the whole day to explore this wonderful town and all the activities that is on offer.
We will start with breakfast at our guesthouse and then head off into the nearby desert for a Living Desert Experience, a unique adventure indeed and a real eye opener!
We will encounter and learn more about the fascinating wildlife of the Namib Desert with the help of a local expert. This seemingly dead environment supports a wealth of animal and plant life that have adapted in wonderful ways to survive and thrive here, mostly thanks to the life-giving fog that constantly rolls in from the cold Atlantic Ocean.
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 the almost transparent Namib Sand Gecko (with its comical webbed feet), Namaqua Chameleon, Shovel-snouted Lizard (that seems to dance across the hot sand), Tractrac Chat, Wheel Spider (that cartwheels down dunes to escape) and even Peringuey’s Adder. We will also learn about the geology, structure and formation of the desert, and admire the vast and beautiful landscapes while enjoying a scenic dune drive combined with fun and adrenalin.
After this wonderfully informative and fun activity we will get together in town for lunch and some time to relax.
In the afternoon we will do another fun activity, an Old City Fat Bike Tour. On this scenic and chill bike ride we will cycle down memory lane past some of Swakopmund’s historic buildings and landmarks, learning how this charming town started and why Swakopmund is still one of Namibia’s favourite places to visit. It is a very informative and fun way to learn about a town and not something you get to experience in many places in the world. The bikes we use are super sturdy mountain bikes with “fat” tires, providing a smooth and stable ride and of course, fabulous capabilities in sand!
After our fantastic day we will again have dinner at a nice restaurant somewhere in Swakopmund and spend the night at the same guesthouse as last night.
Full day in and around Swakopmund and Walvis Bay (many options available)
Today we have a full day in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay to spend as we want to. We will start with breakfast at the guesthouse and then the sky really is the limit! We can make several suggestions as to what you should do in the area, but in the end the choice is yours. There is so much to do, and you can choose how active or adrenalin-filled you want your day to be.
Some of the optional activities you can choose include:
• A dramatic scenic airplane flight over the Namib Desert, to see how the seldom-present waters of the Kuiseb River stop the advance of the red sands of the Namib, experiencing the vastness of the magnificent dune formations as you fly south to Sossusvlei and then return along the coast passing over long gone mining settlements, lonely shipwrecks, seal colonies, colourful salt works, Windhoek Harbour and finally back to Swakopmund.
• Stand-up and lie-down sandboarding in the dunes of the desert. All the necessary equipment will be provided and you will receive instructions. Despite the fact that there are no ski lifts in the dunes, sandboarding is great fun for everyone where some serious speeds can be achieved!
• Quadbiking in the desert. This is one of the best ways to experience the breathtaking scenery of the oldest desert in the world, including riding up along the top of Namibia’s famous dunes from where you will enjoy once-in-a-lifetime views of the desert, sea and Swakopmund. You will receive instructions (these bikes are really easy to ride and you don’t need any previous experience) and after the engines are revved up an experienced guide will lead you through the Swakopmund River mouth into the dune belt, where you will feel the freedom of riding through one of nature’s great wildernesses.
• If you don’t like the idea of a quadbike, you can still enjoy the same spectacular desert scenery under your own power, with a scenic fat bike desert ride. You will enjoy the thrill of cycling up and down Namibia’s famous dunes whilst taking in the breathtaking scenery of the oldest desert in the world. The normal route is around 12 to 14km (7.5 to 9 miles) long and includes cycling in town, through the dry riverbed and up and down stunning dunes. Although everyone appreciates the amazing scenery, a relative level of fitness and knowing how to ride a bicycle is required to fully enjoy this tour.
• Open sea kayaking to Pelican Point, giving you the opportunity to kayak amongst the inhabitants of the permanent seal colony at the tip of the Pelican Point Peninsula about 35 km outside of Walvis Bay. You will be picked up in a 4×4 vehicle and taken on a scenic drive along the Walvis Bay Lagoon and the salt mines to Pelican Point, stopping along the way to take pictures of the amazing pink flamingoes, pelicans, large flocks of cormorants and great variety of other birds and wildlife. After a safety briefing on how to use the equipment and the local sea conditions, you will kayak for about 90 minutes amongst the South African Fur Seals; a special experience indeed! The kayaks are moulded plastic sit-inside double or single kayak, very stable and suitable for inexperienced paddlers too.
• A Catamaran cruise on the Atlantic ocean is another fantastic activity you can choose. You will either go aboard the 45ft Silverwind, the 60ft Silversand, or the 40ft Silvermoon, to enjoy an adventure-packed tour to Pelican Point and Walvis Bay’s beautiful bay area. Depending on the time of year you have the chance of encountering dolphins, whales, turtles, seals and Mola Mola (sunfish), all while feeling like a king and enjoying sparkling wine, fresh oysters and other mouth-watering snacks aboard the spacious and comfortable catamarans.
• If you are a birdwatcher, we can arrange an expert local guide (or you can take the nature Travel guide with you) for some birdwatching at the world famous Walvis bay lagoon and salt works. You could see some special species like Damara Tern, Great White Pelican, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, Crowned, White-breasted and Bank Cormorant, Terek and Pectoral Sandpiper, Black-necked Grebe, Red-necked Phalarope, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, Common and Spotted Redshank, and many others.
• There are many other activities that can be arranged, including kitesurfing, skydiving, jogging, horse riding and more!
*Please note: most of the activities for today need to booked well in advance, so we will kindly ask you to let us know which of these you would like to partake in before the tour starts. This will allow us to make tentative bookings, ensuring a booked place for you in whatever activity you decide to do.
After our exciting and adventurous day in this special area we will get together for our farewell dinner (for your own account) at one of the many restaurants in town. We will chat about some more trips we might do together in the future, to all sorts of other exotic places on the planet.
After dinner we will return to our guesthouse for a final night’s sleep under Africa’s magical, star-filled sky.
Morning activity, then transfer to Windhoek and Departure
Unfortunately our amazing Namibia Dune Explorer tour has come to an end. We will enjoy breakfast together at the guesthouse, check out and say our goodbyes to the wonderful staff.
Then we get into the vehicle and head back to Windhoek. It is a beautiful drive back up onto the escarpment, and it will take us about 4 hours. We will use this time to exchange e-mail addresses and maybe even some photos of our wonderful time together, as we cruise past some more of the Namib’s unforgettable dune scenery.
We will drop you off at the Hosea Kutako International Airport for your onward or homeward flight, or at your hotel or guesthouse if you are staying for an extra day in Windhoek. We will say our sad goodbyes, having surely made friends for life.
*Please note: Extensions to Etosha National Park, the Caprivi strip, Zimbabwe, Botswana or South Africa can easily be arranged. This safari can also be shortened or lengthened according to your specific personal preference. Please contact us for more information.
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