Namibia is one of those blessed countries that do not often feature in the news and indeed is one of those places many people have difficulty finding on a World Atlas. It nestles quietly on the western coast of Southern Africa, bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the east, Angola to the north and the cold South Atlantic Ocean to the west. At roughly four times the size of the UK and with a 2 million population, crowds are a rare occurrence.
Namibia is a land of superlatives – the oldest desert, the highest sand dunes, the most cheetahs, and the largest meteorite and so it goes on. With daily flights via Johannesburg or Frankfurt, Namibia is easily accessible from the UK and is a year round destination.
This is a country for visiting for many reasons and is still a well kept secret, although gaining in popularity. Add in the fact that it has stunning scenery, is one of the safest countries in Africa, has well maintained infrastructure, drives on the left, has English as its official language and friendly people to assist you and we believe this is a destination for almost everyone.
Please note that an International Driving License is now required for Namibia.
A mixture of the best of the wildlife, Himba and San tribes and stunning scenery will give you an unparalleled African experience. Namibia is unique in many ways, not least of all for its excellent road network making this safari itinerary positively enjoyable in a self drive vehicle.
Day 1: Okonjima
From Windhoek head north to reach Okonjima for a two night stay. Activities here centre on the conservation and rehabilitation work of the Africat Foundation and include cheetah and leopard tracking and the cheetah welfare project. There are a number of activities to consider such as tracking cheetah and leopard. Well worth planning your time here with your guide to make the most of this location – which has featured on our televisions regularly. Okonjima 2 nights
Day 3: Etosha National Park
Today continue your journey north to Etosha. En route stop to visit Lake Otjikoto, a limestone sinkhole approximately 55 meters deep and where the German Army of the First World War dumped their heavy equipment. Continue north to reach Etosha National Park, one of the greatest game reserves in Africa. Etosha Park encompasses stark white pans, ancient rivers, endless plains, acacia thickets, mopane woodlands and the delightfully named Ondundozananandana hills.
Home to more than 114 animal and 340 bird species (this number swells with the arrival of summer migrants) the park offers brilliant opportunities for game viewing, bird watching and photography. The definitive feature of the park is the vast white salt pan. As the heat builds you will see the heads of giraffe moving through a sea of heat waves their bodies lost to view.
Here there is the choice of staying at one of the three Rest areas located in the Park or the newer camps in areas away from the main routes; each with its own waterhole that become increasingly popular as other sources of water dry up or one of the many lodges that are located on the boundaries of the Park. Okaukeujo Rest Camp in Etosha has a well deserved reputation for rhino and elephant encounters at their waterhole which will keep you from your beds. The Rest Camps are central locations and ideal for exploring the Park; while the lodges and camps outside offer their own game reserves which often allow you to have a quieter game drive/experience. Etosha 3 nights
Day 7: Damaraland
Continue the journey west, over the mountains to an area locally referred to as Damaraland. Encompassing a vast area Damaraland is located in north western Namibia. It enfolds an area of looming mountains, rugged valleys and basalt-strewn plains. The magnificent raw and untamed quality of its landscapes is reflected in its flora and fauna. Here game was hunted to the edge of extinction: ruthlessly and without thought for the future.
Through the determined effort of dogged conservationists, headmen and local inhabitants, Damaraland has returned from the brink. The game depicted in ancient rock art at the World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein has returned to this dramatic landscape. Desert adapted elephant are dwarfed against the towering mountains and the only population of free-ranging (found outside a national park) black rhino seem perfectly at home in this ancient land. The stunning beauty, the feeling of infinity, the majestic creatures and incredible landscapes create an unforgettable experience called Damaraland. Over the next two days explore this land on foot and in open 4×4 game drive vehicles. Trips can be organised to visit a Himba Village while you are in this area. Damaraland 2 nights
Day 8: Erongo Mountains
Bidding farewell to Damaraland, head south to the Erongo Mountains. En route stop to visit the rock engravings at Twyfelfontein. Here an ancient people left beautiful carvings on the red sandstones. The intricate carvings indicate an in depth knowledge of the animals depicted.
Crossing the vast expanses of southern Damaraland, reach the serene granite hills of the Erongo . The lodges here are tucked away in a hidden valley in the mountains. Head out on foot to explore this beautiful area. Colourful rock agamas, skinks and gecko’s are at home on the granite rocks, while a variety of birds (including several endemics) add their lively calls to the early morning sounds.
In the cooler afternoon hours, clamber to the top of a rock dome to watch the sun sink low on the dusty horizon, painting the landscape in beautiful soft pastel colours. As darkness descends the night is welcomed vocally by the tiny pearl spotted owl while the baboons bark and squeal as they shuffle onto their nocturnal perches out of reach of the leopards. Erongo 2 nights
Day 10: Depart Namibia
This morning, bid farewell to the Erongo Mountains and head back to the capital city. Take time to explore the capital and browse through the shops. Even though it is the capital the city, it is home to less than 300 000 people. It is a delightful mix of old and new. It is not unusual to see Herero ladies in traditional missionary dress walking alongside their thoroughly modern daughters clad in Nike and Levi.
Pictures courtesy of Peter Ellis.
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Desert elephants are smaller than you would expect as they have had to adapt to the harsh desert environment in which they live. Take a tour with an experienced guide in search of these elusive mammals. The unexpected greenery of a river valley may be just the place to find these elephant.
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‘Our visit to the Himba village took us back in time, although the shock of modern life came back when I spotted a Himba lady on her mobile phone’
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