Day 1 & 2 – Swakopmund
Upon your arrival at the international airport you will be met by your guide who will give you more information about the tour. Thereafter you will proceed to the coastal town of Swakopmund, where you will spend the night. Swakopmund, German for Mouth of the Swakop, is a city on the coast of north-western Namibia, 280 km west of Windhoek, Namibia’s capital. It is the capital of the Erongo administrative district. As a seaside resort, the weather is cooler here in December to January (Namibia’s summer months) so the territorial administration moves to Swakopmund for these months. Germany’s annexation of the territory of Deutsch-Südwest-Afrika became reality in August 1884 when the German flag and wooden notice boards were planted at various points along the south-west African coast proclaiming the protection of the Reich and supplanting after 400 years Portugal’s claims to sovereignty over the territory. There was only one really viable natural harbour along the coast, namely Walvis Bay, but it was still in British hands. The new German colony’s need for a port of its own led to the founding of Swakopmund in 1892 and it was served as the territory’s main harbour for many years. Today this quaint desert town, hedged by desert and sea, is enhanced by lush green lawns, palm trees and carefully tended public gardens. It has a wide choice of hotels, pensions and restaurants, and several coffee shops. The coast with its desert hinterland offers many options, both for adventure and for relaxation. Swakopmund is much loved by Namibians as a welcome respite from the heat of the interior. It is also popular amongst visitors because of its old-world charm and relaxed atmosphere. You can take part in optional activities that Swakopmund and the surrounding area has to offer, ranging from dolphin cruises, sand boarding, kayaking, paragliding, quad biking and much more.
Day 3 – Damaraland
The morning after breakfast you will travel further north, along huge lichen fields to Cape Cross, a seal reserve where at times over 80 000 animals frolic in the waves of the Atlantic. Thereafter you will continue via the Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain, into Damaraland. Damaraland is one of the most scenic areas in Namibia, a huge, untamed, ruggedly beautiful region that offers travellers a more adventurous challenge. Here there are prehistoric water courses with open plains and grasslands, massive granite koppies and deep gorges. Towards the west, the geography changes dramatically with endless sandy wastes, that incredibly sustain small, but wide-ranging populations of desert-adapted Elephant, Black Rhino, Giraffe, Ostrich and Springbok. These animals have adapted their lifestyles to survive the harshness of the sun-blistered, almost waterless desert spaces. Elephant move through euphorbia bush country, and can travel up to 70km in a day in search of food and water and actually do not destroy trees in their quest for food.
Day 4 – Kaokoland
Kaokoland in the Kunene region, known as home to the Himba people who have kept their ethnic individuality and culture in the seclusion of Kaokoland and also home to the Desert Elephant as they adapt successfully to life in arid areas. The Himba people are semi-nomadic people who still live and dress according to ancient customs and traditions, and they trek from one watering place to the next. With the Tjimba and other Herero people who inhabit Kaokoland, the traditional name of Namibia’s remote northern-western Kunene region, they are informally referred to as the Kaokovelders. The Himba live in scattered settlements throughout the region. Their homes are simple coned-shaped structures made of saplings bound together with palm leaves and plastered with mud and dung. The Himba are tall, slender and statuesque people, renowned for their beauty and photogenic qualities.
Day 5 – Ruacana
We visit a Himba village before heading to Ruacana where you will spend the night. Ruacana is a settlement in the Omusati region which is located on the border with Angola on the Kunene River. Ruacana was developed around a major underground hydro electrical plant linked to the nearby dam across the border in Angola in Calueque. The dam and pumping station were bombed in a Cuban airstrike in 1988 during the Angolan civil war. The facilities were repaired by Nampower and they now operate it producing 240 megawatts with three turbines. A few kilometers from the Ruacana town are the Ruacana Waterfalls. The waterfall is 120 meters high and 700 meters wide in full flood.
Day 6 – Oshakati
We visit the Ruacana Falls before proceeding to Oshakati where you will spend the night. Oshakati is a town located in the Oshana Region. It is the regional capital and it was officially founded in July 1966. Oshakati means “which is in between” in Oshiwambo, the language of the Ovambo. The city was used as a base of operation by the South African Defence Force and Namibian war of Independence. Oshakati is considered to be the largest town and capital of the northern area known as Ovamboland.
Day 7 & 8 – Etosha National Park
Today after breakfast you will proceed down to Etosha National Park which is home to 4 of the Big Five (Lion, Elephant, Rhino and Leopard). Etosha National Park is one of Southern Africa’s finest and most important game reserves. Etosha Game Park was declared a national park in 1907 and covers an area of 22,270 square km. It is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and surprisingly one species of fish. Etosha, meaning “Great White Place of Dry Water”, is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The pan is part of the Kalahari Basin, the floor of which was formed around 1000 million years ago. The Etosha Pan covers around 25% of the national park. The pan was originally a lake fed by the Kunene River. However the course of the river changed thousands of years ago and the lake dried up. The pan now is a large dusty depression of salt and dusty clay which fills only during heavy rains and even then only holds water for a short time. This temporary water in the Etosha Pan attracts thousands of wading birds including impressive flocks of flamingos. The perennial springs along the edges of the Etosha Pan draw large concentrations of wildlife and birds.
Day 9 – Waterberg
Today you proceed down south to the Otjiwarongo area, your destination being the Waterberg Plateau Park where you will spend the night. Waterberg was the site of one of the major turning points in Namibia’s history. It was here on the foothills that the Herero people lost their last and greatest battle against the German Colonial forces at the beginning of the century. The Herero were forced to retreat from the Waterberg and headed eastward to British Bechuanaland (now Botswana). Thousands were killed by the Germans and many lost their lives due to lack of food and water. Estimates are that nearly two thirds of the Herero population lost their lives during this period. The graves of German soldiers who lost their lives at Waterberg can still be viewed near the Waterberg Rest Camp.
Day 10 – End of Tour
This morning after breakfast you will proceed back to Windhoek where you will be dropped off at the airport for your departure flight or at the accommodation of your choice. Enjoy your journey!
Day 1 – Namib Desert
Upon your arrival at the international airport you will be met by your guide who will brief you on the tour details. Thereafter you will proceed down south to the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world. Stretching 1,931 kilometres in length and only averaging a width of 113 kilometres, the Namib Desert is home to the highest sand dunes in the world. It’s absolutely silent. On a windless day, sometimes all you can hear is a deep, deafening silence. The gigantic star-shaped mountains of sand (one of the largest was measured from the base to be 325 m high) are a sought-after topic for artists and photographers. Sossusvlei’s mountainous dunes lie at the end of an erosional trough formed by the Tsauchab River. They are shaped by strong multi-dimensional winds, primarily south-western, and the three to five sinuous crests, which meet at the highest point to give them the star shape. Dinner will be served at the hotel.
Day 2 – Namib Desert
The following day demands an early start, to enjoy the sunrise on the dunes. Thereafter you will visit the Dead Vlei. Dead Vlei is an old salt pan named for its eerie dead appearance in the Namib Desert which had no water since the river changed its course. The old acacias died 500 years ago, but as there is no humidly in this place, they did not rot, forming a dead forest. In the late afternoon you will then visit Sesriem Canyon, walking through the canyon takes you on a journey dating 10-20 million years ago, when sedimentary layers of gravel and sand were deposited and cemented together by lime.
The ledges are now inhabited by pigeons, raucous pied crows and chattering starlings. But look a little higher and you might see a lanner falcon or the soaring spread of a lappet faced vulture with a wingspan of 2.6m.
Day 3 – Helmeringhausen
Today after breakfast you will be heading to the town of Helmeringhausen where your accommodation for the night is booked for you on your behalf. Helmeringhausen is a settlement in southern Namibia in the Berseba Constituency in the Karas Region. Right next to the hotel lays the Agricultural Museum of Helmeringhausen, founded by the local Farmers Association. It displays interesting farming implements, such as water drilling machines or fire fighting coaches used in the olden days. Helmeringhausen Hotel is also known for the best Apple Crumble in Namibia.
Day 4 – Aus
After breakfast you will continue south towards Aus where you will spend the night. After the Germans surrendered to the South African forces at Otavi on 9 July 1915, the tidy, tranquil village of Aus became one of two internment camps for German military personnel. Military police and officers were sent to a camp in the north and the non-commissioned officers went to Aus.
After the treaty of Versailles, the camp was dismantled and by May 1919 it was closed. Virtually nothing remains of the original camp, but several WWI graves remain immediately north of the village.
Day 5 – Lüderitz
You will be travelling to Lüderitz where your accommodation has been reserved. Lüderitz was initially referred to as Angra Pequena, meaning Little Bay by the Portuguese whose navigator Bartolomeu Diaz erected a stone cross on Dias Point on 25 July 1488. Heinrich Vogelslang, agent of the German merchant from Bremen, Adolf Lüderitz, landed at Angra Pequena on 9th April, 1988 to establish a trading station. Following the negotiation with the Khoekoe chief, Josef Fredericks from Bethanie, he purchased the land within an 8 km radius of Angra Pequena. In April 1884 this land became part of the Protectorate of the German Empire, creating the beginning of German colonial control in Namibia, referred to as the then Deutsch-Südwest-Afrika.
Day 6 – Fish River Canyon
After breakfast you will visit Kolmanskop Ghost Town before continuing further toward the Fish River Canyon. The Fish River Canyon is the second-largest natural canyon in the world. Set in a harsh, stony plain, dotted with drought-resistant succulent such as the distinctive Quiver Tree or Kokerboom, Aloe Dichotoma, and Euphorbia Gregaria. The canyon is a spectacular natural phenomenon that took hundreds of millions of years to evolve. Its full length is 160 km; the width is up to 27 km and up to 550 m deep. However the most spectacular section is the 56 km stretch between the northern most and southern most viewpoints, because the river flows intermittently there is always water in some of the pools except in very dry years.
Containing Small and Largemouth Yellow fish, Sharp tooth Catfish Tilapia and Common Carp, the pools are also frequented with the Water Monitor or Leguaan. Baboon, Rock Hyrax, Ground Squirrel and Klipspringer are often seen in the canon while the presence of Leopard and Mountain Zebra are indicated by tracks at waterholes.
Day 7 – Fish River Canyon
Today after breakfast you can visit the Fish River Canyon and in the afternoon you can spend the rest of the day at leisure. The Fish River is the longest interior river in Namibia, but its flow now is a puny trickle compared with the immense volume of water that poured down its length in ages past. It cuts deep into the plateau which is today dry, stony and sparsely covered with hardy drought-resistant plants such as succulents. The river flows intermittently, usually flooding in late summer; and when it ceases to flow it becomes a chain of long narrow pools on the sandy rock-strewn floor of the chasm.
Day 8 – Kalahari Desert
On day 8 after breakfast you will travel to the Kalahari Desert where your accommodation for the night is situated. The Kalahari is not a true desert as it receives too much rain, but it is actually a fossil desert. So do not expect to find the tall sand dunes associated with Sossusvlei, the landscape is more one of golden grass and small red dunes. The Kalahari Desert or Kgalagadi, as it is known in Botswana stretches across 7 countries Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It’s coverage in Namibia is called a ‘desert’ principally because it’s porous, sandy soils cannot retain surface water, but in some areas annual rainfall can be as high as 250mm, which accounts for the luxuriant grass cover during good years. The best known Kalahari inhabitants are the San Bushmen, numbering only a few thousand and squeezed into inhospitable pieces of land where they are often exploited as cheap farm labour. The term ‘Bushmen’ is best known referring to nomadic hunter-gather people, also called ‘Basarwa’ in Botswana and ‘San’ in Namibia and South Africa. The words San means ‘foragers’ and in modern times (unfairly) conjure up negative connotations of backwardness, low esteem, alcoholism and even banditry.
Day 9 – End of Tour
After a hearty breakfast you will be driving back to Windhoek where the tour ends. You will be dropped off at the international airport for your departure flight.
Enjoy a safe journey!