Namibia: Sands of Time
|BETWEEN||Windhoek and Windhoek|
|COUNTRIES VISITED – 1||Namibia|
|MAXIMUM GROUP SIZE||12|
|WHATS NOT INCLUDED||
Namibia is a land full of incredible geological wonders, spectacular landscapes and diverse game. With a whole host of unexplored regions and a diversity that has barely changed for thousands of years Namibia is one of Southern Africa’s most enthralling destinations! The rolling red sand dunes of the Namib Desert, boulder festooned grassy plains of Damaraland, waterfalls, tribal villages and the inhospitable shoreline of the Skeleton coast, this is an incredible tour that will stay with you forever.
Namibia: Sands of Time
From the rolling red sand dunes of the Namib Desert to the boulder festooned grassy plains of Damaraland, we’ll be visiting raging waterfalls, tribal villages and lands rich in wildlife. Travelling from the interior to the river bound border of Angola via the inhospitable shoreline of the Skeleton coast, this is an incredible adventure that will stay with you forever.
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- Epupa Falls and the Angolan borderlands
- Wilderness safari in Damaraland searching for black rhino & desert adapted elephants
- Rolling red sand dunes of the Namib Desert
- Quirky coastal town of Swakopmund and a marine life cruise
- Game viewing in Etosha National Park
Day 1: Tour Starts in Windhoek
Meeting at our hotel this afternoon there will be a chance to freshen up before heading out on an orientation tour around Windhoek. Tonight we’ll have an early dinner in readiness for the trip ahead. Safari Court Hotel or similar (D)
Day 2: Windhoek – Sesriem Canyon
After an early breakfast we take a scenic drive south to Sesriem, stopping for a picnic lunch en-route. As we progress the landscape changes dramatically from rolling hills to farmland, before reaching the arid, red sands of the Namib Desert. Arriving as the temperature is dropping we’ll have time to freshen up at the campsite before heading to Sesriem Canyon for an afternoon walk. Later we’ll return to camp for our first night dining under the stars. Sesriem campsite with facilities or similar (B,L,D)
Day 3: Sesriem Canyon - Sossusvlei - Swakopmund
An early (!) start allows us to reach Sossusvlei in time for a breathtaking sunrise in the iconic dune field. After climbing the rolling red sand dunes and visiting Dead Vlei & Dune 45, we’ll have lunch and head north towards the charming coastal town of Swakopmund. This evening is free to explore this quirky German-influenced town where there’s a plethora of restaurants to choose from for tonight’s dinner at your own expense. Swakopmund Sands hotel or similar (B,L)
Swakopmund is the premier holiday resort in Namibia and during the summer holidays and long weekends, thousands of Namibians flock to the coast to escape the heat of the interior. Swakopmund has a real holiday feel to it, and is one of the liveliest towns in Namibia.The architecture and general feeling of Swakopmund is one, which may be associated with a small German village, and the town seems to be stuck in time. Although in recent times a new generation have woken up to the tourist potential of the area, Swakopmund still manages to create a feeling of timelessness. The area of Namib Desert around Swakopmund is named the West Coast Recreational Area, and recreation is the towns number one draw card. There are countless pursuits to help you spend your time (and money!). For those interested in adventure activities Swakopmund offers sand boarding, quad biking, dune carting, parachuting, hot air ballooning, shark fishing, deep sea fishing and beach angling to name but a few. For the more sedentary there are restaurants, cafes, art galleries, museums, a snake park and aquarium.
Day 4: In & Around Swakopmund
Located just 30km south of Swakopmund, Walvis bay is the only deep-water port in Namibia. Here we will take a wildlife cruise onto the lagoon to spot some of the creatures that thrive in the cold water here. As well as an abundance of birdlife we hope to spot whales and dolphins and we’ll pass close to the local seal colony. Be warned – the seals frequently jump up on board the boat so expect some close encounters! After a buffet lunch and the chance to sample the local seafood we head back to dry land and return to Swakopmund. The afternoon/evening will be spent at your leisure, with the chance to visit one of the town’s museums, and dinner tonight will be at your own expense. Swakopmund Sands hotel or similar (B,L)
Day 5: Swakopmund – Skeleton Coast – Brandberg
After breakfast we leave civilisation behind us… As we head north the landscape becomes bleaker and bleaker as we journey along the infamous ‘Skeleton Coast’ – and looking at this inhospitable coastline it soon becomes obvious how it got its name. In the afternoon we’ll continue north to Brandberg where we’ll walk to the famous rock art around Brandberg mountain. From here we will head to our campsite for the night. Brandberg White Lady campsite with facilities or similar (B,L,D)
The Namib Desert & Skeleton Coast:
The Namib Desert forms part of the NamibNaukluft National Park and occupies an area of around 80,900 km² (31 200 square miles), stretching about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) along the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia. It is considered to be one of the oldest deserts in the world, existing for at least 55 million years. It has less than 10 mm (0.4 inches) of rain annually and is almost completely barren. A number of unusual species of plants and animals are found only in this desert, including Welwitschia mirabilis – a shrublike plant with leaves that grow to be several meters long, gnarled and twisted from the desert winds. It’s also an important location for the mining of tungsten, salt and diamonds. Although the desert is largely unpopulated and inaccessible, there are year-round settlements at Sesriem, close to the famous Sossusvlei and a huge group of sand dunes, which at more than 300 meters high are among the tallest sand dunes in the world. The complexity and regularity of dune patterns in its dune sea have attracted the attention of geologists for decades. The interaction between the water-laden air coming from the sea viasoutherly winds, some of the strongest of any coastal desert, and the dry air of the desert causes immense fogs and strong currents, causing sailors to lose their way. Along with the Skeleton Coast further north, it is notorious as the site of many shipwrecks. Some of these wrecked ships can be found as much as 50 metres inland, as the desert slowly moves westwards into the sea, reclaiming land over a period of many years.
Day 6: Brandberg - Palmwag Concession (Damaraland)
This morning we may, with luck, see desert elephants as we head to the UNESCO world heritage site at Twyfelfontein. Here we’ll find one of the largest concentrations of Stone Age petroglyphs (rock engravings) anywhere in Africa, depicting various animals and hunting scenes. We’ll also stop to see the strange geological structure of the organ pipes before heading further north into the Palmwag Concession. This area is home to the unique desert adapted rhino, and en route to our camp we hope to spot this impressive animal and other wildlife who have adapted to the arid climate. Depending on local conditions we will set up our wilderness camp for the night, dine under the stars, and listen to the sounds of the African bush. Wilderness camping with no facilities (B,L,D)
Day 7: Palmwag Concession – Kaokoland
After a drive in the concession in search of wildlife, we’ll continue north to the wonderfully situated Khowarib Lodge in one of Namibia’s most beautiful regions. Here the Hoanab River marks the border between Damaraland and Kaokoland, and the scenery is simply breathtaking. We should arrive at our wonderfully situated lodge by mid-late afternoon for a chance to relax before sundowners and enjoying a meal cooked up by the lodge’s chef. Khowarib Lodge or similar (B,L,D)
Damaraland & Kakoveld:
Damara is one of the most interesting and dramatic regions in Namibia. Referring primarily to a harsh stretch of burnt mountains and rugged semi-desert, the region is just inland from miles of wild, deserted beaches, littered with ghostly shipwrecks and where you are likely to see dolphins frolicking joyously in the surf. The name Damaraland is derived from the fact that the Damara people live in this area (they were relocated here as a result of the Odendaal Plan in the 1960’s). As one of the most scenic areas in Namibia, the diverse terrain leads to a high concentration of wild and varied game. In the caves and ravines of the area many prehistoric rock paintings have been found. Some 90 kilometres west of Khorixas lies Twyfelfontein (“Doubtful Spring”), with one of the most extensive galleries of rock engravings in the world. They aren’t really paintings, but have been done by cutting through the hard surface layer of sandstone. More than 2,000 petroglyphs have been counted here, and in 1952 the valley of Twyfelfontein was proclaimed a National Monument. The rock engravings are found on a number of smooth rock surfaces and most of them depict animals and their tracks. Scientists have estimated their ages to vary between 1,000 and 10,000 years: The majority agrees on an age of about 6,000 years.
Day 8: Kaokaland - Epupa Falls
Our journey continues as we enter the Himba tribal lands seeing various Himba settlements en route. Arriving at Epupa in the late afternoon – the most northerly point on our trip and close to the Angolan border – we should have time to freshen up before getting our first view of the mighty falls. Epupa Camp (Fixed Tents) or similar (B,L,D)
The Epupa Falls (originating from the Herero word for the spume created by falling water) lie on the Kunene River, on the border of Angola and Namibia. This series of cascades drop a total of 60m over a distance of about 1.5 km, reaching a maximum width of 500m. Watching the Epupa Falls and its white mists of water against the red colours of the surrounding desert and mountains during sunset is likely to make up one the most beautiful and memorable experiences during your trip to Namibia. The Kunene River, snaking its way through the arid desert landscape of northern Namibia forms a natural border to Angola. By May-June it is in full flow and the falls are at their most dramatic.
Day 9: Epupa Falls
Today we’ll have time to visit local Himba settlements and see more of the impressive waterfalls. There will also be free time to unwind and relax amongst this beautiful setting. Epupa Camp (Fixed Tents) or similar (B,L,D)
The Himba are a traditional pastoral people, relying upon herds of drought-resistant cattle, hunting, and gathering for their survival. They look and live like no other people in Africa. One of the most striking things about the Himba is the colour of their skin and hair and their unique way of dressing. They smear their skin with a mixture of cattle fat, ash, and ochre to protect themselves from the harsh desert climate and the merciless sun above. As an additional bonus, the paste gives the Himba a deep red colour that is a highly desirable look in the Himba culture and is very striking to look at. The women wear small skirts made of goatskins adorned with shells and jewellery made of iron and copper. The men and boys wear goatskin loincloths. Until the late 1980’s people living in the area relied entirely on a hunter-gatherer existence, using only stone implements. For the most part, the Himba people are still unaffected by modern civilization and are a rare and unique people to experience.
Day 10: Epupa – Etosha National Park
Today is a transit day as we travel south via Opuwo and onto Etosha National Park. Once in the park, and depending on time, we may take a game drive en route to our lodge to see what wildlife we can find. We should arrive at our lodge in time for sunset. Dolomite Camp or similar (B,L,D)
Day 11: In Etosha National Park
Today we enjoy a full days game viewing as we gradually make our way through the west of the National Park. This is an area where self-guided vehicles are not permitted, and as such is quieter, giving a good chance of spotting the more elusive game. Making our way east we’ll spend the night in the centre of the park where there is a permanent waterhole which is floodlit at night. Here we can watch a variety of wildlife as it congregates and interacts. In the early evenings it’s not uncommon to find black rhinoceros, elephant and lion all drinking at the same time! Halali Lodge or similar (B,L,D)
Etosha National Park:
Etosha National Park is one of Southern Africa’s finest and most important Game Reserves. Established in 1907 and covering an area of 22,270 square km, it is home to an incredible variety of mammals, birds and reptiles and is one of the first places on any itinerary designed for a holiday in Namibia. Etosha, meaning “Great White Place”, is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The salt pan desert is roughly 130 km long and as wide as 50 km in places. The salt pan is usually dry, but fills with water briefly in the summer, when it attracts pelicans and flamingos in particular. Perennial springs attract a variety of animals and birds throughout the year, including the endangered black rhinoceros and the endemic black-faced impala. In the dry season, winds blowing across the salt pan pick up saline dust and carry it across the country and out over the southern Atlantic. This salt enrichment provides minerals to the soil downwind of the pan on which some wildlife depends, though the salinity also creates challenges to farming. A long fence has been erected along the park’s 850 km boundary to control the spreading of disease. The animals concentrate around the new waterholes, resulting in excessive grazing in their vicinity. Fifty waterholes have been constructed to attract animals and so improve the viewing prospect for visitors. A San legend about the formation of the Etosha Pan tells of how a village was raided and everyone but the women slaughtered. One woman was so upset about the death of her family she cried until her tears formed a massive lake. When the lake dried up nothing was left apart from a huge white pan. Visitors to Etosha Game Reserve can expect to see many buck species, elephant, giraffe, rhino and lions. More fortunate visitors will see leopard and cheetah. There is a network of roads linking the three campsites and subsidiary roads lead to various waterholes.
Day 12: In Etosha National Park
Taking a second full day in Etosha we will explore the eastern side of the park and the Etosha salt pan. Because the region is so arid, the game congregates around the watering holes and we should have a chance of spotting 4 of the big 5, along with some of the 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species and 16 amphibian species which are resident within the park. Halali Lodge or similar (B,L,D)
Day 13: Etosha National Park – Okahandja
Awaking early we will take the opportunity to have one final game drive within the park. From here we’ll drive south to Okahandja Lodge, just outside of Okahandja, where we will spend our last night in Namibia and enjoy a farewell dinner. Midgard Country Estate or similar (B,L,D)
Days 14: Okahandja - Windhoek
After breakfast we will drive back to Windhoek Airport, where the tour ends. (B)
Tour Dossier Notes
Accommodation – As an overall ethos, wherever possible, we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience that doesn’t just offer a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip. On this trip we will use a combination of smart and atmospheric lodges, hotels, designated campsites with facilities, as well as one night’s wilderness camping. Please note that when staying at designated campsites and when wilderness camping, you will be expected to put up and take down your tents, although help will always be available if needed. If you wish to assist with the cooking and washing up it would be very much appreciated. Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability. If any accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is not available we will use alternative accommodation of a similar quality.
Transport – Depending upon overall group size we will use either a 9 seater or a 12 seater 4WD safari vehicle.
Climate – Namibia has a dry climate typical of a semi-desert country. That said, December can be a very variable month. Sometimes the hot, dry weather will continue, at other times the sky will fill with clouds and threaten to rain – but if you’re lucky enough to witness the first rains of the season, you’ll never forget the drama!
Is this trip for me? – It may sound obvious but these tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. Please therefore take time to read the dossier carefully. All our tours are graded to give an overall picture of the trip but these are only guidelines and you should check the daily itinerary. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact us.
Airport transfers – Not included but can be arranged. If you’re booking flights yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers.
Guides – Full services of a Tour Leader with local guides and drivers.
Meals – In most cases a “Full Board” Meal plan as detailed in the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner) with the majority of meals being taken in local restaurants where viable. Plus bottled drinking water as required
Entrance fees – Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, we can arrange if possible and these would be at your own expense.
Visas – We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then can request for this to be arranged for you. If you need any advice with visas just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as CIBT can assist.
Airport taxes – If there are any departure taxes to pay that are not included within the cost of your ticket, these are at your expense.
Please note that there is more detailed tour dossiers available specific to each departure date, contact our Sales team and we would be happy to send these to you