Okonjima Nature Reserve – Etosha National Park – Etosha National Park – Damaraland – Damaraland – Swakopmund – Sossusvlei
10 Days / 9 Nights: 01 April 2017 – 31 March 2018
Scheduled – 10 Day Namibian Explorer – Camping
The 10 day Namibian Explorer is your chance to view exquisite feline carnivores, the wild animals of Etosha in their personal Eden, unique mountainous vistas and the elaborate carvings of Africa’s eldest human inhabitants. From the coastal town of Swakopmund we travel down to the Namib-Naukluft National Park and the giant sand dunes at Sossusvlei. The Naukluft is the largest conservation area in Africa and fourth largest in the world!
Windhoek – Okonjima/Africat (300 km) (LD) (camping)
You will be collected between 08:30 & 09:00.
We will travel north, stopping at small towns along the way including Okahandja, where we have time to visit Namibia’s largest wood carving market. The market is operated on a local co-operative basis and is one of the best places to shop for truly Namibian souvenirs. Continuing north, passing through farmland, we aim to arrive at Okonjima during the middle afternoon, giving us time to set up our camp and to relax in the shade for a while before heading out on to the property to take part in the afternoon’s optional activity.
Okonjima is the home of the Africat Foundation, a specialist conservation concern that centres its operations on the African Big Cats, particularly cheetah. This afternoon you will be taken on a tour during which you will be able to meet, close-up-and-personal, some of the cheetah that are going through the Africat rehabilitation programme.
Most of the animals currently living at Okonjima have been rescued from various desperate situations, being orphaned or caught in a trap, and the aim of the rehabilitation process is to attempt to re-introduce them into the wild.
After our educational tour we will return to our camp and prepare for dinner under the African stars.
Okonjima Nature Reserve
Halfway between Windhoek and Etosha lies the well-known Okonjima Nature Reserve. The 22 000 ha Nature Reserve is surrounded by 96 km of fence and was finally completed in 2010. Okonjima is home to AFRICAT, a Carnivore Conservation, which gives the captive carnivores a second chance to be released back into the wild and to take the time it needs, to become a completely independent hunter – in a protected area right in the middle of commercial farmland! Also in the Reserve is a 2000 ha ‘safe’ zone around Plains Camp, Bush Camp, Bush Suite, the Omboroko Campsite as well as the PAWS Environmental Education Centre.
The AfriCat Foundation
The AfriCat Foundation was founded in the early 90’s and formally registered as a non-profit organisation in August 1993. The Foundation has since grown significantly and what started out primarily as a welfare organisation, has over the years, identified the need to focus on education and research, as being essential to accomplishing our mission – the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores. The Foundation has since grown significantly and what started out primarily as a welfare organisation, has over the years, identified the need to focus on education and research, as being essential to accomplishing our mission – the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores.
Overnight: Okonjima Campsite
Situated halfway between the capital Windhoek and the Etosha National Park, the 55,000 acre Okonjima Game Reserve has some of the best accommodation in Namibia, but the highlight has to be the cheetah and leopard safaris.
The Campsite at Okonjima is nestled amongst the Omboroko mountains. The 4 exclusive campsites, all share a private swimming pool. Each Private Campsite offers:
Private shower/s (incl. hot water),Private flush toilet/s,A washing-up area under a roof with a power point to charge batteries and a light.A viewpoint for sundowners.1 fixed light per campsite for cooking & 1 plug point will be available for charging of fridges, cameras, cell phones etc.
Lunch and dinner
Okonjima/Africat – Namutoni / East Etosha region (300 km) (BLD) (camping)
An early start and continuing north we pass through some small towns, making short stops for fresh supplies and fuel.
Continuing on to our East Etosha, Namutoni region camp we again aim to arrive in time for lunch, giving us time to relax before heading into the park during the cool of the late afternoon for our first game drive.
Etosha National Park
The Etosha National Park is Namibia’s premiere game viewing experience, situated in the northwest of Namibia and is an area well known for its wildlife. Vegetation ranges from dense bush to open plains attracting a diversity of wildlife. In the heart of the Park is The Etosha Pan – a shallow depression that covers an area of 5000sq kilometres. Dry and shimmering for most of the year, the pans fill up with water after good rains to a depth which is seldom deeper than 1m. In the dry season wildlife is attracted to perennial springs and waterholes that makes for excellent game viewing.
Within the park are three large public rest camps catering for the more budget orientated traveller. There are several smaller establishments on the outskirts of the park on private land offering a more intimate and comprehensive experience. All of these establishments offer excellent value for money.
Overnight: Namutoni Campsite
Built into an old German Fort Namutoni Campsite has a unique atmosphere. Within the fort you will find ample facilities. From the walls of the fort you can enjoy an elevated view of the King Nehale Waterhole allowing for great game viewing without leaving the camp. The walls of the fort are also and excellent spot for sundowners. There is hardly a better way to end a day in the bush and Namibia than to marvel at the colours of the setting sun.
The Camp is situated in the eastern part of Etosha National Park and is accessible via the Von Lindequist Gate. Its close proximity to Fisher’s Pan makes Namutoni a hotspot for birders. Two restaurants, a craft shop, a pool and a viewing deck overlooking King Nehale Waterhole make the fort a great place to relax at lunchtime or after evening game drives. The African Fusion restaurant will introduce you to local flavours, while The Steakhouse offers popular western dishes. A superette, curio shop and petrol station allow you to stock up on everything that is necessary and nice. The camping area has generously spaced sites with plug point and communal ablution facilities on either side of the campsite.
East Etosha region – Okaukuejo, Etosha National Park (BLD) (camping)
A full day’s game driving. We again leave early to enjoy the cool morning air as we game drive our way through Etosha to Halali camp, situated in the middle of the park. Along the way we visit several waterholes and are afforded splendid views of the massive Etosha Pan. The game viewing is usually excellent and we have the chance to tick off a few new species that are not normally seen on the Namutoni side of the park.
We stop at Halali for a rest and a leisurely lunch. There is time to visit the Halali waterhole and to make use of the swimming pool and bar facilities before continuing on our way and game driving down to Okaukuejo, Etosha main rest camp and resort where we will check in and set up camp. Originally the site of a German fort built in 1901, Okaukuejo now houses the Etosha Ecological Institute, founded in 1974; the round watchtower is a remnant of the fort.
After your evening meal there are still more chances to see Etosha big game at a floodlit waterhole, situated on the boundary of our camp and easily reachable within a minute or two on foot.
The waterhole has been described as one of the “best game viewing opportunities in Southern Africa” and the ideal venue to witness peculiar animal politics. Black rhino, Africa’s tallest elephants, lion and numerous species of antelope are regular visitors during the cool, dry season.
Overnight: Okaukuejo Campsite
Okaukuejo is located 17 km from the southern entrance of the park, Anderson Gate. Okaukuejo is the oldest tourist camp in Etosha and it also functions as the administrative centre of the park. Okaukuejo is also home to the Etosha Ecological Institute. It is situated at the western end of the Etosha Pan. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, shop, swimming pool, kiosk and camp sites.
The main attraction of this camp is that it overlooks a permanent waterhole which is floodlit at night. Here a wide diversity of wildlife congregate and interact from lion to rhino to elephant and antelope. The spectacle starts at dawn, with animals coming in large numbers to quench their thirst. The activity continues throughout the day until late at night. In the early evenings, it is not uncommon to have black rhino, elephant and lion all drinking at the same time.
Okaukuejo – Grootberg area (310km) (BLD) (camping)
Leaving Etosha we begin our journey south with a relatively short drive to the small town of Kamanjab.
Within this area you have the opportunity of visiting a Himba Village – the only traditionally functioning Himba community outside the far north Kaokoland region of Namibia These tribes-people have migrated here, lifestyle and customs intact, and are following their traditional way-of-life in their village on a farm, the exact location of the site varies as the Himba occasionally roam to a new location. We will learn about marriage customs, traditional food and the mysteries of the “Holy Fire” religion.
From here it is a short drive on to The Hoada Community Campsite which is located among beautiful granite hills and mopane trees. To add an eco-friendly touch, the hot water system works in combination with the barbecue area, therefore whilst your meal is being prepared, your water will be warmed up for your shower!
We overnight – camping under the stars.
Huge, untamed and ruggedly beautiful Damaraland is an exceptionally scenic landscape of open plains and spectacular rock formations.
Otjikandera Himba Village
Otjikandera Himba Village
A visit to this traditional Himba village is also a visit to the first registered Orphan Trust Fund in Namibia. The money received for tours to the Himba Village goes into a Trust which is mainly used for food and other necessities. The Otjikandero Himba Orphan Project tries to give the local tribe a chance to survive in the western world and tries to depict the proudness of the people, Himba lifestyle, tradition and culture and strives to ensure that future generations will live and thrive at Otjikandero and that the project can continue to grow.
Overnight: Hoada Camp Site
Situated 25km east of Grootberg Lodge or 75km on the C40 west from Kamanjab, the campsite is located among beautiful granite hills and Mopani trees. Each campsite has its own shower, washbasin and toilette with running water. To add an eco-friendly touch, the hot water system works in combination with the braai area, therefore whilst you are busy cooking your food, your water will be warmed up for your shower.
Grootberg area – Twyfelfontein (190 km) (BLD) (camping)
Today we head into one of the most beautiful desert regions in Namibia, Damaraland. We drive west via the Grootberg Pass and then take a detour to visit the ancient Bushman rock engravings at Twyfelfontein. At this location we will have a local guide to conduct us on a short guided tour before we set up camp for the night.
Twyfelfontein Rock Art
Twyfelfontein Rock Art
Twyfelfontein is a World Heritage Site boasting one of the richest rock art concentrations in Africa. Thousands of tourists come to this site each year to view some 2, 500 Stone Age rock engravings. The area is home to 17 rock art sites, which collectively encompass 212 engraved stone slabs. There are an additional 13 sites displaying rock paintings.
Overnight: Madisa Campsite
The camp is hidden between amazing rock formations which are scattered with Bushman Paintings and has privy to an ancient Desert Elephant route that often gets visited by these beautiful giants. Ideal for the traveller who wishes to camp comfortably without compromising the experience of exclusivity in this vast and magnificent area of Damaraland Namibia. Madisa is a good base camp to explore from as there are very interesting sites in the area such as Twyfelfontein, Brandberg, the Petrified Forest and much more these are all a easy drive and after a day of exploring what better to finish with a swim and enjoy your campsite under a blanket of stars. Each spacious campsite has an exquisite view of the Gauntegab River bed and rock formations. The campsites have individual ablution facilities situated on stilts hidden in the tree tops. The braai facilities also double up as a heater (donkey system) for hot running water at each open air shower. The camp sites are shaded by large Mopane trees and have a low rock wall around each site. The swimming pool and bar area are very welcoming after a long day and give you a chance to rejuvenate and enjoy your surroundings. It’s also nice to meet fellow travellers and share tails around a communal camp fire at night while the sky puts on a breath taking show of stars.
Twyfelfontein – Swakopmund, Skeleton Coast (420 km) (BL) (accommodation)
From here we head deeper into the desert and pass Namibia’s highest mountain, The Brandberg, (2573 m) and more beautiful Damaraland scenery. We make a stop in the small town of Uis, an old mining town, and one of the best places to buy semi-precious stones, for which Namibia is famous. Here, rough Amethyst, Tourmaline etc can be found at bargain prices.
From here we turn directly west and cross the gravel plains on our way to the Atlantic Ocean and the Skeleton Coast. Meeting the ocean at Henties Bay, we first head north along the coast to visit the seal colony at Cape Cross. At certain times of the year as many as 100,000 Cape Fur seals congregate.
The next destination is Swakopmund, following the Skeleton Coast into Namibia’s premier seaside town. We aim to arrive in the late afternoon giving us time to explore the town on foot before sunset.
Tonight we take the chance to sample one of the excellent restaurants. The seafood in Swakopmund is superb. Your guide will offer to organise a group meal in a local restaurant for this evening. Participation is recommended but by no means required.
Dinner is for the client’s own account.
Founded in 1892 as the main harbour for German South West Africa, Swakopmund is often described as being more German than Germany. Now a seaside resort, Swakopmund is the capital of the Skeleton Coast tourism area and has plenty to keep visitors happy. The quirky mix of German and Namibian influences, colonial-era buildings and the cool sea breeze make it very popular.
Cape Cross Seal Colony
Cape Cross Seal Colony
This colony of Cape Fur Seals is one of the largest in the world, home to approximately 80 000 to 100 000 of these so-called ‘seals’, which are in fact a species of sea lion. Day trips to the colony are offered and the seals can be viewed from a walkway at a distance of roughly 200 metres.
Overnight: Prost Hotel Swakopmund
Prost Hotel is situated in the heart of Swakopmund, giving access to the town’s various and excellent restaurants. Our accommodation consists of 28 en-suite rooms, ranging from luxury, family to standard rooms. All rooms are equipped with 43” flat screen TV, own DSTV decoder, electronic laptop safe, tea/coffee station, telephone and hair dryer.
Bed & Breakfast
Today is a free day. The idea is to allow time for everybody to do their own thing. Swakopmund is a very pleasant seaside town with lots of shops, a good stretch of beach (although the Atlantic here is quite cold) and an open-air curio market. There is also a very good museum and the Namibian National Marine Aquarium is located in Swakopmund.
Alternatively, there are various optional activities that can be arranged. These include aeroplane and microlight flights over the desert, scenic drives, fishing trips (both from the beach or in a boat), four-wheel motorcycle (quad bike) trips into the desert and over the sand dunes around Swakopmund, sand boarding trips (also in the dunes), skydiving, surfing, bird-watching and many other activities are available.
Your tour guide will discuss all the possible options with you before you reach Swakopmund and will offer to make bookings in advance of your arrival. (N.B. All extra activities and excursions in Swakopmund are subject to availability and are made at the clients’ own risk and expense).
Lunch and dinner today is not included in the price of the safari and will be for the client’s own account
Living Desert Tours
Scenic Desert Flights
Swakopmund City Tour
Living Desert Tours
The Living Desert Tour is a unique 4×4 adventure which specializes in bringing the desert to life while sharing the awesome beauty of the Namib Desert with travellers from all over the world. The coastal dune belt may seem barren and lifeless to many people, but in fact it is alive with a fascinating variety of little desert adapted animals, which are able to survive on the life-giving fog which consistently rolls in from the cold Atlantic Ocean.
Come see the Dancing White Lady Spider (Carparachne aureoflava) cartwheel 44 turns per second down a dune to escape the enemy. Admire the transparent Namib Dune Gecko (Pachydactylus rangei) with webbed feet that are equivalent to snow shoes. Learn about the different beetles and insects and how they survive in the dune desert. Follow in the tracks of a legless Lizard (Fitsimmon’s Burrowing Skink), observe Sand Diving Lizards (Meroles Anchieta) dancing on the hot sand, Sidewinder Snakes (Perinquey’s Adder), Desert Chameleons and many more fascinating creatures. 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.
Scenic Desert Flights
A dramatic flight over the Namib Desert, see how the seldom present waters of the Kuiseb River stop the advance of the red sands of the Namib, experience 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.
Located at the Mole, the Swakopmund Museum is diminutive but fascinating, housing displays focusing on a wide array of aspects related to the region and its surrounds, including wildlife, environment, geology, history and anthropology.
Swakopmund City Tour
Better known as Namibia’s playground, this idyllic town is wedged between the sweltering Namib Desert and cold Atlantic Ocean. This desert town is a rhapsody of adventure, fun, exploration and relaxation. Graced with many beautiful, old buildings in a colonial, Bavarian style, the best way to experience this small town is on foot.
The Catamaran Charters Team invites you aboard the 45ft Royal Cape Sailing Catamaran Silverwind, or the 60ft Simon Sailing Catamaran Silversand, or the 40ft Admiral Motorised Catamaran Silvermoon, to enjoy an adventure packed tour to Pelican Point and Walvis Bay’s beautiful bay area. The chances of encountering dolphins, whales, turtles, seals and Mola Mola (sunfish) make the search for the marine big 5 and adventurous tour by enjoying sparkling wine, fresh oysters and other mouth-watering snacks aboard the spacious and comfortable catamarans.
Bed & Breakfast
Swakopmund – Sesriem (300 km) (FB) (camping)
Our first stop is at Walvis Bay, situated about 40 km south of Swakopmund. South of the town there is a large marine lagoon which is home to a vast array of marine bird-life, in particular flamingos.
We will make a short visit to the lagoon to see the birds and a short visit to Walvis Bay to collect any last minute supplies before once again heading out into the desert. The second part of our journey today takes us across more of the seemingly endless Namib gravel plains. Then the landscape suddenly changes and we are into the mountain desert.
The tour continue as we traverse both the Kuiseb and Gaub passes, driving both times to the river beds at the bottom of the canyons and then climbing the long steep road to the top and the spectacular panoramas the mountains give us. Again the scenery changes as we make our way down to the dune fields. We cross some open grass savannah and farmlands before the terrain begins to give way to the immense red sand dune desert of the Namib and from here it is only a short distance to our next stop, the tiny town of Solitaire.
Our aim is to arrive at our camp during the late afternoon and watch the colours glow and change on distant mountains to the east.
Sossusvlei 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 photographers heaven. Aside from the attractions at Sossusvlei – Dune 45, Hidden Vlei, Big Daddy and Dead Vlei – other attractions in the area include the Sesriem Canyon and Namib-Naukluft National Park, where the mountains of the Namib meet its plains.
Overnight: Sesriem Campsite
Located perfectly at the entry to Sossusvlei inside the park gate is Sesriem Camping, just a short drive from Sesriem Canyon and right beside the gate into the desert
It is perfect for campers who want to experience the beauty of the Namib Desert with the sun setting over the Elim dune then the stars emerging until they fill the sky above you and the clicking of the desert barking Geckos and distant howl of the Jackal. Sit by the fire and imagine what you will.
After a good night rest its up early (one hour before sunrise) for a drive to the Sossusvlei where you can climb a sand dune and watch the colours change as the sun rises over the horizon slipping its morning warmth over the Namib desert dunes.
Sossusvlei – Sesriem (camping) (FB)
A pre-dawn start is essential this morning as we want to catch the soft light of the sunrise on the desert. After passing through Sesriem, the gateway to the dunes and driving into the heart of the dune field, we reach Sossusvlei itself by walking the last 5 km through the dunes. In the cool of the morning, with soft sunlight just beginning to play over the dunes creating a sharp light and shadow contrast across the whole desert, the walk is like nothing else. Ancient mineral pans, stunted camel thorn trees and the chance of seeing a gemsbok or maybe an ostrich make the photo opportunities perfect.
We spend the morning in and around Sossusvlei, also visiting Dune 45, and as the day wears on we return to Sesriem for lunch to escape the heat of the afternoon. As the day cools off in the late afternoon we will take a short excursion to the Sesriem Canyon.
Sossusvlei – The Vlei
Named for its location 45 kilometres past the town of Sesriem, Dune 45 is renowned for its elegant shape, which – along with its position close to the road – have earned it the distinction of ‘most photographed dune in the world’. If you’re not keen for the strenuous hike to the top of Big Daddy, Dune 45 is a more forgiving alternative, standing at only 80 metres and featuring a much gentler gradient.
This ancient clay pan was once an oasis, studded with acacias and fed by a river that suddenly changed course, leaving the earth to dry up along with the trees it previously supported. So dry were the climatic conditions that the trees never decomposed – instead they were entirely leached of moisture so that today, 900 years later, they remain as desiccated, blackened sentinels dotting the pan’s cracked surface. Surrounded by the red-pink dunes of the Namibia Desert, they create a surreal spectacle that is a photographer’s dream.
Sossusvlei – The Vlei
This is the vlei itself where, for now, the waters of the Tsauchab River disappear into the red sands of the Namib.
Sesriem Canyon, a deep chasm carved through the rocks by water, is a striking natural feature of the area that is best explored on foot. Stony walls rise up sharply on both sides of the canyon, while birds roost in its crags and lizards dart along the ledges. The canyon’s name was coined when early settlers used it as a water source, using six lengths of leather (‘ses riem – six thongs) tied together to lower buckets into the water at the base of canyon.
Sesriem – Windhoek (450 km) (BL)
After breakfast we begin our journey over the mountains and along scenic roads, back to Windhoek. We stop at Solitaire to stretch our legs then proceed back to Windhoek via the Khomas Hochland Mountain range back to civilization. We are due back into the city late afternoon / early evening and you will be dropped off at your accommodation on our return.
Breakfast & lunch
It is strongly recommended that you purchase comprehensive personal travel insurance before you embark on your safari. Travel insurance is for your own protection and we consider it to be an essential part of modern international travel.
Maximum group size is 14 people, with a minimum of 1 participant. Transport for up to 5 people will be in a minibus and for 6 people and more in a specialised vehicle.
The style of safari is limited participation, you will be asked to assist in pitching and striking down your own tent. There will be a camp assistant to complete all the other campsite chores. Your guide and assistant will do all the shopping, cooking and day-to-day organization of the safari. Unless otherwise specified, all safaris will be conducted in English.
The tents are canvas dome type, which are easy to assemble. Your mattress is approximately 5 cm thick with its own mattress cover and each client has a camp chair with backrest.
Clients are limited to one soft, barrel type bag per person with maximum weight of 15kg, one medium sized hand luggage bag, one medium sized camera bag and a sleeping bag.
We suggest a sleeping bag range of “3 – 4 season”. Sleeping bags can be hired by prior arrangement for a cost of N$: 50.00 per 3 day trip. When selecting your clothing please be aware that Namibian summer temperatures (December – March) can reach 45*C and winter temperatures (June – September) can be as low as -5*C. The rainy season is between December and April.
All evening meals on camping safaris (unless stipulated) are cooked on an open fire. Salads and fresh vegetables will be served daily where readily available. Fresh fruit will also be supplied when possible. We cater for vegetarians, but please notify us prior to departure.
Namibia is a low risk malarial destination, but we recommend seeking professional medical advice, enabling you to make informed decisions on personal malaria protection.
All tap water in Namibia has been purified or comes directly from boreholes and is safe to drink. In some areas the water can be brackish, your guide will advise you daily on this and where to purchase bottled mineral water.
Electrical plugs are 220 V and are 3 pin (round pin as opposed to square pin, the same as in South Africa). Adaptors can be purchased in Windhoek. It is possible to re-charge batteries at some campsites.
The Namibian Dollar (N$) has a fixed 1-1 exchange rate to the South African Rand (ZAR). ZAR notes and coins are legal tender in Namibia.
Airport transfers and pre-and-post safari accommodation can be arranged on request.
It is customary in Namibia to tip 10% at restaurants. Your guide and assistant can be tipped at your own discretion, but we ask that the guide be tipped separately from your assistant.