Enjoy sightings of wildlife at the Okonjima Nature Reserve and Etosha National Park before immersing ourselves into the rich culture of the Himba tribe. Remember to bring a scarf, it will help with the fresh breeze as we explore Namibia’s Skeleton Coast as well as come in handy to cover our nose when we visit the seals at Cape Cross. We take a short break from camping in Swakopmund, Namibia’s adventure capital where we can enjoy any number of adrenaline inducing optional activities before starting our journey south. Our next stop after crossing the Tropic of Capricorn is Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert, home to some of the world’s highest sand dunes. We then continue on to Namibia’s deep south where breath taking landscapes abound, we visit the ghost town of Kolmanskop, spot the wild horses of the Namib Desert, gaze over the world’s 2nd biggest canyon, the Fish River Canyon, before wrapping up our incredible 12day trip with our last night at the impressive Quiver Tree Forest before returning to Windhoek. This is the ultimate Namibian adventure for the budget traveller!
Day 1: Friday Chameleon Backpackers, Windhoek
We will be collected from the Hosea Kutako International Airport on arrival and transferred to Chameleon Backpackers in Windhoek. Upon arrival we have time to check into our accommodation, and if time permits we have the opportunity to join one of the optional activities that Chameleon Safaris has to offer, pop into their office and have a chat with one of the consultants. Dinner tonight is at own expense at one of the many restaurants in Windhoek.Overnight accommodation is in twin share rooms with an en-suite bathroom.
Day 2: Saturday Okonjima Nature Reserve Campsite
Our tour starts at Chameleon Backpackers where we meet for a pre-departure briefing at 07h30. After the departure from Windhoek, we stop briefly at the Okahandja Wood carving markets. Woodcarvers from all over Namibia come here to sell their hand-crafted goods and this is the perfect opportunity to practice our haggling skills all while supporting the local community. Our next stop is our overnight destination, the world-renowned Okonjima Nature Reserve. Okonjima, is an impressive 20,000ha nature reserve that is home to an incredible array of wildlife species. It is also home to the AfriCat Foundation, whose long term mission is the conservation of Namibia’s wildlife in their natural habitat, but in a protected conservation area. This includes predators and keystone species and the reserve is well known for leopard, cheetah, and hyena sightings.
We aim to arrive at camp around midday, giving us ample time to set up camp and enjoy lunch before we join the afternoon activity where we have the chance to see some of the cheetah currently part of the AfriCat rehabilitation programme. The aim of this programme is to re-introduce these animals back into the wild where they can thrive. After our educational tour, we join an afternoon game drive on the reserve before enjoying our first spectacular sunset in the Namibian bush. Dinner tonight is prepared by our guide over an open fire.
Day 3: Sunday Okaukuejo Campsite, Etosha National Park
We depart from camp after breakfast and stop briefly at Otjiwarongo, a small town north of Okonjima to gather some fresh supplies, before continuing on to Etosha National Park, one of Southern Africa’s premier wildlife reserves. Upon entering the gate, we start our search for antelope, such as springbok and impala and with any luck some megaherbivores such as elephant, rhino or giraffe, on our short game drive to Okaukuejo. We set up camp and enjoy a delicious lunch before heading out on an afternoon game drive. Etosha is unlike any other, and our game drives take us from waterhole to waterhole in search of predators as well as plains game, birds and if we are lucky,
even reptiles. We return to camp just before sunset, and whilst dinner is cooking, we have the chance to visit the excellent floodlit waterhole where rhino, elephant, giraffe, lion and hyena are frequent visitors. Dinner is prepared by our guide over an open fire.
Day 4: Monday Okaukuejo Campsite, Etosha National Park
A pre-dawn start today with a quick coffee and rusk before embarking on our full day game drive at sunrise to have any chance of catching a glimpse of predators that are returning home after a night of hunting. We make our way across the park, visiting various waterholes and enjoy a late breakfast at one of the picnic spots within the park. We continue our journey east in search of the many species that call Etosha home and arrive at Halali where we can take a dip in the pool, visit the waterhole and enjoy lunch. After lunch we visit the Etosha Pan where the park gets its name. Here we can get out of the vehicle and experience this 4500 sq km ‘saline desert’, a salt pan so large it can be seen from space. We continue our game drive to look for the Big 4 on our way back to Okaukuejo, arriving at camp by sunset. Enjoy our last night camping in Etosha, and a visit to the waterhole before and after dinner is highly recommended.
Day 5: Tuesday Palmwag Campsite, Kunene Region
Another early start where we can take in a spectacular sunrise whilst having breakfast and then a short game drive back to the park gate. The route today takes us west into the area known as the Kunene Region. Our first stop is a visit to the Otjikandero Himba Village. The Himba people are one of the last tribes in Namibia who still embrace their ancient culture and customs. We participate in a guided tour around the village where we have the chance to not only gain an in-depth insight into the Himba way of life but to get to know the Himba people to share a little of our own culture with them.
We continue west and stop briefly in the small town of Kamanjab before continuing on to the Palmwag Campsite, situated on the edge of the Palmwag Concession. Here we set up camp before enjoying a leisurely afternoon and watching the sunset from the Palmwag deck. Dinner is prepared by our guide over an open fire.
Day 6: Wednesday Cape Cross Campsite, Skeleton Coast
Today our adventure takes us through the infamous Skeleton Coast National Park all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. The coastline itself is a very hostile but fascinating area known for the Welwitschia mirabilis, the Northern Namibia sand sea, the derelict oil rig near Toscanini, the Huab lagoon and the diminishing remains of the Winston Shipwreck.
On exiting the national park we stop for Instagram worthy photos of the iconic skull and crossbones gate. We arrive at Cape Cross late afternoon where we set up camp for the night and have the opportunity for a sunset walk on the beach. Dinner is prepared by our guide over an open fire.
Day 7: Thursday Hotel A La Mer, Swakopmund
Today is a chance for a rare lie-in and after a hearty cooked breakfast, we take a short walk to the Cape Cross Reserve. The reserve is home to one of the world’s largest breeding colonies of Cape Fur seals and during the breeding season (November-December) up to 200 000 seals can be spotted basking on the beach, certainly a sight and smell to behold. After our visit to the seal colony, we continue travelling along the coast stopping to view the Zeila Shipwreck, one of the latest victims of the Skeleton Coast from as recent as 2007. We arrive in Swakopmund early afternoon and have plenty of time to explore this quaint little town on foot, or join one of the optional activities on
offer from skydiving, scenic flights, quad biking and more. Dinner tonight is at our own expense in one of Swakopmund’s excellent restaurants and our guide will be happy to make recommendations or bookings depending on what we feel like.
Day 8: Friday Sesriem Oshana Campsite, Sesriem
Today we leave Swakopmund at 11h30 so we have the time to enjoy an optional activity. For the adrenaline junkies, this could be flying down a sand dune headfirst at 60km/h on a sandboard, exploring the dune field on a quad biking tour or discover the “old city” of Swakopmund on a fat bike (e-bike option available). Whatever we choose, we depart Swakopmund no later than 11h30 and drive through the Namib Desert via the Kuiseb Pass, crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, stopping briefly in Solitaire and arriving at our camp late afternoon. We set up our tents, and enjoy the sunset over the Namib Desert while listening to the barking geckos. There is a pool and bar available, dinner is prepared by our guide. An early night is recommended.
Day 9: Saturday Sesriem Oshana Campsite, Sesriem
A pre-dawn departure from camp this morning means we can enjoy the dunes at first light. We drive down an ancient river bed, surrounded by towering dunes and our first stop is at the famous Dune 45 where we have the chance to climb to the top to enjoy the sunrise. On descent, we replenish our energy and enjoy breakfast before
continuing on into the Sossusvlei area. We explore this unique area on foot, heading into Dead Vlei with its large expanse of bleached cracked clay and skeletal camel thorn trees, contrasting with a backdrop of huge dunes with their ever-changing colours.
We have the opportunity to climb the dune at Sossusvlei before we return to Sesriem for lunch and a swim or siesta during the heat of the day. Mid-afternoon we visit the Sesriem Canyon before your guide drops you at Elim’s Dune for a short and educational sunset walk back to camp through the desert. Dinner tonight is prepared by our guide.
Day 10: Sunday Klein Aus Vista Campsite, Namib Desert
We pack up camp and enjoy breakfast before heading south through some of the most spectacular desert landscapes in Southern Namibia. Our destination today is the small outpost of Klein Aus, nestled in the Gondwana Sperrgebiet Rand Park. We arrive early afternoon and set up camp. For the active, there is a short optional unguided
hiking trail. Permits and a map are available at reception. We enjoy a beautiful sunset and dinner prepared by our guide over an open fire.
Day 11: Monday Klein Aus Vista Campsite, Namib Desert
After an early breakfast we make our way from Klein Aus to the ghost town, of Kolmanskop, situated 15km outside of Luderitz. During a diamond boom in 1910 Kolmanskop quickly became one of the richest towns in Africa boasting the southern hemisphere’s first X-ray machine, a bowling alley and luxury housing. As the diamond boom came to an end and the town’s inhabitants abandoned the area Kolmanskop became a ghost town. After our tour, we continue our adventure to the small town of Luderitz, situated on the rocky shores of the Atlantic Ocean and well known for its unique and colourful colonial-style buildings. We stop at Diaz Point, the famous site of the Original Diaz Cross and enjoy a picnic lunch. On return to Aus, we keep our eyes peeled for the wild horses of the Namib Desert that roam between Luderitz and Klein Aus. While the details of how these horses came to live in the desert are still a mystery, the mere fact that they have survived in the harshest of conditions is impressive, and any sighting of them is one to celebrate. We arrive back at camp late afternoon and can relax before enjoying another incredible sunset over the Aus Mountains. Dinner tonight is prepared by our guide.
Day 12: Tuesday Quiver Tree Forest, Keetmanshoop
We enjoy another early start this morning as we pack up camp and head east. Our first official stop is at the well-known Hell`s Bend viewpoint of the Fish River Canyon. Here we have the opportunity to overlook the second largest canyon in the world. The Fish River Canyon was formed millions of years ago by water erosion and the collapse of the valley due to movements in the earth’s crust. After lunch, we continue our adventure heading to our last destination; The Quiver Tree Forest. It is located just north-east of Keetmanshoop and here approximately 250 quiver trees can be found. The forest grew spontaneously and the oldest trees are estimated to be around 200-300 years old. The Quiver tree (Kokerboom in Afrikaans) is also Namibia’s national tree, and the forest was declared a national monument in 1995. The last night on our adventure is spent camping under the stars with meals prepared by our guide.
Day 13: Wednesday Chameleon Backpackers, Windhoek
After a tasty cooked breakfast, we start the day with a chance to really explore the Quiver Tree Forest and Giants Playground, a geological phenomenon of dolerite rocks that appear to have been stacked by giants. From here we begin our journey back to Windhoek passing Brukkaros Mountain, an extinct volcano that is 650m above the surrounding area. We pass through the small towns of Mariental and Rehoboth before arriving at Chameleon Backpackers in Windhoek late afternoon. Dinner tonight is at our own expense in one of Windhoek’s excellent restaurants and our guide will be happy to make some suggestions.
Day 14: Thursday Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary
A leisurely breakfast and after breakfast we will be transferred to the volunteer centre at Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary, which provides a safe haven for injured, orphaned or conflict animals. Whenever possible the goal is to re-introduce the animals into the wild. Only animals too ill, abused or habituated remain at the sanctuary. Depending on our arrival time we have the opportunity to meet some of the other volunteers and meet some of the animals that we will be working with before we join the Naankuse team for an induction presentation and a lovely welcome braai as our evening meal.
Day 15 – 19: Friday – Wednesday Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary
The next 5 days are packed full of adventure as we learn about and actively participate in the conservation, rehabilitation, care and research of the African wildlife. Starting our days with an early breakfast and a quick team meeting, we then head out with the wildlife team for group-based morning activities, such as feeding orphaned and injured animals, cleaning enclosures or project work and animal enrichment. After a morning full of fun and work, we enjoy a light lunch at the Lapa.
After lunch, we start the afternoon activities with a presentation from the research team before we learn about the ongoing projects Naankuse is involved with to support wildlife conservation. Research activities may include; monitoring free-roaming carnivores, analysing camera traps, analysing GPS data or game counts. Dinner each night is a home-cooked meal served at the Lapa.
Day 20: Thursday International Airport – End of services
A leisurely breakfast and we will be transferred to the International Airport approximately 3 hours before our scheduled flight departure.