For the enthusiastic traveller, this 12 day package is the perfect combination of a tour to Etosha & rewarding you with volunteering at the Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary. Etosha National Park is renowned as one of the best game reserves in Africa, a haven for wildlife, and supports one of the most important ecological and wildlife systems on the continent. At 22,270 km sq this huge park hosts an impressive collection of game including the white rhino and endangered black rhino, lion, cheetah, leopard, elephant, giraffe and numerous species of antelope as well as an impressive 340 species of birds – enough to keep any nature and wildlife enthusiast happy. Also included in this fabulous short adventure is an overnight stop at Swakopmund, the adventure capital of Namibia and a visit to the RAMSAR Protected site of Walvis Bay Lagoon to see the flamingos. Then, head out to the Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary for 6 days of action. 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.
Day 1: Monday -International airport – Chameleon Backpackers, Windhoek- 50 km
We will be collected from the Hosea Kutako International Airport on arrival and transferred to Chameleon Backpackers centrally located in Windhoek. Time permitting, we have the opportunity to join one of the optional activities that Chameleon Safaris has to offer.
Dinner tonight is at your own expense and the staff will be more than happy to make recommendations of great restaurants in Windhoek.
Day 2: Day 2: Tuesday – Windhoek – Halali, Etosha National Park – 500 km
You will be collected from Chameleon Backpackers at 07:00 and transferred to Chameleon head office for a short pre-departure meeting.
Heading north from Windhoek, we stop briefly at the small town of Otjiwarongo to gather some last-minute supplies before continuing to Etosha and we enjoy a light lunch pack whilst “on the move”. We enter Etosha National Park and game drive our way to our overnight accommodation at Halali Camp.
Etosha is huge, just over 22,000 square km and is home to 114 species of mammal, 350 species of bird, 110 species of reptile, uncountable numbers of insect and, somewhat bizarrely, one species of fish. There are good chances of spotting many of these different creatures as we tour through the park, stopping at the various waterholes along our way. All visitors must be in camp by sunset and we aim to arrive at our lodge at Halali just before sunset and with time to settle into our rooms, with en-suite bathroom and tea/coffee facilities.
The name for Halali is taken from a bugle refrain that was originally used during sport hunting with horse and hounds in Europe. The bugler would sound the Halali to signify that the hunt was over. This was considered appropriate for Etosha as inside the protection of the National Park, the hunting of animals is over forever.
The ‘game show’ in Etosha doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. All the Etosha camps have floodlit waterholes for extra game viewing opportunities. The Halali waterhole is called Moringa, after the moringa trees that are abundant here, and it is located within walking distance from our accommodation. A visit, or two, is highly recommended this evening as we can expect many species to visit Moringa during the night and this waterhole is known to be very popular with elephant and the critically endangered black rhino.
Day 3: Day 3: Wednesday – Halali – Etosha Village near Anderson gate – 70 km
We have the whole day to explore Etosha and we want to make the most of it. The park gates open at sunrise and we aim to be on our way just as the sun breaches the horizon. Early morning is usually a productive time for game viewing and first thing in the morning is a good time to catch big cats returning from the hunt.
We return to Halali for breakfast and to load our vehicle before heading out into the park once again in search of big game. Etosha is desert landscape and water is the most scarce natural resource. There are however numerous waterholes here, both natural and man-made, and our game driving technique is to take in as many as of these possible. Here we hope that the game will come to us as the thirsty animals attend for a much needed drink.
On our way today we will stop to have a closer look at the Etosha Pan. The name Etosha translates as ‘great white space’ but this name does not do justice to the immensity of the pan. Over 4,700 square km of dazzling white mineral pan, so big that it can be seen from space.
We exit Etosha at the Anderson gate close to sunset and it is just a short drive to or accommodation in a comfortable spacious twin share room with modern en-suite bathroom facilities. An ideal space to sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. A fantastic dinner is prepared by our guide this evening.
Day 4: Thursday – Etosha – Swakopmund, Hotel A La Mer – 510 km
After breakfast we aim to be on the road by 07:30 today. We are heading for the Skeleton Coast and we are taking the scenic route. We first head south on the main road, passing the small town of Outjo, then onwards towards the west and picking up the gravel road as we travel through an area known as Damaraland.
Damaraland is famed for its scenery, mountains, open grasslands, tall koppies, (small hills), of round pink granite boulders, wide open spaces and big sky. We also have a chance to meet some of the locals as there are several places along our road today where we can find informal shops selling locally made, hand crafted souvenirs. Represented here we usually find ladies from the Himba, Herero and Damara tribes and most often they are wearing their traditional dress. Here we can interact with some of the colourful local characters who live in this harsh environment. Making a small purchase here is a good way to inject some cash directly into the local economy. We continue on through the beautiful landscape, making a stop for a light picnic lunch, under the shadow of Namibia’s highest mountain, the Brandberg. Rising up from the desert floor, this giant monolith is 2,573 m above sea level and is formed of pink tinged granite.
We continue our journey west and soon arrive at the coast and the chilly Atlantic Ocean. The whole coastline of Namibia is known as the Skeleton Coast and it is easy to see why this barren seaboard is so named with its forbidding mountains and barren beaches. The wind, the waves and the huge fog banks all conspire to push ships onto the beach. The countless mariners that, in olden times, found themselves shipwrecked here faced the stark prospect of no fresh water, no food, no rescue and a slow death by exposure. Their Shipmates who went down with their ship were thought to be the lucky ones.
Heading south on the coast road our next stop is a more recent shipwreck. 15 km south of the small town of Henties Bay a fishing trawler, The Zeila, was beached in 2008. She was an old vessel that had been sold for scrap and was under tow at the time. The cable snapped and, as so many vessels before her, she was caught in the swell and currents and ended up on the beach. She lays quite close to the shore and is well positioned for photos.
We complete the final leg of our journey into Swakopmund, we check into our accommodation, the centrally located A La Mer hotel and the town is easily explored on foot from our central location. Swakopmund was founded by Captain Kurt von François of the imperial colonial army of the German empire in 1892. (He also founded Windhoek in 1890). It is an interesting town to say the least, bounded to the north, the east and the south by the mighty sand dunes of the Namib Desert and to the west by the Atlantic Ocean. There are still many examples of colonial German architecture to be seen and the German language is still widely used.
Swakopmund boasts some truly excellent restaurants and again your guide will be able to help you with recommendations and bookings.
Day 5: Friday Swakopmund – Walvis Bay – Swakopmund – Windhoek – 420 km
We have a more leisurely start this morning and lie-in, a big breakfast and a wander around town might well be the order of the day. There are some great curio shops, and excellent book shops and there is a real café culture going on here with plenty of small eateries serving delicious food
We depart mid morning with our guide to the port town of Walvis Bay, and to the impressive Dune 7, located 7 km outside the town.
Just 40 km along the coast to the south, Walvis Bay, (Whale Bay), the lagoon is an internationally recognised Ramsar site, (Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat) and is justly renowned for its birdlife and in particular flamingos which are usually abundant and found within easy photo distance from the shore.
There are two types of flamingo to see, lessor and greater and they accumulate here because Namibia’s Atlantic coast is abundant with both phytoplankton and zoo plankton. Flamingos do not enjoy a solid diet, they live on micro-organisms such as plankton and they are filter feeders, almost like an oyster. They rinse the seawater through their beaks and tiny filaments filter out the nutrients as it swishes by. Flamingos are unable to eat unless their heads are fully inverted and, while feeding, they walk around in a circle stirring the sand and mud with their feet to release the nutrients. Certain types of these micro-organisms turn reddish pink when they die and this accounts for the pink colour of the birds. Flamingos do not breed in Walvis Bay. The tides here are not usually very steep, but occasional spring tides can bring deeper waters and this in not suitable for the specalised nest constructed by the birds. Flamingos build a nest, called a cone, out of sand and mud which has a hollow top into which they lay a single egg. This cone is designed to keep the egg out of the water and so a tidal environment does not work. Instead, for breeding, huge flocks of birds head typically for the Etosha Pan or to the Makgadikgadi Pan in Botswana. Both these mineral pans are seasonal and are usually dry but can flood when there is sufficient rain. It is still not properly understood how the flamingos know when there has been suitable rain fall in these relatively far away catchment areas, but somehow they do know and they leave the coast in great flocks that streek the horizon pink as head inland.
Heading back to Swakopmund we then take the main tar road back to Windhoek. We will have a light lunch en route and on arrival in Windhoek, you will be dropped off at Chameleon Backpackers. Dinner tonight is at own expense in one of the many great restaurants Windhoek have to offer.
Day 6: Saturday Windhoek – N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary -50km
An early start this morning, we will be transferred to the volunteer centre at N/a’an ku sê 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.
We arrive early and have a briefing from the Naankuse staff of what to expect over the next couple of days , afterwards 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 N/a’an ku sê team for a lovely welcome braai as our evening meal.
Day 7: Sunday N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary
Our morning starts with an early breakfast and Sundays are rest days but not before we prepare and feed the orphaned and injured animals. This usually takes between 1 and 2 hours in the morning. The rest of the day we can spend enjoying the beautiful outdoors, around the pool reading a book or learning more about the conservation work done at the volunteer centre.
Days 8 – 11: Monday – Thursday N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary
The next 4 days are spent with early morning breakfasts and a quick morning meeting with the team and then getting straight into a full day of conservation activities. It is the perfect opportunity to learn about and actively participate in the conservation, rehabilitation, care and research of African wildlife.
The wildlife team takes us out 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 N/a’an ku se is involved with to support wildlife conservation. Research activities may include; monitoring free-roaming carnivores, analysing camera traps, and analysing GPS data or game counts. Dinner each night is a delicious home-cooked meal served at the Lapa.
Day 12: Friday N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary – International Airport – End of package
Enjoy breakfast before transferring through to the International Airport approximately 3 hours before our scheduled flight departure.