Namibia Encompassed

Namibia Encompassed

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 15 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers


Day 1 – Join the tour in Windhoek

Arrive in Windhoek, where you will be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel. After check-in at the hotel the remainder of the day will be free for you to relax, or to explore the city on your own, before meeting up with your guide the next day. Overnight at Windhoek Country Club or similar. (D)

Day 2 - Mariental

Today we head for Mariental, a small, flourishing market town in the heart of Southern Namibia, and the administrative capital of the Hardap Region. Named by local Rhenish (German Lutheran) missionaries after Maria the wife of the first colonial settler of the area Herman Brandt, Mariental was founded in 1912 as a railway stop between Windhoek and Keetmanshoop. It was proclaimed a town in 1920 and a municipality in 1946. Our lodge for the night is a relaxed and down-to-earth stopover which offers a taste of the Kalahari, the desert which lies over the vast areas of southern Botswana, eastern Namibia and northern South Africa. The terrain consists mainly of large arid and semi–arid areas, brown sands and red dune scenery. The area is habited by many rare species such as the Sand Antelope, Black Desert Rhino and Cheetah. In the evening we will enjoy a 3 hour sundowner drive to explore the local area. Overnight at Anib Kalahari Lodge or similar. (BD)

Day 3 – Fish River Canyon

Today our journey takes us into the deep south and the Fish River Canyon – famed for being the second largest on earth. At 700 kilometres long, the Fish River is the longest river in Namibia.  It is mostly a dry river, only flowing intermittently, usually in late summer.  When it ceases to flow, it becomes a chain of long narrow pools on the sandy rock-strewn floor of the chasm. Situated at the lower end of the canyon, is the hot springs resort of Ai-Ais, which provides an oasis to this arid area. The Fish River Canyon at up to 500 metres deep, and 27 kilometres wide, is the second largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon in the USA. Overnight at Canyon Lodge, Canon Village or similar. (BD)

Day 4 – Fish River Canyon

Today visit the Canyon lookout point with your guide before travelling to the rocky Aus Mountains. Our accommodation for the next two nights is a lodge nestled in the mountains and famed for its extensive vistas. Overnight at Klein Aus Vista-Desert Horse Inn or similar. (BD)

Day 5 – Aus Mountains

Today we spend our time exploring the Aus Mountains. Situated in the centre of the Namib Desert, Aus is perched on the edge of the Huib-Plateau, one of the highest elevation points in Namibia at 1485 metres above sea level.  When German troops surrendered at the end of the First World War, Aus was taken over by the South African Army, who promptly constructed a penitentiary for German prisoners of war. The area is well known for the wild horses at Gharub, the descendants of horses brought to Namibia with the German cavalry troops, and which have managed to adapt to the harsh, dry conditions of the area. Later we continue to the port town of Lüderitz from where we explore Kolmanskop, founded in 1908 (but now a ghost town), when a diamond was discovered by one of the workers while building the railway line to Lüderitz. This incident triggered a massive diamond boom. In those days Kolmanskop was considered Africa’s richest town but its decline began in 1915 when the diamond-field slowly exhausted itself. It was ultimately abandoned in 1954.Overnight at Klein Aus Vista-Desert Horse Inn or similar. (BD)

Day 6 - Sesriem

Depart Aus for a scenic drive through to the Sossusvlei area of the Namib, the oldest desert on earth, distinguished as being home to some of the strangest flora and fauna on the continent. During our journey dramatic scenery unfolds around each corner and there are many opportunities for photographic stops. Overnight at Namib Desert Lodge, Sesriem or similar. (BD)

Day 7 – Sesriem

Today we have an early start as we drive to Sossusvlei to watch the sun rise over the red dunes, some of the most spectacular in the world, standing up to 300m high. The first rays of the sun light up the dunes with a deep orange glow making for a photographer's delight. It is a wild, beautiful and romantic spot, with sparse vegetation edging a few water courses which flow in from the Tsauchab River. Here Springbok and Ostrich are often seen. We'll also explore the cool passageways of the Sesriem Canyon on foot. The canyon is small but very picturesque - many plants grow in the shade and shelter it offers, and water pools attract several species of birds and animals. Sesriem means 'six thongs'; which refers to the six lengths of rawhide rope (from a wagon) needed to make a line long enough to lower from the rim of the gorge to the stream below, in order to haul up a bucket of water. Overnight at Namib Desert Lodge, Sesriem or similar. (BD)

Day 8 – Swakopmund

Travelling via Solitaire, and through the Kuiseb Canyon, we pass awe-inspiring landscapes as we head across the Namib gravel flats to Walvis Bay. Here a large spit forms a natural deep-sea harbour that attracted the first navigators in the late 1400's. The shallows, located where the spit joins the mainland, are home to a diverse collection of birds, notably flamingos and pelicans that feed here seasonally. It's a short drive to the coastal town of Swakopmund which was founded in 1892, and was intended to be the main harbor of the German colony, German South West Africa. Swakopmund is surrounded by the Namib Desert on three sides, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Culturally and architecturally, Swakopmund is particularly influenced by its having been a German colony, with many beautiful examples of German colonial architecture to be found. Visitors can easily explore the town on foot and attractions include the Swakopmund Museum, the National Marine Aquarium and the Crystal Gallery. Overnight at Beach Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 9 – Swakopmund

Today is a free day at leisure or to explore the town independently. Alternatively an optional marine cruise can be arranged and paid for locally on the Walvis Bay Lagoon. Overnight at Beach Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 10 – Damaraland

Today our journey continues to the ruggedly beautiful Damaraland and the town of Khorixas. We will stop en-route to view the prehistoric rock engravings at Twyfelfontein, which boasts the largest known concentration of Stone Age petro-glyphs in Namibia with approximately 2,500 engravings.  Also in the area is the geological curiosity of the perpendicular slabs of basalt known as the “Organ Pipes”. Located in the southern Kunene Region, in the centre of Damaraland’s rough terrain, Khorixas was previously the capital of Damaraland prior to Namibia's independence. Most of the inhabitants are from the Damara ethnic group. The town is located close to an accumulation of enormous fossilized tree trunks, about 280 million years old called The Petrified Forest, as well as Twyfelfontein, the site of approximately 2000 rock carvings which were, in 2007, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight at Damara Mopane Lodge, or similar. (BD)

Day 11 – Sesfontein

Today our journey takes us north through the unusual scenery of Damaraland, with its variety of rock formations. We may be lucky and see we may see some of the wildlife species which have adapted to the desert, and are found in the area. Our accommodation for the next two nights will be on the banks of the Hoanib River in the magnificent Khowarib Gorge. Overnight at  Khowarib Lodge. Sesfontein or similar. (BD)

Day 12 – Sesfontein

This morning we have the privilege of meeting the Himba people and learning about their traditions and way of life. The Himba are the last semi-nomadic herders in Namibia, and their simple lifestyle has remained unchanged for generations, as they have chosen their traditional life style over modernization. They have become iconic for using a characteristic red paste made of butter, fat and red ochre that they apply to their skin, and which serves an aesthetic purpose in beautifying their bodies, as well as protecting them from

the scorching sun. Later we return to our lodge with the remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight at Khowarib Lodge. Sesfontein or similar. (BD)

Day 13 – Etosha National Park

Today we travel to Etosha National Park, an immense, saline desert, covering over 12,400 square miles, and the habitat for 114 species of animals and 340 species of birds. It has been described as the best game reserve on the African continent. We will arrive in time for an afternoon game drive, which will be followed by further game viewing the next day. We should see elephant, rhino and hopefully lion. The terrain ranges from dense bush to large open plains where animals roam freely. We drive along the network of gravel roads that crisscross the Park, visiting the various viewpoints and the permanent waterholes around which animals congregate. There is something enigmatic in the vast silent grey white pan that covers the reserve. Overnight at Etosha Safari Camp or similar. (BD)

Day 14 – Etosha National Park

We continue searching for game today. Numerous waterholes and underground springs attract large herds of animals including Springbok, Zebra, Wildebeest and Giraffe. At its very heart is the Etosha Pan, which geologists believe was formed some 12 million years ago from an inland lake about the size of Holland. Shrunk to its present dried-up size, it is now a gigantic depression in the ground - flat, saline and silvery, a mysterious place of mirages and dust-laden images. Overnight at Etosha Safari Camp or similar. (BD)

Day 15 – Windhoek

After breakfast we travel back to Windhoek, arriving mid-afternoon. A picnic lunch will be provided. On the way we will make a short stop to visit the Okahandja Woodcarvers market for souvenirs. Upon reaching Windhoek, say farewell to your guide as he leaves you at the city’s airport. Alternatively if you have arranged to stay the night in Windhoek then you will be dropped off at your hotel.