A perennial favourite - exploring Namibia's highlights by road
Classic Namibia self-drive which can be tailored to suit individual requirements
Taking in a fantastic selection of Namibia's highlights, this self-drive sample itinerary can be tailored to suit your individual requirements and special interests.
Start off with a night in Windhoek, where you stay in one of the relaxed and stylish guest-houses that we recommend to our clients. Then drive to Sesriem near Namib Naukluft National Park. After taking in dramatic, rock-dominated countryside as well as the infamous dune landscapes of Sosussvlei, continue to Swakopmund where you can relax, or partake in some wonderful land and water-based activities including kayaking.
Depart from the misty Atlantic coast to Twyfelfontein in Damaraland and enjoy time in this harsh, rocky and otherworldly area before heading to wildlife-rich Etosha National Park where you explore its western and eastern sectors. Finally, drive to Okonjima in the Central Highlands for some top quality big cat (and other carnivore) observations.
Return to Windhoek and fly out after an unforgettable Namibia experience!
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Day 1: Fly to Namibia
Take an overnight flight from the UK to Windhoek via Johannesburg.
Day 2: Welcome to Windhoek!
On arrival at Hosea Kutako International Airport you will be welcomed and transferred by our representatives to Villa Vista, for an overnight stay with breakfast included. Your 4-wheel drive hire car will be delivered to you at the guesthouse.
Day 3: Drive to Sesriem/ Namib-Naukluft National Park
After a leisurely breakfast, depart on the 5 hour drive (excluding stops) southwards to Desert Homestead Outpost near Sesriem.and Namib-Naukluft National Park. Stay 2 nights in a standard double room at Desert Homestead Outpost, dinner and breakfast included
Deep in the 7000ha nature reserve of Desert Homestead Lodge, the Outpost offers warm hospitality and a relaxed ambience. Enjoy the impressive panoramic view from the eleven guest chalets, the family apartment or the main area with restaurant, lounge and pool area, at the base of a mountain. On the wide open plains there often sightings of cheetahs roaming the endless grasslands.
Day 4: To the Dunes: Sesriem and Sossusvlei
The Namib-Naukluft Park is one of the least populated areas in the country, where you can experience an intense feeling of vastness and isolation. The magical and awe-inspiring splendour of the night skies here compare with few other places on earth. The nearby NamibRand Nature Reserve was designated as a Gold standard Dark Sky Reserve in 2012 - here the full array of visible sky phenomena can be viewed at night-time, including aurora, airglow, Milky Way, zodiacal light, and faint meteors.
Sossusvlei, with its monumental dunes, up to 325m is one of Namibia's signature locations. The star-shaped dunes beckon artists and photographers. Formed by strong multi-directional winds, they are at their highest and most spectacular where the west-flowing Tsauchab River empties itself into the vlei. The warm tints of the sand, ranging from apricot to orange, red and maroon, contrast vividly with the dazzling white surfaces of the large deflationary clay pans at their bases. One of these, referred to as Dead Vlei, is a large ghostly expanse of dried white clay, punctuated by skeletons of old camel-thorn trees, carbon-dated as being between 500 and 600 years old. When it has rained sufficiently in the interior for the Tsauchab River to come down and fill the main pan, flamingoes and other aquatic birds aggregate here.
If you are self-driving into this magical area, you can wake early and drive to the Sesriem gate and onwards towards Sossusvlei, around 70km from the Park entrance. The entrance opens at sunrise and this is the best time of day to see the dunes. Enjoy the amazing scenery of the desert and then return to Sesriem and perhaps stop by at Sesriem Canyon
Day 5: Head to the coast
Today you will be driving for about 5 - 6 hours excluding stops, from Sesriem to the centre of Swakopmund, where you stay 2 nights in Namib Guest House with breakfast included. The roads are all gravel until you reach Walvis Bay, and there are some steep passes. Solitaire is a good place to stop to refuel both your vehicle and yourself, and to stretch your legs a little. This mystic little 'town' does justice to its name in more than one way. Home baked bread and apple pie is available at the service station, and you can enjoy the desolate desert scenery from a place of comfort. Before reaching Swakopmund, you may like to stop at Walvis Bay to see the lagoon, a wetland of international importance and home to many bird species including fair numbers of Greater flamingo.
Day 6: Swakopmund
There are many adventure activities on offer including sand-boarding (lie down or stand up), tandem sky-diving, or quad biking which can be arranged prior to arrival. We can also recommend some excellent day trips including one which visits the marine sanctuary of Sandwich Harbour, comprising towering dunes, a freshwater lagoon and the wild Atlantic Ocean. Alternatively,a half day catamaran cruise from Walvis Bay may offer the opportunity to see dolphins, fur seals and many species of marine birds, as well as enjoying some sparkling wine and local oysters on board. Other half day trips which are a lot of fun include the Living Desert tour which takes you into the dunes near to Swakopmund, in search of uniquely adapted creepy crawlies, kayaking with seals from Pelican Point in Walvis Bay, or a specialist birding trip in the area.
Day 7: Drive to Damaraland
The drive time this morning from Swakopmund to Twyfelfontein is 4 - 5 hours excluding stops. . Travelling north from Swakopmund you will take the C34 salt road towards Henties Bay. Here you may wish to make a detour to visit the fur seal colony of Cape Cross - entry is from 10h00 daily. The scenery as you travel onwards, changes slowly from wide, open gravel plains to the mountainous landscape characteristic of Damaraland. You will drive past the Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain, and onwards to the dry Huab River. Look out for the rare desert elephant, and other species, along the way. Stay one night in a bungalow at Camp Kipwe with dinner and breakfast.
You could make an excursion to the Twyfelfontein rock etchings and paintings today, a local guide will escort you around the ancient hillsides which are open for guests between 08h00 and 17h00. The ‘Burnt Mountain’, an interesting area of volcanic rock, is also worth visiting, best at sunset for the magical light. Another intriguing site is the ‘Valley of the organ pipes’ situated across the road from the Burnt Mountain. This strange formation was created when basalt slabs were gouged out by a river thousands of years ago.
Another optional activity is the Damara Living Museum is a community venture located just a few km down the D2612 from the C39, before you reach the Twyfelfontein turnoff. The experience is refreshing and honest, and it is a really interesting way to spend an hour or so. Here you can learn about the traditional way of life for the Damara people; get involved with the villagers by tasting local home brew, wearing ochre on your faces, playing a traditional game, dancing, or making beads. There are a few different options including a village tour, donkey cart ride, or a visit to the modern village nearby. They have a picnic spot near the car park so it is also a nice place to stop for lunch (you must bring your own food and drinks).
Day 8: To Ongava Concession (bordering Etosha)
To reach Ongava Concession on the border of Etosha today, will take you about 4 - 5 hours excluding stops. Departing from the Twyfelfontein area you will continue north on the D2612 until you reach the C39. From here you will drive east towards Khorixas, and then on the tar road to Outjo. From Outjo, take the C38 north to the Etosha National Park. You will find the entrance to the Ongava Concession right outside the Andersson entrance gate into Etosha, on your left hand side as you approach the gate from outside the Park.
Ongava Lodge is situated on the 35,000 hectare Ongava Private Game Reserve. It shares a common border with one of Africa's largest game parks, Etosha National Park, Namibia's premier game- viewing destination.. The lodge is set near the top of a hill with wonderful views over the two waterholes and across a wide plains.
Outdoor dining under the stars whilst watching wildlife drinking at the waterhole is magical. A buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, can be served in the restaurant under thatch, or in the split-level lounge or dining room. Both have great views of the waterhole. There is a swimming pool and a large curio shop.
Large herds of plains game concentrate around the waterholes in the dry season, including elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, springbok, oryx, kudu and the diminutive Damara Dik-Dik. Local specials of bird include the Short-toed Rockthrush, Hautlaub's Francolin, Rockrunner, Ruppells Parrot, White-tailed Shrike and Chestnut Weaver. Overnight in a standard room at Ongava Lodge, half board
Day 9: Ongava and Etosha NP
Etosha, meaning "Great White Place", is dominated by a massive mineral pan - part of the Kalahari Basin, the floor of which was formed around 1000 million years ago. The Etosha Pan covers around 25% of the National Park. The temporary water in the Etosha Pan attracts thousands of wading birds including impressive flocks of flamingos. The perennial springs along the edges of the Etosha Pan draw large concentrations of wildlife. To enter Etosha you will need to pay park entry fees of N$80 per person per day and N$10 per vehicle (children under 16 are free of charge). Do note that park fees are charged per 24 hour period and cannot be paid in advance.
Okaukuejo, Halali & Namutoni rest camps can be visited for lunch, a swim or simply a quick break; both have a restaurant, small shop & fuel station.
The Etosha National Park opens its gates at sunrise and closes them at sunset. At the entrance gates there are huge clocks indicating the opening & closing times which change with the seasons. The speed limit inside the park is 60km/h. There is so much to see here, just resting by one of the waterholes and waiting for the animals to come to you, or by driving slowly through the Park and watching the sides of the roads carefully.
Day 10: Etosha: Okaukuejo - Mushara
Today, make a full day game drive from Okaukuejo to Mushara Lodge. Take the main C38 road through the Park, or divert and do some game viewing on the smaller roads along the way.. Exit the park through the Von Lindequist gate, close to Namutoni, and drive for 8km along the C38 until you see the sign for Mushara Lodge, on your right hand side.
The Mushara Collection, which includes the Mushara Lodge, Mushara Bush Camp, The Mushara Outpost and the Mushara Villa, is ideally situated a mere 8 km from the eastern entrance of Etosha National Park. It offers a variety of accommodation options – from the family friendly Mushara Bush Camp to the privacy of the exquisite Mushara Villas.
The Mushara Collection represents the only family run properties in Eastern Etosha. Everything that Marc and Mariza have achieved is infused with their passion for an excellent guest experience and the very highest standards of service. Stay overnight in a standard room in Mushara Lodge, dinner and breakfast included.
Day 11: To the Central Highlands: Okonjima Plains Camp, Otjiwarongo
The 271km drive today will take you about 3 - 4 hours excluding stops.. Departing from Okaukuejo you will take the C38 road to Outjo, exiting the park through the Andersson gate. From Outjo continue on the C38 to Otjiwarongo. From Otjiwarongo, travel south on the B1 in the direction of Okahandja. After approximately 48km on this road, take the gravel turn-off to the right, just after the sign "Okahandja 130km". You stay overnight in a standard room at Okonjima Plains Camp, half board.
About halfway between Windhoek and the Etosha the 55,000 acre Okonjima Game Reserve has some of the best accommodation in Namibia. It is best known for cheetah and leopard safaris - the AfriCat Foundation rehabilitates cheetahs, wild dogs, hyenas and leopards so there's plenty of opportunity to see these wonderful carnivores in their natural environment.
West of the Waterberg Plateau, the vast plains are occasionally broken by the remnants of ancient Sandstone outcrops, which once covered large areas of Northern Namibia. Nestled among the Omboroko Mountains lies Okonjima – a Herero name meaning Place of the Baboons. This is much more than just a lodge. Okonjima is also home to Africat Foundation.
Day 12: Okonjima - Windhoek and departure
Drive back to Windhoek airport to drop your hire car off in time to check in for your onward flight. The drive to the airport from town takes around 45 minutes and you should arrive no later than 2 hours before your flight departs in order to drop your car off and check in. On arrival in Johannesburg ORTIA Airport, check in for the overnight flight back to London Heathrow.
Day 13: Early morning arrival back in the UK
Duration: 12 nights
Location: Namibia, Africa
Price per person based on 2 adults travelling together and sharing in double or twin room accommodation includes:
* Return international economy class airfare from London Heathrow to Windhoek via Johannesburg
* Airport taxes
* Airport meet & greet on arrival in Windhoek and transfer to accommodation for the night.
* Car hire (Group W four-wheel drive Ford Ranger or similar)
* All accommodation as per itinerary with meals as listed
* Park fees for Camp Kipwe
* Medivac Insurance, mobile phone and cooler box.
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