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Namibia

Kalahari Ferrari

Magnificent, endless, unimaginable, adventurous…

Seemingly endless horizons, dramatic landscapes and thrilling wildlife sightings make Namibia one of the most exciting travel destinations in Africa.

How to describe the haunting landscapes of the Skeleton Coast and the giant dunes of the Sossusvlei, the animal wonderland of Etosha and the awe-inspiring Fish River Canyon? Sometimes called Africa’s Gem, Namibia boasts prolific wildlife, yet the abiding impression will be the vast landscapes of deserts and plains stretching seemingly into infinity.

Namibia means ‘open plains’ in the ancient Hottentot language and is defined by endless sunshine, scenic beauty and unusual and contrasting topography.  Pre-historic rock art, the ancient fossil plant, Welwitschia mirabilis and fossilized dinosaur footprints are preserved in the ancient, rocky mountain ranges. The world’s highest dunes are found in haunting scenery inspiring somber reflection. Desert-adapted wildlife traverse the vast plains, just like it has always been. Learn more…

A sample of our Namibia Experiences:

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We’ve been there: Sossusvlei Dunes from above and below
Travel Blog: Namibia by Desert Express

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NamibiaDestinationSpecialist

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Republic of Namibia

  • Area: 824,292 km²
  • Capital: Windhoek
  • Currency: Namibian Dollar
  • Population: 2.2 million, about 90% Christian
  • Language: English is the official language. Afrikaans, German, Bantu and Khoisan.
  • Time: GMT +1 / DST +2
  • Climate: The climate is typical of a desert land, with hot days and cool nights. The main rainfall period is between mid-January and April.

More about Namibia’s star attractions…

Damara Boy

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Great Namibian Journey

11 Day all-encompassing Luxury Safari from US$5,840 (WS03)

This quintessential journey takes in Namibia’s attractions as a whole: stunning landscapes, endless skies, barren deserts, rugged mountains and spectacular wildlife.
Explore the dunes of Sossusvlei and the awesome space of the Namib Desert. Then make your way north via amazing marine life around Swakopmund, the volcanic rock-strewn landscape of Damaraland, tracking Black Rhino in the Palmwag Concession, ending in the game-filled savannahs of Etosha National Park.

Highlights:

  • Exceptionally diverse variety of activities, including day and night nature drives, sea- and land-based wildlife viewing, flying, driving, and boating
  • Other unique activities include meeting local Damara people (dependent on their movements), Desert Elephant and Rhino tracking, and motorboat lagoon trip at Walvis Bay
  • Endless landscapes and places of interest are seen along the way, with a scenic flights between the five eco systems

Brief Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 Desert Lodge in Sossusvlei
Days 3 & 4 Boutique hotel in Swakopmund
Days 5 & 6 Eco-friendly luxury camp in Damaraland
Days 7 & 8 Meru-style tented camp in Palmwag Concession
Days 9 & 10 Luxury Tented Camp in the Etosha region
Day 12 Return to Windhoek

Click here to request detailed itinerary

We’ve been there: Desert Elephants of Damaraland

Desert Elephant

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Deserts of Southern Namibia

12 Day Guided Lodge Safari from US$3,670 (NTT-01)

This guided safari takes you through the spectacular sandscapes of the Kalahari Desert to the majestic Fish River Canyon, to the Namib Desert and Sossusvlei, the highest dunes in the world!

Itinerary:

Day 1: You will be met at Windhoek airport, transferred to your accommodation. Afternoon city tour.

Day 2: Travel via Rehoboth, centre of the ‘Baster’ peoples, and then into the red dunes of the Kalahari Desert. Late afternoon game drive and overnight at a private game lodge.

Day 3: A full day’s journey takes you south through the desert-dominated landscapes to a picturesque Quiver Tree Forest. This prehistoric tree is a rewarding subject to photograph.
Giant’s Playground is an impressive jumble of massive boulders – an extensive rocky labyrinth.
Proceed via Keetmanshoop and the Naute Dam to the Fish River Canyon, the second largest in the world.

Day 4: View the spectacular northern fringes of the Fish River Canyon from various vantage points. The impressive rock formation provides much interest for enthusiastic nature lovers.

Day 5: Travel via the small historic village of Aus and through the vast barren expanse of the Namib Desert to Lüderitz, renowned for its old-world charm and distinctly German colonial architecture.

Day 6: Visit Kolmanskop, a ghost town that was abandoned over 40 years ago with fascinating insight into the area’s great diamond boom.
Continue via Helmeringhausen to Farm Namtib and experience the daily life of a farmer in the south.

Day 7: Travel through some of Namibia’s most spectacular sceneries. Vast expanses of yellow savannah are dotted with bushes and solitary camelthorn trees. Our destination is Sossusvlei and Sesriem.

Day 8: Visit Sossusvlei – a clay pan surrounded by some of the highest sand dunes in the world – and the Sesriem Canyon.

Day 9: The route takes us north via the Kuiseb Canyon to Swakopmund . Highlights en route include a drive to the “Moon Landscape” and the ancient desert plant, “Welwitschia mirabilis”.

Day 10: Morning dolphin cruise on the Walvis Bay Lagoon. The afternoon is at leisure in Swakopmund a quaint desert town with its old-world charm and relaxed atmosphere.

Day 11: Return journey via Usakos, Karibib and Okahandja to Windhoek. Okahandja is an important centre for woodcarvers from the north. They practice their ancient skills at the Woodcarvers Market next to the main road. This is a good place to pick a last souvenir.

Day 12: Check-out and transfer to the airport in time for your outbound flight. Bid farewell to Namibia!

 

Dune 1, Sossusvlei, Namibia

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Namibia’s Northern Highlights & Dunes

An 11 day Journey to the Beginning of Creation (TT01)

We’ve been there: Desert Elephants of Damaraland
Sossusvlei Dunes – from above and below

Itinerary:

DAY 1: Arrive at Windhoek Airport and transfer to your city hotel. The remainder of your day is at leisure.
Accommodation: Safari Court Hotel or similar

DAY 2: Depart Windhoek and head north via Okahandja for a visit to a local market, to shop for wood carvings and curios, en-route to Etosha National Park. We arrive at our lodge late this afternoon.
Accommodation: Etosha Rest Camp or similar, breakfast and dinner included.

DAYS 3 & 4: These days are spent on game drives in search of the abundant wildlife found in the Etosha National Park, which surrounds a parched salt desert known as the Etosha Pan.
The park is home to 4 of the Big Five – elephant, lion, leopard and rhino. The waterholes support a rich diversity of birds and mammals, including rare species such as black-faced impala, roan, cheetah, and Namibia’s smallest antelope, the Damara dik-dik.
Accommodation: Etosha Rest Camp or similar, breakfast and dinner included.

DAY 5: Today we head south for a day of cultural impressions, a day which is sure to prove most memorable. With their intricate hairstyles and traditional adornments, the Himba are one of Namibia’s most distinctive tribes. We spend time with these proud people, learning about their captivating heritage and special way of life.  From the small settlement near Kamanjab we head via Khorixas, the capital of the Damaraland region to arrive at our lodge in the mid-afternoon.
Accommodation: Damara Mopane Lodge or similar, breakfast and dinner included.

DAY 6: We rise early this morning to see the highlights of Damaraland, one of the last true wilderness areas in Africa. We pass through scenic landscapes en-route to the Petrified Forest, visit the rock engravings at Twyfelfontein and fascinating geological features, such as the Organ Pipes and Burnt Mountain. Your afternoon is at leisure.
Accommodation: Damara Mopane Lodge or similar, breakfast and dinner included.

DAY 7: Continue through the stark, yet beautiful Namib Desert to Henties Bay, and travel along the Atlantic coast to the charming resort town of Swakopmund. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure.
Accommodation: The Beach Hotel or similar, breakfast included.

DAY 8: Today your are free to continue your exploration the perfectly preserved 19th-century Swakopmund, a coastal town with a strong German flavor. Why not enjoy a harbour cruise or a scenic flight, a dune-buggy ride or one of the numerous optional activities that are available in the ‘adventure capital’ of Namibia.
Accommodation: The Beach Hotel or similar, breakfast included.

DAY 9: This morning we see some of the regions natural wonders such as the ancient Welwitschia Mirabilis and the Moon Landscape before continuing to the edges of the Namib Desert. From there we proceed to the southern region of the Namib Naukluft Park via the Kuiseb Canyon and the Gaub Pass, before reaching our accommodation at the famed Sossuvlei Dunes.
Accommodation: Namib Desert Lodge or similar, breakfast and dinner included.

DAY 10: We explore the spectacular dunes at Sossusvlei, reputedly the highest dunes in the world. Energetic guests may choose to climb to the top of the dunes, before returning to our lodge.
Accommodation: Namib Desert Lodge or similar, breakfast and dinner included.

DAY 11: After breakfast enjoy a leisurely drive through the scenic Spreetshoogte Pass (road conditions permitting) en-route to Windhoek. The tour ends at a downtown hotel or at the international airport.

Tour Dates: Mondays to November 2017

Tour Cost: from US$2,560 per person sharing twin accommodation
Single Supplement from $250

Group Size: 10 – 20 passengers
Types of Accommodation: standard hotels & lodges
Vehicles: minivan or bus
Meals: 10 breakfasts & 7 dinners

Etosha Pan Zebras

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Namibia’s Southern Highlights

A 9 day Journey through Ancient Deserts and Canyons (SoA02)

We’ve been there: Namibian Adventure

Itinerary:

clip_image002Day 1:  Travel from Windhoek into the largest sand mass on earth, the Kalahari Desert. The Bushman refer to it as the “Soul of the World” and with its red sand dunes and endless grass plains interspersed with acacia’s and shrubs, it is home to a vast amount of specially adapted wildlife.
Enjoy the opportunity to experience the fauna and flora that has survived this desert environment.

Day 2:  Continue south through expansive rocky plains and the unique quiver tree forest. Nestled amongst huge dolerite boulders, stacked in a mysterious way, the area is also aptly referred to as “Giant’s Playground”.
Continue to the lodge, near the Fish River Canyon. Optional guided walking tour or nature drive in the later afternoon.

Days 3 & 4:  The morning starts on the rim of the Fish River Canyon, 550m above this magnificent geological phenomenon. Continue on to the Succulent Karoo, a vast, semi-arid desert with sweeping vistas, mountain ranges and home to more than 6300 plant species.  On the second day travel to Lüderitz and visit the Kolmanskop ghost town. Other highlights include the wild horses of the Namib Desert, Diaz Point and the coastal town of Lüderitz itself.

Day 5:  After breakfast travel north through the pre-Namib to a lodge in the Namib Desert. This is the gateway to Sesriem Canyon and Sossusvlei, where some of the highest sand dunes on earth tower over the white desert plains.
The afternoon is at leisure to relax around the pool.

Day 6: This morning demands an early start to catch the first rays of the sun rising over the dunes of Sossusvlei.
Thereafter visit the Sesriem Canyon, a life sustaining natural phenomenon in the heart of the Namib Desert.

Day 7: Head further north via the desolate, rolling hills of the Kuiseb Moon Valley towards the Atlantic Ocean.
In Walvis Bay visit one of the most important wetland areas on the African continent, home to 80% of the African flamingos who feed in this lagoon and present a breathtaking sight, when they appear in their thousands.
Continue on to Swakopmund and check into the hotel.

Day 8: Swakopmund is the perfect location for walking tours, shopping, relaxing at a coffee shop or taking a stroll along the sandy beaches. Being Namibia’s adventure playground, a wide variety of optional activities are available, such as dolphin cruises, desert tours, scenic flights, quad biking, paragliding, parachuting or kite surfing.

Day 9: After breakfast return to Windhoek. The tour ends at a downtown hotel or at the international airport.

Tour Dates: Saturdays to October 2017

Tour Cost: from US$2,490 per person sharing twin accommodation
Single Supplement from $250

Group Size: 10 – 20 passengers
Types of Accommodation: standard hotels & lodges
Vehicles: minivan or bus
Meals: 8 breakfasts

Sossusvlei Spingbok

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More about Namibia:

Regions in brief:
Etosha National Park
Swakopmund
Namib-Naukluft National Park
Sossusvlei Dunes & Sesriem Canyon

Location, Landscape & Habitat
Sandwiched between two deserts – the Namib Desert, said to be the oldest in the world, on its western coastline and the Kalahari Desert in the eastern interior, Namibia features the Etosha National Park in the north, and the majestic Fish River Canyon in the south. Namibia covers over 820 000 square km (the size of France & Britain combined) of contrasting scenery. Many of the features of this country are of particular scientific interest and attract scientists from all over the world.

Namibia is the first country in the world to include protection of the environment and sustainable utilization of wildlife in its constitution. About 15,5% of the country has been set-aside as national parks. In these areas, rare and endangered species of animals, birds and plant life are preserved and protected. They serve as a living reminder to us all, and to the generations of the future, of how it once was in Africa.

Namibia offers the photographer – amateur or professional – light and scenery like nowhere else in the world. Namibia has rich ethnic diversity, perhaps most visible in the dramatic dress styles of groups such as the Herero and the Himba. This is also one of the last refuges of the San (Bushmen) who still practice their hunter/gatherer way of life in remote areas.

The magnificent and varied National Parks and game reserves, including the famed Etosha, are rich with wildlife and birdlife. While travelling in Etosha or the northern reaches of Damaraland one may see the magnificent desert elephants and lions which are specially adapted to this often harsh environment.

Namibia, Twyfelfontein

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Etosha National Park
Consisting of over 22 000 km² of saline desert, savannah and woodlands, the Etosha National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and one of the major sanctuaries for wildlife. Its definitive feature is the Etosha Pan, a vast shallow depression of about 5 000 km². This great, white expanse the locals call ’great place of dry water‘, often shimmers with mirages and herds of game can be seen within this eerie setting.
There are 144 mammal species in the park, including elephant, giraffe, blue wildebeest and black rhino, predators such as lion, cheetah, leopard, wildcat, hyena and jackal.
The black rhino population of 300 is one of the few growing populations in the world and the local elephant are reputed to be the largest in Africa -the tallest standing at 4m at the shoulder. Their tusks however are relatively small due to genetic defects and mineral deficiencies in their diet.
The majestic eland, the tiny, shy Damara dik-dik (45cm high) and the striking Oryx (gemsbok), with its dramatic black and white markings are common. Bird life is prolific and some 340 species have been identified, including Namibia’s national bird, the vividly coloured crimson-breasted shrike.  During the more rainy seasons Etosha is also one of the most important breeding grounds for flamingos.
Etosha is also known for its expert game management and attentive protection of the unspoiled environment.

Desert ElephantsTOP

Swakopmund
A true oasis and respite from the solemn desert and its monotonous heat. A seaside holiday resort full of old-world charm and modern amenities, from the quaint German colonial influences to funky café’s.
The tranquil setting includes promenades, palm trees and beautifully tended public gardens, the Swakopmund museum (covering natural history, mineralogy, botany, historical and ethnological aspects), the National Marine & Research Center, an aquarium, a public library, and a grassed golf course in a desert setting.
This ‘middle of the desert’ feel is one of its attractions – one can enjoy the wild expanse of the adjacent desert and sea and yet have the creature comforts of Swakopmund’s hotels, restaurants, bars and much-needed laundries!
There is plenty to see and do and activities include quad-biking, sand boarding, rock & surf fishing and skydiving. There is also a tannery, manufacturing well-known kudu leather shoes, and a brewery producing fine beers in the German tradition.

Namib Rand

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Namib-Naukluft National Park
The Namib-Naukluft National Park is an incredibly unusual and diverse ‘super-conservation’ area. There is nothing quite like it. It’s probably the most unusual in the world– an ancient land with an ageless spirit.
It covers almost 50 000 km² and is ranked as the 4th largest in the world (the largest nature conservation area in Namibia) with landscapes including an impressive mountain massif, desert plains, high sand dunes, deep gorges and an estuarine lagoon.
The atmosphere can suddenly shift with the weather or time of day, as light, textures and shadows give desert landscapes entirely new characters. Survivors in this harsh landscape include the Oryx, springbok and zebra as well as the Welwitschia mirabilis, an odd-looking desert plant. One large, protected specimen is estimated at 1500 years old.

Sossusvlei, NamibiaTOP

Sossusvlei
The visual spectacular in the Sossusvlei area is unsurpassed. Amongst the continuous towering dunes as far as the eye can see is arguably the highlight of the Namib Desert – the Sossusvlei, an enormous clay-pan, surrounded by dunes. After a heavy rainfall, rare in this area, the vlei fills with water and, as the clay layers are virtually impermeable to water, a turquoise lake remains for quite some time.

The dunes and their rich tints vary from pale apricot to vivid reds and oranges, and contrast vividly with the dazzling white surfaces of the claypans, or lakes, below. During the rainy season one of the larger of these pans creates a haven for water birds, often including flamingos. Even during the dry season, Oryx, springbok and ostriches can be seen feeding off the sparse vegetation along the water courses.

The dunes of the Namib Desert developed over a period of many millions of years and are shaped by strong-multi-directional winds. It is thought that the vast quantities of sand were carried into the Atlantic Ocean by the Orange River. The surf pushed the sand back onto land and coastal dunes formed. Dunes have subsequently shifted inland and northwards. Wind continuously re-stacks the sand of the huge shifting dunes of the Namib Desert. It tirelessly forces the grains of sand on the flat windward slope upwards to the crest of the dune. Here they fall down in the wind shade. The leeward slope, therefore, is always considerably steeper than the windward side.

Sesriem
Erosion over many centuries has incised a narrow gorge through which the Tsauchab River disappears dramatically down a steep gorge in the plain. This gorge, Sesriem Canyon, is approx 1 km long with pools along the way and a 30-40 m pool at its end. These pools of water,  in an otherwise arid region attract many birds and animals.

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Travel Blog: Namibia by Desert Express

by Mike Preston

My trip to Namibia had been programmed around a journey on the Desert Express, a luxury train running between Swakopmund on the Atlantic coast, and the capital, Windhoek, 1700 metres above sea level, with a couple of days at each end.

We arrived in Swakopmund, a charming small town oozing with the character bestowed upon it by its unique location between desert and sea, and its German and African heritage. After exploring the area for a few days we headed for the old Swakopmund Railway station, where we boarded the train and were shown to our compartments by the friendly and attentive train crew.

Ingeniously designed for optimal use of the limited space, the compartment was fitted with a shower and toilet, a small sofa and a comfortable single seater which converted into bunks. The train has 24 compartments in four named coaches (Oryx, Kokerboom, Springbok, Meerkat), each decorated in the pastel colours of the desert.

Promptly at 2pm the train moved off with a gentle clink of glasses as we gathered in the Spitzkoppe bar for the first of many drinks. Tertius, the train manager, assembled the train crew (except for the driver, whom we were assured was at his post) for introductions. The dedication and enthusiasm of this team of young people for their country and their work was apparent from the beginning, and it was perhaps this more than any other single feature of the journey which made it so unique.
As we sat enjoying their commentary and hospitality, the train moved at its sedate pace through the surprisingly varied and interesting desert landscape.

As night fell a four course dinner was served in the plush Welwitschia restaurant car. Namibian cooking draws heavily upon local ingredients, and game, fish, and steak were all offered along with a selection of excellent South African wines. After dinner, Tertius invited us into the refreshing clear desert air to enjoy an experience that most people never have – seeing the constellations sparkling through unpolluted air with no ambient light to detract from their clarity.

After a full cooked breakfast, we made our last stop at Okapuka game ranch. We transferred from the train in open vehicles and drove through that unique African early morning cool. From the safety of a substantial hide, we saw untamed lions feeding and marvelled at the raw strength and beauty of the king of the jungle. From there we went to the boma and sat enjoying coffee whilst a tame ostrich kept us under observation through its beady eyes.
All too soon it was time to board the train for the last short stretch to Windhoek’s historic station where we arrived at 10am and said our farewells to the train crew.

Click here for more Great African Train Journeys

Namibia, Desert Elephant

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