Pulsing with life, opportunity and a sparkle of adventure, Windhoek is a multicultural city characterised by tranquil co-existence and enough living space for all its citizens, which number 350’000. Visitors can enjoy the best of two worlds between the European-style architecture and lifestyle, to the vivid beat of African culture and environs. The first recorded settlements were established because of the springs in the area. In about 1842, the Oorlam Kaptain, Jan Jonker Afrikaner, settled in at the strongest spring in the present Klein Windhoek. At the time, the place was called “/Ai-//Gams” (Fire Water) by the Namas, and “Otjomuise” (Place of Steam) by the Hereros, both names bearing references to the hot springs. The German colony came into being with the determination of its borders in 1890.
Germany sent a protective corps (the “Schutztruppe”) under Major Curt von Francois to maintain order; the garrison was stationed at Windhoek, where it was strategically situated as a buffer between the Namas and Hereros, while the twelve strong springs provided water for the cultivation of food. The present Windhoek was founded on 18 October 1890 when Von Francois laid the foundation stone of the fort, which is known as the Alte Feste (Old Fortress).
Windhoek has a rich cultural life where activities happily mix and match to produce some interesting combinations. The “township” of Katutura is a journey for discovering the sounds and smells of Africa. The highlight is a visit to the Tukondjeni Market, which offers services that satisfy many community needs. It’s a busy place, where one can purchase supplies and traditional Namibian food such as barbecued meat, dried fish, fried mopane worms (known as “omaungu”) and other traditional food such as “ombidi” and dehydrated wild spinach.
Upon arrival at the international airport you will be met by your Namibian guide. You then proceed transfer for overnight Windhoek city hotel, Hotel Pension Palmquell
Overnight: Palmquell Hotel Pension
Welcome to Hotel Pension Palmquell, your oasis of tranquillity in the vibrating city of Windhoek. Our 16 spacious and immaculate rooms in an up-market ambience are suited for holidaymakers and businessmen alike. Families also feel at home. The informal atmosphere and Austrian hospitality are particularly appreciated by our guests. Hotel Pension Palmquell consists of 16 spacious en suite rooms. Our extra-long double beds guarantee a good night’s sleep. We are totally suited for families of three or four as well – at rates that favour families. Each room has an atmosphere of its own. Original works by famous Namibian artists like John Muafangejo add an African touch. For business people there is a worktop with a direct telephone line and internet connection.
Bed and Breakfast
The Kalahari is an exceptionally beautiful living desert a large semi-arid sandy savannah draped over a gently rolling inland sea of sand covering most of Botswana and large parts of Namibia and South Africa. It is also the last bastion of the San people with the modern world having enveloped all the other areas they once roamed. Here in Namibia it is typically red sands covered in thin, wispy, mostly golden grass and dotted with acacia trees and wide ranging wildlife including gemsbok, impala, jackals and cheetah.
After breakfast, you depart Windhoek and travel into the largest sand mass on earth, the Kalahari Desert. The bushman refer to it as the “Soul of the World”, an emotive description for this area! With its deep red sand dunes and endless grass plains interspersed with Acacia’s and shrubs, it is the only form of survival for a vast amount of specially adapted wildlife. Enjoy the opportunity to experience the fauna and flora that has survived this desert environment for thousands of years.
Camel thorn is nestled in the cool woodlands on the southern edge of the famous Ngamo Plains. Here you will be treated to a truly memorable safari experience in pure comfort and style. Dine al fresco style under our ancient camel thorn tree, track elephant herds on foot inside Hwange National Park, or enjoy close-up photography from inside our look up blind – this flagship lodge ticks all the boxes for your authentic African safari experience.
Dinner, Bed and Breakfast
This morning starts with the truly unique experience of being guided through the Kalahari Desert by members of the San Tribe (Bushman). The San have survived in this seemingly impossible terrain for thousands of years and their knowledge of the area is unsurpassed. After a leisurely lunch you will head out on a Scenic Drive through the red dunes of the desert.
Camel thorn Kalahari Lodge
Camel thorn is nestled in the cool woodlands on the southern edge of the famous Ngamo Plains. Here you will be treated to a truly memorable safari experience in pure comfort and style. Dine al fresco style under our ancient camelthorn tree, track elephant herds on foot inside Hwange National Park, or enjoy close-up photography from inside our look up blind – this flagship lodge ticks all the boxes for your authentic African safari experience.
The Fish River Canyon is located in the northern part of the Nama Karoo. It is the second largest canyon on earth, featuring a gigantic ravine that measures in total about 100 miles (160 km) long, up to 27 km wide and in places almost 550 metres deep.
The Fish River is the longest interior river found in Namibia, but its flow at present is a trickle compared with the immense volume of water that poured down its length in ages past. It cuts deep into the plateau that is today dry, stony and sparsely covered with hardy drought resistant plants such as succulents, euphorbia’s and lonely quiver trees.
The river flows intermittently, usually coming down in flood in late summer, and when it ceases to flow it becomes a chain of long narrow pools on the sandy rock-strewn floor of the chasm. At the lower end of the Fish River Canyon, the hot springs resort of Ai-Ais provides an oasis in the desolate rocky wastes.
Guided and unguided walks into the canyon are possible during April to September, it is however strictly forbidden to climb into the canyon as a day visitor. In the canyon you may encounter several species of mammals, such as wild horses, Mountain Zebra (Hartman Zebra), Kudu, Klipspringer, Leopard, Steenbok, Baboon and Springbok. The most common rodents include mice, rats, dassies, and dassie-rats. Bird life includes surprises like Pelicans, Black Eagles, Fish Eagles, Kingfishers, Lovebirds, Wild Ostrich and various species of waterfowl and wading birds, like Herons. In the natural pools of the Fish River are found an abundance of fish, such as barbled catfish and yellow fish.
You travel south through expansive rocky plains, visiting the unique Quiver Tree forest. Nestled amongst huge dolerite boulders, stacked in such a mysterious way that it seems giants played here. You continue to your lodge, situated in close vicinity to the Fish River Canyon, the second largest canyon on earth. Over the next couple of days experience the grandeur of this amazing place on foot and by road.
Quiver Tree Forest
Some 14kms from Keetmanshoop is a striking natural phenomenon that is well worth a visit: a natural forest of roughly 200 quiver trees, set on a large outcrop of blackish dolerite rocks.
Named for the pliable bark that was once used by Bushmen to craft quivers for their arrows, quiver trees are in fact not trees at all, but unusually large succulents with scaly bark and twisted branches topped with spiky, fleshy leaves. The most mature specimens here are between 200 and 300 years old, and some measure as high as nine metres. The forest, which was declared a national monument in 1955, is best viewed at sunrise or sunset, when the soft, warm light further enhances this already captivating sight.
Fish River Lodge in southern Namibia is the only lodge perched directly on the rim of the Fish River Canyon offering guests breathtaking views of the canyon from sunrise to sunset. Experience firsthand the geological forces that unfolded 300 million years ago, when the Fish River began to etch its way through hard quartzite forming a Canyon 90 kilometres long, 549 metres deep and 28kms wide in some places, making it the world’s second largest Canyon. The 45 000 hectare Canyon Nature Park is a natural sanctuary for Karoo succulent flora and endemic wildlife.
Incredible hiking trails meander down into the heart of the canyon affording guests spectacular scenery combined with 75kms river frontage made up of permanent water holes and rock pools that attract Hartmans Zebra, Kudu, Oryx, Springbok and many other smaller wildlife species and endemic birdlife.
Full Board – Dinner, Bed, Breakfast and Lunch
This morning you will visit the Fish River Canyon. With a length of 170kms and an average depth of 550meters, it represents the second largest canyon on Earth. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at your lodge at leisure or take part in optional activities offered.
Fish River Canyon Viewpoint
Located in Southern Namibia the Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in Africa and draws many visitors each year. This viewpoint has a beautiful panoramic view of the canyon where visitors can witness the Fish River flow through sharp corners amidst rocky terrain.
This region is typified by the Succulent Karoo. The distinctive climatic characteristics of the Succulent Karoo make it different from all other deserts in the world. Rainfall is reliable and predictable, falling mostly in winter, and prolonged droughts are rare. The Succulent Karoo’s botanical diversity is unparalleled by any other arid region on earth and is the world’s only plant hotspot that is entirely arid.
This ecoregion is home to greater than 5,000 higher plant species, nearly 40% of which are endemic, and 18% of which are threatened. It has the richest succulent flora in the world, harbouring about one-third of the world’s approximately 10,000 succulent species. Other unique features include the diversity of miniature succulents (435 spp.) and geophytes (bulb-like plants 630 spp.). The eco region is also a centre of diversity and endemism for reptiles and many invertebrate taxa, especially monkey beetles (Rutelinae: Hoplinii).
The Namib Desert eco region to the north is characterized by extremely low and variable summer rain (less than 50 mm per year), and extremely sparse plant cover, dominated by ephemerals. To the east lies the Nama Karoo eco region, a low open shrub land with variable grass cover and highly variable rain that falls mainly in the late summer months.
Your morning starts on the edge of the Fish River Canyon, where you gaze 550 meters into this magnificent geological phenomenon, the second largest of its kind on earth. Afterwards you will travel to the Succulent Karoo Desert. After winter rains, this desert unfolds in a carpet of flowers and an explosion of bright colours.
It is one of the 20 most important biomes in the world and counts as the most specie diverse desert on earth. You can explore the sweeping desert plains with its miscellany of organisms on a nature drive or on one of the beautiful walking trails in the late afternoon.
Directions – Fish River Lodge to Klein-Aus Vista Eagle’s Nest Chalets Gondwana Collection Namibia
Distance: 259.5km Travel Time: 4:06hours
Solitude, silence, space and magnificent sunsets – these are the characteristics of the atmosphere at Eagle’s Nest Chalets. A 15 minutes’ drive from the reception at the Desert Horse Inn, 8 chalets are nestled against a mountain slope and afford unique views of the boundlessness of the desert. Each of the natural rock chalets sits between massive granite boulders and contains a bathroom, kitchenette, fireplace and private veranda. Meals are served at the Desert Horse Inn restaurant. Take-away breakfast or barbecue packs are available on request.
This seaside town is something of an anomaly – a piece of 19th century Bavaria bordering the pinkish sand dunes of the Namib Desert. Lutheran churches, German bakeries and colonial buildings are dotted about the settlement, while its windswept beaches are home to flamingos, ostriches, seals and penguins. The nearby ghost town of Kolmanskop is one of the most fascinating area attractions, located approximately 10 kilometres from Luderitz central.
Today you will head to the coast and the beautiful little town of Luderitz. Along the way you will have the opportunity to see the famous Desert horses before visiting one of the photographer’s favourite places, the Kolmanskop Ghost town. In the afternoon you will go on a guided town tour.
Wild Horses of the Namib
Fighting for a life in freedom they hold an irresistible fascination: the Wild Horses of the Namib in south-western Namibia. For centuries their origin was shrouded in mystery. Their habitat, the barren plains around Garub on the eastern fringe of the Namib Desert, is no paradise; nevertheless they have managed to adapt to the harsh conditions.
Their forebears, once in the service of man, gained freedom for themselves: a life in the vastness of the Namib, away from human civilization, according to the rules of their own horse society. Perhaps this is the reason for the fascination of thousands of visitors every year. Plans for moving the herd to farms have been discarded by now: it has been decided that also in future the horses’ place is in Namib Naukluft Park.
Amongst the sands of the Namib, the crumbling buildings of a small, once-luxurious town emerge from the drifting dunes. This ghost town is Kolmanskop, a reminder of the wealth of a time when diamonds could be picked by hand from the desert and a remarkable photographic opportunity with few equals anywhere on earth. To the imaginative but uninformed, the “Sperrgebiet” (forbidden diamond territory) conjures up images of watchtowers, electric fences, barbed wire and ferocious guard dogs protecting the restricted area.
This may tickle the fancy but could hardly be further from reality. In fact, for most parts there is nothing – nothing but the limitless desert and the occasional forlorn notice board with its stern WARNING! WAARSKUWING! WARNUNG! ELONDWELO! And then you find Kolmanskop, a deserted Ghost Town in the Sperrgebiet – once a cosmopolitan center where diamonds were lying around like “plums under a plum tree”, a town built to last…until the diamonds ran out.
Today Kolmanskop stands as a haunting monument to the day’s boom and bust, where once opulent homes, shops, hospital and theater surrender slowly to the relentless heat and encroaching desert sand.
On a lofty point on the Lüderitz Peninsula, Bartolomeu Dias in 1488 erected a padrão or stone cross on his homeward voyage to Portugal, after he had rounded the Cape of Good Hope. A replica now stands on the spot, known as Diaz Point, with the original kept — as found, in pieces — in museums in Cape Town and Lisbon. Seen from a sailing boat at sea, Diaz Point gains its true perspective, a rocky headland with its back to the desert. A colony of Cape fur seals lives at the foot of the point.
All 70 rooms and 3 luxurious suites are sea-facing with FREE Wi-Fi facilities. The hotel has 3 wheelchair friendly rooms; elevator and all public areas are accessible. The locally acclaimed Penguin Restaurant serves a fine and varied menu. The upper deck CRAYFISH BAR LOUNGE is the premier venue in town to sip on your favourite cocktail, enjoy a Cappuccino, good wines and beers. FREE Wi-Fi throughout.
The Namib is the world’s oldest desert, and although it stretches along the entire length of Namibia’s coastline, the Namib commonly refers to the vast sea of sand from Luderitz to Swakopmund. For a big sandy desert the scenery is remarkably varied, with the giant red dunes of Sossusvlei being the most famous part. Because of how old it is the Namib is home to numerous species that don’t occur elsewhere and although no humans live in the desert an amazing array of flora and fauna manages to survive here. Famous species include the Welwitschia – a living fossil plant, endemic chameleons, fur seals along the coast, brown hyenas, jackals and remarkably one of Africa’s largest antelope the Gemsbok. The name Namib is of Nama origin and means “vast place” and vast it certainly is.
After breakfast you travel along stretches of grass plains interspersed with huge mountain ranges into the Namib Desert – the oldest desert on earth, formed by the effect of the cold Benguela Current. Due to early morning fog, this arid desert becomes a life supporting structure for all its living organisms. You will find yourself in the vicinity of Sossusvlei, an area marked by some of the highest dunes on earth.
Sossusvlei’s monumentally high dunes are a sought after topic for photographers. With their warm tints ranging from pale apricot to brick orange and deep red, they contrast vividly with the large white clay pans at their basis. On arrival at the lodge you will join a sundowner drive in to the dunes.
Sossusvlei Lodge Sundowner Drive
Depart from the Lodge in the late afternoon in open game viewer vehicles. Breath-taking views over the desert grass plains with occasional photo stops where the knowledgeable guides explain the desert fauna and flora. For sunset go higher up to the mountains to watch a spectacular sunset while enjoying sundowner drinks and snacks.
Directions – Luderitz Nest Hotel to Sossusvlei Lodge
Distance: 465.3km Travel Time: 6:30hours
Situated at the Entrance Gate to the Namib Naukluft Park, Sossusvlei Lodge offers direct access to the towering red sand dunes, the famous pan of Sossusvlei, the scorched black trees of Dead Vlei and the remarkable depths of the Sesriem Canyon. The 45 individual luxurious accommodation units at Sossusvlei Lodge are carefully laid out to perfectly blend in with the magnificent surrounding natural environment. Each fully air-conditioned unit has a patio, en-suite bathroom with shower and a spacious bedroom under canvas with adobe-style plaster walls to give the visitor a distinctive sense of being close to nature. Experience the true art of Hospitality with the thoughtful touch of attentive staff to contribute to a truly memorable experience. Facilities include a sparkling pool, bar, beer garden and an al fresco terrace where one can enjoy exquisite food, award-winning wines and magnificent views of the floodlit waterhole. The Sossusvlei Lodge Adventure Centre provides a range of activities including Quad-Biking, Guided Excursions, Sun-downer Trips, Hot Air Ballooning, Scenic Flights and much more to explore the area’s natural beauty.
There’s not much to do or see in the small village of Solitaire, but it nevertheless an important stop on the way to Sossusvlei, providing the only petrol station, general store and post office between Sesriem and Walvis Bay. Solitaire also has a small bar and famous apple pie.
This morning demands an early start. The first rays of sunrise paint the mountains of sand into a variety of apricot, red and orange, contrasted against a crisp blue skyline, enrapturing our senses, and providing an opportunity to capture this awesome landscape on film. Sossusvlei, where the mostly dry Tsauchab River ends abruptly amongst majestic dunes, sees us walking up one of these dunes to admire the desert landscape. Thereafter we visit the Sesriem Canyon, a life sustaining natural phenomenon in the heart of the Namib Desert. After a relaxed lunch at the lodge you will move on to your next lodge located in a perfect position for landscape photography.
Sossusvlei’s rich ochre sand dunes offer one of the most mind-blowing sights you will ever experience. Their oscillating crests rise to an astonishing 320m and, with their air of timelessness, create an unforgettable wilderness in the heart of the world’s oldest desert. Dwarfed by the sheer size of the highest dunes on earth, your ascending footprints look like insect trails leading into infinity. The solitude is immeasurable and your place in the great scheme of life takes on a curious insignificance. The white vleis (clay pans) contrast sharply against the red sand and vast blue sky, while fog-dependent animals and plants seek shelter from the sweltering heat underneath the sand and age-old camelthorn trees.
One of these pans, referred to as Dead Pan, is a large ghostly expanse of dried white clay, punctuated by skeletons of ancient camel-thorn trees, carbon-dated as being between 500 and 600 years old. During this time the flow of the Tsauchab River into the pan was stopped by the formation of a dune belt – hence the trees died, now forming part of Namibia’s own Salvador Dali “painting”.
This ancient clay pan was once an oasis, studded with acacias and fed by a river that suddenly changed course, leaving the earth to dry up along with the trees it previously supported. So dry were the climatic conditions that the trees never decomposed – instead they were entirely leached of moisture so that today, 900 years later, they remain as desiccated, blackened sentinels dotting the pan’s cracked surface. Surrounded by the red-pink dunes of the Namib Desert, they create a surreal spectacle that is a photographer’s dream.
Sesriem Canyon, a deep chasm carved through the rocks by water, is a striking natural feature of the area that is best explored on foot. Stony walls rise up sharply on both sides of the canyon, while birds roost in its crags and lizards dart along the ledges. The canyon’s name was coined when early settlers used it as a water source, using six lengths of leather (‘ses riem – six thongs) tied together to lower buckets into the water at the base of canyon.
The Rostock Ritz Desert Lodge, located on a 12,000-hectare property on the edge of the Namib Desert, consists of unique, semi-subterranean rock “igloos” aesthetically integrated with the natural surroundings. Accommodation consists of 16 fully equipped standard double rooms and 3 suites with views over the desert. Aside from lying by the pool and enjoying the spectacular view activities include hiking to the natural springs in the Gaub and Ubib canyons, 4 x 4 self drives and 4 hour 4 x 4 drives to the rock art cave paintings or simply enjoying a 2 hour sun downer drive.
With palm-lined streets, seaside promenades and fine accommodation for all budgets, Swakopmund is Namibia’s most popular holiday destination, and its pleasant summer climate and decent beaches attract surfers, anglers and beach lovers from all over Southern Africa.
Thanks to its mild temperatures and negligible rainfall, Swakopmund generally enjoys grit in the oyster. When an easterly wind blows, the town gets a good sand-blasting, and almost perpetual drizzle. The fog rolls up to 30km inland and provides moisture for desert-dwelling plants and animals, including 80 species of lichen.
For better or worse, Swakopmund feels overwhelmingly Teutonic – indeed, it has Germany – but for visitors, it’s a Namibia’s adrenalin capital, and offers a wide range of gut-curdling activities from sand boarding and quad-biking to skydiving and camel riding.
Note, however, that it gets especially busy around Namibian school holidays in December and January, when temperatures average around 25ºC.
After breakfast, travel through two rugged passes and via the Welwitschia plains and the Moonlandscape (permit required for the Moonlandscape section) to Swakopmund. Better known as Namibia’s playground, this idyllic town is wedged between the sweltering Namib Desert and the cold Atlantic Ocean, and enjoys a distinct German architecture and atmosphere.
Walvis Bay Lagoon
Kuiseb Valley and Moon Landscape
Mysterious and remote, the Kuiseb Canyon was carved aeons ago by the Kuiseb River, which runs mainly underground. This deep fissure is flanked by steep folds of rock on one side and the copper-coloured sand dunes of the Namib Desert on the other, and shelters several wildlife species that are acclimatised to the region’s harsh environment, including hyena, buck and even leopard.
Walvis Bay’s calm natural lagoon is a twitcher’s paradise, teeming with roughly 50 species of seabirds, including vivid flocks of flamingos, bulky-billed pelicans and glossy black cormorants. It’s also a popular spot for windsurfing, kitesurfing and kayaking, while the promenade stretching for three kilometres along the water’s edge is a great place for a scenic stroll. The Lagoon is one of the most important wetland areas on the African continent and a RAMSAR world heritage site. Over 80% of the African flamingos feed in this lagoon and present a breath taking picture when they appear in groups counting a few hundred thousand.
Kuiseb Valley and Moon Landscape
As the Kuiseb River nears the coast it splits into multiple pathways and disappears into the dunes, creating a landscape of shifting sand, dry river beds and desert-adapted shrubs. For hundreds of years, this area has been home to the Topnaars, descendants of the Khoisan, who survive by keeping cattle and sheep and growing a nutritious melon variety in the dry river beds. The delta is also known for its archaeological riches, which include score of ancient middens, Topnaar burial sites and petrified elephant tracks.
Travel through this desolate and forbidding valley of conical and dome shaped hills near Swakopmund, reminiscent of an actual lunar landscape, resembling the lifeless surface of mars itself. The Moonlandscape represents the leftover of an ancient, enormous mountain range. During more severe weather patterns, the valleys of the mountain range as well as the mountain range itself has been chafed, chiselled and gouged by wind and the waters of the nowadays known Swakop River. Known as “badland topography”, the crumbling granite surface hardly supports any plant life and is best viewed in the late afternoon to enjoy terrific light and shadow contrasts and cooler temperatures.
Staying at Desert Breeze it will feel like you are part or the Namib desert. You will be living “in the view” of the oldest desert in the world. Total peace and silence so close to Swakopmund. Surrounded by colourful and very unique architecture contrasting but yet fitting in with the desert landscape will sooth any soul. Big basalt sculptures stand guard over the desert landscape.
The luxury bungalows with the creative feeling and friendly staff will make your stay very special. Desert Breeze offers 12, all en-suite, luxury bungalows and one exquisite villa, each with a private sun deck to admire the breath-taking view of the dunes. Expressing sophisticated style and luxury from our accommodation right through to our breakfast facilities, we endeavour to make our guests feel pampered and spoiled.
Each bungalow and the villa are equipped with wireless internet, mini bar, coffee and tea making facilities and digital safes. The breakfast facility serves only the freshest of produce for breakfast. Seating is available indoors or on the deck for guest to enjoy the view and peaceful atmosphere. Secure parking as well as laundry facilities is available.
Enjoy the day at leisure or join one of the numerous activities Swakopmund has to offer.
Namibia Desert Explorers
Sandwich Harbour 4×4
Living Desert Tours
The Catamaran Charters Team invites you aboard the 45ft Royal Cape Sailing Catamaran Silverwind, or the 60ft Simon Sailing Catamaran Silversand, or the 40ft Admiral Motorised Catamaran Silvermoon, to enjoy an adventure packed tour to Pelican Point and Walvis Bay’s beautiful bay area. The chances of encountering dolphins, whales, turtles, seals and Mola Mola (sunfish) make the search for the marine big 5 and adventurous tour by enjoying sparkling wine, fresh oysters and other mouth-watering snacks aboard the spacious and comfortable catamarans.
Quad Biking & Sandboarding
Experience the sheer thrill of riding a quad bike through Namibia’s boundless expanse of shifting sand dunes. After the engines are revved up and ready to roll, an experienced guide will lead you through the Swakopmund River mouth into the dune belt.
Feel the freedom of riding through one of nature’s great wildernesses. As the towering dunes approach we weave our way through the smaller ones towards the “Amphitheater”. With “Power-up” we blast our way to the top of the first big dune via the “Roller Coasters” to the top of “Big Billy”.
We stop for a drink and you get the opportunity to capture the stark and savage beauty of the Namib Desert. After riding down “Devils Dip” we ride the berms, spirals and slopes as we cruise towards the “Table Top” a great dune that offers a spectacular view of the sea.
The Sandwich Harbour 4×4 Excursion takes you to the Walvis Bay Lagoon, the Saltpans, the Kuiseb River Delta, Sandwich Harbour, and – if weather and tides allow for it – the Sandwich Harbour Lagoon. We have plenty of time to stop and take pictures, and to enjoy the beautiful and unique scenery of one of the most spectacular areas in Namibia.
Our roaring dunes and lookout spots are a highlight of every tour. The popular Marine Dune Day (9h00-16h30) is a combination of both, a morning marine cruise and our Sandwich Harbour 4×4 afternoon excursion. During the marine cruise on your choice of boat (speedboat or catamaran) you have a chance to see pelicans, seals, dolphins, the Walvis Bay Harbour, oyster farms and Pelican Point with the old lighthouse.
Our 4×4 guide will be waiting for you as soon as you are back to take you to Sandwich Harbour. We return between 16h30 and 17h00. Lunch on the boat and in the dunes, drinks and permits are included.
The Living Desert Tour is a unique 4×4 adventure which specializes in bringing the desert to life while sharing the awesome beauty of the Namib Desert with travellers from all over the world. The coastal dune belt may seem barren and lifeless to many people, but in fact it is alive with a fascinating variety of little desert adapted animals, which are able to survive on the life-giving fog which consistently rolls in from the cold Atlantic Ocean.
Come see the Dancing White Lady Spider (Carparachne aureoflava) cartwheel 44 turns per second down a dune to escape the enemy. Admire the transparent Namib Dune Gecko (Pachydactylus rangei) with webbed feet that are equivalent to snow shoes. Learn about the different beetles and insects and how they survive in the dune desert.
Follow in the tracks of a legless Lizard (Fitsimmon’s Burrowing Skink), observe Sand Diving Lizards (Meroles Anchieta) dancing on the hot sand, Sidewinder Snakes (Perinquey’s Adder), Desert Chameleons and many more fascinating creatures. Learn about the geology, structure and formation of the desert, and admire the vast and beautiful landscapes while enjoying a scenic dune drive combined with fun and adrenalin.
Huge, untamed and ruggedly beautiful Damaraland is an exceptionally scenic landscape of open plains and spectacular rock formations. The major attractions are Spitzkoppe, the Brandberg, Twyfelfontein, Vingerklip and the Petrified Forest. Damaraland, one of the least populated places on earth, shows no fences nor boundaries in the vast, stony desert landscape. It is marked by endless vistas across stark plains, ancient valleys and brooding, distant mountains which bring the traveller as close to nature as is comfortably possible.
In Damaraland, plants and animals have over millennia evolved side by side with the harsh environment, creating unusual geological features, which together with a wealth of rock paintings and engravings, a population of desert-adapted elephant and rhino, combine to form the unique attraction to this region. Damaraland was once an area occupied primarily by the Damara people, but over time became home to other tribes such as the Hereros and the displaced Riemvasmakers of South Africa.
Today, many residents of Damaraland are thus of mixed heritage, but most consider themselves Damara. The Damaraland community comprises a unique group of people who recognised the value of the wildlife on their land and formed a Community Wildlife Conservancy to protect it. Until 1981, Damaraland was unprotected and open to poachers, mostly from outside of the of the Damaraland area. In the interests of the Damarland wildlife a game guard system was eventually formed with people from the community and the welfare of the wildlife increased. Today it is one of the last places in southern Africa where game still roams freely like it did thousands of years ago – a true wilderness.
Your lodge for the evening is situated in the heart of the Damaraland, where game such as rhino, desert elephant and kudu roam freely. A visit to the Burnt Mountain and the Organ Pipes is particularly rewarding in the later afternoon. En route to your lodge you can stop at various local street stands to purchase handcrafted artefacts and a wide variety of minerals and gemstones.
Twyfelfontein is a World Heritage Site boasting one of the richest rock art concentrations in Africa. Thousands of tourists come to this site each year to view some 2, 500 Stone Age rock engravings. The area is home to 17 rock art sites, which collectively encompass 212 engraved stone slabs. There are an additional 13 sites displaying rock paintings.
The mountain belongs to a 12km long mountain range lying from east to west. The mountain rises some 200m out of the barren landscape and shimmers starkly and uninhabitable during the heat of the day. During the early morning and late afternoon, before being shadowed by the surrounding higher mountain range, it presents a kaleidoscope of beautiful colours.
The mountain was formed by doleritic lava that intruded an underground cave consisting of limestone and shale. Upon impact the latter was instantly metamorphosed, releasing hydroxides and oxides, giving the mountain an amazing range of colours – red, orange, purple, black, grey and white.
An interesting feature at the end of the mountain is a heap of shale (shale consist of organic plant and animal particles) that underwent drastic changes when it was intruded by dolerite, now resembling ash and clinker. As the area is extremely susceptible to compaction, please heed the request not to walk around on the mountain.
Organ pipes: The name aptly describes these vertical stands of dolerite rock that can reach a height of 5m and are found in a valley some 100meters in length. They were formed by an intrusion of a dolerite sheet into an area consisting of shale (they are situated only a few hundred meters away from the Burnt Mountain).
When the dolerite cooled down and shrunk, neatly splitting into angular columns that we see today. It was subsequently eroded by the river cutting its way through the dolerite sheet. It is advisable to visit this geological phenomenon during the early morning or the late afternoon due to the intense heat build up in the valley.
Built in the wattle and daub style under Mopane trees and connected by a labyrinth of paths, the main building and chalets of the lodge look like an African village. The walls are adorned by copies of the rock engravings at Twyfelfontein. Each of the 60 double-room chalets (with air conditioning) sits in a vegetable and herb garden surrounded by a low wall. The gardens supply fresh ingredients for supper, which consists of a starter followed by a delicious buffet. There is a swimming pool for chilling out and a viewing point for relishing sunsets. The lodge at the gates of Damaraland is ideally suited for excursions to Twyfelfontein (130 km), the Petrified Forest (70 km) and the Vingerklip rock pillar (50 km).
After breakfast you will visit a traditional Damara village, the original inhabitants of the Damaraland as well as visiting the Petrified Forest where pre-historic tree trunks jut out between patches of Welwitschia. The afternoon will be at leisure.
Damara Living Museum
Observe and experience the traditional Damara way of life right in the heart of their traditional homelands. A unique opportunity to see a way of life that is slowly dying out. Open daily.
The Petrified Forest is a national monument, proclaimed on 1st March 1950, after being discovered by two farmers in the 1940s. The Petrified Forest is situated about 50 km west of Khorixas. The name is a bit misleading as it is not exactly a forest, which turned to stone, but rather an accumulation of enormous fossilized tree trunks about 280 million years old.
Scientist found out that these trunks haven’t grown in today’s Namibia but were washed down a river in ancient times when one of the many Ice Ages ended on the Gondwana continent. There must have been a huge flood that carried along the trunks to where they lie today. This flood also carried a lot of sand and mud which covered the trees to such an extent that air intrusion was prevented and consequently no decay took place.
The organic material of the trunks was conserved. Due to enormous pressure and over a period of millions of years even the finest structures of the wood have been dissolved by silicic acid and replaced by quartz, which is silicic acid in crystalline state. The result is perfectly conserved and completely petrified trunks.
Thanks to erosion many of these trunks are now exposed and amongst many smaller specimens two fully exposed trees measuring up to 45m have been discovered. Geologists did some research on the trunks and found out that the trees belong to the family of the Cordaites tree, which grew a long time ago in today’s Europe and was the ancestor of firs and spruces. Additionally to the petrified tree trunks some beautiful specimen of the Welwitschia Mirabilis can be seen here.
The Welwitischia Miralibis is named after Friedrich Welwitsch, a botanist who discovered the plant in the mid-19th century in Angola. The Welwitschia is often called a living fossil due to the fact that they are very long-living plants. Some Welwitschias are said to be 1500 years old and even older. The plants are endemic to the Namib Desert and only consist of a root a small stem and two leaves. The official Petrified Forest is situated on a plateau and can be reached by normal sedan vehicle.
Located just south of the boundary of Etosha National Park in northwestern Namibia, Etosha South makes up the southern region of this wild paradise. The national park can be accessed via the southern entrance at Andersson’s Gate. Visitors can catch a glimpse of a variety of wildlife including: lion, giraffe, elephant, white and black rhino, and a multitude of plains game.
After a relaxed breakfast and en route to Etosha you can visit a traditional Himba village and meet these proud and statuesque people. The Himba still adhere to their traditional values and cultures and are one of the last truly nomadic tribes on Earth. Travel further north to the Etosha National Park, which, with its numerous water holes, is home to the array of 114 different animal and 340 different bird species that thrive here. In the afternoon you will join the lodge on a game drive in their own private reserve.
Otjikandera Himba Village
A visit to this traditional Himba village is also a visit to the first registered Orphan Trust Fund in Namibia. The money received for tours to the Himba Village goes into a Trust which is mainly used for food and other necessities. The Otjikandero Himba Orphan Project tries to give the local tribe a chance to survive in the western world and tries to depict the proudness of the people, Himba lifestyle, tradition and culture and strives to ensure that future generations will live and thrive at Otjikandero and that the project can continue to grow.
Eagle Tented Lodge and Spa provides breathtaking views over the surrounding mountains & valleys. This luxury lodge, built from natural rock with thatch roofs boasts 8 standard and 8 luxury canvas tents all with spacious en-suite facilities. All tents have their private raised wooden balcony with a splash pool or outside bath, coffee and tea facilities. Each bathroom has a shower, toilet and a washbasin. The lodge has two restaurants, main bar, pool bar, swimming pool and a fully equipped Mystique Spa with aroma and mud baths, hydro therapies, pedicures, manicures, massages, yoga and Thelaso therapy. Guests can partake in various activities including game drives on the Epacha Game Reserve, night drives, game drives to the Etosha National Park and guided walks. The lodge offers all modern day luxuries to its guests combined with and unforgettable African bush experience.
In the vast arid space of Northern Namibia lies one of Southern Africa’s best loved wildlife sanctuaries. The Etosha National Park offers excellent game viewing in one of Africa’s most accessible venues. Zebra and springbok are scattered across the endless horizon, while the many waterholes attract endangered black rhinoceros, lion, elephant and large numbers of antelope. Etosha, meaning ‘place of dry water’, is encloses a huge, flat calcrete depression (or pan) of about 5000km².
The ‘Pan’ provides a great, parched, silver-white backdrop of shimmering mirages to an area of semi-arid savannah grassland and thorn scrub. The pan itself contains water only after very good rains and sometimes for only a few days each year, but is enough to stimulate the growth of blue – green algae which lures thousands of flamingos.
After sunrise you travel into the park, enjoying the sight of springbok and other playful animals announcing the start of another glorious day. The dense stands of Mopani forests support a large variety of browsers and specialized predators such as leopards, while it offers a variety of migratory as well as non-migratory bird species safe cover and nesting sites.
The Bush Camp accommodates 32 guest and 8 children in custom made tent like structures. The Mushara Bush Camp offers a down-to-earth tented bush camp experience which is well suited as an exceptional affordable base for independent travelers and families exploring the magical Etosha Pan National Park. The main Bush Camp House is thatched and has a true bush camp feel to it. The early evenings see a camp fire lit where guest can exchange stories of the day’s wildlife sightings. Dinner, lunch and breakfast are served on the thatched verandah with the bush being a mere step away.
The entire day is enjoyed game driving in the Etosha National Park. Shortly before sunset you travel back to your lodge.
Aeons ago, Etosha Pan was the bed of a vast lake; today what remains is a glittering, silvery-green salt pan that stretches across roughly 5000 square kilometres. Etosha is protected by the Etosha Pan National Park surrounded by savannah plains and woodlands supporting large herds of elephants.
When dry, the pan sustains little life except for the algae that gives it its distinctive colour, and migratory birds that use it as a pit stop, but with heavy rain it becomes a shallow lake where flamingos breed, pelicans wade and feed, and a variety of mammal species come to quench their thirst, including leopards, lions, white rhinos, hunting dogs and antelopes.
The 96km fence surrounding the 22000ha Okonjima private, Nature Reserve was finally completed in 2010. This fence has created:
– A 20000ha reserve for Captive Carnivore rehabilitation (also home to Brown Hyenas and the resident Leopards);
– A 2000ha ‘safe’ area around Main Camp, Bush Camp, Bush Suite, the Omboroko Campsite and the PAWS Environmental Education Centre.
Although hunting is instinctive in carnivores, many of the cheetahs at AFRICAT lack experience due to being orphaned or removed from the wild at an early age. This inexperience, as well as their conditioning to captivity, makes them unsuitable for release. The 200km (20 000ha) NATURE RESERVE | PARK, provides captive cheetahs and other carnivores with the opportunity to hone their hunting skills and become self-sustaining and thereby giving them a chance to return to the wild. The captive cheetahs are fitted with radio-collars prior to their release into the reserve, so that their welfare and progress can be closely monitored.
Rehabilitation gives a captive carnivore a second chance to be released back into the wild and to take the time it needs, to become a completely independent hunter – in a protected area right in the middle of commercial farmland!
This morning you will be taken on a guided walk before you travel further south to the home of the AfriCat foundation, which is committed to researching and rehabilitating Namibia’s threatened wildcat population. With the abundance of animal and bird life and spectacular scenery, Okonjima is a photographer’s paradise and will enable you to witness some of AfriCat’s valuable work.
Not only is Okonjima a luxury lodge, but it is also home to The AfriCat Foundation, a non-profit organisation, committed to long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores, especially cheetahs and leopards. A visit to Okonjima will give you an opportunity to witness some of AfriCat’s work. MAIN CAMP is the original Hanssen-family farmhouse, reconstructed as a lodge in 1992.
Today is all about choices as you can choose 2 of the below activities to fill your day.
The AfriCat Foundation
AfriCat was founded in 1991 on Okonjima Farm in Central Namibia (though officially registered as a non-profit organisation in 1993) whose mission was to contribute to the long term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores. AfriCat was created as a result of information gained on Okonjima when it was still a cattle farm losing calves to leopards and the desire and urgent need of sharing this information with fellow farmers.
The consequent contact with numerous farmers and AfriCat’s exposure led to the rescue of many trapped large carnivores. Since 1993, 1080 of these predators were rescued. Over 85% were released back into the wild. However, despite concerted efforts, few farmers adopted the tried & tested solutions suggested by AfriCat and AfriCat soon became the easy way out – ‘problem’ cheetahs and leopards were caught in cage traps and AfriCat was called to collect!
AfriCat was soon faced with a dilemma – what to do with the cheetahs and leopards taken off these farms? All rescued animals were first carefully examined. The cats that were fit and not too stressed were released as soon as possible if a suitable place was available. All the others i.e. the orphans, the injured, the weak and the old were taken to the AfriCat Carnivore Care Centre, where, if necessary, a veterinarian was consulted.
Over time, the resultant number of ‘captive’ carnivores increased while the options for release decreased! Food and medical care costs rose to astronomical amounts! Fortunately thanks to Okonjima and AfriCat supporters funding was sourced for their continued upkeep. The problem, however, remained that with the calls from farmers, the numbers of carnivores at AfriCat’s Carnivore Care Centre continued to grow. In essence, detracting from our mission statement, ‘to keep wild carnivores wild’!
AfriCat has grown significantly since its inception and has over the years identified the need to include a focus on education, community support, research and rehabilitation as being essential to accomplishing our new mission: to make a SIGNIFICANT contribution to CONSERVATION through EDUCATION while still striving towards the long term survival of Namibia’s predators in their natural habitat. The newly completed (May 2010) OKONJIMA NATURE RESERVE is now dedicated to environmental education and to the research and rehabilitation of captive carnivores.
For your final day in Namibia and depending on your flight departure time you may have time to explore Windhoek on a City Tour or doing some last minute shopping before heading to the airport.
Old Brewery Craft Centre
The Diamond Works
Right in the centre of the city, on Independence Avenue, you will find this vibrant local craft market with a huge range of crafts on offer. Stall holders come from all parts of Namibia so variety is guaranteed. Open daily.
Witness first hand, the art of diamond cutting and the careful craftsmanship of jewellery manufacturing by our skilled experts – all whilst enjoying a complimentary glass of sparkling wine. View a replica of the iconic Cullinan diamond and discover the history of the Diamond and Gold Trade in South Africa. Our institute boasts a large range of premium loose diamonds and tanzanite, as well as gold and platinum jewellery. Our diamond tour is available in various international languages. Diamonds have been associated with purity; strength, wealth, virtue, power and most importantly love.
Today, an appreciation for diamonds has evolved, not to only appreciate any diamond but to appreciate a truly rare diamond – The Diamond Works diamond. The Diamond Works Institute is considered a true South African diamond and jewellery expert. Established in 2001, it has evolved to be one of the most renowned diamond facilities in the region.
The Diamond Works Institute extends its appreciation to tanzanite, a gem 1000 times rarer than diamonds. This exceptional stone represents the essence of Africa, and we whisper the tales of this stones journey from the ground to the showroom. Tanzanite is noted for its remarkably strong trichroism; appearing alternately sapphire blue, violet and burgundy depending on crystal orientation.
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