London – Johannesburg – Windhoek
Fly to Windhoek, via Johannesburg, where you will be met and taken to your upmarket guesthouse close to the city centre. Here your hire car will be waiting for you.
Stay: One night in a standard room at Galton House – bed & breakfast
Sossusvlei, or ‘gathering place of water’, is the first port of call on your Namibian self-drive odyssey. The region proliferates in vleis (temporary lakes) fed by waters from the Naukluft and Tsaris Mountains, attracting huge numbers of both predator and prey. The area is home to desert-adapted wildlife like ostrich, springbok, gemsbok, porcupines and aardwolf, as well as local predators like jackals, spotted and brown hyenas, Cape foxes and the aptly named bat-eared fox.
From your lodge on the banks of the Tsauchab River, you can set out to explore the magnificent dunes and wildlife on both guided game drives and walks. For something a little more special, a balloon safari over the desert can also be arranged.
Stay: Three nights in a double room at Hoodia Desert Lodge – half board
Today you drive for around six hours to the laidback coastal city of Swakopmund, an oasis of civilisation in a sea of wind-carved sand. Just like the local wildlife, Swakopmund is desert-adapted and surprisingly green with its luxuriant gardens and palm-lined streets. You’ll be staying at the heart of the city in a beautifully restored century-old colonial villa.
There are plenty of good local restaurants and enthusiastic shoppers will delight in the fine jewellery shops for which the town is known. Swakopmund is also a great base for exploring the desert and the Skeleton Coast in a 4×4, kayaking with seals off Pelican Point or touring Sandwich Harbour.
Stay: Two nights in a standard room at Villa Margherita – bed & breakfast
Your self-drive now takes you to the Doro !Nawas Conservancy in central Damaraland. Despite its proximity to the Skeleton Coast and the Namib desert, this seemingly inhospitable region is home to a surprising variety of wildlife, including desert-adapted elephants, Hartman’s mountain zebra, southern giraffe, springbok and cheetah.
Birders have the opportunity to spot raptors like martial eagles and lappet-faced vultures, as well as endemic varieties like Monteiro’s Hornbill and Rüpell’s Korhaan. Your camp, which is situated within the Aba-Huab River Valley, offers panoramic views over the landscape, featuring the mighty Etendeka Mountains and the fiery sandstone cliffs of Twyfelfontein. An expedition to this World Heritage site, with its exquisite San art engravings and rock art, is a must.
Stay: Two nights in a double room at Doro Nawas – half board
A three hour drive brings you to your exclusive wilderness lodge just outside of Omaruru. Perched on the edge of an ancient volcano, the camp is surrounded by desert, bushveld and the dramatic Erongo Mountains. You can spend your time here indulging in fine wine and dining, relaxing by the swimming pool or on the outside deck where you can drink in stunning views of the mountainous landscape.
For those looking to venture further, expert local guides lead fascinating walks to discover unique fauna and flora, whilst nature drives provide an insight into the diverse ecosystems of the Erongo bushveld. The birdlife is exceptional, featuring both raptors and tiny sunbirds, whilst the ancient rock art at “Paula’s Cave” makes for a fascinating visit.
Stay: Two nights at Erongo Wilderness Lodge – half board
Windhoek – Johannesburg – London
This morning you will make the drive back to Windhoek, where you will catch your flight back to London via Johannesburg.
What was particularly impressive was the way in which Catherine listened to what we like to do and combined all of this in a destination we would not have considered - a truly terrific effort.- OL, Caribbean, 2014