And in Namibia there is plenty to command your attention. Big cats like lions, for example, and the leopards and cheetahs of Okonjima. Or the desert-adapted elephants and rhinos, hippos, giraffe and zebra of Etosha National Park. Or the famous jewellery shops of Swakopmund. Or the devastatingly beautiful scenery of the Skeleton Coast. Or the wildlife-rich temporary lakes of Sossusvlei. Namibia is the most surprising destination.
London – Johannesburg – Windhoek
Your overnight flight to Johannesburg lands in South Africa in the morning, in plenty of time to catch your connecting flight to Namibia. You’ll be met at Windhoek and shown to your luxury hotel – a great base for exploring this unusual city.
Stay: One night in the Villa Violet.
Sossusvlei is your first port of call on your Namibian self-drive odyssey, and it’s a fitting start to this most surprising of African countries. Famous for its forbidding deserts, Namibia now shows you a ‘gathering place of water’.
The Sossusvlei region proliferates in vleis (temporary lakes) fed by waters from the Naukluft and Tsaris Mountains, so it attracts huge numbers of thirsty animals; both hunters and prey. The area is home to desert-adapted wildlife like ostrich, springbok, gemsbok porcupines and aardwolf. Local predators include jackals, spotted and brown hyenas, Cape foxes and the aptly named bat-eared fox.
Stay: Two nights at Hoodia Desert Lodge.
Drive off into the desert and you’ll reach an oasis of civilisation in a sea of wind-carved sand. Like the local wildlife, Swakopmund is also desert-adapted and surprisingly green – featuring luxuriant gardens and palm-lined streets.
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, visiting Pelican Point or touring Sandwich Harbour.
Stay: Two nights at Cornerstone Guesthouse.
Spectacular scenery accompanies you on the drive from Swakopmund to Western Etosha. Your camera will be calling out to you and the temptation will be to stop every few miles to take advantage of the unrivalled photo opportunities offered by the region’s landscapes. And it doesn’t stop when you arrive at your camp. Okaukuejo enjoys a beautiful-but-rugged setting, rich in wildlife.
Stay: Two nights at Okaukuejo Rest Camp.
Driving deeper into the Etosha region takes you into the mighty Etosha National Park – a virtually untouched wilderness that stretches some 20,000 sq km and includes an ancient, dried out super-lake that today forms Africa’s most extensive saltpan.
Etosha National Park is home to a huge diversity of animals and birds. Bring your wildlife must-see list with you and you’ll be able to tick off big cats like lions and leopards, and big game like elephants, hippos, white and black rhinos, giraffe, wildebeest and zebra. The park also specialises in prey animals like kudu, springbok, red hartebeest and black-faced impala.
Stay: Two nights in Mushara Lodge.
Your next drive takes you to Okonjima via the massive vistas of the Waterberg Plateau, and the Omboroko Mountains. But perhaps your most exciting photos won’t be of awesome scenery, but of big cats. Okonjima is where you’ll find the Africat Foundation which works to preserve a variety of animals and birds but – as its name suggests – focuses on cheetah and leopard.
Your last night in Namibia will be spent in a luxury African-style chalet with stunning views of the passing wildlife and the camp’s colourful birds.
Stay: One night at Okonjima Bush Camp.
Windhoek – Johannesburg – London
Today you head back to Windhoek to meet your flight to Johannesburg. Your connecting flight will take you to London, arriving the following day.