Namibia will present you with a collection of memories that includes graphic images of Sossusvlei’s vast sand dunes rearing up out of an ever-changing desert, sculpted by the wind and the effect of dazzling sunshine and deep shadows.
And seen from a hot air balloon. You’ll visit the evocatively named Skeleton Coast, the bare ribs of countless wrecked ships littering the shoreline, and watch prides of lion, leopards, elephants and black rhino cruising across the vast landscapes of the Etosha National Park. You’ll also sleep in a safari chalet surrounded by the moonscape environment of Kunene, browse around desert-adapted towns like Swakopmund and explore absorbing Windhoek.
London – Johannesburg – Windhoek
You fly from Heathrow in the evening, arriving at Johannesburg the next morning to connect with your onward flight to Windhoek. You’ll land in the early afternoon and collect your car and driving directions to Gocheganas.
After a drive of around an hour and a half you’ll arrive at Gocheganas Nature Reserve – offering you a relaxing massage in a beautiful wellness village, and your first chance to see wild Africa; the reserve features 25 different species of large game, totalling more than 1600 animals.
Stay: One night in a double elegant chalet at Gocheganas Nature Reserve.
You’ve seen the stunning photographs of the Namib Desert with its vast dunes carved by the wind – graphic shapes curving in graceful waves against the unfailingly blue sky. It’s a landscape of bleached sun and dark shadows that accentuate the changing shapes of the desert – and now it’s time to experience it for yourself, and take your own photographs. You’ll be invited on a complimentary hot air balloon ride over the endless sands, giving you a different perspective of an achingly beautiful environment.
You’ll also be able to venture into the desert on quad bikes and in open 4×4 safari vehicles, or in air conditioned luxury to explore Sossusvlei and the Sesriem Canyon. Guided nature walks, star gazing expeditions and desert picnics will reveal even more of this astonishing region.
Stay: Three nights in a double room at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge.
A long, but ceaselessly interesting drive will take you north to the desert town of Swakopmund; a surprising mixture of palm-lined streets, luxuriant gardens and great restaurants.
Swakopmund is noted for its contemporary and traditional African jewellery as well as its abundant arts and crafts shops. But the surrounding countryside will call you too; at Pelican Point you can go kayaking with seals; Sandwich Harbour is worth a visit whilst a guided 4×4 expedition along the devastatingly beautiful and haunting Skeleton Coast is an absolute must.
Stay: Two nights in a double room at Swakopmund Guesthouse.
Now it’s time to go touring by light aircraft. You’ll fly to Serra Cafema, stopping at numerous airstrips along the way, for some serious wildlife and landscape viewing. You’ll be staying in the heart of Damaraland close to the Kunene River that forms the border between Namibia and Angola. It’s a fascinating area where the flat desert scrub is transformed – almost before your eyes – by the seasonal rains.
You’ll meet the traditional nomadic Himba people and see fairy circles as well as herds of gemsbok, springbok and mountain zebra. Not to mention great colonies of evil-looking Nile crocodiles and exotic birds like Burchell’s courser and the Benguela long-billed lark. And you’ll be staying in a safari camp with canvas and thatched chalets, giving you a sense of adventure, amidst a region of bizarre moonscapes and eye-stretching mountain views.
Stay: Three nights in a double room at Serra Cafema Camp.
Your next flight will take you to Etosha where you’ll be met by your guide and shown to your lodge, nestling within the 20,000 sq km of Etosha National Park. This incredibly game-rich savannah includes Africa’s largest saltpan, the remains of an ancient super-lake and offers you unrivalled opportunities to observe big cats like lions and leopards as well as herbivores like elephants, hippos, giraffe, red hartebeest, the endemic black-faced impala, white and black rhinos. On the rolling plains game like wildebeest, zebra, greater kudu and springbok – as well as a seemingly limitless parade of bird species – will show off for your camera.
Stay: Three nights in a double room at Ongava Lodge.
Now you have a chance to explore Windhoek. A light aircraft will take you from Etosha to Namibia’s interesting capital and you’ll be staying in the peaceful northern suburbs – ideally placed for discovering the city and sampling its nightlife, unwind and prepare for your international flight the following day.
Stay: One night in a double room at Olive Grove Hotel.
Windhoek – Johannesburg – London
You’ll fly out of Windhoek in the afternoon, to connect with your London flight at Johannesburg. You’ll land at London Heathrow early the following morning.