Arrive in Windhoek and make your way to the hotel. Attend a pre-departure group meeting with your tour leader scheduled for the evening. Windhoek was originally the centre of a Nama leader, Jan Jonker Afrikaner, who defeated the Herero inhabitants of the region in the mid 19th century. Windhoek became the seat of colonial rule in 1892, as the capital of the colony of South-West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika). They built a fort that eventually spanned a town that grew under its protection. During World War I, Windhoek was captured by South African troops and became a British dominion. Until the independence of Namibia was inaugurated in 1990, Windhoek was recognized as the capital of South West Africa as administered by the South African government.
Approximate Distance: 450 km Estimate Travel Time: 6 Hours (including game drive in own vehicle). Leave Windhoek and head north to Etosha National Park through the Namibian countryside. Etosha in waMbo means "the great white place of dry water" or “white place of mirages” . As one of Africa’s highlights, the Etosha National Park offers a variety of wildlife and phenomenal natural beauty. Explore the pans and the park on game drives, with excellent opportunities to spot lion, giraffe, elephant, rhino, and antelope. Upon arrival in the area, in the afternoon, continue on a game drive in search of elephants, herds of antelope and lions around the waterholes. Game drives are done in our air-conditioned touring vehicle. Night/Day game drives can be done in open vehicles (optional, at extra cost). The following day, enjoy another game drive in the park. A brief animal count of Etosha National Park: 30 000 Blue Wildebeest; 25000 Springbok; 23000 Zebra; 5000 Kudu; 3000 Hartebeest; 3000 Gemsbok; 2600 Eland; 450 Giraffe; 2000 Elephant; 260 Lions; 20 Black Rhino; 325 Bird species. The Etosha Pan dominates the park. The salt pan desert is roughly 130 km long and in places as wide as 50 km. The salt pan is usually dry, but fills with water briefly in the summer months, when it attracts pelicans and flamingos in particular. Perennial springs attract a variety of game and birds throughout the year, including the endangered Black Rhinoceros and the endemic Black Face Impala. The name Okaukuejo is derived from oKakwiyo, meaning “place of the fertile women”. It began as a veterinary post created by the Germans during a rinderpest epidemic in 1897. In 1901 a small fort was built here as a military stronghold.
Approximate Distance: 180 km Estimate Travel Time: 2 Hours from Etosha Gate Enjoy one last morning game drive in search of the "Big 5", and begin moving south into the stony desert landscapes. Otjiwarongo is said to mean "pretty place" or "place of fat cattle" - an apt description as the area is well known for its cattle ranching. A Rhenish mission was established here in 1891 and a German military post was established in the vicinity in 1904.
Approximate Distance: 460 km Estimate Travel Time: 6 Hours Today we head south-west to Swakopmund where we will spend 2 nights. Here you can explore this historical town or try some of the numerous activities available, such as dune boarding and a dolphin cruise. Note: If you pre booked the Namibia Adrenaline theme pack you will be able to do your activities on day 6. Looking out over the beautiful desert landscapes we begin moving east into the interior of Namibia. On this route we pass through a moon landscape and see the imposing Spitzkoppe, also known as the “Matterhorn” of Namibia in the distance. The Spitzkoppe is a well-known landmark between Usakos and the coast. Rising some 700m above the flat surrounding plains, the Gross Spitzkoppe has a height of 1728m. Immediately to the east are the Pondok Mountains, which owe their Afrikaans name to their resemblance to African huts. About 10kms west is the 1572 m high Klein Spitzkoppe. Geologically the area correlates with the Damara Sequence which dates back some 700 million years! Vast amounts of lava were extruded through the Spitzkoppe with subsequent intrusion of granitic magma forming the Spitzkoppe. Erosion has since exposed the granitic cores to form typical Inselbergs, or island mountains. In 1486 Portuguese Diego Cáo landed at what is now Swakopmund and erected a stone cross in honour of John II of Portugal. This is known as Cape Cross is more commonly known presently as a Cape Fur Seal breeding colony. Almost a full four centuries later, the area, then known as South West Africa, was under Germany control. In choosing a location for a port, German captain Curt von Francois chose this site, north of Walvis Bay (an already existing English-controlled port), at the mouth of the Swakop River, for creating an artificial harbour. A military fort was built here in 1892, which was the beginning of Swakopmund. The building of the railway began in 1895. After the First World War, Germany lost occupation and the port/harbour was automatically displaced by Walvis Bay. Namibia is well known for its desolate northern coastline called the Skeleton Coast. Along the West coast of Namibia flows the Cold Benguela Current. Also along the coastline is a very hot desert. What happens is that the cold, moist air from the sea mixes with the warm air from the desert and forms a very heavy mist. This mist over hundreds of years has caused many shipwrecks along the coast and if the sailors survived they soon perished in the unforgiving desert. It is from this, and from all the wrecks and shells of stranded ships along the coast, that the region received its name. As you approach the coastline you may see the band of mist.
Approximate Distance: 260 km Estimate Travel Time: 5 Hours Today you will cross a few dry mountain passes, and descend into the void regions of Namib Desert. The following day is spent exploring the natural wonders of this bizarre environment. You will visit Sossusvlei - a clay pan, enclosed by the world’s largest sand dunes, up to 300m high. Here you will have some free time to enjoy the sand dunes on your own. We will also make a stop at Sesriem Canyon, a small canyon typical of the area, and invisible from even a short distance away. We will spend the nights on the edge of the Namib desert, south of Sossusvlei. Enjoy a sundowner drink at a beautiful lookout point on the farm (included). The name Namib is of Nama origin, with the modern spelling referring to a desert, but a particular part of the desert, specifically a large plain. The desert is classified as either extremely arid or hyper-arid, with a mean rainfall or less than 100mm of rain per year. The dune sands are primarily derived from sediments washed down the Orange River and then moved northwards by the long shore drift plus the dominant southerly quadrant winds. The winds move the sand northwards and inland, trapping it by wave action in coastal embayment. The types of dunes found are Star dunes, formed as a result of wind coming equally strong from all directions; Barchan dunes, crescent shaped and formed where wind is mainly from one direction and with a shortage of sand and the Linear dunes, which are long dunes with sharp crests that tend to lie in parallel rows. They are a result of two dominant winds in the central Namib- Southerly and easterly winds. Linear dunes form in a south to north direction. The 14km long Sesriem Canyon was formed by the Tsauchab River rising in the Naukluft and Zaris Mountains to the east, and flowing through to Sossusvlei. Walking through the canyon takes you on a journey back 10-20 million years ago when sedimentary layers of gravel and sand were deposited and cemented together by lime. The ledges are now inhabited by pigeons, raucous pied crows and chattering starlings. But look a little higher and you might see a lanner falcon or the soaring spread of a lappet faced vulture with a wingspan of 2.6m. An amazing variety of wildlife has adapted to live in this inhospitable place such as lizards that only put 2 feet down at a time and the black tok-tokkie beetle who leans forward to allow droplets of morning mist run down its body into its mouth.
Approximate Distance: 375km Estimate Travel Time: 5.5 Hours Relax and enjoy the morning at our desert lodge, located in a beautiful area with natural wonders. Embark on a morning game drive, take a guided hike in the surrounding area, or just relax and enjoy the desert morning on a rare morning off travelling. In the afternoon, we cross the incredible south-eastern section of the Namib Desert en route to Keetmanshoop for the evening.
Approximate Distance: 300 km Estimate Travel Time: 6 Hours (including canyon visit and lunch stop) Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in Africa, and arguably the second largest in the world. Spend some time here taking in the majestic beauty of the canyon. We'll take some time for lunch in the area, we will continue south as we slowly leave the Namib Desert behind us. At 650 kilometres in length, the Fish River is Namibia’s longest river. Its source lies in the eastern Naukluft Mountains and flows south-west of Ai-Ais into the Oranje. The canyon itself is situated along the lower reaches of the Fish River, and is one of the most impressive natural formations of southern African. It is approx 161 km long, 27km wide at its widest point and 550m deep. It is the oldest canyon in the world, formed approximately 500 million years ago, with some rocks at the bottom dating up to 2600 million years old. The canyon was formed in part by glacial movements (upper section), movement of tectonic plates, and erosion. Four wet periods, or pluvial periods, have occurred in the south-western part of Africa during the last million years, resulting in a large run-off of water, which sped erosion. The plateaus are 220m from the base of the canyon. Catfish can be found in the Fish River below, and they are known to survive the dry season by burrowing into the mud until the water returns. It’s a very slow moving and shallow river – more like a stream. Water levels are normally highest during February until April. The highest recorded temperature at the bottom of the canyon was 58 celsius. The Orange River, in the past also sometimes known as the Gariep or as the Grootrivier, is the major river of South Africa. The river was first discovered by indigenous people but only explored by Europeans in 1760 and named after the House of Orange, which was the Stadhouder of Holland between 1777 and 1779. Another account of its naming suggests that it may have been called after the supposedly orangey colour of its water, as opposed to the colour of the water of the Vaal River (‘vaal’ being Afrikaans for pale or grey). The farthest head stream of the Orange rises in the Drakensberg Mountains along the border between South Africa and Lesotho, about 193 km (120 mi) from the Indian Ocean and at an altitude of over 3000m. While in Lesotho, the river is known as the Senqu and parts of it freeze in winter, owing to the altitude there. It then runs 2200 km (1367 mi) westwards and eventually discharges into the Atlantic Ocean at Alexander Bay, forming the border of Namibia and South Africa.