Cape and Namibia Adventure
Day 1 Cape Town
Arrive in Cape Town and make your way to the hotel. Attend a pre-departure group meeting with your tour leader scheduled for the evening. Cape Town offers many different activities – something for everyone. Visit Robben Island, Table Mountain, explore Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope), embark on a wine tour in and around Stellenbosch (45min drive). Visit the old French Hugonote town of Franschoek and surroundings (1h drive). For the not so faint hearted there is numerous adrenaline activities in the surrounding areas, from skydiving to abseiling to cage diving and having a close encounter with the great white sharks. Or wonder through the city centre with some of the oldest buildings and gardens in South Africa (Botanical Gardens and Parliament Gardens). Do not miss the wonderful Cultural Historical Museum, Planetarium and numerous other small museums and theatres. Cape Town's name originated from the term 'Cape of Good Hope' when Bartholomew Diaz and other seafarers looked forward to the sight of Table Mountain, like an inn that promised hospitality and prosperity. The city is steeped in a rich history and is a cultural melting pot with its diverse and vibrant character being derived from Khoxisan and other African tribes from the North, and Indonesian, French, Dutch, British and German settlers. Cape Town is the third most populous city in South Africa, with over 3 million inhabitants, and is the provincial capital of the Western Cape. It is also the legislative capital of South Africa, where the National Parliament and many government offices are located. For shopping, dining and entertainment the V&A Waterfront is a hotspot for foreigners and locals alike. Still a working harbour, the Waterfront is an example of creative architecture and restoration and has become South Africa's most visited tourist attraction. The Waterfront offers over 250 shops from designer boutiques to craft stalls, a host of restaurants and coffee shops and plenty of other activities. For cultural exchange, you shouldn’t miss out a "Local Dinner” in a private home in an informal settlement. This authentic community experience provides guests the opportunity to get deep inside the heart of Cape Town. Choose from Cape Malay, Xhosa traditional or Cape Town fusion foods, and visit families in their private homes in townships and get insight into South African realities - be part of the family for an unforgettable night. Proceeds go into the community. Planeterra - the G Adventures Foundation is our non-profit organization that was developed to give back to the people and places we visit on our tours. Planeterra supports local community projects, non-profit organizations and international charities that focus on the areas of health, education, community development, environmental conservation and employment skills training.
Day 2-3 Lambert's Bay/Gariep River (2B)
Approximate Distance: 350 km Estimate Travel Time: 5 Hours Travelling from Cape Town, stop along the way at a wine farm for the opportunity for one last wine tasting. From there depart northwards along the N7 towards Namaqualand where you might be able to see the fields of “Namaqualand Daisies” in season (August and September). At Clanwilliam we head towards the coast again and on to Lambert’s Bay, a picturesque town on the West Coast of South Africa. In the afternoon you are welcome to visit the well known “Bird Island” where you can find more than 25 000 Blue-eyed Gannets at certain times of the year. Penguins also gather on this island for breeding between August and October. And stroll through this lovely town stepping in and out of some of the unique artisan shops and boutiques.
Day 4-6 Fish River Canyon/Namib Desert (3B,2D)
Approximate Distance: 450km Estimate Travel Time: 7 Hours (including border crossing and lunch stop) Travelling north, we have a good day's travel through this dry and remote portion of South Africa. In the mid-afternoon, we cross Namibia into a more arid region, and we stop at scenic Gariep (Orange) River for the evening. After getting settled near the banks of the Gariep River, enjoy the late afternoon swimming, relaxing, or possibly even canoeing on the river. 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.
Day 7-8 Swakopmund
Approximate Distance: 343 km Estimate Travel Time: 6 Hours (includes stop at canyon) Journey to Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa, and take in the majestic beauty of the canyon, arguably the second largest in the world. 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.
Day 9-10 Etosha National Park
Approximate Distance: 550 km Estimate Travel Time: 7 Hours Continuing north through Namaland en route to the Namib Desert, we arrive in the area in the late afternoon, where the towering red sand dunes of Sossusvlei form the gateway into the Namib Desert. Here you will really feel as though you’re in the middle of nowhere. We 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 overnight in Solitaire. 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 toc tokkie beetle who leans forward to allow droplets of morning mist run down its body into its mouth.
Day 11 Windhoek
Approximate Distance: 260 km Estimate Travel Time: 4.5 Hours Today you will really get a feeling for the Namib Desert, as you spend hours crossing this void region, and crossing a few dry mountain passes. En route to the Namibian coast, take a coffee stop at Solitaire, a mystical village consisting of a filling station, general dealer/coffee shop and small mechanical workshop. Before arriving to Swakopmund, you will drive through Walvis Bay, the only town on the Namibian coastline that hosts a deep-sea harbour. We will spend 2 nights in the area, here you can explore this historical town or try some of the numerous activities available, such as dune boarding and a dolphin cruise. Swakopmund has mind-boggling lunar landscapes, unforgettable sunsets, and bizarre prehistoric Welwitchia plants. The Topnaar people who live in the valley of the Swakop River derived the name from the mud, flotsam, and general detritus washed down during its infrequent floods, which reminded them of very loose evacuation of the bowels. 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.
Day 12 Windhoek (1B)
Approximate Distance: 610 km Estimate Travel Time: 7.5 Hours 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. Etosha in waMbo means "the great white place of dry water". 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. Depending on our arrival time to the park, we continue on a game drive around the huge dry pan to find the elephants, herds of antelope and lions around the waterholes. After sunset you can watch some animals at the watering holes near the camping area, which is safe, being well lit with flood lights. 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. Etosha National Park in Namibia was first established in 1907, when Namibia was a German colony known as South West Africa. At the time, the park’s original 100,000 sq km made it the largest game reserve in the world. Due to political changes since its original establishment, the park is somewhat less than a quarter of its original size, at 22,912 sq km, but still remains a very large and significant area in which wildlife is protected. 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. Perennuial 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. Namutoni, was named after a spring found in the area. The waMbo called the spring oMutjamatund (high landmark). The name got distorted through the years. Halali, is strategically located halfway between Okaukuejo and Namutoni, and is surrounded by some of the popular water holes. The name, of German origin, is derived from the bugle call made to announce the end of a hunt. In 1903 a small fort was built at Namutoni, and it was maintained as a police outpost and customs post by the Germans.