leopard Self Drive
Okonjima, Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei, Fish River & Kalahari
The Leopard Self-Drive Tour visits many of the Meerkat Self-Drive's highlights, but with the added attraction of 2 nights in one of our favourite places, Erongo Wilderness Lodge.The accommodation and route is designed to appeal to those who want to appreciate the sights, sounds & smells of Namibia while staying in comfortable quality mid-range accommodation.
Wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate the few extra days in Etosha National Park as well as in some of the less-visited, but equally enthralling destinations of the southern region. Leopards are solitary and nocturnal creatures, notoriously difficult to spot in the daytime.
First up is a drive to Okonjima, nestled amongst the Omboroko Mountains and is home The Africat Foundation. This non-profit organization has rescued more than 850 cheetahs and leopards, with 85% having been released back into the wild. They also care for orphaned and injured animals.
Next is a full 3 days wildlife extravaganza in Etosha National Park. It is busiest in the drier, dustier months from May to September. From October the animals have to visit at least 1 waterhole virtually everyday until the January rains arrive. Then the animals become harder to see because of higher roadside vegetation and the increase in available natural watering locations. Self-driving offers a clear year-round advantage when searching for wildlife activity.
Driving through Damaraland is not as wild as Kaokoland but the gravel roads ensure you still travel through some pretty wild and scenic countryside. All the main natural highlights can be reached by 2x4 and the fortunate might catch a glimpse of desert-dwelling animals on the way round as well.
The Erongo Mountains are only a short drive away from Brandberg Mountain. The Erongo Mountain itself is 65km in diameter and stretches from Usakos to the town of Omaruru in the north. This area is wildlife-rich with many species of antelope present as well as leopard, cheetah, giraffe, elephant and rhino. Over 200 bird species have been recorded here. If you prefer getting off the beaten track for a while, there is an interesting cross-country drive to Spitzkoppe from Erongo Wilderness Lodge. This breaks up your journey to the coast.
If you arrive at Swakopmund in the early morning or late afternoon expect some coastal mist. There is an abundance of day trips and activities in Swakopmund to enjoy, as well as over 50 decent restaurants offering a variety of seafood and German cuisine.
An advantage of The Leopard Self-Drive is the days set aside to explore the Sesriem / Sossusvlei area properly and at different times of the day. Photographic opportunities tend to be better under a soft morning light than in the middle of the day, which is the ideal time to visit Sesriem Canyon. For some, silence is tantamount for a desert experience. So if you want to miss the peak-time mayhem at Dune 45, then try Elim Dune not far from the campsite at Sesriem.
Klein Aus Vista will reunite you with a tarred road that leads to Luderitz and a drive past the Feral Wild Horses at Aus. Once again the extra day will allow for a bit of exploring in the area before you move on to Fish River Canyon. Here it is possible to stand all alone on the rim of the canyon and gaze at the horizon.
On the way back to Windhoek, you can experience another desert. This time it is the Kalahari. It offers a completely different landscape and atmosphere to the Namib. Your overnight accommodation in the Kalahari are also the custodians of cheetah.
Although it is possible to book this itinerary 'as is', as with all our self drive trips this is entirely customisable. We can add or delete days, change the accommodation used and generally design the tour to suit your individual requirements. If you do not like the idea of driving yourself, a guided safari could be arranged.
- Day 1 & 2: Windhoek - Okonjima
- Today you have about a three hour drive north of Windhoek on the B1 road. Your destination is Okonjima and the AfriCat foundation. Apart from the beautiful location, stunning accommodation and wonderful meals the main reason for visiting Okonjima is to view cats. Activities here centre around viewing leopard & cheetah, visiting a night hide and generally learning about what the AfriCat foundation is doing to preserve these wonderful animals. Activities are not included in this package.
Meals: Brunch & Dinner
Accommodation: Okonjima Bush Camp
- Day 3: Waterberg - Etosha
- Leaving Waterberg return to the main B1 road and continue your journey northwards via Otjiwarongo, Otavi & Tsumeb and then enter Etosha Park via the von Lindequist Gate (on the eastern side of the park, near Namutoni). From here it is an 80km drive to Halali where you will be spending the night, this drive could easily take you several hours as game is plentiful in Etosha and the chances are you will be constantly stopping to view animals. If time allows consider dropping in at some of the waterholes along the route as animals frequently visit these for a drink.
Whatever happens remember you need to be inside the Halali gates before sunset - and speeding, the park speed limit is 60km/h, is strictly not allowed within the park.
- Day 4 & 5: Etosha Park
- Leave your accommodation early in search of game and as the day gets hotter head for shade, and lunch, at one of the parks three camps, Okaukuejo, Namutoni or Halali. When things start to cool down again head out for another game drive. With two full days in the park you should have sightings of most of the parks inhabitants (although be warned the cats are notoriously hard to find - and of course what you see is determined by luck and more importantly your ability to spot wildlife). These nights will be spent at Okaukuejo Camp, the western most camp in Etosha, it is famous for a very popular (both with tourist and the local animal population) spot-lit waterhole.
- Day 6 & 7: Etosha - Damaraland
- From Etosha you head towards the village of Kamanjab and then south towards Fransfontein. Your destination is the awesome Huab Lodge. The main activities at the lodge center around finding desert elephant and you will go on several guided walks and game drives in search of these magnificent animals. All your activities are included while you are at Huab so you may as well get out there and make the most of exploring the area
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Accommodation: Huab Lodge
- Day 8 & 9: Damaraland - erongo
- Today you have a short drive towards the town of Omaruru. Just west of the town nestled amongst the granite Erongo Mountains is a small part of paradise called Erongo Wilderness Lodge. You will spend two nights here allowing you a full day to experience the tranquility that the lodge has to offer. This is not a lodge that offers a multitude of activities but you are free to walk around the surrounding veld or just sit on your verandah with a cold beverage and enjoy Namibia. The early morning guided walk offered by the lodge is excellent - with an attentive guide, and the sundowner drives are good value for money and frequently stop at the rock art in Paula's caves.
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Erongo Wilderness Lodge
- Day 10 & 11: Swakopmund
- There are a host of adventure activities to participate in while in Swakopmund. These range from sandboarding through quad biking to sky-diving. No activities are included in this package but they can be pre-arranged when you book this itinerary or left for you to arrange on arrival is Swakopmund
Being a German inspired town good food and beer is never hard to find, so we are sure you will find something productive to do!
Accommodation: Cornerstone Guesthouse
- Day 12: Swakopmund - Sossusvlei
- Leave Swakopmund towards the harbour town of Walvis Bay, the lagoon here attracts a lot of marine & birdlife and is well worth a visit to view the pink flamingoes. You may decide to take a catamaran cruise on the lagoon (not included in package price). Today you have a drive of around 300km's which will take you around 4-5 hours. Your route will take you across the gravel plains of the Namib Desert and through the Kuiseb & Gaub passes.
Aim to arrive at your accommodation in the late afternoon
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Desert Homestead
- Day 13: Sossusvlei
- Wake up early and leave your lodge, heading for the Sesriem entrance gate to the Namib Naukluft Park. This gate only opens at sunrise, so there is no point arriving earlier, but driving the 60km from Sesriem through the dunes towards Sossusvlei while the sun rises is a real pleasure. The first major dune you will encounter goes by the imaginative name of Dune 45 - many people choose to stop and climb this dune but we suggest you continue onwards towards Sossusvlei. Park at the the 2x4 car park (unless you have a 4x4 vehicle this is as far as you can drive), Sossusvlei is a further 4km from here but you are already amongst fairly large dunes. The walk along the dry river bed into Sossusvlei is lovely but for the very unfit or terminally lazy there are 4x4 shuttles from the car park to Sossusvlei.
Deadvlei, so named because it is a large pan with sculptural dead trees, is close by and definitely worth a visit. When you have had enough sand - head back to your vehicle (there really is no shame in taking the shuttle back - the sand is likely to be hot, and the walk less pleasant than the one in the cool of the morning)
On your way back to the lodge stop at the Sesriem Canyon - follow the signs from the Sesriem Campsite.
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Desert Homestead
- Day 14 & 15: Sossusvlei - klein Aus Vista
- Leaving the Sossusvlei area today you drive south along the edge of the Namib Naukluft Park with Luderitz as your ultimate destination. The district D707 road is seldom used but amongst those in the know is thought of as one of the most scenic drives in Namibia. Eventually you will reach a tarred road again at the small village of Aus. This area is well known for it's wild horses of the Namib. You will spend two nights at a lodge near Aus from where you can do a day trip to Luderitz or just spend the time exploring this beautiful area.
Accommodation: Eagles Nest - Klein Aus Vista
- Day 16 & 17: Aus - Fish River Canyon
- Leaving the you begin your drive eastwards. At the town of Seeheim head south towards the Fish River Canyon. The viewpoint at Hobas offers a spectacular view over the canyon and your accommodation offers guided hikes, horse riding and scenic drives around the area.
Accommodation: Canon Lodge
- Day 18 & 19: fish river- Bagatelle
- The Kalahari Desert is very different to the Namib - primarily because it receives more rainfall. In some respects the Kalahari is more scenic than much of the Namib as the red dunes with clumps of golden grass growing on them are very photographic. Unsurprisingly, given the higher rainfall, there is also a higher density of wildlife in the Kalahari and you can expect to see fairly large herds of buck species browsing between the dunes.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodation: Bagatelle Kalahari Lodge
- day 20: Windhoek
- It is a fairly quick drive from here to Windhoek, so you can spend the morning exploring the area before heading back to the capital of Namibia. Those flying out can drop their car at the airport and we can arrange accommodation in Windhoek for any one staying behind
- All your meals and activities as specified.
A welcome pack including maps and vouchers for the places that you'll be visiting.
See the individual lodges for precise inclusions & exclusions
A 24 hour emergency assistance phone number
- Vehicle & Fuel
Park entrance fees (these need to be paid on arrival).
Tips and gratuities (which are optional).
Any meals or activities not specified.
See the individual lodges for detailed inclusions & exclusions.
- Although we have excluded the cost of renting a vehicle from the quoted rate we are happy to advise you on the best possible vehicle and arrange a rental for you. For an idea of what is available have a look at our car hire in Namibia section
3 Days - A self drive trip to the dunes at Sossusvlei
3 Days - Two nights in the coastal town of Swakopmund, this is the ideal get-away for those living or working in Windhoek. Includes a catamaran cruise on the Walvis Lagoon
4 Days - Elephants, rhino, zebra & giraffe are just some of the animals you can expect to see while you are in Etosha
8 Days - Etosha, Swakopmund & the dunes at Sossusvlei are the highlights of this trip
8 Days - Etosha, Erongo Mountains and Sossusvlei
10 Days - Waterberg, Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei
10 Days - Botswana & Namibia combination self drive - includes Etosha Park and a mokoro trip in the Okavango Delta
12 Days - Okonjima Bush Camp, Etosha, Damaraland, Erongo Mountains, Swakopmund & Sossusvlei
14 Days - Okonjima, Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei, Klein Aus & Kalahari Desert
20 Days - Visits all the best Namibia has to offer including Okonjima, Etosha, Damaraland, elephant tracking, the Erongo Mountains, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei, Klein Aus Vista, Fish River Canyon & Kalahari Deserts
21 Days - Visits the highlights of Central and Northern Namibia, the Zambezi region (formerly Caprivi), Vic Falls & the Okavango Delta in Botswana
24 Days - As you would expect from our longest self drive safari, it visits most of Namibia including Owamboland & Kaokoland - two areas which seldom appear on trips through the country