This 12 day self-drive safari is designed to take in the best of central & northern Namibia. Big cat conservation, wildlife activity, archaeology, a few days at the seaside and a trip into the desert are the main highlights. Porcupines are widespread throughout Namibia, usually identifiable by their unique covering of black and white quills and flattened bristly hairs.
Your first day's drive will take you halfway between Windhoek and Etosha National Park to Okonjima, home to The AfriCat Foundation. This is a non-profit organization, committed to the long-term conservation of Namibia's largest carnivores notably cheetahs and leopards. Witness some of AfriCat's outstanding work, which includes rehabilitation.
The wildlife intensity will now increase substantially with a couple of days set aside to drive around Namibia's main draw-card, Etosha National Park. Although you will be staying at Etosha Safari Camp on the western side, there is plenty of time to explore eastwards. The drive along the southern edge of the pan has numerous waterholes. Both Halali and Namutoni have their own attractions as well, with plenty of mammal and bird species to try and spot.
Your drive into the rugged and therefore more adventurous terrain of Damaraland is likely to reveal both animal and natural sightings. Black rhino have adapted to the regions inhospitable conditions so well, that it hosts the largest population of this species outside of a national park. Other features that can dominate the landscape are the Ugab Vingerklip and Brandberg Mountain, Namibia's highest. Twyfelfontein (meaning doubtful fountain) is an enormous outdoor art gallery of over 2,000 rock engravings, now classed as a World Heritage Site. The Petrified Forest and the Organ Pipes must also be included on the Damaraland itinerary.
A relatively short drive into the Erongo Mountains comes next. They are located between the towns of Omaruru and Usakos. The Spitzkoppe massif, a popular climbing destination, is also in the region. The Erongo Wilderness Lodge is not only one of the great places to stay in the area, but also in Namibia. It is hidden amongst huge, granite boulders. Some of the country's endemic species of plant, reptile, mammal and birds can be observed locally.
Totally relaxed after your Erongo experience, you can now head for the coast to Namibia's premier seaside resort of Swakopmund. A fine example of outstanding German architecture can be observed at Hohenzollern-Haus, embellished with a frieze of angels and lions. The building used to accommodate the visiting Teutonic aristocracy and was also a brothel. Once you've finished annoying the people who now live there, Swakopmund also offers a host of day trips and activities to keep you occupied.
The clay pan called Sossusvlei sits in the confines of a number of star-shaped dunes, of which some reach 325 high. The vastness and isolation of the area continues into Dead Vlei, Hiddenvlei and Sesriem Canyon. After your dunes experience, you take a final scenic drive back to Windhoek.
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. Visitors who might prefer a break from driving themselves can arrange a guided safari.
Okonjima Bush Camp, Etosha, Damaraland, Erongo Mountains, Swakopmund & Sossusvlei.
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 the package.
From Okonjima it is only a short drive to Etosha. Animals are most active in the cool of the day (early morning and late afternoon) and in order to maximise your chances of good viewings it is worth imitating their behaviour. The roads in Etosha are unsealed gravel roads but are in reasonable condition - and the general tourist behaviour is to drive between various waterholes searching for animals. 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). After the Etosha enchantment return to the lodge to dive into the cool waters of the pools. Dine on the veranda under a dome of stars, sit next to a blazing fire or watch the ruby sun sink gracefully into the landscape.
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 Palmwag 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.
As you head further westwards you will notice things becoming drier as you are now entering the gravel plains of the Namib Desert. 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.
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 flamingos. You may decide to take a catamaran cruise on the lagoon (not included in package price). Today you have a drive of around 300 kilometers 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 and ... Gaub passes. Aim to arrive at your accommodation in the late afternoon.
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 60 kilometers 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.
If you are looking to completely blow your budget you could consider joining a balloon flight over Sossusvlei this morning. Otherwise after breakfast, pack up and head back to Windhoek. Consider a lunch stop and a bit of wine tasting at the Neuras Winery & Wildlife Estate on the way back. If you are not flying out today we can book you suitable accommodation in Windhoek for tonight.
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
Etosha, Swakopmund & the dunes at Sossusvlei are the highlights of this trip.
Waterberg, Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei.
Okonjima, Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei, Klein Aus & Kalahari Desert.
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.
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.
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