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Namibia holidays and Namibia safaris - Sossusvlei dunes

Grand Namibia - self drive


NCB20W
20 NIGHTS
FROM £2,195
International flights + car hire quoted separately
Self drive through the awesome Fish River Canyon, the second largest on earth, the vast deserts of the Kalahari, the succulent Karoo and the sandy Namib. Continue northwards to experience game viewing in Etosha and conservation work at Africat in Okonjima, where you can track cheetah & leopard. All Africat activities included.
Fish River Canyon Namibia Self Drive Holiday Vacation Etosha Namib
• 
Windhoek
• 
Kalahari Desert
• 
Fish River Canyon
• 
Aus
• 
Sossusvlei
• 
Swakopmund
• 
Twyfelfontein Paintings
• 
Etosha National Park
• 
Game Drives
• 
Africat Foundation
• 
Windhoek
• 
Kalahari Desert
• 
Fish River Canyon
• 
Aus
• 
Sossusvlei
• 
Swakopmund
• 
Twyfelfontein Paintings
• 
Etosha National Park
• 
Game Drives
• 
Africat Foundation
Day 1
You will be met at Windhoek Airport and transferred 1-hour to your hotel.
 
Check in and relax under warm blue Namibian skies.
Day 2
Today take delivery of your hire car in Windhoek and drive southwards for 5-hours towards the scrub vegetation and red sands of the vast Kalahari, the largest sand mass on earth.
 
The migratory Bushman people who live here call it the “Soul of the World” and its endless grass plains interspersed with acacia trees provide the only form of survival for a vast amount of wildlife that has survived in this semi-desert environment for thousands of years.
 
After good rains (end November/early December - although this can vary greatly) you can see hundreds of different wildflowers here.
Day 3
At leisure to explore the vegetation of the Kalahari Desert, whose dunes differ from the Namib in that they are greener and less stark, having the ability to support more fauna and flora.
 
Enjoy walking across the endless lines of vegetated red dunes, with yellow grass and green trees growing on their slopes and in the riverbeds, or enjoy one of the optional activities available at your lodge.
Day 4
Today drive 5-hours south to the great Fish River Canyon, the second largest on earth.
 
As you travel through these rocky plains notice the unique Quiver Trees that bloom in June and July and nestle between huge dolerite boulders, some of which are stacked in such mysterious ways that it seems impossible they were formed by natural forces.
 
Check into your lodge near the Fish River Canyon and enjoy a sundowner walk across the boulder-studded plains, hills and rock formations of Gondwana Canyon Park.
Day 5
Today explore the magnificent Fish River Canyon, where the dramatic geological formations of the Nama Karoo Desert take on stupendous proportions.
 
The vegetation is characterized by dwarf shrubs and scattered grasslands. The slopes of the plateau mountains and vast plains are home to Hartmann’s mountain zebra, springbok, gemsbok, kudu and ostrich. Relax in this area of great natural beauty.  
Day 6
Today drive 4-hours to Aus in the Succulent Karoo, a winter rainfall area where bizarre looking shrubs store moisture in their leaves and stems to tide them over the dry summer months.
 
Depending upon the timing of the rains, from mid August to mid September this desert unfolds into a carpet of flowers and an explosion of colours. It is one of the 20 most important biomes in the plant world and counts as the most species diverse desert in the world. Explore these sweeping desert plains before checking into your hotel in Aus.
Day 7
Today drive from Aus to see the Wild Desert Horses at Garub, a watering point where they can be observed as they come to drink.
 
Continue 2-hours to the ghost town of Kolmanskop, which has been absorbed by the desert sands, and the small diamond town of Lüderitz on the Atlantic Coast before returning to Aus in the late afternoon.
Day 8
Continue northwards today through ever-changing landscapes into the great Namib Desert, a 6-hour drive through dramatically beautiful desert scenery. The terrain becomes more arid as you travel towards Sossusvlei, whose great mountains of sand are a monument to the extreme forces of nature.
 
Explore Gondwana Namib Park and before checking into your lodge. The petrified dunes of the dry riverbed of the Dieprivier are a special attraction, as these are fossilised remnants of an ancient desert that is now overlaid with the sands of the younger Namib.
 
After the unpredictable desert rains (mid November/mid December), you may be fortunate enough to see the colourful desert flowers that burst forth here and provide a delightful display.
Day 9
Today set out early on an included 4x4 tour into the famous sand dunes at Sossusvlei, as this is the coolest part of the day and the best for photography.
 
This clay pan is surrounded by some of the highest dunes in the world – an endless sea of reddish sand stretching all the way to the distant horizon. These monumental star shaped dunes, some as high as 1,000 ft (325 m), were formed by strong multi-directional winds. The warm tints of sand range in colour from apricot to orange, red and maroon - and contrast vividly with the stark white clay pans at their base. You will be astonished by surreal Deadvlei, surrounded by some of the highest dunes and Sossusvlei, where the mostly dry Tsauchab River abruptly ends.
 
Take the opportunity to climb one of these dunes, which afford endless vistas across the desert landscape and the sea of sand.
 
Also visit the narrow gorge of the impressive Sesriem Canyon, with its rock pools fed by the Tsauchab River during the rainy season. The name is derived from the six “rieme” (leather thongs) that early pioneers used to draw water from these pools. Afterwards return to your lodge, with afternoon at leisure.
Day 10
At leisure to enjoy the stark beauty of the Namib Desert.
 
Enjoy one of the optional activities offered in the region, such as horse riding or a pre-dawn Hot Air Balloon Ride over the majestic sand dunes. Alternatively simply relax and enjoy the spectacular desert landscape surrounding your lodge, with amazing star gazing in the evening.
Day 11
Today drive for 6-hours through the starkly beautiful Gaub and Kuiseb Canyons of the Namib Desert to the beach resort of Swakopmund with its old lighthouse.
 
Swakopmund is situated on the Atlantic Coast where the cold Benguela Current sweeps up from Antarctica, releasing no moisture into the prevailingly onshore winds – hence the very low rainfall and desert conditions. Fog is common along the coast in the early mornings and late afternoons and this is what gives life to the desert-adapted flora and fauna of the region. The cold current is also highly oxygenated, causing it to teem with marine life.
 
Check into your hotel and relax on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
Day 12
This morning we recommend driving 30-minutes to the Walvis Bay Waterfront for your 3-hour Marine Cruise. Here you can view a resident school of dolphins and large seal colony at Pelican Point, whilst enjoying oysters and champagne on board.
 
Marine bird life is abundant and includes pelicans, terns and large flocks of flamingos which live in the shallow waters surrounding the harbour. You may also see migrating whales in season (September to October).
 
Afternoon at leisure to relax at the beach resort of Swakopmund.
Day 13
A full day on the road today as you drive 7-hours from Swakopmund across the barren Skeleton Coast, renowned for its many shipwrecks and inhospitable coastline. There is small lichen reserve here, where a relatively large variety of these slow growing organisms are protected.
 
You can stop to see the thriving population of seals at Cape Cross Seal Reserve and the many gannets and other sea birds in this area, before continuing to timeless Damaraland - home of the Spitzkoppe and Brandberg Mountains, the highest in Namibia.
 
Damaraland is one of the least populated and most geologically diverse areas in Africa and home to the rare desert elephant and rhino. Take time to enjoy some of the fascinating rock formations in these vast uninhabited open spaces, where magnificent semi-desert flowers can grow after good rains.
Day 14
At leisure to explore the World Heritage site at Twyfelfontein, which means "Doubtful Spring" (entrance fees for own account).
 
Over 6,000 years ago, San communities engraved and painted over 2,500 pictures here. These ancient Bushman Paintings have been well preserved in this dry environment and the hills are strewn with rock art - making this an open-air museum.
 
Close by you can explore the Burnt Mountain, Organ Pipes and Petrified Forest. You can also see the desert-adapted Welwitschia Mirabilis plant - the oldest living desert plant on earth.
 
In the afternoon you can join an optional 4x4 game drive along the dry river beds in search of rare Desert Elephants. In the evening enjoy the incredible night skies.
Day 15
Today drive 4-hours through Damaraland to Etosha National Park, one of the largest and greatest game parks in Africa.
 
Etosha owes its unique landscape to a vast shallow depression – the Etosha Pan.  During the dry season it becomes an expanse of white cracked mud, shimmering with mirages and spiralling dust devils, with its open pans offering magnificent game viewing. Etosha is home to over a hundred different species of mammals, including cheetah, leopard, lion, elephant, rhino, giraffe, zebra and wildebeest.
 
Check into your rest camp near the southern entrance to the park (park fees payable locally on entrance).
Day 16
Today is devoted to self drive game viewing in the famous Etosha National Park, one of the largest wildlife conservation areas in Africa surrounding an enormous salt pan that is the size of the Netherlands. We recommend setting off early each morning as the camp gates open (05h30 to 06h00 depending on the season), to take advantage of the best game viewing conditions of the day.
  
Explore the vast Etosha Pan, which offer magnificent game viewing opportunities including springbok, oryx, black-faced impala and the small Damara dik-dik. A series of waterholes throughout the park guarantees rewarding game viewing, with Etosha being renowned for its vast arrays of plains game and its “great cats” which are more easily seen on the open pans - including cheetah and leopard.
  
The rest of the morning is free to relax by the swimming pool, before setting out again in the late afternoon for another game drive. With over 100 different species of mammals and reptiles in Etosha National Park, you can hope to see giraffe, hyena, kudu, springbok, warthogs, baboons and many other interesting animals. Etosha is also a bird watchers paradise, with hundreds of recorded bird species and many migrants during the summer months.
 
After a beautiful African sunset, enjoy the balmy evening and pristine stars of the Milky Way as you have never seen them before – as well as the spectacular Southern Cross.
Day 17
Today spend the whole day exploring Etosha National Park, as you drive to your next rest camp in this great game sanctuary.
 
Enjoy spectacular game viewing on the open pans, where game is more easily visible, as well as wonderful viewing at the rest camp waterholes.
Day 18
Today is devoted to self drive game viewing in the famous Etosha National Park, one of the largest wildlife conservation areas in Africa surrounding an enormous salt pan that is the size of the Netherlands. We recommend setting off early each morning as the camp gates open (05h30 to 06h00 depending on the season), to take advantage of the best game viewing conditions of the day.
  
Explore the vast Etosha Pan, which offer magnificent game viewing opportunities including springbok, oryx, black-faced impala and the small Damara dik-dik. A series of waterholes throughout the park guarantees rewarding game viewing, with Etosha being renowned for its vast arrays of plains game and its “great cats” which are more easily seen on the open pans - including cheetah and leopard.
  
The rest of the morning is free to relax by the swimming pool, before setting out again in the late afternoon for another game drive. With over 100 different species of mammals and reptiles in Etosha National Park, you can hope to see giraffe, hyena, kudu, springbok, warthogs, baboons and many other interesting animals. Etosha is also a bird watchers paradise, with hundreds of recorded bird species and many migrants during the summer months.
 
After a beautiful African sunset, enjoy the balmy evening and pristine stars of the Milky Way as you have never seen them before – as well as the spectacular Southern Cross.
Day 19
Today leave Etosha National Park and drive southwards for 4-hours through central Namibia to Okonjima.
 
Travel through the mining centre of Tsumeb, where a rich ore pipe is mined for copper, zinc, lead, silver and a variety of unusual crystals. Also pass Lake Otjikoto where in 1915 the retreating German forces dumped weapons to prevent them from falling into the hands of the South African Union Forces. Several of these weapons have been recovered and can be viewed at the Tsumeb Museum.  
  
Continue to Okonjima, the home of the Africat Foundation dedicated to the preservation of Namibia’s large carnivores, but especially leopard and cheetah. Namibia accounts for 25% of the world’s population of the endangered cheetah, which can be tracked on foot in the rehabilitation area where they roam freely and catch their own prey. Leopards can also be radio-tracked from the game viewing vehicle.
 
Check in to your lodge and settle in, before enjoying an afternoon game activity in the reserve.
Day 20
Today is free to observe the wonderful work of the Africat Foundation.
 
Game viewing options include open top game drives, as well as tracking cheetah on foot through the reserve and tracking leopard from a vehicle - an amazing 'once in a lifetime' experience.
Day 21
After an early morning game activity in the Africat Reserve, drive 3-hours through central Namibia to Windhoek Airport for your flight home.
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