Despite their apparent hostility, Namibia's desert landscapes support a staggering array of wildlife. Lions and leopards stalk the salt pans of its northern national parks as colonies of seals and thousands-strong flocks of flamingos cool themselves on the dune-fringed coast. Take in the country's best bits on a self-drive 4WD adventure that spans the vast plains of the Namib Desert, summits the apricot dunes of Sossusvlei and calls into charming coastal towns and ancient tribal lands. You'll round things off in style with a two-centre safari in Etosha National Park and a visit to the AfriCat Foundation – a not-for-profit organisation rehabilitating Namibia's big cats. It's all knitted together by scenic drives, stays in chic lodges and delightful included meals.
Day 1: Depart UK
Arrive at your departure airport where included airport lounge access ensures a relaxing start to your holiday. Then, feeling refreshed, you'll fly overnight to Windhoek.
Day 2: Windhoek
Arrive in the capital, Windhoek, collecting your car and heading to your boutique accommodation. While you might want to relax with your chic suite, be sure to also take in the city's enticing mix of old and new. Indeed, there are several buildings from the German colonial era which have survived and been restored, including the Old Fort, Parliament building and Lutheran church.
Day 3: Kalahari Desert
Set out from Windhoek for the vast Kalahari Desert. The route will take you via Rehoboth, the centre of Namibia’s Baster community, a people descended from colonial Dutch and Namibian tribes. One arrived at your remote-lodge accommodation, you might want to enjoy a game drive, taking in everything from elephant and giraffe to lion and leopard among the golden grasses and small red dunes. In short, it's the ideal introduction to Namibia's wilds before you return to the first of your included meals.
Stay: Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch, Savannah Chalet (Superior) or Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch, Dune Chalet (Deluxe)
Days 4-5: Sossuvlei / Namib Desert
It's time for a true trip highlight, with a visit to the giant sand dunes of Sossusvlei – some of the highest in the world. Their magnificent orange is set against the brilliant white of the mineral flats, punctuated by gnarled dead trees. The stunning rock formations of Sesriem Canyon are a further highlight, along with the NamibRand Nature Reserve – 445,000 acres of pristine desert wilderness, where jagged peaks and horizonless plains hide unique flora and fauna. It's all part of the Namib, the world's oldest desert. In contrast to the inhospitality of it all, you'll stay in desert luxury in a boutique lodge, enjoying gourmet dinners and private-reserve exclusivity.
Please note, Little Kuala is closed from November 2019 to May 2020. As such, our deluxe price for this period (low season) is based on a stay at andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge.
Days 6-7: Swakopmund
Drive north via the lunar-like landscape of the Kuiseb Canyon to Swakopmund, a quaint German-colonial town where the desert meets the ocean. It's a step back in time, with plenty of Art-Nouveau architecture to admire and some of the country's finest restaurants, including one superb seafood offering housed in a shored tug boat. Nearby, there's also flamingos and seals to discover, alongside sightseeing flights over the dunes. Or, you might simply want to relax on the beach, or with your plush seafront accommodation.
Days 8-9: Damaraland
Set off from Swakopmund and head north up the Atlantic coast, visiting the seal colony at Cape Cross and pausing at the haunting ship wrecks that dot the Skeleton Coast. In the afternoon, you'll drive up into the rugged Damaraland highlands before arriving in Twyfelfontein to enjoy included dinners at your luxury remote lodge. You'll then spend the next day exploring Twyfelfontein with its ancient rock engravings, said to be the richest collection in Africa. Be sure to also visit the Burnt Mountain, its vividly coloured rocks contrasting with the desolate landscape, and the Organ Pipes – a jagged geological wonder.
Days 10-11: Etosha National Park
You'll end in style, with a self-drive safari in Etosha – one of southern Africa's national-park greats. This sprawling salt pan is home to everything from giant herds of zebra to prowling lions and spindly giraffe. It's even one of the world's best places to spot rhino. To help you explore its giant scale in detail, we've included nights in both its west and east. Choose between staying inside the park with our Superior option, or upgrade to a luxurious private reserve on its outskirts. Both feature hearty meals and superb game-viewing waterholes.
Days 12-13: Etosha National Park
Set off east, stopping along the way to spot the likes of lurking leopards, herds of gemsbok and armoured rhino. The salt pan even attracts thousands of flamingos after heavy rains, while in the dry season the animals gather around the many waterholes to drink and bathe. Again, our Superior option offers the privileged chance to stay inside the park, while the Deluxe alternative mixes in extra, minimalist luxury. Both come with dinner included.
Stay: Onguma Bush Camp (Superior) or Mushara Outpost (Deluxe)
Day 14: Okonjima
After a few days in the park, journey to the woodcarving centre of Okahandja where you can pick up a traditional souvenir. Then, you'll spend the night among the 55,000 acres of plains that form the Okonjima Nature Reserve. Home to the superb AfriCat Foundation, it offers a near-guaranteed chance of seeing Namibia's big cats, included leopards and cheetahs. Both our accommodation options will see you enjoy a sumptuous included dinner. And, while the Superior option honours its cattle-farming history in luxury, the Deluxe alternative is one of the country's finest properties.
Stay: Okonjima Plains Camp...
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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