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 adventure that spans the vast plains of the Namib, 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 in the mountainous wilds of the Okonjima Nature Reserve.
Day 1: Depart UK
Arrive at your departure airport where included airport lounge access ensure a relaxing start to your holiday. Then, feeling refreshed, you'll fly overnight to Windhoek.
Day 2: Windhoek
Arrive in the capital, Windhoek and collect your hire car. Explore the city with its mix of old and new, including several buildings from the German colonial era which have survived and been restored. Visit the Old Fort, the Parliament building and the 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. Opt to take an afternoon game drive to take in the flora and fauna of the Kalahari. Although a desert, it receives a lot of rain and the landscape here is characterised by golden grasses and small red dunes.
Stay: Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch, Savannah Chalet (Superior) or Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch, Dune Chalet (Deluxe)
Days 4-5: Sossuvlei / Namib Desert
Visit the sand dunes at Sossusvlei, some of the highest in the world, and continue to the depths of the Sesriem Canyon. The Namib Desert is known as ’The Living Desert’ and is a world of vast spaces, endless horizons, dramatic landscapes, jagged mountain peaks and of course the famous Sossusvlei sand dunes. Visit the Namib Rand Nature Reserve, covering 445,000 acres of pristine desert wilderness, being the largest private nature reserve in Southern Africa.
(Lunch included at deluxe option only)
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. Spend two days exploring this charming town.
Days 8-9: Damaraland
Set off from Swakopmund and head north up the Atlantic coast and visit the seal colony at Cape Cross and the Skeleton Coast, to visit a haunting ship wreck. In the afternoon, drive into the rugged Damaraland highlands before arriving in Twyfelfontein. Spend the next day exploring Twyfelfontein with its ancient rock engravings, said to be the richest collection in Africa. Visit the Burnt Mountain, its vividly coloured rocks contrasting with the desolate landscape, followed by the Organ Pipes, a geological wonder and another great photo opportunity.
Days 10-11: Etosha National Park
Set off for Etosha National Park, a game-rich area and perfect for self-drives. The park is one of the best in Africa and its sprawling salt pan is home to a myriad of animal species, including endangered black rhinos. Spend the day driving in the park and exploring the waterholes that attract a large numbers of animals and birds, many of which are endemic to the country.
Days 12-13: Etosha National Park
Set off east stopping along the way to spot lion, leopard, elephant and black rhino. The salt pan attracts thousands of flamingos after heavy rains, while in the dry season the animals gather around the many waterholes to drink and bathe.
Stay: Onguma Bush Camp (Superior) or Mushara Outpost (Deluxe)
Day 14: Okahandja
After a few days in the park, journey to the woodcarving centre of Okahandja where you can pick up a souvenir before relaxing on the last night of your adventure. If you're on the Superior tour, you'll stay at the Okonjima Plains Camp that's designed to honour its cattle farming history, and is now a luxurious retreat in the beautiful Namibian countryside. If you've taken the Deluxe tour, you will stay at the Okonjima Bush Camp, which has some of the best accommodation in Namibia. Both lodges are located in Okonjima, a 55,000-acre game reserve half way between the capital and Etosha National Park. It's also home to the AfriCat Foundation, which rehabilitates cheetahs, wild dogs, hyenas and leopards and gives excellent opportunities to see these Africa icons in their natural habitat.
Stay: Okonjima Plains Camp (Superior) Okonjima Bush Camp (Deluxe)
Days 15-16: Depart for UK
Depart Okahandja and head to Windhoek airport, from where you will take your overnight flight to London, arriving on day 16.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
Sign up to our weekly Trip Finder email and get a selection of the best trips to feed your Wanderlust