Group Size: Based on Minimum 2 passengers
This privately guided road safari affords you the chance to experience this magnificent and memorable country in a very personal way. The highlights include exploring the Namib Naukluft National Park, tracking desert adapted elephants, visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site at Twyfelfontein and game viewing in Etosha National Park.
Day 1 – Zannier Reserve by N/a’an ku sê
After landing at Windhoek International (Hosea Kutako) Airport, located 40km outside Windhoek, you are met by a representative of Ultimate Safaris who will transfer you to Omaanda Nature Reserve, where you will spend the first two nights of your safari. Embark on an afternoon drive on the private reserve if time allows. (D)
Omaanda – Zannier Hotels: Composed of ten huts inspired by traditional Owambo architecture, Omaanda is located in the heart of a 9,000-hectare private animal reserve in the outskirts of Windhoek, the Zannier Reserve by N/a’an ku sê. The unique resort also features a cosy bar, a spa with two double treatment rooms, a boutique and a heated infinity swimming pool overlooking the Namibian savannah. Exciting excursions are offered twice daily to give guests unforgettable experiences and contribute to the conservation of the area.
Day 2 – Zannier Reserve by N/a’an ku sê
Today can be spent on scheduled shared lodge activities as offered by Omaanda. Alternatively, you may choose to spend the day in the comforts of the lodge, enjoying the beautiful surroundings. (BLD)
Day 3 - Namib Sand Sea Area
This morning you will be met by your guide and depart from Windhoek in your safari vehicle, driving southwest through the scenic Khomas Hochland highlands before you head down the Great Escarpment into the Namib Desert below. A picnic lunch will be served at a scenic location along the way and you arrive at Desert Homestead Outpost in the mid to late afternoon, with time to explore the remarkable sights of the Namib Desert with your guide. Spend the remainder of your afternoon at leisure in the comforts of the lodge to relax and soak in the scenic and tranquil surroundings. (BLD)
Deep in the 7000 ha nature reserve of Desert Homestead Lodge the Outpost opens its gates and offers relaxed hospitality with a natural atmosphere. Enjoy the impressive panoramic view from the 11 houses, the family apartment or the main house with restaurant, lounge and pool area, set on the base of a mountain. Our guests are welcome to take advantage of all activities of the Desert Homestead Lodge.
Day 4 - Namib Sand Sea Area
It will be and early rise for a magical excursion into the Namib Naukluft National Park with your Ultimate Safaris guide and vehicle, entering the Park gates at sunrise to capture the dunes whilst the light is soft and shadows accentuate their towering shapes and curves. This area boasts some of the highest free-standing sand dunes in the world. Your guide will give you an insight on the formation of the Namib Desert and its myriad of fascinating creatures and plants that have adapted to survive these harsh environs. Once you have explored the areas around Sossusvlei and Deadvlei to your hearts content you can enjoy a relaxing picnic breakfast in the shade of a camel thorn tree. Return to the Lodge in the early afternoon, stopping off to view Sesriem Canyon along the way. (BLD)
Sossusvlei: This most frequently visited section of the massive 50,000km² Namib Naukluft National Park has become known as Sossusvlei, famous for its towering apricot coloured sand dunes which can be reached by following the Tsauchab River valley. Sossusvlei itself is actually a clay pan set amidst these star shaped dunes which stand up to 300m above the surrounding plains, ranking them among the tallest dunes on earth. The deathly white clay pan contrasts against the orange sands and forms the endpoint of the ephemeral Tsauchab River, within the interior of the Great Sand Sea. The river course rises south of the Naukluft Mountains in the Great Escarpment. It penetrates the sand sea for some 55km before it finally peters out at Sossusvlei, about the same distance from the Atlantic Ocean. Until the encroaching dunes blocked its course around 60,000 years ago, the Tsauchab River once reached the sea; as ephemeral rivers still do in the northern half of the Namib. Sand-locked pans to the west show where the river previously flowed to before dunes shifted its endpoint to where it currently gathers at Sossusvlei. Roughly once a decade rainfall over the catchment area is sufficient to bring the river down in flood and fill the pan. On such occasions the mirror images of dunes and camel thorn trees around the pan are reflected in the water. Sossusvlei is the biggest of four pans in the vicinity. Another, famous for its gnarled and ghostly camel thorn trees, is Deadvlei which can be reached on foot over 1km of sand. Deadvlei’s striking camel thorn trees; dead for want of water, still stand erect as they once grew. They survived until about 900 years ago when the sand sea finally blocked the river from occasionally flooding the pan.
Sesriem Canyon: Sesriem Canyon has evolved through centuries of erosion by the Tsauchab River which has incised a narrow gorge about 1.5km long and 30m deep into the surrounding conglomerates, exposing the varying layers of sedimentation deposited over millions of years. The shaded cool depths of the canyon allow pools of water to gather during the rainy season and remain for much of the year round. These pools were a vital source of water for early settlers who drew water for their livestock by knotting six (ses) lengths of rawhide thongs (riems) together, hence the canyon and surrounding area became known as Sesriem.
Day 5 – Swakopmund,
The fascinating drive today takes you northwest through awesome and ever-changing desert landscapes of the Namib Naukluft National Park, including the impressive Gaub and Kuiseb canyons. You will meet the coast at the port town of Walvis Bay and then continue north to Swakopmund where you can enjoy the pleasant seaside location and cooler coastal air. There will be time this afternoon to explore the town and wander along the waterfront on foot, before heading off for dinner at a popular restaurant which specializes in locally harvested fresh seafood as well as other local and international dishes. (BLD)
NOTE: As an alternative to the drive from Sossusvlei to Swakopmund you may like to take a scenic light aircraft flight over Sossusvlei and along the Diamond Coast (optional extra at additional cost, must be pre-booked with Ultimate Safaris for logistical reasons.), allowing you a bird’s eye view over the dune sea, abandoned mining camps, shipwrecks, Sandwich Harbour and salt pans before you land at Swakopmund Airport. A highlight is the flight over the Eduard Bohlen, a German cargo ship that ran aground in 1909 while it was on its way to Table Bay from Swakopmund. It is believed that thick fog caused the ship to founder close to Conception Bay. Years after the ship ran aground the desert began to encroach on the ocean and the ship that was once stranded in the ocean slowly became stranded in the desert. The wreck currently sits about 500 metres from the ocean, ensuring that it’s the best-preserved shipwreck along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast and making it a must see for photographers. Your guide will drive to meet up with you in Swakopmund later in the day.
Swakopmund had its beginnings as a landing station in 1892 when the German Reich erected the first building, a barracks for troops on the site. Settlers followed and attempts to create a harbour town by constructing a concrete Mole and then iron jetty failed. The advent of World War 1 halted developments and the town sank into decline until half a century later when infrastructures improved and an asphalt road opened between Windhoek and Swakopmund. This made reaching the previously isolated town quicker and easier and it prospered once again to become Namibia’s premier resort town. Although the sea is normally cold for swimming there are pleasant beaches and the cooler climate is refreshing after the time spent in the desert.
The Hansa Hotel – nestling in the very centre of the charming little town of Swakopmund, wrapped in the shape of a timelessly classical building dating from 1905, and integral part of Swakopmund’s architectural heritage, offers you a feeling of being enveloped in a luxurious and sophisticated hospitality with a satisfying blend of both classic atmosphere and truly elegant interior, matched with friendly and personalized service.
Day 6 – Damaraland
Continuing on your safari today, the road takes you north and east into the wonderful and diverse region of Damaraland. You pass Namibia’s highest mountain, the Brandberg which peaks at 2,573 m above sea level and take time to view game and absorb the vastness of the scenery along the way. Damaraland is typified by displays of colour, magnificent table topped mountains, rock formations and bizarre-looking vegetation. The present-day landscape has been formed by the erosion of wind, water and geological forces which have formed rolling hills, dunes, gravel plains and ancient river terraces. It is the variety and loneliness of the area as well as the scenic splendour which will reward and astound you, giving you an authentic understanding of the word ‘wilderness’. If time allows this afternoon your guide will take you to visit the nearby attractions and geological sites of the pre-historic Twyfelfontein rock engravings (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) – if not there is plenty of time to see them tomorrow. (BLD)
Day 7 – Damaraland
After an early breakfast you will be treated to an exciting 4×4 excursion along the ephemeral Aba Huab River valley to explore this remarkable region and to search for game, including the elusive desert adapted elephants if they are in the area. Damaraland is home to a variety of desert adapted wildlife and hidden desert treasures. Depending on their location you may take a picnic lunch and stop to take that in the shade of a large Ana tree. (BLD)
During the course of your stay, your guide will also take you to visit the Twyfelfontein rock engravings (declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site), if you haven’t already done so yesterday. Return to camp to enjoy some well-deserved leisure time.
Desert Adapted Elephant: In habitats with sufficient vegetation and water an adult elephant consumes as much as 300kg of roughage and 230 litres of water every day of its life. Consider what a herd of them would eat and drink in a week or a month or a year. Finding an African elephant in a desert? Well, yes and not only elephant, but other large mammals as well, such as black rhinoceros and giraffe. Their ranges extend from river catchments in northern Kaokoveld as far south as the northern Namib. Apart from the Kunene River, seven river courses northwards from the Ugab provide them with possible routes across the desert, right to the Skeleton Coast. The biggest are the Hoarusib, the Hoanib, the Huab and the Ugab Rivers. Desert adapted elephant in Kaokoland and the Namib walk further for water and fodder than any other elephant in Africa. The distances between waterholes and feeding grounds can be as great as 68km. The typical home range of a family herd is larger than 2,000km², or eight times as big as ranges in central Africa where rainfall is much higher. They walk and feed at night and rest during the day. To meet their nutritional and bulk requirements they browse on no fewer than 74 of the 103 plant species that grow in their range. Not a separate species or even a subspecies, they are an ecotype unique to Namibia in Africa south of the equator, behaviorally adapted to hyper-arid conditions.
Twyfelfontein: Named by the first European farmer in the area the name refers to the failings of a perennial spring which wells up near the base of the valley and the name simply means ‘doubtful spring’. Strewn over a hillside amongst flat-topped mountains of red sandstone, Twyfelfontein’s boulders and slabs of red sandstone hold some 2,500 prehistoric engravings that depict wildlife, animal spoor and abstract motifs. It is perhaps the largest and finest collection of petroglyphs in Africa. The engravings show animals such as elephant, giraffe, kudu, lion, rhinoceros, springbok, zebra and ostrich that once used to drink from a fountain at the bottom of the hill. In some cases footprints were engraved instead of hooves or paws. The abstract motifs feature mainly circles. Stone tools and other artifacts found at Twyfelfontein suggest that hunter-gatherers occupied the site over a period of perhaps 7,000 years. These days a local guide accompanies visitors to showcase the rock art. The engravings lie along two circular routes, one an hour’s climb and the other 40 minutes longer. Twyfelfontein is one of Namibia’s key National Monuments and has recently become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 8 - South West Etosha National Park
This morning you will depart with your Ultimate Safaris guide in your private safari vehicle from the Damaraland Area and travel towards the south-western boundary of Etosha National Park. You will arrive at Etosha Mountain Lodge in the afternoon, an if time allows, you have the option to join on a scheduled sundowner drive as offered by the lodge. Alternatively, you can spend the afternoon at leisure in the comforts in the lodge. (BLD)
Etosha Mountain Lodge is located in the exclusive Etosha Heights Reserve, just outside Etosha National Park. Designed to offer a memorable experience, no detail has been overlooked in the design and location of this superb Lodge.
The Main complex with a wonderful view includes a reception area, lounge, dining room, bar, swimming pool with a teak deck and a wine cellar where you can taste the best South African Wines.
Day 9 - South Etosha National Park
After a leisurely breakfast you set off on your short journey to the southern boundary of Etosha National Park to arrive at Ongava Tented Camp. (BLD)
You then have the option to settle into your accommodation and enjoy lunch at the camp. This afternoon you can either choose to enter the Etosha National Park with your private Ultimate guide or alternatively join a scheduled shared sundowner drive on the private Ongava Reserve in an open game viewer with a local lodge guide, which is included this afternoon.
Day 10 - South Etosha National Park
Today is available for a full day of exciting game viewing within the southern section of Etosha National Park and on the Ongava Private Game Reserve. Your Ultimate Safaris guide will take you into the southern section of Etosha National Park for an exciting morning drive, exploring the areas around popular waterholes. Your guide’s local knowledge of the park and surrounds will be a major asset maximizing your time spent in the Park. You will return to the lodge for lunch and an early afternoon rest and join the lodge game drive in the late afternoon on the Ongava Private Game Reserve, ending with a spectacular sundowner before returning to the lodge just after sunset. (BLD)
Etosha National Park: Etosha National Park, translated as the ‘Place of Mirages’, Land of Dry Water’ or the ‘Great White Place’, covers 22,270km², of which over 5,000km² is made up of saline depressions or ‘pans’. The largest of these pans, the Etosha Pan, can be classified as a saline desert in its own right. The Etosha Pan lies in the Owambo Basin, on the north-western edge of the Namibian Kalahari Desert. Until three million years ago it formed part of a huge, shallow lake that was reduced to a complex of salt pans when the major river that fed it, the Kunene, changed course and began to flow to the Atlantic instead. If the lake existed today, it would be the third largest in the world. Etosha Pan is the largest of the pans at 4,760km² in extent. It is nowadays filled with water only when sufficient rain falls to the north in Angola, inducing floods to flow southward along the Cuvelai drainage system. The Park consists of grassland, woodland and savannah. Game-viewing centres around the numerous springs and waterholes where several different species can often be seen at one time. The Park boasts some 114 mammal and over 340 bird species. Wildlife that one might see includes elephant, lion, giraffe, blue wildebeest, eland, kudu, gemsbok (oryx), zebra, rhino, cheetah, leopard, hyena, honey badger and warthog, as well as the endemic black faced impala.
Day 11 – Windhoek
This morning you depart Etosha and head back to Windhoek, driving in a south-easterly direction via the town of Okahandja. Upon your arrival in Windhoek, which will be in the late afternoon, you will be transferred to Am Weinberg Boutique Hotel for your last night in Namibia. Dinner tonight can be enjoyed at the in-house restaurant of Am Weinberg or at a local restaurant in town, together with your guide. (BLD)
Situated in the upmarket suburb of Klein Windhoek, 30 minutes from Hosea Kutako International Airport, Am Weinberg Boutique Hotel sets a new benchmark for luxury accommodation in the Namibian capital.
The hotel forms part of the award-winning Am Weinberg Estate, and is fast developing a reputation as Windhoek’s premier venue for business conferencing, destination weddings and leisure travel. The intimate boutique hotel has only 41 rooms, ensuring that guests enjoy tailored, attentive and detail focused service at all times. Its iconic styling seamlessly blends old-world splendour with modern lines and state of the art amenities, ensuring an unparalleled guest experience.
Day 12 - End of your Namibia in Style Tour
This morning an Ultimate Safaris representative will collect you from the Am Weinberg Boutique Hotel and transfer you to the International Airport in time for the 2-hour check-in of your outgoing international flight back home. (B)
Dates and Pricing
Prices shown are per person based on twin share. Seasonal supplements and minimum night requirement may apply. Solo traveller and extra night prices available on request. Luggage restrictions may apply. International flights not included.
I had been dreaming of travelling to Namibia for almost a decade, and my Bench safari lived up to even my most wild imaginings. From my incredibly knowledgable local guide Nestor, to the detailed itinerary covering all the highlights and some hidden gems too, to the excellent accommodation choices (Shipwreck Lodge and Hoanib Valley camp were highlights), it was faultless from start to finish. Dreaming of my next Bench trip already.Nina Destination: Namibia