NA1 Land of Contrasts TOUR

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'Land of Contrasts'

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

The Namib, world's oldest desert; Apricot dunes at sunrise; Kaleidoscope of cultures; Swakopmund: charming seaside town; Rugged Skeleton Coast; Etosha: Africa's undiscovered wildlife gem

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Mon 21 Sep 2015Fri 02 Oct 2015 $3630$3480 Discounted
Fri 30 Oct 2015Tue 10 Nov 2015 $3630$3480 Discounted
Mon 11 Apr 2016Fri 22 Apr 2016 $3630
Mon 16 May 2016Fri 27 May 2016 $3630
Tue 02 Aug 2016Sat 13 Aug 2016 $3630
Mon 19 Sep 2016Fri 30 Sep 2016 $3630
Fri 28 Oct 2016Tue 08 Nov 2016 $3630

Optional Single Supplement: $720 (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $360, if twin-sharing accommodation is unavailable.


Tour Overview


This 12-day tour of Namibia takes us along the dense streets of its capital city, Windhoek, where we walk among people from the numerous tribes that wear a mixture of traditional and contemporary dress. This country's captivating history shines through its architecture from the turn of the century, but a sense of modernism is kept alive through its vibrant culture. Once we're outside of the city, the colourful Sossusvlei sand dunes tower above us with their record-breaking heights of 300 metres. What would a trip to Africa be without a day spent game-viewing? Etosha National Park's "salt desert" is an important resource for the mixture of wildlife that inhabits this land. Naukluft National Park yields an excellent display of animals as diverse as the baboon, rock hyrax or leopard. This is a perfect adventure through a country that serves as an excellent showcase of what makes Africa such a compelling continent for so many travellers.

Regions visited: Southern Africa
Countries visited: Namibia


Testimonials


All excursions included in the tour were excellent. Our local guides Orlando and Edward were superb - knowledgeable, courteous, attentive, excellent communicators, etc. All meals exceeded expectations. The safari vehicles were roomy and air conditioned. All meals exceeded expectations. We were impressed and are likely to use your services again. Recommend highly.

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrival in Namibia
Arrival in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia.

As capital cities go, Windhoek is very relaxed with a whole mixture of Namibia's tribes strolling the streets. Many are in traditional dress and others are in stylish contemporary clothes often with magnificent plaited hairstyles. The city is full of trees and gardens, plus some splendid buildings dating from the turn of the century, all jumbled up with post-modernist office blocks in a swirl of ethnic mix.

Overnight in Windhoek.

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Windhoek - Namib-Naukluft National Park
Today we leave the interior plateau region and head southwest through the Gamsberg Pass to the Namib Desert, through magnificent colours, pastel-basted rock formations, and waves of taupe-coloured grasses. Even the clouds are tinged orange-pink as distant dunes reflect their colour skywards. In the Nama language, Namib means vast, and this is an understatement. At the opposite end of the moisture scale is the parched Namib Desert with endless orange dunes blown into razor sharp ridges by the sand-shifting wind. The famous Sossusvlei sand dunes at 300m (1,000 ft), are the highest in the world, towering over their nearest rivals in Arabia, and just begging to be climbed barefoot.

Animals, insects, and plants have adapted to live in this generally inhospitable region and apart from infrequent rains, rely on the sea mist that rolls far inland. En route we have the chance to see kudu, springbok, gemsbok and black eagles set against some of the most expansive and dramatically rugged scenery in the world.

En route we have several stops for scenery viewing and photos. Upon arrival this afternoon you will have time to wander the land around our lodge and enjoy the multi-hued sands, strange twisted acacia trees, and almost guaranteed perfect sunset.

Overnight in the vicinity of the Namib-Naklauft National Park.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 3 Namib-Naukluft National Park
Very early this morning we drive into the park to a special place called Sossusvlei, a huge dried up pan (vlei) which sporadically holds water, at the base of some of the most spectacular dunes in the Namib. We watch the morning sun light up the apricot coloured sands, the long shadows accentuating the graceful, almost feminine curves of the dune crests. These immense rich ochre sand dunes are one of the most wondrous sights in the world.

Geologists say that this desert, covering most of the Namib-Naklauft Park, could be the oldest in the world. The older the dune, the brighter the colour from slow iron oxidisation and minute fragments of garnets. Dwarfed by the sheer size of the dunes, your footprints look like insect trails and each step forward forms a mini sand-slide. The solitude is immeasurable and your place in the great scheme of life takes on a curious insignificance. Visually powerful and deafeningly silent, this unforgettable experience is a high point of our visit to the Namib. Possible game sightings include oryx antelope, springbok, or ostrich.

At Sossusvlei we have plenty of time to walk into the heart of the dunes, scale a dune or two for panoramic views, and walk across the sand to a pan called Dead Vlei. This spooky place is named as such because of the blackened dead acacia trees that "sprout" from a blinding white pan against an orange dune backdrop. Stupendous.

On our way back to our accommodation we will make a stop at Sesriem Canyon, located near the entry gate to Sossussvlei. It was an important source of water for early inhabitants and even during dry times there is water in the upper reaches, where deep clefts in the rock reduce evaporation. Explorers, transport riders and early travellers used to lower a bucket down to collect the water and it normally took 6 lengths of thong tied together, hence the Afrikaans name 'Ses' meaning six, and 'Riem' meaning thong. The canyon was formed by the Tsauchab River rising in the Naukluft and Zaris Mountains to the east, and flowing through to Sossusvlei. Walking through the canyon takes you on a journey back 10-20 million years ago when sedimentary layers of gravel and sand were deposited and cemented together by lime. The ledges are now inhabited by pigeons, raucous pied crows and chattering starlings.

Overnight in the vicinity of Namib-Naklauft National Park.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 4 Namib-Naukluft Park - Swakopmund
We continue our journey north through Namib-Naukluft Park via Solitaire. As the name suggests, this is a lonely place in the middle of absolutely nowhere. The only reason it exists at all is to service visitors to the park. It used to have one solitary tree, one petrol pump, a take away kiosk and a captive puff adder. But big things have been happening here and there are now two or three petrol pumps, a fully blown cafeteria and small shop. The dead tree is still standing stark against the flat dry landscape, but the puff adder has gone.

We continue our journey through the spectacular rocky Kuiseb Canyon (photo stops en route) -- with possible sightings of baboon, rock hyrax, or, if lucky, leopard -- to the German colonial resort town of Swakopmund. This is Namibia's second biggest town and traditional "summer capital", and one of the most surreal places in this surreal country. You approach the town through the endless expanses of the Namib Desert, one of the world's largest wilderness areas. Then, through the mists (it is almost always misty in the morning and late afternoon) Bavarian spires and elaborate Germanic architecture rise through the fog banks. The boom of the surf on the notorious Skeleton Coast is an ever-present reminder of the icy Atlantic Ocean beyond.

Overnight in Swakopmund.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 5 Swakopmund
Today is free to wander the streets of charming Swakopmund. The town is an eclectic mixture of Bohemian and Bavarian, home to an intriguing mix of artists, hippies, strait-laced descendants of German settlers, stately Herero women in Victorian dress, and hardened miners, game rangers, safari operators and fishermen. Swakopmund exudes romance and history, a rich cultural melting pot of old and new. Nighttime entertainment ranges from sophisticated spins on the casino's roulette wheels, through raucous parties at the many pubs and restaurants, to an assortment of drama, music and cultural events. It is indeed odd to be in a little corner of old Bavaria wedged between one of the world's harshest deserts and even harsher coastlines.

You might wish to take an optional scenic flight along the famed Skeleton Coast where you may get a glimpse of the Damara desert-dwelling elephants, the many shipwrecks that litter the coast, or perhaps the sea of dunes to the south. Your Tour Leader can help you with these and other options.

Overnight in Swakopmund.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 6 Swakopmund - Skeleton Coast - Twyfelfontein
From Swakopmund we travel briefly up the desolate but beautiful Skeleton Coast, the name referring to the treacherous nature of the coast and the fact that it is a graveyard for many ships. The attraction for visitors to this region is its untouched and mysterious barren beauty, swept by cold sea breezes and often enveloped in a dense fog. This fog accounts for the many shipwrecks and the unique ecosystem which gives life to most unusual plants. The strange ‘Elephant's Foot' plant anchors itself in rock crevices, while desert succulents like Lithops look exactly like pebbles until a tiny yellow flower emerges.

We then head into the semi-arid environs of Damaraland, past Spitzkoppe Mountain in the distance and the soaring Brandberg Range to Twyfelfontein. This is stunning country and our journey is broken up by opportunities to stretch our legs, examine interesting stones, plants, bugs etc, and to photograph the amazing landscape.

Overnight at Twyfelfontein.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 7 Twyfelfontein Area
This morning we will examine some of Africa's finest prehistoric rock art -- paintings and engraving dating back some 5,000 years. We also visit a geological oddity known as the Valley of the Organ Pipes, the Burnt Mountain, and the Petrified Forest, where we can also view some welwitchias, a strange looking plant reputed to live for over 1,000 years.

Everywhere you turn are strange rock formations, unbelievable colours, and interesting and unique plants, birds, and other fauna. Our guide will bring to life the natural and human history of this otherworldly and remote corner of the planet.

Overnight in Twyfelfontein.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Twyfelfontein - Etosha National Park
Today we travel toward Etosha National Park.

Etosha has been referred to as the best kept secret in Africa's safari world, and is one of the world's largest national parks. Its concentration of wildlife is extraordinary, and the dependence on water holes throughout so much of the year makes the wildlife readily visible. In fact, it may just be possible to enter the lives of a more spectacular array of creatures with greater ease and intimacy here at Etosha than anywhere else on the globe.

Time permitting, we may be able to have a game drive in the vicinity of our lodge this afternoon.

Overnight in the vicinity of Etosha Park (HOTEL / LODGE).

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 9 Etosha National Park
We have a full day game viewing* in the park, which will take us past the Etosha pan itself, a huge shimmering expanse of usually dry lake bed criss-crossed by myriad animal tracks.

When the original lake at Etosha dried out, it resulted in a hard, dazzling white calcrete wasteland where mirages shimmer above the mineral-rich "salt desert." This salt is important to wildlife. The alkaline clay of the pan cannot sustain life, though the surrounding open savannah cam. In years of exceptional rainfall, the park again resembles a lake, albeit only centimetres deep in parts. It can then briefly sustain a rich profusion of micro-organic life that entices thousands of flamingoes to breed here.

Etosha was once the largest natural park in the world, but it has since been re-shaped several times until being reduced to its present size in 1967. The pan, clearly seen from space, is the park's central feature and takes up one-quarter of its area. There are no roads into the pan, but along the southern fringes is a network of trails linking the three main rest camps and natural waterholes in between.

Our pace is leisurely and set by the animals that we encounter. Possibilities include: elephant, lion, cheetah, giraffe, and many hooved species, including zebra, antelope, and many many birds.

* For our full days of game viewing in Etosha we will be using open safari-style vehicles (ie Land Rover / Land cruiser) with space for 4-6.

Overnight in the vicinity of Etosha (HOTEL / LODGE).

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 10 Etosha National Park
Today we heading over to the eastern side of Etosha, so after breakfast we pack our bags and head out into the park for more fantastic game viewing. Every part of the park supports different species and it is possible that we will see entirely different things today.

Lunch will be at Halali Rest Camp in the centre of the park; we should reach Namutoni by late afternoon, game-viewing en route. Namutoni centres around a historic German fort dating back to 1903 and declared a national monument in 1950.

We leave the park at Namutoni and travel the short distance to our lodge.

Overnight in the vicinity of Etosha (HOTEL / LODGE).

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 11 Etosha - Ombili Bushman Project - Windhoek
We leave Etosha early today and take a short drive to the Ombili Bushman Project where we can spend some time learning about the fascinating lives of today's San people (Bushmen). The village here allows a good insight into how the San of today are coping with the modern world.

We continue to Windhoek on a good, paved road. The Windhoek area is at a refreshing altitude amongst rolling bush-dotted hills and is well watered by rain. It does, however, get so hot that the rain evaporates soon after each dramatic downpour. Winters are bright but very chilly at night and summers wonderfully hot.

Overnight in Windhoek.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 12 Departure
Today we depart from Windhoek.

BON VOYAGE!

Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Galton House

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Windhoek
Country: Namibia

Galton House is Windhoek's newest accommodation establishment. Named after the famous explorer Sir Francis Galton, it has a relaxed but
... style which creates a very welcoming atmosphere. Impressive wildlife photography adorns the walls whilst the rest of the interior is a combination of modern minimalistic and understated chic.

A mere ten minute drive from the centre of town and perched on the edge of Windhoek's northernmost affluent suburb of Eros, guests staying here will be ensured of peace and tranquillity. There is Wi-Fi throughout the property and the eight guest rooms all have wired internet connectivity and satellite television. There is a coffee/tea station available in the reception area and these can also be provided in the rooms on request.

The communal areas consist of a large lounge, indoor and outdoor dining areas, a swimming pool, an early arrival/late departure day room (including toilet, shower, changing and re-packing facility) as well as understated garden areas. There is also a delightful 'al fresco' dining area by the pool where freshly prepared and very tasty meals are served (including lunch and dinner). A number of shops, restaurants and supermarkets are within easy striking distance.

Read More.

Sossusvlei Lodge

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Namib-Naukluft National Park
Country: Namibia

The rooms are bungalow-style. Adobe walls are shaded by canvas roofs, almost Berber-like in their covering of the slate floors
... The property features a swimming pool, bar, curio shop. Warm beverages and cold water are available at no cost to guests 24 hours a day.


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The Swakopmund Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Swakopmund
Country: Namibia

Built in and around the old Station Building the hotel combines architectural beauty with first-world comfort. The rooms are all
... in a Victorian-style reminiscent of a bygone era of grace and civility. Rooms have individual air conditioning, television, tea/coffee making facilities, bathroom with bath, shower and toilet, direct dialling phones, electronic safes, electric razor plugs, fully stocked mini bars, hair dryers, eight channel TV.


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Mushara Lodge

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Etosha National Park
Country: Namibia

Located just 8 km from the Von Lindequist Gate on the eastern boundary of Etosha National Park, Mushara Lodge is
... ideal overnight stop for visitors to the game reserve. The lodge consists of ten spacious chalets, one family unit, a triple room and two single rooms. The name Mushara is derived from the Purple Pod Terminalia tree which grows abundantly on the lodge grounds and in the surroundings. The thatched public area includes a small library with a selection of good books, a bar with an extensive wine cellar, an airy lounge complete with welcoming fireplace for winter evenings, a dining area and a well stocked curio shop. Great attention has been paid to the décor, which is an eclectic blend of traditional African and modern works of art mixed with original older paintings.
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Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner daily (hotels and restaurants); most lunches. All accommodation, transport, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for drivers, local guides, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.

Exclusions

Tour Leader gratuities, some lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international (if applicable) air and airport taxes, early / late arrivals / departures or Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on shopping and not included meals.

Seasonality and Weather

Rains fall in summer (Nov-Apr); temperatures are high. Winter nights can be fairly cold, but days are generally warm and pleasant. Our departures occur in the cooler time of year and showers, though short lived, may occur. Expect daytime highs to range from 23-28 C (72-84 F), and cool mornings and nights. Our departures in Oct / Nov will experience hotter temperatures, especially inland (35-40 C / 90 - 100 F), and showers-sometimes heavy-will be a greater likelihood in Nov.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Varies depending on group size. Bus transport may be arranged, or the group may be accommodated in multiple Land Rover type vehicles. These are specially modified vehicles and are the best-suited for the conditions we will encounter. Note that air conditioning is VERY rare in vehicles in Namibia in general, though in a dry climate an open window should provide adequate relief. That said, you must remember that you will be visiting a desert environment in which heat and dust are a fact of life. Namibia is also a huge, sparsely populated country with great distances between facilities. We stop for breaks as often as possible, but you must be prepared for some long days and some early starts. For our full days of game viewing in Etosha we will be using open safari-style vehicles (ie Land Rover / Land cruiser) with space for 4-6.

Accommodation

Well-located, air-conditioned, 3&4-star hotels and lodges with en suite toilet and bath throughout (maybe shower only). Some hotels have hairdryers, irons, and outdoor swimming pools. Porter service is available throughout (see 'Inclusions'). Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins. There is no camping.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, drivers, local guides at various locations.

Group Size

6-9 (plus Tour Leader)

NA1 TRIP DETAILS

DURATION12 days

TOUR STARTWindhoek

TOUR ENDWindhoek