Gemsbok herd, Okaukuejo.
Gemsbok herd, Okaukuejo.

Introduction:

Spanning a vast region in western Southern Africa, Namibia is a country which will appeal to any true nature lover for a variety of reasons, ranging from the unique plant life such as the Welwitschia to spectacular arid scenery, unbeatable open spaces and a wealth of wildlife. This wildlife ranges from the unique Tenebrionid beetles of the Namib Desert to the Elephants of Etosha, which on average are the largest Elephants on the planet. The habitat diversity is also unique, ranging from Tropical Savannah along the Caprivi Strip to the dry Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world. During this tour we’ll have the opportunity to explore the fascinating central region of the country, initially crossing over the mountains on our way to the world renowned Sossusvlei, land of the famous towering sand dunes, before moving to the Atlantic coast and the quaint old German towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. From here the coastal road will take us up the Skeleton Coast past Cape Cross with its massive Cape Fur Seal colony and onwards through the interior past Twyfelfontein, one of the cultural centres of this country and home to magnificent Desert Elephants, before entering the legendary Etosha National Park for some of Africa’s best game viewing. Finally we move on to the Erongo Mountains and Spitzkoppe, one of the most scenic regions to be found anywhere in Southern Africa, before ending off in Windhoek. There can be little doubt that what this country has to offer will be a highlight on any traveller’s schedule.

7 – 19 October 2019 (12 nights / 13 days)

Starts in Windhoek on the morning of the 7th October 2019 from late morning arrival flights. Tour ends in Windhoek on the afternoon of the 19th October 2019 in time for afternoon flights back to Johannesburg (and evening transcontinental flights). Please check with us before booking any flights.

2019: ZAR 63 600 per person sharing, ZAR 4 850 single supplement

Price subject to change based on external factors. Price is based on a minimum of 4 participants. Small group surcharge will be levied for groups smaller than 4 participants. Please contact us for more detail.

Includes
• Accommodation
• All meals
• Ground transport
• Bottled water in Lawson’s vehicle whilst travelling
• Entrance fees
• Personalised checklists
• Specialist guide fees

Excludes
• All airfares
• Travel and medical insurance
• All drinks
• Optional excursions where applicable
• Gratuities
• Items of a personal nature

Note
• This itinerary is subject to change due to weather conditions at the time and other factors beyond our control.
• The species mentioned in the itinerary represent only some of the possible ones we may see on the tour, however, none of these can be guaranteed even though every effort will be made where possible to locate them. A full list of possibles appears on your checklist.

Group size: maximum of 12 participants; one guide per 6 participants.

Areas visited: Windhoek, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Twyfelfontein, Etosha, Erongo.

Expected weather conditions: variable, but mainly hot and dry, though it can be cool at the coast.

Tour tempo: medium-plus; multiple nights at most destinations to allow for some rest periods during the heat of the day.

Accommodation standards: medium plus: lodges and guest houses and National Park’s camps.

Mammal viewing: good all-round and excellent in Etosha, where big game occurs. Highlights may include Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Black Rhino, Lion, Cheetah, African Wild Cat, Brown Hyena, Cape Fox, Bat-eared Fox, Aardwolf, Damara Dik-Dik and Black-faced Impala, among others.

Other wildlife and attractions: interesting botany, superb scenery and photographic opportunities. Photographers will need a range of lenses to make the most of the opportunities.

Add-ons: this tour can be combined with the Kruger National Park, Victoria Falls or Cape Town.

Essential Namibia Wildlife map
Start / end Hosea Kutako Int Airport. 1: Windhoek. 2: Sossusvlei. 3: Swakopmund. 4: Damaraland. 5: Etosha Okaukeujo. 6: Etosha Namutoni. 7: Erongo Wilderness.

Day 1: Windhoek
After arriving in Windhoek, the group will meet up and we’ll get the luggage loaded into the vehicle before embarking on a 45 minute drive through to our accommodation for the evening. The drive there will allow everyone to get a taste of the scenic wonder of this country, with Windhoek being surrounded by scenic ranges of dry boulder-strewn mountains, creating a rather striking setting. After getting settled in and having a bit of time to relax we’ll have an optional birding walk at a nearby site where we aim to locate several worthwhile species such as Damara Rockrunner, Dusky Sunbird, Chestnut-vented Warbler and Yellow-bellied Eremomela, whilst Cape Rock Hyrax and the colourful Namib Agama also may be seen sunning themselves on suitable rocky ledges during the late afternoon. From here we’ll return to our lodge for a well earned dinner and sleep before an exciting day to come.

Day 2: Sossusvlei
We’ll be up relatively early and after a hearty breakfast we’ll make our way out of the sprawling capital, and before long will find ourselves off the beaten track as we undertake the long journey through the dry country west of Windhoek. The drive there will take up the majority of the day and we’ll take along a packed lunch for later in the day, although we’ll be more focused on locating a few interesting creatures such as magnificent Sociable Weavers and the Pygmy Falcons which share their haystack-like nests. Eventually we’ll reach the scenic Gamsberg Pass, where the road cuts through the imposing Hakos Mountains on our northern side, with Mount Gamsberg, one of the highest mountains in Namibia at 2347masl, to the south. Along the route we’ll also search for several mammals, including Chacma Baboon, Klipspringer and Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra in particular, a sub-species of Mountain Zebra restricted to Namibia and Southern Angola, whilst the fascinating Quiver Tree is fairly common along the rocky slopes. From here the road drops down onto the arid plains that stretch over a large region of Western Namibia, and we should see a corresponding change in species, with Ludwig’s Bustard and Rüppell’s Korhaan being found in the dry grassland, and Steenbok with their remarkable adaption to these dry areas being fairly common. From here we’ll start heading south through the town of Solitaire and on to our destination for the next two nights, Sossusvlei. Depending on the time we arrive, we may have a late afternoon stroll along the dry riverbed where we could locate Western Rock Elephant-Shrew and Dassie-Rat, whilst the evening a short stroll around the lodge is bound to surround us with the calls of Koch’s Barking Gecko and Spotted Barking Gecko, a unique sound to fall asleep to and a great way of ending the day.

Day 3: Sossuvlei
We’ll have an early start today as we take our breakfast along with us for a half-day exploration of the renowned Sossusvlei, with its towering dunes enveloping the road and creating a striking setting. Along the way we may see a number of mammal species, with Damara Ground Squirrel, Gemsbok (Oryx) and Steenbok all being found here, whilst the dunes themselves hold an interesting mixture of Tenebrionid beetles that have evolved to exist in this superficially hostile landscape. The area also hosts some interesting bird species, and one we’ll specifically aim to locate is Dune Lark, Namibia’s only endemic bird species, whilst other birds we’ll keep a lookout for include Burchell’s Courser, Namaqua Sandgrouse and Ludwig’s Bustard. Once we reach the end of the road at Sossusvlei we’ll spend some time exploring the surroundings, strolling to both Sossusvlei itself and the very scenic Deadvlei where numerous dead Camel Thorns allow for wonderful photographic opportunities. Afterwards we’ll return to our lodge around mid-day for lunch and some time to relax during the hottest part of the day. Later the afternoon we’ll set out once more to visit some of the other scenic attractions of the region such as Sesriem Canyon and Elim dune, where the late afternoon light sets the desert alive with colour, before returning for dinner and some time admiring the incredibly clear skies that are a feature of this region.

Day 4: Swakopmund
We’ll have an early start to the day with a short stroll along the dry riverbed in front of camp before returning for breakfast and making our way across the barren plains towards the town of Swakopmund, where we’ll stay for the evening. Initially the drive there will cross the parched grassland that runs along the eastern edge of the Namib Desert, before we finally reach the Kuiseb Canyon, an imposing and hostile region, although the scenic beauty of it is bound to leave a lasting impression. From here our road takes us further and further into the desert itself, where we’ll keep our eyes open for the desert adapted Namaqua Chameleon, a remarkable species that manages to get enough moisture from the beetles on which it feeds. Eventually reaching the coastal town of Walvis Bay around mid-day, we’ll stop for lunch at one of the numerous restaurants overlooking the charming esplanade where we’ll have the chance to see a fantastic range of birds such as Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Common Ringed Plover, Common Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Caspian, Swift and Sandwich Tern, before we finally complete the last short section of the drive to Swakopmund where we’ll stay for the evening. After arriving we’ll have a short period to relax before grabbing our torches and setting off into the nearby dunes for a night walk where we’ll have the chance to locate some of the incredible species that often only become active during the cooler evenings. We may locate Web-footed Gecko, Common Barking Gecko, Peringuey’s Adder and Johanna’s (Namib) Golden Mole, before returning for dinner and a well earned rest.

Day 5: Swakopmund
Today we’ll have breakfast and then spend the first half of today focussing our attentions on some of the smaller creatures that call the desert home, as we set off with a local guide on a ‘Living Desert’ tour to learn more about the intricate and often delicate dune ecology of the region. During our time out we hope to locate an array of species such as the fascinating Perringuey’s Adder, also known as the Sidewinder for its unique manner of movement over the dunes, the Web-footed Gecko, FitzSimon’s Burrowing Skink and Namaqua Chameleon, a terrestrial chameleon that lives almost exclusively on the multitude of tenebrionid beatles that can be found in the dunes. We’ll return to town around lunch, allowing ourselves a bit of time to relax, before departing later that afternoon to explore an area inland of Swakopmund known as the Welwitschia Drive, and as the name implies, it is home to a large number of these incredible plants, with some of them thought to reach ages of up to 2000 years.

Day 6: Twyfelfontein and Damaraland
We’ll have a fairly long day ahead of us and we’ll have an early breakfast before setting off along the coastal road north, with our first major stop being at the large Cape Fur Seal colony at Cape Cross, where nearly 250 000 of these rather charming creatures may be seen laying about on a rocky peninsula, with the only down side being that the smell here can be quite overpowering at times! Afterwards we’ll turn inland as we make our way through the mining town of Uis before passing the incredibly scenic Brandberg Mountains where a short detour may allow us the opportunity to find Springbok and Steenbok, along with several bird species such as Ludwig’s Bustard, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Chat Flycatcher and Yellow-bellied Eremomela. We’ll then tackle the last section of the journey and we expect to reach our lodge during the late afternoon, where after settling in, we’ll all meet up for dinner after a tiring but eventful day.

Day 7: Twyfelfontein and Damaraland
We’ll have a full day at Twyfelfontein to explore the various historical and scenic sights that the area has to offer, with our day starting at the Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings World Heritage Site, an area that holds in excess of 6000 petroglyphs etched onto the rocks in the region. During our tour here we’ll learn about the cultural significance of this site, as well as interpretations for the various images that we’ll encounter along the way, something that will allow us to get a fascinating insight into the lives of the people that once inhabited this stark landscape. Afterwards we’ll pass by another two nearby sites, with the first being the fascinating Organ Pipes, a geological anomaly where the rock face is made up of multi-faceted edges that allow for a plethora of creative photographic opportunities. Afterwards we’ll drive to the nearby Burnt Mountain, where the rich oxide deposits create a rather bright red hue across a section of the rocks, although at the time we’ll be there they are perhaps not at their most spectacular, appearing pitch black under the warm sun. As by now it would be quite hot already, we’ll aim to return to our lodge and relax during the hottest part of the day, meeting up again for lunch, before setting off once more during the late afternoon where we’ll follow a trail through sand dunes and imposing mountains that can be quite breathtaking under the setting sun. The drive there may turn up a range of species such as Oryx, Steenbok, Common Ostrich, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Rüppell’s Korhaan and Black-chested Prinia, before we eventually follow a dry riverbed to where we hope to locate the enigmatic ‘Desert’ Elephants as they search for water beneath the numerous Camel Thorns on which they also feed. After this we’ll stop along the way for sundowners as we listen to the calls of the numerous Common Barking Geckos after a magical day in this remote part of the world.

Day 8: Etosha National Park, Okaukuejo
We’ll have a relaxed breakfast today, after which we’ll load up our vehicle once more in preparation for the journey to the renowned Etosha National Park, situated in the northern reaches of the country. The drive there will be direct, although we’ll have a stop en-route to visit a remarkable petrified forest, where fossilised trees lie exposed on the ground. Whilst here we’ll also keep our eyes open for the scarce Herero Chat which inhabits these sparsely vegetated rocky slopes, and although perhaps not a spectacular species, it is no doubt an important Namibian special. From here the drive through to Etosha will be fairly long and we expect to reach our camp for the next two nights, Okaukuejo, by early to mid-afternoon. After getting everyone settled in we’ll head out for a short afternoon drive to try and add a few species to our mammal list, and we should encounter Springbok, Plains Zebra, Gemsbok and Steenbok, with the distinctive ‘Black-faced’ Impala also being regularly encountered. We’ll return for dinner, after which a bit of time will be spent at the flood-lit waterhole along the edge of camp where we may be lucky enough to see African Wild Cat, Small Spotted Genet or even Lion and Black Rhinoceros, before calling it a day and wandering back to our rooms for an evening’s rest.

Day 9: Etosha National Park, Okaukuejo
We spend a full day exploring the numerous dirt roads that cross this interesting landscape, with our morning being focused on the area to the west of camp. Our drive will take up much of the morning and we hope to locate a range of animals, including the regular species as well as African Elephant, and perhaps even some of the cat species such as Lion or Leopard. During the middle of the day we’ll spend some time relaxing in camp before spending the afternoon driving along the roads surrounding camp, and although game is well represented, the smaller animal species are often the most interesting, with Yellow Mongoose, Suricate and Damara Ground Squirrel all being possible. We’ll get back to camp late the afternoon with some time to check the waterhole before dinner and a good rest.

Day 10: Etosha National Park, Namutoni
We’ll have a fairly busy day today as we move to our next camp, crossing from the western side of the reserve to the east, with the drive there taking up a large portion of the day. We’ll have an early breakfast in camp before we get going, with the route following the southern edge of the immense Etosha Pan for much of the way. We should have not only good game viewing along the way, but also some great birds with species such as Pale Chanting Goshawk, Pririt Batis, Barred Wren-Warbler, African Grey Hornbill, Sabota Lark, African Pipit and possibly Rufous-eared Warbler to be seen along the way, whilst some of the larger inhabitants of this region include Common Ostrich, Northern Black Korhaan and Kori Bustard. We’ll stop for lunch at the central camp, Halali, where a quick stroll may turn up Violet Wood-Hoopoe and Bare-cheeked Babbler, before we complete the drive through to Namutoni with the aim of arriving mid to late afternoon, and depending on the time of arrival, we may embark on a short afternoon drive in the vicinity of the camp.

Day 11: Etosha National Park, Namutoni
We’ll start our day with a drive around the scenic Fischer’s Pan where we should find good numbers of game such as Red Hartebeest, Gemsbok and Impala, whilst Red-necked Falcon is also occasionally recorded in this region. Although the pan will be dry this time of year, it still creates a scenic back-drop and offers excellent opportunities for photography due to the high salt content creating vast scenes of almost pure white salt flats offset by animals such as Springbok, Giraffe and Elephant. We’ll return to camp again for a late breakfast and spend the hottest part of the day in camp relaxing a bit after having been on the go the entire previous day. Afterwards we’ll visit the Andoni Plains to the north of camp which may produce a range of species such as Blue Crane, Plains Zebra and Blue Wildebeest, before we make our way back to camp, possibly bumping into Black-backed Jackal or Spotted Hyena along the way.

Day 12: Erongo Wilderness
We’ll start off the day with an easy morning drive to the south of camp where we hope to locate the diminutive Damara Dik-dik, as well as Black-faced Babbler, before we return to camp for breakfast in time to pack up and make our way to the south for our final stop in this wonderful country. The drive there will be mostly uneventful and we’ll essentially just aim to get there around lunch time in order to give ourselves a bit of time to relax. The lodge we’ll be staying at offers a great vantage point to sit about during the hotter parts of the day with a cold drink waiting for birds or small game to move around, with species such as Rosy-faced Lovebird, White-throated and Black-throated Canary, Great Sparrow and Swallow-tailed Bee-eater being easily seen. Later on the afternoon we’ll depart for a drive to a nearby rock art site where we have the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the San-Bushmen who inhabited this region. We’ll end off the last full day of the tour with a great dinner and perhaps some stargazing under the clear desert skies (Namibia has some of the best stargazing in the world, due to the exceptionally dry and clear skies).

Day 13: Departure
We’ll start the day early as we head out for a morning walk through the surrounding hills, with more of a birding focus as we aim to locate the shy Hartlaub’s Spurfowl as they call from exposed boulders during the early hours of the morning. We’ll be on the lookout for a range of species however, from the beautifully patterned Damara Rockrunner, to the curious Dassie Rat, the only representative of its family, normally seen scurrying amongst the boulders. After our walk we’ll return for breakfast before starting the drive through to Windhoek from where we’ll catch a return flight to Johannesburg and onwards.

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