Namibia is a country of startling contrasts that straddles two great deserts: the Namib (for which the country is named) being the oldest desert on the planet, with red dunes towering 1,000 feet high, lording over the Atlantic coast, and the Kalahari, a vast and sparsely vegetated savannah in the east that sprawls across the border into neighboring countries. This safari, in Namibia’s unique desert environment, will take us through remote coastal and inland areas that are rarely explored by others, for an unforgettable journey of discovery.
Our Desert Explorer Safari begins with an exploration of Sossusvlei’s iconic red dunes and continues to the coast to discover amazing marine life in Swakopmund. We then head up the iconic Skeleton Coast and into the mountains of Damaraland, an area know for its high concentration of black rhino. From there, we make our way to the famous Etosha National Park and explore from a private reserve to top off the adventure with epic wildlife encounters.
Why Trust Your Safari in Namibia to Boundless Journeys?
To develop a collection of truly unique safaris, Boundless Journeys has partnered with some of the best safari outfitters in Southern and Eastern Africa. In addition to experienced guides, first-class vehicles, and a diverse selection of camp and lodge options, our partners’ conservation efforts and community-mindedness are great matches for Boundless Journeys’ core philosophy.
Into the Namib Desert
This morning, we gather as a group and depart Windhoek, beginning our journey with a scenic drive through the rugged Khomas Hochland mountains and descending into the dune-filled Sossusvlei region, a driving time of approximately five to six hours (about 200 miles). En route, we stop at a scenic spot for lunch. Soon we find ourselves surrounded by the classic view of the Namib Desert as an ocean of sand with ''waves'' of bright red and dark shadows. Also known as the 'Sand Sea,' Sossusvlei is sandwiched between the Atlantic's cold Benguela Current and a rocky escarpment that runs parallel more than 60 miles inland and presents not only a spectacular visual experience, but also a unique ecosystem, to which our guide will introduce us in the coming days.
This afternoon, we settle into our accommodation for the next two nights, a 5-tent retreat, each built on an elevated platform with its own veranda, bathroom, and sundeck. You may enjoy a drink by the pool or take a dip to cool off and take in the spectacular landscape before us.
Kulala Desert LodgeNamib Naukluft National Park, Namibia
Featuring magnificent views of the famous red dunes of Sossusvlei and vast open plains, Kulala Desert Lodge offers 23 ensuite thatch-and-canvas ‘kulalas’ each with a veranda to enjoy the outstanding scenery. By day, a plunge pool provides a cooling sanctuary. On balmy nights, enjoy the option of sleeping under the star-filled skies on your rooftop deck, and awaken to the rising sun.
Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei
We depart camp early for the interior of Sossusvlei, where towering dunes rise dramatically, some more than 1,000 feet above the surrounding plains. We plan our activities for early morning to enjoy the fine weather before the day gets too warm. This morning, perhaps you'll choose to challenge yourself to climb to the peak of "Big Daddy" the highest of the famous red dunes, for epic views across the sea of sand. Or perhaps you simply want to enjoy photographing the native wildlife and stunning landscapes in the beautiful morning light. Desert-adapted wildlife such as ostrich, springbok, and gemsbok eke out a carefully balanced existence here. Larger predators include hyena, the almost mystical shaggy-coated scavenger. One bird, the aptly named Dune Lark, has its entire global distribution limited to this region, so dependent is it on the area's characteristic sands.
We also explore the moon-like landscape of Dead Vlei today, a clay pan characterized by the haunting remains of ancient camelthorn trees contrasted against the white pan floor. The flat pan was formed when the Tsauchab River flooded and an abundance of water allowed camelthorn trees to grow here. However, shifting dunes blocked the river from reaching the area, resulting in the dead trees, estimated to be approximately 900 years old, which have not decomposed due to the extremely dry climate.
This evening we find ourselves again enjoying life at camp.
Kuiseb Canyon to Swakupmond
We say goodbye to Sossusvlei this morning, departing camp early and driving through the snaking roads of the Kuiseb Canyon and out onto expansive gravel plains, eventually arriving in Walvis Bay before continuing north into the quaint coastal town of Swakopmund.
We arrive in Swakopmund and settle in to our accommodations for the next two nights, an iconic hotel typifying the town's architecture. This afternoon you are free for lunch and time to explore town.
Hansa HotelSwakopmund, Namibia
Century-old colonial charm permeates the landmark Hansa Hotel, centrally located in the seaside outpost of Swakopmund. Providing up-to-date service and comfort, bedrooms are spacious and tastefully appointed, with a blend of modern luxury and antique décor, and the sites of Swakopmund only steps away.
Walvis Bay Marine Safari
After breakfast, we depart for our marine safari, exploring Walvis Bay Harbour aboard a large, luxury catamaran and keeping our eyes out for all manner of marine creatures.
In season (July to November), larger mammals, such as the Southern right whale and humpback whales, are often spotted, while other whale species, such as the gray whale and the pygmy right whale have also made appearances. Bottlenose, heaviside, and dusky dolphins are regularly seen, as are mola molas and leatherback turtles. Accompanying us are a variety of seabirds, such as the Kelp Gull, Hartlaub's Gull, Pelicans, and Cape Cormorant.
We arrive back to Walvis Bay in the early afternoon and have the remainder of the day at leisure to explore Swakopmund. Your guide will be happy to make suggestions for dinner.
The Skeleton Coast to Damaraland
We depart Swakopmund this morning to continue our journey north for approximately 175 miles, partly up the legendary Skeleton Coast (named for the numerous ships the treacherous shores have claimed over the years). We then depart from the coast and drive back roads through the productive Ugab riverbed, where we may encounter wildlife, and travel north past Brandberg Mountain — the second largest monolith on earth after Ayers Rock in Australia — to Damaraland.
A land of stark beauty, the Damaraland area boasts a varied assortment of desert-adapted wildlife and incredible geological formations. We take our time and spend the day absorbing the scenery and pausing to observe any wildlife we may encounter and enjoy a picnic lunch en route.
By late afternoon we arrive to our home for the next two nights.Damaraland Camp is set in the Huab River Valley, one of Namibia's most dramatic wilderness areas: stark plains and ancient mountains turning from rust to purple as the sun sets - a harsh land full of geological wonders and fascinating desert-adapted wildlife. Nearby, trackers patrol and protect one of Africa's largest free-ranging populations of Critically Endangered desert-adapted black rhino. Rhino tracking on foot and by vehicle with these dedicated conservationists is a unique and exclusive wilderness experience; other activities include exploring the area on full-day outings, nature drives or walks.
Damaraland offers endless vistas and one of the best wilderness areas in Namibia. Early morning mists, generated by the clash between the icy Atlantic Ocean and the warm desert air of the Skeleton Coast, drift inland along the river valleys, providing sustenance to the flora and fauna of the region, hence the high density of wildlife in the area.
The breathtaking assortment of desert-adapted species includes one of the highest concentrations of desert elephant and black rhino. Other wildlife includes Hartmann's mountain zebra, kudu, giraffe, gemsbok, and springbok, with the occasional sighting of cheetah.
Damaraland CampDamaraland, Namibia
Each of the ten spacious en-suite, adobe-style thatched accommodations has a large private viewing deck. New technology and ancient knowledge makes for an ultra-light footprint; nature drives and guided walks offer sights of desert-adapted wildlife, ancient rock-art and striking geological formations. Astonishing night skies round out each day’s experiences.
Etosha National Park
We transfer to Ongava Game Reserve on the boundary of Etosha National Park. Etosha is justly famous for being the highest density wildlife area in Namibia. Our final two nights on the private Ongava Game Reserve allows us to explore the area's unique offerings.
Located in northern Namibia, Etosha National Park is a contrasting landscape of woodlands, acacia-strewn plains, and grasslands. But its most defining characteristic is the Pan: over 2,400 square miles of a parched, white salt pan that can even be seen from space.
While there is very little vegetation here, fringing the Pan are a number of waterholes that support over 150 mammal species, including lion, elephant, and huge herds of zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, and springbok, as well as rare and endangered species such as the black rhino, tsessebe, gemsbok, and black-faced impala. Our days include game drives both in the park and in the adjacent private concession, where we can explore in relative solitude, and may also include nature and tracking walks.
Ongava Tented CampEtosha & Ongava Game Reserve, Namibia
Ongava Tented Camp is situated along the southern boundary of Etosha National Park in a secluded area within the stunning landscape of private Ongava Game Reserve, and accommodates just 16 guests in eight spacious tents constructed from local stone, canvas and thatch, each featuring ensuite facilities and private verandas. The main area features a relaxing bar and swimming pool, all overlooking the active waterhole. Activities include game drives, hide visits, nature walks, and rhino tracking.
Return to Windhoek for departure
Driving 260 miles south, we return to Windhoek by 1 p.m. and bid farewell to our adventure.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Jun 29-Jul 7, 2023
Aug 13-21, 2023
Aug 26-Sep 3, 2023
From $7,395 Per Person
First one reserved:$750
See single supplement policy below.
MAKE IT PRIVATE
5+ Guests: $7,395 per person
4-5 Guests: $7,895 per person
Make it Private price is based on Land Cost only, and a guarantee of the specified number of guests in double occupancy. For groups smaller than the numbers shown, or those requiring single occupancy, we reserve the right to adjust the per person price. Additionally, some trips have minimum group sizes. Please call 1-800-941-8010 for details.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. This trip is rated 1+, easy with moderate options, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The primary activities require some agility for getting in and out of vehicles, and walking at a leisurely pace through uneven terrain, including an optional hike on a sand dune that may be moderately strenuous. This trip can be enjoyed by anyone who is in reasonably good health and likes to be outdoors and active. We will walk where possible, but this is often determined by the local area and park regulations. NOTE: These optional walks are at your own risk, and can take you close to potentially dangerous wild animals in some areas.
Hotels in Windhoek, Namibia by 9 a.m. on Day 1. If arriving to Windhoek on Day 1, we will collect you from the airport; please schedule the earliest possible arrival, but in any case no later than 7 a.m.
1:00 p.m., Hosea Kutako International Airport, Windhoek, Namibia. Please leave a minimum of two hours before your international departure, i.e. no earlier than 3 p.m.
Most Convenient Airport:Hosea Kutako International Airport, Windhoek, Namibia (airport code WDH)
Namibia is one of the driest countries on Earth and receives virtually no rainfall from April-November. Mornings along the coast are typically foggy until the sun burns through. In May and June, the landscapes tend to be a bit greener and the air quality is extremely clear with very little dust. As the dry season progresses, the vegetation is less green and animals tend to congregate around remaining sources of water. Inland temperatures are typically higher during the day, and cooler at night, than those shown, and can even drop below freezing overnight. You may obtain other regional weather information on www.weatherbase.com.
Namibia is a true year-round destination with less extreme seasonal changes than other parts of southern Africa. Along the Namibian coastline, the cold Atlantic Benguela Current dictates the weather. The Skeleton Coast and coastal towns such as Swakopmund are often enveloped in moody fog for a few hours in the mornings, before it is burnt off by the sun. The likelihood of rain is higher from December-March. Namibia is equally about the scenic grandeur of immense landscapes as the wildlife.
In the camps, the food is healthy, varied, and delicious, a feat when considering the logistics involved in servicing these remote areas with fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and meats. To accommodate the typical morning and late afternoon activity schedule, several small meals and a few large ones are served daily. The pre-activity early breakfast typically includes porridge, cereals, yogurt, fruit, coffee and tea; brunch includes typical breakfast fare accompanied by more savory items like sausage tarts, spring rolls, light lasagnas, and other eclectic choices; afternoon tea offers cakes, cookies, and savory items; "sundowners" are light appetizers and cocktails often enjoyed at a scenic spot; and finally, dinner, ordered from a menu with two or three daily choices. Beef, pork, and chicken are the basis of most main dishes, with occasional opportunities to try indigenous meats like farm-raised springbok. German colonial influence can still be seen in the meals in places like Swakopmund and Windhoek especially.
Vegetarians can be accommodated with advance notice, though choices tend to be more limited. Please inform us of specific dietary restrictions by completing your online guest paperwork.
Festus grew up in a Kalahari Desert village in eastern Namibia. Raised in the bush, he tended his family's free-ranging cattle herds and absorbed much of his superb bush knowledge by growing up with Kalahari Bushmen.
After completing secondary school, Festus spent time as an OvaHimba translator on safari trips. His natural field guide talents soon became apparent, and he was promoted to a guiding position at Ongava Game Lodge near Etosha National Park where he guided for four years before becoming a specialist guide to lead trips in other parts of Namibia.
Over the years, he has built up an exemplary reputation and is one of the most sought-after safari guides in Namibia. His profound knowledge and passion for Namibia and its people will be a highlight of your experience.
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
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