Start by heading south through the hills of Windhoek towards Mariental. An optional gravel route at Kalkrand, via the back-roads and gentle hills, gives you a sample of the Kalahari. Travellers opting for the tar can continue southwards, turning off to the east towards Stampriet and the easy 30km drive to Kalahari Anib Lodge. The lodge celebrates the natural elements of earth, wood and fire in an elegantly stylish display.
After a leisurely morning, enjoy a drive to Kalahari Farmhouse to visit the Self-Sufficiency Centre, which supplies Gondwana’s lodges with 70% of its fresh produce, all cultivated in the unusually lush setting. Treat yourself to a wholesome and delicious lunch in the Farmhouse’s peaceful garden. A highlight of a stay at Kalahari Anib is a wonderfully relaxing afternoon nature drive into the Kalahari. Later, toast life from the top of a dune as the sand turns a fiery red.
To the Namib Desert. Cut across the width of the country from east to west via Maltahöhe and Büllsport (or take the more scenic route from Maltahöhe via the Tsaris Pass), and make your way to Namib Desert Lodge at the foot of a range of impressive 20-million-year-old fossilised dunes. Don’t miss the afternoon drive to a pristine spot on the crest of a fossilised dune for a view of the awe-inspiring desert landscape.
This relaxed lodge is the perfect base from which to explore the area around Sesriem, 60km to the south. Leave early, to be at the Sesriem gate at sunrise to catch the cooler weather and magnificent morning light. Entrance fees can be paid at the office. Sesriem is the gateway to the famed star dunes of Sossusvlei, a further 60km into the desert. The road crosses over the Tsauchab riverbed, marked by lush camelthorn trees, and continues through a corridor of majestic dunes to the parking area. Park your car and catch a ride on the shuttle. A short walk leads to the vlei, where ancient skeletons of camelthorn trees reach heavenwards from the chalky pan. Dead Vlei is one of the most striking sites in Namibia and a photographer’s dream. Be sure to wear closed shoes and take a small bottle of water with you – for your own comfort on this incredible walk through the dunes. Sossusvlei is best appreciated from a height, so take a stroll a few paces up the dune. If you’re feeling energetic, climb the adjacent Big Mama dune to best appreciate the beauty of the incredible otherworldly surroundings.
First stop after you leave Namib Desert Lodge is Solitaire to fill up with fuel and sample a slice of their popular apple pie. Then it’s a desert drive through the fascinating scenery of the Gaub and Kuiseb canyons before you reach the palm trees of Walvis Bay. Once back on the tar, the 30km drive to Swakopmund takes you on a mesmerizing journey between the icy Atlantic Ocean and Namib Desert dunes. Unwind and refresh at the end of the day in the warm and uplifting atmosphere of the Delight hotel, before savouring some of Swakopmund’s fine cuisine.
The Delight’s mouth-watering breakfast feast is the very best way to start your day in Swakopmund. Stroll through the town, visit the museum, pop into coffee shops and browse the selection of African curios. Or take a scenic flight, join a living desert tour or a dolphin cruise. Swakopmund is the activity playground of Namibia. Activities range from sky-diving and sand-boarding to the more peaceful desert trips. Enquire about your options from the hotel’s activity desk on your arrival and select your favourites for the day. Before you go, reserve a table at one of the many restaurants for dinner and if back in time, walk along the wooden jetty to watch the sun sink into the sea.
Follow the salt road along the coast northwards towards Henties Bay, before heading inland on the gravel to Damaraland via Uis and the Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain. As you near the Ugab River, look out for the striking Herero women with their colourful stalls. Your overnight stop, Damara Mopane Lodge, is 30km east of Khorixas. Built in a semi-circular labyrinth design with a turquoise pool at its centre, the lodge is a lovely and charming surprise. Each chalet has its very own garden with fresh vegetables, sunflowers and the occasional scarecrow peeking out. Stroll up the koppie in the late afternoon to watch the sun set and appreciate the expansive view over the mopane woodland before the inviting aromas of dinner call you back to the lodge. An alternate tarred route from Swakopmund leads inland from the desert and northwards to Damaraland via Karibib, Otjiwarongo and Outjo.
This is a day to enjoy the ancient rock engravings at Twyfelfontein and to explore the surroundings. Here, hunter-gatherer traditional healers spoke to their gods asking for healing, rain and luck for the hunt. The Organ Pipes and Burnt Mountain are other interesting sites to visit in the area, as is the Damara Living Museum for some local culture. On your return journey, consider a stop at the Petrified Forest to view ancient fossilised tree trunks. After a full day of memorable discovery, make your way back to the warmth and comfort of Damara Mopane Lodge.
In the heart of the country, Etosha National Park is reached via Outjo, a convenient place to stop for fuel, coffee and snacks. Don’t linger too long though, Etosha is waiting. After checking in to Etosha Safari Camp, if time allows, drive the 10km into the national park to sit at the large Okaukuejo waterhole, which is often frequented by wildlife, or take a drive to the surrounding waterholes. For those just wanting a siesta, put your feet up and relax with a book at the lodge pool. Etosha Safari Camp’s colourful Shebeen restaurant has become a highlight on travellers’ itineraries. Modelled on Namibia’s ‘shebeens’ (informal township bars) of old, it’s an enjoyable lively venue. The dinner feast is enjoyed outside in the courtyard to the sounds of the musicians strumming their guitars and singing local melodies.
Explore Etosha at your leisure, visiting the many waterholes throughout the park. After experiencing the incredible and renowned wildlife sightings Etosha has to offer, return home to the easy going warmth and friendliness of Etosha Safari Camp for your final night’s stay. Guaranteed to be the perfect end to a fulfilling trip.
After a leisurely breakfast you make your way back to Windhoek where you will return your rental vehicle. You can opt to either spend an additional night in Windhoek or continue to Hosea Kutako International Airport for the departure of your scheduled flight.
Please note that check-in times for departures is two hours prior to the flight departure time.