Windhoek, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Damaraland, Etosha National Park
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
This privately guided journey encompasses the highlights of Namibia in a way that will inspire your imagination and capture your soul. From the stark but hauntingly beautiful Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert, you travel to Swakopmund on the edge of the Skeleton Coast before venturing into Damaraland in search of iconic desert-adapted elephants and rhinos. Discovering ancient rock art and the Himba tribe along the way, the journey though this landscape of epic grandeur brings you to the vastness...
Windhoek - Welcome to Namibia
Your private guide will meet you on arrival at Windhoek International Airport and take you to your hotel where you will spend the night. After a long plane journey, this tranquil and intimate guesthouse is the ideal place to relax and rest up in preparation for the adventures that lie ahead. You can relax in the pool garden and soak up the sunshine or take in a short tour of the city with your guide. Windhoek was established by the German colonial administration and is situated in the highlands where temperatures are much cooler than in the rest of the country. It is a vibrant African city where Victorian-era German architecture rubs shoulders with modern high-rise buildings, and where Herero women dressed in their voluminous finery and headdresses walk the streets alongside sharp-suited executives.
You have a choice of many interesting venues for dinner in the city, from traditional African fare to German dishes such as eisbein and sauerkraut. Windhoek’s most famous restaurant is a five-minute stroll away from your hotel. This lively establishment serves hearty Namibian dishes including a selection of game meats, and the collection of antique décor items is a fitting introduction to Namibian culture.
Sossusvlei - South to Sossusvlei
After a delicious and wholesome breakfast, your guide collects you for your journey south. Driving out of Windhoek and along the scenic central plateau and Khomas highlands, the road then drops down the escarpment to the rocky valleys and gravel plains of the outer Namib Desert. The vastness of the land around you makes an indelible impression; the sheer scale of the mountains, valleys and plains is astonishing, coupled with the fact that there is so little sign of human habitation along the way. Namibia is a country the size of Texas with only two million inhabitants!
You spend most of the day along this scenic route, and enjoy a delicious picnic lunch at a scenic spot along the way. Arriving in the in the Sossusvlei area in the late afternoon, you proceed to your lodge. Set on a mountainside overlooking a gravel plain and the dunes of the Namib in the distance, the lodge is elegant and comfortable, and boasts tremendous views. Your suite is constructed from thatch, timber and adobe, whose thick walls provide shelter from the desert heat, while a private plunge pool on your veranda is the ideal place to relax and take in the endless view of the sun setting over the immense plains and rocky hills.
When you slip between the sheets after a hearty dinner, the tremendous silence of the desert will envelop you, broken only by the occasional sound of a barking gecko calling from somewhere in the distance.
Sossusvlei - Into the Dunes of Sossusvlei
An early start in the morning sees you on the road to Sossusvlei before dawn, as the sun rising over this landscape creates a vision of incredible beauty. One of a series of clay pans locked in by the shifting dunes, Sossusvlei is a part of the ephemeral Tsauchab River that was cut off on its route to the sea thousands of years ago. Surrounded by dunes towering hundreds of meters in the air, the effect of the sun’s rays upon this landscape is nothing short of mesmerizing. Iron oxide in the dunes makes them take on a reddish hue which, coupled with a cobalt sky and dark, razor-edged shadows, makes this site a photographer’s dream come true.
A short walk over the sands takes you to Dead Vlei, where a stand of long-dead acacia trees create compelling shapes against this backdrop of color and contrast. Once the magical light has faded, you can climb to the top of Big Daddy, one of the highest dunes in the area at roughly 350 meters high. The effort is well worth the tremendous views over the dunes stretching in a series of crescent shapes to the horizon, and coming down the steep slope is half the fun! Once you have explored as much as you like, you enjoy a delightful picnic breakfast in the shade of an acacia tree, while your guide expounds on the fascinating geological history of this region.
On your return journey, you visit Sesriem Canyon, where the Tsauchab River cut a gorge 30 meters deep over the ages, exposing millennia of sedimentary layers in the strata of the rock. The cool depths of the canyon hold pools of water long into the dry season, and the name ‘Sesriem’ comes from the early settlers who relied on this water for their livestock, using ses (six) riems (rawhide thongs) knotted together to draw buckets of water up from the bottom.
After exploring the canyon, you return to the lodge in the early afternoon for a hearty late lunch, and after your morning’s exertions, a welcoming afternoon at leisure. In the evening after a delicious dinner, your guide will take you to the stargazing platform nearby where, using a telescope, he will give you an incredibly detailed picture of the heavens that shimmer above you in the clear desert air.
Swakopmund - Sossusvlei to Swakopmund
An optional adventure for your final morning is to take a hot air balloon flight over the dunes at sunrise. Flying over the gravel plains, rocky peaks, and glowing sand dunes at this magical time of day in silence, like a bird of prey, is an unforgettable experience. A champagne breakfast at your landing site adds the final touch to a magical morning in this ancient and mystical landscape.
Your next destination is Swakopmund, which is a charming German colonial town set between the desert of the Skeleton Coast and the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean. You may choose to fly this leg of the journey at an extra cost while your guide drives the vehicle, but the drive through the desert is equally rewarding. You head through the Namib Naukluft Reserve, and your guide will point out the wildlife that survives in this seemingly inhospitable place. Oryx antelope are specifically adapted for this arid landscape, and the sight of a scimitar-horned bull standing on the crest of a sand dune is one of the iconic images of Namibia. You might also encounter ostriches and springbok, and a closer search reveals a multitude of rodents, reptiles and insects that mostly live underground, utilizing the tiny amount of moisture that drifts inland in the form of coastal fog.
Arriving in Swakopmund in the afternoon, you drive into the town center with its delightful German architecture which stands out in contrast to the desert behind you and the ocean stretching out to the west. For the next two nights, you will stay ideally situated within a short walk to many of the town’s attractions. After settling in, take a sunset stroll along the promenade, then stop at Tug, one of Swakopmund’s best restaurants to enjoy a seafood dinner and lovely sea views.
Walvis Bay - Experience Namibia's Wild Shores
After breakfast, you set off south to Walvis Bay, where your guide takes you on a boat cruise in search of the abundant marine life in the outer lagoon and ocean. This is the best way to encounter Cape fur seals, dolphins, and pelicans, and you might be lucky enough to spot sunfish, whales and leatherback turtles. The lagoon is also home to many other waterbirds including flamingos at certain times of the year, making this a hotspot for bird watchers. During the cruise, you will be treated to a light lunch of a variety of delicious snacks and ocean-fresh oysters, washed down with sparkling wine. Returning to shore in the middle of the day, you may choose to explore Walvis Bay further, take a scenic exploratory drive into the desert or Welwitschia Valley, or join one of the many activities on offer from Swakopmund at extra cost. These include quad biking in the desert, camel rides, scenic flights and tandem skydiving!
In the evening, you visit another of Swakopmund’s dining hotspots as recommended by your guide, and enjoy a delicious meal of Namibia’s finest and freshest seafood cuisine.
Damaraland - Up the Coast
You depart Swakopmund after breakfast and skirt the Skeleton Coast, heading inland towards the Brandberg. This enormous dome-shaped mountain is the highest in Namibia, and its name means “Burnt Mountain” in several Namibian languages- this is due to the chemical composition of the rock it is composed of glowing red, as if on fire, at dawn and dusk. Revered by the Bushmen as a sacred site, the valleys and ravines of the mountain contain many rock art murals painted by these hunters centuries ago, and is the scene of the famous White Lady image, possibly depicting a shaman engaged in a ritual dance.
Continuing further, you arrive at Twyfelfontein, Namibia’s first World Heritage Site, where a series of ridges and hills below a flat-topped sandstone mountain contain one of the largest collections of prehistoric rock art in the world. The human figures, animals, and abstract designs have been carved into the rock itself, and as you wander among them, you feel as if you are gazing across the mists of time to the earliest origins of mankind’s creativity. Looking out over this dramatic and rugged landscape, you get the sensation that you are standing exactly where the artists and hunters from across the span of the ages once stood, staring out at the very same scene.
You arrive at your camp in the late afternoon, where a hill strewn with enormous boulders shelters a delightful lodge whose rounded thatch roofs blend in almost perfectly with the surrounding landscape.
Once you have settled into your suite which is stylishly designed in imitation of the rock art sites you have visited earlier, you wander over to the main buildings to enjoy a sunset cocktail. You watch spellbound as the surrounding landscape becomes a palette for a spectrum of color; boulders glow pink among deepening shadows that creep across the valleys, and the sky changes from mauve to indigo as the first stars begin to appear.
Grootberg - From Ocean to Valley
Setting off after breakfast, your guide takes you on a game drive through the Huab and Aba Huab valleys, which are ephemeral watercourses that support a surprising amount of life. The valley floors attract grazers in search of nutritious grasses, and often you will encounter oryx, zebra and springbok, as well as the remarkable klipspringer antelope which is able to scale near-vertical cliffs on its tiny hooves. This is the domain of desert-adapted elephants and a sighting of these amazing pachyderms would be the highlight of the day. They walk tremendous distances between food and water sources, the routes to which are passed from generation to generation. As you traverse this harsh and inhospitable landscape, you wonder how it could be possible for such large creatures to survive here. The sight of these elephants in these surroundings is indeed awe-inspiring; dwarfed by the magnitude of the landscape, they drift silent as ghosts across the rocky terrain with a deceptively fast walking motion, covering the miles to their next drink or browse as efficiently as their long legs will carry them. You watch with bated breath as they pass, and as they round an outcrop and disappear, it seems as if you have witnessed a waking dream in this otherworldly landscape, and only their footprints remain as a sign of their passage.
In the late afternoon you arrive at your lodge, which is spectacularly perched on the rim of the Klip River Canyon, affording an incredible view down the valley that begins to glow in the colorful hues of the setting sun.
Etosha National Park - Traditional Life in Namibia
You depart in the morning after breakfast, and make your way to Etosha, stopping at a remote Himba settlement en route. Related to the Herero tribe, the Himba are semi-nomadic pastoralists, who move their herds of cattle and goats according to where water and pasture can be found. Measuring their wealth by their livestock, these people live by a rhythm as old as time in this far-flung corner of the world known as the Kaokoveld. Tall and statuesque, their appearance is made more striking by a mixture of ochre and fat that they rub into their bodies and braids, giving them a coppery sheen. Wearing elaborate hairstyles and head ornaments to denote their marital status, they decorate their bodies with intricate jewelry crafted from leather, metal and shells. You are invited within the village stockade to see how they live, and these proud yet friendly people show you their huts made from wood, palm thatch, mud and dung. The interiors are dark and cool, and a fire burning aromatic herbs is constantly aglow inside. In this waterless place, the perfumed smoke is used as a bath, and you will be shown how the various mixtures and unguents the women use are made: grinding ochre from stone and blending it with aromatic ash, butter or fat.
You continue your journey westwards, and enter Etosha National Park by way of the Galton Gate. This section of the park was closed to visitors before 2011, when it was used as a research and rehabilitation area. Boasting a tremendous volume of game, you are among the few to visit and enjoy this incredible landscape that differs tremendously from the rest of the park. Dominated by low hills and dolomite formations, the plains are a mixture of mopane scrub woodlands and acacia belts interspersed with grasslands. More than a dozen waterholes in the region provide you with many opportunities to observe the wildlife that includes elephants, lions, and both Black and White rhinoceros.
Arriving at camp in the late afternoon, you find it perched along a rocky ridge that affords wonderful views over the surrounding countryside. The wood, stone and thatch main building houses a bar, lounge and dining room, while an outside terrace leads to a stunning infinity pool that seems suspended in space over the plains stretching to the horizon.
Wooden walkways lead up and along the ridge to your canvas and thatch suite that is simply yet elegantly furnished with a large bed draped in mosquito netting, a separate bathroom, lounge chairs and a private outdoor veranda boasting a tremendous view.
In the evening, you join a guided night drive in one of the camp’s game viewing vehicles. Assisted by a spotlight, your guide will seek out the lesser-seen nocturnal animals of the park that include bat-eared foxes, aardvark, aardwolf, genets and possibly some of the large cats such as lion or leopard.
Etosha National Park - Across Etosha
Departing camp after an early breakfast, you set off eastwards through the previously restricted western area of Etosha on an extended game drive. You will see very few other vehicles in this immense landscape while enjoying the multitude of game species, flora, and other interesting natural phenomena that your guide will reveal to you along with his tremendous knowledge of this environment. Here you will discover black-faced impala, antelope that are endemic to this region, Black rhinos, oryx and herds of elephants that are curiously coated in white dust, giving them a ghostly appearance.
After a long drive across the park, you arrive at camp in the early evening. You take the time to discover your comfortable suite and freshen up before a delicious dinner is served in the dining room. Afterwards, you take a stroll to the floodlit waterhole nearby where you can sit and enjoy the passing parade of wildlife as the animals emerge from the night to slake their thirst.
Etosha National Park - The Etosha Pan
Today your guide takes you exploring the area around the Etosha Pan itself. This enormous saline depression covers hundreds of square miles and is the remnant of a gigantic lake that dried up thousands of years ago. This shimmering expanse has an otherworldly aspect to it that is hard to define. Oryx, zebras and elephants appear and disappear in the heat-haze mirages; the sense of space is overwhelming, and somehow, a great multitude of creatures both great and small survive here. During the rainy season, the depressions fill with water, and almost overnight huge flocks of flamingos arrive to feed on tiny shrimp that lie dormant in the brine during the dry season. The shallow lakes that are formed stretch from horizon to horizon and are tainted pink by the birds’ feathers.
Most activity occurs around the waterholes, where an almost constant cloud of dust warns of approaching herds, and in a few hours you can count an impressive number of species as they arrive to take a few sips of life-giving water. For predators, these are the ideal ambush points, and often a closer inspection of low scrub and rocky mounds will reveal a pride of lions or a cheetah lying in wait for any antelope unwary enough to approach within striking distance.
After a full day of taking in the extraordinary spectacles that Etosha has to offer, coupled with the incredibly detailed knowledge and insights your guide has to offer, you make your way back to camp in the early evening.
As the sun sinks into the horizon, you admire your last Etosha sunset with an ice-cold cocktail in hand, and toast the incredible experiences that you have enjoyed. As the first stars emerge in the crystal clear night sky, you make your way to another sumptuous dinner, where the evening is filled with anecdotes of your adventures, laughter and easy conversation.
Etosha National Park - Return to Windhoek & Depart
After breakfast, you depart Etosha and make your way south back to Windhoek. Arriving at the airport, you bid your guide, who has become a friend in the course of your journey, a fond farewell, and as you do so, you promise yourself that one day you will return to this magical land.
For further ideas about customizing your trip, see the reviews of Namibia safaris. Read what travelers had to say about their Namibia vacations.
- Experience the vast landscape and big game adventures of Etosha National Park
- Take an ocean safari in search of dolphins, seals, seabirds, whales and turtles
- Explore Namib Naukluft National Park and Sesriem Canyon
- Seek out the famous desert elephants of Damaraland
- Photograph the iconic dunes and landscape of Sossusvlei
- Discover unique desert-adapted flora and fauna
- Explore the seaside town of Swakopmund with its historic German character
- Visit the ancient rock art sites of Brandberg and Twyfelfontein
- Visit the nomadic Himba tribe and discover their way of life
Namibia is a land of awe-inspiring landscapes, diverse cultures, amazing wildlife and incredible scenery. From the Namib Desert in the south where the largest dunes in the world tower over a surreal landscape, to the vastness of Etosha National Park where big game roams wild and free. It is where the statuesque Himba tribe still lives as pastoral nomads wandering the desert and where rock art carved by the hands of ancient hunters speaks to you across the mists of time. Namibia is a country that will capture your soul and give you a Namibia vacation that you will never forget.
Beginning your journey in Windhoek, where your private guide meets you, you travel south to Sossusvlei, surrounded by the Namib Desert and the largest sand dunes in the world. Here you find landscapes of stunningly harsh beauty and discover an amazing plethora of life that survives here. Journey on to Swakopmund, a quaint Germanic town wedged between the shifting sands of the desert and the icy Atlantic Ocean, where you set off on an ocean safari to experience a host of marine life and seabirds. Enjoy a variety of adrenaline activities, explorations, and the best seafood in Namibia before moving on into the vastness of Damaraland, where ancient rock art, petrified forests and surreal mountainscapes will leave you in a state of wonder.
Continue onward as your guide leads you in search of desert elephants, rhinos and plains game in the riverbeds near Grootberg Lodge. Next, you visit the remote and enigmatic Himba tribe who give you an insight into their ancient, pastoral and nomadic way of life before you cross the Kaokoveld to Etosha National Park. Here you spend three nights traversing the park from Dolomite Camp in the west to Okaukuejo Camp in the east in search of big game, from elephants and rhinos to prides of lions. Encompassing all of Namibia’s highlights in stylish comfort and in the company of an expert guide, this journey is the ideal way to captivate your imagination.
$4,945 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
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- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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