The Great Namibian Journey
Namibia is a land of stunning landscapes, endless skies, barren deserts, rugged mountains and spectacular wildlife - and the Great Namibian Journey encompasses it all. This cross-section explores the dunes of Sossusvlei and the Namib Desert, the stark beauty of the Skeleton Coast, amazing marine life just off Swakopmund, the volcanic rock-strewn landscape of Damaraland and the game-filled savannah of Etosha. The activities provide a wide range of differing impressions, dolphin cruises with private beach lunch, to hiking and cycling in Damaraland, walking in the Namib's great dunes and interacting with traditional Himba people. This safari combines exclusive luxurious lodges with remote locations of private campsites, in unique Meru-style tents. The style of accommodation in the private campsites takes you back to the era of Africa's exploration. Pure linens of heavy cottons, brass bucket showers and basins, separate flushing toilets and shower areas all add to the atmosphere, while comforts and amenities are elegantly provided. Discoverer camping aims to bring you closer to nature, by means of a lively campfire, hurricane lanterns, wide-ranging activities and a warm atmosphere complimenting the comfort and added luxury of the lodges visited. Discoverer camps are specifically outfitted to ensure that old-style camping feel with a clear emphasis on necessary and stylish comfortable interiors, creating a peerless wilderness experience.
From Windhoek, travel by vehicle approximately 380km to Kulala Wilderness Camp, enjoying awe-inspiring views of the mountains and the desert floor - on a clear day you can see the fog banks of the Skeleton Coast. En route, we enjoy a lunch close to the Khomas Hochland escarpment, reaching onto sweeping vistas below.
One of the most enduring impressions of this area is the early morning light on the sea of vivid orange dunes of Sossusvlei, some as high as 300 metres. Afternoon activities include nature walks, drives to scenic viewpoints and marvelling at the unique Namib fauna and flora in the private Kulala Wilderness Reserve.
On the edge of the oldest desert in the world, wildlife here is sparse but fascinating. Sightings of animals such as springbok, gemsbok, ostrich, bat-eared fox and aardwolf are exciting in these rugged conditions.
Kulala Wilderness Camp lies at the foot of a mountain facing west to catch the majestic Namibian sunsets. It comprises 9 tents on elevated wooden decks which are linked to the main dining room, bar, reception area and swimming pool by pathways.
Travel 280km by road north-west via the Kuiseb Canyon with its dark, craggy canyons and via a moon-like landscape of flat gravel plains (with stops along the way that include viewing the extraordinary Welwitschia plants). We arrive at the grand Hansa Hotel in Swakopmund in the late afternoon.
On our second day we explore the ice-blue Atlantic coast, from the port towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund to its incredible marine mammals. A private boat cruise at Walvis Bay and down the coast to Sandwich Harbour (weather permitting) provides a unique chance to see the diverse pelagic (ocean-going) birdlife, Cape fur seals and rare Heaviside's dolphins up close. This activity is rounded off with a private seafood lunch, before returning to the hotel in the afternoon. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure before meeting in the evening for dinner.
The grand three-star Hansa Hotel forms part of Swakopmund's architectural culture and dates back to 1905; it is said to be one of the oldest buildings in the town.
Travel approximately 280km, partly up the legendary Skeleton Coast (named for the numerous shipwrecks the treacherous shores have claimed over the years) to the Cape Cross seal colony with thousands of Cape fur seals. (We'll visit Cape Cross only if we have not seen large populations of seals on the boat cruise from Walvis Bay.) From here we drive the back roads through the game productive Ugab riverbed, travelling north past the Brandberg Mountain - the second largest monolith on earth - to Damaraland. This all-day excursion with lunch en route ends with our arrival at Damaraland Camp
Damaraland is a land of stark desert beauty. 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 canyons, providing sustenance to the flora and fauna of the region. Rare succulent plants abound in this harsh countryside. Our activities include explorations on foot, by mountain bike or 4x4 vehicles, viewing springbok, gemsbok and ostrich, and tracking the unique desert-adapted elephant..
Damaraland Camp accommodates guests in 10 comfortable tented rooms, with en-suite facilities including flush toilets and showers with hot and cold running water. (Laundry facilities are limited due to the low rainfall in the area).
We depart Damaraland Camp and drive into the Huab riverbed to search for desert-adapted elephants, before heading north to the mountainous and rocky paradise of the massive Palmwag Concession.
Desert Rhino Camp is situated in the enormous private Palmwag Reserve in north-west Namibia, between Etosha and the Skeleton Coast - few places on the planet can offer this level of privacy and wilderness experience.
This reserve has a number of freshwater springs that support healthy populations of animals including desert-adapted back rhino and elephant as well as large populations of the rare Hartmann's mountain zebra, giraffe, gemsbok, springbok and kudu. The predator population is the largest outside of the Etosha National Park including lion, cheetah, leopard, and brown and spotted hyaena. Bird life is prolific and diverse featuring most of Namibia's endemics. Welwitschia plants (ancient and highly unusual succulents) dot the plain in front of the camp. The speciality of the area is its growing population of the rare desert-adapted black rhino (the largest concentration in the world outside a national park), which are monitored and protected by the Save the Rhino Trust.
Desert Rhino Camp accommodates guests in 7 large East African-style Meru tents, each with an en-suite bathroom and a classic bucket shower that is filled with hot water whenever needed.
We depart Palmwag eastward on an extended combination wildlife viewing (first part of the drive) and transfer drive of approximately 350km to Etosha National Park, where we experience the pinnacle of game viewing - but accommodated in the privacy of an exclusive bush camp situated on an extensive private game reserve, Ongava, just on the outside of Etosha.
Activities include day and night drives, walks and hides. Within Etosha we visit numerous perennial springs and pans, encountering a myriad of differing species.
Ongava Tented Camp comprises 10 large comfortable walk-in tents, each with en-suite facilities, including flush toilet and a hot shower. All meals are enjoyed in the thatched dining area that overlooks an active waterhole.
Enjoy a breathtaking scenic flight over dramatic desert landscapes to the exclusive Skeleton Coast Research Camp situated in a private concession in the Skeleton Coast Park.
This is one of the most inhospitable but hauntingly beautiful places on the planet: desolate and uninhabited. It has everything, from roaring sand dunes, windswept plains, towering canyons and saltpans to seal colonies and shipwrecks. Full-day explorations in 4x4 Land Rovers will take all these in, picnicking on the way. Included are cultural visits to the remote villages of the Himba people.
Skeleton Coast Research Camp comprises 5 Meru-style tents nestled between granite rocks. Surrounded by pure wilderness, this camp is truly remote and the perfect setting for a serviced style of camping.
Say farewell to the adventure as we return by air charter to Windhoek, arriving at approximately 4pm late afternoon.