Day 1: Windhoek – Kalahari (270 km) (LD)
You will be collected at your Windhoek accommodation between 09H00 & 09h30. We start our journey south on the main highway, travelling through the thin strip of the Kalahari Desert that protrudes onto the eastern side of Namibia. Stopping at small towns along the way including Rehoboth, the traditional home of the Baster people and on to Kalkrand where you bid the main road farewell and head off into the Kalahari. The Kalahari Desert often surprises people when they first see it. It is very different from Namib. First of all, remember that the Kalahari is not a desert. It receives more rain than a true desert should. The Kalahari is a fossil desert. Don’t expect to find tall Sossusvlei-style dunes devoid of greenery here. The Kalahari’s dunes are very different. They are often equally beautiful, but usually greener and less stark – and with this vegetation comes its ability to support more flora and fauna than a true desert. Kalahari Anib Lodge is located 30 km northeast of Mariental on the C 20 (Kalahari). Savour the Kalahari Desert at this easily accessible lodge. 30 standard rooms flank a shady courtyard, with another 22 comforts overlooking the Kalahari savannah. Stretch your legs on the walks and join the afternoon drive to experience the red Kalahari sands aglow with an inner fire.
Day 2: Kalahari – Fish River Canyon area (400 km) (BLD)
An early morning departure to the town of Mariental and south to Keetmanshoop. Just outside the town, you have the opportunity of visiting the Mesosaurus Fossil Site. We travel via the town of Keetmanshoop for overnight camping in the Fish River area. Here you have the opportunity of seeing the Quivertree. Quiver trees are not in fact trees, they are a type of aloe, (Aloe dichotoma), so called because the branches fork “dichotomously”. These weird-looking plants dot the landscape in this part of the world and are locally common, however, they are one of the world’s rarest flora species.
Continue to the Canyon Roadhouse for the overnight. Due to its elaborate décor Canyon Roadhouse has acquired a sort of cult status in Namibia: the good old days of the automobile are celebrated in the theme restaurant and bar. Enjoy a slice of the legendary Amarula cheesecake among coachwork arranged with loving care. The geology, flora, fauna and history of the area are explained on display boards at the Canyon Information Centre. Situated directly on the road to the Fish River Canyon, 14 km from the gate to the viewing points, Canyon Roadhouse offers 24 immaculate en-suite rooms with air conditioning, a swimming pool and a petrol station.
Day 3: Fish River area – Luderitz (430 km) (BL) (Accommodation)
The Fish River Canyon in Namibia is (allegedly) the 2nd largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon. The immensity of this magnificent landscape is truly breathtaking. The towering rock faces and deep ravines were formed by water erosion and the collapse of the valley due to movements in the earth’s crust over 500 million years ago. Today the canyon measures 160km long up to 27km wide and almost 550m at its deepest. It is fair to say that when you arrive at the canyon though, its exact location is a bit of a mystery as the 500m vertical drop from the flat dry plateau is completely out of view. Early-morning we head to the main viewpoint where we can see how impressive this canyon is. This is an ideal opportunity for photos and to spend some time experiencing this amazing sight. Viewing from the top we can see the river sparkling in the sunlight far below us, and can barely imagine how many millennia it took for the forces of erosion to carve such a magnificent vista. Time to pack up and move on to our next destination, the coastal town of Lüderitz where its colonial-style buildings cling to the rocks overlooking the bay, on some days a deep iridescent blue, on others grey and stormy, the crisp fresh climate, fishing boats bobbing up and down on the Atlantic horizon, penguins and seals diving beneath the waves, give the town a curious other-worldly allure. We aim to arrive at the Nest Hotel in the late afternoon. Dinner will be at the client’s own expense tonight.
There is time to join an optional extra excursion, a marine trip, take a cruise around Luderitz bay and, weather permitting, to Halifax Island to see the Jackass Penguins. N.B: The boat cruise is subject to availability and, if undertaken, will be at the client's own risk and expense. Time to explore Luderitz Town with its traditional German architecture and later we will take a drive out to Diaz Point to see the bird life, hopefully, a few seals and the stone cross replica, originally erected by the Portuguese mariner Bartholomew Diaz. Straight after the marine trip, we drive out to Kolmanskop, a desert ghost town about 20 km out of Luderitz. It was built in the 1920s during the diamond rush and was abandoned when bigger and better diamonds were found further along the coast. The area is still abandoned and the desert has encroached over the entire town, giving an eerie feeling and real meaning to the word “ghost”.
Day 5: Luderitz – Sesriem area (125 km) (FB) (accommodation)
Turning north, we once again head deep into ancient southern Namib, travelling on small gravel roads and passing some tiny rural communities along the way. The scenery is harsh, and sometimes forbidding. The process of erosion in these areas is well advanced and we pass time rounded “koppies” arid terrain and outcrops of tortured rock. Traversing this bleak yet beautiful landscape, the terrain begins to change and we cross some open grass savannah and farmlands before the terrain begins to give way to the immense red dune desert of Namib. We aim to arrive at our lodge during the late afternoon and watch the colours glow and change on distant mountains to the east.
Day 6: Sossusvlei Lodge, Sossusvlei (or Similar)
A pre-dawn start is essential this morning as we want to catch the soft light of the sunrise in the desert. After passing through Sesriem, the gateway to the dunes, we head into the heart of the dune field, reaching Sossusvlei on foot, and trekking the last 5 km through the dunes. Landscape photo opportunities abound in the cool of the morning, with dawn’s soft light first illuminating the dunes from crest down the back slope, then blazing orange everywhere, creating a powerful contrasting vista across the whole desert. Ancient mineral pans, stunted camel thorn trees and the chance of seeing a gemsbok or ostrich make it essential to remember your camera!
We spend the morning in and around Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, also visiting dune 45. Sossusvlei is where you will find the iconic red dunes of Namib. The clear blue skies contrast with the giant red sand dunes to make this one of the natural wonders of Africa and a photographer's heaven.
The ancient clay pan at Deadvlei was once an oasis, studded with acacias and fed by a river that suddenly changed course, leaving the earth to dry up along with the trees it previously supported. So dry were the climatic conditions that the trees never decomposed – instead they were entirely leached of moisture so that today, 900 years later, they remain as desiccated, blackened sentinels dotting the pan’s cracked surface. Surrounded by the red-pink dunes of the Namibia Desert, they create a surreal spectacle that is a photographer’s dream.
Dune 45 is renowned for its elegant shape, which – along with its position close to the road – has earned it the distinction of ‘most photographed dune in the world’. If you’re not keen on the strenuous hike to the top of Big Daddy, Dune 45 is a more forgiving alternative, standing at only 80 metres and featuring a much gentler gradient.
As the day wears on we return to Sesriem for lunch, escaping the heat of the afternoon. As the day cools off in the late afternoon we will take a short excursion to the Sesriem Canyon. Sesriem Canyon, a deep chasm carved through the rocks by water, is a striking natural feature of the area that is best explored on foot. Stony walls rise sharply on both sides of the canyon, while birds roost in its crags and lizards dart along the ledges. The canyon’s name was coined when early settlers used it as a water source, using six lengths of leather (‘ses riem – six thongs) tied together to lower buckets into the water at the base of the canyon. Return to the lodge for the overnight.
Day 7: Sesriem – Windhoek (370 km) (BL)
After breakfast, we begin our journey, over the mountains and along scenic roads, back to Windhoek. We will travel over the Naukluft Mountains and also the Khomas Hochland Range, through beautiful mountain passes on our way back to civilization. We are due back into the city after 16:00 and you will be dropped off at your accommodation on our return.