Desert & Dune 14 day Guided Exploration Wilderness Tour

NAMIBIA DESERT & DUNE GUIDED EXPLORATION WILDERNESS TOURS
13 NIGHTS/ 14 DAYS
Start Windhoek / End Windhoek

Your journey: Namibia is a land of stunning landscapes, endless skies, barren deserts, rugged mountains and spectacular wildlife. This Exploration explores some of the most remote areas of this fascinating land; areas that have been rarely explored by others, making this a true journey of discovery. Like any trip to Namibia, the dunes of Sossusvlei are not to be missed and we therefore begin our journey here. We continue to Swakopmund to take in the amazing marine life just offshore, then on to the secluded and dramatic coastline of the Skeleton Coast littered with historic remnants of shipwrecks and the rugged and rocky landscape of Palmwag where the last free-roaming black rhino rove. The activities provide a wide range of differing experiences, from a dolphin cruise with a private beach lunch, to tracking rhino and climbing the Namib’s great dunes. Most of the journey is by road, but well-timed stops at local highlights, refreshments, snacks and lunches (where appropriate) all help to ensure optimal comfort. A highlight is meeting the local people of Namibia, many of whom work in the camps, while others you will have a chance to meet along the road, such as local fishermen and vendors.

Your guide: Our Explorations Tours are led by highly skilled and qualified professional guides with an incredible passion for the natural regions in which they work and a vast knowledge of the natural world, history and culture of Namibia. Sharing the adventure and guiding you on this journey of discovery is both a profession and a personal hobby. Many of our guides are also skilled photographers and can assist you in taking away amazing wildlife photographs. Your guide will host you for the duration of safari, providing you with a consistent, detailed interpretation that is shaped to your specific interests.

Highlights
• The contrasting areas of Sossusvlei, Skeleton Coast, Palmwag Concession and Etosha are explored in depth.
• The ultimate Skeleton Coast experience (subject to weather conditions) including remains of shipwrecks, Cape fur seal colonies and other desert-adapted wildlife.
• Accommodation includes a range of camps in private areas.
• Exceptionally varied activities, including day and night, sea and land-based wildlife viewing, as well as flying, driving, and boating.
• Other unique excursions include rhino tracking, meeting Damara people, motorboat trip at Walvis Bay
• We travel by land when the journey is enhanced; otherwise travelling is done by air.

YOUR ITINERARY

Day 1
Windhoek International Airport
You will be met by your Explorations guide and begin your journey by driving through the Khomas Hochland mountains and down into the dune-filled Sossusvlei region, a driving time of approximately five to six hours (330 kilometres / 205 miles). Lunch will be enjoyed en route.

Day 1, 2
2 nights Kulala Desert Lodge, Kulala Wilderness Reserve
Explore the famous red dunes of Sossusvlei and our 37 000-hectare private reserve where you will discover life in one of the world’s oldest and most arid deserts.

Day 3, 4
2 nights Hansa Hotel, Swakopmund
Depart camp early and drive through the snaking roads of the Kuiseb Canyon and out onto the expansive gravel plains, eventually arriving in Walvis Bay before moving north into the quaint town of Swakopmund, a drive of about 5 – 6 hours (approximately 370 km / 230 miles).

Discover the town of Swakopmund and bed down in an iconic hotel that forms part of city’s architectural culture.

“Dolphin and Seal” Cruise
On Day 4, we explore the ice-blue Atlantic coast with a “Dolphin and Seal” catamaran cruise from Walvis Bay (weather permitting).

Day 5
1 night Damaraland Camp, Damaraland
We continue our journey by road for approximately 5 hours (280 kilometres / 174 miles) partly up the legendary Skeleton Coast (named for the numerous shipwrecks the treacherous shores have claimed over the years). 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.

A land of stark beauty, the area boasts a varied assortment of desert-adapted wildlife and incredible geological formations

Day 6, 7
2 nights Desert Rhino Camp, Damaraland
We 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.

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 Save the Rhino Trust.

Day 8, 9
2 nights Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, Palmwag Concession
This morning we drive to Doro Nawas airstrip for our light aircraft transfer to Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp.

A land of rugged scenery, this remote part of Namibia is famed for plant and animal life that has adapted superbly to the harsh environment of mountains, vast plains, dunes and dry riverbeds.

Day 10,11,12
3 nights Ongava Game Lodge, Ongava Game Reserve (Etosha)
We fly to Doro Nawas airstrip this morning before driving to Ongava Game Reserve on the boundary of Etosha National Park.

Etosha remains the highest density wildlife area within Namibia, its fame justly acknowledged. Our stay here will allow us time to explore both Etosha National Park as well as the Ongava Game Reserve.

Day 13
Driving 420 kilometres (260 miles) south, we return to Windhoek at 13h00 and bid farewell to our adventure.

DETAILED CAMP INFORMATION

Kulala Desert Lodge – Kulala Wilderness Reserve
Adventures Camp

As the perfect gateway to the impressive sights of Sossusvlei, Kulala Desert Lodge is a favourite among travellers. Magnificent views of dunes, mountains and vast open plains will be the setting of your stay. The camp comprises 23 en-suite thatched and canvas ‘kulalas’ each with a veranda for you to enjoy the outstanding scenery. On balmy nights, sleep under the clear night skies on your rooftop and awaken to the rising sun. By day, enjoy our activities or spot desert-adapted wildlife from our lounge and dining area overlooking a waterhole. To escape the midday heat a cooling plunge pool provides the ideal sanctuary.

Did you know?
• Kulala Desert Lodge is in the private Kulala Wilderness Reserve, the result of a rehabilitation project that aimed to return this land, previously used for farming, to its former natural aspect.
• Sossusvlei is situated within the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world, characterised by huge dunes and flat valley floors.
• To showcase this vast and impressive landscape, we offer nature drives, walking, quad biking, horse riding and ballooning (last three at extra cost).
• You can witness sparsely distributed desert-adapted wildlife such as ostrich, springbok, oryx, spotted and brown hyaena, and bat-eared fox.
• One of the many fascinating bird species, the dune lark, has its entire global distribution limited to the area.

Included: All meals, daily activities, laundry and drinks (excluding premium import brands)

Hansa Hotel, Swakopmund

Namibia’s oldest hotel, and consistently one of the best, the Hansa has retained its 100-year-old charm while providing present-day service and comfort. The bedrooms are spacious and tastefully appointed, with a blend of modern luxury and antique décor. Interesting photographs from the past adorn the walls along the carpeted passages. A short walk will bring you to the heated Olympic-sized indoor public swimming pool, the museum, lighthouse and Kristall Galerie, as well as several good restaurants if you wish to try an alternative to the Hansa’s tasty fare.

Included: Bed, breakfast and one dinner (excludes dinner on the second night).

‘Dolphin and Seal’ Catamaran Cruise

Highlights
• The catamaran cruise (weather permitting) provides a wonderful opportunity to explore this beautiful bay and coastline.
• Learn about the oysters cultivated in the bay.
• Spot wildlife from the boat including dolphins, seals, birdlife and perhaps even turtles and whales, depending on the season.
• Taste some of fantastic seafood delicacies of the area.

We explore the ice-blue Atlantic coast and its incredible marine mammals, from the port towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. The cruise takes in the Oyster Platforms, where we learn about the oysters cultivated here – including tasting the delicacies – before moving on to Pelican Point to see the lighthouse, and an area in which three species of dolphins may be encountered, namely the rare endemic Heaviside’s dolphin, dusky and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Aside from spotting diverse pelagic (ocean-going) birds, pelicans, flamingos, and Cape fur seals, the massive sunfish, leatherback turtles, southern right and humpback whales can be seen in season. This activity is rounded off with a private seafood lunch, before returning to the hotel in the late afternoon.

Damaraland Camp – Kunene – Torra Conservancy
Classic Camp
Set in the Huab River valley, Damaraland Camp is situated in arguably one of the most pristine wilderness areas in Namibia. Endless vistas across stark plains, ancient valleys and stunning ochre-purple mountains will be the backdrop during your stay. Our staff will invite you into one of ten large adobe-style thatched units raised off the ground for sensational vistas. Each includes a walk-in dressing room, en-suite facilities and a deck from which to contemplate the desert. Entertainment while at camp will be in our spacious living area complete with a swimming pool. An open campfire will keep you warm and you can dine traditionally in our boma under clear night skies.

Did you know?
• The Torra Conservancy is one of the driest, most desolate yet beautiful regions in all Africa. Its landscape is characterised by dramatic hills interspersed with sweeping valleys and ephemeral riverbeds.
• Game drives, guided walks and cultural visits will make up your activities here.
• Despite its aridity, a surprisingly high diversity of wildlife is found here, including the fascinating desert-adapted elephant, giraffe, gemsbok, springbok and occasional cheetah.
• Birding is excellent with White-tailed Shrike and Benguela Long-billed Lark common finds.

Included: All meals, daily activities, laundry and drinks (excluding premium import brands)

Desert Rhino Camp – Kunene – Palmwag Concession
Classic Camp

At Desert Rhino Camp you will take part in a thrilling and exclusive conservation success story. Tracking Africa’s unique and endangered desert-adapted black rhino is an unforgettable experience. To set the scene, you will be shown into one of the eight en-suite Meru-style tents elevated off the ground. You can absorb the panoramic views over the rolling, rocky hills beyond from the privacy of your veranda. Full day excursions are on offer; otherwise, between activities, relax in our tented living area. Evening meals are taken around the fire pit. As a wonderland of unusual plant life, fascinating wildlife and sparse wilderness, Desert Rhino is begging to be explored.

Did you know?
• We work closely with Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) which is almost singlehandedly responsible for the preservation of desert-adapted rhino in the area. A portion of guest revenue goes to SRT.
• The impressive flat-topped Etendeka Mountains dominate the scenery. Dry river-courses like the Uniab River cut through the rocky landscape below, dotted with odd-shaped bottle tree, ancient leadwoods and unique Welwitschias.
• Other than tracking rhino, you can fill your days with game drives, walks and cultural visits.
• Along with the rhino you may see desert-adapted elephant, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe, gemsbok and kudu as well as cheetah, leopard and spotted hyaena.
• Birdlife is varied with endemics such as Bokmakierie and Ruppell’s Korhaan

Included: All meals, daily activities, laundry and drinks (excluding premium import brands)

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp – Palmwag Concession (north)
Classic Camp

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is located on the Hoanib River in the northern part of the private Palmwag Concession. Its location thus straddles the Palmwag area and Skeleton Coast National Park, in one of the most remote areas of the Kaokoveld. Exclusivity is taken a step further as the camp comprises only seven twin-bedded tents and one family unit. The camp looks out over stunning yet rugged scenery and offers you all the luxuries and amenities needed for an unforgettable stay. A bewitching and splendid part of the planet, you can unravel the enigmatic history of the original Strandlopers (Beachcombers), their stone circles lying in hidden valleys, studying the ancient Welwitschia plant, viewing the herds of desert-adapted wildlife, to savouring the endless landscapes unfolding – untouched – for hundreds of kilometres.

Did you know?
• The area has a historic coastline, mountains, vast plains, and dry riverbeds inhabited by incredible desert-adapted plant and animal life.
• Despite the arid environs, there is a chance of seeing desert-adapted wildlife on day activities from camp.
• Other activities include nature walks, game drives, dune drives, use of hides, exploratory day excursions with picnic lunches and coastal visits (weather permitting).
• Set in one of the most fragile ecosystems in the world, the camp is eco-friendly and has minimal impact on the environment. Furthermore an in-house training programme ensures that the local communities are empowered and able to contribute to sustainable development of their areas.

Included: All meals, daily activities, laundry and drinks (excluding premium import brands)

Ongava Lodge, Ongava Game Reserve
Set on the slopes of the unpronounceable Ondundozonanandana Mountain, Ongava Lodge overlooks a productive waterhole and the impressive landscape beyond. Settle into one of the 14 en-suite chalets built within a web of mopane trees with a deck stretching out over the vast plains. In between activities, refreshments will be served in the thatched main area or at the swimming pool. In the evenings, dining under the stars while being entertained by wildlife at the waterhole will become a favourite pastime. Situated within its own private reserve, only a stone’s throw from the world-famous Etosha National Park, you can look forward to a fascinating journey with us.

Did you know?
• Ongava Game Reserve was formed in 1991, when its shareholders converted four unproductive cattle ranches into a highly productive reserve, now home to large concentrations of wildlife.
• Etosha National Park takes its name from the world-famous Etosha Pan, one of the largest saltpans in the region. Around the pan, the topography ranges from broad swathes of mopane and tall tree canopies of woodland to open plains and dolomite hills.
• Game drives in both reserves will display a wide complement of wildlife including black-faced impala. Their predators, in particular lion, are never far away.
• Ongava is home to one of the largest black and white rhino populations in Namibia thanks to a successful reintroduction programme.
• Bird life is prolific with 340 species recorded.

Included: All meals, daily activities, laundry and drinks (excluding premium import brands)

At Desert Rhino Camp, you can take part in a thrilling and exclusive conservation success story. Tracking Africa’s unique and endangered desert-adapted black rhino is an unforgettable experience. To set the scene, you will be shown into one of the eight en-suite Meru-style tents elevated off the ground. You can absorb the panoramic views over the rolling, rocky hills beyond from the privacy of your veranda. Full-day excursions are on offer; otherwise, between activities, relax in our tented living area. Evening meals are taken around the fire pit. As a wonderland of unusual plant life, fascinating wildlife and sparse wilderness, Desert Rhino Camp is begging to be explored.

Did you know?
• We work closely with Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) which is almost singlehandedly responsible for the preservation of desert-adapted rhino in the area. A portion of guest revenue goes to SRT.
• The impressive flat-topped Etendeka Mountains dominate the scenery. Dry river-courses like the Uniab River cut through the rocky landscape below, dotted with odd-shaped bottle tree, ancient leadwoods and unique welwitschias.
• Tracking desert-adapted black rhino is the primary activity here, complemented by game drives, walks and relaxing in camp.
• Other wildlife to be seen includes desert-adapted elephant, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe, gemsbok and kudu as well as cheetah, leopard and spotted hyaena.
• Birdlife is varied with endemics such as bokmakierie and Ruppell’s korhaan.

Included: All meals, daily activities, laundry and drinks (excluding premium import brands)

IMPORTANT ADDITIONAL SAFARI NOTES
Private safari options: Tailored Explorations Tours are available on flexible dates, accommodation and itineraries, for groups of up to eight guests. These are also ideal for families or for small groups from four guests.

Exclusive experience: Most areas in which we travel are private concessions, whilst at the lodges and hotels en route, as well as light aircraft transfers we have the chance to meet other guests.

International air connection onto the safari: If arrival is planned for the day of the safari’s departure, please ensure that this is with the earliest possible international flight arrival, before 07h00. Arrival on a later flight may necessitate additional road or air transfers (as the main group’s departure for the first camp/lodge will already have taken place), subject to extra cost.

Please note that if the guest overnights in Windhoek on the night before the safari begins, they will be collected by the guide in the Explorations’ vehicle from the hotel they stayed at. If they arrive by flight on the day the safari commences, they will be collected from the airport.

International air connections leaving the safari: Please ensure that your departure flight is booked for after 15h30 from Windhoek. For earlier international departure flights, an additional transfer will be required to arrive for this connection, subject to extra cost.

Routes: To maximise guests’ travel time, a variety of travel modes that bring out the best of each area is used: flying in light aircraft charters and overland transfers provide both a bird’s-eye view and an in-depth experience of the contrasting landscapes of Namibia.

Air Transfers: For charter air transfers, only soft bags will be accepted – no frames or rigid structures. Wheels on a bag are only permissible if they are not part of a solid frame or rigid structure. Maximum luggage dimensions apply. Luggage restrictions guidelines are 20 kg (44 lb) per person in a soft bag including both check-in luggage and carry-on luggage (handbag, backpack, camera equipment, sleep apnoea machine etc.), and within the relevant dimensions.

We require the individual body weights of ALL guests prior to travel. Should weights not be provided in advance and additional aircraft need to be arranged on the day, clients will be liable for the relevant costs.

Flashlights/ torches: Please ensure that a compact LED flashlight is brought on safari, with spare batteries. Head lamps are also useful. Explorations does not supply flashlights.

Camera battery charging facilities: 110/ 220V outlets are available at the permanent lodges/hotels.

Dietary requirements and special occasions: Due to remote locality of these camps, please ensure that full dietary requirements and special occasions are advised at the time of your booking confirmation.

Note:  We highly recommend guests overnight in Windhoek the day before the safari and on the last day of their safari.