London – Johannesburg – Windhoek
You fly from Heathrow in the evening, arriving at Johannesburg the next morning to connect with your onward flight to Windhoek. You’ll land in the early afternoon, where you’ll be met and driven to your stylish boutique hotel.
Stay: One night in a premier suite at the Olive Exclusive – bed & breakfast
You’ve seen the stunning photographs of the Namib Desert with its vast dunes carved by the wind – and now it’s time to experience it for yourself and take your own photographs. This morning you will take a light aircraft flight to Sossusvlei and your mountain-cradled lodge in the heart of the desert, overlooking the awe-inspiring dunes and rugged outcrops.
You’ll be able to venture into the desert on quad bikes and in open 4×4 safari vehicles, or in air conditioned luxury to explore Sossusvlei and the Sesriem Canyon. Guided nature walks, star gazing expeditions and desert picnics will reveal even more of this astonishing region. Opt for a hot air balloon ride or flight safari for a different perspective of this incredible landscape.
Stay: Three nights in a double suite at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge – full board
Now you fly off to one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines. Stretching from the south of Namibia up into Angola, the Skeleton Coast and its hinterland is a region of haunting beauty, a vast area of rolling sand dunes, uninhabited desert plains, fossil beds, desert-adapted animals and strange vegetation.
Your lodge is set in a wide valley in the private Palmwag Concession, adjacent to the Skeleton Coast National Park. The diversity of wildlife is incredible, with unique species like Hartmann’s mountain zebra, kudu, meerkat, ground squirrels and black-backed jackal found here. Big cats like leopard, lion and cheetah are also occasionally spotted. The concession boasts the largest population of free-roaming desert-adapted black rhino in Africa, whilst huge colonies of Cape fur seals can be seen along the coast. In addition to game drives and walks, why not take a day trip to the Skeleton Coast to experience the beauty of this rugged coastline dotted with shipwrecks.
Stay: Three nights in a double room at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp – full board
Today you’ll fly to Serra Cafema for some serious wildlife and landscape viewing. You’ll be staying in the heart of Damaraland close to the Kunene River that forms the border between Namibia and Angola. It’s a fascinating area where the flat desert scrub is transformed – almost before your eyes – by the seasonal rains.
You’ll meet the traditional nomadic Himba people and see fairy circles as well as herds of gemsbok, springbok and mountain zebra. Not to mention great colonies of Nile crocodiles and exotic birds like Burchell’s courser and the Benguela long-billed lark. And you’ll be staying in a remote safari camp on the banks of the Kunene River, giving you a sense of adventure amidst a region of bizarre moonscapes and eye-stretching mountain views. Enjoy boating along the river, insightful nature drives and hiking in the valleys.
Stay: Two nights in a double room at Serra Cafema Camp – full board
Your exploration of Namibia’s Kunene region continues at Desert Rhino Camp, a property operated in conjunction with Save the Rhino Trust. As well as a thriving population of black rhino, the area’s freshwater springs support desert-adapted elephant, giraffe, gemsbok, springbok, kudu and predators like lion, leopard, brown and spotted hyena. The birdlife is rich and diverse, with many endemic species to be spotted. You have the unmissable opportunity to track rhinos on foot, take day and night game drives as well as picnics out in the bush, all in the company of knowledgeable guides who will give you an amazing insight into the region’s wondrous ecosystem.
Stay: Two nights in a double tented room at Desert Rhino Camp – full board
Your next flight will take you to Etosha where you’ll be met by your guide and shown to your lodge in the exclusive Ongava Game Reserve, bordering the 20,000 sq km of Etosha National Park. This incredibly game-rich savannah includes Africa’s largest saltpan, the remains of an ancient super-lake and offers you unrivalled opportunities to observe big cats like lions and leopards as well as herbivores like elephants, hippos, giraffe, red hartebeest, and the endemic black-faced impala. On the rolling plains game like wildebeest, zebra, greater kudu and springbok – as well as a parade of bird species – will show off for your camera.
Wildlife roam freely between the park and reserve, offering some truly incredible encounters close to camp. This is one of only few game reserves in southern Africa where it’s possible to see both black and white rhino, with the opportunity for rhino tracking on foot.
Stay: Three nights in a double suite at Little Ongava Camp – full board
Windhoek – Johannesburg - London
Your final light aircraft flight brings you back to Windhoek where you’ll board your flight to Johannesburg. There you will meet your connecting flight to London, landing early the following morning.
It was a great experience and now I have dipped my toes in the Ultimate waters I shall be back for more.- JE, October 2014