Namibia 2009 

A vast, arid land; home to a mere 2 million inhabitants, Namibia is Africa’s best-kept secret.  Starting in the capital city of Windhoek, we fly over the rugged Namibian Escarpment en route to the seemingly endless wilderness of the Namib Desert.  The legendary red dunes at Sossusvlei, the World’s highest at over 1,000 feet, offer our first taste of the desert, before we move northwards to the wilderness of the Kunene region and the infamous Skeleton Coast.  Here we base ourselves at two remote camps that provide access to this fascinating region, and its many attractions: dramatic landscapes, the nomadic Himba people, and desert wildlife, such as the endangered desert elephant.  

Day 01,          August 16th

Today you will fly from Kenya to Johannesburg (depending on your flights you will probably overnight in Johannesburg.  I recommend the Sun Intercontinental Hotel at the airport).

Day 02,          August 17th 

An early flight this morning brings you to Windhoek, Namibia’s capital, located at an altitude of about 5000ft.  To the east lies the great Kalahari Desert, to the west, the Khomas Hochland, a broken range of mountains dividing the highland interior from the Namibian coastal plain.  You will continue your journey by charter flight to Sossusvlei, and to your luxurious camp, beautifully located at the edge of the Namib dune sea, for a two night stay.  Overnight Little Kulala Lodge.

Day 03,          August 18th 

Your camp lies at the edge of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, with dramatic views across the world-famous red dunes of Sossusvlei.  A morning visit to the legendary red dunes at Sossuvlei, the world’s highest sand-dunes, is a magical experience.  The dunes themselves, with their contrasting shadows, saturated colours and elegant, wind-created patterns, are a photographer’s dream.  The strange croaking calls of Rueppell’s bustards herald the new day, while handsome dune larks scuttle between golden grass clumps and, with luck, you may even be treated to the classic spectacle of an oryx making its stately progress across the dunes.  While you are here you will search for other desert denizens, which may include springbok, black-backed jackal or the peculiar bat-eared fox.  Night skies in the Namib are amongst the most vivid anywhere, and special bedrolls on the chalet rooftops allow for a full night’s star-gazing for any budding astronomers.  Overnight Little Kulala Lodge.

Day 04,          August 19th 

This morning you fly north to Serra Cafema, situated on the banks of the Cunene River overlooking Angola.  One of the most remote camps in Southern Africa, Serra Cafema boasts spectacular natural beauty and unique plants and animals found nowhere else in the region.  Overnight Serra Cafema Camp.

Days 05 & 06,          August 20th & 21st

The Cunene River carries water from the Angolan highlands, across one of the driest deserts on Earth. Ground water supports a lush, green, linear oasis, and sand from the river forms a constantly shifting dune field. During your time at Serra  Cafema you will explore this dramatic landscape of canyons, sand dunes and riverine forest by boat, 4 X 4 vehicles, and on foot.  The scenic beauty of this area is its main attraction, though you will also watch for herds of oryx and springbok dotting the plains, look for Cunene crocodiles while you float down down the Cunene River, and search for some of the unusual reptiles of the area, which include giant plated lizard, the multi-coloured Namibian rock agama, and the rare Anchieta’s dwarf python.  Serra Cafema is also justly famous for its birdlife.  Rosy-faced lovebirds nest in the surrounding rocky hillsides, whilst vegetable-ivory palms along the river below camp are home to the attractive rufous-tailed palm-thrush.  The tall, riverine forest also supports Meyer’s parrots, violet wood-hoopoes, and the highly localised Cinderella waxbill.  The camp is also occasionally visited by small family groups of colourful Himba people as they move their herds of goats to areas of fresh grazing.  One of Africa’s last remaining truly nomadic tribes, the Himba survive in this harsh environment, living in simple “beehive” huts of stick and animal hide.  These encounters will give us the opportunity to learn about the traditions and lifestyles of these fascinating people.  Overnights Serra Cafema Camp.

Day 07,          August 22nd 

This morning you fly northwards to Skeleton Coast Camp, in the heart of the Skeleton Coast National Park.  The infamous Skeleton Coast is one of the world’s most treacherous stretches of coastline.  Dozens of ships have met their end on this foggy shore, while their sailors met their ends in the inhospitable interior.  Fortunately, your welcome here will be much warmer!   Overnight Skeleton Coast Camp.

Days 08, 09, 10,       August 23rd, 24th, 25th  

The Skeleton Coast National Park is a harsh, but hauntingly beautiful place.  Wild, desolate and uninhabited.  It has everything from roaring sand dunes and windswept plains, to towering canyons and saltpans, and even one of the most productive fishing grounds anywhere.  Freshwater springs permeate through barren sands to create rare oases in the desert that sustain pockets of wildlife.  Springbok, oryx, the rare desert elephant, ostrich, Cape fur seals, jackal and the elusive brown hyaena eke out an existence in this rugged terrain, along with unique vegetation, like the ancient welwitschia plant and lithops, the succulant “flowering stones”, which have adapted to the harsh conditions.  The arid desert environment in the Skeleton Coast is within the northern reaches of the Namib Desert.  The Benguela current brings cold waters all the way from Antarctica and helps to moderate temperatures.  The cool air off the ocean meets the hotter desert air and, nearly every morning, a cool mist envelops the coastline, bringing life-sustaining moisture to the desert.  By mid-morning the sun’s rays have burnt this mist off.  Excursions may include visits to the clay castles of the Hoarusib River, Rocky Point, the roaring dunes, lichen fields, seal colonies, Himba villages, shipwreck sites and secret water seeps that attract wildlife to their life-giving waters.  Walking also plays a part in the activities since, due to the pristine nature of this area, many parts are accessible only on foot, as vehicle tracks can damage the environment.  Overnights Skeleton Coast Camp.

Day 11,          August 26th

After some last exploration of the Skeleton Coast, your charter plane flies you back to Windhoek to connect with your homeward flights.

 

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