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Namibia Desert Extension

Itinerary

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Day 1: Windhoek, Namibia
Our Namibia desert extension begins in Windhoek, the country's capital and largest city. Modern and walkable, Windhoek exudes an urban African flair and a relaxed sense of European cafe culture, including a lively pedestrian district with busy shops and market stalls. As the former colonial capital of German South-West Africa, the city skyline intersperses historic castles and cathedral spires with contemporary glass skyscrapers. The city's German heritage lingers in the language and cuisine as well. You are met on arrival and transferred to tranquil lodgings for a luxurious respite in this bustling city surrounded by rolling mountains.

Days 2 & 3: Private Kulala Wilderness Reserve—Sossusvlei Sand Dunes
This morning, fly to the private Kulala Wilderness Reserve at the edge of Namibia’s great sand sea to explore Sossusvlei, a vast clay pan surrounded by some of the world's tallest sand dunes. Soaring a thousand feet above the Namib Desert floor, these shape-shifting mountains of golden sand are framed by deep blue skies to create one of Africa’s most dramatic landscapes. The word namib in the Nama language means “vast,” an apt name for this ancient arid expanse—the world’s oldest desert. The pans themselves resemble moonscapes—yet this stark, arid environment is surprisingly full of life. Sossusvlei is home to a variety of desert-adapted animals, including ostrich, springbok and gemsbok. Occasionally you may spot hyena or the rare dune lark endemic to this area, as well as nocturnal creatures like bat-eared fox, Cape fox, black-backed jackal, porcupine and aardwolf.

Kulala Wilderness Reserve encompasses more than 90,000 acres of scenic landscapes and mysterious geology. Explore the contrasts on 4x4 drives and guided walks on remote trails along dunes and dry riverbeds where insects, reptiles and rodents reside. Enjoy a late afternoon drive with a sundowner stop at that magical hour when the dunes appear burnt orange and deep carnelian red. Retreat to Sesriem Canyon, a cool, moist place within this stark environment, or Dead Vlei, a neighboring pan where water once flowed and eerie tree skeletons linger. In the twisted and narrow labyrinth of Sesriem Canyon, see where water over millions of years carved its way through the sedimentary layers and left a cool sandy bottom for exploration. Float above the Kulala reserve in a hot air balloon, complete with champagne breakfast upon landing, or traverse its expanse on quad bike (additional fees for balloon and quad bike trips).

Days 4–6: Damaraland
Fly to the rugged Damaraland region in Namibia’s northwest desert. Here, we find the Torra, Palmwag and Doro Nawas conservancies in the Huab River Valley, one of Namibia’s most pristine wilderness areas. The granite Brandberg Mountains tower over deep gorges, sun-baked sand expanses and ancient petrified forests—and at night, some of the darkest, starriest skies on the planet glitter overhead. Dry riverbeds carve through deep gorges, creating ribbon-like valleys winding through the desolate terrain. Amid these arid wastes, we find some of the desert’s most captivating wildlife, including the famous desert-adapted elephant and black rhinoceros.

Today this landscape is home to the Nama, Damara, Riemvasmaaker and Herero people, but evidence of much older human presence is on display here at the Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site, a collection of ancient rock art reflecting 2,000 years of habitation with some 2,500 petroglyphs on 212 sandstone slabs. On the 1.1-million-acre Palmwag Reserve, track Africa’s largest population of endangered free-roaming black rhino among the scrubby vegetation—heading out on foot with guides from Save the Rhino Trust. On 4x4 drives and guided walks, particularly at the Damaraland and Hoanib camps, seek out the desert-adapted elephants that eke out an existence along the riverbeds by eating sparse local vegetation. If you choose Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, you’ll also visit fabled Skeleton Coast National Park. Its notorious shoreline is littered with shipwrecks and whale carcasses, noisy seal colonies, and unique forms of plant and insect life that thrive on the dense ocean fog that cloaks the coastal desert each dawn. Other wildlife in Damaraland includes gemsbok, springbok, greater kudu, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe, ostrich and sporadic predators such as lion, leopard, cheetah and both spotted and brown hyena, as well as more than 200 bird species.

Day 7: Windhoek / Depart
Your safari ends with a flight back to Windhoek today, where you meet onward flights.

Physical Rating: Easy to Moderate




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