Namibia Wildlife Safari: Namib Desert & More
Spanning a vast region in western Southern Africa, Namibia is a country that will appeal to any true nature lover for a variety of reasons, ranging from unique plant life such as Welwitschia mirabalis to spectacular arid scenery, unbeatable open spaces and a wealth of wildlife. This wildlife ranges from the unique Tenebrionid beetles of the Namib Desert to the Elephants of Etosha, which on average are the largest Elephants on the planet, and it's the wildlife that's the focus of this Namibia Natural History Tour.
The habitat diversity is also unique, ranging from Tropical Savannah along the Caprivi Strip to the dry Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world. During this Namibia Wildlife Safari, we’ll have the opportunity to explore the fascinating central region of the country, initially crossing over the mountains on our way to the world-renowned Sossusvlei, land of the famous towering sand dunes, before moving to the Atlantic coast and the quaint old German towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund.
From here the coastal road will take us up the Skeleton Coast past Cape Cross with its massive Cape Fur Seal colony and onwards through the interior past Twyfelfontein, one of the cultural centers of this country and home to magnificent Desert Elephants, before entering the legendary Etosha National Park for some of Africa’s best game viewing. Finally, we move on to the Erongo Mountains and Spitzkoppe, one of the most scenic regions to be found anywhere in Southern Africa, before ending off in Windhoek. There can be little doubt that what this country has to offer will be a highlight on any traveller’s schedule.
Top 5 highlights:
- Visit the desert wonderland of Sossusvlei, and see the massive sand dunes of the Namib Desert.
- Go on a 'Living Desert' tour in Swakopmund to see the unique creatures of the Namib dune sea.
- Track desert-adapted Elephants in the remote river beds of Damaraland.
- Experience classic African game viewing in Etosha.
- Wind down the tour in the wonder world of Erongo Wilderness Lodge.
Alternative Tour Name: Essential Namibia Wildlife
After arriving in Windhoek, the group will meet up and we’ll get the luggage loaded into the vehicle before embarking on a 45 minute drive through to our accommodation for the evening. The drive there will allow everyone to get a taste of the scenic wonder of this country, with Windhoek being surrounded by scenic ranges of dry boulder-strewn mountains, creating a rather striking setting. After getting settled in and having a bit of time to relax we’ll have an optional birding walk at a nearby site where we aim to locate several worthwhile species such as Damara Rockrunner, Dusky Sunbird, Chestnut-vented Warbler and Yellow-bellied Eremomela, whilst Cape Rock Hyrax and the colourful Namib Agama also may be seen sunning themselves on suitable rocky ledges during the late afternoon. From here we’ll return to our lodge for a well earned dinner and sleep before an exciting day to come.
We’ll be up relatively early and after a hearty breakfast we’ll make our way out of the sprawling capital, and before long will find ourselves off the beaten track as we undertake the long journey through the dry country west of Windhoek. The drive there will take up the majority of the day and we’ll take along a packed lunch for later in the day, although we’ll be more focused on locating a few interesting creatures such as magnificent Sociable Weavers and the Pygmy Falcons which share their haystack-like nests. Eventually we’ll reach the scenic Gamsberg Pass, where the road cuts through the imposing Hakos Mountains on our northern side, with Mount Gamsberg, one of the highest mountains in Namibia at 2347masl, to the south. Along the route we’ll also search for several mammals, including Chacma Baboon, Klipspringer and Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra in particular, a sub-species of Mountain Zebra restricted to Namibia and Southern Angola, whilst the fascinating Quiver Tree is fairly common along the rocky slopes. From here the road drops down onto the arid plains that stretch over a large region of Western Namibia, and we should see a corresponding change in species, with Ludwig’s Bustard and Rüppell’s Korhaan being found in the dry grassland, and Steenbok with their remarkable adaption to these dry areas being fairly common. From here we’ll start heading south through the town of Solitaire and on to our destination for the next two nights, Sossusvlei. Depending on the time we arrive, we may have a late afternoon stroll along the dry riverbed where we could locate Western Rock Elephant-Shrew and Dassie-Rat, whilst the evening a short stroll around the lodge is bound to surround us with the calls of Koch’s Barking Gecko and Spotted Barking Gecko, a unique sound to fall asleep to and a great way of ending the day.
We’ll have an early start today as we take our breakfast along with us for a half-day exploration of the renowned Sossusvlei, with its towering dunes enveloping the road and creating a striking setting. Along the way we may see a number of mammal species, with Damara Ground Squirrel, Gemsbok (Oryx) and Steenbok all being found here, whilst the dunes themselves hold an interesting mixture of Tenebrionid beetles that have evolved to exist in this superficially hostile landscape. The area also hosts some interesting bird species, and one we’ll specifically aim to locate is Dune Lark, Namibia’s only endemic bird species, whilst other birds we’ll keep a lookout for include Burchell’s Courser, Namaqua Sandgrouse and Ludwig’s Bustard. Once we reach the end of the road at Sossusvlei we’ll spend some time exploring the surroundings, strolling to both Sossusvlei itself and the very scenic Deadvlei where numerous dead Camel Thorns allow for wonderful photographic opportunities. Afterwards we’ll return to our lodge around mid-day for lunch and some time to relax during the hottest part of the day. Later the afternoon we’ll set out once more to visit some of the other scenic attractions of the region such as Sesriem Canyon and Elim dune, where the late afternoon light sets the desert alive with colour, before returning for dinner and some time admiring the incredibly clear skies that are a feature of this region.
We’ll have an early start to the day with a short stroll along the dry riverbed in front of camp before returning for breakfast and making our way across the barren plains towards the town of Swakopmund, where we’ll stay for the evening. Initially the drive there will cross the parched grassland that runs along the eastern edge of the Namib Desert, before we finally reach the Kuiseb Canyon, an imposing and hostile region, although the scenic beauty of it is bound to leave a lasting impression. From here our road takes us further and further into the desert itself, where we’ll keep our eyes open for the desert adapted Namaqua Chameleon, a remarkable species that manages to get enough moisture from the beetles on which it feeds. Eventually reaching the coastal town of Walvis Bay around mid-day, we’ll stop for lunch at one of the numerous restaurants overlooking the charming esplanade where we’ll have the chance to see a fantastic range of birds such as Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Common Ringed Plover, Common Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Caspian, Swift and Sandwich Tern, before we finally complete the last short section of the drive to Swakopmund where we’ll stay for the evening. After arriving we’ll have a short period to relax before grabbing our torches and setting off into the nearby dunes for a night walk where we’ll have the chance to locate some of the incredible species that often only become active during the cooler evenings. We may locate Web-footed Gecko, Common Barking Gecko, Peringuey’s Adder and Johanna’s (Namib) Golden Mole, before returning for dinner and a well earned rest.
Today we’ll have breakfast and then spend the first half of today focussing our attentions on some of the smaller creatures that call the desert home, as we set off with a local guide on a ‘Living Desert’ tour to learn more about the intricate and often delicate dune ecology of the region. During our time out we hope to locate an array of species such as the fascinating Perringuey’s Adder, also known as the Sidewinder for its unique manner of movement over the dunes, the Web-footed Gecko, FitzSimon’s Burrowing Skink and Namaqua Chameleon, a terrestrial chameleon that lives almost exclusively on the multitude of tenebrionid beatles that can be found in the dunes. We’ll return to town around lunch, allowing ourselves a bit of time to relax, before departing later that afternoon to explore an area inland of Swakopmund known as the Welwitschia Drive, and as the name implies, it is home to a large number of these incredible plants, with some of them thought to reach ages of up to 2000 years.
We’ll have a fairly long day ahead of us and we’ll have an early breakfast before setting off along the coastal road north, with our first major stop being at the large Cape Fur Seal colony at Cape Cross, where nearly 250 000 of these rather charming creatures may be seen laying about on a rocky peninsula, with the only down side being that the smell here can be quite overpowering at times! Afterwards we’ll turn inland as we make our way through the mining town of Uis before passing the incredibly scenic Brandberg Mountains where a short detour may allow us the opportunity to find Springbok and Steenbok, along with several bird species such as Ludwig’s Bustard, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Chat Flycatcher and Yellow-bellied Eremomela. We’ll then tackle the last section of the journey and we expect to reach our lodge during the late afternoon, where after settling in, we’ll all meet up for dinner after a tiring but eventful day.
We’ll have a full day at Twyfelfontein to explore the various historical and scenic sights that the area has to offer, with our day starting at the Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings World Heritage Site, an area that holds in excess of 6000 petroglyphs etched onto the rocks in the region. During our tour here we’ll learn about the cultural significance of this site, as well as interpretations for the various images that we’ll encounter along the way, something that will allow us to get a fascinating insight into the lives of the people that once inhabited this stark landscape. Afterwards we’ll pass by another two nearby sites, with the first being the fascinating Organ Pipes, a geological anomaly where the rock face is made up of multi-faceted edges that allow for a plethora of creative photographic opportunities. Afterwards we’ll drive to the nearby Burnt Mountain, where the rich oxide deposits create a rather bright red hue across a section of the rocks, although at the time we’ll be there they are perhaps not at their most spectacular, appearing pitch black under the warm sun. As by now it would be quite hot already, we’ll aim to return to our lodge and relax during the hottest part of the day, meeting up again for lunch, before setting off once more during the late afternoon where we’ll follow a trail through sand dunes and imposing mountains that can be quite breathtaking under the setting sun. The drive there may turn up a range of species such as Oryx, Steenbok, Common Ostrich, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Rüppell’s Korhaan and Black-chested Prinia, before we eventually follow a dry riverbed to where we hope to locate the enigmatic ‘Desert’ Elephants as they search for water beneath the numerous Camel Thorns on which they also feed. After this we’ll stop along the way for sundowners as we listen to the calls of the numerous Common Barking Geckos after a magical day in this remote part of the world.
We’ll have a relaxed breakfast today, after which we’ll load up our vehicle once more in preparation for the journey to the renowned Etosha National Park, situated in the northern reaches of the country. The drive there will be direct, although we’ll have a stop en-route to visit a remarkable petrified forest, where fossilised trees lie exposed on the ground. Whilst here we’ll also keep our eyes open for the scarce Herero Chat which inhabits these sparsely vegetated rocky slopes, and although perhaps not a spectacular species, it is no doubt an important Namibian special. From here the drive through to Etosha will be fairly long and we expect to reach our camp for the next two nights, Okaukuejo, by early to mid-afternoon. After getting everyone settled in we’ll head out for a short afternoon drive to try and add a few species to our mammal list, and we should encounter Springbok, Plains Zebra, Gemsbok and Steenbok, with the distinctive ‘Black-faced’ Impala also being regularly encountered. We’ll return for dinner, after which a bit of time will be spent at the flood-lit waterhole along the edge of camp where we may be lucky enough to see African Wild Cat, Small Spotted Genet or even Lion and Black Rhinoceros, before calling it a day and wandering back to our rooms for an evening’s rest.
We spend a full day exploring the numerous dirt roads that cross this interesting landscape, with our morning being focused on the area to the west of camp. Our drive will take up much of the morning and we hope to locate a range of animals, including the regular species as well as African Elephant, and perhaps even some of the cat species such as Lion or Leopard. During the middle of the day we’ll spend some time relaxing in camp before spending the afternoon driving along the roads surrounding camp, and although game is well represented, the smaller animal species are often the most interesting, with Yellow Mongoose, Suricate and Damara Ground Squirrel all being possible. We’ll get back to camp late the afternoon with some time to check the waterhole before dinner and a good rest.
We’ll have a fairly busy day today as we move to our next camp, crossing from the western side of the reserve to the east, with the drive there taking up a large portion of the day. We’ll have an early breakfast in camp before we get going, with the route following the southern edge of the immense Etosha Pan for much of the way. We should have not only good game viewing along the way, but also some great birds with species such as Pale Chanting Goshawk, Pririt Batis, Barred Wren-Warbler, African Grey Hornbill, Sabota Lark, African Pipit and possibly Rufous-eared Warbler to be seen along the way, whilst some of the larger inhabitants of this region include Common Ostrich, Northern Black Korhaan and Kori Bustard. We’ll stop for lunch at the central camp, Halali, where a quick stroll may turn up Violet Wood-Hoopoe and Bare-cheeked Babbler, before we complete the drive through to Namutoni with the aim of arriving mid to late afternoon, and depending on the time of arrival, we may embark on a short afternoon drive in the vicinity of the camp.
We’ll start our day with a drive around the scenic Fischer’s Pan where we should find good numbers of game such as Red Hartebeest, Gemsbok and Impala, whilst Red-necked Falcon is also occasionally recorded in this region. Although the pan will be dry this time of year, it still creates a scenic back-drop and offers excellent opportunities for photography due to the high salt content creating vast scenes of almost pure white salt flats offset by animals such as Springbok, Giraffe and Elephant. We’ll return to camp again for a late breakfast and spend the hottest part of the day in camp relaxing a bit after having been on the go the entire previous day. Afterwards we’ll visit the Andoni Plains to the north of camp which may produce a range of species such as Blue Crane, Plains Zebra and Blue Wildebeest, before we make our way back to camp, possibly bumping into Black-backed Jackal or Spotted Hyena along the way.
We’ll start off the day with an easy morning drive to the south of camp where we hope to locate the diminutive Damara Dik-dik, as well as Black-faced Babbler, before we return to camp for breakfast in time to pack up and make our way to the south for our final stop in this wonderful country. The drive there will be mostly uneventful and we’ll essentially just aim to get there around lunch time in order to give ourselves a bit of time to relax. The lodge we’ll be staying at offers a great vantage point to sit about during the hotter parts of the day with a cold drink waiting for birds or small game to move around, with species such as Rosy-faced Lovebird, White-throated and Black-throated Canary, Great Sparrow and Swallow-tailed Bee-eater being easily seen. Later on the afternoon we’ll depart for a drive to a nearby rock art site where we have the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the San-Bushmen who inhabited this region. We’ll end off the last full day of the tour with a great dinner and perhaps some stargazing under the clear desert skies (Namibia has some of the best stargazing in the world, due to the exceptionally dry and clear skies).
We’ll start the day early as we head out for a morning walk through the surrounding hills, with more of a birding focus as we aim to locate the shy Hartlaub’s Spurfowl as they call from exposed boulders during the early hours of the morning. We’ll be on the lookout for a range of species however, from the beautifully patterned Damara Rockrunner, to the curious Dassie Rat, the only representative of its family, normally seen scurrying amongst the boulders. After our walk we’ll return for breakfast before starting the drive through to Windhoek from where we’ll catch a return flight to Johannesburg and onwards.
Species to see on this Namibia safari include: Oryx, Springbok, Black Wildebeest, South African Ground Squirrel, Chacma Baboon, Cape Fur Seal, Namaqua Chameleon, Namib Sand Gecko, Shovel-snouted Lizard, Peringuey’s Adder, Dassie Rat, Elephant, Black Rhino, Southern Giraffe, Plains Zebra, Greater Kudu, Impala, Black-faced Impala, Rock Hyrax, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Black-backed Jackal, Dune Lark, Gray’s Lark, Ruppel’s Korhaan, Chestnut-banded Plover, large numbers of both Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Damara Rockrunner, White-tailed Shrike, Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, Ludwig’s Bustard, Carp’s Tit, Herero Chat, Double-banded Courser, Violet Wood Hoopoe, Montiero’s Hornbill, Damara Hornbill, Ruppel’s Parrot, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Stark’s Lark, Burchell’s Courser, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Rufous-eared Warbler, Pririt Batis, Double-banded Sandgrouse, Northern Black Korhaan, Blue Crane, Spotted Eagle Owl, Rufous-cheeked Nightjar, Red-necked Falcon, Greater Kestrel, Lappet-faced Vulture, Common Ostrich, Lilac-breasted Roller, Bradfield’s Hornbill, Verreauxs’ Eagle.
What is included?
- All accommodation or lodgings based on double occupancy
- Single occupancy available at extra cost (single supplement)
- All breakfasts, lunches and dinners
- Local transfers and all ground transport throughout the trip/tour/safari
- Lawson's insulated water bottle (clients to purchase own water or use tap water)
- Entrance fees to all National Parks, Provincial Reserves and other sites / attractions on the specified itinerary
- Personalised bird / mammal checklists and itinerary
- Specialist guide fees (professional English-speaking birding and wildlife guide)
What is not included?
- Travel and medical insurance (incl. personal equipment and repatriation)
- All airfares unless otherwise indicated
- Excess baggage charges
- Visa fees (if applicable)
- All drinks
- Optional excursions where applicable
- Tips and Gratuities
- Items of a personal nature (incl. laundry and telephone charges)
In 2020 we are celebrating our 30th year of running birding and wildlife safaris in Africa. So we have plenty of experience in the game, and pride ourselves in creating incredible wildlife holiday experiences for our clients from across the globe. We offer quality wildlife experiences through set-departure and custom safaris, guided by fun and experienced birding and wildlife guides. Like our motto says, "you'll want to return to Africa with us time and time again!" See more on our website.
A deposit will secure your place on the tour, with full payment due 8 weeks before the tour starts. Terms and Conditions apply, we'll give you all the info during the inquiry process.
This tour is primarily a wildlife tour, with a focus on mammals first of all, though we will be doing a certain amount of bird watching as well, though this will mainly be restricted to big, colourful and photogenic species. We will also look at / observe any other forms of wildlife / natural history that are of interest. If you would like more of a bird focus then perhaps some of our other birding tours will be a better bet, speak to one of our consultants for advice.
On days we aren't moving location or camp, we usually meet up for a cup of tea / coffee before heading out on a long morning activity, returning for late breakfast / brunch. Then we may have a bit of down time before an afternoon activity, returning in time to freshen up before dinner. There are exceptions - on some days we may head out on longer trips, taking packed meals with us and only returning after lunch; or we may have an early breakfast before departure for the next destination. Whatever the exact program we try to keep the pace manageable, after all it is supposed to be a holiday. *Some tours, such as our Endemics tours, are fast-paced overall.
There generally aren't any age limits on the tours, so children are welcome. However, given the nature of the tours (long periods spent in vehicles looking for birds / animals, and not always finding our target species, despite the effort put in), our set-departures probably aren't suitable for children. For families we'd rather recommend a custom-safari, where you can dictate the pace and level of interest, and include more child-friendly accommodation venues. Speak to one of our consultants for advice.
In general credit cards are widely accepted in South Africa and across much of Southern Africa, though Diner's Club is the exception (Visa and Master are better options). It is a good idea to have some South African Rands (ZAR) on hand for smaller purchases or times when card machines may not be working. Note that South Africa and Namibia do not accept US Dollars cash, but US Dollars can be used in most of the rest of Africa.
Most certainly! We usually recommend coming in a day early to acclimatize and reduce the risk of missing out a day or two due to flight delays or other travel problems, and we are happy to arrange this accommodation for you. And if you would like to extend your time in the country, our consultants are happy to help with suggestions and bookings.
In general clothes dry quite quickly for self-washing, and most private places have laundry services, so it's not necessary to over pack. In order to avoid having to tow trailers etc we ask participants to keep their luggage down to one main bag and one day / carry-on bag plus photo / optics gear. We do recommend some warm gear for the coast, as it can get a bit cool there - a light jacket or windbreaker should suffice. Hats and sunglasses are essential. A torch / flashlight is also essential, and we strongly recommend socks and closed shoes after dark. Adapters - make sure you have the right adapters to be able to charge your devices. The 'universal' adapter does not work in South Africa!
Unless otherwise stated, our set-departures do not require any advanced degree of fitness, as most of the activities are vehicle-based. However, on tours with open-sided safari vehicles, getting into the vehicle does require a some climbing ability - if you have difficulty climbing up a step or two let us know in advance so we can make arrangements such as including steps to help you get up or making sure the passenger seat is available. Where there is any walking involved this is normally an optional activity so you are welcome to sit it out. Note that it can get very hot in Namibia, and the heat can be quite taxing physically.
In general yes - when using restaurants you are able to order whatever item on the menu suits you. When using lodges doing their own catering then advanced warning will usually enable them to cater for your needs. Please indicate any special needs to us well in advance. Note that the food is very good in general on our trips so you don't need to indicate that you are vegetarian just because you are worried about what meat may be served - for the most part it's beef, pork, lamb and chicken, though game meat may be available as an option. Speak to our consultants if you have any specific questions.
Mainly hot and dry, though it can be cool at the coast.
Medium-plus; multiple nights at most destinations to allow for some rest periods during the heat of the day.
Mammal viewing: good all-round and excellent in Etosha, where big game occurs. Highlights may include Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Black Rhino, Lion, Cheetah, African Wild Cat, Brown Hyena, Cape Fox, Bat-eared Fox, Aardwolf, Damara Dik-Dik and Black-faced Impala, among others. Birding: some good birding overall, with most of Namibia's specials to be seen, though the main emphasis is on the mammals.
This tour can be combined with the Kruger National Park, Victoria Falls or Cape Town.
Medium-plus: lodges and guest houses and National Park’s camps.