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With deserts that reach all the way to the sea, twinkling salt pans, and lunar-like red-rock landscapes, Namibia is stark, wild, and spectacular. On a variety of safaris and wildlife walks, track animals of all sorts, including cheetahs, desert-adapted elephants and rhinos, and the kudu, zebra, and oryx of Etosha National Park. Meet with scientists to learn first-hand about efforts to preserve Namibia’s cheetahs, leopards, and rhinos. Spend time in San and Himba settlements and get acquainted with the fascinating ancient cultures that make their home in this harsh and mystical land.
Encounter leopards and cheetahs up close with a Naankuse researcher as founded by National Geographic, and track cheetahs on foot in the Okonjima Game Reserve.
Search for rare desert-adapted black rhinos and elephants.
Spend two days getting acquainted with the ancient hunter-gatherer culture of the San (or “Bushmen”) people.
Itinerary - 14 Days
Day 1 — Windhoek, Namibia/N/a'an ku sê
Arrive in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city, and travel to nearby
N/a’an ku sê, a research and conservation center focused on
protecting Namibia’s wildlife and cultures. Encounter leopards and cheetahs up close and personal with a Naankuse researcher as founded by National Geographic.
Stay in the center’s stunning not-for-profit eco-lodge tonight. N/a’an ku sê Lodge (D)
Day 2 — Okonjima Game Reserve
Travel north to the Okonjima Game Reserve, stopping to browse
local handicrafts in the markets of Okahandja. Stretching some
50,000 acres, Okonjima is home to the AfriCat Foundation,
which seeks to rehabilitate injured or captive predators and
mitigate conflicts between wildlife and local farmers. Settle into
your private thatched chalet, and then head out on safari. Track
cheetahs on foot or leopards in a vehicle, and later, go on a night
hike to observe nocturnal creatures such as porcupines, honey
badgers, and perhaps a leopard. (2–3 miles walking, 1–2 hours) Okonjima Camp (B,L,D)
Days 3 & 4 — Tsumkwe
After a morning safari, travel east to the land of the San people,
who have lived off this harsh land for millennia. Immerse yourself
in their ancient hunter-gatherer culture, taking part in everyday
activities such as fire- and rope-making, cooking, and setting
traps to catch game. Join community members for a bush walk,
tracking game, looking for honey, and foraging for edible or medicinal
plants. With luck, our visit will coincide with a traditional
elephant or giraffe healing ceremony in the evening. (Day 3: 2–3
miles walking, 1–2 hours; Day 4: 3–4 miles walking, 2–3 hours) Nhoma Safari Camp (B,L,D)
Days 5, 6, & 7 — Etosha National Park/Ongava Game Reserve
Drive west, stopping to visit Lake Otjikoto, where retreating
German forces dumped tons of armaments in 1915 during the
British campaign in German Southwest Africa. Arrive at our
bush camp on the eastern boundary of Etosha National Park.
Enjoy two full days on safari in different regions of the park, and
spend a night in the adjacent private Ongava Game Reserve.
Spot gemsbok and rare black-faced impalas, look for endemic
birds like Hartlaub’s francolin and the bare-cheeked babbler,
and catch a glimpse of elephants splashing at the water’s edge.
Mushara Bush Camp; Andersson’s Camp (B,L,D daily)
Day 8 — Damaraland
Enter Damaraland, a stark desert landscape where unusually
succulent plants thrive, fed by mists off the Atlantic. We’ll seek out
the Himba people, semi-nomadic pastoralists who live in conical
homes built of palm fronds, saplings, and mud. Meet with Himba
elders to learn about their history and unique traditions—largely
unchanged over the centuries. (1–2 miles walking, 1–2 hours) Damaraland Camp (B,L,D)
Days 9 & 10 — Twyfelfontein/Palmwag Concession
This morning, search for the elusive desert-adapted elephant.
Then, at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Twyfelfontein, hike
into the hills to examine San petroglyphs and discover the
geological curiosities of Burnt Mountain and the Organ Pipes.
Continue to the vast, arid landscape of the Palmwag Concession,
home to one of the world’s largest natural populations of the rare
black rhino. Our camp here is part of the Save the Rhino Trust, which has helped revive the rhino population after the species
was nearly wiped out. Go rhino tracking on game drives and walks
with wildlife guides, and discover rare flora and fauna. (Day 9: 1–2
miles walking, 1–2 hours; Day 10: 3–4 miles walking, 2–3 hours) Desert Rhino Camp (B,L,D)
Days 11 & 12 — Swakopmund/Sossusvlei
After a leisurely breakfast this morning you will board your private chartered aircraft for your flight to Sossusvlei. You will fly over the famous Skeleton Coast, flying over shipwrecks, abandoned diamond mining camps, spotting seal and marine bird colonies as well as the giant sand sea (weather permitting). Make a brief stop in the town of
Swakopmund for lunch. Fly on to the Sossusvlei clay pan in the
southern part of the Namib, renowned for its massive ochre-hued
dunes—among the highest in the world. Settle into our eco-lodge
within Namib Naukluft Park, and go hiking in Sesriem Canyon,
carved into the rock by the Tsauchab River over millions of years.
Rise early to experience sunrise over the dunes, when the light
accentuates their towering, wind-sculpted curves. As we explore,
keep an eye out for springbok, bat-eared foxes, geckos, and other
desert wildlife. (3–4 miles walking, 2–3 hours)
Sossus Dune Lodge (B,L,D daily)
Days 13 & 14 — Windhoek
Drive to Windhoek and enjoy free time, then gather for a farewell
dinner. The next day, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Galton House (B,L,D; B)
National Geographic Active Expeditions are unique, active itineraries for intrepid travelers that combine spectacular places, cultural interaction, and physical challenge. You'll explore fascinating, off-the-beaten-path places with top guides, and wherever possible, meet National Geographic experts in the field.