arid namibia

Arid space, seaside and endless dunes Tour the iconic destinations of the Namib Desert, Swakopmund, Kaokoland and Etosha

Your journey at a glance

Kick-start your adventure with a luxurious stay in the NamibRand Nature Reserve, exploring the towering red sand dunes of the Sossusvlei region. Embark on nature drives, quad biking trips and marvel at the awe-inspiring night sky with a resident astronomer and a high-powered telescope. Your journey then continues to the vibrant coastal town of Swakopmund where you will be able to explore its many wonders on a variety of sightseeing tours before making your way to the Kaokoland, home to the Himba people.

This beautiful destination offers activities such as nature drives, boating on the Kunene River, walks amongst the mountains and cultural excursions. Lastly, your sojourn culminates in the Ongava Game Reserve, situated along the southern boundary of Etosha National Park. Etosha is one of Africa’s great wildlife parks. Delight in twice-daily game drives and visit hides that overlook popular watering holes.

What to expect …

Transfer to Windhoek Day 1

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Upon your arrival at Hosea Kutako International Airport, you will be met by an andBeyond representative who will assist you to your road transfer to Olive Exclusive Boutique Hotel.

One of the highlights of any trip to Namibia is a visit to Sossusvlei in the heart of the enormous, almost 50 000km² Namib-Naukluft Park. Easily accessible to visitors, Sossusvlei is a clay pan, only rarely filled by water, but a place of awe-inspiring beauty. Visitors to the region will be left spellbound by the magnificent ochre-coloured sand dunes, which rise over 300m into the sky – the highest sand dunes in the world.

 

Overnight in Windhoek Day 1

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Prepare for an extraordinary adventure into Namibia’s most scenic and remote corners with a one-night stay in an ensuite junior suite at the Olive Exclusive Boutique Hotel.

Flight to the Namib Desert Day 2

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After breakfast you will be transferred to the airstrip followed by a scheduled light aircraft fight to andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge.

Overnight in the Namib Desert Day 2 - 5

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Unwind for 3 nights at andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in a desert suite with an ensuite bathroom and a private veranda. Your stay includes three meals daily, soft drinks, house wines, local brand spirits and beers, teas and coffees, refreshments on game drives, laundry, safari activities and one Sossusvlei excursion.

Adventures include scenic drives with an opportunity to encounter a variety of desert-adapted animals such as gemsbok, zebra, springbok, bat-eared fox, aardwolf, caracal and jackal. Guided nature walks and hiking trails are also available, as are guided quad bike trails on set paths through the dunes. A resident astronomer and high-powered telescope provide breathtaking views of the clear desert skies.

Drive through the Sossusvlei Desert Day 3

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&Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is ideally situated on the Vreemdelingspoort property in the far north of the NamibRand Nature Reserve, which boasts numerous distinct habitats and microhabitats, as well as a backdrop of awe-inspiriting vistas, plains, and bushland. The NamibRand is a vast conservation area of 220 000 hectares, situated east of and adjacent to the gigantic Namib-Naukluft National Park. The NamibRand lies within the so-called pro-Namib, an ecotone region sandwiched between the endless dune fields of the Namib Desert and the jagged mountain ranges of the Namibian escarpment. Set off on a scenic drive to the fascinating and chilling petrified dunes, a frozen landscape of endless undulating waves or choose to explore the massive boulders of Bushman’s Koppies, haphazardly strewn atop each other, effortlessly creating the illusion of a near toppling megalith. &Beyond’s specially trained guides and skilled trackers are expert’s regarding the regions diverse eco-system, and hold a plethora of knowledge and secrets about the Sossusvlei desert that they’re eager to share with willing traveller’s and budding naturalists. Known as ‘The Living Desert,’ the dunes of the Namib abound with desert-adapted critters such as, beetles, spiders, lizards, gerbils, and golden moles distinct from their telltale tracks in the fine, golden sand. The plains and dry watercourses are home to spikey-horned oryx, agile springbok, Burchell’s zebra, regal ostrich, and stately giraffe, some of whom are preyed on by predators that include regal leopard, spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, and Cape and bat-eared foxes, with over 114 bird species curiously looking down from the desert skies. Admire the infinite buttermilk, pumpkin, and sienna hues splashed across the desert sky at sunset and tower over the vast, dry pan, before returning to the lodge in the late evening for a star gazing adventure that transports guests to a mystical and ethereal world.

Stargazing Day 4

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The luxuriously remote, tranquil and ever-romantic &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is situated within Namibia’s NamibRand Nature Reserve, where time stands still and not only does the untouched desert vista beg to be explored, so too does the inky black night sky. Absolute silence and dramatic landscapes contribute towards making &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge one of the best settings in the world for stargazing. Guests are invited to join resident astronomers to unlock the mysteries of Namibia’s skies in the lodge’s state of the art observatory, complete with a Meade LX200R 12 inch telescope. The observatory presents the ideal place to gaze in awe at the wonders of the clear, desert sky, as resident astronomers point out the brightest and most beautiful constellations, the vast Milky Way, and distant, mysterious planets. The reserve has the proud distinction of being Africa’s only International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR), and the first area to be awarded with the honour of Gold Tier status, which illustrates night time environments that have little to no impact from light pollution and artificial light. With the nearest town 140km away from the lodge, there are no sources of light pollution and the reserve’s sky stands as one of the darkest yet measured in the world. Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is the perfect spot for stargazing and getting lost in its deep, depths, secrets, and enigmas. This intimate lodge, features ten stone and glass desert villas, and invites guests to indulge in the luxury of exploring the captivatingly brilliant sea of shimmering stars above. Travellers have the luxury of retiring to spacious and airy suites, bedecked with overwhelmingly large sky lights above comfy beds. Unwind and allow dreamy adventures to continue, as you revel in the beauty of the impossible starry sky, in total privacy and seclusion. Experience the thrill of peeking into an endless abyss, adorned with the lights of heaven, beckoning wayfarers home.

Flight to Swakopmund Day 5

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After breakfast you will be transferred to the airstrip followed by a scheduled light aircraft flight to Swakopmund Airport then a road transfer to your guesthouse.

This charming little coastal retreat, on Namibia’s western coast, retains a strong German flavour – from the cobbled streets and picturesque buildings, down to the typical German restaurants and pubs. This town is traditionally a holiday spot for locals and foreigners alike, with many opportunities for adventure sports and some good old-fashioned fun. Swakopmund is an ideal place to relax after a few days in the desert; wash off the sand and sample some of the finely-brewed local beer and renowned Swakopmund fare such as fish, lobster and the utterly delicious Swakopmund oysters.

Overnight in Swakopmund Day 5 - 7

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Spend two nights at the Swakopmund Guesthouse in a luxury room with ensuite bathroom.

Swakopmund and Khan River Valley tour Day 6

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Discover the many faces of the Namib Desert amidst an exceptional eco-system of vast landscapes and gravel plains, far-reaching dunes and rocky river valleys. This four-hour tour sets off through a range of sandy dunes, marvelling at desert adapted reptiles as they skirt over velvet grains of sand and skulk along rocky outcrops. Gaze at the outline of graceful birds as they fly overhead and the rich population of insects that lies under gravelly ridges.

Discover the desert from a historical perspective, clearly evident in Namibia’s growth and development. Scan centuries-old railway lines that once dominated the region and stop at the unnerving Horse Graveyard, where the mass slaughter of South African army horses took place during World War I.

Venture deeper into the desert, into the substantial Namib-Naukluft National Park, which stretches along the Swakop River Valley, boasting glorious lunar landscapes formed over 460 million years ago. Marvel at 1 500-year-old welwitschias, lithops, hoodias and mist-gathering lichen before heading to the oasis of Goanikontes. The remnants of a 19th century Schutztruppe garrison sit here, surrounded by towering palms and blue gum trees, testament to the desert’s authority over man and man’s inability to tame the wild plains.

Explore the smallholdings that line the Swakop River, brimming with lush asparagus farms, bristly date plantations, dense olive groves, riding stables and rugged camel farms. Wander among the magnificent geological formations of the Khan River Valley, keeping an eye out for the tiny form of the klipspringer antelope, the stately ostrich and the sleek jackal.

The rich minerals that line the plains of the Namib Desert add a decided splash of colour and shimmer to the otherwise arid desert landscape. Keep an eye out for the shy blush glint of rose quartz and the bold gleam of aquamarine tourmaline against the exacting backdrop of the Namib. End the tour with a sumptuous African desert picnic in Swakopmund, teeming with traditional local fare and continental appetisers amid the stunning milieu of desert plains, before heading off on the next adventure on four wheels, racing across and over polished dunes and velvety grains of sand.

Flight to Skeleton Coast Day 7

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After a mouth-watering breakfast you will be transferred to Swakopmund Airport followed by your light aircraft flight to Doro Nawas, then your scheduled light aircraft flight to Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp.

Overnight in Skeleton Coast Day 7- 9

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Spend 2 nights at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in a Tent with ensuite bathroom. Your stay includes, all meals, twice daily scheduled camp activities, park fees, Namibia VAT & tourism levy and local drinks (excludes premium imported brands & champagne).

Flanked by rugged hills, the camp offers breath-taking scenery and the chance to enjoy sightings of Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe, gemsbok, springbok, kudu, and even magnificent desert elephant, lion, leopard and cheetah in a truly unique environment.

Fly over Namibia’s Skeleton Coast Day 8

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Your enthralling two hour scenic flight begins in the coastal town of Swakopmund, heading northwards into the Namib Desert. Cut across the town of Arandis, residence to the Rössing Mine, a uranium quarry noted as the longest-running and one of the largest open pit uranium mines in the world. Head onwards, further along the desert to The Spitzkoppe, a complex of bald granite crests or inselbergs, ideally placed between Swakopmund and Usakos. The highest peaks sits around 1 784 metres above sea level with dedicated research in the sand rich area revealing the outcrops to be over 120 million years old. Fly high along Namibia’s highest massif, Brandberg Mountain, covering 650 kilometres of desert land, as you edge further west. The King’s Stone peak lies at 2 573 metres above sea level, clearly visible from great distances within the desert. The apt German mountain name literally translates to Fire Mountain, christened due its peaks that are set ablaze with the glare of the setting sun. Ugab River is an ephemeral river, stretching over 500 kilometres, providing a key water resource for local wildlife. Fly low along its banks and witness myriad wildlife drink deeply from its shores. Pass over the massive form of the rare and majestic desert elephant, as it gracefully stomps across the desert plains, in peaceful acquiesce with the world’s largest population of free roaming black rhino. Marvel at the blush pink granite inselbergs, peppered along the river, sporting spooky hollow edifices, known to locals as the Petrified Ghosts. Next, fly pass the Damaraland Neapolitan lava flows that dominate the scenery with massive flat-topped slopes with distinctively earthy, sangria wine hues. Head across the coast, from the small headland of Cape Cross, advancing further north to Skeleton Coast, awash with corroded whale bones that eerily protrude from the sandy depths, alongside hundreds of deserted, withering ship wrecks. On the last leg of the flight, fly through the famed Salt Pans, distinctly stark with silvery, craggy, dry riverbeds teeming with minerals and bordered by dense mopane forests, before heading back south to Swakopmund. The breathtaking flight covers diverse landscapes and vast areas of pristine golden desert, wondrously illuminated by the fiery rays of the Namibian sun, casting limelight over the ever changing grain patterns that mimic an earthy, undulating dance.

Flight to Doro Nawas Day 9

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After breakfast you will be transferred to the airstrip for your scheduled light aircraft flight to Doro Nawas followed by your light aircraft flight to Serra Cafema Camp.

Overnight in Doro Nawas Day 9 - 12

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Spend 3 nights at Serra Cafema Camp in a chalet with ensuite bathroom. Your stay includes, all meals, twice daily scheduled camp activities, laundry, park fees, all local drinks – excludes premium imported brands and champagne, Namibian VAT and Tourism Levy.

Adventures include informative nature drives and carefully guided quad bike excursions through the sand dunes, as well as boating on the Kunene River, walks through the remote mountains and river valleys, and visits to a Himba settlement.

Visits to a Himba settlement Day 10

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Visit to a Himba Settlement

Walking Day 11

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Walks through the remote mountains and river valleys

Flight to Etosha National Park Day 12

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After a mouth-watering breakfast you will be transferred to the airstrip for your scheduled light aircraft flight to Doro Nawas followed by a light aircraft flight to Ongava Tented Camp.

Overnight in Etosha National Park Day 12 - 14

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Etosha National Park is Namibia’s premier wildlife destination and one of Africa’s largest game reserves. Large herds of wildlife teem around the waterholes and the endless plains offer breathtaking vistas. The Ongava Game Reserve shares an unfenced boundary with the Etosha National Park, enabling large game such as elephant and lion to move freely between the Park and the Reserve.

Spend two nights at Ongava Tented Camp. This exclusive tented camp provides its guests with an intimate, rustic bush experience in eight classic Meru-style tents, each with an ensuite shower and flush w.c. A busy, floodlit waterhole is situated at eye level in front of the camp. Each tent is insect-proofed and features a night-light.

 

Capture the beauty of the Etosha Pan Day 13

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Etosha National Park is a haven for photographers and birders alike. The dry winter months are ideal for game viewing, whilst the wet summer months attract ample bird species that migrate here from different regions. The unique setting affords photographers the opportunity to fine-tune their aperture and shutter skills against the silvery-white mirage landscape of Etosha. The excess of lime and salt in the pan creates a bright environment that looks like a glimmering blanket of snow has covered the wide expanse of the desert. In the dry winter months, photographers can revel in the concentrated animal numbers that gather around the watering holes. They presents the ideal opportunity to perfect action shots as the wildlife stroll to the water’s edge, never still and rarely relaxed. The chance for a picture-perfect shot of an animated four-legged resident against the backdrop of a shimmering landscape draws both amateur and professional photographers to the park en masse.

When the pan floods in summer, it transforms the desert into a lush oasis with seasonal lakes, bringing bountiful populations of birdlife to the park. Over 340 local, migratory and wetland bird species flock to the region, including droves of candy-floss coloured flamingos, attracted to the brimming salt pan, and the rainbow bee-eater, which often hitches a ride on the back of Africa’s heaviest flying bird, the grand kori bustard. Birders can look to ground level to find the world’s largest bird, the ostrich, proudly strutting around or look deep into the bright sky to catch a glimpse of the powerful and agile bateleur eagle as it swoops by, ruler of the skies.

Flight to Windhoek Day 14

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Today we wave a fond farewell as you board your schedule light aircraft flight for your journey back to Hosea Kutako (Windhoek) International Airport.

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