The Great Namibia Wildlife Safari
Transport yourself to another world by exploring this dramatic landscape and seeing the exotic animals of this region with this veteran operator.
Namibia: Drink It In
Namibia is soul-stirring. Here on the southwest edge of Africa, burnt-orange dunes rise a thousand feet high against a cobalt sky. Inside are diamonds, tucked into the mountains of sand by waves and wind. The coastal desert is washed by the relentless ocean, while inland, the sun bakes the plains into a cracked puzzle of dried mud, pocked with enough grass and thornbush to sustain desert rhinoceros and other rare species. There is water here, too, although its presence is subtle. In the stark Etosha salt pan, waterholes attract game pursued by feline predators. Springbok, oryx, kudu and dik-dik run to elude them in a great and ancient desert dance.
Travel Curator’s Insights:
- • Track rhinos on foot from Desert Rhino Camp in the remote Palmwag Concession, and search for other uniquely desert-adapted species.
• Explore the vast nature reserves of Kulala, Palmwag and Ongava, far away from crowds and filled with rare and endemic wildlife.
• Relax as you travel with this trusted operator who offers expert guiding and exceptionally well-planned itineraries.
Trip Sustainability Awards
Fantastic advances in minimizing carbon footprints at locations.
On the East African Energy Renewal Board
Runs local educational facilities for children.
Day 1: Windhoek, Namibia
Our Namibia wildlife safari begins on arrival in Windhoek. Namibia's capital is a modern, walkable city with an eclectic urban skyline featuring both contemporary and colonial architecture, from German castles and cathedral spires to glass skyscrapers. There's time to relax this afternoon at our boutique hotel in a tranquil neighborhood before a welcome dinner with our Expedition Leader.
Accommodation: Olive Grove Guest House
Olive Grove Guest House: This small, stylish guesthouse enjoys a tranquil location close to city center of Windhoek. With just 11 rooms, Olive Grove offers an intimate and relaxing stay in an environment of elegant simplicity.
Days 2–4: Kulala Private Reserve—Sossusvlei Dunes
Fly by light aircraft to Little Kulala, a luxurious retreat inside the private 90,000-acre Kulala Wilderness Reserve on the edge of Namibia’s great sand sea. The word namib in the Nama language means “vast,” an apt name for this ancient arid expanse—the world’s oldest desert. Wildlife drives at sunrise take us into Sossusvlei, a salt and clay pan surrounded by shape-shifting sand dunes. Framed by intense blue skies, the world’s tallest dunes glow deep carnelian at dawn, changing minute by minute as the sun climbs, to rose, burnt orange and ochre.
Inside are diamonds, tucked into the sand mountains by currents, waves and wind. Remarkably, these dunes are home to a host of desert species, including oryx, ostrich, springbok, spotted and brown hyena, aardwolf and bat-eared fox. The rare dune lark’s entire habitat is confined to this area. Discover the desert’s subtle magic on short walks and safari drives. From Little Kulala’s profoundly secluded vantage point, experience some of Africa’s most arresting vistas, including vermilion sunsets and unparalleled stargazing.
Accommodation: Little Kulala
Little Kulala: The camp offers magnificent dune scenery to the west and a rugged, mountainous Namib escarpment to the north and east, with grassy plains and “fairy circles” filling the space in between. The camp’s 11 stylish thatched villas or kulalas (meaning ‘to sleep’ in the local Oshiwambo language) merge impeccably into the timeless desert landscape, with exquisite furnishings and fixtures, innovative bleached decks, and indoor and outdoor showers.
Days 5 & 6: Palmwag Concession—Rhino Tracking
Fly north to the private million-acre Palmwag Concession. Our destination, Desert Rhino Camp, lies at the heart of this vast reserve in Damaraland, one of Africa's last great wildernesses. Few safari locales offer the level of isolation found here. The raw landscape is defined by ancient riverbeds, open plains, stacked granite rocks and deep gorges. Within these stark environs, freshwater springs support healthy numbers of wildlife, including Africa's largest population of free-roaming black rhinos. We'll track this endangered icon in the company of rhino experts from Save the Rhino Trust and researchers based at the camp.
To search for rhinos on foot is a rare and exhilarating experience. Taking care to stay downwind, silent and hiding behind scrub bushes, we hold our breath in anticipation of spying this ancient desert dweller. On 4x4 drives, look also for desert-adapted elephants, endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe, oryx, gemsbok, springbok, greater kudu and possibly even predators. Birds are abundant, with a number of southern African endemics.
Accommodation: Desert Rhino Camp
Desert Rhino Camp: Desert Rhino Camp lies among rolling, rocky hills and exudes a tranquil, minimalist beauty. Despite the austere surroundings, there is a surprising amount of wildlife in the private concession. The camp is run in conjunction with Save the Rhino Trust (SRT), an organization that has been has been singly responsible for helping to ensure that the rare, desert-adapted black rhinoceros survived the slaughter that went on throughout other parts of Africa in the 1980s and '90s. Desert Rhino Camp has eight large Meru-style tents, each with en suite bathroom and shower. A tented dining and living area offers uninterrupted views of the desert and mountains, and the extraordinary welwitschia plants that dot the plain in front of camp.
Days 7–9: Etosha National Park—Ongava Private Reserve
Today we fly to the Ongava Game Reserve bordering Etosha National Park. Within this private concession, wildlife thrives while visitors are few. Our focus is the Etosha Salt Pan, the remnant of a huge lake that existed here two million years ago. Bare and dry today, the depression offers Namibia’s best wildlife viewing, with elephant, black and white rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest, springbok, oryx, kudu and the diminutive dik-dik drawn to the many life-sustaining waterholes. Birdlife is prolific, and we may see ostrich and raptors. From camp, take guided walks (safety permitting) and night drives on the reserve, traveling into the adjacent national park by day, then retreating to solitude each evening.
Accommodation: Ongava Tented Camp
Ongava Tented Camp: Ongava Tented Camp, built of stone, canvas and thatch, accommodates 16 guests in eight large Meru-style tents, furnished in a palette of natural earth tones in perfect harmony with the surrounding environment. All tents have en suite facilities, open-air showers and private verandas. The family unit sleeps four. Activities at this comfortable camp typically take place around the common area with its relaxing bar and swimming pool fronting a much-frequented waterhole.
Day 10: Windhoek / Depart
Our Namibia safari concludes as we fly from Ongava back to Windhoek to connect with departing flights.
Limited to 7 Travelers: A very important feature of our Namibia safaris is the limited group size, as nature and wildlife encounters are most meaningful with fewer people, and our environmental footprint is lighter, too.
Activity Level: Easy to Moderate. To participate in this trip, you must be able to walk unassisted at a steady pace for at least one mile over uneven terrain, climb steps to get into and out of our raised safari vehicles, and be able to tolerate daily outdoor excursions that may last 4-5 hours or even a full day at a time, sometimes in hot, windy and/or dusty conditions. Wildlife drives pose a particular type of physical demand on the body, as they require long hours of sitting and take place over terrain that is often very rough and bumpy, including dirt roads with many ruts and potholes. Travelers with back or neck problems, or other health issues that could be exacerbated by such conditions, should take this into consideration.
While any walking safaris are considered optional, travelers must be able to walk unassisted to and from the vehicle to our camp accommodations, sometimes walking over uneven ground or on boardwalks and you will get the most out of your safari experience if you can walk a mile or two over uneven ground and rough or steep terrain without assistance. Climbing the sand dunes of Sossusvlei and walking over rocky terrain in search of rhinos constitute the most strenuous activities on this safari, but other more moderate walks without incline are also available, which still allow for enjoyment of the dunes. Days spent on safari are often long, as mornings typically start before daybreak and evening meals are served after sundown. In general, safari accommodations and vehicles are not climate-controlled and, depending on the season, temperatures can range from quite cold to extremely hot, so it is critical that travelers come prepared.
Specialized 4x4 Land Rovers and Land Cruisers: An essential element that makes this safari successful is our use of various specialized vehicles designed to provide unmatched wildlife viewing opportunities. During our time in the Sossusvlei region, we explore in closed 4x4 Land Cruisers or Land Rovers that provide protection from the wind (and the sand that travels with it) in this vast, sandy landscape. In other regions, we will use open 4x4 Land Rovers or Land Cruisers with a unique suspension system and an open-top, open-sided, tiered seating arrangement designed to maximize wildlife viewing and provide a comfortable and safe ride over the often uneven terrain of Namibia's desert environs.
The open vehicles have 10 cushioned passenger seats, one in front next to the driver, followed by three rows of three seats each, though we limit our capacity to just seven travelers, allowing a window seat for each guest, for maximum comfort and the best viewing opportunities.
The closed 4x4 vehicles have eight cushioned seats with a spacious interior providing plenty of room for travelers and their belongings.
Both vehicles have a mini-fridge stocked with cold drinks and a small library with reference books and field guides. Each custom-built vehicle sports front bull bars and runner boards, as well as a full recovery kit, including spare tires and a high lift jack. Vehicles are updated or replaced regularly and meticulously maintained to provide our guests with an unmatched safari experience.
Southern Africa is this operator's specialty, and the experiences they provide here in this extraordinary landscape will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Joy Martinello, Founder
What’s Included & Cancellation Policy: