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We will travel north, stopping at small towns along the way including Okahandja, where we have time to visit Namibia's largest wood carving market. The market is operated on a local co-operative basis and is one of the best places to shop for truly Namibian souvenirs. Continuing north, passing through farmland, we aim to arrive at Okonjima during the middle afternoon, giving us time to set up our camp and to relax in the shade for a while before heading out on to the property to take part in the afternoon's activities. Okonjima is the home of the Africat Foundation, a specialist conservation concern that centres its operations around the African Big Cats, particularly cheetah. This afternoon you will be taken on a tour during which you will be able to meet, close-up-and-personal, some of the cheetah that are going through the Africat rehabilitation programme. Most of the animals currently living at Okonjima have been rescued from various desperate situations, being orphaned or caught in a trap, and the aim of rehabilitation process is to attempt to re-introduce them into the wild. After our educational tour we will return our accommodation and prepare for dinner under the African stars. Communal ablutions / camping. L, D
An early start and continuing north we pass through some small towns, making short stops for fresh supplies and fuel. Our first main port of call today is the mysterious Lake Otjikoto. Otjikoto is in fact Namibia's largest permanent natural lake and we take time here to rest a little and learn something about the history of this unusual landmark. Continuing on to Namutoni camp in Etosha National Park we again aim to arrive in time for lunch, giving us time to relax before heading out into the park during the cool of the late afternoon for our first game drive. After your evening meal there are still more chances to see Etosha's big game at Namutoni's floodlit waterhole. Situated on the boundary of Namutoni and easily reachable on foot, elephants are regular visitors here and there is a good chance of seeing other species of game as well. Communal ablutions / camping. B, L, D.
A full day's game driving. We again leave early to enjoy the cool morning air as we game drive our way through Etosha to Halali camp, situated in the middle of the park. Along the way we visit several waterholes and are afforded splendid views of the massive Etosha Pan. The game viewing is usually excellent and we have the chance to tick off a few new species that are not normally seen on the Namutoni side of the park. We stop at Halali for a rest and a leisurely lunch. There is time to visit the Halali waterhole and to make use of the swimming pool and bar facilities before continuing on our way and game driving down to Okaukuejo. Okaukuejo is famous for its waterhole, which has been described as one of the "best game viewing opportunities in Southern Africa". Situated on the doorstep of our accommodation, black rhino, elephant, lion and numerous species of antelope are usually seen. Communal ablutions /camping. B, L, D
Leaving Etosha we begin our journey south with a relatively short drive to the small town of Kamanjab where we will make a short stop here before continuing on to find the Himba Tribesmen. This is the only traditionally functioning Himba community outside the far north Kaokoland region of Namibia These tribes-people have migrated here, lifestyle and customs intact, and are following their traditional way-of-life in their village on a farm. Oase Village is located about 15 to 20 km outside Kamanjab, the exact location of the site varies as the Himba occasionally roam to a new location. During the afternoon we will be invited into Oase Village and will meet with the locals. We will have a specialist guide for the time we are there, who will be able to translate for us and will introduce us to this "alternative lifestyle". We will learn about marriage customs, traditional food and the mysteries of the local religion, "Holy Fire". Communal ablutions /camping. B, L, D
Today we head into one of the most beautiful desert regions in Namibia, Damaraland. We drive south to the capital of this region, the small town of Khorixas, and then take a detour to the west, travelling via the Petrified Forest geological site, to visit the ancient Bushman rock engravings at Twyfelfontien. At both these locations we will have local guides to conduct us on a short guided tour. From here we head deeper into the desert to Namibia's highest mountain, The Brandberg, (2573 m). Brandberg Mountain is an ancient Bushman spiritual site and tonight we will sleep under the shadow of this giant granite monolith. B, L, D
Starting early to enjoy the cool of the morning we will hike, "into" the mountain with our guide to see the world famous "White Lady" rock painting. Attributed to the Bushman artists, the white lady panel is believed by some to be in excess of 20 000 years old. Back on the road for more beautiful Damaraland scenery. We make our first stop in the small town of Uis, an old mining town, and one of the best places to buy semi-precious stones, for which Namibia is famous. Here, rough Amethyst, Tourmaline etc can be found at bargain prices. From here we turn directly west and cross the "gravel plains" on our way to the Atlantic Ocean and the Skeleton Coast. Meeting the ocean at Henties Bay, we first head north along the coast to visit the seal colony at Cape Cross. Here at certain times of the year there can be as many as 100,000 Cape Fur seals in attendance. The next destination is Swakopmund, following the Skeleton Coast into Namibia's premier seaside town. We aim to arrive in the late afternoon giving us time to explore the town on foot before sunset. Tonight we take the chance to sample one of the excellent restaurants. The seafood in Swakopmund is superb. Your guide will offer to organise a group meal in a local restaurant for this evening. Participation is recommended but by no means required. Chalet Accommodation/communal ablutions. B, L. (Dinner at own expense.)
The drive back to Windhoek today will take about 4 and a half hours. We will only depart after lunch, giving us time to spend the morning relaxing in Swakopmund. Swakopmund is a very pleasant seaside town with lots of shops, a good stretch of beach (although the Atlantic here is quite cold) and an open-air curio market. There is also a very good museum and the Namibian National Marine Aquarium is located in Swakopmund. Alternatively, there are various optional activities that can be arranged. These include aeroplane and microlight flights over the desert, scenic drives, fishing trips (both from the beach or in a boat), four-wheel motorcycle (quad bike) trips into the desert and over the sand dunes around Swakopmund, sand boarding trips (also in the dunes), skydiving, surfing, bird-watching and many other activities are available. Your tour guide will discuss all the possible options with you before you reach Swakopmund and will offer to make bookings in advance of your arrival. (N.B. All extra activities and excursions in Swakopmund are subject to availability and are made at the clients' own risk and expense). This is the last day of our trip and after lunch we will transfer back to the capital city where you will be dropped off at your accommodation. (B, L)