Namib-Naukluft NP, Damaraland, Kunene Region
22nd January - 5th February
£6,800 - TBC
There’s a faint chill in the still pre-dawn air as we climb into our 4x4 for the 60km drive into the oldest desert on the planet. Soft light falls across high dunes as we begin the final leg, walking across the cool sand. Reaching the top of a low rise we look down on the baked, white bed of a long dead lake. Its surface seems to glow. Dotted across it are the evocative, darkly skeletal remains of camelthorn trees, dead for a millennium. Towering deep-orange dunes enclose the bowl and, as we watch, the first rays of dawn kiss the slopes to our right. Time to make some photographs…
This hauntingly beautiful place is Deadvlei; just one of the many wonders we will see on an incredible journey into some of the most amazing landscapes on Earth. I first visited Namibia in 2008 and was immediately smitten by its austere beauty. Since then I have returned as often as I can and it still holds its allure.
Our journey begins with one night in Windhoek, the nation's capital. The following day we will head south to the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Here the dunes march from the Atlantic coast to the foot of the Naukluft Mountains, rising to over 300m in places. We will spend three nights in a new lodge with direct access to the Tsauchab River valley, allowing us to get ahead of the pack and arrive pre-dawn for photography at Deadvlei.
We then move north to Swakopmund. This town has long been a summer destination for Namibians to escape the heat of the interior, swapping it for cool Atlantic breezes. There are wonderful beaches and German inspired architecture. Just up the coast we will pass the quirky settlement of Wlotzkasbaken to visit a shipwreck near Hentiesbaai.
Moving inland we will stay near Namibia's version of the Matterhorn; Spitzkoppe. The bald granite peak towers over a maze of rock outcrops with hidden caves, pools and Bushman art. After two nights here we take a scenic route into Damaraland, an area typified by displays of colourful geology, magnificent tabletop mountains and bizarre looking vegetation.
Continuing north we enter Kaokoland. This is a huge region that is sparsely populated even by Namibian standards. The landscape continues to be the star attraction. But along the ephemeral river valleys we may also encounter desert-adapted wildlife such as oryx, elephant and giraffe.
At Puros, the Hoarusib River has carved a broad valley between impressive barren peaks. This is one of the homes of the Himba, native pastoralists famous for their custom of covering their bodies in ochre. Extensive groves of palm trees fringe the watercourse. The riverbed is dry for most of the year but we may be lucky enough to see some rainfall and perhaps even see the river flowing. We will be staying in a fully serviced mobile camp for the two nights we spend here.
After a night in the cultural melting pot of Opuwo we will drive on to the northern border with Angola. The only perennial rivers in Namibia flow along its borders, the Kunene flowing along its northern one. At Epupa, the Kunene plunges 37m into a gorge where giant Baobab trees cling to waterworn boulders. Seasonal rains should make the falls a truly spectacular sight amidst the desert scenery.
The group will return to Windhoek by light aircraft from Opuwo, in time for a late afternoon international flight.
This new itinerary includes some of Namibia's iconic destinations but we will also be visiting amazing areas well off the beaten track!
Airport transfers for recommended flights from/to Windhoek
All transport during tour, including internal flight from Opuwo
National Park fees
Full board accommodation
Photo tuition from David Ward
Laundry service and other personal expenses
Additional optional activities
Gratuities for the guides
TBC due to fluctuating exchange rates and awaiting publication of 2022 accommodation prices
£800 fee payable at time of booking