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Day 1 Windhoek Never think of downtime in Windhoek as being wasted. It’s a relaxed capital city that is easy to explore and a great introduction to the myriad cultures that the coming days hold. Even picking up supplies at a supermarket could reward you with the sight of a Herero woman in her full regalia next to you in the check-out queue. Try Joe’s Beer House for a lively meal that can include ostrich, kudu, springbok or alligator. Accommodation: Windhoek is oozing with good places to stay. Have a look at www.windhoekcc.org.na for something that suits you and your budget. n It’s difficult to camp centrally, although Cardboard Box hostel will squeeze you into their back yard if you have a roof-top tent www.namibian.org. Further out, there is camping at Arebbusch Travel Lodge www.arebbusch.com. n Hotel Heinitzburg is perfect for a special occasion. www.heinitzburg.com Day 2-3 SOSSUSVLEIEI This is one of the spots where it truly pays to have your own vehicle. The key is to stay as close as you can to the park gate. This means you can drive through to the dunes and pans just before daybreak, beating the majority of tourists. From the top of any of the dunes (Dune 45 - 45km from the gate - is very photogenic) you can watch as the rising sun changes the sand’s colour to a seemingly impossible apricot orange. It is difficult to see everything in one trip: once you have watched daybreak from Dune 45 you are hard pushed to reach the pans of Dead Vlei or Sossusvlei itself while the light is still at its most alluring and the air cool. If you have to make a choice, head for haunting Dead Vlei with its 22 Travel Namibiaskeleton camelthorn trees. For many it pays to visit twice, once at dusk and again at dawn. Accommodation: n Sossusvlei Campsite, Sesriem. Bang on top of the gate, this campsite couldn’t be better located and you get into the park half an hour earlier than people staying anywhere else other than the Sossus Dune Lodge (below). Ask for one of the peripheral pitches underneath a camelthorn tree where the fabulous views far outweigh the long trek to the shower block www.nwr.com.na. n Sossus Dune Lodge. Just opened in the last few months, this lodge is the first opportunity visitors have to stay inside the park. This means you can be at the dunes before sunrise and after sunset. www.nwr.com.na n Away from Sesriem, try Wolwedans Dune Lodge for a real treat. It’s set in the vast Namib Rand Nature Reserve, which is worth a few days visit in itself. www.wolwedans.com D RIVINING TIMETIMETIMETIME: n Four and a half hours from Windhoek – six hours if you drive the picturesque Spreetshoogte Pass. Day 4-5 lÜderitz It’s a scenic drive through the Namib Desert to this quirky former colonial town and you might see the desert horses on the way. Take care if it is windy as the ridges of hard blown sand that snake onto the road are dangerous. The town itself is fascinating and there are a number of worthwhile excursions. The most popular trip is to the abandoned mining town of Kolmanskop, where once grand houses have been engulfed by shifting sand. You need a permit to visit. These are available from Lüderitz Safaris and Tours in town. Seals, penguins and flamingos can all be seen if you head south in your car following signposts to Diaz Point Accommodation: n Lüderitz’s Shark Island campsite is notorious for being windy. www.nwr.com.na n Haus Sandrose on Bismarck Street has self-catering accommodation and B&B with guarded street parking. D RIVINING TIMETIMETIMETIME: n Six hours from Sesriem. Day 6 Fish River CaCanyon In your own car it’s possible to get a real feel for Africa’s answer to the Grand Canyon without going on the arduous five-day hike along the valley floor. At nearby Hobas, pick up a map of the minor roads around the perimeter and seek out some of the quieter viewpoints. There you can peer precariously over the edge watching the birds of prey that often swoop below you in the 550m drop. Most of the roads are bumpy but passable in a 2WD, but to reach Eagle’s Rock lookout you’ll need a 4WD. The going is rough over very sharp gravel, so be prepared for punctures. The South 7 days Itineraries

Accommodation: n Hobas Campsite. Close to the main viewpoints and with shady pitches www.nwr.com.na. n Cañon Lodge has well-designed chalets set among kopjes in a private reserve that is adjacent to the conservation area. www.gondwanapark.com D RIVINING TIMTIMTIME: n Four and a half hours Read Mark Stratton’s account of hiking Fish River Canyon in Travel Africa magazine issue 30. www.travelafricamag.com “My guidebook had explained the 86-kilometre walk was suitable for ‘very fit, experienced, and self-sufficient backpackers’ but neglected to add ‘who enjoy vertiginous drops’. The nimbleness of a mountain goat was required, but with a fully-loaded backpack I could only just muster the grace of an inelegant rhino.” Day 7 Windhoek via KeeKeeKeetmanshoop It’s a long day’s drive back to Windhoek, so stop at the Quiver Tree Forest or Giants’ Playground – a bizarre group of black rocks balanced one on top of another – near Keetmanshoop. The quiver ‘trees’ are actually aloe plants. The San people used to hollow out their branches to use as quivers for their arrows, although the plants are now protected. If you have an extra night to spare, 70km past Windhoek is the Herero town of Okahandja which has two outdoor markets packed full of handicrafts and curios. Accommodation: n Okahandja is a great place to stay at a farm and you may even get in an evening’s game viewing. Okatjuru Game Farm boasts black rhino on its land. www.jhein.iway.na. D RIVINING TIMTIMTIME: Fish River Canyon to Keetmanshoop is two hours, Keetmanshoop to Windhoek is five hours. Okahandja is an hour past Windhoek. FROM THE TOPTOP TOTO BOTTOMOTTOMOTTOMOTTOM: Wolwedans Dune Lodge in the NamibRand, Quiver trees, Dead vlei, Springbok, A view of Kolmanskop. NamibRand Travel Namibia 23