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Take Me To 09.23.2021

Safari’s New Frontier: Namibia

Intro Stay Highlights itinerary

When searching for an in-the-know travel advisor to plan your luxury Africa safari, Namibia probably isn’t on your radar. We’re here to change that.

Whether you arrived at SmartFlyer seeking a Rwanda Gorilla Trek or a luxury safari in South Africa, our team has the knowledge and partnerships with on-the-ground experts to plan a custom itinerary connecting you to some of the richest experiences that the continent has to offer. But if you’re searching for a cutting-edge adventure, a Namibia safari should be at the top of your bucket list. This under-the-radar destination contains a rich variety of wildlife that has adapted to the country’s distinct geography and climate. The lodges you come home to after each day’s adventure are nothing short of spectacular, as vetted by a handful of intrepid SmartFlyer travel advisors who have scouted breathtaking stays across the country.

Get ready to dream beneath the stars of Africa’s first designated International Dark Sky Reserve. Then, wake up in desert accommodations as you take in morning views of the misty Atlantic coast. Finally, relax poolside and watch an exotic mix of wildlife convene at a neighboring watering hole. So get your safari packing list in order, and let’s dive into what to expect on this epic safari through Namibia.

Contributed By

SmartFlyer

Photography by

Teal Thomsen

Duration

Eight days, seven nights

We Love it For

Seasoned safari-goers who’ve checked off regions like the Serengeti, Kruger, and the Maasai Mara, or, simply travelers seeking some lesser-known thrills

Trip Style

A picturesque journey through southern Africa’s natural sights and sounds

Agent Notes

The Namibian landscapes are ideal backdrops for your next Instagram post. Pack some flowy garments and bright colors for photos that pop against the monochrome desert terrain.

Stay

SmartFlyer Picks

Kwessi Dunes

This property is located deep in Namibia’s striking NamibRand Nature Reserve, a vast desert wilderness of over 200,000 hectares. With its rolling desert plains and backdrop of craggy mountains and iconic red dunes, this is a place where time seems to stand still and the vistas are never-ending. Guests are invited to soak up the beauty of the colorful landscape, admiring the fauna scattering the dunes, and gaze at the stars that light up the night sky.

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Hoanib Valley Camp

Set in a hidden valley surrounded by a spiraling mountain range, Hoanib Valley Camp is a joint venture between the local communities and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation – the world’s only Africa-wide giraffe conservation organization. The camp is an elegant, intimate property that immerses you into the northwestern deserts of Namibia. The property’s six rooms blend seamlessly with the environment, offering a simple aesthetic that matches the rugged topography down to a tee.

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Shipwreck Lodge

Uniquely designed around the shipwrecks that line Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, there’s nowhere on the continent quite like Shipwreck Lodge. Each of the ten rooms are constructed to resemble the shipwrecks that line the beach. In the center of the camp, the lounge and restaurant provide wraparound views of the desert that stretch to the coastline. This is a remote slice of the African wilderness, where towering dunes are buffeted by the icy Atlantic seas.

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Zannier Hotels Omaanda

This Zannier Hotels property creates a unique sense of space through traditional Owambo architecture and elevated views stretching across the savannas to the distant Khomas Hochland plateau. These thatched round huts are lined with precious antiques, traditional fabrics, and authentic ceramics, each housing its own sunken bathtub and panoramic terrace.

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Highlights

  • Have a sundowner before sleeping beneath the stars in one of the least light-polluted areas in the world Day 1
  • Hike to the top of one of Namibia's tallest dunes, Big Daddy, for epic views Day 2
  • Take in the African sunrise from a hot air balloon before an afternoon scenic flight Day 3
  • Take in the beauty of desert-adapted elephants + giraffes Day 4
  • Comb the beach for whale bones and century-old shipwrecks Day 5-6
  • End on a relaxing note with a sundowner overlooking Zannier Reserve before returning home Day 7-8

ItineraryItinerary

1 NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia
Touch down in Namibia

After your international flight to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, get ready to board your bush plane to the NamibRand Nature Reserve. This is one of the largest private reserves in southern Africa, serving as a sanctuary for countless species of wildlife. Make sure to take plenty of pictures of the craggy mountains and red dunes on your way to your first stay of the trip at Natural Selection’s Kwessi Dunes. You’ll arrive with time to freshen up before your first of many sundowners on this trip; get ready for the magnitude of being immersed in the endless dunes.

At nightfall, convene back at the lodge with your fellow explorers and get lost in the awesome stars illuminating the night sky. If you’re relishing in the fresh air, the Natural Selection team will prepare an outdoor boma dinner for you to eat under the twinkling sky. Head back to your accommodations where a star bed awaits outside; the NamibRand is Africa’s first designated International Dark Sky Reserve meaning it’s one of the least light-polluted areas in the world – and it shows.

2

After resting in one of Kwessi Dunes’ spacious chalets overnight, wake up and choose how you want your guides to help you explore the nature reserve’s 15,000 hectares. We recommend the trip over to Sossusvlei where you can take on the trek up to the top of Big Daddy, the second largest dune in the country. The best part? It may take over an hour to get to the summit, but the sprint to the bottom happens in mere moments.

After a long morning, you’ll be ready for a hearty lunch. Enjoy the outdoor spread just beyond Sossusveli created by your on-the-ground experts, Natural Selection. Upon your return to Kwessi Dunes, break away from traditional game drives by riding horseback or atop a quad bike. Or, take a nature walk for a chance at spotting the exotic black-backed jackals, aardwolves, and African wild cats.

3 Namib Desert, Namibia
NamibRand Nature Reserve to Hoanib River

Start the day with a bucket list hot air balloon ride into the sky to catch a glimpse of the region’s golden sunrise from above. The fairy circles that dot the ground beneath you are worth observing; perplexing even scientists who’ve studied them, many people theorize that these natural phenomena are formed by poisonous fungi, termites, and even meteor showers. And while it’s always hard to say goodbye, after two memorable days immersed in the dunes, it’s time to pack up for your next stop, 700km away in northwestern Namibia.

In Namibia, it rings true that the journey is really half of the fun. Today you’ll embark on a scenic flight above the coast where the desert meets the sea. Look out the window to spot abandoned diamond mines, flamingos and more. After your scenic flight along the coast, begin your drive to Hoanib Valley Camp on which there is an opportunity to stop by a nearby village for a cultural experience with local Herero people. Though the Hoanib River only flows occasionally, it fills a dense underground aquifer that provides groundwater and salt licks for desert-adapted animals traversing the valley including desert lions, elephants, and giraffes.

Hoanib Valley Camp is an elegant, intimate affair that arose as a joint venture between the local communities and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the world’s only Africa-wide giraffe conservation organization. A stay here immerses you into the wilds of the desert. After gathering around the fire before a hearty dinner, retire to just one of six suite-style tents for the night, hot water bottle included!

4 Hoanib River Valley, Namibia

Wake up at dawn for a morning game drive out into the magnitude of your surroundings. At Hoanib Valley Camp, days are spent tracking endangered rhino, desert-adapted elephant, and of course desert-adapted giraffe. Your guide will be sure to share more about the ground-breaking giraffe research that is being conducted in this remote corner of Namibia, including the new species of giraffe that was recently studied in the region. For active travelers, consider embarking on a guided nature walk and uncover the smaller flora and fauna of the desert.

5-6 Skeleton Coast, Namibia
Seek Solace in the Skeleton Coast

Start the day with a drive through the Hoanib River valley towards Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, one of the few places in the world where the desert meets the ocean. This region is characterized by its whale and seal bones scattered throughout the coastline. There’s also an interesting array of wildlife that have adapted to this unique environment. Marvel at the large seal colonies as you drive across the gravel coastlines. If you’re lucky, you may catch sight of a herd of elephants or a pride of lions trekking towards the coast.

…spend a moment gazing at the landscape with your favorite drink in hand.

Arrive at Shipwreck Lodge and settle into your own shipwreck-shaped chalet nestled atop the high dunes with views of the Atlantic. Then, walk over to the lodge’s restaurant and spend a moment gazing at the landscape with your favorite drink in hand. After that, join the lodge’s designated guide on a sundowner drive to watch the sun descend behind the Roaring Dunes and into the sea. The next day, take an all-day game drive out to the coast and catalog the distinctive flora and shipwrecks that inhabit the mist. Finally, spend the next day on a guided exploration of the dry riverbeds. Start with a sunrise breakfast and end with a visit to the Clay Castles, where your guide will help you pinpoint sightings of elephants and hyenas.

7-8 Windhoek, Namibia
Return home

Following one last breakfast at Shipwreck Lodge, check out and board a private plane back to Windhoek. Here, you’ll hop in a car for one final day venturing through the Zannier Reserve, a 22000-acre wildlife conservancy located half an hour from the city. Even as you check in to your private One Bedroom Hut at Zannier Hotels Omaanda, you’ll notice how deeply immersed this boutique lodge is in its natural surroundings. You can easily watch a variety of wildlife drinking from the nearby watering hole just from your seat by the infinity pool. And while not included on this itinerary, consider adding Zannier Hotels’ sister property, Zannier Hotels Sonop, to your trip for a taste of the Southern part of the country.

If you’re craving more adventure, book a private savannah watch for close encounters with giraffes, warthogs, baboons, and more. The lodge’s guides use their extensive knowledge of the reserve’s wildlife to tailor you a deeply personal safari experience. Alternatively, head to the spa and experience full-body polishings and aromatherapy massages crafted from native roots, herbs, and spices. Reconvene with your fellow travelers at sundown around their boma firepit for a final starlit dinner and cocktails. After an extraordinary Namibia safari, it’s time to head home. Enjoy your à la carte breakfast before checking out and heading on a half-hour ride back into Namibia’s capital city.

Book Now

Contact your SmartFlyer travel advisor to learn more about planning your Namibia safari.

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