Namibia Adventure

Skeleton Coast & Kaokoland Safari

Photo credit: Dana Allen

The Skeleton Coast and Kaokoland are Namibia’s most remote regions, with access allowed only to those few who know the area intimately. An area free of game fences and home to some of the most specialized mammals on earth, including desert adapted black rhino, elephant and lions, this area are also home to the ancient Himba culture. This combined with some of the most spectacular scenery in Namibia makes for what must be one of the most authentic and pioneering safaris available in Namibia.

This safari affords you the chance to experience this magnificent and memorable region in a very personal way. You will travel with your own professional and experienced naturalist guide who will enhance your enjoyment of this unique region by making it a fascinating and stress-free journey of discovery amidst very dramatic scenery.

Further to that, this is an area which has in the past been largely devoid of any ‘tourism infrastructure’ but we are now able to offer a completely accommodated safari through the region. This is one of the first safaris of its kind that has been offered and you have the choice of staying in a complete mix of establishments. These range from stays in conservancy joint venture lodges or ‘roughing’ it in fair basis community-run bush camps to reveling in the ultimate luxury of a 5 star lodge, depending on whether you choose to travel on an ‘adventure’ or ‘luxury’ basis.

This safari is unique in every way and every experience has been carefully considered to give you, the traveler, the most authentic insight into this region possible. Your naturalist guide will have an intimate knowledge of each area and camp/lodge that you visit, allowing him to share the local highlights whilst adding continuity and depth to your safari. It goes without saying that our guides all know exactly what a “True African Safari” is about and they possess the breadth and depth of knowledge to allow them to answer questions and satisfy the particular interests of each of our guests. The presence and companionship of your guide will turn your safari into an experience of a lifetime!

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ITINERARY IN BRIEF

Day 1                Collection & onto Grootberg Lodge

Day 2 & 3          Etambura Camp

Day 4                Purros Bush Camp

Day 5 & 6          Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

Day 7                Departure

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Travel with one of Namibia’s most well-known full time naturalist guides.
  • Drive through the desolate and stark Skeleton Coast National Park (if starting from Swakopmund).
  • Enjoy a picnic lunch on the Skeleton Coast National Park (if starting from Swakopmund).
  • Search for desert adapted elephant, rhino and lion along the Hoanib and Hoarusib Rivers.
  • Travel through vast tracts of unfenced and pristine wilderness.
  • Visit the ancient Kunene River where it forms the border with Angola.
  • ‘Back to the roots’ to support local conservancies whilst staying at Grootberg Lodge and Etambura Camp.
  • Explore the picturesque Hartmann’s and Marienfluss Valleys.
  • Visit authentic Himba settlements in the area around Puros and elsewhere.
  • Explore the borders of the Skeleton Coast National Park and surrounds from the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp.

Contact us to book this adventure!

Day 1 : Collection and onto Damaraland

This morning you will be collected from the venue of your previous nights’ stay or met when you fly into the starting point of your choice. This is when you meet the private naturalist guide from Ultimate Safaris who will be accompanying you throughout this safari. Should this be in Swakopmund, you will then drive up the infamous Skeleton Coast, passing numerous shipwrecks and visiting the seal colony at Cape Cross en route. One of the best preserved shipwrecks is the Zeila where you will stop off before continuing north and going on to have a picnic lunch on the beach. You then head inland near Torra Bay and travel east into northern Damaraland heading for Namibia’s only wholly-owned conservancy lodge, Grootberg Lodge, which is an example of changing times when it comes to tourism business ownership. Arrival here will be in the mid to late afternoon and the rest of the afternoon can be spent on a guided walk with your guide along the top of the breathtaking Grootberg Plateau and also learning about the trials and tribulations as well as the successes of this unique community project.

Should your safari start in another region, you will head for Grootberg Lodge, either arriving at the lodge in time for lunch or having it en route. The afternoon will spent with your guide exploring the area on foot.

The Zeila Shipwreck :The Zeila got stranded on 25 August 2008 in the early morning hours near “Die Walle”, a popular fishing spot about 14km south of Henties Bay.  The fishing trawler that had been sold as scrap metal to an Indian company by Hangana Fishing of Walvis Bay got stranded after it came loose from its towing line while on its way to Bombay, India shortly after it left Walvis Bay.  It seems that they will be able to rescue no more than a few usable items from the stranded ship.

Skeleton Coast Park: Covering about a third of Namibia’s coastline, the legendary Skeleton Coast Park stretches 500km from the Ugab River in the south, to the Kunene River in the north. The attraction of the remote Skeleton Coast Park lies essentially in the colour, changing moods and untouched profile of its landscape. Its aura of mystery and impenetrability is due to the many shipwrecks, dense coastal fogs and cold sea breeze by the cold Benguela Current. The landscape in the park ranges from sweeping vistas of windswept dunes to rugged canyons with walls of richly coloured volcanic rock and extensive mountains ranges. On their slopes grow a surprising variety of xerophytic plants, whose survival is ensured by a wide spectrum of ingenious adaptations. Over a hundred species of lichen grow on the plains and west facing mountain slopes, which change colour and become soft and leathery to the touch when the coastal fog pushes inland. The cold Benguela Current that sweeps along Namibia’s coastline supports some of the highest concentrations of marine life found anywhere in the world. It also played a crucial role in the formation of the world’s oldest desert, the Namib.

Cape Cross Seal Reserve:The reserve is home to between 80,000 to 200,000 Atlantic cape fur seals which can be viewed from the platforms overlooking the colony. This is one of the largest cape fur seal colony’s on the Namibian coast, although this appealing species isn’t a true seal at all, but an eared seal, which is really a species of sea lion.

Cape Cross:It was at Cape Cross in 1485 that the Portuguese captain and navigator Diego Cão, the first European to set foot on Namibian soil, found a landfall and erected a padrão or limestone cross at the behest of his king. The original was sent to a museum in Berlin in the 1890’s and in 1974 the whole area was landscaped and a replica cross erected, which still stands there today.

Grootberg Lodge: Perched on the rim of the Grootberg Plateau, Grootberg Lodge offers unsurpassed views over the Klip River Valley below. Each of the charming 12 en-suite rock and thatch chalets gaze out over the gorge where black eagles often hunt just below the level of your private deck. The lodge main area with restaurant, bar and swimming pool is also designed to maximise the stunning views. This pristine wilderness can be explored either on foot or by vehicle to encounter the inhabitants of this remote biosphere. Desert adapted elephant, black rhino, giraffe, kudu, oryx and lion are just some of the animals that roam this area. The lodge was gifted to the local Khoadi Hoas community to become their contribution to this unique joint venture project

Overnight: Grootberg Lodge
Fully Inclusive (drinks included)

www.grootberg.com

Day 2: Damaraland to Orupembe Conservancy

After an early breakfast this morning you will leave Grootberg Lodge heading north, bisecting the game rich Palmwag and Etendeka Concessions. Game viewing in the early morning is always at its best, and you should see a good variety as you head north for Opuwo, passing Sesfontein en route. In Opuwo your guide will need to re-fuel and also do some supply shopping, as tonight he will also be your personal chef and prepare all your meals on the open fire (if on the ‘adventure’ safari this will be for the next two nights). You will then head west to the small settlement of Orupembe before heading north from there to the private Etambura Camp, passing inhabited as well abandoned Himba settlements en route. This rough and rugged terrain will take you through dramatic scenery towards the Onjuwa Plains (meaning holy plains), an area set aside where local tribes have not allowed hunting for centuries, thus creating an interesting sanctuary often dotted with livestock and game grazing side-by-side in harmony. Lunch is had picnic style en route, arriving at the camp in the late afternoon in good time to enjoy the magnificent view with a ‘sundowner’ drink in hand. Tonight is spent around the campfire absorbing the tranquility of the area whilst your guide prepares and serves a tasty dinner.

The Palmwag Concession:The Palmwag Concession pans 4,500 km² of arid wilderness transected by ephemeral river courses which, along with the occasional natural spring, provide an oasis for the wildlife that have adapted to this harsh environment. The rugged mountains and river courses provide a refuge for some of the continent’s most unique wildlife such as the legendary desert elephant, lion and the last free-roaming black rhino population on earth. In fact seventy-five per cent of Namibia’s endemic species inhabit this last bastion of the wilderness. Experience the wilder side of Africa where only the sporadic roar of lion or cackle of hyena punctuates the silence of the night.

Etambura Camp: Etambura is the first Himba co-owned camp situated in the Orupembe conservancy on top of one the highest hills above the holy plains of Onjuva. The holy plains are steeped in mystery, with several different stories of why the area was consecrated by the semi-nomadic Himba herders who live here. Etambura is the ideal place to relax with five canvas and thatch chalets, each with its own private deck extending from the hill and into the beyond, conjuring illusions of “stepping into air”. Built on a wooden platform and, in some cases, on stilts, each unit is positioned to optimize the view.

Overnight: Etambura Camp
Fully Inclusive (drinks included)
http://www.kcs-namibia.com.na/etambura.html

Day 3  : Orupembe Conservancy to Kunene River

This morning you will start early for a magical excursion north to the Kunene River. The trip starts by traversing the rocky Hartmann’s Pass to Rooidrom (Red Drum), a major intersection in the middle of nowhere. Heading west and then north you will head up the famous Hartmann’s Valley, eventually making your way over the Hartmann’s Mountains and into the Marienfluss Valley. This area is filled with the mysterious fairy circles, something which is bound to keep the conversation going in the vehicle whilst heading for the Kunene River before arriving there in time for lunch. The Kunene River is a wild river having its origin in the Angolan Highlands, and it abounds with large crocodiles, while still being a lifeline for man and beast in this arid environment. This area used to be home to desert adapted elephants until the 1960’s and 70’s when poaching decimated the last remaining population. It is currently part of a conservation plan which is working on a project to attract elephants back to these parts.

You will enjoy lunch on the banks of the Kunene River and also visit the local rapids, before heading south along the picturesque Marienfluss Valley. You will pass the Holy Mountain as well as the towering Mt Ojiunaune and Mt Otjiomuhana peaks meandering your way back to the Etambura Camp. Tonight your guide will again prepare a mouth-watering dinner for you to enjoy beside the campfire whilst reveling in the experiences of the day.

The Kunene River:  The mighty Kunene River forms part of Namibia’s border with Angola for about 325km. Winding through a primeval landscape, the Kunene is characterized by thundering waterfalls, raging white-water rapids and tranquil streams. Green turtles are encountered year round at the Kunene River mouth, but there is no confirmed nesting in Namibia. The two most breathtaking attractions along the river are the Epupa & Ruacana Falls.

Overnight:  Etambura Camp
Fully Inclusive (drinks included)

www.okahirongolodges.com

Day 4: Orupembe Conservancy/Kunene River to Puros

After breakfast you will depart and head due south, again passing the settlement of Orupembe. Depending on the season, your guide will either head along the Hoarusib and Khumib Rivers, hopefully spotting desert adapted wildlife, including elephant and giraffe or, should the season not allow, you will head through the western vast and silent plains. After a scenic picnic stop under the welcoming shade of towering camel thorn or ana trees you will have time to search for an inhabited local Himba settlement along the way, perhaps having to search for a while as the semi-nomadic Himba people sometimes move location with no notice as they are one of the last and most traditional peoples of Namibia and have little time for conventional practices. You will learn about the customs and traditions of this very proud nation, and will be given insight into their beliefs, way of life and everyday routine.

This is also well known area for desert adapted wildlife, including elephants and lions. After visiting the Himba settlement you will continue onto Puros, a small settlement of a population of less than 300 Himba and Herero herders. You will arrive at the very rustic Puros Bush Camp in the late afternoon with time to relax and freshen up before dinner. Tonight is again spent around the campfire whilst your guide prepares another sumptuous meal.

Desert Adapted Elephant: In habitats with sufficient vegetation and water an adult elephant consumes as much as 300 kg of roughage and 230 liters of water every day of its life. Consider what a herd of them would eat and drink in a week or a month or a year. Finding an African elephant in a desert?  Well, yes, and not only elephant, but also other large mammals as well, such as black rhinoceros and giraffe. Their ranges extend from river catchments in northern Kaokoveld as far south as the northern Namib. Apart from the Kunene River, seven river courses northwards from the Ugab provide them with possible routes across the desert, right to the Skeleton Coast. The biggest are the Hoarusib, the Hoanib, the Huab and the Ugab Rivers.

Desert adapted elephant in Kaokoland and the Namib walk further for water and fodder then any other elephant in Africa. The distances between waterholes and feeding grounds can be as great as 68 km. The typical home range of a family herd is larger then 2,000 km², or eight times as big as ranges in central Africa where rainfall is much higher. They walk and feed at night and rest during the day. To meet their nutritional and bulk requirements they browse on no fewer than 74 of the 103 plant species that grow in their range. Not a separate species or even a subspecies, they are an ecotype unique to Namibia in Africa south of the equator, behaviorally adapted to hyper-arid conditions. Elephant in Mali on the south western fringe of the Sahara Desert are the only others known to survive in similar conditions.

The Himba: The Himba, Tjimba and other Herero people who inhabit Namibia’s remote north-western Kunene Region are loosely referred to as the Kaokovelders. Basically Herero in terms of origin, language and culture, they are semi-nomadic pastoralists who tend to tend from one watering place to another. They seldom leave their home areas and maintain, even in their own, on which other cultures have made little impression. For many centuries they have lived a relatively isolated existence and were not involved to any noteworthy extent in the long struggle for pasturelands between the Nama and the Herero.

The largest group of Kaokovelders is the Himba, semi-nomads who live in scattered settlements throughout the Kunene Region. They are a tall, slender and statuesque people, characterized especially by their proud yet friendly bearing. The women especially are noted for their unusual sculptural beauty, enhanced by intricate hairstyles and traditional adornments. They rub their bodies with red ochre and fat, a treatment that protects their skins against the harsh desert climate. The homes of the Himba of Kaokoland are simple, cone-shaped structures of saplings, bound together with palm leaves and plastered with mud and dung. The men build the structures, while the women mix the clay and do the plastering. A fire burns in the headman’s hut day and night, to keep away insects and provide light and heating. A family may move from one home to another several times a year to seek grazing for their goats and cattle. Men, women and children wear body adornments made from iron and shell beads.

A Himba woman spends as much as three hours a day on her appearance. First she bathes, then she anoints herself with her own individually prepared mixture which not only protects her skin from the harsh desert sun, but also keeps insects away and prevents her hair from falling out. She uses another mixture of butter fat, fresh herbs and black coals to rub on her hair, and ‘steams’ her clothes regularly over the permanent fire. Men, women and children adorn themselves with necklaces, bracelets, anklets and belts made from iron and shell beads. With their unusual and striking designs, these items have gained a commercial value and are being produced on a small scale for the urban market. Sculptural headrests in particular are sought-after items.

Puros Bush Camp: Puros Bush Camp is situated next to the ephemeral Hoarusib River in Kaokoland which is one of the linear oases used by a variety of desert adapted game – especially elephants. The Bush Camp has six relatively basic en suite chalets, each shaded by huge camelthorn trees. Whilst the camp is unsophisticated, it is clean, comfortable, and offers all the essentials.  During a stay at Puros Bush camp, guests can go out to explore an amazing and untouched wilderness area in an extraordinary part of Africa.

Overnight: Puros Bush Camp
Fully Inclusive (drinks included)

www.okahirongolodges.com

Day 5: Puros to Skeleton Coast National Park boundary

This morning you depart from Puros and head through the Giribis Plains to Sesfontein. Your guide will need to re-fuel in Sesfontein before heading on into the Hoanib River to find a suitable spot to enjoy a picnic lunch – again ideally in the shade of a large ana tree. After lunch you will continue along the Hoanib River in search for desert adapted elephants or possibly even evidence of the rare desert lions which inhabit this area, along with a variety of other game species such as giraffe, kudu, oryx, springbok and ostrich. An exciting day will end with your arrival at the new Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, where a hot shower and a sun-downer drink will end the day. Tonight will be spent around the campfire telling stories about the infamous Skeleton Coast.

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp: The new Hoanib Skeleton Coast camp is Located on the border of the Skeleton Coast National Park in the new concession on the Hoanib River, in one of the most remote parts of the Kaokoveld. The Kaokoveld is a land of rugged scenery, mountains, vast plains, and dry riverbeds inhabited by incredible desert-adapted plant and animal life. Here, despite the arid environs, elephant thrive along with giraffe, antelope, lion, leopard and cheetah. The exclusive camp, comprising just seven twin-bedded tents and one family unit, is a Classic Camp with all the attendant luxuries and amenities. One can look forward to unraveling the enigmatic history of the original Strandlopers (“Beachcombers”), their stone circles lying in hidden valleys, marvelling at the ancient Welwitschia plant, following herds and other wildlife, and savouring the endless landscapes unfolding untouched for hundreds of kilometers.

Overnight: Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp
Fully Inclusive (drinks included)

www.wilderness-safaris.com


Day 6: Skeleton Coast National Park boundary

This morning you will say your goodbyes to your private naturalist guide who has accompanied you throughout what ought to have been an experience of a lifetime, as he today heads back to Windhoek. You will be left in the capable hands of the camp staff and today is spent on activities as arranged by the camp, exploring this remarkable area with local guides.

Overnight: Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp
Fully Inclusive (drinks included)

Day 7 : Departure

Today you can either:

  • Spend a third night at the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, allowing for the possibility of going on an excursion to the beach on the Skeleton Coast within the Skeleton Coast Park as offered from the camp (additional charge).
  • Continue on an extension as arranged with Ultimate Safaris either with your guide or independently as arranged (additional charge).
  • Fly back to Windhoek in time to catch an international flight out to your next destination (flight at additional charge).
  • Fly back to Windhoek in time to catch a flight back home (flight at additional charge)

This is also the official end of your Skeleton Coast and Kaokoland safari and we look forward to the prospect of hosting you in Namibia again in the not too distant future.

Contact us to book this adventure!

*** End of Services ***

DATES:  ANY DATE AVAILABILITY DEPENDENT (MINIMUM 2 PAX)

RATES: 28,700.00 ZAR/NAD per person (double occupancy)

INCLUDED:

  • Accommodation as stated above.
  • Transportation in a luxury air-conditioned safari vehicle.
  • Meals as stipulated above.
  • Services of a registered and experienced English-speaking safari guide.
  • National Park and other entrance fees and excursions as described in above itinerary.
  • Mineral water on board the safari vehicle.
  • Local beverages as indicated – but not vintage wines or imported spirits.
  • Welcome pack.

EXCLUDED:

  • International flights to Namibia and airport taxes.
  • Any meals not included in the above itinerary.
  • Any entrance fees and excursions not included in the above itinerary.
  • Vintage wines or imported spirits, or beverages other than mineral water when on aircraft
  • Laundry (laundry service available at lodges at extra cost).
  • Gratuities.
  • Items of personal nature.
  • Arrangements after the second night at the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp.
  • VISA FEES.
  • BANK CHARGES (as per bank or 3.5% commission for VISA/MASTER).

NOTES:

  • Collection locations can be varied on request.
  • Rates subject to change without prior notice due to circumstances beyond our control e.g. fuel increases, currency fluctuation etc.
  • Terms and conditions apply.

Contact us to book this adventure!

PRE & POST SAFARI ACCOMMODATION, EXTENSIONS & TRANSFERS

Please contact us to arrange all you pre and post safari accommodation in Windhoek, as well as any extensions you may want to book in conjunction with this safari. These are not included in the safari fare and will be charged additionally if required. In Windhoek we recommend the following establishments: Galton House, The Elegant Guesthouse, Olive Grove Guesthouse, Hotel Heinitzburg and The Olive all-suite hotel depending on the level of comfort and service you require. Extensions to other iconic destinations such as the Sossusvlei Dunes, Etosha National Park, and Damaraland would all compliment this safari well so are well worth consideration. Please note that return airport transfers from Windhoek International Airport to Windhoek and back to Windhoek International Airport are NOT included in the safari fare and can be booked in conjunction with Ultimate Safaris. In addition to this, the air transfer out of the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp at the end of the trip is also not included as this would not be needed if continuing on a ‘post extension’ from there. However, this can easily be added if required

STARTING & ENDING POINTS

These safaris can start on any day and from a multitude of places including Damaraland, Western Etosha National Park (Dolomite Camp), Windhoek and Swakopmund. When wanting to join these safaris from other regions, it is recommended to fly into any of the above regions (preferably Damaraland). These safaris officially end at the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, and flights or extensions out from there need to be booked additionally.

HANDY TIPS:
Visas/Passports: Please ensure: 1) that you have pre-arranged your entry visa if required; 2) that your passport is valid for at least six months after your scheduled departure date from Namibia; 3) that you have a minimum of 2 consecutive clear pages. If this is not the case, there is a danger of being turned away by the Immigration Service on arrival at the airport – assuming your airline has agreed to bring you and risk a fine in the first place.

Health:  No vaccinations are mandatory but please consult your doctor for medical advice. Parts of Namibia are considered to be malarial so we recommend the use of anti-malarial prophylactics (normally Malarone), especially if visiting during the Namibian summer (December to April) – subject to advice from your own doctor.

Luggage: Is normally restricted to 20kg (not including photographic equipment) per person in a soft, hold all type bag. Weight is generally less important than volume as everything is carried with you on safari. For your light aircraft transfers the luggage limit is 20kg in soft bags, including hand luggage. If required, any extra luggage can be stored at our base when visitors are away on safari.

Vehicles: Vehicles used are specially modified land cruiser safari vehicles equipped with air-conditioning and electric fridge-freezers for drinks and snacks. An off road trailer will also be taken if required for luggage and picnic gear etc.