I had come to the Namib to shadow Stander in his research on a trip organized by Wilderness Safaris as part of the outfitter’s Travel with Purpose program of small-group itineraries, which emphasizes conservation and community engagement.
Our base was Wilderness Safaris’ Damaraland Camp, a collection of ten bungalows on a rocky slope overlooking the Huab River Valley, with rooms that were luxurious by desert standards, excellent food, and attentive service. But the greatest privilege was the chance to see Stander at work. For more than two decades, Wilderness has provided him with financial support and lodging, but this was the first time it had collaborated with him on a trip—”an experiment,” as Stander called it—that gave guests the chance to witness his efforts firsthand.
The opportunities Wilderness’s Travel with Purpose program offer don’t just satisfy a growing demand for deeper and more exclusive safari experiences—they support a greater mission to build community-based conservation. “Tourism gives value to wildlife,” Stander told our group of four over dinner the first evening. “It provides income and job opportunities and a whole range of other benefits to the communities. Without tourism, we would not be able to justify lions in this area.”
Maybe no country has seen the buzz of the travel world like Namibia, and it’s been fascinating to watch it grow from a specialist desert destination to a model for conservation and ecotourism done right.
With new attention comes new opportunities, and there’s a great range of safari options including overland packages with under-canvas camps to convenient flying itineraries that connect Namibia’s vast and far-flung points of interests.
- Travel with one of Namibia’s most reputable and well-known naturalist guides.
- Visit the world renowned AfriCat Foundation and learn more about conservation initiatives involving Africa’s large cats.
- Sleep under canvas in the tree tops overlooking one of the most productive waterholes on the Onguma Private Game Reserve.
- Memorable and exciting guided game drives within the renowned Etosha National Park, from the vantage point of a specially modified, air conditioned 4×4 with pop tops.
- Explore the Damaraland region whilst staying at the exclusive-use //Huab Under Canvas.
- Search for desert adapted elephant in ephemeral river systems.
- Track for the endangered black rhino in conjunction with Save the Rhino Trust.
- Visit and explore Namibia’s central coastal region with canyons, dunes and lagoons.
- Explore the private Namib Tsaris Conservancy on exploratory nature drives and guided walks whilst staying in the exclusive-use Sossus Under Canvas.
- Climb some of the world’s highest free-standing sand dunes at Sossusvlei and enjoy a magic box picnic in the Namib Naukluft Park afterwards.
- Enjoy spectacular star gazing of the Milky Way on the Namib Tsaris Conservancy.
- Enjoy refreshing moments in desert pools on the Namib Tsaris Conservancy.
This past September Kili led her first safari to Namibia. Read our 5 reasons for loving this spectacular destination.
Here’s the itinerary in brief:
Day 1 Arrival in Windhoek, The Olive Exclusive All-Suite Hotel
Day 2 & 3 Fly to Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, NamibRand Nature Reserve
Day 4 & 5 Fly to Mowani Mountain Camp, Damaraland
Day 6 & 7 Drive to Ongava Lodge, Southern Etosha National Park Boundary
Day 8 Drive to Okonjima Villa, AfriCat Foundation
Day 9 Drive to Windhoek, The Olive All-Suite Hotel
Day 10 Depart from Windhoek International Airport
Click any thumbnail to enter gallery.
See Kili’s full gallery of photos here.
Big 5 game viewing is best during the Dry Season. Usually July-October when water is scarce, a great number and variety of animals congregate without the obstruction of thick foliage or tall grass. Perfect conditions for first-time safari goers: it’s easier to find concentrations of wildlife, animals are easier to spot and it’s easier to take great photos.
However, with such perfect conditions, prices go up, availability at the best camps and lodges goes down, and prime wildlife viewing areas get crowded. Now, as more safari enthusiasts return to Africa and the conservation tourism industry matures, the traditional safari season is expanding.
More small owner-operated camps are open during the Green Season with reduced rates, less crowds and the added thrill of having to search for wildlife through dense bush. It is also the absolute best time for waterfalls, spotting baby animals and bird-watching. It’s also possible to find last minute availability on quality scheduled departures or at the best camps in the Serengeti.
Here’s this year’s top picks for summer adventures and holiday safaris…
1. A Landscape Like No Other
Maybe this is true of any place, but there is nowhere on earth like Namibia. In population density, it ranks right there between Iceland and Mongolia.
The Atlantic’s north-flowing Benguela current brings 180 days a year of fog to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast which is dotted with whale bones, shipwrecks and lions. Meanwhile, twenty mile long dunes crest at 1000 feet above the vast sand seas of the great Namib Desert. From gravel plateaus and bushveld to fossil forests and quivertrees, Namibia is a fascinating world of contrasts and extremes.
While Co-Founder Louise is out & about on a 27-day trek in Northern India, we’ve been busy bees putting the finishing touches on three very exciting and very different itineraries:
Namibia – 10 days in Namibia for some of our most enthusiastic clients, The Clarks (WooHoo!) whose daughter has caught the Africa bug and works with World Camp in Malawi.
They’ll be meeting in Windhoek for a safari that takes them to Southern Etosha National Park, Mowani Mountain Camp and NamibRand Nature Reserve. Namibia is one of the most unique destinations in the world: vast and ancient with an incredible diversity of wildlife and ecosystem.
Botswana – Starting from Cape Town and finishing up at Vic Falls, this custom 14-day trip is a great value with visits to all of Botswana’s major destinations including Chobe National Park, Moremi Game Reserve, and Makgadikgadi National Park.
We worked very closely with our partners Africa Pass and Desert & Delta to turn this trip around from initial inquiry to confirmed itinerary in less than SEVEN days!
Tanzania & Zanzibar – A very special 12-day honeymoon through Tanzania’s classic Northern Circuit including Tarangire, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, with a final stop on the spice island paradise of Zanzibar, a bright tapestry of Arab, African and Swahili culture with remarkable beaches and a World Heritage Site for a capital.
Stone Town offers a labyrinth of winding lanes and ancient stone houses, Arabian arches and heavy carved wooden doors and a fascinating selection of bazaars, curio shops, art galleries and spice troves.
That’s just a little bit of what we’ve been working on.
Get in touch so we can start working on your Next Adventure…
We’re thrilled to be putting together a unique and comprehensive Namibia itinerary for a favorite repeat client of ours (her motto is “I’m a traveler, not a tourist!”). We’ve included it all… Windhoek, AfriCat, Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund, and the Skeleton Coast… German colonial towns, wildlife clustered around salt pans, tracking elusive desert-adapted rhinos on foot, rich rock art galleries, nomadic Himba villagers, sun-baked mountain ranges, thousand-food red dunes and ghostly shipwrecks along the misty coastline.
But, putting Namibia’s attractions into words is truly daunting! Vast, magnificent, timeless…none do any justice to Namibia’s stark beauty. It is a country full of truly authentic experiences and a haunting remoteness that we love.
Call us to talk about all the offerings from quality camping safaris to specialist-guided driving tours to stunning flying safaris.