- Discover the iconic landscapes and desert-adapted wildlife of Namibia
- See Sossusvlei at sunrise and climb some of the highest dunes on Earth
- Hike in the NamibRand Nature Reserve and camp under a starry sky
- Search for wildlife in world-famous Etosha National Park
- Explore the Skeleton Coast, where seal colonies and shipwrecks dot the shoreline
Namibia is emerging as one of the world's premier adventure destinations, and for good reason. Rising from southern Africa's wild Atlantic coast, Namibia's distinctive geography includes ancient deserts; vast, white salt pans; and miles of hauntingly-beautiful coastline.
Our exploration begins in Namib-Naukluft National Park. Here, we watch the sun rise over the massive Sossusvlei dune field before setting out on a multi-day hike through the remarkable desert of the NamibRand Nature Reserve. A scenic flight over the Namib's "Sea of Sand" transports us to Etosha National Park and its diversity of wildlife. Our daily game drives take us in search of predators like cheetah and lion, herbivores including elephant and zebra, and prolific birdlife.
The Skeleton Coast is the last stop on our journey. Desert elephant roam, hyena howl, and giraffe stride amid the dry riverbeds and plains of this national park. A short flight to the coast itself is a certain highlight of this ultimate adventure, as are walks among the seal colonies and shipwrecks that gave this iconic coastline its name.
Conservation efforts in Namibia have earned REI Adventures' 2013 Sustainable Tourism Award and a donation of backpacks full of gear to 500 conservation guards.
- Day 1 - Meet in Windhoek before flying to Namib-Naukluft National Park.
- Day 2 - See sunrise over Sossusvlei and hike among enormous sand dunes.
- Day 3 - Begin a multi-day hike in the pristine NamibRand Nature Reserve.
- Day 4 - Hike through spectacular desert and sleep under a canopy of stars.
- Day 5 - Take a scenic flight over the coast and inland to Etosha National Park.
- Days 6-7 - See lion, elephant, and zebra in this world-class safari destination.
- Day 8 - Fly to Hoanib Camp, on the border of Skeleton Coast National Park.
- Days 9-10 - Search for desert-adapted wildlife and explore the Skeleton Coast.
- Day 11 - Return to Windhoek and say farewell to Namibia.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Day 1 - Meet in Windhoek before flying to Namib-Naukluft National Park.
Your trip begins today in Windhoek, Namibia. We meet our guide this morning and transfer via light aircraft to the airstrip near our remote camp located in a private 90,000-acre wilderness reserve bordering the expansive Namib-Naukluft National Park and the fantastic Sossusvlei dunescape. Our camp is already set up in preparation for our arrival with 9'x9' stand-up tents offering separate twin mattresses on cots with full cotton bedding and attached open-roofed bathrooms equipped with bucket showers and eco-toilets. The campsite itself is tucked away in a dramatic setting that offers beautiful vistas of the surrounding desert. After a welcome gathering and lunchtime orientation conducted by our guide, we have the afternoon to relax or perhaps stretch our legs on our first nature walk through this unique desert habitat. We enjoy a delicious dinner tonight near the campfire watching the blazing Namibian sunset and listening to the geckos barking out their unmistakable call. Overnight in our wilderness camp for the next two nights. Lunch and dinner included.
As our flight to Sossusvlei is scheduled for early morning today, we strongly recommend that trip participants consider arriving into Windhoek a day prior to the start date of your trip to avoid any potential delays.
Day 2 - See sunrise over Sossusvlei and hike among enormous sand dunes.
We spend the day exploring the extraordinary geography and biological diversity of the Namib, Earth's oldest desert. We begin in Sossusvlei, a large salt and clay "pan" surrounded by giant red and pink dunes and representing one of the world's most iconic desert landscapes. A private entrance gate near our camp provides closer driving access to the Sossusvlei dunes than via the main park entrance, allowing us to reach them earlier in the morning in time to witness the rich color palette painted by the sunrise. With the dunes cast in warm light, we hike to the top of one of the higher mounds and take in the views of this undulating sea of sand from a unique vantage point. Our route through Sossusvlei also incorporates stops at Dune 45 – its simple, elegant profile making it exceptionally photogenic – as well as Big Daddy, the highest dune in the area topping out at over 1,000 feet. In addition to Sossusvlei, we explore Deadvlei, another nearby pan known for the photographic opportunities created by the darkened skeletons of ancient camel thorn trees juxtaposed against the background of the pan's red dunes. Game drives in the area allow for encounters with desert-adapted wildlife such as ostrich, springbok and gemsbok, as well as nocturnal mammals including bat-eared fox and aardwolf. After our full day of discovery, we return to camp for dinner before zipping ourselves into our comfy tents for a very peaceful night's sleep. All meals included.
Hiking: 1-2 hours over predominantly sandy terrain with approx. 800'-1,000' elevation gain/loss.
Day 3 - Begin a multi-day hike in the pristine NamibRand Nature Reserve.
We head into the surrounding desert wilds this morning on a guided quad-bike ride that allows us to navigate across challenging terrain and venture further into areas inaccessible by foot. During our motorized exploration, the utmost care is taken to leave minimal trace on the dunes and preserve the fragile features of this habitat. We return to camp for lunch before boarding our vehicle and beginning the drive to the start point of our multi-day hike through the NamibRand Nature Reserve. This spectacular 500,000-acre reserve is a model for conservation and low-impact tourism, provides a vast protected area for free-roaming wildlife, and showcases a diversity of pristine desert landscapes. Our walk begins in mid-afternoon along a slope filled with "fairy circles" – mysterious circular patches of barren earth – and over rolling sand dunes. The dunes here are not the massive ones we encountered in Sossusvlei, but small, vegetated dunes that have a particular beauty of their own. Upon reaching our camp, we sit back with a sundowner, marvel at the glorious scenery and enjoy the sensation of open space and freedom that only the desert can provide. If the sky is clear and moonless, we quickly understand why the NamibRand is one of the few International Dark Sky Reserves in the world. For the stargazers among us, our guide is always happy to help identify planets, constellations and other celestial bodies visible above the horizon. Bucket showers are provided for freshening up each afternoon and we sleep out in the open on stretcher beds with bedrolls for the next two nights – a fully immersive and unforgettable wilderness experience. All meals included.
Hiking: 1-2 hours (1.5 miles) over predominantly sandy terrain with approx. 200'-400' elevation gain/loss.
Day 4 - Hike through spectacular desert and sleep under a canopy of stars.
Tea or coffee is served before sunrise followed by a light breakfast so that we can begin today's hike in the cool of the early morning. As we walk, we're treated to the breathtaking views of the dunes and plains bathed in first light as the desert "comes alive" before our eyes. With some luck and the help of our guide's expert tracking skills, we may spot some of the creatures that make the NamibRand their home including the golden mole, barking gecko, dune lark, ostrich and Namibia's national animal, the striking oryx. Our route today takes us up and over a mountain saddle before descending gently to a dry riverbed. During the walk, our guide helps us better understand the fascinating Namib ecosystem including how the desert flora survives, how insect and reptile life adapts to the harsh regional environment, and how mammals can live here without a permanent water source. We find a shady spot for lunch and a midday siesta before continuing our desert pilgrimage to our next camp. The scene in front of us is a sea of endless dunes and fairy circles set against a backdrop of magnificent mountain scenery. Photographic opportunities abound as the sun sinks towards the horizon and the dunes and distant mountains radiate their late-day colors. All meals included.
Hiking: 6-7 hours (6 miles) over predominantly sandy terrain with approx. 800' elevation gain/loss.
Day 5 - Take a scenic flight over the coast and inland to Etosha National Park.
We awaken early once again for a last stroll around camp, relishing our final glimpses of the magical NamibRand. After breakfast, we jump aboard our waiting vehicle and drive to a nearby airstrip for the thrilling flight to Swakopmund and the Atlantic Coast. Climbing into the bright blue Namibian sky, we're treated to an aerial view of the desert landscape sure to be indelibly etched into our memories. We'll soar above the pans and dune fields before crossing over the main section of the Namib en route to the coast. We reach the coastal flats at a series of deserted and half-buried diamond camps that bear testament to the harsh conditions of the desert. Flying westwards towards the Atlantic Ocean, we see the shipwreck of the Eduard Bohlen. Stranded in 1909, the haunting wreck now lies some distance from the coastline as the sand has pushed the ocean out. Approaching our destination, we pass over the colorful salt works and harbor of Walvis Bay before beginning our descent into the Swakopmund airport. We change planes in Swakopmund and take to the air once again heading northeast towards world famous Etosha National Park and Ongava Tented Camp, our home for the next three nights. Consisting of eight very roomy walk-in tents with en-suite bathrooms and showers, Ongava Tented Camp is located within the Ongava Game Reserve, a private 75,000-acre reserve on the southern border of Etosha National Park. All meals included.
Days 6-7 - See lion, elephant, and zebra in this world-class safari destination.
A remnant of an ancient superlake, Etosha means "great white place" in the local language, a name befitting the blindingly-white, salt-bleached earth covering 2,100 square miles of north-central Namibia. Although the salt pan itself doesn't support much vegetation, its edges give way to a surprising variety of flora including a broad swath of mopane woodland, acacia-strewn plains, grasslands and dwarf-shrub savannah. These habitats in turn support a tremendous diversity of wildlife that make Etosha Namibia's premier game-viewing destination. Our focus at Ongava will be on wildlife and we begin our days at dawn in order to time our game drives to coincide with the most intense animal activity. Each morning, after a piping hot beverage and a light breakfast, we'll climb aboard our open vehicles and head into the Ongava Reserve and the Okaukuejo area of Etosha Park in search of the many mammal and bird species present in the region. Possible sightings include predators such as lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena as well as herbivores such as elephant, giraffe, springbok, zebra, wildebeest, eland and the black-faced impala. Both black and white rhino can also be found here affording the rare opportunity to see both species in one location (we may even have the chance to track rhino on foot!). Birdlife is prolific with over 340 species to be seen including Bare-cheeked Babbler, Violet Wood-Hoopoe, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Greater Kestrel, Red-necked Falcon and the endangered Kori Bustard. After our morning drives, we return to camp for lunch and perhaps a refreshing dip in the pool before gathering again in mid-afternoon for another exciting drive. Our afternoon explorations may keep us out after dark as nighttime drives are permitted in the Ongava Reserve and allow us to search for some of the nocturnal species that forage and hunt from dusk until dawn. All meals included.
Day 8 - Fly to Hoanib Camp, on the border of Skeleton Coast National Park.
After a final sunrise and morning game drive in Etosha, we take off from the Ongava airstrip and wing our way towards the Skeleton Coast and secluded Hoanib Camp where we spend the next three nights. Located on the transient Hoanib River, this remote inland camp consists of just seven comfortably-appointed twin-bedded tents, each with an en-suite bathroom and shower. We set out on an exploratory drive this afternoon and get our first taste of this remarkable ecosystem before returning to camp for dinner and relaxation. All meals included.
Days 9-10 - Search for desert-adapted wildlife and explore the Skeleton Coast.
Straddling Namibia's Palmwag region and Skeleton Coast National Park, the land around Hoanib encompasses an area where one of the greatest concentrations of desert-adapted elephant and lion can be found. Giraffe stride along the Hoanib River and, like the local gemsbok and springbok herds, subsist off the trees and their pods that line this sandy ribbon. Filled with rugged mountains, vast plains and dry riverbeds, the seemingly endless landscapes surrounding Hoanib unfold for hundreds of kilometers in every direction. Our two full days at Hoanib are filled with a variety of memorable adventures including additional game drives, nature walks, and cultural visits with the local Himba people. A full-day excursion to the Skeleton Coast itself is also planned as a short flight transports us from Hoanib to Mowe Bay where we can walk vast, empty beaches, visit seal colonies and view some of the shipwrecks that gave this coastal region both its name and its notorious reputation. On the evening of Day 10, we gather for a final celebration dinner at camp, toasting our traveling companions and newfound friends and already thinking about possibilities for our next African adventure. All meals included.
Day 11 - Return to Windhoek and say farewell to Namibia.
We have the morning to breathe the fresh desert air, enjoy the panoramic views and say our final farewells before it's time to head to the airstrip to catch our flight back to Windhoek. We arrive in Windhoek by mid-afternoon, in time to connect with late afternoon flights to Johannesburg (please do not book a departing flight from Windhoek until after 6 p.m.). Breakfast and lunch included.
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control.
All accomodations as specified on the itinerary; all light aircraft transfers as noted on itinerary; all meals beginning with lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 11; professional guide accompaniment throughout; all daily actvities (game drives, all hikes, quad bike excursion); all camping gear for NamibRand hike; scenic Namib Desert flight; national park and reserve entry fees; all soft drinks, beer, fruit juice, mineral water and house wine; laundry service at specific camps.
Round-trip international airfare to/from Windhoek, Namibia; international entry/departure taxes; travel insurance; excess baggage charges; alcoholic beverages other than those specified under "Included"; pre- and post-trip tours; items of a personal nature; gratuities.
Special payment and cancellation policies apply to this trip. The $400 per person deposit is non-refundable at time of sign up. Final payment is due 90 days prior to departure. At 60-31 days prior to departure, 50% of the land cost is non-refundable. At 30 days or less prior to departure all costs are non-refundable.
We require that all participants on this trip have emergency medical and evacuation insurance valid in Namibia. Short-term travel insurance for emergency medical expenses and evacuation is available through REI Adventures and other travel insurance providers.
Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.
Namibia has a semi-desert climate with typically hot days and cool nights throughout most of the year. Our departures are timed to coincide with the Namibian winter when rainfall is minimal and temperatures are more moderate. These months are also peak months for game viewing in Etosha's waterholes. Average daytime temperatures in July-October are in the 70s and 80s (occasionally a bit warmer in October) with nighttime temperatures in the 40s. Humidity is generally very low in most regions of the country. Although midday temperatures are always warm, early mornings and evenings can be quite cool and participants should plan on following the recommendations on our Gear List and packing some warm clothing, particularly for our camping nights in the NamibRand.
This trip is rated Easy Active . At least four days will include 1-7 hours of hiking on sand dunes and over mountainous terrain with elevation gains of up to 1,000'. The safari portion of the itinerary is not physically demanding but includes some vehicle travel over potentially rough terrain. The majority of the trip takes place in extremely remote locations. This trip is perfectly suited for active people in good health with a spirit of adventure and an interest in learning more about the natural world.
If you are traveling alone and specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the single supplement fee. There is no single supplement fee for those willing to share accommodations, and we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. Please be advised that there are a limited number of single accommodations available.General Information
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Namibia Ultimate Adventure & Safari Gear List
The key to staying comfortable on safari is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation. This gear list is provided to help you in choosing your equipment and clothing for this trip. Try to bring only what is necessary.
- Valid passport
- Airline tickets
- International health card with list of immunizations (recommended, not required)
- Large duffel bag (must be soft-sided with no wheels or rigid frames in order to fit into light aircraft cargo holds)
- Daypack, large enough to hold camera, binoculars, water, sunscreen, etc.
- Luggage tags and luggage locks
- Passport pouch or money belt
- Bring a few lightweight, easily washable casual items for travel and city/camp wear
- Waterproof, breathable jacket
- Sweater/jacket – mid-weight or heavyweight synthetic fleece or wool for cool mornings and evenings (possible temperatures in the 40s)
- Walking shoes (closed-toed)
- Sport sandals
- T-shirts, mix of synthetic and/or cotton
- Synthetic, long-sleeve shirts
- Synthetic, quick-drying shorts (mid-thigh or longer)
- Lightweight, breathable, quick-drying pants (zip-off legs are recommended)
- Underwear, quick-drying
- Swimsuit (for swimming pools at camps)
- Lightweight gloves (for early morning/evenings)
- Lightweight wool hat (for early morning/evenings)
- Sun hat with brim
- Sunglasses and retainer strap (good quality, UV protected)
- Insect repellent (DEET recommended)
- Personal first-aid kit
- Hand sanitizer gel
- Sun block and lip balm w/high SPF
- Toiletry kit with bio-degradable soap/shampoo, lotion, toothpaste/brush
- Headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries
- Camera, memory cards, spare batteries and lens cleaner
- Electrical converter and adapter
- Binoculars (very highly recommended)
- Southern Africa wildlife/birding books
- Travel pillow
- Alarm clock or watch
- Spare contact lenses or prescription glasses
- Motion sickness remedies
- Ziploc or specialized camera bags, to protect camera, binoculars from dust
- Travel-size laundry detergent packets for hand-washing clothing
Things to Consider
- Always pack essential items such as your passport, REI Adventures trip final bulletin, money, eyewear, medications, camera and a change of clothes in your carry-on baggage in case your luggage is delayed.
- Casual attire is completely acceptable for our camps and Africa in general. Neutral, light-colored clothing is best for the safari, to blend into the landscape and not stand out to wildlife. Khaki is always a good color while on safari. Camouflage and bright colors are not recommended.
- Laundry services are available in some camps on this itinerary, but it’s good to come prepared to occasionally hand wash your clothes (quick drying materials are best). Travel packets of detergent and a travel laundry line come in handy for this purpose.
- Stuff sacks are great for sorting your gear. Plastic bags are also helpful to separate wet clothing from dry.
- If you normally wear contacts, bring a pair of glasses in case of irritation from dust in your eyes.
- Many of the roads in Africa are deeply rutted and dusty. It is a good idea to pack camera equipment and binoculars in plastic bags to protect them from the dust. This is in addition to their normal cases. Also bring lens cleaning materials.
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.