For those seeking unique adventures, awe-inspiring landscapes and the restorative solitude of remote wilderness, incomparable Namibia awaits discovery. Rising from Southern Africa's wild Atlantic Coast, Namibia's distinctive geography includes ancient coastal deserts that glow orange with the setting sun, vast white salt pans that serve as mineral sources for a host of native animal species, and rugged river valleys cutting through jagged mountains of metamorphic rock. Our sweeping new adventure provides access to many of this remarkable country's most captivating destinations; avoiding long days on the road by using light aircraft to transport us between our comfortable camps and lodges.
Beginning in Namib-Naukluft National Park, we hike among the towering red dunes (some of the tallest sand dunes on Earth) of Sossusvlei, and enjoy the curtains of stars that fill the dark desert skies each night. A spectacular scenic flight across the giant dune corridor of the Namib Desert carries us west to the seaside town of Swakopmund where we set out by boat for an exploration of sparkling Walvis Bay and the creatures that inhabit this marine environment. No visit to Namibia would be complete without a stop in renowned Etosha National Park and our three-day safari in Etosha offers fantastic opportunities for up-close encounters with over 300 bird species and 110 mammal species including lion, hyena, elephant, giraffe, zebra, oryx and the endangered black rhino. Our unforgettable journey culminates in magical Serra Cafema, one of the most remote wilderness lodges in all of Southern Africa. Located in the extreme north-west of Namibia on the Kunene River near the Angolan border, Serra Cafema is a gateway into one of the most starkly beautiful regions in the world. Here, we hike in breathtakingly surreal desert landscapes and silent river valleys, enjoy boat excursions through the Kunene's lush riverside oases and visit with the local Himba people, one of the last true semi-nomadic people in Africa.
Throughout our exploration, we'll be accompanied by our local guides, hand-selected for their passionate interest in Namibian geology, history, wildlife and culture and excited to help us discover the wonders of this emerging star of adventure travel destinations.
Looking for more Ultimate Adventures in Southern Africa? Check out our South Africa Ultimate Adventure & Safari.
- Day 1 - Your Namibian adventure begins! Meet our guide in Windhoek and fly to our comfortable desert camp near the Sossusvlei dunescape.
- Days 2-3 - Hike among the towering red dunes of Sossusvlei. Visit iconic Deadvlei and enjoy nature walks. Camp under star-filled desert skies.
- Day 4 - Take a spectacular scenic flight over the Namib Desert to the Namibian coast. Explore Walvis Bay by boat and tour Swakopmund.
- Days 5-6 - Safari time! Set out in search of lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and many other animal & bird species in amazing Etosha National Park.
- Days 7-9 - Discover Serra Cafema, one of Southern Africa's most beautiful camps. Hike, mountain bike and visit with the nomadic Himba people.
- Day 10 - Say farewell to your guide and traveling companions in Windhoek before departing for home.
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 - Your Namibian adventure begins! Meet our guide in Windhoek and fly to our comfortable desert camp near the Sossusvlei dunescape.
Your trip begins today in Windhoek, Namibia. We meet our guide at the Windhoek airport this afternoon 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 with hot bucket showers and eco-toilets. The campsite itself is positioned in a dramatic setting that offers beautiful vistas of the surrounding desert. The camp staff will show us the way to our tents and we'll have some time to relax and take a refreshing shower before a late afternoon welcome gathering and orientation conducted by our guide. We enjoy our first delicious dinner tonight near the campfire watching the red Namibian sunset and listening to the geckos barking out their call. Overnight in our wilderness camp for the next three nights. Dinner included.
Days 2-3 - Hike among the towering red dunes of Sossusvlei. Visit iconic Deadvlei and enjoy nature walks. Camp under star-filled desert skies.
Through a series of dramatic hikes and game drives, we spend the next two days exploring the remarkable geography and biological diversity of Earth's oldest desert, the Namib. We begin in Sossusvlei, a large salt and clay "pan" surrounded by giant red and pink dunes (colored by the sand's high iron content) 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'll climb 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 will also incorporate 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 1000 feet. In addition to Sossusvlei, we also 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 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. Guided walks and drives in the private reserve surrounding our camp also offer incredible views as well as additional opportunities to discover desert-adapted flora and fauna. Night skies are typically clear and dark, making stargazing a favorite evening activity. Our guide is always happy to help us identify a variety of planets, constellations and other celestial bodies visible above the horizon before we zip ourselves into our comfy tents for a very peaceful night's sleep. All meals included.
Hiking: 1-2 hours daily over predominantly sandy terrain with approx. 600'-800' elevation gain/loss.
Day 4 - Take a spectacular scenic flight over the Namib Desert to the Namibian coast. Explore Walvis Bay by boat and tour Swakopmund.
After a full breakfast, we'll drive back to the airstrip and board our plane 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 pass over Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, soaring 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. As we cross Conception Bay, we fly along huge dunes that fall directly into the ocean breakers known as the "long wall". As we approach our destination, we pass over the colorful salt works and harbor of Walvis Bay, before a flyover of the town of Swakopmund and descent to the Swakopmund airport.
From the wild blue yonder to the deep blue sea, we'll transfer to the Walvis Bay Yacht Club and embark on a boat cruise that promises exceptional viewing of the Walvis Bay Wetland birdlife. Walvis Bay contains one of the most important coastal wetland areas in all of Africa supporting between 80,000-150,000 birds year-round including such species as the African black oystercatcher, White pelican, Damara tern, Black-winged stilt, Great crested grebe, Cape teal and a large population of Greater and Lesser flamingos. In addition to bird watching, our cruise takes us to the lighthouse at Pelican Point where large colonies of Cape fur Seals have established themselves. The waters around Pelican Point also support such creatures as the Haviside's Dolphin, a social animal that often rides the bow of the boat as we explore the area for Sunfish, Leatherback turtles and whales – all frequent visitors to the Namibian coast. We return to shore at midday and have lunch at the beach followed by a tour of Swakopmund, a seaside resort town rich in culture and filled with historic German colonial architecture. We transfer back to the Swakopmund airport later this afternoon for the flight to world famous Etosha National Park and Ongava Camp, our home for the next three nights. All meals included.
Days 5-6 - Safari time! Set out in search of lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and many other animal & bird species in amazing Etosha National Park.
Consisting of eight very roomy walk-in tents with en-suite bathrooms and showers, Ongava Camp is located within the Ongava Game Reserve, a private 75,000-acre reserve on the southern border of Etosha National Park. An evocative remnant of an ancient superlake, Etosha means "great white place" in the local language, a name befitting the blinding 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 swathe 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 cup of coffee or tea 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. 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 – an adventure not to be missed!). 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, a midday siesta, and perhaps a refreshing dip in the pool before gathering again in mid-afternoon for another exciting drive. Our afternoon drives 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.
Days 7-9 - Discover Serra Cafema, one of Southern Africa's most beautiful camps. Hike, mountain bike and visit with the nomadic Himba people.
On Day 7, after a final sunrise and morning game drive in Etosha, we take off from the Ongava airstrip and wing our way towards Serra Cafema, a fantastically remote, luxurious and tranquil camp in Namibia's far northern reaches, along the Angolan border. Set on the banks of the Kunene River, the only permanent water source in the region, Serra Cafema consists of a small number of raised canvas and thatched villas with private decks and bathrooms that blend seamlessly into their surroundings. Breathtaking vistas that include the lush oases of the Kunene River valley and the stark, surreal beauty of the surrounding Namib Desert landscape greet us each day as we set out to discover this region of dramatic contrasts. Our explorations include hikes and mountain bike rides through nearby mountain and river valleys, relaxing river cruises along the winding Kunene in search of crocodiles and colorful birdlife, and carefully guided quad bike rides to the Namib dunes to experience the true desert in all of its unbridled majesty (the utmost care is taken to tread lightly on the dunes and preserve the unique habitats of this landscape). The Kunene region is also home to the Himba, one of the last semi-nomadic people in Africa. We visit a Himba settlement near our camp and learn about these resilient people and the traditional lifestyle they've managed to maintain despite pressures from the rapidly-changing world around them. Each night, the bubbling river waters flowing below camp fill our ears and soothe our spirits as we drift off to sleep. Overnight at Serra Cafema for three nights. All meals included.
Hiking: 3-4 hours on combination of sandy and rocky terrain with approx. 800'-1,200' elevation gain/loss, 1 day. Mountain biking: 2-3 hours on combination of sandy and rocky terrain (non-technical) with options for longer rides, 1 day.
Day 10 - Say farewell to your guide and traveling companions in Windhoek before departing for home.
We have the morning to breathe the fresh desert air, enjoy the magnificent views and say our final farewells before it's time to head to the airstrip to catch our midday flight back to Windhoek. We arrive in Windhoek by mid-afternoon, in time to connect with late afternoon flights to Johannesburg. 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 dinner on Day 1 through lunch on Day 10; professional guide accompaniment throughout; all daily actvities (game drives, hikes, mountain biking, boat excusions and river cruises, quad bike excursions, ); Namib Desert scenic flight; Walvis Bay boat exploration; national park entry fees; all soft drinks, beer, fruit juice, mineral water and house wine; laundry service.
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.
Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.
If you are traveling alone and specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the full single supplement noted on the trip itinerary. If you wish to share accommodations, we will assign you a roommate if one is available. If a roommate cannot be found, you will be asked to pay a reduced single fee, which is half of the full single supplement. Please be advised that there are a limited number of single accommodations available.
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-September are in the 70s and 80s with nighttime temperatures in the 40s (possibly dropping into the 30s on occasion). Humidity is generally quite 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.
This trip is rated Easy Active . A number of itinerary days include 1-4 hours of muscle-powered activity including hiking on sand dunes and over mountainous terrain with elevation gains of up to 1,200' and non-technical mountain biking on a combination of sandy and rocky terrain. The safari portion of the itinerary is not physically demanding but includes some 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 immunizations
- 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/lodge wear
- Waterproof, breathable jacket
- Sweater/jacket – synthetic fleece or wool (for cool mornings & evenings at the Ngorongoro Crater)
- Walking shoes (closed-toed)
- Sport sandals
- T-shirts, mix of synthetic and 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/evening game drives)
- Lightweight wool hat (for early morning/evening game drives)
- 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, hand lotion, toothpaste/brush
- Headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries
- Camera, memory cards, spare batteries and lens cleaner
- Electrical converter and adapter
- Binoculars (highly recommended)
- Southern Africa wildlife/birding books
- Travel pillow
- Alarm clock or watch
- Spare contact lenses or prescription glasses
- Motion sickness remedies
- Zip-lock 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.
- The checked luggage allowance on all light aircraft flights within Botswana is 44 pounds per person. Please pack accordingly. Overweight luggage may incur a substantial additional fee.
- 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 camps 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.