Our fly-in journey is all about the endlessly evolving landscape in Namibia as you fly over geological masterpieces and pristine landscape without end. The time saved in the air converts to precious moments of relaxation and discovery at each property.
Days 1 and 2: Okonjima Bush Camp
The Journey: After your arrival at an invariably sunny Hosea Kutako Airport, you collect your luggage and are met by your personal pilot. The six seat Cessna waiting on the warm tarmac outside may look small but it is the African safari aircraft of choice. The Cessna 210 is a wonderful way to experience Namibia, high above the dusty trails but low enough to see the endlessly changing scenery.
Leaving the pretty hills of Windhoek and flying north, the landscape quickly flattens into vast farmlands. The rocky terrain is divided by sandy riverbeds which only flow with the seasonal rains. Your pilot will begin his descent with the low Omboroko Mountains in the distance and shortly you will touch down in 22,000 hectares of exclusive protected big cat habitat. Shady bush, sandy river beds and open plains at the foot of the mountains are home to the beautiful and precious charges of the AfriCat Foundation. The Foundation is a pioneering charity committed to researching and rehabilitating Namibia’s threatened big cat population. They have been at the cutting edge of Namibian predator conservation since 1993 and are a leading model for eco-tourism sustained conservation.
The Okonjima Experience: You may find yourself watching a stealthy leopard as he drifts between cover or sitting in complete early morning silence with a wild cheetah purring just feet away. The chance to track and study cheetah on foot is one of Namibia’s most memorable wildlife moments. The welfare cats provide even more insight into the various initiatives which the foundation manages. Your stay at Okonjima directly supports the foundation and leaves a conservation legacy which remains active long after you depart.
Okonjima Bush Camp: A casually classy retreat that has opted to maximize the privacy of each thatched guest rondavel. It is quite possible to enjoy the unbroken views from the wide double bed and forget that there are nine guest rooms at the camp. The main lapa has a spacious dining room, a fireplace with seating, a bar, curio shop and pool. At night, the pathways and lapa are illuminated by lanterns and the crackling fire.
Days 3 & 4: Mushara Outpost
The Journey: Flying north once more, you pass the farming towns of Otjiwarongo and Otavi. Your destination is the eastern edge of Etosha and the Mushara Outpost. The bleached white surface of the private airstrip is an indication of the geological wonder of Etosha itself. The short drive across the private Mushara reserve to your new home will provide the chance to hear the recent wildlife highlights from your guide.
The Etosha Experience: Africa’s largest salt pan forms the centre piece to Namibia’s largest protected wildlife reserve. A chain of natural springs have become the catalyst for the daily species interaction which has thrilled and fascinated visitors since 1907. The Etosha National Park covers a vast area, which has been protected since German colonial rule and is now one of the most productive game viewing parks in Africa. Once a lake the size of Holland it now shimmers with a glaring bright white from crystallized salt across its entire surface. The park is justifiably famed for the wealth of wildlife that congregate at its dozens of waterholes, offering ample reward for those who are patient. Plains game such as zebra, kudu, oryx, wildebeest, giraffe, springbok, impala and eland abound in great numbers on the grasslands while large herds of elephants are common. Lions dominate the predator food chain and make good use of the waterholes as hunting grounds whilst smaller predators like the black-backed jackal trot around oblivious to humans. The demand for fresh drinking water means that there is little hierarchy at the waterholes and the diversity of species drinking at the same time can be staggering. This is the place to watch Namibia’s greatest daily wildlife dramas unfold.
Mushara Outpost: The name Mushara derives from the Purple Pod Terminalia tree, which grows in abundance in the surrounding area. The Mushara Outpost is all about old fashioned hospitality with warm, friendly and personalized service on the door step to the magical Etosha Pan National Park. The lodge house is styled on an old farm with tall walls a corrugated tin roof and a large wrap around veranda. This is North East facing to take advantage of cooling shade. The rooms are all raised to make the most of the views into the surrounding bush.
Days 5 & 6: Etendeka Mountain Camp
The Journey: Today you will fly across the southern edge of the Etosha National Park. The many game drive roads and waterholes will be clearly visible beside the vast pan itself. This offers a unique perspective of the area as your pilot plots a course west. The flight to Etendeka Mountain Camp is one of stunning contrasts. Straight tar roads turn to winding gravel beneath you and signify the start of the wild Kunene Region. The scenery also begins to alter as the soil turns a richer red and the mountains of Damaraland start to crowd the horizon. The rich landscape is dotted with smooth granite outcrops which look like giant sculpture. Finally you clear the impressive Grootberg Mountain and glimpse the wild land beyond. This mountain is the gateway to some of the most beautiful and pristine wilderness that Namibia has to offer. You bank for your landing among the Etendeka Concession’s ancient basalt mountains and broad valleys that teem with wildlife including lion, leopard, desert adapted elephant and black rhino.
The Etendeka Experience: Desert adapted wildlife forge a precarious existence amongst the towering basalt mountains and albidia shaded rivers beds of the Kunene region. This apparently unforgiving landscape is actually refuge to a diverse number of plant and mammal species. Desert elephant and black rhino share boulder strewn valleys with watchful cheetah and thundering herds of oryx. Dew darkened game trails show the heavy pug marks of lion and the mountain zebra they hunt. Scorpions prowl between volcanic rock shards and snake eagles drift through the warm afternoon breeze. Your days here are spent exploring the area on foot and in open game drive vehicles with the exceptionally knowledgeable guides. This is not a fast paced safari, but rather a careful introduction to an environment that holds many of Namibia’s unique natural attractions.
Etendeka Mountain Camp: A deliberately simple but effective solution to providing a comfortable base in an isolated location. En-suite meru tents connected by pathways to the main dining tent provide all the necessary comforts but leave a tiny human footprint in this giant landscape.
Days 7 & 8: Erongo Wilderness Lodge
The Journey: Flying south above the beautiful mountainous landscape of Damaraland towards Erongo Wilderness Lodge you may glimpse the sandstone cliffs of Twyfelfontein, home to one of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs in the world. On a cold morning you can sometimes see the fog banks rolling in from the Skeleton Coast to the west. The journey continues south past the Brandberg, the world’s second largest monolith, and finally into the Erongo Mountains. After the sublime isolation of Etendeka, it is quite a contrast to land on the smooth tar airstrip of the pretty little town of Omaruru. The short drive to the lodge takes you down the colourful high street with its coffee shops, wood carving stores and some interesting architecture from the German colonial period. Then you again leave the tar and engage 4wd for the steep climb to the lodge.
The Erongo Experience: The lodge is nestled amid granite formations on the outskirts of an ancient volcano. These are the Erongo Mountains - a spectacular feature in the heart of a country renowned for its scenic beauty. The Lodge is a founder member of the Erongo Mountain Nature Conservancy, joining 30 private landowners in a collective effort to conserve and protect this natural treasure of over 200 000 hectares. The Conservancy’s mission includes the preservation of the rich cultural heritage in the form of rock paintings and engravings that are found throughout the area.
This peaceful corner of Namibia provides the perfect opportunity to leave the road behind and walk under clear African skies. There are guided walks on offer or you can grab a walking stick, a trail map and explore on your own without an agenda. If the novelty of rambling through this secret wanderland wears off, the guides can entertain you with nature drives, a private mountain top rock art gallery, and some excellent birding.
Erongo Wilderness Lodge: As much a part of the landscape as the walking trails that bring the area to life. Timber walkways snake between boulders to each comfortable and raised tented room. The rooms are so well blended with the surrounding habitat that rowdy rock dassies and cautious klipspringers happily move between them during the day. The bathrooms are designed around the boulders themselves and even the swimming pool is a natural rock hollow. The main dining room and bar enjoy elevated views across the natural amphitheatre that hides the lodge from the outside world.
Days 9 & 10: Wolwedans Dune Lodge
The Journey: The final flight south begins in the warm hued mountains and ends in the soaring red dunes of the Namib Desert. The endlessly impressive geology you pass includes the dramatic Kuiseb Canyon, locally famous as the refuge for two German conscientious objectors during WWII, their experiences remembered in the autobiographical ‘Sheltering Desert.’ Finally, the scenery softens as the fringes of the Namib Desert begin to dominate the landscape. Landing at the private Wolwedans airstrip really is like arriving on another planet. You are as likely to meet a curious ostrich or an oryx before your guide reaches you!
The Wolwedans Experience: The NamibRand Nature Reserve is one of the largest private reserves in Southern Africa. Situated in the very heart of the pristine reserve, is Wolwedans itself, taking its name from the African - “where the wolves dance”. Accompanied by experienced local guides, activities during your stay allow you to explore the many faces of this desert habitat with its diverse fauna and flora - on foot, by Land Rover or even by balloon. This is one of the last great wilderness areas in Namibia and provides the perfect introduction to the real desert. Nestled amidst red dunes and set against a backdrop of unparalleled beauty, Wolwedans provides the perfect base from which to explore vast stretches of awe-inspiring nature and learn about an exciting variety of desert creatures.
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge: A stylish combination of bleached timber decks and taut canvas stretched over sturdy beams provide wonderfully open and cool rooms. The en-suite luxury of the rooms is complimented by a refreshing pool, sand dune wine cellar, and a variety of communal spaces furnished with comfy leather furniture and family artefacts. The dining experience is first class and the magic of the Namib Desert infuses every element of your stay with the kind of otherworldly experience for which Namibia is famed.
Day 11: Olive Grove Guest House
The Journey: Brushing the last desert sand from your boots, you climb into the trusty Cessna one last time for the short flight to Windhoek. Climbing slowly away from Wolwedans provides one final view of the magnificent Namib and then the terrain below becomes rocky with scattered settlements. In less than an hour you descend across the hills that encircle the capital and touch down at Eros airport to be met by your transfer driver.
The Windhoek Experience: A small city by African standards, which compensates by offering a friendly and relatively cosmopolitan experience. There is a fluid mix of 19th century German architecture, broad tree-lined avenues, modern shopping malls and diverse restaurants. This is a nice environment in which to regain your bearings and acclimatize for the return home.
Olive Grove: A genuine home from home with the considerable benefits of stylish, uncluttered rooms, a friendly restaurant, a swimming pool, useful town transfer service and a range of massage therapies. The experienced team at the Olive Grove will have you set up with a cool drink and some useful pointers on exploring the city in no time at all.
Day 12: Fly Out
Your final day in Namibia allows plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast followed by a dip in the pool or spa treatment at Olive Grove. If you would like to visit the city centre, there is a transfer vehicle based at the guest house for your convenience.
You will be transferred by road to the international airport in plenty of time for your homeward flight.