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Life between Desert and Sea 

17-day round trip, North Namibia

Life between desert and sea? Yes. The Kalahari Desert, one of the most remote deserts on earth, is teeming with life – and we know where to look for it. The most spectacular part, the Namib Desert, boasts magnificent panoramas, gigantic peaks, huge mountain ranges and spectacular sand dunes. Travel through this stunningly beautiful country of desert dwellers. Find the elusive desert Elephants, desert lions and the extremely rare Black Rhino. Cherish the sight of the most beautiful antelope of them all, the oryx, roaming in the world’s most beautiful desert. Be amazed by the bizarre Welwitschia, one of the oldest living plants in the world. And look for small desert animals like the sidewinding adder, the dancing lizard and the even weirder named Tok-Tokkie.

You’ll also visit the human desert dwellers: the red coloured Himba and the original bushmen, the San, call this home.

Bordering this desert is the life bringing ocean. The cold Antarctic water is a rich feeding ground for the multitudes of penguins, seals, dolphins and occasionally even whales. Why not make an adventurous sea-kayak journey to a remote seal colony or taste fresh oysters on a boat trip? 

One of Africa’s top five game reserves: Etosha

Last but not least, in the middle of this all, you’ll find one of Africa’s top five game reserves: Etosha. Waterholes give life to a myriad of bush and plain animals. Elephants and giraffes, black and white rhinos, lions, wild dogs and cheetah congregate with thousands of antelopes, zebra’s, wildebeest and buffaloes around these wells of life. And you’ll also visit Na’an ku se (one of the best conservation initiatives in Africa!) to learn all about these animals before you go on safari. Talk about added value!

On this journey of discovery of all the life between desert and sea, you’ll sleep in some of the most remote and beautiful exclusive lodges in the world. Whether isolated on the infamous Skeleton Coast or hidden away in the barren desert, stay in style.

Discover Namibia’s wildlife between desert and sea the way you want it. Choose self-drive or guided chauffeur driven, exclusive fly-in or adventurous 4×4 safari camper – this is truly a journey you’ll never forget!

Highlights of the Life Between Desert and Sea round tour

  • Focus both on life in the Kalahari Desert and life in the sea
  • Unique safaris, sunset drives, night drives and game walks
  • Learn all about wildlife conservation at Na’an ku se
  • San rock paintings at spectacular Spitzkoppe
  • 2 nights quirky Swakopmund
  • Fat Bike Desert Tour
  • Kayaking to seal colony
  • 2 nights Shipwreck Lodge on the Skeleton Coast
  • 2 nights for Desert Elephant tracking in Purros
  • Visit original Himba village
  • 2 nights to track the elusive Black Rhino in Palmwag
  • 4 nights straight through Etosha NP
    • Hobatere, wild western Etosha
    • Okaukuejo, central Etosha
    • Onguma Game Reserve, eastern Etosha
  • Okonjima Nature Reserve and AfriCAT foundation
  • Sleep in stunning eco-tourism and community supportive lodges
  • Choose the option you want: self-drive, guided chauffeur driven, fly-in or 4×4 safari camper
  • Exclusive bespoke and flexible experiences

The Life between Desert and Sea tour in detail

Day 1 – 2 Wildlife conservation at Na’an ku se Lodge

In the middle of the wild bushlands surrounding Namibia’s capital Windhoek lies a luxurious, unique not-for-profit ecolodge: Na’an ku se Lodge. Here all profits go to wildlife conservation and community development. The stunning lodge is crafted from ecologically clean material (including solid logs and glass) to complement its beautiful wilderness setting.

You will have the best introduction to fully enjoy the wildlife of the wild Kalahari Desert by learning about them before heading out into the wild. Upfront you might think this is interesting but trust us: once you’re out in the bush, you will appreciate all you experience and learn today!

The Naankuse Nature Reserve is all about conserving wild animals since it is also a rehabilitation centre for lions, leopards, wild dogs, baboons, caracals, and cheetahs. To keep them as wild as possible, human interactions are minimal. Absolutely no touching is allowed. Join a carnivore feeding tour, and you will learn all about the animals’ behaviour and their exciting stories of their histories from the local guides.

These guides are often San, the original bushmen of the Kalahari. During the Ancient San Skills Tour, you will spend time with a San family. Learn how they hunt, find food, water and medicine with traditional skills. Walk with them through the bush and learn traditional songs and dances.

Day 3 Spitzkoppen Lodge, Spitzkoppe

The scenic Namib Desert is the most spectacular part of the Kalahari Desert. Here an absolute highlight is the Spitzkoppe (‘pointed mountains’), a group of bald granite peaks forming one of Namibia’s most recognizable and dramatic landmarks. These enormous, towering domes look barren, but since ancient times this was the home of the San. They left an astonishing amount of rock paintings. In the afternoon you’ll visit the most spectacular of these paintings.

The lodge is situated on the northern periphery of the Spitzkoppe inselberg, between huge granite boulders, . These were created more than 150 million years ago, with breathtaking views onto the Brandberg and Erongo Mountains.

Day 4 – 5 Swakopmund: life between desert and sea

From the desert to the sea: along Namibia’s spectacularly scenic coast lies the quirky seaside town of Swakopmund. It is known for its wide-open avenues, colonial architecture, and its surrounding otherworldly desert terrain. Swakopmund is often described as being more German than Germany. If you go to a typical Konditorei (German for cake bakery), you can find amazing Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte and Apfelkuchen.

A freezingly cold ocean and a desert sound like the recipe for a desolate, barren area. Nothing is further away from the truth! Swakopmund epitomizes the rich life between the desert and the sea. In the morning, you will go on a Fat Bike tour. A Fat Bike has very thick and wide tyres to enable you to ride on sand. The tour starts off by riding down memory lane, passing some of Swakopmund’s historic buildings and landmarks to give the visitor a feel of how the charming town started.

The living desert

Then you head off into the dunes to take in the breath-taking scenery of the oldest desert in the world in a fully ecological way without noise or air pollution. You can even cycle up and down Namibia’s famous dunes. From here you can enjoy once in a lifetime views of desert, sea and Swakopmund. If you are not up to cycling, you can join a Living Desert Tour, where you will explore the Namib Desert and discover its wealth of fauna and flora. Expect sightings of sidewinder snakes, white lady spiders, Namaqua chameleons, dancing lizards and much more.

In the afternoon, you go to the Walvis Bay Lagoon, home to a huge variety of birds, plankton species, fish life, dolphins and even sometimes whales. You go out on a sea-kayak to visit the Pelican Point seal colony with a population between 15’000 and 20’000 Cape Fur Seals.  These seals have no natural predators in the water and are keen to approach the kayaks. Or make a cruise if you prefer not to peddle.

End the day in the famous Brewer & Butcher restaurant. It boasts a Micro-brewery, Beer Garden, Restaurant, Bar, Lounge with an open fireplace, a sea-facing terrace with two “Boma” fire pits and a fireplace. 

Day 6 – 7 The dangerous beauty of Skeleton Coast

The Skeleton Coast is known as the ‘Land God Made in Anger’ and is remoteness at its best. Thousands of miles of sandy desert dotted with shipwrecks meet with the cold waters of the Atlantic. Somehow, an amazing array of wildlife and flora manages to survive in this harsh but beautiful environment. Imagine hundreds and hundreds of kilometres of empty sandy coast, bordered by endless dunes and littered with scattered shipwrecks. The road is smooth as tar but built with salt.

Here you find an exclusive retreat: Shipwreck Lodge. The shipwreck-shaped chalets are nestled between the dunes with a view of the Atlantic Ocean, where the cold Benguela current provides guests with a refreshing breeze. The lodge’s design was inspired by the many ships that have been wrecked on the Skeleton Coast. The lodge emphasizes a light footprint by eco-friendly water and waste management and by using solar power. Wake up to spectacular desert views with the sound of waves crashing in the distance and fall asleep to a crackling fire in the stove.

Our exclusive clients can look forward to appreciating the harshness of the desert and the beauty of these solitary landscapes filled with geological history. Learn about the fauna and flora adapted to survive in these harsh conditions – all from the comfort of the restaurant deck.

Wildlife along the sea

Ocean fog creeps over the shoreline caused by the warm, dry air of the Namib Desert colliding with the cold Benguela current. This otherworldly area is home to a diversity of wildlife, including seabird colonies, Cape fur seals, zebra, gemsbok, desert-adapted elephant, lion and much more. This coast is desolate but breathtakingly beautiful.

Visit the bustling Seal Colony, go sandboarding and enjoy a scrumptious lunch on the vast empty beach. Then ponder the meaning of life as the ocean washes onto the pristine sand in its unending ebb and flow and end the day with a sundowner drive to the Roaring Dunes, where the desert’s voice can be heard. Watch the sun disappear into the Atlantic Ocean. 

Day 8 – 9 Desert Elephants and Himbas

You start the day with a very adventurous drive up a track along the Hoarusib River under the guidance of a vehicle and guide from the lodge. Perched on a hill above the banks of the ephemeral Hoarusib River, the Okahirongo Elephant Lodge is possibly one of the most remote lodges in Namibia. If you make it here, you will be rewarded with a genuine safari experience.

The lodge will dazzle your senses with its mix of stylish tranquillity, eccentric architecture, ultimate comfort and excellent service. Ethnic and local sculptured furnishing bring the excitement and romance of Africa to life. An oasis of luxury in the middle of the desert. 

Prepare to see billions of stars you couldn’t even imagine. Chronicles of ancient times report that during clear nights it was possible to read a book just with the light of the full moon reflected by a pool. At Okahirongo, it is still like that.

Tracking the famous desert elephants

This remote area, deep in the heart of the Kaokoland wilderness, is home to an array of unique desert-adapted wildlife. These include the famous Desert Elephant, Desert Lion, Black Rhino and Giraffe. You go out a full day on specifically desert-equipped safari vehicles to look for the rare herd of desert-adapted elephants, some of the most scenic endemic species that populate this region. A family of Black Rhino also roams the area, as well as stunning towers of giraffes, jumping springboks, kudus, birds and a wide variety of big and small wildlife. And you might encounter the weirdest plant of them all. The bizarre Welwitschia can live up to 2,000 years old, but only consists of one root stem and two leaves. Wind and age make these leaves split and wind around themselves, making it one of nature’s most fascinating sculptures!

The Himba, people of the desert

Your guides are 100% locals with a lifetime of experience in the location: they are true Himbas, heirs of ancient desert tribes knowledge. They bring in their priceless knowledge of nature and animals for an experience that is a true encounter rather than just another “drive”.

They live in a nearby authentic Himba village. The village is the home of many relatives of the guides and staff members who still live with the ancient traditional style of the pre-technological era. The unique experience of your guide can ensure a true and deep dive into the local culture, which is far from what travellers can usually expect elsewhere.

Day 10 – 11 Tracking the elusive Black Rhino

Palmwag is named after the palm trees that line the (usually empty) river bed that borders the stunning Etendeka Plateau. The reserve is home to the largest population of southwestern black rhinos in Africa. Animal lovers can also get a peek at leopard, lion, cheetah, mountain zebra, Angolan giraffe, springbok, kudu, and African bush elephant. The comfortable Grootberg Lodge is wholly owned by the local community, and the continued conservation efforts have resulted in wildlife numbers growing in this conservancy.

Leaving early in the morning will be forgiven by the extraordinary experience: rhino tracking. The tracking is done by foot, with a supporting vehicle. The ranger will look for footprints and clues to track the elusive rhino in all safety: reaching them by downwind to avoid being spotted by these giants. A beautiful drive back to the Lodge will ensure the pleasure to dive into the pool before doing one of the other activities.

In the afternoon you can go on a scenic drive on top of the plateau. Experience various wildlife sightings, including zebra, antelope, jackal, springbok, kudu and oryx and occasionally leopard and lion.

Day 12 Discover the wild west of Etosha NP

Etosha West is a new, still undiscovered addition to this world-famous wildlife sanctuary. Explore the magnificent scenery of this remote north Namibian landscape. The area boasts numerous waterholes attracting elephants, rhino, leopards, lions, and a variety of bucks. Hobatere means “Find me”, and once you do, you will enjoy a warm welcome and personalized service. Because it is a private concession, today, you can make a unique night drive. Many nocturnal animals, such as aardvark, cape fox, bat-eared fox, aardwolf, genet and many more, can only be encountered on a night drive.

The concession area is home to a wide selection of game. Think lion, leopard, oryx, eland, cheetah, aardvark, giraffe, Hartmann’s mountain zebra and elephant. The exclusive lodge belongs to the #Khoadi //Hoas Conservancy. One of the primary objectives of the lodge is to increase the benefits to the local community, reducing human-wildlife conflict and conservation of the area.

Day 13 Central Etosha

You’ll spend the whole day game driving through the bushy Western part of Etosha to the open central part. Etosha National Park is one of the top 5 African Game Reserves and offers a premier game viewing experience. The park’s diverse vegetation ranges from dense bush to open plains attracting a variety of wildlife. In the heart of the park is the Etosha Pan – a shallow depression that covers an area of 5000 square kilometres. Dry and shimmering for most of the year, the pans fill up with water after seasonal rains, making it the perfect habitat for wildlife.

In the dry season, the wildlife is attracted to the perennial springs and waterholes that make Etosha unique. Where in other areas you drive around looking for game, in Etosha, you travel from waterhole to waterhole. Etosha is home to a variety of large mammals such as lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, zebra, giraffe and a diversity of birdlife such as flamingos and pelicans. And you’ll see a lot of these!

Day 14 – 15 East Etosha, Onguma Game Reserve

Another full day game driving takes you through the eastern part of Etosha to one of Namibia’s best-kept secrets: Onguma Game Reserve. The reserve offers you the opportunity to experience Africa in all her beauty and diversity. It features over 34000 hectares of protected land scattered with a variety of wildlife. Plains game, black rhino, kudu, giraffe, zebra, lion, cheetah, leopard and more than 300 bird species call this home. The seasonal rains attract thousands of migrating birds to the Fisher’s Pan wetland area.

You sleep in a stunningly beautiful Tented Camp, where the large luxurious safari tents evoke thoughts of an era long gone by. In the local Herero language, Onguma means “the place you don’t want to leave.” With a stunning main building and seven tents providing private, exclusive accommodation, Onguma Tented Camp certainly lives up to that name. Like the bush where soft air blows against sharp thorns, Onguma Tented Camp is a study in contrasts. Textures such as stone, suede, linen and steel create a setting that is sleek and modern but also inherently of the earth.

Today’s game viewing is not only done by game drives but also from a new water-level hide where the animals tower literally just meters away above you. Because the animals don’t know you are there, you will get a unique insight into their natural behaviour. This is truly a place you don’t want to leave!

Day 16 Okonjima Nature Reserve

Midway between the spectacular Etosha National Park and the capital city of Windhoek lies the well-known Okonjima Nature Reserve. This is home to AfriCAT, a carnivore sanctuary, which gives the captive cats a second chance to be released back into the wild. Here they become completely independent hunters in a protected area right in the middle of commercial cattle farmland. Enjoy thrilling cat tracking guided safaris, leopard-spotting, and off-road night drives to end your safari in Namibia in style.

Day 17 Return home

A short drive takes you to the international airport of Windhoek. Undoubtedly, the hustle and bustle of modern life will make you long for more of the unforgettable life on the wild side that you have experienced these weeks.

Map of the tour

Map Tales from Africa Travel Life between desert and sea North Namibia tour

Bespoke private experiences

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