Cape to Windhoek Namibia Desert tour

“A thirteen day, small group overland tour, travelling through South Africa and mostly Namibia, with superb wildlife experiences. Staying in guesthouses or lodges, travelling in private minibus or safari truck. ”

Highlights

South Africa : Cape Town | Cederberg Namibia: Gariep River | Fish River Canyon | Nambib Desert | Sossusvlei | Swakopmund | Damaraland | Etosha National Park | Windhoek

Description of Cape to Windhoek Namibia Desert tour

This overland tour in southern Africa is from Cape Town in South Africa to Windhoek in Namibia, travelling with a small group of like minded travellers in a bespoke safari truck or air conditioned minibus, depending on the dates of travel.

After a couple of days in South Africa, you will have time to take in not only the urban wonders of Cape Town but also its nearby Cape Point Nature Reserve and African Penguin colony at Boulders Beach. En route to Namibia we also stop at the great Cederberg Wilderness area, famous for its giant sandstone boulders.

The majority of this itinerary takes place in the eclectic land and seascapes of Namibia, stopping at lesser known splendours such as Fish River Canyon or the Gariep River, as well as iconic wildlife watching spots, the most of famous of which is Etosha National Park. This translates roughly as 'Great White Place', its giant saltpan dominating the park and attracting 144 mammals.

We also visit the dramatic Sossusvlei dunes in the Namib Desert and the petrified forests of Damaraland, as well as having some coastal time at Swakopmund . Our tour finishes in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital in the Khomas Highland region of the country.

The price of this holiday includes 12 breakfasts, 10 lunches and 8 dinners are included. Of which 4 breakfasts are provided by the lodges. The remaining included meals are provided by the Sunway crew, prepared at the vehicle and eaten around the campfire or in a boma or dining area.

We run trips every month of the year, the dry season being between June and November, when wildlife are very visible at waterholes. Although these months are considered the best time to go to Namibia by many travellers, December to May are also beautiful months here, when the country is much more green and luscious, and also a time when migratory bird populations are at their most prolific.

Day-by-day experiences

Day 1:CAPE TOWN: Cape Town is one of the most picturesque cities in the world, with the majestic Table Mountain providing its central focus.Departing, after a tour briefing, from Cape Town at 08:00am we visit Hout Bay harbour en route to Cape Point Nature Reserve and then the African Penguin colony at Boulders Beach. We sample some of Cape Town’s culinary wonders at a local restaurant in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (own expense). [guest house - - -]
Day 2:CEDERBERG: The Cederberg is a massive rock wilderness with giant sandstone boulders that have been sculpted by wind and rain into bizarre and artistic shapes. We head north to the Cederberg and explore the rugged landscape on foot before relaxing in chalets for the evening. [chalet BLD] (B=breakfast, L=Lunch D=Dinner)
Day 3:GARIEP RIVER: We make our way into the more arid regions and upon entering Namibia, we stay at a lodge on the Gariep River. Namibia’s southern border river flows quietly and peacefully and the river valley is hardly affected by tourism. The riverbed is sandy, the water clean and clear. Time free for swimming and relaxing or you can venture down the river in canoes (own expense). [lodge BLD]
Day 4:FISH RIVER CANYON: The Fish River Canyon, situated along the lower reaches of the Fish River, is one of the most impressive natural beauties in the southern part of Namibia. With its depth of up to 550 metres, the Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world. We make our way to the canyon and in the afternoon watch a spectacular sunset as the sun slips over the canyon’s rim. [lodge BLD]
Day 5-6:NAMIB DESERT: The parched Namib Desert has endless orange dunes blown into sharp ridges by the sand-shifting wind and at Sossusvlei they form a gateway into the Namib Desert. We will walk to Sossusvlei, explore Sesriem Canyon and watch a dramatic sunset over the world’s highest sand dunes. (If you prefer not to do the 4km walk to Sossusvlei there is an optional own expense 4WD transfer) [lodge BLD]
Day 7-8:SWAKOPMUND: Swakopmund is a popular seaside resort with a slightly nostalgic atmosphere, characterized by numerous colonial buildings. In terms of flora, both the Welwitschia Mirabilis and the Kokerboom grow on the stony plains of the Namib and many beautiful specimens surround this coastal town. Swakopmund is also the adventure activity capital of Namibia. Day free to explore the town or try dune boarding or sea kayaking (own expense). [guest house Bx2 Lx1 -]
Day 9:DAMARALAND: Namibia is a land of great contrasts and Damaraland demonstrates this with stark plains, petrified forests and ancient valleys leading to rocky outcrops and the soaring peaks of the Brandberg Massif Mountains. [chalet BLD]
Day 10-11:ETOSHA NP: Once a vast lake fed by the Kunene River, the pan that is Etosha NP dried up thousands of years ago when the river waters chose a new course. Etosha is big game country. We take game drives around the huge pan to find the elephants, herds of antelope and lions around the waterholes. We stay at a lodge on the outskirts of the national park. [guest lodge BLD]
Day 12:WINDHOEK: This pretty town, beautifully situated in a valley, combines the architecture of a modern city with numerous buildings in the style of the German colonial era. The charm of the city of Windhoek lies in its harmonious blend of African and European cultures and the friendliness of its people. We visit the cosmopolitan capital and enjoy a restaurant meal (own expense). [guest house BL-]
Day 13:TOUR ENDS: Tour ends at 08:00 at the guest house. Transfers to airport available on request. [- B - -]

Travel Team

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Holiday type
Small group holidays
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.

Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travellers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
Message from co-Founder of this Tour Operator. My name is Bruce and I am a founder of this tour operation. I believe that the old conservation tactic of the setting aside areas of "exclusion" for conservation are outdated.

The reality is that in order for effective, sustainable conservation to take place, there needs to be an interest from the society of that country, conscious effort from government and local "buy in" from the local communities. Sadly the world is in a place where economic benefit is the overriding driving force of action and as such conservation is directly linked to economic benefit. Sustainable tourism is therefore absolutely essential for conservation to be effective. Not only for local communities to see value in conservation, but for countries as a whole to place value in protecting their natural heritage.

I believe there is a deep and instinctual link between our humanity and our natural environment. Inherently we all want to know that the wild places are still out there. And Eco-tourism gives us that opportunity, as we so often hear, to "rebalance" or "rejuvenate".

The various promises and commitments detailed below are only a representation of what it is that we do. I sincerely hope that our tours offer our clients an opportunity to experience the wonders of the African continent, and in some small way through focusing itineraries around wildlife and national parks, we contribute to environmental conservation both economically and spiritually.

If you join one of our trips, and have practical feasible suggestions about our responsible travel practices, please contact us. We strive to improve our operation and if we can do more for conservation in Africa, then we're all ears!

Low impact tourism & supporting local communities:
• Small group travel: We specialise in small group travel with a maximum group size of 12 clients & minimum of 4. Small groups ensures a small impact on the destinations we visit when compared to larger groups. Smaller groups create an intimate safari experience, and mean that when we interact with local cultures and stay in environmentally sensitive areas, we do not leave a large footprint.
• Fuel consumption: By travelling in a small group your carbon foot print is approximately ½ of self drive safari. The average pick-up car hire runs on approximately 12ltr/100km with generally 2 people per vehicle and this equates to approximately 6ltr/100km pp. Our average safari truck runs on 25ltr/100km with an average of 9.5 clients per tour and this equates to 2.6Ltr/100km pp. So, by joining a small group tour, your fuel consumption is less than half of doing a self-drive 4WD or pick up trip.
• Cooking: We cook using gas as far as possible and, whenever feasible, avoiding cooking using fire or coal which depletes limited wood resources.
• Wooden carving curios: We do take clients to local curio markets to support the local communities. If they want to buy a carving, we encourage clients purchase only small wooden carvings instead of large pieces. This is in an effort to again conserve the forests around the carving markets.
• Waste: We ensure that we take all of our rubbish out of wilderness areas and use proper waste disposal facilities on all tours (and in the workshop, including oil traps, oil recycling, cleaning products etc).
• Entrance fees: All entrance fees for the national parks in each country are used by the local authorities to maintain the condition and infrastructure of the national parks, and run regular anti-poaching patrols. These are often supplemented by government grants. The national parks support a large number of local community members often providing housing and schooling for the staff families. For us as a tour operator, supporting the various national park boards is an essential element to each tour.
• Accommodation: On all tours wherever possible we use locally owned accommodation establishments which are involved in local responsible tourism initiatives. This provides direct benefits to local communities through employment. We avoid large hotel chains and more commercial properties but opt for simple self-catering lodge, B&B’s and tented camps for accommodation in rural areas. By doing this we create an intimate environment for group away from large scale tourism and the communities around the accommodation benefit directly through employment and this creates pride and further interest in sustainable tourism as the communities have tangible benefits from tourism. Our tours focus on out of the way destinations, and as such, our “spend” is distributed into rural areas.
• Drinking Water: Each client, drinking 5 litres per day from 1 litre plastic bottles produces 100 waste plastic bottles on a 3 week safari. On this calculation, we would pollute the environment (and waste energy resources in plastic production) with over 250,000 plastic bottles per year! So as solution, each of our vehicles has a tank of clean drinking water that is filled up along the journey. This is safe tap water. We do not provide bottle water we encourage clients to drink the local clean drinkable tap water wherever possible in order to minimize the amount of plastic bottle waste produced by the purchase of bottled drinking water.
• Water conservation: We are acutely aware that in many areas that we visit water is a scarce resource. Clients are encouraged to be conscious of water usage and not to take long showers or waste water.
• Wildlife: On all game drives, our trained and qualified guides ensure that our groups interact with wildlife in the appropriate way. Slow movements, no loud noises and to respect the animals “personal” boundaries. Our philosophy is that we are visitors in the amazing places that we visit, and we do not want our presence to impact the wildlife and environment in any negative way. We also enforce a policy of not feeding any wildlife (animals habituated to human feeding will turn aggressive in the future which often results in authorities being forced to kill that animal) and to appreciate the natural state of the areas that we visit and to leave the area in exactly the same condition that it was when we arrived.
• Local guides & communities: On each tour you will travel with two guides for the entire trip. In addition, we also employ local guides for certain activities on tour. These local initiatives help to maintain local cultures and also sustain the ideals of wildlife conservation. Tourism, goodwill and conservation all work together and we aim to maintain the delicate balance at all times! The employment of local guide adds value to our clients visit because they can gain specific local knowledge and expertise from the people who actually live permanently in the area they are visiting. These interactions also give our clients the chance to meet local people and see how tourism is benefiting Africa, piece by piece.
We use local guides at:
Botswana: Okavango Delta, Chobe NP, Ghanzi San Bushman excursion, national parks
South Africa: Mkuzi village walk, Qunu Mandela historical site, Kozi Bay
Swailand: Hlane walking
Lesotho: Malealea Lodge pony trekking guide
Malawi: Boat excursion on Lake Malawi
Mozambique: Dhow excursions
Namibia: Brandberg walk and drives (part of the Tsiseb Community Conservancy), Spizkoppe walk, Gariep River canoeing, Sossusvlei 4WD drivers,
Zambia: Lower Zambezi Canoe excursion, South Luangwa game walks and drives, Vic Falls optional activities
Zimbabwe: Great Zimbabwe Monuments, Matobos NP, Hwange NP, Victoria Falls
For more information on each of the community projects please talk to your guide or contact us.
• Underprivileged Children Groups: We operate a number of tours into the national parks of South Africa for underprivileged children from schools based in Johannesburg, South Africa. PEN Organisation is an independent, non-governmental and social development organisation. Its activities focus on neglected and abandoned children and orphans, as well as disadvantaged families. We try to run these tours as often as possible during the course of a year. We believe that the youth are Africa’s future and that environmental education is important. This opportunity allows them to see for themselves wildlife (perhaps for the first time), nature conservation at work, and also show them employment opportunities that are available in the conservation or tourism industry, and possibly encourage them to follow a career in tourism (for this reason we aim these groups at 14-18 year olds).
• Local crafts and produce: At all local markets where fresh produce and crafts are sold and produced, we encourage the clients to barter (gently and in good humour) with the local people. This not only allows the clients to get involved with the local way of life, and interact directly with the local people, but also provides them a platform to experience local life first hand. Having said that, we explain to the clients by bartering too hard for a good deal might seem like a lot of money at the time, but if the amount being haggled over is converted to either US$, Euro or GBP, it amounts to very little. This is the local livelihood and we advise them to keep this in mind at all times.
• Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre: We assist a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Springs, Johannesburg. Judy Davidson runs a licensed rehab centre from a small holding. A variety of birds are cared for, from injured barbets, doves, and crows to a brown snake eagle, a Gymnogene, and spotted eagle owls. All birds are treated in a small makeshift clinic, and then kept in aviaries until they have recovered. Once able to fly, or care for themselves again, they are moved to a 'flight' aviary, for a period until they have regained strength. They are then released back into the wild. Those birds which are unable to be released are kept in large aviaries and fed through various donations. We assist the project with donations of practical equipment including shade netting, paint and other items on their wish list.
Community
Climate

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