Arrive at any time. Transfer to hotel.
Enjoy the dramatic Namibian landscapes as we drive to the desert area of Sesriem, gateway to Namib-Naukluft National Park. Settle in to our desert lodge, relax at the pool, or enjoy a cool drink watching the stunning sunset over the desertscape. Enjoy postcard perfect desert scenery around Sesriem and Sossusvlei - vast desertscapes of reds and orange, stark camel thorn trees and towering dunes with dramatic curved ridges. Also keep an eye out for the surprising amount of wildlife that call this area home such as oryx, springbok, jackal, ground squirrel and hyena.
Embark on a scenic excursion into the national park to explore the Namib Desert. Visit Sossusvlei and Deadvlei ?? clay pans covered in a crust of salt-rich sand surrounded by burnt orange and red towering dunes. It's considered one of the most stunning desert landscapes in Africa. After, visit Sesriem Canyon, a natural gorge carved out by the Tsauchab River.
Continue through changing desert landscapes, keeping an eye out for free-roaming zebra, kudu, springbok, and oryx. Stop in the quirky town of Solitaire for a break before heading out into the countryside. Here we meet a local to this remote region who takes us on a drive and talks about the survival strategies of ancient bushmen who lived in the area. We also search out smaller animal life that manages to survive in these harsh conditions such as snakes, geckos, spiders, and insects to learn how they have adapted to this arid region. After, continue to Swakopmund on the Atlantic coast.
Enjoy a free morning. Opt to go sandboarding, or just take a walk in town. This afternoon, explore the township of Mondesa with a local guide, learning about its people and history. Visit the local market for an introduction to traditional food including wild spinach, mopane worms, and dried kapenta fish. Also visit an art and craft shop, meet with some locals, then visit a family-run establishment for dinner and local entertainment. Explore the town's unique mix of German and African culture and opt to visit curio shops, the museum and restaurants. Optional activities include sandboarding, or if you're feeling brave, skydiving.
Continue on to Twyfelfontein where we visit the ancient petroglyphs which were named Namibia's first UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site is thought to hold the largest concentrations of bushman engravings in Africa with over 2,500 figures ranging from 2,000 to 5,000 years old. Finish the day on the Palmwag Concession, in northwest Damaraland.
Visit the Petrified Forest national monument, a stunning site of fossilized tree trunks dating from approximately 280 million years ago, before continuing to our lodge located in the Etosha National Park area. Etosha is considered the greatest wildlife sanctuary in Namibia. This evening, spend time at the waterhole to view the abundant number of wildlife who come to drink.
Embark on two open vehicle safari drives today, one in the early morning, to see the sunrise, and another in afternoon. Both drives will be led by a local guide from the national park. There is abundant wildlife that congregate around the waterholes, so keep your cameras at the ready for elephants, lions, endangered black rhinos, and even leopards. Over lunch, you have time to relax at the lodge, take a swim, or sit back and watch the animals as they come to the waterhole. After the vast desert, Etosha National Park, offers a contrast of wide open grasslands, a massive salt pan that covers 4731km² and tall camel thorn trees intermixed with Mopani trees. With a combination of natural waterholes, and diverse vegetation, wildlife flock to the park. Some of the largest elephants in Africa can be found in areas of thicker vegetation, as well as leopard and the critically endangered black rhino. Lions, giraffe, ostrich and many antelope species can be found in the grasslands, while birders will love the salt pans which attract flamingos in the rainy season. More than 340 bird species have been counted in Etosha National Park including the European bee-eater, the kori bustard and numerous migratory birds.
After breakfast, visit the Cheetah Conservation Fund, a global field research and education facility founded by Dr. Laurie Marker whose research has been supported by National Geographic. Tour the facility to learn about the important research, conservation, and community outreach work they do as one of the world's leading organizations dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild. Meet with a researcher for a lecture to learn about the various projects in the works, then enjoy a cheetah drive to view some of these amazing creatures up close. After, enjoy lunch on the veranda overlooking the magnificent Waterberg Plateau. Continue on to Windhoek for our final evening.
Fly to Zimbabwe. Gain insight into what life is like in Africa with a walk through a local market and dinner at a family homestead. Meet the family, learn their history, and share stories as you help prepare a traditional Zimbabwean dinner. The mist off Victoria Falls can rise to a height of more than 400m (1312 ft). Local tribes used to call the falls Mosi-o-Tunya or "the smoke that thunders." Explorer and missionary David Livingstone renamed the falls after Queen Victoria when he first saw them in 1855.
Enjoy a morning tour of the beautiful Victoria Falls, then the rest of the day is free to explore the area. Take part in a river safari, cultural tours, whitewater rafting, canoeing, or a helicopter ride over the falls. Opt to take a day trip to the wildlife haven of Chobe National Park.