Having been lucky enough to travel extensively throughout Africa, Namibia has always been one country that I’ve been keen to return to and see more of, in particular. When Ultimate Safaris kindly invited me to experience their exclusive guided tours, I didn’t hesitate to accept and ventured on the trip of a life time combining myriad of unforgettable experiences whilst enjoying the hospitality of a number of incredible camps and lodges.
Ultimate Safaris specialise in upmarket guided safaris by 4WD which can be combined with Namibia’s famous flying safaris. Run from their head office in Windhoek, Ultimate are well known for their excellent guides and our own guide for the tour, Franco was no exception. Knowledgeable, engaging, interesting and fun he was one of the best guides I’ve ever had, so much more than just a talking encyclopaedia, he guided us beautifully through Windhoek, Okonjima, Damaraland, Twyfelfontein, Swakupmond and Sossusvlei during our ten day adventure.
After a late arrival and a night to refresh in Windhoek, we woke early and drove to Okonjima, home to Africat, a non-profit organisation whose aim is the conservations Namibia’s wild cats, where we spent a magical afternoon leopard tracking. With 12 collared leopards tracked via radio, that afternoon we managed to see two magnificent cats which made for a very exciting start to the trip.
Following the traditional sun-downers and a delicious dinner, we headed out on a night drive to the lodge’s hide, where we saw a variety of nocturnal animals, including a baby porcupine and its mother, a brown hyena and a jackal.
We returned for a restful night’s sleep at the beautiful and very private Bush Camp and the next morning we set off for Damaraland, a long, but particularly picturesque journey.
That night we were hosted at the spectacular Damaraland Camp, a joint venture between Wilderness Safaris and the local people of the Torra Conservancy, before getting up with the lark to enjoy a dramatic sunrise walk.
This was one of the highlights of the whole trip for me. It was good exercise, we took lots of pictures, and the views and scenery were like nowhere else I’ve seen. After the walk we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the lodge before setting off for a full days drive along the sand river bed. The views were absolutely breath-taking from start to finish and we were entertained by a variety of settings and fauna along the way.
We arrived at our stop for the night, the exclusive Huab Under Canvas, set high above the invariably dry river bed. The camp was set up as a joint venture between the community and Save the Rhino Trust and thus the main activity here is rhino tracking which is done in the morning. The conservancy boasts nine black rhino and the local trackers head out after sunrise, radioing your guide when they’ve tracked a rhino. Guests are then driven to the location where they can walk out to see the rhinos. We were lucky enough to see five rhino including a baby from about 50-75 metres away, a really unique and memorable experience.
The following day we drove off road to the Twyfelfrontien area, thankful for our experienced driver. That afternoon we visited one of Namibia’s two UNESCO world heritage sites, Twyfelfrontien, famous for it having one of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs (rock engravings) in Africa, which is thoroughly worth visiting to follow the ‘Lion Man’ – a route showing off the best of the paintings.
The next day was my birthday and we drove back to Swakupmond, savouring a leisurely afternoon, followed by a spoiling celebratory dinner at Tug – THE place to eat out, and well worth booking in advance. We spent the night at The Strand Hotel, set right on the waterfront with the best views in town.
After a good night’s sleep and an amazing breakfast, we were delivered to the airstrip in Swakop for our flight to Sossosvlei.
The 1.5 hour flight was spectacular, offering amazing views over Walwis Bay, Sandwich Harbour (where we saw lots of flamingos), ship wrecks on the coast, and then over the dunes of Sossosvlei before landing.
We were welcomed at our lodge, Little Kuala, and set off for an afternoon’s quad biking, which was great fun and definitely worked up an appetite for a G and T when we reached our sun-downers spot in the dessert.
The next morning we took an excursion to the infamous Sossusvlei, a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes. With the main gate not opening until just after sunrise, and the Kuala private gate granting advance access you have a 10 minute head start over other visitors which is a huge advantage for the photographers among us. There are a number of different dunes, but ‘Big Daddy’ is the one to climb for kudos…
The base of the dune is located 1km from the car park, with short but powerful hike of 325m to the top, from where you can walk down to Dead Vlei, the area’s most famous salt pan.
After lunch we headed to Sossus Under Canvas which is a camp located on the 25,000 hectare Tsaris Conservancy. The land is privately owned and is being regenerated, and as with Huab Under Canvas is an exclusive use camp with eight tents in total. Activities here include excursions to the dunes, nature drives, trail biking and nature walks through some of Namibia’s most awe inspiring scenery.
The next day we embarked upon a beautiful early morning drive onto the plateau, with stunning views and a totally different landscape. After a bush breakfast on a viewpoint we waved sad goodbyes to our guide and took our charter flight to Windhoek, where we reflected on our trip, over our final dinner at Joes Beer House, (highly recommended for a typical Namibian dining experience!)
Now home after a busy and action packed trip, I am so grateful to all those involved and would like to thank everyone who made the trip so enjoyable. With a refreshed view of Namibia, I am thoroughly looking forward to utilising my in depth knowledge of the country and creating some a variety of unique itineraries for our clients, including many of the camps and experiences from this trip.
To find out more or to talk to Lukey about planning a trip to Namibia for yourselves then please get in touch.