Namibia's Towering Dunes & Desert Elephants - Atlas Obscura Trips
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Photo Credit: Ashim D’Silva
Photo Credit: Lucas Bustamante
Photo Credit: Lucas Bustamante

Namibia's Towering Dunes & Desert Elephants

from $7,115 USD per person for 11 days, 10 nights
See Dates
  • 14 People Maximum
  • Moderate Activity Level
  • Outdoor Expedition
See Dates
Trip Overview

From its sweeping, white-crusted salt pans to its towering, rust-colored dunes, Namibia’s stunning desert landscapes are as spectacular as the resourceful flora and fauna that call them home. Join us for an 11-day journey across the world’s oldest desert in search of some of the most magnetic wildlife on the planet—from the spiny namaqua chameleon to the long-legged desert elephant. We’ll search for black rhinos in the shadow of Brandberg Mountain, photograph the sun-scorched trees of Deadvlei, and glimpse granite cliffs covered in ancient art. The trip will culminate with three nights in Etosha National Park, where we might find ourselves mingling with two types of big cats, a subspecies of giraffe found nowhere else in the world, and ghostly white, calcite-coated elephants. With the help of expert biologists and photographers, you’ll experience the day-to-day life of a field biologist and, alongside spectacular species—some of which are teetering on the brink of extinction—learn about matters of conservation from up-close.

Our partner, SciFari Expeditions: In order to create and curate this unique experience, we've partnered with SciFari Expeditions, a team of scientists and science journalists who have spent years traveling the globe, uncovering important stories about wildlife, and working to understand the role of humanity within the natural world. 

  • Some of the most spectacular wildlife on the planet
  • The oldest desert and tallest sand dunes in the world
  • Centuries-old trees, frozen in time
  • Ancient rock art carved into the side of a mountain


Itineraries and daily schedules are subject to change. We expect to do everything listed in the itinerary, though the order may be rearranged based on weather or other local conditions.

Trip Leaders

Phil Torres
Phil Torres has been bitten by an anaconda, tackled a tiger shark, and gotten lost in a forest full of quicksand… all in the name of science. As a researcher and science communicator, he spent two years living in the Amazon and has worked in Mongolia, Venezuela, Sweden, the Bahamas, the Arctic, and the bottom of the ocean. He is the creator and host of The Jungle Diaries and has hosted more than 70 episodes of TechKnow on Al Jazeera. He also hosts Ready, Set, Pet on The CW network and Big Metal Bird for United Airlines. Phil has made several significant discoveries as a field biologist in South America, including the decoy spider, a thieving butterfly, and silkhenge; this research and wildlife photography has been featured by National Geographic, Wired, and the BBC. He’s been leading wildlife trips with Atlas Obscura since 2017.
Jason Goldman
Dr. Jason G. Goldman is an award-winning science journalist and expedition leader based in Los Angeles. He’s collared foxes on California’s Channel Islands, been sneezed on by iguanas in the Galápagos, tracked lions in South Africa, rode a yak across Tajikistan's Pamir Mountains, and searched for rare lizards in the cloud forests of Ecuador. He's written for Scientific American, The New York Times, National Geographic, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Magazine, Teen Vogue, and elsewhere, and is co-author of Wild L.A.: Explore the Amazing Nature In and Around Los Angeles. He’s been leading wildlife trips with Atlas Obscura since 2017.

Additional Info


The total cost of this trip is $7,115. Due to the nature of the lodges, single supplements are not available, and travelers will need to share a room with either their travel companion or another traveler of the same gender.


All accommodations are included. Sometimes we’ll stay at four-star lodges on private reserves; other nights we’ll be at rustic country inns, quiet bed and breakfasts, or camps within national parks. Rooms will be double occupancy. (Unfortunately, we can’t provide a single supplement option; travelers will need to share a room with either their travel companion or another traveler of the same gender.) Many rooms come equipped with air conditioning or ceiling fans, and all include en-suite bathrooms. Some of our lodges will even have swimming pools!


Over the course of 11 days, we’ll cover some 1053 miles (1700 kilometers.) To transfer between regions, we’ll use two private, enclosed safari game-viewers, each driven by a local professional driver. Since we’ll spend around 20 hours on multi-hour drives, remember to dress accordingly. Consider bringing a small pillow for your lower back to make those long drives more comfortable.

Activity & Travel Style

Days will consist of game drives and hikes, while evenings will generally take a slower pace. We’ll take advantage of long drives for informal scientific presentations and group discussions. While this trip is suitable for all travelers aged 18 and above, several of our planned activities will include walking or hiking for several miles on sand in the desert heat. 


If you purchase, rent, or borrow new camera gear just for this trip, we encourage you to spend time using it before leaving for Namibia so you can become familiar with its basic operation. You don't want to miss spectacular moments while messing with your camera settings! However, please keep in mind that our pace will be dictated by maximizing wildlife viewing opportunities rather than photographic opportunities.

Arrival & Departure

For flights in and out of Namibia's Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH), you should plan to arrive by 4 p.m. on July 19. On our final day, July 29, we'll aim to arrive at the airport by 1 p.m.; your outbound flight should be scheduled no earlier than 4 p.m.

  • All meals and accommodations.
  • Ground transportation throughout Namibia.
  • The expertise of three guides.
  • All activities listed in the itinerary.
  • Park and reserve entrance fees.
  • Airfare to and from Namibia.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Additional snacks, meals outside of itinerary, and alcoholic beverages.
  • Optional activities outside of itinerary.
  • Travel insurance (recommended).
  • Laundry.
  • Tips for guides.
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Trip FAQ

All you need to enter and depart Namibia is a passport valid for at least six months from the departure date, with at least six blank pages, and a valid return ticket. With a U.S. passport, you will automatically receive a free, 90-day tourist visa. For more information, see the State Department’s Namibia travel page.

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Upcoming Departures

  • Jul 19–Jul 29, 2020
    from $7,115 per person
Booking and payment processing partners may vary with departure date. Please see our full Terms and Conditions here.
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