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.
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.
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.
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 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.
You do not need any vaccinations for entry to Namibia from the U.S. However, if you are coming from a country with risk of yellow fever, you must present proof of vaccination. (There is no risk of yellow fever in Namibia.) We’ll be visiting during the winter dry season, so while the risk of mosquito exposure is low, malaria is present in and around Etosha National Park. For this reason, we include DEET and long sleeves on our packing lists. The best way to avoid mosquito-borne pathogens is to avoid mosquito bites in the first place. For further information and advice, consult the CDC website and your doctor.
While most of your expenses are included in the cost of the trip, you’ll want some small bills available for additional snacks, gift shop purchases, alcoholic beverages, and more. Loose change is best for tipping lodge staff, porters, and drivers. (You can tip your trip leaders in U.S. dollars.)
Namibia uses the Namibian Dollar, which is linked on a one-to-one exchange with the South African Rand. Either currency is legal tender in Namibia. You can withdraw Namibian currency at your home bank before you leave, in the Windhoek Airport, or occasionally at some hotels. Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay a conversion fee no matter where you exchange currency.
Credit cards will be accepted in urban areas and at most lodges, but cash is necessary elsewhere. (Debit cards will generally incur lower exchange fees than credit cards.)
In Namibia, power sockets are type D and M. Standard voltage is 220 and frequency is 50 Hz. Most laptop and cellphone chargers won’t need a converter (only an adapter), but other devices may need both.
Atlas Obscura, in partnership with organizations such as Scifari Expeditions, strives to combine sustainable travel with ecosystem-level conservation and the explicit recognition of and respect for the rights of indigenous people. Ecotourism is more than just “nature tourism.” It has the explicit goal of benefiting local communities both environmentally and economically. Tourism can financially empower local communities and, by leveraging a more sustainable sort of economic development, can strengthen resistance to exploitative industries such as mining, agriculture, ranching, or logging.