Wildlife Adventure in Namibia

Discover the vast, diverse landscapes of this fascinating country by private train and experience immense dunes, desert, and coastal areas as well as incredible wildlife.

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 The iconic red dunes of Namibia  The sweeping Namib Desert. Credit: Lernidee  A lioness in Namibia  Elephants in Etosha National Park  A leopard in Namibia  Zebras in the wild  A herd of Oryx gazelle at sunset  Giraffes running on the plains. Credit: Troy Feener  The Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia  The quiver tree, which can live to be 300 years old  The famous red dunes of Sossusvlei, Namibia  Flamingos at Walvis Bay  Seals and flamingos congregating at Walvis Bay  Namibia's Skeleton Coast. Credit: Lernidee  The Desert Express train in Namibia. Credit: Holoog

Located between the Kalahari and the South Atlantic, Namibia is known for its striking diversity of landscapes. Discover the entire breadth of the country on this exciting new adventure, made possible by our comfortable privately chartered train, the Desert Express. Setting out from Windhoek, the nation’s capital, you’ll experience Namibia’s unique geology, from the world’s second largest canyon to the Kalahari and Namib deserts and the Etosha Pan, which attracts incredible wildlife.

Explore the largest dunes in the world—the gigantic, brick-red dunes of the Sossusvlei as they glow in the morning light. Along the Atlantic Ocean, meet with a park ranger to learn about the conservation efforts along the Skeleton Coast and view hundreds of flamingoes gathered in Walvis Bay. Farther north in Etosha National Park, game drives will reveal stunning wildlife, including elephant, zebra, lion, cheetah, and antelope, which gather near the waterholes. Along your journey, learn about the people of Namibia, from a talk about the original San people (Bushmen) to a meeting with the owners of a winery. Plus, overnight hotel stays break up your train journey to provide more time for game viewing!

October 15-16 — U.S., Windhoek

Depart for Windhoek, arriving the following day. Transfer to a lodge on the outskirts of town for the evening where dinner is served. (D) Okapuka Lodge

October 17 — Departure on board the Desert Express
Awake early for a game drive on the lodge’s extensive property accompanied by expert guides. Springbok, gemsbok, kudu, and oryx are abundant, and you may catch a glimpse of giraffe and even a rhino. Depart the lodge for Windhoek, where you board the Desert Express private train, awaiting you at the tiny Windhoek Station. The train departs around noon, slowly rolling southwards through Auas Hills as the landscape gradually dries out. Listen to a talk on Namibian history in the lounge before moving to dinner in the dining car. (B,L,D) Desert Express

October 18 — Fish River Canyon, Keetmanshoop
Awake to a starkly different landscape this morning. Disembark the train and drive through the semi-desert to Fish River Canyon, the second largest canyon in the world at 500 meters deep and 160 km long. Walk along the edge of the canyon, peering down at the Fish River half a kilometer below you. Along the way, you may spot ostrich, zebra, and an occasional jackal. Back on board, the train heads back north through the western Kalahari Desert. Listen to a talk on the unique geology of Namibia. Stop in the small village of Keetmanshoop for a short excursion to the Quiver Tree Forest. Strolling among these strange looking trees that, scattered among oddly shaped boulders, look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, you may discover families of rabbit-sized rock hyrax peering out at you from behind the boulders. (B,L,D)

October 19 — From Mariental to the Namib Desert
Arriving in Mariental in the morning, disembark for the Namib Desert, where you will spend two nights. Descending the escarpment from the high plateau, the landscape again changes dramatically. Greys and browns turn to red as the iron-rich sands of the desert come into view. Arrive at the Namib Desert Lodge in the early afternoon. Take an optional flight over the desert to the Atlantic Ocean and back. (B,L,D) Namib Desert Lodge

October 20 — Sossusvlei
Awaken early this morning to be at the gates of Sossusvlei at sunrise. The morning sun catches the ochre sand against an impossibly blue sky, offset in places by trees burned black by the searing sun: this is why you brought that good camera! Hike along the bottom of the dunes or climb to the top of one and gaze out over the waves of sand stretching all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. On the way back to the lodge, stop by Sesriem Canyon, dug into the desert floor on those rare occasions when the Tsauchab River has water in it, exposing millions of years’ worth of sediment. Return to the lodge in time for lunch. This evening at sunset, take a sundowner drive into the dunes. (B,L,D)

October 21 — From the desert to the Atlantic
Descend from the desert to the ocean on a five-hour drive to Swakopmund. Reminiscent of a German seaside town, Swakopmund is Namibia’s vacation hotspot. Meet with a park ranger and learn about conservation efforts along the desolate Skeleton Coast. In the afternoon, stroll along the waterfront promenade before being welcomed back aboard the Desert Express for dinner. (B,D) Desert Express

October 22 — The Matterhorn of Namibia: The Spitzkoppe
Early in the morning, the train departs Swakopmund, traveling along the oldest part of the Namibian railroad, built in 1902. Stop at the small station at Usakos for an excursion to the 1700-meter Spitzkoppe, mountain jutting out of the relatively flat surrounding terrain. For centuries this landmark acted as a meeting place for the San people (Bushmen), who left rock paintings on the boulders surrounding the peak. Meet with a local expert who will interpret the paintings and talk about the history of the San people in the region. Return to the train for lunch before stopping at Omaruru for a tour and tasting at Namibia’s first winery, where vintners squeeze out a small amount of colombard and cabernet from the arid ground. (B,L,D)

October 23 — Etosha National Park
This morning the train crosses into the Otavi Highlands. Transfer to the nearby Mokuti Lodge, located just outside the eastern gate of Etosha National Park. After settling in, take a late afternoon game drive in the park. In the middle of the reserve lies the gigantic Etosha Salt Pan, a flat, dry lakebed (except in the rainiest of wet seasons). With luck, you will see elephants, zebra, lions, cheetah, all sorts of antelope, and maybe an elusive leopard. (B,L,D) Mokuti Lodge

October 24 — On Safari
Return to Etosha early this morning, just as the gates open. The best time for game viewing is in the early morning and late afternoon, so between these two days you should be able to observe plenty of the species that live here. Return to the lodge for lunch and the rest of the afternoon. The lodge has its own reptile zoo, featuring most of the species of snakes that are found in Namibia. You can also take a nature walk through the bush. (B,L,D)

October 25 — Cheetahs
Check out of the hotel and drive south to Otijawarango. Here, stop by the Cheetah Conservation Fund, a non-profit organization devoted to rescuing and preserving Namibia’s most famous great cat. Meet with a ranger who will talk about the Fund’s efforts at saving this endangered species. Tour the grounds and enjoy lunch before re-boarding the train and heading south toward Windhoek for your final night on the Desert Express. (B,L,D) Desert Express

October 26 — Windhoek
The train rolls slowly through numerous game farms as you approach Windhoek. Shortly after lunch, your final meal on board, arrive back in the capital city and bid farewell to the train and its crew. Check into the hotel, with the rest of the afternoon unscheduled for you to explore this charming, small city on your own. This evening, a farewell banquet is served at the restaurant of the Namibian Institute of Culinary Education, the first institution in Namibia dedicated to training top-notch chefs. (B,L,D) Kalahari Sands Hotel

October 27 — Return to the US
This morning, transfer to the airport for your return flight. (B)