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The ideal vacation to Namibia, Botswana, and Victoria Falls will take ~2 weeks plus traveling time.

This itinerary includes the following:

  • Fish River Canyon National Park
  • Namib Desert (Sossusvlei)
  • Skeleton Coast (Swakopmund to Twyfelontein via Cape Cross)
  • Etosha National Park (4 Game Drives – 1 Full Day and 2 Half Days)
  • Okavango Delta (5 Game Drives – 2 Full Days + 1 Half Day)
  • Chobe National Park (3 Game Drives – 1 Full Day + 1 Half Day)
  • Victoria Falls

Namibia-Botswana-Victoria Falls

 

 

Itinerary

Most tourists will need to fly through Johannesburg to arrive in Windhoek. If tourist left NYC on Thursday night, they would arrive in Windhoek on Saturday night. You need to leave on Thursday to catch the appropriate flights.

Day 1 (Sunday): Travel to Fish River Canyon and see sunset from Main View Point (9.5 hour drive)
Day 2 (Monday): See sunrise and spend morning in Fish River Canyon; drive to Sossusvlei (9 hours)
Day 3 (Tuesday): Drive to Sossusvlei (if not there already) and spend day in Sossusvlei and late afternoon at Sesriem Canyon
Day 4 (Wednesday): Sunrise at Dune 45; Drive to Swakopmund (6 hours); Scenic flight in the afternoon
Day 5 (Thursday):  Drive to Twyfelfontein via Cape Cross and Skeleton Coast (Spitzkoppe – Optional)
Day 6 (Friday): Drive to Etosha (6 hours) and afternoon game drive in Etosha
Day 7 (Saturday): Etosha National Park
Day 8 (Sunday): Morning game drive in Etosha and then drive to Windhoek (5.5 hour drive)
Day 9 (Monday): Fly to Maun at 9:15 am and arrive at 10:30 (Air Namibia); Spend afternoon in Delta
Day 10 (Tuesday): Full Day in Delta
Day 11(Wednesday): Full Day in Delta
Day 12 (Thursday): Fly to Kasane at 9:35 am on Air Botswana; Afternoon in Chobe National Park
Day 13 (Friday): Full Day in Chobe National Park
Day 14 (Saturday): Drive to Victoria Falls (2 hours) and enjoy day in Victoria
Day 15 (Sunday): Leave for home

You would arrive on Monday.

Travel South to Fish River Canyon

Mariental

We could also stop in Mariental to get gas near the Southern Kalahari region.  It is known for Ostrich farming and base for the limited attractions in Southern Kalahari.

Quiver Tree Forest

Stop at the Quiver Tree Forest, which is 14 km north of Keetmanshoop.

This is 6 hours and 40 minutes from Windhoek.

You need to stay at the Quiver Tree Rest Camp if you want to see sunrise/sunset (logistics are easier) in this location. At the rest camp, they have a cheetah feeding every day at 5:00 pm

Quiver Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quiver Tree 2

 

 

 

 

Fish River Canyon

Best Time to Go: The best time to hike in the Fish River Canyon is in the winter from May to September.

Activities: The primary hike is a 5 day / 85 km hike from Main Viewpoint (Hell’s Bend) to Ai-Ais that will only be done by people with a lot of time.

Most people tend to drive along canyon rim and stop at the different viewpoints. It is best to stop at the main viewpoint for sunrise or sunset.  You can then head 3 km south to the Hiker’s viewpoint, which is the start of the 85 km hike to Ai-Ais.

You then can drive 7 km along D324 to Sulphur Springs (Palm Springs) viewpoint. This supposedly can be reached with a 2 WD vehicle, but it is bumpy.

You can continue further south to Eagle’s Rock viewpoint another 12 km, but you will need a 4×4 vehicle.

You can drive to Ai-Ais (bottom of 85 km hike) after hour drive. The views in Ai-Ais aren’t as spectacular, but there is a hot spring in town.

According to Tourbrief.com, day hikes into canyon from Hobas (main view point) and Ai-Ais have been discontinued due to safety concerns.

How much time so spent at Fish River Canyon?: While it is difficult to get a definitive answer, most people / organized tours appear to only spend a couple of hours at the Fish River Canyon, which seems accurate if hikes aren’t really available.

 

Fish River Canyon Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Source: Bradt Travel Guides

Several lodges exist along the rim where one can stay:

  • Fish River Lodge ($160 per night)
  • Canon Village ($100 per night)
  • Canon Roadhouse ($100 per night)

 

Information on Fish River Canyon:
http://wikitravel.org/en/Fish_River_Canyon_Park
www.tourbrief.com/fishriver  (Best website with info on Fish River Canyon)
http://www.newafricanfrontiers.com/namibia/country-info/namibian-national-parks/fish-river-canyon
https://www.safaribookings.com/blog/17

It takes ~9 hours to travel to Sossusvlei

 

Travel to Sossusvlei from Fish River Canyon

The road towards Helmeringhausen is arguable one of the most scenic roads in Namibia.

Duwisib Castle could be stop for a short pit stop.

Namib Desert (Sossusvlei)

Activities:
Sossusvlei

The main attraction is driving around to the different dunes and potentially hiking up (e.g., Dune 45) for sunrise.

Dead Vlei is known for dead tees with the backdrop of the dunes. These are best explored in the early morning before the dunes get hot. You can also visit Hidden Vlei, which can be reached by hiking over a dune from the 2 x 4 parking lot.

It is also possible to do flight over Sossusvlei from Swakopmund or Walvis Bay. There is also hot air balloon rides from Sesriem, but they are very expensive at 3500 – 4000 NAD ($300 to $400 USD per person).

Sesriem Canyon

One should also make sure to stop at Sesriem Canyon that is located just north of Sossusvlei. It is often visited late morning or in the afternoon when visitor is not in Sossusvlei. It is reached by following the gravel road from the Sesriem office.

It was also suggested to stop at Sossuspoort lookout, which is 24 km from Sesriem, and Elim Dune.

How do we get there?:  You can utilize a 2 WD vehicle to take you most of the way. You will need a 4 WD to take you the last few KM. There is also a shuttle that can take you the last few KM.

How long do spend in Sossusvlei?:  Most people seem to indicate 1 full day and 2 nights is enough.  The recommendation is to get there early for hike up the dune for sunrise. You then go in the afternoon  or mid-morning go visit Sesriem Cantyon.

There are a number of dunes in the area.

Sossulvei Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: Dune 45 would be located off the map to the right towards Sesriem

Where do you stay?:

  • Limited number of accommodations and reservations should be made

Information:
www.tourbrief.com/sossusvlei


 

Driving from Swakopmund to Twyfelfontein (Exploring the Skeleton Coast)

This is a 6 hr and 35 minute drive. It would be advisable to stay in Twfelfontein as it is half way towards Etosha National Park.  It  is a 3 hour drive from Swakopmund to Park Entrance where you need to be by 3:00 pm to pass. If you assume that you will spend 30 minutes to 1 hour at Cape Cross Seal Reserve. You really need to leave Swakopmund by 10:00 to 10:30. This might make doing a scenic flight in the morning difficult.

 

To Twyfelfontein Map

 

 

 

 


Note: Ugab River is park entrance; Springbokwasser is the park exit

Good article explaining the road:

http://www.driverabroad.com/classic-road-trips/namibias-skeleton-coast/

 

Activities:

Flying over Skeleton Coast

This can only be done if staying in Swakopmund:

Price is $3,500 NAD ($300 USD) per person based on 3 people sharing flight; time of flight depends on the toursists

These flights appear to be 1.5 hrs to 3.5 hrs,

Sample of operators:
http://www.sossusfly.com/faqs.html
http://www.namibian.org/travel/safaris/fly-in/fi_skeleton_uniab.html
http://www.pleasureflights.com.na/scenic.htm  (Several used them; look to see if discounts as get closer)

Number of articles exist on TripAdvisor talking about best route (North of Swakopmund or south over Sossusveli); All people recommend this experience.

CAPE CROSS SEAL RESERVE

There is big seal colony at this location.  It is also the location of where European explorers first landed.

How much time to spend here?:  It is suggested to spend only 1 hour or so at the site.

Cape Cross Seal Reserve Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPITZKOPPE (Optional – Makes trip more hectic)

 

Spitzkoppe

 

 

Spitzkoppe ot Twyfelfontein

 

 

 

 

 

 

You would have three options:

Option #1 – Is there scenic flight in Swakopmund in the morning?
Day 4: Sunrise at Dune 45; Drive to Usakos on Day 4; Spend late afternoon in Spitzkoppe and drive to Swakopmund
Day 5: Scenic flight early morning (if possible) and then heads towards Twyfelontein
Note: It is unclear if able to get a scenic flight early in the morning. Some seemed to indicate that 9 am is earliest option

Option #2 – Long Day 4 ending at 7
Day 4: Same as base itinerary except drive to Usakos (2 hour drive) after scenic flight
Day 5: Spitzkoppe (3 hour) and then drive to Twyfelfontein (8 hours); 3 hr and 37 min ride to park entrance from Spitzkoppe

Option #3 – Early morning (5 am) for Day 5
Day 4: Same as base itinerary
Day 5: Drive to Spitzkoppe (2 hours – 7 am); Spitzkoppe (3 hours – 10 am); Drive to Cape Cross (2.5 hours – 12:30 pm);Cape Cross (30 min – 1:00 pm);  Drive to Park Entrance (1 hr 15 min – 2: 15 pm); Drive to Twyfelfontein (3 hr and 40 min – 6 pm)

Note:  Need to make park entrance by 3:00

 

How much time to spend in area? You could easily spend 4 – 5 hours if you plan to do a lot of hiking in and around the area. If you plan to do only minimal hiking then you are talking more like 2 – 3 hours.

Shipwrecks on Skeleton Coast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting Shipwrecks on Route

Twyfelfontein to Etosha

Potential places to stop include the Ugab terraces and Vingerklip.

Vingerklip

 

 

 

 

 

 

Etosha National Park

Etosha Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lot of people recommended the park

You can do a self drive tour.

How much time to spend in Etosha?:  Most people indicated at least one full day in the park. Many will spend either another half to full day in the park.

Where to stay?:  There are three main camps to stay in the park (see picture above)

What vehicle to drive?:  It is possible to drive a 2 x 4 vehicle.


Okavango Delta

When to go?:  June to August is high water season and is the best opportunity for boat and canoe safari. This is the best time for safari.

How to get there?:  It is possible to drive to Maun from Windhoek, which will take 10 hour 15 min. Most car trips will break it into two days. The quickest option (not the cheapest) is to fly to Maun on Air Namibia.

The hour long flight leaves on Mon/Wed at 9:15 am and on Fri/Sun via Victoria Falls that departs in the afternoon.

The one way flight costs ~$350 USD.

How much time to spend there?: I think the most common length is 1.5 days. The most common option that I can see from organized tours is the first half day is when a scenic flight occurs with the second day being out on the water.  The most that I saw on the delta was 2.5 days.

Activities:

Scenic Flight

$130 per person; 25 minute flight or $80 per person for 45 minute flight

Example operator:

http://www.deltarain.com/index.php?page=activities

Boat / Mokoro (Canoe) Safari

There is the ability to take 3 day / 2 night houseboat tour. You will take canoes deeper into the brush.

The houseboats range in price from $250 (maybe cheaper) to $770 per day (or more) for houseboat:
http://www.ngwesi.co.za/rates-and-reservations.html (Cheap)
http://www.okavangohouseboats.com/rates/ (Expensive)

One should try and go into the Panhandle.

Fishing

Barbel and Tiger Fish run from August to October making it great time for sport fishing
Good articles:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/activityandadventure/trip-of-a-lifetime/10048754/The-Okavango-Delta-Trip-of-a-Lifetime.html

 

Chobe National Park

How to get there?: Kasane is the main base of location.  One way would cost ~80 from Maun to Kasane on Air Botswana. Plane only flys on Tuesday and Thursday in the morning.

How long to spend there?  Most people only spend 1 day in Chobe National Park.

Activities:

You can do a sunset cruise and/or game drive. It seems most people only do 1 day max in Chobe. They spend more time in Delta.

Cruises tend to take about 3 hours leaving at 3:00 pm and returning around 6:00 pm

 

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls straddles both Zambia (2/3 of falls) and Zimbabwe (1/3 of falls).

You can hike to bottom of falls on Zambia side, but you get better perspective of falls from Zimbabwe side. There will be visa charges if you see both sides of the falls. It will cost under $100 to see both sides of falls.

How to get there?:  There are buses and shuttles that will take you between locations. Taxi/Bus will likely drop off you on one side of the border. The cost should be under $50 one way.

Activities:

Helicopter ride ($130 per person)

Visit the Victoria Falls Hotel for high tea, which costs about $30

Number of extreme sports

 

Itinerary #2

Add: Ludertiz and Kolmanskoppe
Minus: Lose option to go to Spitzkoppe + Sunrise/Sunset in Fish River, Extra $400 USD (via Budget Rental Car Website – January 2015)

Questions:

  • Can one go on scenic flight in the morning in Swakopmund?

 

Leave on Thursday

Day 1 (Sunday): Fly to Luderitz and visit abandoned diamond mine (Kolmanskoppe)

Day 2 (Monday):Drive to Fish (6 hrs); Fish River Canyon (2 hrs); Drive to Keetmanshoop for sunset over Quiver Tree (2 hrs)
Day 3 (Tuesday): Drive to Sossulvei (7 hours); Afternoon in Sossulvei  (Canyon)
Day 4 (Wednesday):  Sossulvei (Dune 45 and Walk around area); Drive to Swakopmund (6 hours)
Day 5 (Thursday): Scenic Flight in Morning;  Drive to Drive to Twyfelfontein via Cape Cross and Skeleton Coast
Day 6 (Friday): Drive to Etosha (6 hours) and afternoon game drive in Etosha
Day 7 (Saturday): Etosha National Park
Day 8 (Sunday): Morning game drive in Etosha and then drive to Windhoek (5.5 hour drive)
Day 9 (Monday): Fly to Maun at 9:15 am and arrive at 10:30 (Air Namibia); Spend afternoon in Delta
Day 10 (Tuesday): Full Day in Delta
Day 11(Wednesday): Full Day in Delta
Day 12 (Thursday): Fly to Kasane at 9:35 am on Air Botswana; Afternoon in Chobe National Park
Day 13 (Friday): Full Day in Chobe National Park
Day 14 (Saturday): Drive to Victoria Falls (3 hours) and enjoy day in Victoria
Day 15 (Sunday): Leave for home

Itinerary #3

Add: Ludertiz,  Kolmanskoppe, Sunset in Quiver Tree Forest, and Spitzkoppe
Minus: 1/2 Day in the Delta, Sunrise/Sunset in Fish River, + Extra $400 USD (via Budget Rental Car Website – January 2015)

Leave Wednesday Night

Day 1 (Saturday): Fly to Luderitz and visit abandoned diamond mine (Kolmanskoppe)
Day 2 (Sunday):Drive to Fish (6 hrs); Fish River Canyon (2 hrs); Drive to Keetmanshoop for sunset over Quiver Tree (2 hrs)
Day 3 (Monday): Drive to Sossulvei (7 hours); Afternoon in Sossulvei  (See the Canyon)
Day 4 (Tuesday):  Sossulvei (Dune 45 and Walk around area); Drive to Usakos (7 hours)
Day 5 (Wednesday): Spitzkoppe and Scenic Flight in Afternoon in Swakopmund
Day 6 (Thursday): Drive to Etosha via Twyfelfontein via Cape Cross and Skeleton Coast (10 hr and 15 min)
Day 7 (Friday): Etosha National Park
Day 8 (Saturday): Etosha National Park
Day 9 (Sunday): Drive to Windhoek (5.5 hour drive) and plane leaves for Maun at 2:50 pm and arrives at 5:40 (via Victoria Falls)
Day 10 (Monday): Full Day in Delta
Day 11 (Tuesday): Full Day in Delta
Day 12 (Wednesday): Fly to Kasane at 9:35 am on Air Botswana; Afternoon in Chobe National Park
Day 13 (Thursday): Full Day in Chobe National Park
Day 14 (Friday): Drive to Victoria Falls (3 hours) and enjoy day in Victoria
Day 15 (Saturday): Leave for home

Arrive on Sunday