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NAMIBIA Guardians of the Game

NAMIBIA

GUARDIANS OF THE GAME

 

Windhoek | Gamsberg Wilderness | Sossusvlei | Swakopmund | Onduli Ridge | Huab River | Ongava | Etosha National Park | Bushmanaland | Okonjima | Windhoek

DURATION

22 Days

EXPEDITION LEADER

David Coulson

DATES

8th – 29th November 2022*

6th – 27th April 2023

6th – 27th October 2023

GROUP SIZE

Maximum 10 travellers

FITNESS LEVEL

Active

TOUR STATUS

Available

THE STORY

Guardians of the Game

In the remote wilderness of Namibia, an extraordinary revolution is taking place. Wildlife and its habitat are being conserved by involving indigenous people; and from that involvement, giving them a direct benefit from the wildlife among which they live. Led by the world’s foremost chronicler of African rock art David Coulson, this 4×4 expedition travels deep into the remote north-western Namibia to meet the Guardians of the Game – leading wildlife conservators, scientists and community elders as they conduct their conservation programmes in the regions rich and varied biospheres.

Limited to just 10 clients, this one-of-a-kind expedition puts our travellers on the front line of African wildlife conservation to experience first-hand the protection of the big five and many other rare and endangered species. Blending luxury lodges with exclusive tented camps, we transport our guests to some of the most extraordinary wilderness areas in Namibia while also including the captivating highlights of the country including the Namib Desert, the Skeleton Coast, Etosha National Park and World Heritage Listed rock art sites and the heartland of the San Bushmen in Eastern Namibia. This community & conservation-based safari is filled with exceptional explorations and affords you the chance to experience this magnificent and memorable country in a very personal way.

Expedition Highlights

Travel by 4x4 deep into the remote wildlife conservancies of Namibia - track desert elephants, lions, rhinos and leopard with local conservation rangers

Explore and climb the dramatic Sossusvlei sand dunes of the Namib Desert

Enjoy a scenic flight along the Diamond Coast for a bird's eye view of the dune sea

Walk amongst pre-historic rock art at the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Twyfelfontein

Visit a remote Himba settlement and spend time with the San/Bushmen people

Experience guided game drives in Etosha National Park and the private Ongava reserve

Enjoy an incredible ‘behind the scenes’ programme at the world-renowned AfriCat Foundation and learn more about their conservation initiatives

Enjoy a sleep-out under a blanket of stars whilst at Camp Sossus and Onduli Ridge

ARCADIA EXCLUSIVES

Every Arcadia expedition provides you insider access to the most unforgettable and thought-provoking local experiences, curated exclusively by us for our travellers. Here are some of the Arcadia Exclusives on this trip:

Day 01 – Windhoek

Upon arrival in Windhoek, you are met at the arrivals gate by an Arcadia representative. You will then be transferred by private vehicle to Galton House, your luxury hotel, where you can rest or explore the centre of Windhoek.

At 6pm, your Expedition Leader David Coulson will host a group meeting and welcome drinks followed by a welcome dinner at Galton House.

 

Galton House, Windhoek / Meals: D

Day 02 & 03 – Habitat for Rhino

Arcadia Exclusive

After breakfast, we head out in our 4×4 Land Cruisers for the Gamsberg Wilderness, two hours drive south-west of Windhoek, where we will be met by our hosts Robin and Pauline Hurt. Here we will spend two nights as exclusive guests on their 55,000-acre ranch experiencing Habitat for Rhino, their Rhino conservation and breeding program.

 

With over 55 years of authentic safari experience across sub-Saharan Africa, Robin has a wealth of fascinating stories and insights about the history of hunting and conservancy in Africa. Passionately involved in creating community wildlife projects since the early 1990s, he and Pauline’s conviction is that “wildlife and its habitat can only be conserved by involving the local people, and from that involvement, give them a direct benefit from the wildlife among which they live.”

 

The main purpose of Habitat for Rhino is to provide safe habitat for Rhinos on private land. The Hurts believe that one way ahead for Rhino conservation is to “spread the risk,” which means moving Rhinos from areas with large Rhino numbers and higher risk to new locations with smaller numbers and hopefully less risk. They currently have nine Rhinos in their care. We spend the next few days with the Hurts learning about their program and observing the Rhinos along with the ranches herds of Gemsbok, Hartman’s Mountain Zebra, Springbok, Blue Wildebeest, Eland, Duiker and Southern Impala. Kudu migrate from the nearby mountains and Warthog, Meerkats, Leopard and Cheetah can also be seen.

 

Gamsberg Lodge / Meals: B,L,D

Day 04 – Camp Sossus

We will rise early for a final game drive to farewell the rhinos and return to the lodge for a late breakfast. Departing in the late morning, we will stop for a picnic lunch at the top of the spectacular Spreetshoogte Pass to view the great sweep of the Namib desert far below us.

 

We arrive at Camp Sossus in the mid-afternoon. After checking in to this stunning property, we will come together for sundowners and then dinner at the lodge. Camp Sossus is located on the private Namib Tsaris Conservancy, here you spend the next two nights whilst you explore the remarkable sights of the Namib Desert with your guides. Located on the private 24,000 ha Namib Tsaris Conservancy, this camp is a mere thirty minutes’ drive from the Sossusvlei gate, the gateway to the Great Namib Sand Sea, a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. Camp Sossus is built in a naturally formed amphitheatre of a south-facing granite outcrop within striking distance of Sossusvlei, and is ideally positioned to avoid the harsh desert sun.

 

Camp Sossus, Namib Tsaris Conservancy / Meals: B,L,D

Day 05 – Camp Sossus

This morning you will need to rise early for a magical excursion with your guides in the Namib Naukluft National Park, normally setting off before sunrise to capture the dunes whilst the light is soft and shadows accentuate the towering shapes and curves. This area boasts some of the highest free-standing sand dunes in the world and your guide will give you an insight on the formation of the Namib Desert and its myriad of fascinating creatures and plants that have adapted to survive these harsh environs.

 

Once you have explored Sossusvlei, Deadvlei and surrounding dune fields, you can enjoy a relaxed picnic brunch in the shade of a camel thorn tree. You then return to Camp Sossus in the early afternoon in time for a late lunch, with the option to visit Sesriem Canyon afterwards.

 

The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure (from experience, this is usually welcomed after an exhilarating morning in the dunes) or on a scenic nature drive, guide walk or biking on the private reserve.

 

Camp Sossus, Namib Tsaris Conservancy / Meals: B,L,D

Day 06 – Swakopmund

After a sumptuous breakfast we make the short drive to Sossusvlei airstrip where our private aircraft awaits to take us on a scenic flight along the Diamond Coast heading to Swakopmund, where weather permitting the flight allows then a bird’s eye view over the dune sea, abandoned mining camps, pans and Sandwich Harbour before landing in Swakopmund. Your vehicles will drive head to meet up with you again in Swakopmund (they can bring any excess luggage you may have with him). A highlight is the flight over the Eduard Bohlen, a German cargo ship that ran aground in 1909 while it was on its way to Table Bay from Swakopmund. It is believed that thick fog caused the ship to founder close to Conception Bay. Years after the ship ran aground the desert began to encroach on the ocean and the ship that was once stranded in the ocean slowly became stranded in the desert. The wreck currently sits about 500 metres from the ocean, ensuring that it’s the best preserved shipwreck along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast and making it a must see for photographers.

 

We will be transferred to The Delight, where you will have the afternoon at leisure to explore Swakopmund before we meet at the atmospheric Jetty 1905 Restaurant for dinner, located at the end of Swakopmund’s historical jetty and offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.

 

The Delight, Swakopmund / Meals: B

Day 07 - Swakopmund to Onduli Ridge, Damaraland

This morning we continue on our unique safari, heading north and east into the wonderful and diverse region of Damaraland. We arrive at Onduli Ridge, wonderfully located on a private concession in the Doro Nawas Conservancy.

 

This afternoon’s activity is an introductory game drive through this stark and amazing landscape in search of some of the desert dwelling giraffe that call Onduli Ridge home.

 

Onduli Ridge, Swakopmund / Meals: B,L,D

Day 08 - Damaraland

After breakfast, we begin exploration of some of Namibia’s greatest and most prolific rock art sites. There is no better person than our Expedition Leader David Coulson to tell the story of the rock art and the peoples who created these important historical records.

 

Rock Art of Southwestern Africa

 

“To our knowledge all the art was made by San Bushman hunter-gatherers whose descendants are still found in parts of the Kalahari (eastern Namibia) and in the northern Cape. Although Bushman art is usually difficult to date, the consensus of opinion is that some of the Brandberg paintings could be at least 3000 years old, as could the paintings in the Ameib area. The engravings at Twyfelfontein could be even older. The oldest scientifically dated (C14) rock paintings in the whole of Africa were found in southern Namibia in the Huns Mountains and dated to around 30,000 years of age. Meanwhile the rock engraving site we shall visit, Twyfelfontein, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the White Lady of the Brandberg is possibly the most famous rock painting in the whole of Africa.” – David Coulson.

 

This evening, you have the option of having your bed rolled out onto the deck and sleep out under the blanket of stars in this beautiful wilderness area.

 

Onduli Ridge, Swakopmund / Meals: B,L,D

Day 09 - Onduli Ridge to Mobile Camp, Damaraland

Namibia supports a unique population of desert-adapted lions that survive in the harsh Namib Desert. Namibia has received international recognition (e.g. CITES) for successful conservation efforts, such as the communal conservancy program, that led to significant increases in wildlife numbers. With the growing wildlife populations, the conflict between lions and the local people has intensified as lions are killing livestock more regularity. Human-lion conflict is arguably the biggest threat to lions in Namibia – there is need for proactive management of human-lion conflict to ensure the long-term conservation of the species.

 

This morning, we make our way to the beautiful northwest of Namibia and into desert lion territory. En-route we will be treated to an exciting 4×4 excursion along the ephemeral Aba Huab River valley to explore this remarkable region and to search for game, especially the elusive desert-adapted elephants.

 

We then continue on in search of lion before heading further north west on an extended scenic drive as we make our way to our Mobile Expedition Camp, set up specifically for us in the heart of desert lion habitat. You will be greeted by our camp crew, who will be looking after you for the next couple of nights in our exclusive and comfortable camp.

 

You will have time to freshen up before dinner under the stars and enjoy the evening around the campfire reminiscing the days’ experiences.

 

Mobile Camp, Damaraland / Meals: B,L,D

Day 10 & 11 - Damaraland Desert Lions

We shall spend the next two days monitoring desert lions, traversing these harsh but beautiful areas in search of prides that the local conservation project is studying. You will observe the lions in their natural habitat and learn all about the research being conducted on the only population of desert lions in the world.

 

We partake in discussions about conservancies and the conservation that takes place on communal land. In this area local people have decided to live with wildlife and the associated troubles it brings. This is a good time to discuss human wildlife conflict, along with the growth of wildlife in these communal areas.

 

Mobile Camp, Damaraland / Meals: B,L,D

Day 12 - North West Namibia to Huab Under Canvas

After an early breakfast, we make our way back into the heart of Damaraland where we will spend the next two nights at our exclusive Huab Under Canvas Camp. En route we will visit an extremely remote Himba village, only known to a few people. Our guide’s presence and contacts with the local community will ensure we will be welcomed as a ‘friend of a friend’ and able to spend considerable time there learning about these fascinating nomadic pastoralists. There has been virtually no modern influence on these communities, which makes for a fascinating cultural exchange.

 

After a picnic lunch in a scenic location, we continue to Huab Canvas Camp with the last stretch into the camp being on tracks which are well off the beaten path. We will arrive with time to enjoy fireside sundowners at your camp.

 

Mobile Camp, Huab River / Meals: B,L,D

Day 13 - Damaraland

Today we enjoy the freedom to explore the Damaraland area and its breath-taking landscapes. We will spend an exciting and memorable morning out rhino tracking, before returning to camp for a freshly prepared brunch and with time to relax at camp during the heat of the day. Later in the afternoon, we head out again for a scenic nature drive or walk to explore this vast and astounding ecosystem.

 

Damaraland is a surprising refuge for desert-adapted wildlife that may include elephants, giraffe, oryx, springbok and even some predators, though with any wildlife sightings in Namibia, its season dependent and never guaranteed.

 

Namibia is home to the larger of two subspecies of the black rhinoceros found in southern Africa – called the Desert Black Rhinoceros. The only population that remains in the wild, unfenced and outside reserves, occupies an arid range in the western Kaokoveld. Their preferred habitat is the mountainous escarpment, but they follow ephemeral rivers into the northern Namib as well, especially when conditions are favourable after rains. They are the only black rhinoceros in Africa that are internationally recognized as a “desert group”. Once widespread in the subcontinent, black rhinoceros are an endangered species.

 

Mobile Camp, Huab River / Meals: B,L,D

Day 14 - Huab Under Canvas to Southern Etosha National Park Boundary

Today we make our way to Andersons at Ongava, which is situated inside the Ongava Game Reserve, located on the southern boundary of Etosha National Park. Should there be time this afternoon we will go on our first game drive in the National Park, or we can enjoy game viewing at the camp’s floodlit waterhole.

 

During our time here we can expect great game viewing with Etosha National Park as well as be immersed in, and encouraged to contribute towards developing creative, knowledge driven solutions on conservation and human wildlife conflict. We will have an opportunity to visit the Ongava Research Centre, where we wander through the fascinating self-guided exhibition area.

 

Anderson Camp, Etosha National Park / Meals: B,L,D

Day 15 - Etosha National Park

Today is spent on game viewing within the southern section of the Etosha National Park as well as on the Ongava Reserve with David and your naturalist guide. We return to camp for lunch and a siesta before enjoying a scheduled afternoon drive.

 

The Ongava Game Reserve is effectively a private game reserve, spanning 30,000 hectares along the south-west border of Etosha National Park. The reserve is home to a wide variety of game including lion, leopard, giraffe, rhino, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, gemsbok (oryx), kudu, steenbok and much more. The scenery is attractive with large open plains blending into Mopane tree woodlands and dolomite outcrops.

 

Anderson Camp, Etosha National Park / Meals: B,L,D

Day 16 - Southern to Eastern Etosha National Park

Today is spent on an extended game drive as we make our way from the southern side of Etosha National Park to the park’s eastern boundary, stopping at selected waterholes along the way. We will arrive at the Onguma Fort in the late afternoon and the rest of the evening can be spent game viewing at the camp’s floodlit waterhole.

 

Onguma Fort, Etosha National Park / Meals: B,L,D

Day 17 - Eastern Etosha National Park Boundary to Bushmanland

Today our journey continues in an easterly direction towards the Tsumkwe region, previously known as Bushmanland, as we make our way to Nhoma Safari Camp where we will spend the next two nights. If the Bushmen community are at the nearby Nhoq’ma Village carrying out their giraffe or elephant healing dances this evening, you may wish to join them for the opportunity to experience this traditional method of curing the sick members of the community.

 

Nhoma Safari Camp is a small activity orientated, tented camp, situated in the north-eastern corner of Namibia on state-owned land within the traditional area of the Ju’hoan San or Bushmen (as they are commonly known in Namibia). It borders the Nyae and Nna Jaqna Conservancies. Tourism allows the community to earn cash in order to buy food and supplies not provided by the surrounding environment. Activities offered at the camp ranges from hunting with the Bushmen hunters, veld food collection, the making of hunting equipment to traditional games and the healing dances. When conditions are suitable, a short night drive is undertaken to view springhare and look for other nocturnal animals.

 

Nhoma Safari Camp, Bushmanland,/ Meals: B,L,D

Day 18 - Bushmanland

Today is filled with fascinating activities and cultural experiences as arranged by Nhoma Safari Camp in conjunction with the Nhoq’ma Village. You will be given an in-depth insight into the lifestyle, beliefs, ancient skills and traditions of the Bushmen, one of Namibia’s oldest cultural groups. Our aim is to replace the stereotypical view of the San with a realistic view of these intriguing people and the problems they are facing, but also with appreciation for their skills and knowledge that have been lost by modern man.

 

Today there is no scheduled activity programme, although the usual skills such as fire and rope making, setting of traps for birds and antelope are guaranteed to be demonstrated, as well as lesser-known hunting skills with, for example, the springhare probe. Bush food, water roots, honey and medicines are pointed out or collected and hunters will follow promising spoor of any game to hunt, from porcupine to kudu which has the potential to turn into an actual hunt.

 

Nhoma Safari Camp, Bushmanland / Meals: B,L,D

Day 19 - Nhoma to Okonjima Bush Camp

After breakfast, we continue our journey, which today takes us to Okonjima, home of the AfriCat Foundation, located at the base of the Omboroko Mountains near Waterberg. Here we will enjoy the welcoming atmosphere, superb accommodation, and fantastic activities, starting with a guided afternoon excursion and a possible visit to the night hide after dinner.

 

Okonjima has an education and research centre and you will have the opportunity to learn about the AfriCat Foundation, which is perfectly situated to conduct ecological research focusing on a variety of rare and endangered species. There are interesting guided walking trails on offer, and bird watching is also a popular activity, with over 300 bird species identified here.

 

Okonjima Bush Camp / Meals: B,L,D

Day 20 & 21 - Okonjima / AfriCat Foundation (Behind the Scenes)

The next two days you step into the boots of the local AfriCat team, as you assist with tasks that make the Foundation so effective in ensuring the welfare of all the species that inhabit this beautiful area. You will be able to accompany the local AfriCat vet/researcher/representative for parts of the day as they help to manage the health and welfare of the wildlife on the reserve.

 

The finer details of your Behind-the-Scenes experience and time at Okonjima will be reconfirmed locally, however activities involved could include inoculating plains game, checking box traps for captured carnivores, pangolin tracking, various presentations and assistance with other more routine work of the team at AfriCat. If you are especially fortunate and they capture a carnivore in the box trap, you will be able to witness this and get to see an amazing creature in an extremely ‘up close and personal’ way. This Behind the Scenes experience during your stay at Okonjima gives you the backstage access which will allow you to witness the huge effort and total dedication that goes into making conservation at Okonjima such a success.

 

During your down time, you have time to share your images with friends and family using the camp’s WiFi, take a dip in the swimming pool, relax in the luxurious reception area, or go back to relax on your veranda and enjoy the stunning scenery that unfolds around you.

 

The Okonjima Nature Reserve sprawls over 200 km² of undulating plains, mountainous outcrops, and riverine thickets, and it is here that leopard, the most adaptable of all the wild cats, thrive. The Reserve’s predator research programme has spanned three decades, and its findings have provided great insight to leopard behavioural patterns and their symbiotic relationship with the brown hyaena, as well as offered an upbeat prognosis for a sustainable future for the species in today’s Africa. We will search out these intelligent, solitary predators in the expanse of the Reserve’s multi-faceted topography.

 

Okonjima Bush Camp / Meals: B,L,D

Day 22 - Okonjima to Windhoek

After one last memorable lodge activity you return to the Bush Camp for a scrumptious late breakfast before departing back to Windhoek international Airport to connect with your afternoon onward flight.

 

Meals: B

YOUR EXPERT EXPEDITION LEADERS

David Coulson

A writer, photographer and adventurer, David is the world’s foremost chronicler of African rock art. He has rediscovered and documented more rock art sites across the continent than any other person in history and is the founder and Executive Chairman of TARA – the Trust for African Rock Art.

Driving the length and breadth of Africa for over 40 years, David is a true African explorer. In the earlier part of his career David worked as a professional photographer and writer, and his books and articles were published across the world. These told the story of his many adventures into some of Africa’s remotest areas, where he often travelled alone for long periods. One of his books told the story of a 30,000 mile solo journey he made through 7 different African countries, crossing deserts, crocodile infested rivers and mountain ranges. It was during some of these travels that David fell in love with Namibia, which subsequently featured in several of his books such as Mountain Odyssey, African Rock Art and finally Namib, the story of Africa’s coastal desert.

In the mid-1990s, David founded the Trust for African Rock Art with the help of Dr Mary Leakey and Sir Laurens van der Post. Since its inception, TARA’s work has been supported by a number of well-known international institutions such as National Geographic and the Getty Foundation. Realising that the biggest threat to this remarkable heritage was ignorance, David used his photography and international network to create a greater global awareness of the importance and endangered state of this art. His book, with the late Alec Campbell, African Rock Art, was the first major book on this heritage on a Pan African scale. TARA has now worked in over 20 different African countries and has been internationally recognised with endorsements from such dignitaries as Nelson Mandela and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

A copy of David’s digital archive of 25,000 images was acquired by the British Museum in 2014 and is now available worldwide as part of the Museum’s global digital collections. This extensive archive has already opened numerous windows onto Africa’s past.

David is based in Nairobi where he lives with his wife and two daughters.

ACCOMMODATION HIGHLIGHTS

DATES & PRICES

$24,750
PER PERSON, TWIN SHARE
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT $1,750 per person
8th - 29th November 2022
22 DAYS (*Itinerary will be done in reverse)
6th - 27th April 2023
22 DAYS
6th - 27th October 2023
22 DAYS

INCLUSIONS

  • Meals as per itinerary (21 breakfasts, 19 lunches, 20 dinners) including welcome and farewell dinners
  • Private airport transfers (arrival and departure)
  • Accommodation as stated on a twin-share basis
  • Porterage at airports and hotels
  • All internal flights and land transport by private air-conditioned vehicle
  • Services of an Arcadia Expedition Leader and English-speaking local guide throughout
  • Sightseeing as specified including entrance fees to sites mentioned in itinerary
  • Reusable responsible travel water bottle with daily drinking water provided
  • Gratuities/tipping for local guides, drivers, hotel staff and restaurants for included meals
  • All taxes

EXCLUSIONS

  • Return international flights
  • Passport and visa charges
  • Items of a purely personal nature (i.e. telephone calls, laundry etc)
  • Excess luggage
  • Lunch and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in itinerary
  • Travel insurance

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