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Namibia

Namibia’s Splendor: Desert, Culture and Magnificent Wildlife

Program No. 22269RJ
Discover Namibia — a seemingly endless country that is home to the oldest desert in the world, the Namib. Meet native people and learn about the country’s wildlife conservation efforts.

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At a Glance

Namibia is a vast country, even by African standards, covering an area roughly the size of California, Oregon and Washington combined. It’s also an ageless land, home to the oldest desert in the world, cultures that have remained unchanged for centuries, and a rich heritage of stone-age rock art. Come explore Namibia’s vast beauty and learn about the unique Himba, Herero and other traditional peoples, the fascinating desert-adaptations of the flora and fauna, the massive conservation effort undertaken by the country as a whole, and the fascinating geology of the Namib Desert.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Some long drives in enclosed, climate-controlled vehicles; roads traveled can be quite rough in places, with bumpy drives. Optional walks over uneven terrain offered. Elevations up to 5,400 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

What You'll Learn

  • Visit the world-renowned AfriCat Foundation and experience close encounters with some of Africa’s big cats.
  • Search for rhino, elephants, giraffe and zebras.
  • Observe a remote Himba settlement.

General Notes

Please refer to the “Travel Information” section on the Road Scholar website, the start/end time listed in your first informational packet or contact the provider if you plan on booking your own flights for correct arrival and departure dates. Program limited to 14 participants. Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
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While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our published materials, programs are typically advertised more than a year prior to their start date. As a result, some program activities, schedules, accommodations, personnel, and other logistics occasionally change due to local conditions or circumstances. Should a major change occur, we will make every effort to alert you. For less significant changes, we will update you during orientation. Thank you for your understanding.
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16 days
15 nights
37 meals
13 B 2BR 9 L 13 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Windhoek, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Windhoek
D
Galton House

Activity note: Guest lodge check-in from 2:00 p.m.

Dinner: Our welcome dinner at the lodge will be a set menu meal featuring a meat dish with vegetables and a side dish. Water and coffee/tea included, additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date Daily Schedule and any changes, discuss logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions. We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. We are fortunate to have as our Group Leader a knowledgeable expert who will also serve as our primary lecturer for most of the program, and will provide an introduction to Namibia. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Depart Windhoek, Okahandja, Transfer to Okonjima, AfriCat
Okonjima
B,L,D
Okonjima Plains Camp

Activity note: Total drive time approximately 3-3.5 hours. Please note that activities while at Okonjima may be done in a different order than described; Okonjima is also a rehabilitation facility, so animals resident on the reserve may change from what is described.

Breakfast: At the lodge, our breakfast buffet will include cereal, fruit, bread, and hot dishes such as eggs, sausage, bacon cooked to order. Coffee, tea, water, fruit juice provided.

Morning: After checking out of the lodge, our luggage is loaded for us into the enclosed, climate-controlled 4x4 vehicles we will use throughout the program. We will depart Windhoek heading north towards Okonjima Nature Reserve and the AfriCat Foundation, our destination for the next two nights. Along the way, we’ll stop in Okahandja, where our Group Leader will provide an overview of the town, followed by some time to explore the market on your own. The name Okahandja comes from Herero and means “small widening,” the place where the rivers meet. It is a place of great significance to the Herero people because it was once the seat of the famous chief Samuel Maharero, who was laid to rest here on August 26, 1923, at a funeral attended by approximately 2,000 people. Since then, August 26th has been celebrated annually. The town is also an important center for woodcarvers, who practice their ancient skills at the wood-and-thatch Mbangura woodcarvers’ market next to the main road, both at the entrance and at the exit of the town. We will then continue driving to Okonjima Plains Camp and check in.

Lunch: At Okonjima Plains Camp, we will have a salad and lighter entrée choices. Water, coffee, tea provided; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: This afternoon, we will head out with local conservationists to track leopards from game-viewing vehicles. These leopards, roaming freely throughout the extensive reserve, have been fitted with radio collars so that they can be monitored.

Dinner: At the lodge, a plated 3-course meal with water, coffee, tea; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Species Ambassadors, Carnivore Care Center
Okonjima
B,BR,D
Okonjima Plains Camp

Activity note: Minimal walking required.

Breakfast: At the lodge, our extensive breakfast buffet includes cereal, fruit, bread, pastries and hot dishes such as eggs, bacon, sausage cooked to order. Water, coffee, tea, fruit juice provided.

Morning: This morning, we will be driven a short distance on the reserve where we will have a chance to meet some of the cheetah and lion “ambassadors” while learning about AfriCat’s work with carnivores in Namibia. The animal ambassadors allow us an up-close view of these elusive cats, while our Group Leader discusses traits of each species.

Brunch: At the lodge, enjoy a hearty buffet brunch with water, coffee, tea; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Midday is free to relax during the heat. You might like to explore one of the self-guided trails in the reserve, relax around the swimming pool, or do some birding. More than 250 bird species have been recorded at Okonjima, including Namibian endemics such as Carp’s Black Tit, Hartlaub’s Francolin, and the Damara Rock Runner. Following afternoon tea, we will drive to AfriCat’s Information and Carnivore Care Center for valuable insights into the work of the foundation. We will be joined by a local conservationist from the AfriCat Foundation who will discuss predators and the conservation efforts practiced at Okonjima. AfriCat was founded in the early 1990s, and its mission is the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores in their natural habitat. AfriCat works with farmers, local communities, conservancies, Namibian youth, and other stakeholders to provide environmental education, rehabilitation programs, and solutions to human-wildlife conflict issues. We will walk through the information center where displays provide more information on the species AfriCat works with, as well as visit the veterinary clinic where we will see instruments used to provide care to the animals.

Dinner: Lodge dinner.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Leopard Tracking, Transfer to Etosha, Game Viewing
Etosha National Park
B,BR,D
Etosha Safari Lodge

Activity note: Total drive time: 3 hours. Wild animals do not operate on a human schedule, so game viewing is variable depending on numerous factors.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: We’ll join researchers on the Large Carnivore Tracking Trail in search of radio-tracked leopard that are free to roam within the expansive Okonjima Nature Reserve. We’ll go out for game viewing in our vehicle, and in addition to searching for leopard we will keep an eye out for endangered species such as brown hyena and rhinoceros.

Brunch: Lodge brunch.

Afternoon: In the late morning, we will check out of Okonjima and drive to our next lodge which is located on the southern edge of Etosha National Park. Following a mid-afternoon arrival at our lodge, we will embark on a shortened game drive into Etosha National Park, seeking wildlife that flocks to the park's waterholes to drink. Etosha consists of grassland, woodland and savanna, but game viewing is mostly around numerous springs and waterholes where several different species can often be seen at one time. The park boasts some 114 mammal and more than 340 bird species. Among the wildlife that might be seen are elephant, lion, giraffe, blue wildebeest, eland, kudu, gemsbok (oryx), zebra, rhino, cheetah, leopard, hyena, honey badger, and warthog, as well as the endemic black-faced impala.

Dinner: At the lodge, dinner will feature a multi-course buffet with numerous selections. Water, coffee, tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Game Drives, Conservation in Etosha
Etosha National Park
B,L,D
Etosha Safari Lodge

Activity note: Game drive in the park will last approximately 8-9 hours, with numerous stops.

Breakfast: At the lodge, our breakfast buffet will include cereal, fruit, bread, pastries and some hot dishes cooked to order. Water, coffee, tea, fruit juice provided.

Morning: We will embark on a full day outing inside the park, seeking exciting wildlife sightings at various waterholes.

Lunch: At a restaurant inside the park, lunch will be a multi-course buffet offering with water. Additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Continued exploration within Etosha National Park, searching for wildlife we may not yet have seen. We will return to the lodge by late afternoon, with time to freshen up before dinner. At the lodge, our Group Leader will discuss conservation at work in Etosha National Park and what is being done to combat poaching.

Dinner: Lodge dinner.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Grootberg Primary School, Nature Walk, Himba Culture
Kunene Region (Grootberg Mountains)
B,L,D
Grootberg Lodge

Activity note: Total drive time 4 hours. Walking distance for the nature walk determined by individual abilities; anyone choosing not to walk may remain at the lodge and enjoy the views.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: Departing Etosha, we will head south to the market town of Outjo, then drive west toward the Grootberg Mountains. Mid-morning, we’ll arrive at the Grootberg Primary School, located in Erwee in the Kunene Region. We will have a VIP introduction to the school, spending time with the headmaster learning about the challenges of rural education in Namibia. From the school, we will continue on to our lodge on Grootberg Pass, arriving in time for a late lunch.

Lunch: At the lodge, we will have a salad and lighter entrée choices. Water, coffee, tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: With our Group Leader, we will go out on an interpretive nature walk, searching out little creatures and flora in the bush, and taking in the spectacular views from the top of the plateau. Please note that occasionally there are lions that pass through the area, making the nature walk no longer viable; our Group Leader will conduct the afternoon activity accordingly based on the current situation.

Dinner: At the lodge, we will have a plated 3-course meal. Water, coffee, tea provided; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: In preparation for tomorrow, our Group Leader will discuss the Himba culture and rural living in Namibia.

DAY
8
Himba Community, Namibia's Conservancy Success
Kunene Region (Grootberg Mountains)
B,L,D
Grootberg Lodge

Activity note: Total drive time approximately 5 hours; bumpy road in spots. Minimal walking required.

Breakfast: At the lodge, our breakfast buffet will include cereal, fruit, bread, and hot dishes such as eggs, sausage, bacon cooked to order. Water, coffee, tea, fruit juice provided.

Morning: The Himba are one of the last, most traditional peoples of Namibia and have little time for conventional practices. We will depart early to visit an authentic Himba settlement. We may need to search for awhile as the semi-nomadic Himba sometimes move their location without notice. Upon arrival, we will meet the Himba and have a chance to interact with them and learn about the customs and traditions of this very proud nation, with insights into their beliefs, ways of life, and everyday routines. We’ll then drive to a picnic site.

Lunch: At a scenic location, we’ll have a picnic lunch.

Afternoon: We will return to the lodge mid-afternoon for some time at leisure. Before dinner, our Group Leader will discuss the conservancy movement and Namibia's success with it.

Dinner: Lodge dinner.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Drive to Damaraland, Twyfelfontein, Desert Elephant Search
Damaraland
B,L,D
Camp Kipwe

Activity note: Total drive time approximately 3 hours. Walking up to 2 miles at Twyfelfontein; the first rock engravings can be accessed after a flat walk of about 1 mile, then viewing further engravings requires walking over rocky, hilly terrain. Anyone who prefers may remain in the visitors center.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: Departing the mountains, we will head into the heart of Damaraland, traveling along transient rivers in search of wildlife. En route to our camp, we will stop to view the well-preserved petroglyphs (rock engravings) at Twyfelfontein, an inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site. Representing one of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs in Africa, the carved and painted images we see on sandstone slabs illustrate the experience of hunter-gatherers thousands of years ago and their interactions with animals, along with human figures and abstract designs. We will also stop at Burnt Mountain, a few miles from Twyfelfontein. Millions of years ago, when this area was part of the giant continent of Gondwana, what we see as Burnt Mountain today was at the bottom of a lake where marine life and vegetation left their traces. Through a series of geological events over vast spans of time, the sedimentary rock took on colors that are striking when the sun is right. The so-called Organ Pipes, another geological phenomenon, consist of massive dolerite (volcanic rock) in what appear to be vertical columns, exposed as a result of erosion.

Lunch: At the camp, enjoy a salad and lighter entrée choices. Water, coffee, tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Damaraland is home to a variety of desert adapted wildlife and hidden desert treasures. We will head out on an off-road drive along the Aba Huab River Valley to explore this remarkable region and to search for game, including the elusive desert-adapted elephants if they are in the area. These elephants are the same species as the savanna elephants found throughout Africa, but have simply adapted to living in the harsh local conditions. They cover large distances in search of food and water, so if we see any of these amazing creatures, we will consider ourselves lucky indeed!

Dinner: At the camp, we will have a 3-course plated meal with water, coffee, tea; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Our Group Leader will discuss desert life and adaptations of fauna and flora.

DAY
10
Transfer to Swakopmund, History of Namibia
Swakopmund
B,L,D
Beach Hotel Swakopmund

Activity note: Total drive time today approximately 4-5 hours

Breakfast: At the camp, our breakfast buffet will include cereal, fruit, bread, and some hot dishes cooked to order. Water, coffee, tea, fruit juice included.

Morning: Our drive today will take us south past Namibia’s highest mountain, the Brandberg, then west to meet the coast at Henties Bay, where we will follow the coastline south to the town of Swakopmund.

Lunch: Picnic lunch en route.

Afternoon: Free Time. Following our afternoon arrival in Swakopmund and check-in, there will be time to explore the town on your own, walk along the beach, or simply relax. Before dinner, our Group Leader will discuss Namibia's history from colonialism to democracy.

Dinner: Plated meal at a popular local restaurant specializing in fresh seafood; water included with additional beverages available for purchase.

DAY
11
Free Time, Exploring Townships
Swakopmund
B,D
Beach Hotel Swakopmund

Activity note: Township visit lasts approximately 2 hours with several stops and getting on/off the minibus. Minimal walking required; periods of standing in the township.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet featuring cold meats and cheeses, cold cereals, breads, pastries, fruit and hot breakfast dishes. Water, coffee, tea, fruit juice provided.

Morning: Free Time. You might like to explore the town on your own or participate in activities for which Swakopmund is known, such as sand surfing or quad-biking on the dunes.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy local fare; a number of restaurants are within easy walking distance from the hotel.

Afternoon: With a local specialist, we will explore the township around Swakopmund for an opportunity to learn about local life as well as more of Namibia's different cultures.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we will have our choice from an a la carte menu for a 2-course, plated meal; water, coffee, tea included with additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Namib Naukluft National Park
Namib Naukluft Park
B,L,D
Namib Desert Lodge

Activity note: Total drive time today 5-6 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Today’s drive will take us southeast through the awesome and ever-changing desert landscapes of the Namib Naukluft National Park, including the impressive Gaub and Kuiseb canyons. At Kuiseb Canyon, we will have a chance to stop and stretch our legs as the Group Leader describes the geology at work in the canyon.

Lunch: Picnic lunch en route.

Afternoon: Arriving at the lodge in the late afternoon, we will have time to relax amid the scenic, tranquil desert surroundings. Before dinner, our Group Leader will discuss the geological history of Namibia and the Namib desert.

Dinner: At the lodge, enjoy an expansive dinner buffet with a variety of choices. Water, coffee, tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Sossusvlei Dunes, Sesriem Canyon
Namib Naukluft Park
B,L,D
Namib Desert Lodge

Activity note: Options to climb a sand dune, walk up to about 2.5 miles (4 km) into/out of a canyon, or observe from the canyon rim.

Breakfast: Picnic inside the park.

Morning: Rising before sunrise, we will head out for a field trip into Namib Naukluft National Park to view the Sossusvlei Dunes, some of the highest free-standing sand dunes in the world. Our Group Leader will discuss the formation of the Namib Desert and its flora and fauna that survive in extreme conditions as we see the stark contrasts between this sea of sand and the surrounding white clay pan. En route back to the lodge, we will stop at Sesriem Canyon. This is one of the very few places that contains water year round. After centuries of erosion by the Tsauchab River, the shaded depths of the canyon collect pools of water during the rainy season. Learn the meaning of “Sesriem” in Afrikaans and the importance of this vital resource to early explorers and settlers. We will return to the lodge early afternoon.

Lunch: At the lodge, we will have a salad and lighter entrée choices. Water, coffee, tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: The remainder of the afternoon will be free to enjoy as you like. For the energetic, the Group Leader will lead an easy nature walk around the lodge grounds.

Dinner: Lodge meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Transfer to Windhoek, History & Architecture
Windhoek
B,L,D
Galton House

Activity note: Total drive time 4-5 hours.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: We will start traversing our way back to the capital city of Windhoek, driving in a northerly direction through the Khomas Hochland highlands, leaving the Namib Desert behind.

Lunch: En route, we’ll stop for a picnic lunch.

Afternoon: After an early afternoon arrival in Windhoek, the Group Leader will take us on a walking exploration of the downtown area. Learn about the history and founding of Windhoek, with its diverse influences, while admiring various monuments and buildings dating back to the German colonial era.

Dinner: At the lodge, enjoy a farewell dinner with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out is by 10:00 a.m. A transfer to the airport is included for all participants. Galton House has a changing room and bathroom facilities including a shower available for anyone departing later than check-out time; there is a small charge for use of the shower, payable on site; please contact Program Provider for current pricing.

Breakfast: At the lodge. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

DAY
16
In Transit From Program
In Flight

Morning: Early morning arrivals in North America.






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