Day by Day Itinerary

Small Groups: Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

An endless sea of towering red dunes … ancient landscapes framed against an ink-black sky … waterholes that beckon rare black rhinos and some of Africa’s most magnificent wildlife. This is Namibia—a place unlike anywhere else on Earth. Join OAT to discover the land and people of Namibia, one of the world’s last unspoiled wilderness destinations. Our small group will travel deep into the ancient Namib Desert—a vast and barren landscape where desert elephants and nomadic oryx dwell. Beyond the desert, we’ll take you to towns dating back to Africa’s colonial era where you might still spot a woman wearing a Victorian-era hoop skirt—and into a Bersig community in the heart of Damaraland. We’ll visit the Skeleton Coast, where the bones of whales wash up along its mist-shrouded shores. And we’ll enjoy safari game-viewing drives at Etosha, where Africa’s most elusive and magnificent wildlife can be seen. Travel to Namibia for all this, and much more …

Windhoek Etosha National Park Expand All
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    Depart the U.S. for Johannesburg, South Africa.

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    Depending on your city of origin, your international flight may involve a stop in a European city prior to your arrival in Johannesburg. Upon arrival, you'll be met at the airport and then transferred to your hotel. Here, you'll be joined by those who traveled on our optional Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe extension.

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    After breakfast we fly to Windhoek, where we’ll meet our Namibian OAT Trip Leader and check into our hotel.  The capital and cultural heart of Namibia, Windhoek offers an unexpected taste of Germany in remote southwest Africa. Originally inhabited by the Herero, a Bantu-speaking cattle-herding tribe, the city’s recorded history dates to the 19th century, with the discovery of its natural hot springs. By 1884, Namibia became a German protectorate called South West Africa, and then a German colony in 1890—a tenure that lasted until World War I. Strong influences of this brief colonial heritage remain in the city’s Bavarian architecture, orderly urban layout—and preponderance of sausages and beer!

    Perhaps you’ll sample some for lunch on your own today. The remainder of the afternoon is also yours to explore the city at your leisure or simply relax after your long flights. Be sure to gather with our small group this evening, however, as we enjoy an orientation briefing and a Welcome Dinner at our hotel.

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    This morning we tour Namibia’s charming capital city, which is spread along a wide valley between the bush-covered hills of the Central Highlands. A highlight of our tour is the Christuskirche, a 500-seat Lutheran church that once served as both a church and a school. Today, it is a national monument and the icon of the city. Constructed of local orange sandstone with white trim, this strikingly unusual gingerbread house of worship was built to symbolize the triumph of European colonists over the native cultures.

    Nevertheless, a colorful blend of African cultures characterizes this interesting, multicultural city. As we explore Windhoek, you’re apt to see women of the Herero tribe who walk about town in billowing Victorian-style dresses and brightly colored headgear.

    Our tour continues with a visit to Katutura (Herero for “we have no permanent place”), one of Windhoek’s vibrant black townships, where we’ll join the locals for lunch at an informal tavern known locally as a shebeen (traditional lunch).

    As you enjoy free time this afternoon, you’re likely to hear German spoken as you wander the city streets. Perhaps you’ll explore a few of Windhoek’s open-air shops along Independence Avenue. You might also browse the National Gallery; visit the Tintenpalast, home of the National Assembly; or stroll the gardens of the National Botanical Research Institute.

    Dinner on your own also provides another great opportunity to experience the city’s German heritage at one of its traditional Bavarian restaurants.

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    Explore Namibia's Namib Desert

    After breakfast this morning, we'll have an opportunity to do some last-minute shopping in the center of Windhoek before having an included lunch at a local restaurant downtown. Later this afternoon, we'll depart for our flight to the Sossusvlei region of the Namib Desert. Here we'll enjoy one of the highlights of the Namib-Naukluft Park—and, indeed, all of Namibia—where the tallest sand dunes in the world enclose an enormous flat, clay pan that fills with water from the Tsauchab River during exceptionally rainy seasons. Generally, this happens once every five to ten years. (Vlei literally means "shallow depression that fills with water" in Afrikaans.) Because the clay hardens when wet, the water can't penetrate the ground, and a beautiful lake remains for some time before the Sossusvlei reverts to desert.

    This is a landscape that is continually, though gradually, shifting, as the wind reshapes the sands, moving the dunes further inland until eventually the river will no longer reach the pan. Now, though, it remains a fascinating mountainscape of towering sands whose colors shift with the light—particularly at sunset.

    Upon arrival, we'll transfer to our lodge, which is located in a tranquil, grassy oasis in the rocky desert adjacent to the towering red dunes that surround the Sossusvlei. After settling in, we set off on an awe-inspiring Namibian "sundowner" nature drive. This is when you'll witness for yourself the magnificence of the last rays of sun bathing the rugged landscapes in myriad of pastel hues. We'll return to the lodge for dinner this evening.

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    We’ll get up extra early to journey into the dunes of the Sossusvlei, magnificent ancient towers of shifting red-orange sand, some as high as 1,000 feet above the flat desert. Endlessly carved by the wind, the cascading sands of the Namib form a stunning moonscape of linear beauty covering thousands of square miles. We’ll enjoy a picnic breakfast en route.

    Encounter Sossusvlei sand dune while touring Namibia

    Arriving here early allows us to watch as the morning light plays against the sand, changing colors and textures as if in a dream. As we venture out for a walk into the vast, surreal dunes, we’ll make the climbing a bit easier by taking a tip from the nomadic gemsbok (or oryx), who regularly traverse the Namib: They stick to the firmer sand along the dunes’ windswept ridges.

    We return to our camp for lunch and have time to relax before joining our expert guide for a nature walk. Dinner this evening is at the camp.

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    View antelope and other wildlife in the Namib Desert

    Rise extra early to join an optional hot-air balloon ride that journeys high above vast Sossusvlei, where you can witness the sun rising and soar with the winds for approximately one hour.

    Enjoy a morning at leisure in camp. In the afternoon, we take a nature walk to explore the breathtaking scenery in the vast wilderness of Namib-Naukluft, one of the world’s largest national parks, including some on-the-ground exploration of Sesriem Canyon. Surprisingly, the parched sands of the ancient Namib Desert are home to a rich diversity of wildlife and flora, even though only between .2 and 3 inches of rain fall every year. Although the oryx embodies the spirit of the Namibian desert, there is a surprisingly diverse range of exotic animal life that thrives in this harsh environment. These amazing creatures—found nowhere else on Earth—have learned to adapt in this extremely inhospitable region. Fog rolling in from the Atlantic blankets the desert about one in every five days, and the plants and animals use what precious little moisture it provides to survive—and flourish.

    The Tenebrionid beetle (black beetle) stands on its head to allow droplets of water to run down its grooved body into its mouth. And the clever Lepidochora discoidalis, another beetle species, builds trenches in the sand to trap water. The Palmetto gecko licks its lidless eyes for the water that accumulates there. The geckos and lizards of the Namib boast the lowest water-loss rates of any desert organisms. Oryx, nomadic animals that resemble gazelles, have been known to walk miles to find just one small patch of grass that will eke out a few drops of water. Snakes have adapted, too, and bury themselves in the sand both for coolness and camouflage from their prey.

    We return to our camp for dinner and to enjoy the natural beauty of our surroundings with views of the distant Namib dunes.

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    Discover Walvis Bay on a cruise of the protected lagoon

    Today, we fly to Walvis Bay on Namibia's Atlantic Coast. This scenic flight passes over the Sossusvlei landscape, following the river's course and soaring over dunes, then continues west to the seacoast—passing over part of the Skeleton Coast as we approach Walvis Bay, with views of seal colonies, a shipwreck, granite outcrops, and old mines.

    We land at Walvis Bay in the late morning. Coveted for its natural deep-sea harbor, Walvis Bay fell under Dutch control in 1793 and was annexed by the British two years later. In 1910, Walvis Bay was ceded to the South African Union, where it remained until as recently as 1994. Once a center for the whaling industry, Walvis Bay is still an important fishing port, and the salt fields of this area produce 400,000 tons of high-quality salt annually.

    As important as its deep waters is Walvis Bay's reed-fringed, fresh-water lagoon—southern Africa's most important wetland for coastal birds. During much of the year, huge flocks of seabirds stroll along the lagoon—while hungry, fleet-footed jackals and other predators hide in the giant dunes skirting the shoreline. After arriving at Walvis Bay, we'll have a chance to explore the lagoon and walk to the salt works. After having lunch at a local restaurant, we explore this natural wonder before driving to our hotel in Swakopmund.

    Upon arrival in Swakopmund, you'll have some free time to discover Namibia's popular seaside resort on your own. Founded in 1892 as a main harbor during the German colonial era, Swakopmund resembles a romantic Bavarian village nestled between the desert and the misty sea. Infused with Old World charm, this enclave of picturesque, half-timbered homes is still home to the descendants of German settlers, together with an eclectic mix of fishermen, miners, and tribal Africans in traditional dress. There are plenty of charming cafés and restaurants for you to pop into at your whim for dinner on your own this evening.

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    This morning, we'll arrive at a resettlement camp for displaced persons where we'll gain an invaluable glimpse into the lives of these people by experiencing A Day in the Life of a Swakopmund community. There, we'll visit the community food bank where we will help to prepare meals for later in the day. Later in the morning, we'll head to the Hanganeni Primary School, where we'll be greeted by the young students and enjoy a welcome performance. We'll then meet with the headmaster and teachers, taking part in a discussion and tour of the school grounds. After, our group will have the opportunity to spend time in a classroom during a lesson, where we can interact with students, asking them questions about their school experience.

    We'll then head back to the resettlement camp where we'll assist in serving meals to the local community. We'll then arrive at the house of an herbalist, where we'll have a discussion and have the chance to see and smell the various herbs, learning their many benefits.

    For lunch, we'll arrive at the home of a local Herero family and have a Home-Hosted lunch. Later this afternoon, we'll arrive back at our hotel and have the remainder of the day at leisure.

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    After breakfast, we'll set out to explore the protected lagoon at Walvis Bay on a marine cruise. We depart after breakfast for Walvis Bay, the only natural deep-water harbor on the Skeleton Coast, where we embark on a three-hour cruise inside the protected lagoon. Enjoy Champagne, fresh oysters, and other snacks on board as we watch for the myriad animal life that lives in the lagoon, such as cormorants, low-flying pelicans, two types of dolphins, and a large seal colony. In fact, the seals have been known to swim up to the boat, offering a wonderful opportunity for a closer look at these playful animals.

    After lunch on your own, we'll embark on a coastal drive, where we'll have the opportunity to spot pelicans and other wildlife and explore the Zeila shipwreck.

    After the coastal tour, dinner is at our hotel this evening.

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    View Namibia's dramatic landscape en route to Damaraland

    This morning, we fly to Damaraland in northwest Namibia, one of Africa’s last true wildernesses. It’s one of the most scenic regions of the country, with a dramatic landscape of wide-open sandy plains and rocky, red-hued mountains. Our flight takes us over a landscape of dramatic mesas, buttes, and other geological formations, and we arrive in time for a late lunch at our picturesque lodge, which is situated between the rugged Etendeka Mountains and the red sandstone cliffs of Twyfelfontein. This is prime elephant country, and the desert elephant that thrives here has adapted to the dry, sandy conditions. In fact, these creatures can go for several days without water.

    Late this afternoon, we’ll go out in search of the unique desert elephants, who have smaller bodies and longer legs than other elephants. We'll return to the lodge for dinner this evening.

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    After breakfast this morning, we'll discover one of the remarkable wonders nestled in Damaraland's wild landscape: Twyfelfontain, an open-air gallery of ancient rock engravings depicting African wildlife. Here on the red sandstone you can find more than 2,500 rock carvings, mostly of animals, some even pointing out how to find water. Sections of the vast series of petroglyphs date to the early Stone Age and are considered among the continent's greatest collections of prehistoric art.

    Following Twyfelfontein, we'll follow a path to a valley of dolerite columns (rock formations) called the Organ Pipes. These geometric basalt rocks were formed over 125 million years ago when molten rock cooled vertically into polygonal cross sections. We'll then continue to the Damara Living Museum, which provides an insightful glimpse into the Damara culture of yesterday and today. As we tour the open-air exhibits, we'll learn more about the traditional, sustainable lifestyle of these fascinating people.

    Later this afternoon, we'll enjoy a game-viewing drive and wildlife experience with sundowners. We return to the lodge for dinner.

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    This morning we head out for a game-viewing drive and wildlife experience, where we'll be on the lookout for elephants and stop for a visit at De Riet and Riemvasmaak local houses. After lunch by the river, we'll return to our camp where we'll have sundowners on the roof before enjoying dinner.

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    See antelopes while on safari in Namibia

    After breakfast this morning, we'll embark on a nature walk, delighting in Damaraland's breathtaking scenery and unique wildlife once more. We'll return to our lodge for lunch before departing for the airport for our flight to Etosha.

    Etosha, meaning “great white place of dry water,” is a vast shallow bowl of silvery sand surrounded by savannah plains that would seem to forbid life. But Etosha was aptly (if paradoxically) named, because it is home to dozens of underground springs. And where there’s water—even in a harsh desert—wildlife will seek it out.

    Rare desert-adapted plants propagate within this important sanctuary, including the extraordinary Welwitschia mirabilis. One of the oldest plants in the world, this true botanic oddity is unique to the Namib Desert. This bizarre plant has two giant leaves, three feet wide, which are withered by the wind and may absorb water from the thick fog that settles here. It is believed that the Welwitschia plant may live upwards of 2,000 years.

    We visit a 70,000-acre private reserve on the border of Etosha National Park. With its own staff of expert guides, it offers activities such as nature walks that are not permitted in Etosha National Park itself. We have dinner in camp this evening.

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    We devote the next two days to discovering the wildlife in Etosha National Park, an enormous game park with relatively few visitors. Namibia’s premier game reserve, Etosha remains an important bulwark against the continual threat of extinction to Africa’s exotic wildlife. The park was established in 1907, when Namibia was still a German colony, and it held the distinction of being the world’s largest game park for 60 years. Although its size was slashed in 1967 to just 25% of its original acreage, it nevertheless is roughly the size of Switzerland and serves as the third-largest animal sanctuary in the world.

    < p>Loosely translated as “great white place of dry water,” Etosha consists of a vast shallow bowl of silvery sand surrounded by savannah plains that would seem to forbid life. But Etosha was aptly named, because along with shimmering mirages there are dozens of underground springs. And where there’s water—even in a harsh desert—wildlife will seek it out.

    We’re likely to see plenty during today’s full-day game-viewing drive. The park is a haven to a diversity of wildlife—an untamed wilderness of some 114 mammal and 340 bird species. Scattered through the park’s vast grassland and savannah are natural springs and permanent waterholes where the wildlife congregates at various times of day—often several species at the same time. Every safari is different, of course, but over the next two days we will search for wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, rhino, jackal, and kudu. And with a little luck, we may see lion, leopard, and cheetah, too. Even if you’ve been to Africa before, a visit to Namibia’s Etosha promises to be a unique experience. Enjoy a picnic lunch during our game-viewing drive, and dinner at the camp.

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    American trader G. McKeirnan exclaimed, “All the menageries in the world turned loose would not compare to the sight I saw that day” when he first laid eyes on the Etosha region in 1876. You may well agree with that sentiment as we explore Etosha today.

    Today we'll enjoy an early morning game-viewing drive within the Ongava concession—an exclusive area within the confines of Etosha National Park. If you are a bird enthusiast, keep watch for Yellow-billed hornbills, flamingos, pelicans, ostrich, and many other species.

    View diverse wildlife on a safari tour in Namibia

    We'll return to our camp for lunch before a late afternoon and early evening game-viewing drive in Ongava. Just as fascinating as the wildlife is the landscape of this starkly evocative region. The salty central pan rolls away toward grassy savannahs, and surrounding it are starkly beautiful stands of acacia, mopani, and moringa trees. Admire their spiky thorns, gnarled trunks, and outstretched branches silhouetted against the vast African sky.

    This evening, we'll gather at camp for a final briefing and a Farewell Dinner.

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    After breakfast and some time to pack this morning, we’ll depart for our flight to Windhoek. We’ll arrive in Windhoek in the afternoon before continuing to Johannesburg and embarking on our return trip to the U.S. which will arrive the following day. Or, if you're extending your adventure, you'll begin your post-trip extension to Cape Town & the Cape of Good Hope.


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Weather & Regional

Before you travel, we encourage you to learn about the region of the world you'll discover on this trip. From weather and currency information to details on population, geography, and local history, you'll find a comprehensive introduction to your destinations below.

Visit our “What to Know” page to find information about the level of activity to expect, vaccination information resources, and visa requirements specific to this vacation.

Currency Cheat Sheet: Submit

What to Know

For more detailed information about this trip, download our Travel Handbook below. This document covers a wide range of information on specific areas of your trip, from passport, visa, and medical requirements; to the currencies of the countries you’ll visit and the types of electrical outlets you’ll encounter. This handbook is written expressly for this itinerary. For your convenience, we've highlighted our travelers' most common areas of interest on this page.

Download the Travel Handbook

What to Expect


  • 6 locations in 16 days with one 1-night stay; early mornings

Physical requirements

  • Not appropriate for travelers using wheelchairs, walkers, other mobility aids, or CPAP machines
  • You must be able to walk unassisted while carrying hand luggage and access vehicles without aid
  • You must be able to walk 1-2 miles unassisted and be comfortable participating in 2-4 hours of physical activities each day


  • Namibia is mainly desert and generally humidity levels are low. Climate is typical of semi-desert terrain: hot days and cool nights. Summer is from October-April
  • Inland temperatures between May-September can be 60-100°F during the day, and as low as 32°F at night
  • Outside of the desert, November-March is humid with localized rain and thunderstorms
  • Coastal temperatures are cooler and tend to range between 55-70°F


  • During game-viewing, we’ll travel over gravel roads and bumpy, dusty terrain
  • We’ll walk through deep sand during our exploration of the Sossusvlei Dunes


  • We travel via air-conditioned bus (no toilet on board) and small plane.
  • On game-viewing drives, we travel on 10-seater, open-air safari vehicles. Agility required to board and disembark vehicles

Accommodations & Facilities

  • We spend 9 nights in comfortable but basic lodges and tented camps and 6 nights in hotels
  • Our lodges use generator electricity and lantern lighting at night, and do not have air-conditioning
  • All accommodations feature private baths

Travel Documents


Your passport should meet these requirements for this itinerary:

  • It should be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • It should have the recommended number of blank pages (refer to the handbook for details).
  • The blank pages must be labeled “Visas” at the top. Pages labeled “Amendments and Endorsements” are not acceptable.


U.S. citizens will need a visa (or visas) for this trip. In addition, there may be other entry requirements that also need to be met. For your convenience, we’ve included a quick reference list, organized by country:

  • Namibia: No visa required.
  • South Africa: No visa required.
  • Zimbabwe (optional Victoria Falls extension): Visa required.
  • Botswana (optional tour on extension): No visa required.

Travelers who are booked on this adventure will be sent a complete Visa Packet— with instructions, applications, and a list of visa fees—approximately 100 days prior to their departure. (Because many countries limit the validity of their visa from the date it is issued, or have a specific time window for when you can apply, we do not recommend applying too early.)

If you are not a U.S. citizen, do not travel with a U.S. passport, or will be traveling independently before/after this trip, then your entry requirements may be different. Please check with the appropriate embassy or a visa servicing company. To contact our recommended visa servicing company, PVS International, call toll-free at 1-800-556-9990.

Vaccinations Information

For a detailed and up-to-date list of vaccinations that are recommended for this trip, please visit the CDC’s “Traveler’s Health” website. You can also refer to the handbook for details.

Before Your Trip

Before you leave on your adventure, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:

Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)

What to Bring

In an effort to help you bring less, we have included checklists within the handbook, which have been compiled from suggestions by Trip Leaders and former travelers. The lists are only jumping-off points—they offer recommendations based on experience, but not requirements. You might also want to refer to the climate charts in the handbook or online weather forecasts before you pack. Refer to the handbook for details.

Insider Tips


Main Trip

  • Protea Hotel O.R. Tambo

    Johannesburg, South Africa

    Due to its proximity to O.R. Tambo Airport, the design of the hotel is inspired by an aircraft hangar, with a stylized industrial look that playfully incorporates elements of airplanes into the decor. Located in the Johannesburg suburb of Kempton Park, the hotel offers a shuttle to the nearby metro station and has a pool, bar, restaurant, and health club for your enjoyment. Each of the 213 air-conditioned rooms features satellite TV, wireless high-speed Internet, a safe, coffee- and tea-making facilities and private bath.

  • Hotel Thule

    Windhoek, Namibia

    Situated on a hilltop in the heart of Windhoek, Hotel Thule offers views of the city as well as the Auas Mountains. The 25 guest rooms are fully air conditioned and are equipped with a coffee and tea-making station, mini-bar, safe, television, en suite bathroom, and wireless Internet. On-site amenities include a restaurant, swimming pool, and a sundowner bar and terrace that boasts a 360-degree panorama of Windhoek.

  • Kulala Desert Lodge

    Sossusvlei, Namibia

    The Kulala Desert Lodge is situated at the foot of a rock escarpment on a 50,000-acre private reserve within the iconic Sossusvlei region of the Namib Desert. The camp includes 23 thatched canvas chalets on elevated wooden decks with private bathrooms (with flush toilets). The word Kulala means “to sleep”—and you can enjoy a peaceful night under a sea of stars if you wish. The main facilities include a swimming pool, bar area, and dining room. Sightings of oryx and ostrich are common.

  • Hansa Hotel

    Swakopmund, Namibia

    Known as “the oldest hotel in the world’s oldest desert,” this award-winning hotel dates from the early 1900s and is situated in the heart of picturesque Swakopmund. There are 60 comfortable rooms that include a telephone, TV, Internet access, and private bath.

  • Doro Nawas Camp

    Damaraland, Namibia

    Doro Nawas Camp is situated in the dry Aba-Huab River Valley, within the Doro Nawas Conservancy in central Damaraland. The camp offers 16 thatched-roof bungalows, each with private bath, mosquito netting, and veranda with magnificent views. There are also indoor and outdoor dining areas and a swimming pool.

  • Andersson's Camp

    Etosha National Park, Namibia

    Less than three miles away from Etosha National Park, Andersson's Camp is a restored historic farmstead located within a private game reserve. A big game waterhole in front of the main lodging area draws diverse wildlife—including both Black and White rhino—which can be seen from several different vantage points. Each of 20 permanent-tented guest units includes a private bath (with flush toilet) and comfortable amenities.


  • Protea Hotel O.R. Tambo

    Johannesburg, South Africa

    Due to its proximity to O.R. Tambo Airport, the design of the hotel is inspired by an aircraft hangar, with a stylized industrial look that playfully incorporates elements of airplanes into the decor. Located in the Johannesburg suburb of Kempton Park, the hotel offers a shuttle to the nearby metro station and has a pool, bar, restaurant, and health club for your enjoyment. Each of the 213 air-conditioned rooms features satellite TV, wireless high-speed Internet, a safe, coffee- and tea-making facilities and private bath.

  • Sprayview Hotel

    Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

    This Victoria Falls hotel offers an on-site restaurant, which overlooks a swimming pool and bar area. There are 54 rooms at the hotel, each with ceiling fan, telephone, patio, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and private bath.

Flight Information

Flight Options to Personalize Your Trip

Whether you choose to take just a base trip or add an optional pre- and post-trip extension, you have many options when it comes to personalizing your air—and creating the OAT adventure that’s right for you:

Personalized Air Routing

  • Work with our expert Air Travel Consultants to select the airline and routing you prefer
  • Upgrade to business or premium economy class
  • Customize your trip by staying overnight in a connecting city, arriving at your destination a few days early, or spending additional time in a nearby city on your own
  • Combine your choice of OAT adventures to maximize your value

Your Own Air Routing

  • Make your own international flight arrangements directly with the airline
  • Purchase optional airport transfers to and from your hotel
  • Extend your Land Tour-only Travel Protection Plan coverage and protect the air arrangements you make on your own—including your frequent flyer miles

OR, leave your air routing up to us and your airfare (as well as airport transfers) will be included in your final trip cost.

Partner since: 2004
Total donated: $322,994

Supporting a World Classroom: Namibia

By seeing how children are educated all over the world, we gain a rare understanding of different cultural values—as well as the common values that unite us all. That’s why Grand Circle Foundation supports the Hanganeni Primary School.

Hanganeni Primary School

The Hanganeni Primary School, located in the Erongo region of Namibia, is a 21-classroom school that services over 900 students, ages 5 to 13. Though the attendance rate is currently 97%, the graduation rate is just 66%. There is one desk per two students, and minimal government funding. The biggest need of the school is to add more classrooms, an assembly hall, and school transportation.

School in session:

Mid-January through late April, mid-May through mid-August, and early September through mid-December.

Gifts to bring if you're visiting:

  • Deflated soccer balls
  • Reading books for younger children, especially geography-related
  • Secondhand clothing, shoes
Alan and Harriet Lewis founded Grand Circle Foundation in 1992 as a means of giving back to the world we travel. Because they donate an annually determined amount of revenue from our trips, we consider each one of our travelers as a partner in the Foundation’s work around the world. To date, the Foundation has pledged or donated more than $97 million in support of 300 different organizations—including 60 villages and nearly 100 schools that lie in the paths of our journeys.

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Private Adventures—New for 2015

How do you arrange a Private Adventure?

It’s simple: You choose the people you travel with. You choose the departure date. You choose the size of your group. OAT does the rest.

Your lifelong memories are only a phone call away: Call us toll-free at

Group Size Additional Cost
4-6 $900 per person
7-9 $500 per person

Now you can reserve an EXCLUSIVE departure of Namibia & the Skeleton Coast: Africa's Last Wilderness with just 8 travelers. Enjoy a truly special adventure—starting from only $500 per person more than our published trip price.

The benefits of your Private Adventure …

  • Travel in an exclusive group of friends or family members
  • Work with your Trip Leader to create unique experiences and special memories
  • Tailor the pacing of activities—spending more time doing what interests your group most at the speed that fits your comfort level
  • Enjoy the security of knowing we have regional offices nearby

This program is available on new reservations in 2015 only, and cannot be combined with any offer within 60 days to departure or with our Group Travel program. The additional cost of a Private Departure is per person, on top of the departure price and varies by trip. Private Departures do not include any changes or additions to our standard itineraries. Age restrictions may apply to some itineraries and must be at least 13 years old to travel with Overseas Adventure Travel. Ask your Group Sales Team for details. Additional taxes and fees will apply. Standard Terms & Conditions apply. Every effort has been made to present this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors.

Of Sand and Fog

Namibia’s desert survivors

by Laura Chavanne

Scientists have used the beetle's ingenious design as inspiration for inventions that might someday convert fog into drinking water...

The San bushmen of Namibia call the Namib Desert “the land God created in anger”—an opinion that any human would understandably share if they tried to eke out an existence in one of the driest places on earth. But while humans weren’t designed to live in such a desolate place, a menagerie of fascinating species has evolved specifically to do just that. After all, this is quite possibly the oldest desert on earth. Life has had 80 million years to figure out how to survive—by any bizarre means necessary.

Fortunately, the ever-thirsting inhabitants of the Namib do have a little something to work with, thanks to the desert’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. For approximately 60 days each year, an icy current flowing northward from the Antarctic meets the warm, moist air over the Atlantic, condensing it into a thick fog. This precious moisture then blows over the sands of the Namib—where desert inhabitants are prepared for a feast.

Leave it to beetles

The fog collector beetle sports a shell covered with bumps that attract water and a waxy coating that repels it. When fog rolls in, the beetle assumes a position similar to a headstand and waits patiently for moisture to condense onto its shell. Once substantial droplets form, they funnel straight down the waxy surface and into the beetle’s mouthparts. Scientists have turned to this ingenious design as inspiration for inventions that might someday convert fog into drinking water in arid climates.

The hardworking button beetle, while not physically adapted like the fog collector, has adapted its behavior instead. It digs tiny furrows in the sand that catch the fog as the wind passes over them; the beetle then absorbs the moisture by creeping over the damp ridges.

A desert plant to be reckoned with

Perhaps the strangest fog harvester of all in the Namib—or the strangest specimen, periodis the welwitschia, Namibia’s national plant. The leathery leaves of the welwitschia capture condensed fog and direct the moisture down toward its roots—so in effect, the plant waters itself. The leaves are also able to absorb moisture directly, and the roots are long enough to reach underground water nearly 100 feet away. Though a welwitschia can grow to over six feet long, it never consists of more than two leaves, which split and spread into curling tatters with age—and we do mean age! Moderate sized plants have been carbon dated at 1000 years, and the largest specimens are believed to be twice as old. Talk about a desert survivor.

How to not sweat it

Unlike Namib denizens that survive by harvesting what little water they can find, the oryx survives because of its ability to go without—for weeks on end, as a matter of fact. When deprived of water, the oryx simply stops sweating to prevent loss of moisture. Its body temperature rises to a staggering 113 degrees during these times—which would cause serious brain damage if it weren’t for a network of blood vessels at the base of the oryx’s brain that open and shut as needed to safely distribute heat. It also stores its urine as a potential source for water during especially dry spells.

So if you’ve never considered the Namib a wildlife destination, we encourage you to think again. Life does exist in those beautifully desolate dunes—angry though their creator may appear to have been—and it’s certainly some of the wildest you’ll find anywhere in the world.