Location: South Africa & Namibia Duration: 13 nights Price: From £4,750 per person in low season based on two adults travelling together and including all flights in economy class, accommodation, some meals, car hire and taxes

From the eruption of spring flowers brought to life by winter rains to some of the harshest deserts in the world, this 4x4 adventure is one of our favourite ways to explore southern Africa. Driving between the capitals of South Africa and Namibia, you’ll depart Cape Town and travel north through Namaqualand, utterly engulfed by the colourful wildflowers. Once you’ve seen how lush the desert can be you’ll immediately discover how unforgiving it is also. Trailing the rim of Fish River Canyon and rolling over the windswept ochre dunes of the Namib Desert, you’ll encounter wild horses, ghost towns and astonishing scenery and, often times, feel like the only person in the world.

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Perfect for

The hardy, brave and adventurous – those who like to take control of the wheel while on holiday.

In the know

Adding one more leg and staying a few nights in Swakopmund to experience the eerie Skeleton Coast. 

Recommended for...
Landscapes & Scenery
4x4 Adventure
Adventure
Couples

CAPE TOWN – 2 nights

Diving right into the action, you’ll arrive into Cape Town and be transported to the slopes of Lion’s Head, where your luxury hotel, the 21 Nettleton, is located. With superior 360 degree views incorporating the Atlantic Ocean, Twelve Apostles, Table Mountain and Clifton Bay, you will be perfectly placed to explore all of Cape Town’s major highlights. Drive 10 minutes to the indelible harbour and people watch and seal spot during your walk around the popular area. Have a leisurely picnic on Signal Hill, tucking into fresh seafood and popping open a bottle of local bubbly, or splurge out with a meal in one of the world-renowned restaurants in Woodstock. Skirt around the edges of Sea Point, beach hopping the long stretches of white sand, to Camps Bay. Take a scenic walk on the sun-soaked promenade, indulging in some retail therapy, before joining the locals in a raising a craft beer or chilled glass of Sauvignon to the setting sun across the ocean.

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NIEUWOUDTVILLE – 2 nights

Collecting your hardy 4x4 vehicle in Cape Town, you’ll head up the Western Cape to Nieuwoudtville, a pretty little town lined with historical sandstone buildings. Its epicentre is a Neo-gothic church, which is worth a visit; however, the attraction of the town is primarily the incredible blossoming of wildflowers in spring, when every geophytes of every type bloom in and around the town. A secluded farm just outside of Nieuwoudtville, the beautifully restored Papkuilsfontein will be your home for two nights. Learn about the ancient cultural history of the area by visiting the detailed rock art painted by San bushmen thousands of years ago or trace back the landscape some 220 million years ago with a hike along the circular 12km trail, passing rock formations, nature reserves, rare fynbos and forging waterfalls. Keep an eye on the sky as you might spot a martial eagle or kestrel - the area really is a birder’s paradise with over 145 species encountered. Go on a tour of the farm and discover why this area has earned the title of ‘Bulb Capital of the World’. If you get hot from all the walking, take a dip in the natural rock pool nearby or locate the farm’s waterfall (in season), situated on the edge of an impressive 180m canyon. As only guests have access to this look-out point, take a sundowner to the verge and watch the ochre rocks blaze with the last rays of the day. When it’s dark, turn again to the sky but this time, instead of birds, look out for stars as you’ll be able to see the Milky Way and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

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SPRINGBOK – 1 night

The largest town in Namaqualand, Springbok is your final frontier before heading into Namibia. On your drive from Nieuwoudtville to Springbok consider detouring to the Skilpad Wild Flower Reserve, renowned as one of the prime locations for the annual flower display, and the Namaqua National Park, founded to protect the biodiversity hotspot and the massive concentration of succulent plants (the largest in the world). You’ll spend one night at the Naries Namakwa Retreat in the Mountain Suites, which are domed and boulder-like rooms set remotely amidst the landscape. Almost one with nature, you can relax in your romantic lodge, taking in the complete tranquillity of the arid region or follow the well-marked trails to the viewpoints for vistas of the spectacular desert scenery.  

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Naries Namakwa Mountain Suites
Fish River Lodge

FISH RIVER CANYON – 2 nights

For a view like no other, you’ll drive north along the great chasm, forged by the mighty Fish River, to Namibia. Nearly cut off from the rest of the country by thick desert sands, deep-red dunes and gigantic ravines, the region is dominated by the Fish River Canyon, the second largest canyon in the world with an impressive depth of 550 metres and a length of approximately 160 kilometres. You’ll stay two nights at the Fish River Lodge, which is the only lodge perched directly on the rim of the canyon. Thanks to your room’s rooftop windows, outdoor shower and terrace, you’ll never lose sight of the stunning scenery – and you can even have your bed placed outdoors for sleeping al fresco. With 45,000 hectares of space to explore, start with the amazing and popular views at Hell’s Bend before sidestepping the beaten track and finding your own corner of private canyon. If you are tired of doing all the driving, join the morning and afternoon scenic drives, led by guides who know the perfect spot for a picture, or venture to the base of the canyon and have lunch at the permanent waterhole on the seasonal river, which is visited often by native animals.

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KLEIN AUS – 1 night

Set in the mountains around 100km inland from the gateway town Luderitz, Eagle’s Nest is pretty much set in the middle of nowhere. Offering a small number of rock chalets, the lodge keeps you in luxurious comfort all the while throwing you amidst the boulder-strewn hillside overlooking the seemingly endless Namib Desert. Hopefully you’ve saved some storage on your camera to photograph the wild horses that are often found near the lodge and contrast beautifully against the high yellow grass and surrounding mountains. As you’ll only be an hour from Kolmanskop, go on a tour of the German-style ghost town, which sprung up in the early 1900s when diamonds where discovered in the area. Now almost completely engulfed by the desert, take a few memorable shots of the grand mansions and buildings half filled with sand.

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NAMIBRAND- 2 nights

Nestled in the Namib Desert, the Namibrand Nature Reserve is all about colour – imagine burnt-orange sands, almost-white plains lined with dried grass and dramatic spurts from the setting sun. Even after the sun sets, if you wait until the lasts of the pinks and oranges have dissolved from horizon, you’ll see the area flooded with billions of stars. The Namibrand is one of the darkest places on the planet, there is hardly any light population, and has been proclaimed Africa’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. This is why we highly recommend topping up your sundowner and waiting for beautiful sightings of the Southern Cross, Orion’s Belt and galaxies 100,000 light years in diameter. Guided walks, game drives and picnic lunches in the wild are just a few ways to explore the desert or you can silently glide over the incredible landscape in a hot air balloon or scenic flight. You’ll be staying in one of our favourite properties, the Wolwedans Dune Camp, for two nights, where you can make the most of the platform tents and canvas walls for sublimely comfortable sleep-outs under the stars.

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SOSSUSVLEI – 2 nights

Your last few nights in the desert, you’ll drive to Kulala Desert Lodge in order to be close to the startling red dunes of Sossusvlei. In the morning, be the very first to climb Big Daddy, a dune that rises 300 metre above the valley floor - the views here are so otherworldly that it feels like you have left Earth and landed on Mars. Descend into Deadvlei to photography the enormous clay pan dotted with petrified trees, all framed by brilliant blue skies. You’ll have another opportunity to soar over the desert in a hot air balloon if you like or take the chance to zoom into the smaller aspects of the area by learning about the fascinating flora and spotting the desert fauna, such as a bar-eared fox or the scuttling scorpion on a night walk.

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WINDHOEK – 1 night

Coming to a close, this 4x4 adventure finishes in Windhoek, Namibia’s quiet capital. Colonised by both Germany and South Africa, Windhoek has subtle Afrikaans and German influences. You’ll see German architecture in soft pastel colours standing strong next to shiny office blocks and Lutheran churches flanked by flower gardens in the city centre. Before your return flight home, you’ll stay the night at the intimate Olive Grove Guesthouse, where you can breathe in the floral scents of the garden that skirts the designer plunge pool or relax in the open-plan kitchen with a glass of wine as your dinner is prepared for by the innovation chefs.

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Best time to travel

Good time to travel (but some limitations)

Travel is possible (but it’s not the best time)

Travel is not recommended

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