Day 1 South Africa Cederberg Mountain Region
Leaving Cape Town this morning we make a last stop for a look back at Table Mountain from across Table Bay, picture taken we travel to the famous winelands region of the Western Cape and enjoy a wine tasting at one of the local wine farms. We will also make a stop at the well-known Spice Route, bordering the town of Paarl. The Spice Route is an estate that brings together a collection of flavours unique to the Cape Culture – including a beer garden, artworks studio, chocolate makers and coffee makers – to name just a few. No road trip is complete without a stop at a traditional “Padstal”, these small farm stalls dot the byways of South Africa and offer a variety of homemade treats and bakes. The Cedarberg region not only boasts spectacular mountains and orange farms, but it is also the home of the Rooibos bush. Indigenous to the mountain slopes of the Cedarberg, this herbal beverage has earned an international reputation as a healthy and refreshing alternative to regular tea. A dinner at our overnight stop, offers an opportunity for us to get acquainted while enjoying some South African hospitality.
Day 2 Namibia Namaqualand Gariep River
We travel through Namaqualand and to the Gariep/Orange River. The night is spent getting to know one another over a hearty meal.
In 1681 a party of Nama people visited Cape Town Castle to trade. They brought with them pure copper and the then Governor, Simon Van Der Stel, saw this as proof of tales told by Khoi Khoi informants. In 1685 Van Der Stel led a major expedition to the Fables Mountains. No copper was found on the surface, but rocks were stained with the green-blue of Malachite. Van Der Stel sank three shafts, which revealed a vast load of copper. After this find, for 200 years nothing was done about it due to the inhospitable environment.
The Scottish explorer, Sir James Alexander investigated Van Der Stel's claims in 1852. He found several other copper outcrops and started mining. Fortune hunters rushed to the area with many mining companies collapsing due to transport difficulties. One of the two that survived, at Okiep, was ranked as the richest copper mine in the world (Okiep is just north of Springbok). The Orange River was named after The Dutch Royal family (Oranje). It's now called the Gariep River. The river runs for about 1200 km. The source is at the Gariep dam near Aliwal North in Eastern Cape. It flows into the sea at Oranjemund on the west coast forming the border between South Africa and Namibia and forms a natural boundary of various provinces in South Africa.
Day 3 Gariep River Fish River Canyon
While the Orange River was named after the Dutch royal House, in recent times it has been referred to by its original name of Gariep, which simply means “river” in the indigenous KhoeKhoe language. Beginning its journey in the mountains of Lesotho the Orange River is the longest river in South Africa and offers a unique contrast to the desert landscapes along its banks. The best way to experience the river is by getting out on the water and this morning we have the opportunity to join an optional canoe trip on the river. Later this morning we cross the border into Namibia and travel onwards to the Fish River Canyon, one of the largest in the world. This afternoon we take a walk along the rim of the canyon and end our day with a memorable sunset on the canyon edge.
Optional Activities: Half-Day Canoe Adventure.
Ai-Ais resort has been closed for much of 2008 for a major refurbishment and is expected to re-open sometime in 2009, although no date has been set at this stage. If it is open we will go there if not, this is something beyond our control and so we will then only visit the Fish River Canyon.
Day 4 Namib-Naukluft National Park
Every overland journey has some long travelling days and today is one of those as we venture deeper into the Namib Desert. Our destination is the dune fields that cover the western reaches of the desert. Long dusty roads and sparsely populated farmlands offer us an insight into the vastness of rural Namibia. From the grasslands in the east to the red dunes of the west the slowly changing landscapes represents the many faces of this desert country. Tonight we camp on the doorstep of the dune fields and fall asleep to the unique calls of the elusive Barking Gecko.
Day 5 Sossusvlei Dunes – Namib-Naukluft National Park
Watching the sunrise over the red dunes is an iconic highlight of any trip to Namibia and this morning we rise before the sun to capture this magnificent moment. A brisk climb up Dune 45 offers us the perfect vantage point to marvel at the changing colours of the desert sunrise. Once satisfied we descend this famous dune and enjoy a hearty breakfast before catching a 4×4 transfer into Sossusvlei, here we will spend time on foot visiting the pans at Sossusvlei and Deadvlei. Our day in the desert continues this afternoon as we join a local expert for an educational desert excursion. Tonight we empty the red sand from our shoes and spend the night under the magnificent desert stars, knowing that we have spent a full-day enjoying the wonders of this harsh land.
Day 6 Swakopmund
This day is left free for you to explore the town or try one of the many adventure activities.
Optional Activities: Quad biking, Skydiving, Sand boarding, scenic Flights etc.
Surrounded by the Namib Desert on three sides and the cold Atlantic waters to the west, Swakopmund enjoys a temperate climate. The average temperature ranges between 15°C to 25°C. Rainfall is less than 15 mm per year, making gutters and drainpipes on buildings a rarity. The cold Benguela current supplies moisture for the area in the form of fog that can reach as deep as 140 km inland. The fauna and flora of the area have adapted to this phenomenon and now relies upon the fog as a source of moisture.
Swakopmund is well known for adventure sports including Skydiving, Sandboarding and Quadbiking. You guides will be able to assist you in deciding on a suitable activity, alternatively spend the day exploring the town and enjoying the various coffee shops and souvenir shops.
Day 7 Swakopmund
Although your tour comes to an end after breakfast, take the opportunity today to explore the town at your leisure, as there are a number of attractions for every taste. Not to be missed is the selection of famed coffee shops and bakeries that offer a delightful range of German inspired treats. Swakopmund offers all the conveniences of a small city and is the perfect launching pad for the journey through the northern reaches of the land.>
The African sun is very strong, especially in Namibia. Please use a factor 30 sunscreen and wear a hat. You should drink at least 3 litres of water per day to avoid dehydration. It can also get very cold during winter months on this route.