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The Dune Express

Southern Sky Adventures: The Dune Express

shongo-logo-smNamibia is a country of compelling beauty, abundant sunshine and unconfined space. The wide horizons, the clear unpolluted skies and a population density, which is among the lowest in the world, generate a sense of freedom. This feeling of tranquility and stillness compliments a landscape, which is singular in its colors, full of contrasts of light and shade. The Dune Adventure offers a unique opportunity to experience the harsh realities of the desert landscapes as well as the extraordinary natural phenomena resulting from millions of years of erosion and volcanic activity.

DAY 1 – JOHANNESBURG – AIRPORT ARRIVALS AND HOTEL TRANSFERS

Join the Shongololo Express at Boksburg East station from 8AM onwards. After being welcomed by the tour guide and the Shongololo Express, representatives guests may enjoy a cup of coffee and relax until departure.

The train will depart at 10 AM. Enjoy a drink at the bar before the train departs for Upington.

DAY 2 – AUGRABIES FALLS AND BORDER CROSSING

Visiting the Augrabies National Park is not only a highlight because of its waterfalls (even though they are the main attraction). The interesting flora as well as the small Klipspringer is also worth mentioning. Three short hiking trails lead from the rest camp at the park entrance to and around the waterfalls. They are not very difficult to walk, but solid hiking shoes are recommended, because of the rocky ground. In April / May when the Gariep (Orange) River’s water level is at its peak, amplitude of 200 meters of water falls almost 60 meters down the granite ravine.

The train departs from Upington and crosses into Namibia late in the evening.

DAY 3 – FISH RIVER CANYON

Enjoy an early-morning breakfast before guests depart for the Fish River Canyon. Eroded over millennia, the Fish River Canyon is the second largest natural gorge in Africa.

The train journeys from Keetmanshop to Aus over night.

DAY 4 – LUDERITZ AND KOLMANSKOP

Guests depart in the morning for a drive through the desert to visit the desert horses en route to Luderitz. On arrival guests tour the historical town including the Cross and the ghost city of Kolmanskop. Take a walking tour, and learn about electricity, ice makers and 10 pin bowling back in the 30’s!! Guests rejoin the train at Aus Station.

The train departs Aus for Windhoek in the evening.

DAY 5 – WINDHOEK

Situated in Namibia’s central highlands, Windhoek is an attractive city surrounded by clusters of hills and the impressive Auas and Eros Mountains. There will be a city tour of Windhoek.

DAY 6 & 7 – ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK

The tour departs to Etosha National Park, entering via the Namutoni Gate. The Etosha National Park is one of the major sanctuaries for wildlife in Africa and was proclaimed a game reserve by German Governor Von Lindequist in 1907. The heart of the park is the Etosha Pan (Etosha means “place of dry water”). It is an extensive, flat depression of about 2,000 square miles. There are 144 mammal species in the park, which covers an area of 8,500 square miles. These include elephant, giraffe, blue wildebeest and black rhino. Among the predators are lion, cheetah, leopard and several species of wild cat. Hyena and jackal are the scavengers. Antelope species range from the majestic eland to the shy little Damara dik-dik. The most striking of the antelope species is the gemsbok, with its dramatic black and white markings. Bird life is prolific and some 340 species have been identified, including Namibia’s national bird, the Crimson-Breasted Shrike. Lunch is enjoyed in one of the camps. Guests meet the train back at a siding outside the park in the Oshivelo region.

Activities can include the following: Overnight at a tented camp

DAY 08 – OMARURU

Omaruru is a town and constituency in the Erongo Region of Namibia. Its official population is 6,792. The town is situated by the Erongo Mountains, on the usually dry Omaruru River.
The town grew around a mission built in 1872 by Gottlieb Viehe, now a museum, and was attacked in 1904 during the Herero and Namaqua Genocide. Captain Franke’s Tower was built in this period to defend the settlement.

The town is known for its annual festival, its winery and for the dinosaur footprints at nearby Otjihaenamparero. Guests will visit the biggest wine cellar in Namibia Kristall Kellerei Winery – one of only three in the country! The white wine produced in this vineyard is unique and ‘the tales behind the story’ are interesting.

The train departs early evening from Omaruru via Kranzberg and Usakos to Swakopmund.

DAY 9 – SWAKOPMUND / SPITZKOPPE AND NORTH COAST

Spitzkoppe is known as the ‘Matterhorn of Namibia’. It rises to an altitude of about 6,000 feet. However, it is by no means Namibia’s highest mountain. Due to its striking features and outlines, it is the most famous mountain in the country. Situated in an endless dry landscape, the island of mountains can be seen from quite a distance. The enormous granite rocks were created more than 100 million years ago due to volcanic activities and subsequent erosion. We continue to the small, thriving town of Henties Bay. The town was named after Major Hentie van der Merwe, who discovered a freshwater fountain in the estuary of the Omaruru River. Lunch is enjoyed before visiting the Cape Cross Seal Reserve north of Henties Bay. Here a prodigious number of Cape Fur Seals flourish in the cold waters of the Benguela Current. Numerous islets and isolated parts of the shore serve as nurseries for their young. This area is also of historical significance, as the Portuguese navigator, Diego Cão, planted a cross at this point in the year 1486. Guests make their way back to the train in Swakopmund in the late afternoon.

The train remains stationary in Swakopmund over night.

DAY 10 & 11 – SWAKOPMUND / WALVIS BAY

Swakopmund, Namibia’s seaside resort on the West Coast, is a place of singular charm. It resembles a small Bavarian village nestling between the desert and the sea and enjoys a restful and relaxing atmosphere.

The day starts with a drive past Walvis Bay into the Namib Desert and a stop at a lookout point over the valley known as the Moon Landscape. Soft overlaying levels of earth, deposited some 450 million years ago and eroded over millennia, created this eerie landscape. The Welwitschia Nature Drive takes us through vast plains where herds of oryx, springbok and zebra roam the supernatural landscape of these badlands. The hardy survivor of the desert, the Welwitschia Mirabilis, can be seen along this route. One very large specimen, which is specially protected, is estimated to be 1,500 years old. Guests then return to Walvis Bay for a lunch break. It is a pretty South African style town with 25,000 inhabitants. Strategically located halfway down the coast of Namibia and with direct access to principal shipping routes, it is a natural gateway for international trade. Next is a visit the Walvis Bay Lagoon, a great attraction in the Walvis Bay area. The tranquil stretch of water, its natural beauty accentuated by thousands of flamingos gathering at the rich feeding grounds, is over 3 000 years old. Because of its value as a wetland area, it was declared a RAMSAR site (a convention pertaining to wetlands was held in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971). Dune 7, located on the outskirts of Walvis Bay, is the highest sand dune in the area. It is an unforgettable experience for those who feel inclined to challenge the height of this outstanding landmark to admire the view from the top.

Activities can include the following: Ocean and desert combination tour, Mola Mola seal and Dolphin Cruise, Sossusvlei fly-in, Epupa Falls/Ovahimbi fly-in, Conception Bay flight, quad bikes

DAY 12 – TRANSFER DAY

A late breakfast will be served on board the train. If guests are transferring to a hotel, this will be arranged for them in the morning. Transfers to the airport will be done as per the flight

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