2018 South Africa Adventure

Africa Intro

By Marc C. Shaffer

If you’ve read my “I Plan So That I Can ___” article, you won’t be surprised that I’ve committed to annual international trips to new locations. My friends Jared and Stacy Anderson run Adventures to Serve, which plan these amazing trips and I have previously been to Peru, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, and Iceland with them. It’s great because they plan out all the details and I can just tag along for the adventure. The 2018 trip is scheduled for November 3rd through November 17th in South Africa: Namibia and Cape Town. Here are the details:

Join us for an unforgettable trip to Namibia and Cape Town, South Africa! We’ll explore ancient, other-worldly deserts; go on safari in Etosha National Park, one of Africa’s best national parks for wildlife viewing; and visit one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Cape Town, South Africa.

Africa IntroWe’ll start our adventures in the desert, briefly visiting the edge of the Kalahari Desert and enjoying a private game drive before exploring the ancient and spectacularly orange-hued Namib Desert in depth. Through the three day, two night Tok Tokkie trek, we’ll explore the Namib, learning about this diverse ecosystem and being awed by the explosion of stars as the Namib Desert is one of the best stargazing areas in the world. Our desert experience will continue as we climb—and then run down—the mammoth Big Daddy Dune at Sossusvlei, followed by a combined quad bike/sandboarding adventure in Swakopmund, the adventure capital of Namibia! On our way out of the desert we’ll stop at Cape Cross Seal Reserve, to take in the 100,000+ colony of cape fur seals. We’ll then stay at an isolated lodge perched high above the valley floor with spectacular views in every direction.

Next stop, safari! We’ll spend three days tracking wildlife in Etosha National Park home to elephants, lions, black and white rhinos, leopards, cheetahs, herds of zebra, springbok, impala, wildebeest and other hooved antelope, giraffe, hyena, ostrich and over 100 other species of mammals. Finally, we’ll fly to Cape Town, South Africa, one of the most stunning cities in the world where we’ll hike Lion’s head, take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, visit the penguins at Boulders Bay, and then take in the stunning Cape of Good Hope. Join us for an amazing two weeks and take home a lifetime of memories!

DAY 1 (November 3rd) ARRIVE WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA—TRAVEL TO THE KALAHARI DESERT Welcome to Namibia! We’ll begin our Southern African adventure by heading south out of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia for a short two hour drive to the edge of the Kalahari Desert. The landscape in this part of the Kalahari is breathtaking and is punctuated by camelthorn trees growing amid the red sand dunes. We’ll stay on the edge of a private nature reserve and take a late afternoon game drive to get our first sightings of African wildlife.

In the area are giraffe, eland, black and blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, Hartmann’s and Burchell’s zebra, nyala, blesbok, springbok, impala, oryx, kudu, steenbok, ostrich, pangolin, porcupine, warthog and aardvark, although sightings of all of these animals cannot be guaranteed. A cozy bed awaits after dinner and will be a welcome sight after our long flights to this beautiful part of the world.

Tik Tokkie Trek for Day 2 4DAYS 2-4 (November 4th-6th) TOK TOKKIE TREK Today we drive to the Namib Rand Nature Reserve where we’ll begin our three day, two night hike in the Namib Desert—one of the oldest and largest deserts in the world that stretches over 1200 miles from Angola in the north to South Africa in the south, hugging the entire Atlantic coast of Namibia in between.

Get ready for a sensory feast as we’re introduced to amazing landscapes, desert creatures, and a thriving ecosystem. Though a desert, it is not barren. A comparably high amount of rainfall (for a desert!) and dense fog that can roll in from the Atlantic has created a diverse ecosystem including a variety of vegetation and wildlife. This will be one of the most unique experiences you’ll ever have—walking along beautiful sand dunes, sleeping under the stars, and taking in the vastness and serenity of this one of a kind land. Enjoy and listen to the silence!

What’s more, the International Dark Sky Association (yes, there is such a thing!) has certified the area as one of its Dark Sky Reserves because the lack of light pollution produces some of the world’s best stargazing! So, before you come, grab a stars of the southern skies guide and prepare to be awed by the number and vastness of the night skies. For the trek, you’ll only need to carry a day-pack during the day, as the rest of your luggage will be transported to the campsites each evening. Our guide will provide an in-depth introduction to desert life. On our final day of the hike, we’ll finish around noon and then drive a short distance to Sossusvlei for relaxation and pool time before visiting the iconic dunes tomorrow.

DAY 5 (November 7th) SOSSUSVLEI Today we will visit the awe-inspiring and iconic mega-dunes of Sossusvlei. These orange mammoths are the number one tourist attraction in Namibia—and for good reason! These towering dunes cast against a bright blue sky create a magnificent view that stretches as far as the eye can see.

We’ll start at sunrise and drive an hour through the desert passing several of these gigantic dunes, finally stopping at the biggest of them all, the aptly named Big Daddy Dune. We’ll take around an hour to climb the nearly 1100 foot high Big Daddy and then run down the side of the dune from its highest point! Besides being the fastest way down, it also provides an exhilarating thrill as you run straight down in ankle deep sand (get your GoPro charged up if you have one!).

At the bottom we’ll attempt to get the sand out of our shoes before walking back to our desert jeep through beautiful Deadvlei—a flat, white, salt-pan area at the bottom of Big Daddy that has dead black camelthorn trees cemented into the clay. These are the iconic desert pictures that grace every Namibia marketing brochure (including ours)! After a delicious brunch out under a grove of trees we’ll head back to the lodge and then drive to Swakopmund—the adventure capital of Namibia!

DAY 6 (November 8th) SWAKOPMUND Swakopmund is the adventure capital of Namibia situated on the Atlantic Ocean. Today we’ll do a combined desert quad bike/sandboarding tour—snowboarding on sand! In the afternoon, enjoy the Atlantic ocean, do some shopping, or, if you want to spend a little extra, we recommend the two hour scenic desert flight in a six-seat Cessna that takes you down the coast to Sossusvlei and back to get a spectacular birds eye view of the desert and coast. Swakopmund is also a decent place to do some laundry, if needed.

Grootberg Lodge Day 7DAY 7 (November 9th) GROOTBERG LODGE Today we head north along the Skeleton Coast to our first stop—the Cape Cross Seal Reserve. Here you’ll find a massive population of cape fur seals (over 100,000!) gathered to find food and raise their pups. This colony of cape fur seals will provide a different kind of sensory experience, as a cacophony of barks, yells, and calls to find mom penetrate your ear drums while your olfactory senses are ignited by the stench of such a large group of seals (bring a scarf, buff, or bandana—no really, you’ll thank us later!).

After taking in this enormous colony and getting plenty of pictures of the cute seal pups, we’ll continue on a scenic inland drive arriving at the Grootberg Lodge in mid-afternoon. The lodge is set on top of a steep mountain overlooking the Klip River. A brief, white knuckle drive gets us to the top of the plateau where we’ll stay in one of sixteen rock and thatch chalets, each with a marvelous view.

Spend the afternoon at the pool, hiking, or relaxing in the midst of one of the most stunning settings you’ll ever find. Catch the spectacular sunset before a tasty dinner.

DAY 8-10 (November 10th-12th) ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK It’s safari time!! A short drive brings us to the Andersson Gate, the entrance to the western side of Etosha National Park. We’ll spend the first two nights at the Okaukuejo Lodge, a government run camp inside the park. This is the most famous and sought after lodge in the park because of the very large flood lit waterhole.

In the evenings, just a short walk from your lodge, you can sit and watch a variety of wildlife come and go—including zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, elephants, lions, and rhino. In fact, this is probably the best rhino viewing area in the whole park. Etosha National Park is one of the world’s best wildlife viewing areas. We’ll spend three days traversing the park in search of wildlife big and small. The park includes four (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino) of the Big 5 (no buffalo). In all, 114 mammal species are found in the park. In addition to most of the Big 5, the park is also home to cheetahs, giraffe, hyena, ostrich, zebra, wildebeest, black backed jackals, gemsbok, impala, sitatunga, dik diks, hartebeest, and many more!!

Bring your binoculars and a zoom lens! Our third night we’ll stay on the eastern edge of the park at the Namutoni Lodge.

DAY 11 (November 13th) WINDHOEK On our final day in the park we’ll enjoy a morning game drive before heading back to the capital, Windhoek. On our final night in Namibia we can do some souvenir shopping at the excellent craft outlets or relax at the hotel.

Lions Head Mountaint for Day 12 14DAY 12-14 (November 14th-16th) CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA We’ll leave Namibia on a morning flight to Cape Town where we’ll spend the next four days and three nights. Cape Town is a world-class city and is often listed as one of the best cities in the world to visit! Stunning scenery, great food, vibrant culture, and a complicated history make this a must visit.

Over the next four days we’ll climb Lion’s Head, take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, visit the Cape of Good Hope (the southwestern most point of Africa) and drive the spectacularly scenic western coast back to Cape Town, see hundreds of penguins at Boulders Bay, and visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison and learn about his struggle against apartheid. We’ll also make sure to dive into some of the great culinary options in the city.

Capetown for Day 12 14DAY 15 (November 17th) CAPE TOWN—EVENING FLIGHT HOME Today is our final day, reserved for activities of your choosing. You can spend time walking the pier, shopping for souvenirs, or visiting any number of museums, art galleries, or the aquarium.

Finally, we’ll pack our bags, and hope our bags, cameras, and minds can fit all of the mementoes and memories from this amazing adventure. Safe travels home!


Price Includes:

  • All transportation within Namibia and Cape Town
  • Lodging/Hotel Accommodation (12 nights), Camping (2 nights)
  • Some Meals (10B, 2L, 8D)
  • Three-day, two-night Tok Tokkie Trek
  • Activities: Kalahari game drive, Sossusvlei dune adventure, Swakopmund quad bike/sandboarding adventure, Cape Fur Seal entrance fee, Etosha National Park entrance fee and one park game drive, entrance fees for Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope, Robben Island.
  • Domestic flight from Windhoek to Cape Town

Price Does Not Include:

  • Airfare from hometown to Windhoek and Cape Town to hometown (assistance in securing tickets is available)
  • Some meals
  • Drinks

Photos from my prior trips with Adventure to Serve can be found below.

2017 Bhutan and Thailand Photos

2016 Iceland Photos

2015 Peru Photos

2014 China and Nepal Photos

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Published for the blog on January 4, 2018 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.