Situated in Namibia’s central highlands, Windhoek is an attractive city surrounded by clusters of hills and the impressive Auas and Eros Mountains. Join the Shongololo Express at Windhoek station from 08:00 onwards. After being welcomed by your tour guide and the Shongololo Express representative you may enjoy a cup of coffee and a few biscuits. The train will depart at 14H00 and during your settling-in period, familiarise yourself with the detailed programme and the exciting excursions on offer to you during your trip ahead.
The train departs at 14H00 for Tsumeb.
Bloemfontein is the seat of the South African judicial system. At the end of the 19th century it was also the capital of one of the old Boer republics, namely the Orange Free State. Kimberley is the capital city of the Northern Cape, well known of the Big Hole and the discovery of the diamonds that led to the establishment of the city in 1893.
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 5 000 km². Game viewing takes place from our air-conditioned vehicles. There are 144 mammal species in the park, which covers an area of 22 270 km². 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. It also appears on the Namibian coat of arms. Bird life is prolific and some 340 species have been identified, including Namibia’s national bird, the Crimson-Breasted Shrike. Lunch (guests’ own account) is enjoyed in one of the camps. We meet the train back at a siding outside the park in the Oshivelo region
Etosha National Park
This morning is the last opportunity to experience the magic of Etosha’s animal kingdom (this time in the southern region of the park and once again in our air-conditioned vehicles). After lunch (guests’ own account) we depart for Otjiwarongo, where the train will await us for its southwards journey to Omaruru. (Half day; distance travelled: 350 km)
Guests meet the train at Otjiwarongo station and the train departs the same evening for Omaruru.
Omaruru the garden town of Namibia
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. We’ll 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. A unique feature in this town is the Tikoloshe root-carving factory on the outskirts of the town. Hardly any visitor leaves this place without a souvenir bought at this fascinating venue. Enjoy a ride on a traditional donkey cart – available at the station. (Full day: distance traveled: ± 10km + 500m on a donkey cart!)
The ‘braai’ on the station’s platform is another highlight. The train departs early evening from Omaruru via Kranzberg and Usakos to Swakopmund.
DAY-05 – SWAKOPMUND / SPITZKOPPE AND NORTH COAST INCLUSIVE OPTION
Spitzkoppe, Henties Bay and the Cape Cross Seal Reserve Spitzkoppe is known as the ‘Matterhorn of Namibia’. It rises to an altitude of about 1 800 m. 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 (guests’ own account) 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. We make our way back to the train in Swakopmund in the late afternoon. (Full day; distance travelled: 350 km)
The train remains stationary in Swakopmund over night.
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 sources of Swakopmund’s continental vibe are the graceful Art Nouveau buildings dating back to the turn of the previous century.
Moon Landscape, Welwitschia Drive, Walvis Bay and Dune 7
Our 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. We then return to Walvis Bay for a lunch break (guests’ own account). 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. We 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. (Full day; distance travelled: 200 km)
.The day is spent at leisure.
Situated in Namibia’s central highlands, Windhoek is an attractive city surrounded by clusters of hills and the impressive Auas and Eros Mountains. INCLUSIVE OPTION Windhoek City Tour
The city tour of Windhoek starts with a visit to the TransNamib Transport Museum. The museum is situated in the Windhoek Railway Station and was built from 1912 to 1913. In front of the building is the narrow-gauge locomotive (vintage 1900) which used to operate between Swakopmund and Windhoek. The museum at the Alte Feste Castle offers a range of displays, including the Social History Gallery and the Independence Display. Both give an insight into Namibia’s complex history. At the top of Robert Mugabe Avenue is the Christuskirche or Evangelical Lutheran Church. This is one of the city’s most striking landmarks and was built from local sandstone and completed in 1910. Romanesque, neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau styles influenced its design and Kaiser Wilhelm II donated its stained- glass windows. Our last visit is the Namibia Craft Centre in the old Breweries Building. (Half day; distance travelled: 50 km) The train departs at 14h00 for Aus.
Luderitz and Kolmanskop
Guests depart in the morning for a drive through the desert to visit the desert horses’ enroute 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!! Guest rejoin the train at Aus Station. The train departs Aus for Holog in the evening.
FISH RIVER CANYON
Fish River Canyon
After breakfast on board, we depart for our short morning visit to the Fish River Canyon. Eroded over millennia, the Fish River Canyon is the second largest natural gorge in Africa. Set in a harsh, stony plain, dotted with drought resistant succulents such as the distinctive Quiver Tree or Kokerboom, the canyon is a spectacular natural phenomenon. It took hundreds of millions of years to evolve into its current shape. Its full length is 160 km, the width up to 27 km and the depth 550 m. We return to the train, awaiting us at Holoog. (Morning)
The train departs for Ariamsvlei Border at 12h00. Lunch will be served on board whilst travelling.
BORDER CROSSING AND AUGRABIES FALLS
Augrabies National Park
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, an amplitude of 200 metres of water falls almost 60 metres down the granite ravine. (Half day; distance travelled: 260 km)
The train Departs in the evening for Kimberley.
Kimberley is the capital city of the Northern Cape, well known of the Big Hole and the discovery of the diamonds that led to the establishment of the city in 1893. Bloemfontein is the seat of the South African judicial system. At the end of the 19th century it was also the capital of the old Boer republic of The Orange Free State.
1. Kimberley City Tour & drive to Bloemfontein After Breakfast guests embark on buses for a drive through the city of Kimberley well know of the discovery of gold and as the home of the De Beers. Highlights in Kimberley include a visit to The Big Hole Diamond Mine Museum, William Humphrey Art Gallery and the Macgregor House Museum. The lunch break (Lunch at Guests own account) will be at one of the restaurants in the city before heading to Bloemfontein were they will be joining the train on route to Ladysmith. (Full day; Distance travelled: 330 km)
2. Train ride to Bloemfontein for afternoon City Tour After breakfast guests remain onboard the train as it journeys to Bloemfontein, on arrival guests have lunch at the Loch Logan Waterfront (Lunch at Guests own account) before they embark on buses for the tour of Bloemfontein. Highlights of Bloemfontein include a visit to the Women’s Memorial at the Anglo-Boer War Museum commemorates the 27 000 women and children who died in concentration camps. Naval Hill presents beautiful panoramic views of the city. Women’s Memorial at the Anglo-Boer War Museum. The monument commemorates the 27 000 women and children who died in concentration camps and The Museum itself is a graphic depiction of the hardship endured by all. A drive through Bloemfontein, capital of the Free State province and also known as the Rose City, follows to witness all the historical buildings of the city before heading back to the train. (Afternoon; distance travelled: 30 km)
3. Drive to Bloemfontein for City Tour After breakfast guest embark on a 2 hour drive from Kimberley to Bloemfontein, on arrival we tour the Women’s Memorial at the Anglo-Boer War Museum. The monument commemorates the 27 000 women and children who died in concentration camps and The Museum itself is a graphic depiction of the hardship endured by all. A drive through Bloemfontein, capital of the Free State province and also known as the Rose City, follows. Our lunch stop is at the Loch Logan Waterfront, next to the city’s newly renovated stadium, one of the venues for matches during the 2010 World Cup. Lunch is for guests’ own account. In the afternoon we drive up onto Naval Hill which offers unrivalled panoramic views of the city. We end the day at the former State President’s residents “Olivenhuis” which now houses an extensive collection of South African art. The gardens offer a relaxing atmosphere in which to spend a little time before we return to the train. (Full day; Distance travelled: 330 km)
If guests are transferring to a hotel, this will be arranged for them in the morning. If guests are flying from O R Tambo International Airport, their flight may only be in the afternoon. In this case the optional extras activities will be offered for the day.