Diamonds, Canyons and Fossils
Windhoek to Windhoek
Exclusive small group tour. Number of participants: 4-12
3 - 17 September 2024 *9 spaces*
15 Days/14 Nights
* * * * *
Prices are per person, based on 2 people sharing a room, bed & breakfast accommodation, with dinner when in lodges and camps (6 nights). Single supplement applies, please make contact for details.
Namibia is one of the most interesting geological destinations in the world. This tour, focusing on the southern part of the country, offers a chance to visit the spectacular Fish River Canyon, the awe-inspiring landscape of the Kalahari Desert, active and abandoned diamond mines and exciting fossil localities. Added to this is incredible wildlife and other historically fascinating sites.
The Kalahari landscape with springbok passing through (Day2)
The Giant's Playground with a Quivertree (Day 3)
Mesosaurus fossil (Day 4)
Fish River Canyon (Day 5)
Dolerite Canyon, surrounded by spectacular sediments of the famous Karoo-Sequence (Day 6)
The Orange River (Day 7)
Abandoned diamond workings at Orange River (Day 8)
Wild horses of the South Namib (Day 9)
An Ediacaran fossil (Day 10)
Bogenfels Rock Arch (Day 11)
Diamond workings (Day 11)
Pomona, a former diamond mining town (Day 11)
The former mining settlement of Kolmanskop, now a ghost town (Day 12)
Day 1: Arrival in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. An airport transfer will be arranged for you, taking you directly to the hotel. The first night will be spent at Hotel Thule in a suburb of Windhoek, offering a fantastic view over the city. At lunch time, your geology guide Nicole Grünert will meet you at the hotel. We will sit together and discuss the trip details. The hotel has an onsite restaurant and you will be able to have your evening meal here.
Day 2: From Windhoek to the Kalahari. We will be leaving Windhoek in a south-easterly direction towards the Kalahari savannah. On our way you will be introduced to the geology of Namibia. Along the road we will be seeing a 180-million-year-old basalt flow, before we discover the red dunes of the Kalahari. We will arrive at the Kalahari Anib Lodge, where we will spend the night. In the afternoon an open game-viewer vehicle will take you into this sand of sea and you will learn about the geology of this savannah landscape. With some luck we might be able to spot some desert-adapted antelope, such as springbok or oryx, and enjoy a sundowner. Approximate driving time: 3 hours.
Day 3: The Kalahari Landscape and Quivertree Forest. Today we will be driving through Kalahari landscape until we reach a small guesthouse at the Quivertree Forest. The quivertree is an indigenous aloe, one of 3 which develop a stem of up to 3 m high. The quivertree forest is the largest assemblage of this unique plant in southern Africa. Here it grows in dolerite boulders of the Keetmanshoop Dolerite Complex, which extends over a huge area and shows impressive weathering features, which are called the Giant’s Playground. We will spend the night at the Quivertree Restcamp. Approximate driving time: 3 hours.
Day 4: Mesosaurus fossils and the Neckartal Dam. In the morning we will visit one of the palaeontological highlights of the trip, an occurrence of the mid-Permian reptile Mesosaurus tenoidens. It occurs in abundance in shale on a nearby farm. We will be able to see these ancient creatures in outcrop! Our next stop will be the Neckartal Dam, Namibia’s largest storage dam, which was only completed in 2019. This dam banks up the waters of the Fish River, one of Namibia’s largest ephemeral rivers and home of the Fish River Canyon. On our way towards the canyon, we will stop at the Naute Distillery, where we will have the opportunity to taste fine spirits which are produced from local ingredients. We will spend the night between huge granite boulders in the Gondwana Canyon Nature Park. Approximate driving time: 4 hours.
Day 5: Geology of the Fish River Canyon and the Ai-Ais Basement Complex. Today we will be exploring the Fish River Canyon, which belongs to the largest canyons in the world. At the main viewpoint we will hear all about the geological history and enjoy spectacular views into the canyon along the canyon edge walk. At this geological highlight we will even be able to study stromatolites, remains of neo-proterozoic cyano-bacteria, which belong to the oldest traces of life on our planet. In the afternoon we will drive to the southern end of the canyon, some 80 km further south. There the gorge is narrow and we will be standing in 1.2-billion-year-old basement rocks. There is an inviting hot spring and thermal pool which we can swim in, before we head back to our accommodation at the Gondwana Canyon Nature Park. Approximate driving time: 3 hours.
Day 6: The Orange River and the geology of the Karasburg Basin. The Orange River, which forms the border to South Africa will be the topic of the day. Due to the availability of river water, this area is characterised by agriculture in this otherwise dry environment. Huge grape plantations will catch our eye. However, the geology is also fascinating. We will see the oldest meso-proterozoic basement in Southern Namibia which is around 1.8 billion years old. The geological highlight of the day will be a drive through the Dolerite Canyon which is surrounded by spectacular sediments of the famous Karoo-Sequence. We will spend the night on the banks of the Orange River at the Norotshama River Lodge. Approximate driving time: 2.5 hours.
Day 7: The Orange River, Oranjemund and the South Atlantic. Today we will follow the course of the Orange River until we reach the ocean at Oranjemund. The drive follows one of the most scenic routes of Namibia. Geologically we will be able to see geological outcrops ranging from the old meso-proterozoic basement, neo-proterozoic evidence of the Snowball-Earth period between 730 and 550 million years and young river deposits which even host rich diamond mines. Oranjemund is situated at the South Atlantic and is home of the Namibia Diamond Corporation, from where on-shore diamond mining along the Namibian coast is carried out. The overnight stay is planned at the Op my Stoep-Lodge in Oranjemund. Driving time: we will be driving the whole day but have many stops along the route.
Day 8: Diamond mines, the Orange River delta and the geology around Oranjemund. A visit to the NAMBED diamond mining operations is planned; visits can not be confirmed too far in advance, so the excursion remains provisional until nearer the time. If we obtain permission for the visit, then we will stay a second night at the Op my Stoep-Lodge in Oranjemund.
Alternatively, the following program is planned: After seeing so much over the last couple of days, we plan to have a more relaxing day. We will take a trip to the mouth of the Orange River, which is a proclaimed RAMSAR site (international convention of the protection of wetlands). We will drive back the same road towards the mining town of Rosh Pinah and visit an abandoned diamond working and an old copper deposit. Overnight stay at a guest house in Rosh Pinah. Approximate driving time: 2 hours.
Day 9: Heading north - the geology of the Nama-Plattform. Today we will be heading north again. Along the route we will lean about the botany of the southern Namib, which is regarded as one of the biodiversity hotspots worldwide. Time permitting, we will visit the WWI Prisoner of War camp and also stop at the famous feral horses of the South Namib. We will be sleeping over at Klein Aus Vista. Approximate driving time: 3 hours.
Day 10: Ediacara fossils, Nama stratigraphy and historic architecture. This is the day for the palaeontologists! Today we will visit findings of the world famous Ediacara Fauna on the farm Aar. Besides these unique fossil imprints, we will see fascinating rock engravings scattered in a stunning landscape. After leaving this fascinating site we will be heading through the southern Namib again and drive all the way to Lüderitz, a little cosy town, which marks the first settlement during German colonial times. The historic architecture is still visible all over town. The night will be spent at the luxurious Nest Hotel right at the seaside. Approximate driving time: 3 hours.
Day 11: Tsau //Khaeb National Park and the Bogenfels Rock Arch. Today we will be taken on a guided tour through the Tsau //Khaeb National Park. The full day activity will lead us to the old diamond workings of Pomona. Along the route, fascinating geology with incredible wind polishing is waiting to be discovered. The highlight of the day is the Bogenfels Rock Arch, a 55 m meter high feature which has been carved by the unstoppable wave action of the south Atlantic. After a long day full of incredible sights, we will be taken back to Lüderitz where we spend another night at the Nest Hotel. Driving time: we will be driving the whole day but have many stops along the route.
Day 12: The geology of the Namib Desert and the Tiras Mountains, and the Great Sand Sea. In the morning we will visit the famous diamond ghost town of Kolmanskop. We will join a guided tour and dive into the history of about 100 years ago. After this amazing experience in this hostile environment, we will be heading north towards the Namib Desert. Our stay for the night will be the Duwisib Guestfarm. While having a sundowner, we enjoy an incredible view over the Great Sand Sea. Approximate driving time: 3 hours.
Day 13: Heading north and Duwisib Castle. Heading back north we will have a longer driving distance to cover. This will be interrupted by a stop at the Duwisib Castle, which was built in the early 20th Century by a German baron for this American wife. Additionally, we will have some geological stops as well. We will spend the night at the Lake Oanob Resort near the town of Rehoboth. Approximate driving time: 4 hours.
Day 14: Return to Windhoek. Today we will only have a short distance to cover to get back to Windhoek. Our accommodation will be at the Avani Hotel in the city centre. After arrival you will have the time to explore town by yourself. The evening meal can either be taken at the Avani Hotel Restaurant or at another restaurant at your choice. Approximate driving time: 1 hour.
Day 15: Geological Museum and departure. In the morning we will explore the geological museum which hosts a good display of Namibian geology, earth history, fossils and minerals as well as operational mines. After the visit we will have a farewell lunch (included in the price) together at a nice garden restaurant before a shuttle will take you to the International Airport.
Geological guiding from Nicole Grünert
Transfer to/from airport
En-suite guest house, guest farm or safari lodge accommodation
Group lunch on the final day
Dinners (6 nights only)
National Park entrance fees
Flights to and from Namibia
Lunches - picnics are bought at shops along the way
Dinners (6 nights only)
Alcohol and soft drinks
Tips (local restaurants & hotels + guide)
About Nicole and her books
This tour is led by Nicole Grünert, a German Nambian geologist and author of the two books below. There could be no better guide for this tour! To read more about Nicole please click here.