Jewel of the Desert: Windhoek to Pretoria

14-Day Journey from Windhoek to Pretoria

Jewel of the Desert: Windhoek to PretoriaAfrica is calling you. Dreamlike landscapes are waiting to be discovered. Answer
the call on a Southern African safari, and create memories that will last a

What Makes Your Journey Unique

  • Scaling the world’s highest sand dunes at Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert. Take in bold and bizarre landscapes unlike anywhere else on Earth.
  • Seeing elephants, giraffes and maybe even black rhinos up close while on safari in Etosha National Park.
  • Standing on the rim of the Fish River Canyon—the second largest canyon in the world.
  • Exploring Pretoria, South Africa’s historic capital with its grand, monumental buildings, and purple-flowered jacaranda trees.
  • The otherworldly red dunes of Namib Naukluft National Park.


    Info & Booking

    Julia Nieratschker
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    Day 1 Arrival in Namibia

    Touch down right in the center of Namibia, in Windhoek, on the country’s wide highland plateau. Your friendly tour guide meets you at the airport. Soon you’re at your hotel, relaxing in its rooftop pool and ready for the journey ahead.

    Overnight: AVANI Windhoek Hotel & Casino (or similar) (D)

    Day 2 The African Explorer Departs

    Your adventure begins with a tour of Windhoek, the capital city of this desert state. At Christ Church, a monument of German gothic design hewn from African sandstone, you feel echoes of a colonial past. In the Namibian parliament, you step into a building central to this nation and its future. Meanwhile, the African Explorer waits for you in Windhoek station. Your private train, ready to take you on safari, rolls through private game farms, where giraffe, antelope and ostrich are just outside the window.

    Overnight on board. Meals included: breakfast (B), lunch (L) and dinner (D).

    Day 3 Etosha National Park

    The seemingly endless, shimmering white plain you’re standing on is the largest salt flat in Africa. With the mineral crust crunching underfoot and the horizon going on forever, it’s easy to understand why this was named the Great White Place. Watch elephants, giraffes and countless other wild animals congregate near the park’s watering holes. If you’re lucky, you might even see a rare black rhino before sunset.

    Overnight: Mokuti Lodge (or similar). (BD

    Day 4 On Safari

    Jump into a jeep and go on safari in the golden light of the morning. Seek out creatures of feathered, furry and fanged varieties right where they live. Then continue your Namibian train journey, stopping in the evening to experience braai—a traditional African barbecue—right by your tracks, beneath a fabulous starry sky.

    Overnight on board. (BD)

    Day 5  Spitzkoppe

    Day 5 Spitzkoppe

    Marvel at the craggy, barren dome of the Spitzkoppe—the tawny granite peak known as Namibia’s Matterhorn. Hunter-gatherer artwork on the rocks here betrays the fascination this famous landmark has long held for humankind. Then prepare for beaming smiles and friendly laughter, as you visit a school* for local Damara children. On the African Explorer you roll on through the sunset and into the evening, where your Namibian train tour stops in the coastal city Swakopmund, a surreal strip of German architecture between the desert and the sea.

    Overnight on board. (BLD)

    *During term time only.

    Day 6 From the Atlantic Shore to the Desert

    In a cool, air-conditioned bus, you ride along the coast to Walvis Bay. Between bright sands and the wide ocean, you look out for flocks of pelicans and flamingos. After a drive of approximately five hours you’ll be in the breath-taking Namib Naukluft National Park, passing towering red dunes under a dazzling blue sky. In the midst of the wilderness, you arrive at your lodge, to sleep beneath the uncountable stars of the desert night.

    Overnight: Namib Desert Lodge (or similar). (BD)

    Day 7  Sand Dune Giants

    Day 7 Sand Dune Giants

    Stand atop mighty orange-red giants—the biggest sand dunes in the world. Sculptural, ochre sand waves, waxing and waning, the drama of rippling black shadow, and a vast, perfect sky under a searing-hot sun. Take in the alien beauty of the Namib Desert. It feels like outer space. These are the images you may have seen in photographs but nothing can prepare you for the sight in real life.

    Climb a dune and join a tour with open-top vehicles as the sun begins to set. You’ll never forget the natural beauty you witnessed today.

    Overnight: Namib Desert Lodge (or similar). (BD)

    Day 8 Namib Naukluft National Park

    After a cool morning’s drive out of the park, you exchange desert roads for railroad tracks and aboard your private train in Mariental. Your first stop: the humble hamlet of Maltahöhe, where you enjoy fresh bread and a delicious brunch, followed by a taste of Biltong, the traditional beef jerky.

    Overnight on board. (BD)

    Day 9  Ghost Town

    Day 9 Ghost Town

    Diamonds were discovered in Kolmanskop in 1908, drawing money and miners in droves. But today it’s a Teutonic ghost town with abandoned buildings covered knee-deep in sand for you to explore. A quick bus trip through Namibia’s heavily restricted diamond zone ends in Lüderitz, a historic port town nestled on the dramatic Atlantic coastline and further on to famous Diaz Point.

    Overnight on board. (BD)

    Day 10 Fish River Canyon

    Welcome to Fish River Canyon—the largest in Africa and second largest in the world. Stare across its vast space and feel majesty, awe and perspective. This is a land of color and texture, with landscapes almost too staggering to take in. Sweeping grounds of deep, ancient ochre. A huge, aquamarine sky. Animals in the distance, shimmering in the heat.

    Overnight on board. (BLD)

    Day 11  Wine Tasting

    Day 11 Wine Tasting

    South African wine is some of the finest in the world. Upington, set on the fertile banks of the Orange River, has much of the region’s most-prized soil for growing grapes. It’s the perfect place to spend a relaxed afternoon at a vineyard, tasting wine.

    Overnight on board. (BLD)

    Day 12 Diamond City Kimberley

    You gaze down past sheer rock walls into the blue depths of the Big Hole. Here, two hundred years ago, you would be looking at a hill. But when diamonds were discovered, 50,000 miners set to work, hand-carving this chasm from the countryside. Their picks and shovels unearthed more than 14.5 million diamonds, created the De Beers empire, and made the Big Hole the largest diamond mine in the world. At the restored wooden buildings of Kimberley’s old town, you feel the optimism and anarchy of the frontier and its fortune-seekers. As evening approaches, your South African train journey takes you across the wide Vaal River and up onto to the Highveld plateau.

    Overnight on board. (BLD)

    Day 13 Pretoria

    In the glorious gardens of the Union Buildings, you look up at the magnificent symmetry of South Africa’s parliament. Before it, arms outstretched, stands a huge statue of a smiling Nelson Mandela. Looking up, you feel a real sense of how far the country has come. Later, you visit the home of Paul Kruger, another one of the nation’s founding fathers. Then, time for a final farewell dinner on the last night of your African adventure.
    Overnight: Misty Hills Lodge (or similar). (BD)

    Day 14 So Long, Africa

    Between mighty sand dunes and the rolling ocean, over plateaus, across deserts, and through endless starry nights, you have crossed a continent by train. As you transfer to the airport, you reflect on the memories of an extraordinary trip.

    (B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner

    Embark on an unparalleled adventure taking you almost 1,800 miles across Namibia and South Africa. The African Explorer train transports you from the otherworldly natural wonders of the Namib Desert to South Africa’s capital city Pretoria. Travel in comfort and ease in your private train, as elephants and giraffes graze outside your window.

    Highlights of Your Journey

    • 1,800 miles (3,000 kilometers) of railroad in style, aboard the private African Explorer train.
    • Lüderitz—the first German colonial settlement located in what was once South West Africa.
    • The Kolmanskop ghost town.
    • Pristine examples of German colonial architecture in Swakopmund.
    • Windhoek’s blend of modern Africa and German heritage.
    • Diamond City Kimberley.
    • Tasting fine South African wines.

    Rates Include

    • Eight nights aboard the private African Explorer train, as per category booked.
    • One night at a Windhoek city hotel.
    • One night at a generously appointed safari lodge near the entrance to Etosha National Park.
    • Two nights at a stylish lodge in the Namib Desert.
    • One night at a charming lodge in Pretoria.
    • A multilingual tour director guiding you from Windhoek to Pretoria.
    • An English-speaking tour guide for up to 23 guests from Windhoek to Pretoria.
    • An on-board doctor.
    • All meals as per the itinerary (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner).
    • All excursions and sightseeing including admission fees.
    • Excursions and transfers in air-conditioned buses.
    • Porter service from/to Windhoek and Pretoria airports.
    • A fascinating series of lectures on sights, history, daily life and culture.
    • Extensive information materials about your journey.

    Not Included

    • Flights, visa fees, tips and gratuities.

    Entry Requirements

    • Passport required.
    • You may require a visa depending on your nationality. Please check with your local embassy.
    • Depending on your country of origin, you may require immunizations. A hepatitis vaccination is recommended. The Etosha National Park is the only destination on this trip that presents a malaria risk. Please consult your doctor.


    The Elephant compartments offer private shower and toilet, individually adjustable air-conditioning, 220/230 V sockets, a small safe, towels, a compact wardrobe with coathangers, small bedside cabinets, hair dryer, toiletries and one small bottle of water per person per day on the train. The windows (equipped with blind and sunshades) can be opened as needed.


    In addition to the features of the Elephant category the Leopard compartments offer a small sitting area and are located closer to the restaurant cars.


    Total price $
    Single use supplement for Leopard category available upon request