Jewel of the Desert: Cape Town to Windhoek

Jewel of the Desert: Cape Town to Windhoek

Starting at $7,390

Destinations & Sightseeing
Itinerary and Meals

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Adventurers unite for this unique opportunity to explore Southern Africa and Namibia by train. This rail journey begins in the city of Cape Town, where our time is spent on a guided city tour, soaking up the scenery and enjoying the local fare. After a night in the city, we set off on our luxury expedition aboard the African Explorer. Take in the panoramas from the window-lined lounge car as we journey out of the city and into the vast wilderness, or relax with your fellow travelers in the bar car or one of the two restaurant cars. With full-day stops in places such as Augrabies National Park, Namib Naukluft National Park and Etosha National Park, we have the opportunity to see antelope, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, big cats and some of Africa’s other common wildlife in their natural settings. This tour offers much more than just animals, though; enjoy colonial architecture in Swakopmund, massive sand dunes in the Namib Desert, early 20th-century history in Kolmanskop and so much more. We wrap up our time in Africa with an authentic safari before arriving in the final stop of Windhoek, which makes this 14-day rail journey one to remember for a lifetime.

Journey is also available from Windhoek to Cape Town based on your travel preference.

* Overnight private train accommodations for 8 nights
* Hotel accommodations for 5 nights
* All meals on the train
* Visit to Namib Naukluft National Park
* Tour of Lüderitz, the first German colonial settlement in South West Africa
* Game drives in Etosha National Park
* Professional tour guides
* Luggage service at train stations
* Transfers in Cape Town and Windhoek

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Map for Jewel of the Desert: Cape Town to Windhoek

Destination & Sightseeing


Day 1 – Cape Town
Meet your tour guide at the airport and transfer to the hotel. After checking in, depart on a city tour and discover everything this multicultural melting pot has to offer. Head to Victoria & Alfred Waterfront for a pleasant stroll or take an optional excursion to ascend the top of Table Mountain via its iconic cable car and take in stunning views of it all. Round off the day by joining your fellow travelers for an excursion to Signal Hill and a special welcome dinner. Overnight Cape Town. (D)

Day 2 – The African Explorer
Board a legend to begin your South African train tour. Discover the unmatched ease of rail travel, as the African Explorer whisks past verdant valleys and through the dramatic tunnels of the Hex River Mountains. Stop in Matjiesfontein to soak up this tiny railroad town’s colonial flair, including the charming Victorian-era Lord Milner Hotel. Overnight train. (B, L, D)

Day 3 – Across Southern Africa
Enjoy a day of once-in-a-lifetime views from the comfort of your private train as the African Explorer crosses South Africa. Enjoy the entertaining lectures on local customs and culture. Overnight train. (B, L, D)

Day 4 – Augrabies National Park
Today you visit Upington and Augrabies National Park. You’ll stand at its world-famous waterfalls, your senses coming alive in the face of their thunderous roar and refreshing spray. The train takes you further north this evening. Overnight train. (B, L, D)

Day 5 – Fish River Canyon
Welcome to Namibia, a land of color and texture with landscapes almost too staggering to take in. This afternoon, attend a biltong tasting-but not before discovering Fish River Canyon. Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in Africa and the second largest in the world! Stare across its vast space and feel majesty, awe and perspective. (B, L, D)

Day 6 – Lüderitz Peninsula/Kolmanskop Ghost Town
Diamonds were discovered in Kolmanskop in 1908, drawing money and miners in droves. 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 takes you to Lüderitz, a historic port town nestled on the dramatic Atlantic coastline. The town is known for its colonial architecture, wildlife including flamingos and penguins and the nearby Diaz Point, famous for its stone cross observing the location where Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Diaz landed. Overnight train. (B, D)

Day 7 – Namib Naukluft National Park
This morning, you arrive in Mariental. Travel by bus via the Zarieshoogte pass and along untarred roads to the plain of the Namib Naukluft National Park to your lodge, a lonely oasis in the midst of the wilderness. Overnight Namib Naukluft National Park. (B, D)

Day 8 – Sand Dune Giants
Stand atop mighty orange-red sand dunes-the biggest in the world-and take in the alien beauty of the Namib Desert on today’s tour aboard open-top vehicles as the sun begins to set. You’ll never forget the natural beauty you witnessed today. Overnight Namib Naukluft National Park. (B, D)

Day 9 – Walvis Bay and Swakopmund
Head back to the coast to Walvis Bay, named after the whales that still frolic by this deep-water port city. Look for pink flamingos strutting along the lagoon and then continue your day’s air-conditioned bus journey to Swakopmund, famous for its exceptional examples of colonial architecture, German heritage and timbered houses. Overnight train. (B, D)

Day 10 – 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 speaks to the fascination this famous landmark has long held for humankind. Later, you return to your private train, stopping in the evening to enjoy a braai—a traditional African barbecue—alongside your train, beneath a fabulously starry sky. Overnight train. (B, L, D)

Day 11 – Etosha National Park
Arrive in Etosha National Park and embark on a full-day safari crossing the entire length of the park. Watch as elephants, giraffes and countless other wild animals congregate near watering holes. If you’re lucky, you might even see a rare black rhino before sunset. Overnight Etosha National Park. (B, D)

Day 12 – On Safari
Jump into a jeep and go on a safari in the golden light of the morning. Seek out creatures of the feathered, furry and fanged kind right where they live. Overnight train. (B, D)

Day 13 – Windhoek
With luck, the morning’s unique train route will be a veritable safari. It passes through private game farms, where giraffe, antelope and ostrich are often visible from the train. Upon arrival in the Namibian capital, Windhoek, tour the city, including Christ Church, which combines Germanic neo-Gothic design with local African sandstone. Stop at the Namibian parliament building followed by a visit to the township of Katutura and a local market. This evening enjoy a special dinner in celebration of your exceptional journey and to say farewell to your fellow travelers. Overnight Windhoek. (B, L, D)

Day 14 – Return Home
Your African Explorer adventure ends today with your transfer to the airport for your return flight home. (B)

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