The Namibian Experience:Soulful
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About / Safaris

Many years of experience has given us a wide variety of options to offer when considering a safari in Namibia. However, this experience has taught us that some combinations work particularly well for specific requirements and we try to make sure this awareness is put to good use when justifying our proposals. We also feel that there are some aspects to do with quality and safety which should be fundamental and on which compromises are not acceptable.

We have also been careful to ensure that we avoid duplication in what we offer to different operators so that each group safari is specifically associated with the branding of the company involved and that it resonates with the clientele to whom it is designed to appeal. This means each operator can promote its own product without concern that it would be immediately apparent to any outsider that they are using the same local specialist safari operator as their competitors.

Our core business is based around the traditional Namibian product where our guides take guests around the country on a ground based private guided safari. However, we are very flexible about what is possible and we often combine different safari types where we feel this gives the most efficient option. It is therefore often the case that we recommend a short fly-in safari to be followed by meeting up with a guide to continue on a private guided safari in the areas where this offers the greatest value and it makes the best use of the time that is available.

Ultimate Safaris generally subscribes to the policy that ‘less can be more’. We want to ensure that our guests enjoy specific areas to their maximum potential and this sometimes means limiting the number of destinations to be visited in order to avoid the risk of trying to fit too much into a limited time. There are circumstances where time is limited and visiting destinations that are far apart is essential so moving quickly is unavoidable. However, we can easily increase the pace when specifically required to do so, even if this is something we would not normally recommend unless it is truly essential.

Ultimate Safaris is not tied to any specific establishments in the more remote areas of the country so we do not feel obliged to tailor the itineraries we recommend to favour any particular establishment. We are therefore entirely free to propose only what we feel would be most suitable and provide best value for any visiting guest or group. This and the very wide variety of experiences on offer in Namibia, mean that we are able to provide a large number of different safari options to meet different requirements, and these include the following:

Private guided

The operation of well-constructed and expertly guided private safaris is the basis on which Ultimate Safaris was built, and therefore what we are best known for. These safaris are led by one of our highly respected naturalist guides who also acts as driver of the private safari vehicle, thus allowing guests to sit back, relax and soak up their safari journeys. This type of safari clearly offers guests constant access to one of our naturalist guides who provide that added ingredient which transforms any safari into a life enriching experience. Our guides combine their own skills flawlessly with those of any resident camp or lodge guides to ensure that guests don’t only benefit from the years of local knowledge that is available but also from an overall holistic interpretation that takes their entire safari as well as any specific interests they may have into account. Safaris of this nature allow for seamless interpretation and unrivalled flexibility.

“Why travel with an Ultimate naturalist guide?”

Small group

These are generally safaris created for specific international tour operators or travel agents who sell these safaris exclusively to their own clients in the name of their respective organizations. These safaris are led by our naturalist guides, but they are sometimes also accompanied by a representative of the respective organization who would usually be a specialist with his or her own qualifications and experience. 

Guaranteed departure

Whilst Ultimate Safaris focuses mainly on tailor-made and private safaris, we do offer one small group safari with guaranteed monthly departures between March and December. This safari was mainly designed with single travelers and couples in mind so that they can get the benefit of travelling with an experienced naturalist guide without having to carry the entire cost that would be associated with commissioning a private guided safari of their own. These safaris also offer the opportunity for participants to meet other like-minded safari enthusiasts, and this experience often leads to the beginning of long-lasting friendships.

Our scheduled departure safaris are run even if there is only one participant, and they are capped at a maximum of eight so that the group remains at a manageable size and so that everyone is guaranteed a window seat. These safaris offer the ideal option for the more budget conscious visitor who appreciates the value of travelling with a naturalist guide but does not want to do so on his or her own, thus being more than happy to join in with a small group of like-minded ‘fellow travelers’.

For more information download the 10 day guaranteed departure accommodation safari 2018 here:

Ultimate Namibia: Download PDF

Fly-in

Our tailored fly-in safaris afford guests the opportunity to experience much of the best of this magnificent and varied country even when they only have limited time to spend here. The great expanse of Namibia and the distances between many of the most iconic destinations mean that travelling overland can take more time than there is available, although the journeys involved are still fascinating for those who are able to make the most of them.  Flying enables guests to see more places in a shorter period of time, and it also gives a very different and special view point. The variations in the vast landscapes are emphasized from the air, and it is a particular privilege to get to see some of the areas you cannot easily reach in a vehicle – as is the case with many of the numerous shipwrecks spread along the Skeleton Coast.

The regular scheduled air transfers that are now available between many of Namibia’s premier camps and lodges mean that flying has become an increasingly popular part of many safaris. When taking part in these fly-in safaris, guests are mainly hosted by the resident guides and managers at the individual venues and then transported between the various destinations by light aircraft. However, a fly-in safari can also be accompanied by one of our own naturalist guides who travels in the aircraft with the group and stays with them in the lodges or camps they use, thus ensuring continuity and personal attention at all times.

Why travel with an Ultimate naturalist guide?

Fly-in safaris are often ideally combined with a private guided overland safari in order to enjoy the best aspects of both, and to be able to make best use of our naturalist guides when they are most valuable.

Ultimate Safaris offers a single daily departure combination fly-in and private guided six night safari which takes in several of Namibia’s highlights in a relatively short period of time. This safari is often used in combination with regional safaris that go on into Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, thus taking in much of the best that southern Africa has to offer.

Family

Ultimate Safaris believes in providing great opportunities for families to come on safari. Our positive approach means that we allocate a specialist guide to family safaris who is trained and caring, and who can help to inspire children to learn and love the wilderness.

Those families who choose to book a ‘Family Safari’ have their own private vehicle and their own guide who will look after them from the start to the end of their Namibian safari.

The programs vary for each family and are based partly on the ages, sex, and interests of the children. Our guide’s aim is to not only keep the children entertained but also to ensure that they learn about what they get to see. Generally, activities include mammal, bird and plant identification as well as learning about night sounds and tracking some of the smaller creatures such as lizards and beetles. For family safaris, we also choose to stay in camps/lodges/hotels where staff are accustomed to children and also happy to involve the children in duties where possible - and they are often found helping to prepare snacks in the kitchen with the chefs (NOTE: this is obviously subject to the particular camps/lodges/hotels used). In essence, the children are either busy or asleep, and always happy – and busy children ultimately mean a relaxing holiday for their parents!

Family safaris are not in any way lesser or ‘watered down’ safaris; they still offer great areas, top guides and excellent experiences, but with the high degree of flexibility that families often need.

All children travelling with Ultimate Safaris will receive a “GUIDES IN TRAINING” pack upon arrival in Namibia.  The pack includes, but is not limited to, the following (depending on the ages of children):

 

Cycling/Hiking/Active

More active safaris are becoming increasingly popular as travelers become more health conscious and are attracted to safaris that offer more in the way of exercise. These safaris also offer a unique way of experiencing some of the more spectacular areas in Namibia with a very light footprint, getting close to the amazing geology, desert, and wildlife while on a mountain bike or on foot. They are also ideal for the inclusion of other activities such as sea kayaking at the coast, where close encounters with various types of marine life are also common. Guides used for these safaris are experienced hikers, mountain bikers and kayakers, and most of them have impressive resumes which include having completed numerous challenging feats which are internationally recognized.

Birding

Namibia regularly hosts up to 660 bird species including visiting migratory species, and this is due to its very wide variety of habitats. Of these species, around a hundred are endemic to southern Africa, fourteen are near-endemic to Namibia (which means that 90 – 95% of their population is only found in Namibia), and one, the Dune Lark, is endemic to Namibia alone.

Ultimate Safaris employs a number of birding naturalist guides and operates birding itineraries that are designed to focus on the primary areas where good numbers of birds are to be found, but with special emphasis on the endemic species. All of these safaris are individually crafted by our birding specialists and they have an extraordinarily high success rate in terms of positive identifications.  

Photography

Namibia is a country of extraordinary scenery and endless vistas, and this gives it a very special appeal in the eyes of photographers – especially landscape specialists. The huge free standing dunes at Sossusvlei make up a part of the portfolio of many internationally recognised photographers, as do images of the incredibly photogenic ‘Chateau Plains’ on the central part of the NamibRand Nature Reserve. Once you add the ‘ghost’ diamond mining towns in the “Sperrgebiet (Forbidden Diamond Area) and the quiver trees in the far south of the country you immediately have the makings of a landscape photographer’s paradise.

In addition to this, there is a plethora of subjects for wildlife and cultural photography in the north. Etosha National Park holds well over a hundred species of mammals, and the colourful riverine birds on the banks of the Kwando and Zambezi rivers in the Zambezi region add spice to anyone’s records. There is a menu of photographic subjects that is enough to excite most photographers such as the statuesque and graceful Himba people in the northwest of the country, the fascinating San (Bushman) people in the north east.

There are a number of guides amongst our tribe who are photographic enthusiasts themselves, and they are the obvious tribe members who are perfectly suited to guide specialist photographic safaris.

Our expertise in the planning of such safaris is now very extensive, and this allows us to ensure that guests stay at the right place to capture that perfect shot in the perfect light conditions. We also have access to special permits to which allow us get into areas the old mining towns in the Sperrgebiet south of Lüderitz, as well as allowing us to be in places like the ghost town of Kolmanskop when they are normally closed. Although our guides are not professional photographers (i.e. not all can give technical advice on F stops, aperture etc.), they know the needs for photographic groups and where to get the images they most want.

Our specialized safari vehicles are also perfectly equipped for these safaris, being kitted out with custom made stackable bean bags for use at each window (and when using the pop top roof) as well as invertors and sockets for charging electronic equipment and batteries (bean bags sets specifically for specialist photographic safaris only). The large windows, spacious interior and the recommended ‘one row per person’ concept for wildlife photographers ensures plenty of space and “photographic opportunity” for each participant. We also use off road trailers, where necessary, to carry participants luggage and all our guide’s usual catering equipment and supplies so that these do not get in the way when moving around inside of the vehicle.

As a result, our tribe is completely attuned to the requirements of a successful photographic safari and we look forward to demonstrating this to you.

Specialist

While our naturalist guides are all recognised as specialists in their own fields, we also organise group safaris with very specific requirements that are led by independent experts. These specific interests include astronomy, paleontology, anthropology, and even archaeology. In such cases we bring in ‘subject specific’ specialists - often university professors or other recognised authorities - with whom we have a strong working relationship. These are professionals who know and understand our company philosophies, and who are happy to work in the same way as we do.

VIP Travel

We are fortunate to have been trusted with the safari arrangements for a number of famous well-known and influential visitors who have uniformly been impressed by the efficiency and discretion with which this has been achieved. Services involved include dealing with arrangements for private jets, procuring helicopters, or arranging exclusive use of camps in remote parts of the country – as well as providing interesting, informative and entertaining guides as required to travel with high profile visitors while they are here.

Film support

Our experience and resources enable us to offer complete solutions for film crews wanting to work in Namibia. We are well placed to assist whether this involves the provision of staff and suitable vehicles to move crews around; the inclusion of all the equipment needed to set up fully serviced film base camps that can operate for months in the most remote areas; the scouting for that ultimate location; or just the facilitation of the necessary permits etc. We have worked with a wide variety of crews from many countries, most of whom have dramatically differing requirements, ranging from a vehicle and guide to accompany small crews of three or four, to large scale logistical operations with specially modified trucks, aircraft, and helicopters for an IMAX style production.

Our 'filming CV' includes involvement with wildlife and cultural documentary productions over the last eighteen years. We would not normally mention names, but as these are already in the ‘public domain’ we can say we have provided support for ‘survivalists’ such as Ray Mears, Austin Stevens, and Bear Grylls being filmed 'in the bush' as well as for visiting TV celebrities like Ian Wright, Stephen Tompkinson, and Eddie Izzard. We have provided guide and support services for filming VIP visitors as well as such as the Executive Producers and sponsors of feature films productions. Ultimate Safaris has been a registered service provider for the BBC and other National TV companies for many years. We have worked successfully with crews from the UK, the US, Canada, Italy, Germany, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Japan, and we believe our record here speaks largely for itself.

Our main area of expertise remains the provision of fully serviced and equipped mobile 'base' camps which allow production staff to focus entirely on their film work without having to worry about comfort, safety, meals or drinks. We can also help provide, or locate, specialist film making equipment and we always have heavy generic gear available, such as generators to run computers, charge batteries, provide light etc, so that it is not necessary for crews to bring these along with them. In addition, we can arrange for medical back-up on site, including the full time presence of a doctor if required. One of the main roles we play is in dealing with all the administrative and logistical issues which can otherwise be so time consuming when working several hundred kilometers from the nearest main supply base, thus freeing film production staff to concentrate on what they have come here for.

The main season for film making in Namibia seems generally to be between November and early April when the country is warm and mainly green with limited dust, and comparatively few tourists about. This dovetails very neatly with our core business of running guided safaris which is busiest between April and November, so there are rarely any problems over our ability to make the necessary resources available to film crews as needed. Apart from anything else, our staff members remain keen to be involved in what is going on and to learn more about film making skills. As a result, we are always prepared to 'make a plan' to ensure that everything works as required – even at short notice, which generally seems to be the case!

Download Film CV

Self-drive

For obvious reasons, given our enthusiasm for guided safaris and the extremely high quality of our guiding team, we don’t encourage self-drive safaris in Namibia. We really do believe that visitors get a much more authentic, life enriching and in-depth experience of the country when travelling with one of our guides as they are able to help them “connect” with the local people and the environment. Added to that, our guides are almost invariably singled out as being the most significant highlight of any safari and we don’t want our guests to miss out on that. However, we are willing and able to arrange self-drive safaris for operators and agents who normally book guided safaris with us that have the occasional clients who insist on wanting to ‘do it for themselves’.

Other destinations

As our operation is completely based in Namibia, we consider ourselves to be mainly Namibian specialists. However, other parts of southern Africa also offer some of Africa’s ‘last frontiers’ which are still pristine, adventurous and pioneering of new age travel and combine well with what can be offered in Namibia. As we also know much of the rest of the region intimately, we are more than willing, as well as able, to assist with arrangements for travel to Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique as required – especially when this is organised as an add-on to the time spent in Namibia.

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