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Atravelynn posted a topic in NamibiaEvery safari is an adventure, but this one had an extra measure of adventure. This photo is a compilation of my hopes for the trip. (1) We found desert-adapted rhino in the beautiful and remote Palmwag concession; (2) We observed the rhino on foot; (3) Nobody else was around; (4) The rhino was undisturbed; (5) As a bonus a ,a Welwitschia mirabilis, Namibia’s national plant appears in the photo; (6) I was capable of sitting upright. In June 2014 I booked a wonderful Namibia trip with Wild Dog Safaris that included Aus for the feral horses; Bagatelle in Kalahari; Sossuslvei; other Namib desert locations; Okaukeujo, Halali and Namutoni in Etosha; and a stop at Okinjima for cheetah tracking on foot. I thought Damaraland deserved a minimum of 5 days but I could not fit it into that 3-week itinerary. So I came back in June 2016. This is a link to the 2014 trip. http://safaritalk.net/topic/13187-deserts-dunes-waterholes-wildlife-views-vistas-namibia/ Why June? Prices increase in July and so do the # of visitors. I thought June would be late enough to see animals (though not necessarily predators) at waterholes in 2014 and to find desert-adapted rhino and elephant (and just maybe lions) in Damaraland in 2016. Success on all accounts. Elephants at Hoanib River, viewed from high on the riverbank (on foot) Rhino tracking in Palmwag, viewed from about 100 meters (on foot) Our Save the Rhino Trust Ranger, Manne, found lions while tracking rhino and we viewed them from the vehicle at about 40 meters at the closest and also much farther --------------------------These 3 sightings were during the “wild camping” part of the trip.----------------- Too early in the season at Palmwag and the abundant water sources make finding rhino harder because the animals have so many choices, so I didn’t want to go before June. But too late in the season, especially during drought times, such as 2016, there are fewer natural springs running in Palmwag so the rhinos really spread out in search of water, making them harder to locate. The big thing I learned is to go with knowledgeable guides from Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) and it is likely a rhino can be sighted most any time of year. The eles are an easier species to find. Near Palmwag Lodge Hoanib River Itinerary 12 June Pension Thule – arrival transfer. Pronounced Too-Lay. 13 June Okonjima Plains Camp standard room – afternoon cheetah tracking + night drive Pronounced O (long O) Con JEE Mah Okonjima to Hobatere: 7:30 am- 2:25 pm with 80 minutes of stops; 325 kms 14 June Hobatere Lodge Pronounced Hoe Bah Tare Ah - PM nature drive, 4:00 pm- 6:00 pm 15 June Hobatere Lodge – Morning drive 6:00 am – 9:00 pm, mid-morn at hide 10:20-12:10; early aft at hide 2:30-3:45; (could have done the afternoon drive but I did not); night drive 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm Note: each outing at Hobatere must be paid for, they are not automatically included. The 5-minute hide transfer and time at the hide is free. It worked out well to have paid in advance for my activities because then they went with just one person. If you book on arrival, then the activity goes with a minimum of 2 people. I think a single could pay for 2 spots and go. 16 June Hobatere Lodge - day in Etosha, 6:00 pm – 4:15 pm. 30 minutes/ 20 km from Hobatere camp to the Hobatere Gate, then 3 km from the Hobatere Gate to the Galton Gate of Etosha. Hobatere to Palmwag Lodge, with 2 hours of stops, including Grootberg for lunch: 8:30 am – 2:00 pm, 200 kms 17 June Palmwag Lodge – stop at Grootberg Lodge for lunch—my request. A stay at Grootberg did not work out, so I wanted to see the view, therefore we stopped there for lunch. Then an afternoon nature drive at Palmwag, not rhino tracking and we saw no rhino, 3:00 pm – 6:30 pm. 18 June Palmwag Lodge Pronounced Pal Um Vhaghh – Morning rhino tracking 5:50 am - 11:30 am, small breakfast served at 5:30 am; afternoon walking on lodge grounds by myself. Note: each outing at Palmwag Lodge must be paid for, they are not automatically included. It worked out well to have paid in advance for my activities because then they went with just one person. If you book on arrival, then the activity goes with a minimum of 2 people. Once I paid for 2 people and it went with just me—the rhino tracking I had not booked in advance. 19 June Palmwag Concession Wild Camping at Kai-Ais camp area. Pronounced Ky (rhyming with my) Ice if memory serves me – desert rhino and desert lion tracking. Depart Palmwag Lodge at 6:10 am – arrive Aba-Barab for lunch at noon; 1:20 leave lunch spot and arrive Kai-Ais camp area at 4:20. Total distance from Palmwag Concession to Kai-Ais = 70 kms. 20 June Palmwag Concession Wild Camping at Hoanib River camp area. Pronounced Hwee Nib – desert rhino, desert elephant tracking. Kai-Ais camp area to Hoanib River camp area: 7:20 am – 3:25 pm, 90 kms 21 June Supposed to be Palmwag Concession wild camping but technical difficulties beyond our control meant we went to the lovely Khowarib Rest Camp instead, just outside Palmwag Concession near Sesfontein – desert elephant tracking. Khowarib Rest Camp to Camp Kipwe with 20 minute stop at Palmwag Lodge, then a 45- minute visit to the Damaraland Living Museum, arriving Kipwe in time for lunch: 8:00 am – 12 pm, 180 kms 22 June Camp Kipwe Pronounced Kip Way to visit Twyfelfontein Pronounced TWI (usually short i, but also heard long i) Fell FON taine area for rock etchings Normal routine at Kipwe if using their guides and vehicles is depart 6:00 am for 4-5 hours to find desert eles, then an afternoon trip to Twyfelfontein for rock etchings, petrified forest, pipe organ rocks. Each outing is paid for separately and not included automatically with the lodging. Since we had seen such great desert eles, I did not do the morning ele trip at Kipwe. Ian was able to take me to the Petrified Forest, and Twyfelfontein and a local expert guided at each location. We looked at the Pipe Organ Rocks ourselves. All this is very near Kipwe. Camp Kipwe to Erongo Wilderness Lodge: stopping at Twylfelfontein for an hour - 15 minutes from Camp Kipwe stopping at Petrified Forest for 30 minutes – an hour from Twylfelfontein stopping at Organ Pipes for 10 minutes – very near Petrified Forest other stops, including lunch, took up about hour 8:00 am to 3:10 pm, 270 kms. 23 June Erongo Wilderness Lodge – pm nature drive that included a steep walk to cave paintings, 3:30-6:15 pm. To encourage guests to walk in this fascinating environment, the morning escorted walks are offered, no charge. Other activities must be paid for. It worked out well to have paid in advance for my activities because then they went with just one person. Since I had a doctor appointment in Windhoek, I skipped the walk the morning of the 24th. 24 June 2016 Depart Namibia Erongo Wilderness Lodge to Wild Dog Safaris in Windhoek: 8:00 am – 11:15 am, 220 kms National Museum in Windhoek Klippan Waterhole, Western Etosha Palmwag Concession during our wild camping This itinerary was fully escorted by Ian as I am not a solo self driver, and especially not a solo wild camper. But here is 1 of 2 hints for self drivers. Self Driving Hint #1: Don’t drive over elephant dung because it may contain undigested sharp thorns. This is the vehicle which I did not self drive: Our rented 4x4. 2.26 speed was printed on the side. It appeared my arrival in Namibia and transfer to Pension Thule had gone smoothly, save for a lost bag that Air Namibia assured me would be available the next day. Then at 3 am I awoke in pain and could barely bend my right leg. An MRI when I returned home indicated it was a sciatica attack caused by a herniated disk. Poor timing. I always pack a pharmacy so I started downing pain relievers, muscle relaxers, and anti-inflammatories with some crackers and energy bars. For anyone wanting more detailed health/sciatica on safari info, please pm me. I want to keep my ailments and remedies to a minimum here and will use gray for that topic. The drugs helped the pain, but presented side effects. When I could not figure out how to work the remote for the TV, I hallucinated that my husband was present in the room. “Honey, will you get this thing to work?” I called to him. Another hallucination occurred at breakfast, where I thought the young male waiter was the 91-year old woman that I help with her computer. But after some food in my stomach, the hallucinations ended and the safari began. Guide Ian Brown arrived at 8:00 am and we headed to the airport to retrieve the lost bag that was supposed to arrive that morning. No bag yet. I was reunited with it the next day, so no big deal. How nice to see Ian again, who was doing great. But I had to explain my health predicament. Our airport excursion was the only time I sat like a normal person in the passenger seat. For the rest of the trip, pain forced me to the back seat. Often my head was on the floor behind the driver's seat and my right foot extended out the open window, maximizing the available space and ability to stretch out in the back seat. I always bring an extra bootlace with me and I tied it to the back seat “passenger assist handle” like a noose to help support my ankle for the leg extension. It was an absurd Cirque du Soleil performance back there. Any embarrassment was eviscerated by the pain. Thank goodness this was a private trip and thank goodness I did have some meds with me. Fortunately I was just fine when I walked, stood, or laid flat. Sitting was the problem. Hobatere Hide Montero’s Hornbill, a Namibian endemic, Western Etosha Damaraland Hornbill, a Namibian endemic, Erongo
The original itinerary was: 23 - 25 NOV 15 Okaukuejo, Etosha 25 - 28 NOC 15 Desert Rhino Camp, Damaraland 28 NOV - 1 DEC 15 Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp 1 - 2 DEC 15 Okonjima Plains Camp (Africat Foundation) It was booked with African Travel Ressource. Unfortunately we received 14 days before we left the information, that the Desert Rhino Camp was booked for the first night although we had it confirmed by Wilderness Safaris. Instead we stayed the first night at Doro !Nawas, before flying to Desert Rhino Camp. We did not expect to see a lot of animals besides our stay at Etosha. It was more a trip mainly to see the beauty of the arid Northwestern part of Namibia. We flew business from Frankfurt to Windhoek with Air Namibia. The price was good and I was happy not to think about overweight hand luggage. In Windhoek a representative of Wilderness met us and gave us the necessary information before we picked up our car to head north to Okaukuejo Camp in Etosha. Having stayed there 3 times already we knew what to expect. I like the Etosha very much. It is easy game viewing on the waterholes with less traffic than in Kruger NP for example. We arrived in the afternoon and were to tired to go out on a drive and relaxed for the rest of the day. At night we went to the waterhole and saw 5 black rhinos. At the restcamps at Etosha nowadays you can´t do self catering anymore. There are no cooking facilities. You have to go to their restaurant, which offers buffet food for a reasonable price. Main downside is their breakfast times. It starts at 6, at the same time when the gates open, and ends at 9. For serious safari goers really strange. In the morning we just crabbed some cookies and bread, had a quick coffee and off we were for the rest of the morning. We just cruised from waterhole to waterhole and had some good sightings. Black backed Jackal and puppy At Nebrownii waterhole we saw our first lions lying there. Springbok and Oryx were watching the scene from a safe distance. Secretary bird Red Hartebeest We arrived at Aus waterhole, when a group of Kudu was walking in. Claudia said, let´s just wait here and have a coffee and our toasts. We busy watched the waterhole A few minutes later, she said: „Hey, Thomas, look there at the edge of the car park. Is that a leopard?“ And it was a young one. We were so busy watching the scenery on the waterhole 100 meters away, that we did not see that cat just 5 meters away. We never expected to see a Leopard. This was the first magic moment of our Namibia trip. We even had to show the cat to other cars arriving as they all just had their focus on the waterhole. On our way back to Okaukuejo we stopped again a t Nebrownii. What a scene! While the lions were gone, hundreds of Sprinbok arrived at the waterhole accompanied by Oryx, Zebra and Ostriches. A migration like scene! There are also Elephants and Giraffe This was a great drive in the morning. In the afternoon we decided to go to Aus again, but the leopard was gone and had left the place for a mating pair of lions. Etosha is a great place! The antelopes have left Nebrownii waterhole, the jackals took over. Before dinner at the waterhole a group of Giraffes have arrived. After dinner the rhinos are back again. We will do a short drive tomorrow morning before we proceed to the west for our desert adventure. Stay tuned!
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