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Found 100 results

  1. Hello fellow travelers, me and my girl and normally backpackers but for this short trip we rented a 4x4 with tent so the plan is to go from johannesburg up to botswana do some parks and go down in namibia to windhoek. Now is the question is it possible in this 3 weeks to do also the kruger park for maybe 2/3 days? What parks or routes are just so beautifull in botswana that you have to drive them? Without 10000 tourists but the real deal africa from 50 y ago? Is walvisbaai NAmibia good to be there? So is this short view of my plan do able in 3 weeks? Thx!!!
  2. Just after our trip to Namibia, Chobe & Vic Falls in 2014 we already started thinking about a return to the South of Africa. After reading all the enthusiastic reports on the Kgalagadi, we decided to go there. And as we did not visit the South of Namibia on our previous trip, we also wanted to include Fish River Canyon and Luderitz. In the beginning I also wanted to go to both Ai-Ais Richtersveld and Augrabies but decided to go only to Augrabies. So after carefull planning and booking (which is not the easiest for KTP) our trip looked like this: 17 November Amsterdam - Johannesburg, overnight in the City Lodge OR Tambo 18 November Johannesburg - Upington, pick up of our double cab Ford Ranger, drive to Augrabies, 2 nights in the Oranjekom Gorge Cottage 20 November drive to KTP 1 night Urikaruus 2 nights Nossob 1 night Bitterpan 2 nights Kalahari Tented Camp 26 November drive to Keetmanshoop overnight at Maritz Country Lodge 27 November drive to Aus, 2 nights in Klein Aus Vista, Desert Horse Inn 29 November drive to Fish River Canyon, 2 nights In Canyon Village 1 December drive to Springbok, overnight at Kleinplasie Guesthouse 2 December drive to Clanwilliam, 2 nights in Yellow Aloe Guesthouse 4 December drive to Langebaan, overnight The Farmhouse Hotel 5 December drive to Franschhoek, 2 nights in Lavender Farm Guesthouse 7 December drive to Cape Town, 2 nights in Maartens Guesthouse 10 December, just after midnight, flight Cape Town - Amsterdam I know a lot of people would have advised to do this trip the other way around and I can both agree and disagree. For both options there are pro’s and con’s. This is also for the period we did this trip. November and December can be very warm but as we celebrated our 10th anniversary in November, we wanted to go in November. And yes it was warm but we got used to it. Just change your daily rythm by getting up early and taking siestas in the middle of the day. We drove approximately 4500 km during this trip and made 3300 photo’s (1500 by me and 1800 by my DH). I am still in the process of going through all of them. So the report will be going in while I am working on the pictures. (The 2 pictures below are unedited jpg’s which I had on my IPad I am using to write this intro)
  3. Having an interest in Africa’s culture/history as well as it’s wildlife I thought it was time for a thread on a subject that perfectly combines these two interests and that hasn’t come up as far as I can recall very often and that is rock art. I’m not any kind of expert on this subject and haven’t visited a huge numbers of sites but I thought I’d write a brief intro before getting to some photos from the places I have been to. All over Africa there are fine examples of rock art, ancient paintings and engravings or petroglyphs, such art has been found on all continents except Antarctica but there is more of this art in Africa than anywhere else in the world. The Saharan Region is especially rich in both paintings and petroglyphs which provide a fascinating insight into the lives of the ancient peoples of this region and the of wildlife that they lived alongside, much of this artwork dates from a wet period when the Sahara was not a desert but a lush green land of rivers and lakes, lush grasslands and savannahs. Besides depictions of people and their cattle and other livestock there are numerous representations of easily recognisable wild animals like giraffes, elephants and white rhinos in countries like Libya and Algeria far outside their modern historical distribution. Sadly much of this rock art is found in areas of the Sahara that are no longer accessible to tourists due to ongoing political instability, I don’t know enough about all of the countries of this region so there may be some sites that are safe to visit, certainly it should be okay to visit some of the sites in the Ennedi region of Chad, I have not done so. I have only admired the extraordinary engravings of giraffes for example found in Niger in photographs in Nat Geo and online. Here’s a link to the Trust for African Rock Art click on the countries highlighted to see photos of this extraordinary art. While rock art can be found in various places in East Africa the largest collection of paintings (that I know of) is as at Kondoa in Tanzania just south west of Tarangire NP, although I’ve not visited Kondoa the rock art sites are not that hard to get to being only 9kms from the main highway going south from Arusha to Dodoma. While the site is accessible it’s only 3.5 hrs drive south of Arusha it is somewhat off the beaten track as far as Tanzania’s northern safari circuit is concerned and most people going from Arusha down to say Ruaha NP or Selous GR would tend to fly rather than drive. You really need to make a special trip to visit Kondoa as you’re not likely to be passing by, therefore few tourists visit these paintings. The depictions of elongated human figures and local wildlife are thought primarily to have been painted by the Sandawe people, related to the San peoples of Southern Africa and speaking a similar click language the Sandawe were likewise originally hunter gatherers. Here’s a guide to Kondoa Rock Art of Kondoa Irangi Further south, Southern Africa has an abundance of rock art, around the whole region numerous caves and rock shelters have been richly decorated with depictions of the local wildlife and people, for the most part these paintings and pictographs were created by San hunter gatherers and later Khoekhoe herders. The pictures are in many cases not actually depictions of the real world as observed by the San, but are in fact scenes taken from the spirit world visited by their shamans during trances brought on during ceremonial dances. The frequency with which certain animal species were depicted depended on their spiritual significance to the people of the area. In South Africa (& Lesotho) where there could be anywhere up to 30,000 rock art sites and over 1 million images, the eland was the most totemic species in the Drakensberg and Maloti Mts for example there are whole galleries of eland paintings. In Namibia and Zimbabwe depictions of eland are far less frequent and giraffes much more common, other animals like zebras, rhinos, elephants and ostriches are also commonly depicted. I don’t know if this reflects a difference in the past abundance of these animals or simply their significance to the artists who portrayed them. Many of the painting and petroglyphs date back to around 2,000 years or so ago, although it’s recently been confirmed that some of the oldest paintings in South Africa date back to 5,000 years ago. The tradition may go back far longer but paintings on sandstone apparently don’t last for more than a few thousand years due to the porous nature of the rock. There are also much more recent paintings but it’s generally thought that certainly in South Africa the San stopped painting soon after European colonisation, large numbers of San died from smallpox brought in by the settlers or were killed in conflicts with the newly arrived whites and also the expanding black tribes that were encroaching into their territory. Conflict was inevitable as the San saw no distinction between wild game and domestic livestock regarding both simply as meat to be hunted, the severe reduction in their numbers, the disruption to their culture and mixing with other peoples brought an end to their production of rock art. While I’ve not visited rock art sites in the Sahara or East Africa I have been to a couple of sites in Zimbabwe and in Namibia, as with the rest of Southern Africa the San were the original inhabitants of Zimbabwe and would have lived throughout the country, they produced the majority of the rock art found at over 15,000 sites around the Zimbabwe. One of the highest concentrations of rock paintings can be found in the Matobos Hills just south of Bulawayo throughout these beautiful hills caves and rock overhangs were decorated by the San. The most accessible of these caves sites in Matobos National Park is Nswatugi Cave which has some of Zimbabwe’s most impressive paintings and is also conveniently close to Malindidzimu or World’s End the spectacular burial place of Cecil Rhodes. Nswatugi Cave a Guide to the Big Game of the Matobos. Rhodes Matopos NP as it was originally called was created in 1926 after Cecil Rhodes bequeathed the area to the country, much of the original big game that would once have been found in the Matobos had been hunted out. When it was decided in the 1960s to set aside an area of the park as a game preserve that would be restocked with suitable wildlife, they needed to know which species they should reintroduce, caves like Nswatugi provided a perfect guide to the original fauna of the park. At another site that I’ve not visited known as the White Rhino Shelter is the faint outline of what is clearly a white rhino, a species that was entirely extinct in the country when Southern Rhodesia was founded in the 1890s, exactly when they became extinct is not known (as far as I know) but this evidence of their former presence led to their reintroduction. There is now a healthy and seemingly well protected population of southern white rhinos and also black rhinos in the park. Some of the other game hasn’t fared quite as well some species like buffalo were actively exterminated some years ago for reasons of foot and mouth disease control and a lot of game was poached during the recent chaos, but hopefully more restocking will be carried out in future when the opportunity arises. Photographing rock paintings can be a bit of a challenge as you can’t use flash which would damage the paintings, so I wasn't sure how well my photos would come out when I visited Nswatugi a few years ago. These paintings are perhaps 2,000 years old and have survived remarkably well considering that Ndebele rebels hid out in caves like this one during the first Chimurenga or freedom war that lasted from 1894-97. It was from hideouts in the Matobos that they launched their guerilla war against the white settlers that nearly extinguished the fledgling colony of Southern Rhodesia. The large animal in the centre of the scene is an eland The artists would often simply paint on top of the earlier paintings frequently creating a jumble of images which can make it a little difficult to make out some of the individual animals and people, the shapes below the eland appear to be entirely abstract and I don't recall what their significance may have been if known. Probably the finest painting of giraffes in Zimbabwe This would appear to be a female greater kudu Greater kudu bull Giraffes, zebras, antelopes and other animals Plains zebra
  4. I am new to this forum but a friend (a regular on this forum and others were we "met" before) suggested I post here. Here we go: My friend had to cancel because of her work commitments and I would like to try and find someone to share the coming experience with. Dates are mid-April for 3 weeks (not flexible as everything is booked). Flying in and out of Namibia and into the park through Mata-Mata. Itinerary includes all the very best camps (Urikaruus, Grootkolk, KTC, Nossob, etc) as well as 6 nights in Mabua area in Botswana. I am a 57 years old Male looking for a female partner (one can read a lot into this statement but really more a question of the chance to get along and clashing male egos). I'm from the US, currently residing in Europe. I have years experience of traveling in Africa including previous trips to KTP. Contact me if interested via PM and I will gladly provide more information.
  5. Hi to everybody. I'm Greg and obviously I am new to the community. I've been hanging around the safaritalk for a year or so and now I would like to become a part of it. I am fairly inexperienced a safarist as I've done only 2 trips to Africa. My real first time was in Botswana in 2008 along with my wife and recently we have finished the trip to Namibia with our teenage kids. As I've learnt a lot from this forum not only by reading all the reports, but also by viewing beautiful images, now I would like to reciprocate the kindness of all good people contributing to the safaritalk content and share my recent trip experiences along with some pictures I took on the way. Be warned, though, that I'm not a good storyteller and might not put up a thorough and addicitve report. Still I will try to do my best to convey a basic story and illustrate it by some pertaining pics. OK, here it goes. The first idea to travel to Namibia was born at the time we came back from our Botswana trip back in 2008. From fellow tourist we met there we heard great stories about Namibia and all the cool stuff it had to offer. But there was never a compelling reason to design such a trip. Finally we decided that we would shoot for it just to show a real Africa to our kids as long as they were still willing to join us on a journey. As they are 13 (daughter) and 17 (son) right now I'm pretty sure that maybe in 2 years time it might be impossible to travel in such companion. We started a planning process around August last year and after a month we had our itinerary pretty much fixed. As many times it is a case for a newbie also I committed a mistake of planning the trip without much of listening to all experienced users here and on TA. This resulted in a package that contained all the items I wanted to be covered, but in a far too short period of travelling time. Although I was warned by the agent I was cooperating with that the intended itinerary would be too rushed for a relaxed trip I was just rationalizing to myself my unfortunate (kind of) decisions. Our trip took the following shape: Day 1 July 14 flight from FRA to WDH Day 2 July 15 from Windhoek to Mushara Bush Camp Day 3 July 16 from Mushara Bush Camp to Okaukuejo Day 4 July 17 stay in Okaukuejo Day 5 July 18 from Okaukuejo to Doro Nawas Day 6 July 19 from Doro Nawas to Spitzkoppen Lodge Day 7 July 20 from Spitzkoppen Lodge to Swakopmund Day 8 July 21 from Swakopmund to Sossus Dune Lodge Day 9 July 22 stay in Sossus Dune Lodge Day 10 July 23 from Sossus Dune Lodge to Klein Aus Vista Day 12 July 24 from Klein Aus Vista to Fish River Lodge Day 13 July 25 stay in Fish River Lodge Day 14 July 26 from Fish River Lodge to Mesosaurus Fossil Camp Day 15 July 27 from Mesosaurus Fossil Camp to WDH and flight home Yeah, yeah, I know. It's too rushed, hence the report's title. Only 3 places of 2 nights and all the rest were just single nights. Of course it's doable, but definitely it was a stretch. Since for me 2 weeks is a maximum period of holidays we could not make it longer. But we should have made it shorter in terms of distances to be travelled. Probably we should have stopped at Sesriem dropping FRC and Mesosaurus and add some night to Etosha and possibly somewhere else. But after approving the itinerary and transferring downpayment it was too difficult to make dramatic changes to our trip. So, it stayed as above. But honestly, I do not regret it. With mistakes or not still we enjoyed it quite a lot and the way we did it leaves the chance to come back and make it even better. That's how I look at the bright side of it. tbc Greg
  6. Hi there, greetings from Indonesia..! Me, my teenage son and good friend are planning a self-drive trip through Namibia & Botswana with a 4x4 Hilux DC with 2 rooftop tents. We're first timers in this part of Africa. I've done quite a bit of research elsewhere, until I found this fantastic site / forum. Wish I found it earlier...! I would be very happy to receive some feedback about the following itinerary. I know there's still a few long driving days, but at least we're with 2 drivers. Still overdoing..? 1 Arrival Windhoek 2 Windhoek - Sesriem (Sossusvlei) 3 Sesriem (Sossusvlei) 4 Sesriem (Sossusvlei) - Swakopmund 5 Swakopmund 6 Swakopmund - Spitzkoppe 7 Spitzkoppe - Palmwag 8 Palmwag - Etosha NP (Olifantsrus) 9 Etosha NP (Olifantsrus) - Etosha NP (Okaukuejo) 10 Etosha NP (Okaukuejo) 11 Etosha NP (Okaukuejo) - Etosha NP (Halali) 12 Etosha NP (Halali) - Grootfontein (Roy's Rest Camp) 13 Grootfontein - Divundu 14 Divundu 15 Divundu - Kongola 16 Kongola - Kasane 17 Kasane (Victoria Falls day-trip) 18 Kasane - Savuti 19 Savuti 20 Savuti – Khwai (Magotho) 21 Khwai (Magotho) 22 Khwai (North Gate) 23 Khwai (North Gate) - South Gate 24 South Gate 25 South Gate - Ghanzi 26 Ghanzi - Windhoek Any advice on good stop-over in Ghanzi would also be appreciated. Cheers, Toine
  7. I largely wrote this trip report shortly after we got back – however due to having a really bad year it got put on hold. However things are calming down and we have finally got a bit more back on track – so here is our trip report for Southern Namibia September/October 2016. Wednesday 28th September It is four o clock in the afternoon and I’ve been in work since quarter to eight this morning – so now I can put the out of office on, turn the phone to voicemail and lock the laptop in the cupboard. I grab the bag carrying my travelling clothes and get changed in the ladies room before waving goodbye to my colleagues. That’s it, no more work for three whole lovely weeks – I’ve a tube to catch to Hatton Garden where I meet J and then we head off to Heathrow to catch our South African flight to Johannesburg. Thursday 29th September It’s an overnight flight from Heathrow, arriving around nine in the morning, and we head off through transit – only to come to a grinding halt. Johannesburg airport are carrying out some new biometric procedures which mean that (like the USA) they are taking photos and fingerprints – and it is slow; slow, and even slower. The queue is barely moving at all – they actually have someone walking down the line pulling out those who have transit times close to departure and moving them up to try and get them through quicker, but it’s making the rest of the queue move even slower. We have nearly four hours for transit and are actually grateful for the long transfer. It takes over an hour to get through the queue. We still have nearly three hours left so we head to the business lounge and pay our entry fee, and settle down to have a wash up in the bathrooms and a nice meal, before heading off to catch our flight up to Windhoek. So finally we get to Windhoek - about three pm. We head to the Avis desk in the airport to pick up our car. We hand over our paperwork and J signs all the various paperwork (in blood) – confirms that we have a second spare tyre (pre-paid for), and that we need a letter to take the car across the South African border. (They seem to have forgotten the letter but once reminded they prepare it immediately without any argument – so no problems.) We were expecting a Toyota Hilux, but are told that we have been upgraded to a Toyota Fortuner. The car, which was South African registered was almost new, there was 14840 kilometres on the clock, and in fact it was a new model which had only been released fairly recently (according to various people we ran into). Even so it already had one small-ish ding, and a number of other little issues on the paintwork. We made sure that all of the marks were annotated on the documentation and also took a number of photos so that everyone was clear what condition we collected the car in. We had to chase the second spare tyre and as it was not brand new took photos of that as well. We checked that we had a jack – roads in Namiba are notorious for eating tyres – and indeed there was one – but dear lord it looked pathetic when you consider the size and weight of the vehicle. We hoped we wouldn’t need to use it often. Then we headed off out of Windhoek airport and down towards the city, and our first night’s accommodation at The Olive Grove. The Olive Grove is a pretty little hotel, with secured parking, and a nice little patio area with a small plunge pool. We are allocated room 10 which is down on the ground floor. We repack the bags for the actual holiday (rather than airport travel), and then decide we will go out for dinner. The last time we were in Namibia, just over three years ago we arrived into Windhoek a lot earlier in the day, did not stop in Windhoek – and therefore did not have a chance to go to the famous “Joe’s Beer House”. The Olive Grove is fairly close so we booked a taxi and headed off to see if it could possibly live up to its reputation. It does. The place is amazing. On a Thursday night it is packed. It is a largely outdoor restaurant, although most of the tables are covered by thatched umbrellas. It is lit with candles and lanterns and buzzes with the energy in the place. We sat at the bar while waiting for a table and chatted briefly with another couple who had just finished their tour. Within five minutes we were seated at a big round table with a number of other people, mostly German, but also with a group who were working in Namibia. We chatted about the roads, and some suggestions for things to do whilst we ate. I had a beautiful Gemsbok steak (the only complaint was that there was a bit too much meat) whilst J had the Jaegerscnitzel. Joe’s has a reputation as a great place to go before and after safari – and it is certainly a well-deserved reputation. It’s also reasonably priced - our meal and drinks came to less than N$350. Back at the Olive Grove we tumbled into bed – exhausted from lack of sleep but excited for the real start of the trip tomorrow.
  8. Namibia, the wonderful! Woooooow, the countdown is at 0, the day is finally here! In just a few hours, I am airborne and on my way to Namibia, once again! The excitement is beyond words as i post this! I have thought about how to write this years trip-report, as last years,, I never completed because i got lost in dates and places etc. So I think I have a better «strategy» in my mind this time around and as you can see with this first installment even before I have left home, I feel confident that this report will take you from the first to the last day! We will travel with the same little company as last year, but our guide from last year, Tommy, sadly had an accident, and for the longest we and he hoped that he would be well enough to travel, but sadly, his doctor has grounded him, so no Namibia for him this time around. So the trip-leader will be another one in the same company, a very proffesional fellow, but he has never been to Namibia before, but they choose to do it like this instead of cancel the trip, wich all of us is very happy for. So this year, I am the «experienced» one 😊 and they have actually asked if I can be of assistance in anyway I want, and of course I will, these guys have become my friends, so I am happy to help in any way I can! In Namibia we will be driven and guided around by the same company we had last year, a Namibia-based company called, wich specializes in Namibia and Botswana, and makes the trip smooth and hassle-free for us. Well, smooth is up for debate considering the roads in Namibia driving in a safari-specced landy, but you know what i mean 😉 Unlike last year when Air Namibia flew us down south, and qatar via doha homebound, this year we will travel with british airways via heathrow and jo`burg both ways, so one more stopover this time. BA was in fact my suggestion as they have a class between economy and business( with a good amount of added comfort, and it does not cost the white out of ones eye. I am quite tall with some extra «padding», so it is a nightmare for me to fly in economy, so i was happy to get some more room for my legs and overall myself this year! And also, today is actually my birthday, so if I am offered a bubbly drink aboard, I think i will say yes to it this time, although i`m not much of a drinker! Can`t think of a better way to spend my birthday 😊 However, since we are flying BA we had to depart a day before planned due to flighttimes and bookings, so we will spend the first day and night in Windhoek before we head down to sossusvlei on the 18th and spend the two first days there at Then we head back up north and will spend two days at, doing a total of 6 game-drives, 18 hours of game viewing 😊 Then off to, where we will cover the park from east to west, starting at, then, before we end the trip in , same as last year, wich I think is great as this time I know what to expect and have the opportunity to plan a little ahead, photowise! And this is where the anticlimatic part begins, the jorney home, with a mind full of new memories and harddrives full of pictures! Also worth mentioning is that i have shedded a great amount of weight in my camera backpack this time. My Nikon D500 will be fitted with a Sigma 50-500 OS, and I just recently bought a D7500 wich will be fitted with a new tokina 16-50 f.2,8 i bought (i really like Tokina, they are great lenses built like a tank at an affordable price), so i think i have all the range i need in a very managable weight! I will also bring a lightweight tripod as the moonphase is favourable to try some nightsky-photo, we`ll see if i get some decent shots, it`s new to me. Lots of memorycards, and my new microsoft surfacebook that i purchased earlier this year, as well as 2x1tb external hdd`s, lots of extra batteries, chargers, the works, so I think I have everything covered! My initial thoughts is to write this trip-report «live», as in writing a little bit for each day that passes when the impressions and thoughts are fresh, obviously to save and post when i get home, not to much in the way of internet down there. However, I`ll have to see how this plan turns out, it`s easy to have this plan now, but follow through when every day is an adventure.. Well, we`ll see! Well, that is about it for the introduction to the trip i suppose, it`s time for me to leave the winter and head for summer! Oh, btw, I might have a little surprise for you up my sleeve in the final part of the trip report, so stay tuned! «TBC»….
  9. Trip Report: Namibian Splendour So it has been a full 4 years since I last set foot on African soil, and not a day has passed since that I haven’t thought about my time there. I made returning to Africa a priority, and finally, back in July, I was able to return. Having visited South Africa and the Victoria Falls region back in 2013, I wanted an even “deeper” African experience this time, so I visited the Kalahari region of South Africa and Namibia in hopes of going even further off the beaten path. Again with this trip, the focus was on time in the bush. My itinerary was for 16 days, and we were starting in South Africa. There would be 3 days/4 nights in the Kalahari (at Tswalu) and the remainder of the time was in Namibia. I had been interested in going to Tswalu for many years, in hopes of having a good chance to see a pangolin (among other rare sightings). We flew into Johannesburg from U.S. and Tswalu is accessible via private air charter directly into the Kalahari airstrip. It was clear upon our arrival that Tswalu catered to an upscale audience, the lodge was a traditional BOMA bush camp style structure, but composed of high end elemental affects such as crafted natural stone and timbers. We stayed in the lower end “Motse Suite” but it was uncommonly large, complete with bath, patio and personal refrigerator. The weather was absolutely perfect for our first game drive with crisp and refreshing air, a pleasing arid clarity of a mild Kalahari winter. The first drive was outstanding, we had a few “first native sightings” in the wild, including: Gemsbok (Oryx), red Hartebeest, and ostrich. We even got a tantalizing glimpse of a young male black rhino in some thick bush, but he was not having it and quickly dashed deeper into the impenetrable thicket. The best, “first” sighting occurred near the close of the day, when we spotted a lone male cheetah walking alongside the road near a main barrier fence of the reserve. He was clearly seeking something in the area, and our guide, Sian, told us that he was known as one of a bachelor pair in the territory, so he could have been seeking his sibling. Our second day brought even more wonderful sightings including: black backed jackal (BBJ), some springbok, a young giraffe and its mom and several more ostrich. I found the ostrich quite amusing because they always seemed in a hurry, flying through the bush to who knows where. Their posture and gait was quite comical to me, and I smiled a little whenever one would fly out of the bush, racing into any direction that wasn’t ours. Then there was the steenbok, which we had seen before in the Kruger area, and the Kalahari sightings were almost always the same: a brief moment of pause, then a quick direct stare at you and then off like a rocket into the bush. Our wonderful tracker, Ben, repeatedly demonstrated his fantastic tracking skills, spotting pangolin tracks and porcupine tracks among others. During our game drives, I was struck by the diversity of terrain at Tswalu, as it could quickly turn from mountain to semi-desert, to thick bush and then to clearings with open expanses, grassy fields mixed with rocky terrain and hazy blue mountains off on the horizon. Throughout the open areas, numerous animals could be spotted either lying down or traversing and grazing about. There were springboks, Oryx, trotting ostriches, and wildebeests in relative abundance. Other sightings of the day included a small meerkat colony, cory bustard (the largest flying bird in Africa), numerous giraffe, eland and common zebra. On our evening drive, soon after our departure from the lodge, off to the left of the road was a large lizard basking in the afternoon rays, it was a rock monitor! I had not expected to see many, if any reptiles in the winter, but it looks like we were fortunate. Sian explained that this reptile was a relative to the Komodo Dragon, and it certainly looked as much. Evidently, this lizard also possesses poisonous bites similar to the Komodo. We followed Sian off the vehicle, on foot to get a closer look. We took a few minutes to snap some pictures and just enjoy the moment of spotting this great reptile. Continuing on, we spotted a mongoose, red-crested korhaan, a beautiful tower grouping of giraffe, some bat-eared foxes pouncing and foraging in the grass, more steenbok (complete with trademark pausing direct gaze followed by jet propulsion into the bush), red hardebeest and gemsbok (Oryx). The highlight of our evening’s sightings was at the Wild Dog den, just as the sun was setting. Sian intently ended the evening there, to witness their sundown hunting rituals….which is when they evidently go out to hunt, just as the sun sets. Although we could not see them, we were told there were a litter of pups in the underground den. We enjoyed sitting in this tightly shrouded enclave of bush, watching the dogs frolic, wrestle and grapple as part of their evening hunt rituals. After some time, just before full sunset, we followed the pack into the thick bush to view their hunt…only to lose them eventually in the darkness and thickness of the brush. Sian talked to us about the species current threats, which I was mostly aware, and how the reserve had completely lost their previous pack, unfortunately, to canine distemper. It was an honour and another full privilege to have seen these fantastic animals in their natural surroundings. Our last full day on lodge, would turn out to be a full 12 hours out in the bush. I think by the end of the day, Sian and Ben may have regretted the suggestion to stay out all day, but it would be a truly spectacular and memorable African day for us, filled with magical wildlife moments. Armed with Ben’s superior tracking skills and Sian’s sharp eyesight, we started out on the lion side of the reserve in search of the famed Kalahari black maned lions. Note: the reserve is divided into a lion side habitat and a non-lion side for the protection of some of the more highly endangered prey species (such as the Tsessebe). Along the way into the interior of this portion of the reserve, we spotted common zebra, and another small meerkat colony. Ben got tracking and we could sense we were close…around a curve and high up on a hill, Crystal (my wife) first spotted the majestic male perched on view on a high embankment, casually surveying his territory. Sian stopped the vehicle, as we took some time to capture a few images. Sian then moved the vehicle up and around to get a more level view of the lion. When we came around, a second male was seen nearby standing on another part of the hill. We spent some time with this magnificent pair, following them as they moved about the area, sometimes stopping to rest in the grass. They were beautifully intimidating, visibly larger than the typical African lion, looking healthy and well fed, as you would expect from two 8 year old dominant males…in their prime. Moving on, we drove on to a nice sandy and high vegetation area where we spotted more zebra grazing with eland. We arrived to what we were told was one of the most remote areas of the reserve, in order to have our packed lunch. As we were stopped in a clearing that was, in wetter seasons, a watering hole…we saw several Harteman’s mountain zebra up on the rocky hillside nearby. We had a fantastic gourmet bush lunch and continued on our way, to yet a different area of the reserve. Ben caught sight of some lion pride tracks, and this was to consume our next 1-2 hours, driving off road through thick brush and nearly unpassable terrain. At a couple of points, I thought of suggesting that we abandon the tracking, but it was clear that Ben was certain we were close. True to the maxim: “never, ever give up”….our perseverance paid off as Ben spotted the young lions hiding deep in the thicket, lying down. There were at least four of them, all looking healthy, relaxed and well fed. We spent some time talking about the pride and enjoying the company of lions before we carried on. Driving on, we spotted a herd of kudu and a sable before we got radio notice that a bachelor coalition of cheetahs had been seen nearby. Sian drove us over to the area, and another ranger had been tracking the cheetah on foot alongside a high ridge thick with brush. After some brief off-roading and radio communication, we saw 2 of the males lying down in the bush, nearly hidden from sight. We approached closer in the vehicle, and the cheetah seemed quite accustomed to 4 wheeled visitors, but they were very aware of our presence, taking the time to occasionally stare back in our direction. After a brief time, they started moving to our left through the brush and shortly thereafter we saw all 4 coalition males in front of us neatly spread out in the brush, all seated and looking in the same direction. It was a truly beautiful sighting. We then moved on for a visit to one of the largest resident meerkat colonies on the reserve. Evidently, conservationists had been working to condition the meerkat to tolerate human visitors over time, so that Tswalu visitors could walk amongst the colony as a native. It was a very fascinating, amusing and informative visit amongst these little animals, which were somewhat paradoxically both adorable and vicious. We saw them foraging about the ground, sometimes locked in heated battles with one another over an ostensibly empty hole in the ground! (see photo below). I was particularly drawn to the sentinel, perched high in a nearby tree as he scanned the horizon in 360 degrees for any sign of predators from above or on the ground. As Sian remarked, ‘you have to take your job seriously because it could mean the death of one of your mates and it would be on your head’. As we continued on, the day was waning but Sian and Ben made a last effort to find a pangolin before we headed back to camp. We went to an area where Ben knew there to be a resident pangolin and he hopped off the vehicle to track it on foot while we drove around the area. After about 1.5 hours, and several radio attempts to reach Ben, we met up with him and he informed us he was hot on the trail of a pangolin. With indications of fresh tracks, Ben had, amazingly tracked the pangolin down to its home, which was a basketball sized hole in the ground at the top of a ridge behind some large rocky terrain. We followed Ben quietly on foot to the location, where we hoped to have a glimpse of this magnificent animal as it came out in search for its evening supper. We watched the hole quietly for some time with no signs of activity, Sian and Ben informed us that the pangolin may not come out at all. We eventually decided to carry on, but I snapped a quick photo in the dark of the animal’s home. Even though I had high aspirations of making this rare sighting, one of my personal favourite animals, it was actually very thrilling to see its home. I had come so close to this truly special animal which was burrowed before us in the ground. For our last morning game drive at Tswalu, we drove to a yet un-explored (at least for us) part of the reserve. After a couple of hours, we unexpectedly came upon one of the large black maned Kalahari lions taking a rest in the grass just beside the road. Sian stopped the vehicle so we could get a closer look. Ben jumped off the front into the tall grass to get into the high back of the vehicle. When he jumped off he quickly jockeyed his gait and leapt onto the vehicle, nearly stepping on the second large male lion that was lying just in the tall grass! Sian and Ben had a good laugh and some light hearted exchange in Afrikaans, but it was a close call to nearly step on a lion! We sat, basking quietly in the morning sunlight, taking more photos of these great cats at close range. Both males had risen to a seated position, one on either side of the vehicle, when Sian instructed us to be quiet. Imperceptible to us, a rival male had made a call off in the distance. The two massive males started to respond in kind and it was one of the most awesome experiences one could imagine, awesome in the true meaning of the word. The sheer power of these thunderous roars were deafening, with vibrations that you felt running through your chest, as if you were at the loudest concert with the deepest bass. The experience was in “stereo” with one giant Kalahari male on either side of us. The seats of the vehicle were actually vibrating from the roars. It left me with an immense, profound respect for the outright power of these animals and reinforced in my mind why they are known as the king of beasts, a title that is well deserved. Even our guides were speechless for some time afterwards and it was clear that we had shared a truly beautiful and unforgettable moment in time. After the “roaring lion” encounter, a guide radioed out that the local pride contingent was at a nearby watering hole taking a morning drink, so we headed over in time to see the matriarch and numerous young cubs hanging out, drinking and relaxing under brush. It was another great close encounter with the counterpart members of the lion family, and we could see that the adult female still had fresh remains of pink from the blood of the previous night’s kill. If you look closely on the photo of her below, you can see the pink on her jaw and a spot of red near her shoulder. On Namibian Soil: After our wonderful time in the Kalahari, we made our journey into Namibia. It became quickly apparent that transportation between the remote camps of the Namibian wilderness could be tumultuous, with light air charter flights serving as the most expeditious transport. If the winds are kind, the flights are decent, but note that it can be turbulent and not for the squeamish. Our first camp in Namibia was the Kulala Desert Camp near the Soussevlei Sand Dunes . When we arrived on camp, with our new guide Matheus, I was struck how much the lodge reminded me of the first camp we stayed in Africa back in 2013, the Nkambeni Camp near Numbi entrance at Kruger. We settled in and enjoyed a brief, relaxing afternoon break before our evening game drive. The evening’s drive was a casual, informative drive around the reserve as Matheus explained the foliage, geology and geography and fauna of the area. We learned about the soussala bush that shielded springbok and gemsbok from sandstorms. We learned about the mara bush and the bitter bush (which was the semi-pleasant grassy smell I had recognized from the Kalahari grasslands at Tswalu). The mara bush, evidently, when rubbed on your skin will protect you from mosquitos for up to 4 hours. We saw fairy circles, which I had recognized from David Attenborough specials, which naturally form on the ground and which nothing will grow from within the circle. It is still not fully understood what causes this phenomenon. You can see some of these fairy circles in the picture below, just above my watermark signature in the lower right. Our second day was focused on hiking the sand dunes….and we hiked the highest one, knows as “big daddy”. We drove ~40km to the highest sand dunes in the world: Soussevlei. This is a surreal, striking and alien landscape with sand dunes as high as mountains. The geographic shadows and light over the dunes changes with the angle of the sunlight and the surrounding flat desert terrain is littered with ancient dead acacia trees (known as the skeleton forests). The atmosphere is other worldly here, and time space seems less defined. Days in Namibia, as I would come to find, are better defined as simply “light and dark” rather than by clock. Experiences stack one upon another, and you can hardly believe the asphalt covered world of urban dissonance from which most of us tourists came could exist on the same planet as this. The views from the highest vantage point were breathtaking. At the bottom of big daddy, there is a silt basin with the ancient dead trees seen in the photos above. After the big daddy summit, when we stopped for a mid-day break nearby, an uber-polite young British boy pointed out to us that there was a spotted eagle owl resting in a nearby tree. I took the opportunity to check it out and got a nice, close view of this fantastic predatory bird. I was grateful for the tip, as I had previously only seen them in darkness during the night’s hunt. Our evening drive was out to the Sesriem canyon area, which we were told was ~300 m deep. The area is notorious for horned vipers (adders) which are often blown down into the canyon by the strong desert winds coming off the nearby Naukluft Mountains. As we hiked through the picturesque and rough terrain of the canyon, our guide looked out for horned adders in the floor. In the end, we did see a dead one, but luckily (or unluckily) no live ones. On this evening, our intended trip back to the camp for our sundowner was cut short because, as Matheus remarked: “the sun is faster than us today”. We improvised and pulled up to a nice spot on the side of the roadway, listening to the barking desert lizards, unseen but well-heard throughout the vast desert land before us. These were truly moments of bliss, free from worry as I sat in the fading sunlight, sipping a cold Seagram’s dry lemon! On our last day at Kulala, we hiked up more sand dunes and then drove to a very remote and stunningly beautiful part of the reserve, where Matheus showed us an example of ancient bushman cave painting…reportedly around 4000 years old. These paintings were left as markers to indicate some significant direction or sign or to brand the location as having some importance as a reference to other bushmen. The rest of the evening’s drive around the desert was in search of a Hartmann’s mountain zebra viewing…which was realized, but only from afar. For our sundowner, we went to a simply astonishing viewpoint, overlooking a vast flat plain with rocky mountains out on the horizon. We could see the small silhouettes of zebra marching across the flats as the sun went down over the distant Namibian cliffs ahead. It was a fitting finale for our time amongst these trance like landscapes in the Namibian Soussevlei region, with panoramas that collide upon one another, sand to rock, rock to trees, bush to canyons. Truly spectacular. Our next stop brought us to the Hoanib Skeleton Coast camp, which is truly one of the most remote, desolate locales remaining on the earth. As our pilot remarked when we landed, ‘you are not on the edge of nowhere, you are in the middle of nowhere’. I couldn’t be happier. The lodge was a very open, modern and refined design with a backdrop of rocky outcrops and scattered trees whose beauty could not be possibly accurately represented with photography. Despite its remote locale, this camp is top shelf. The rooms are just the right size, with just the right amount of comfort and the staff and food service here was fantastic. Much to some’s surprise, however, the Skeleton Coast camp is not actually on the coast, but rather situated ~75km inland from the Oceanside. Upon our first evening outing, with our amiable guide Mwezi, we could see that the landscape would once again be breathtaking and unimaginably beautiful. We drove upon a long natural rock wall, as beautiful gemsbok gently scoured the semi-arid ground for green snacks. We traversed forward through the sand and rocks, passing through and unexpected forest of acacias amongst the seemingly lifeless, harsh terrain. When we reached a high point for our sundowner, it seemed that we could see to infinity over the horizon. For me, the spot brought thoughts of something off the set of Star Wars. This was natural, unspoiled desert wilderness like I have never seen. With its proximity to the ocean, a.m. game drives can often be obstructed with unexpectedly thick fog, as we would discover on our first morning drive at Hoanib, which would land us at the coastline. Along the way, we had a nice sighting of these desert adapted beauties on top of the hillside as they were browsing for their breakfast in the thick Namibian fog. As you move to the coast from camp, you pass through an amazing variation of terrain, from expansive deserts with sand oceans, thick and almost impassable brush, rocky outcrops and semi green oases. Once at the ocean, you could get an eerie sense of this harsh, unforgiving shoreline and its foreboding beauty which has caused so many shipwrecks of the past. The one pictured below is the wreck of the Suiderkus from 1977. There is also a massive cape seal colony that resides on the coastline. They were amazing, spread out for at least 1 km. While we were on coast, we were fortunate to get a brilliant sighting of a lone long haired brown hyena nearby, ostensibly looking for opportunities to ravage a baby seal pup. Next up was to the Damaraland region and the dusty, harsh beauty of the Desert Rhino Camp [DRC]. The lodge is blessed with a warm and welcoming crew, probably the best crew we encountered at any of our lodges. The accommodations are rustic and understated, but very comfortable and having a real campground feel. At night here, you can hear a variety of visitors outside your tent….most vocal would probably be the spotted hyena, which chanted, howled and barked with regularity during our stay. The night sky at DRC has to be seen to be believed. The star laden southern heavens are truly brilliant after dark, with the multitude of colours of the Milky Way galaxy revealed in full celestial glory among the unpolluted Damaraland skies. Shortly after our first excursion at DRC, I was impressed once again how the landscape could change so dramatically in Namibia. The rolling hills were covered in baseball sized red stones and sandy foothills with low, rocky mountains surrounding on all sides. It was apparent that the amazing and unexpected Namibian penchant for abundant life among the harsh climates applied here as well. Milk bushes, acacias, nara bushes, grasses and the amazing welwitschia plant grew throughout. I was particularly fascinated by the welwitschia plant, which, at first glance seems like rubbish that someone has tossed on the ground. Upon closer inspection, you can see the plant has a woody base and long twisted leaves that grow out close to the ground. These plants are quite amazing, and endemic only to Namibia and neighboring Angola. We learned that they can survive for thousands of years, only on moisture from the air if need be. There is no guarantee you can see one of the rare and elusive namesake desert black rhinos here, but I can almost guarantee you will have an unforgettable experience with natural wonder, regardless. As you can see from the DRC photos below, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe, oryx and springbok are prevalent in the Damaraland region. Our last stop took us further north in Namibia to the Ongava Tented Camp, a concession bordering Etosha National Park. The first evening drive revealed that the terrain here was much more vegetative and lush that the Damaraland region. There were tall reeds and grasses and the trees were higher, although there was still an abundance of arid, desert type plants scattered about as well. On our first drive at this private reserve, we saw waterbuck, impala, kudu, and a pride of young lion resting in the tall grass. On our first full day, we were headed out of the reserve to tour Etosha National Park. Shortly before our approach to the main gate, we stopped to enjoy a chance sighting of the dominant male lion and his lioness as they casually kept their eyes on a dazzle of nervous zebra. It was a wonderful sighting that we enjoyed for some time. It was a standoff. The lions moved about a bit and the watchful zebra stood on the ready to take off at a moment’s threat. We moved on to Etosha and through the guarded main gates. Amazingly we saw quite a few sightings along the way soon after entering the park. Etosha is a drive only park, and visitors cannot get out of the car or veer off the main roads. Nevertheless, there were a number of nice birds in the roadside trees and brush, including the yellow hornbill and the crimson breasted shrike (which was a fast flittering bird, constantly on the move and nearly impossible to photograph well!). Moving on towards our first stop in the park, we saw wildebeest, springbok and zebra. After the first rest stop, we moved further into the interior of the park and towards some watering holes that are strategically situated throughout the region. As we turned off towards one of the watering holes, Leon (our guide) spotted a black rhino out in the brush to our right. It would have gone completely unnoticed and hidden to the un-trained spotter. We watched from some distance as the rhino moved about the brush, well camouflaged, as you can see in the photo below. It moved a bit closer, but was almost at all times obscured by the thick bush. Eventually, stereotypically evasive of company, the black rhino moved on deeper into the thicket and completely out of sight. Onto the first watering hole, it was packed with a plethora of herbivores congregating nearby. This was a stunning array of some of Namibia’s iconic animals all gathered together. There were gemsbok, springbok, zebra, and blacksmith lapwing, among others. We moved on to a second, larger watering hole, which would prove even more rewarding. Immediately upon our arrival we were presented with a massive bachelor male elephant drinking and spraying himself with water. He was joined by ostriches, impala, oryx, warthog and common zebra. It was truly astounding to see the abundance and variety of majestic wildlife all together in one place! On our way out for the day, we spotted a black backed jackal lying in the shadows just on the side of the road….and off to his right sat a spotted hyena beside a large bush. It continued to fascinate me how these clever animals, often with such bright, beautiful and distinct colours can hide on the terrain. They are perfectly adapted for their native bush homes. Given the fantastic game viewing possibilities and the less public nature of the private reserve, we elected to remain on property for our remaining game drives at Ongava. We enjoyed some extraordinary drives during our stay, exploring the vast 70,000 acre private reserve. We also stopped to walk about on foot for a time, seeing a colony of ground squirrels and some photographic remains of wildebeest skeletons from a recent lion kill. We spotted giraffe, wildebeest, impala, zebra and waterbuck, among others. Perhaps one the most interesting sightings, was a massive congregation of red billed quelea swarming over a watering hole. The sound of the massive gathering of birds was akin to a helicopter or small airplane, they were so great in number. It was truly enchanting to watch them, as they flew about in waves and groups within the massive flock. I had never seen such a gathering of so many birds in one place. I truly can’t say enough about the beauty and unspoiled majesty of Namibia. Legitimately, this report and the pics don’t do it justice. I feel immensely privileged to have witnessed some of the last remaining “wild” still remaining. The whole experience was just humbling and it underscored, for me, the importance of preserving the wild that remains in our vanishing planet. The time I was fortunate enough to have there, brought some of the most enjoyable, profound and thrilling moments of my entire life. It was in many ways, very different from my last Southern Africa trip, but equally as delightful in a contrasting manner.
  10. I want to open with a 'thank you' to my friends on SafariTalk as your input significantly influenced my trip plans (in a good way) My first trip to Africa was a self-drive trip to Chobe National Park, Botswana in the early 2000’s. I went in with a group of acquaintances from South Africa. On the nights before, I had a lot of discussions about what I would see. Chobe was said to be one of the greatest destination in Africa to see abundant wildlife. That sounded great, but often I would hear ‘the only place where you will see more wildlife is Etosha!”. That trip to Chobe was all I had dreamed it would be and more. Africa was in my blood and I’ve been into the bush more than two dozen times since then; however, I never got to Etosha … and I continued to hear about how great it could be. Today, I lead small groups to Africa locations like Chobe, Timbavati, Sabi Sands, Hwange, Zimanga and Madikwe. I only take folks to places I’ve visited first hand so I really can share with them what to expect. I’m hoping to lead a group to Namibia, including Etosha in 2017, so I decided it was time for a scouting trip. In addition to Etosha, I wanted to check out a few other regions in northern Namibia. In particular, I’ve had great interest from travelers in getting a chance to visit villages, meet indigenous peoples and have a more cultural experience. Since I would be ‘moving quickly’ to check out several locations, I decided to make this a self-drive trip. To share the experience and to have a little ‘back-up’ for the trip, I enlisted 3 friends to go along. We took two vehicles, that way one person could sit up front and shoot left or right and one person could sit in the back and shoot left or right without interference. In addition, the second vehicle would provide a little safety insurance in case of vehicle troubles since we were going rather remote. Just a little more background and I promise to get on with the primary story and some photographs. For my 2017 Namibia trip, we will be with a larger group of photographers via train visiting the Quiver Tree forest for night photography, Kolmanskop for some ghost town taken over by desert shots, Sossusvlei and Deadvlei for the classic sand dune shots. Considering the size of Namibia and the travel times, I am concerned that following the first portion of the trip, travelers will not want to go too far before a stop and to see some wildlife. Basically, I wanted to find one high quality stop between Windhoek and Etosha. The two best options seemed to be Africats (Okinjima) or Erindi. AfriCats is a non-for-profit organization that rehabilitates cheetahs, wild dogs and hyenas. While I have heard good things, that sounded a bit zoo-like. In my research on Erindi, it sounded a bit like a variant of the private reserves around the Kruger. Write-ups noted that Erindi is known for big cat sightings and has both self-drive regions and also off road tracking. In addition, they have a few animals I know I won’t be seeing elsewhere in northern Namibia such as crocodiles, hippopotamus and wild dog. While I’ve seen these many times, some of my 2017 travelers will be taking their first and possibly only trip to Africa so these are a nice add. I finalized upon an itinerary as follows: · Day 1 - Arrival night in Windhoek with overnight at a Guest House · Day 2 - Drive to Erindi in the mornig, afternoon game drive and overnight. · Day 3 - Morning game drive at Erindi, mid-day drive to Etosha, afternoon drive to Etosha, stay first night at Halali. · Day 4 - Morning and afternoon game drives and 2nd night at Halali · Day 5 & 6 – On the 3rd and 4th nights in Etosha at Okaukuejo Lodge. · Day 7 - Etosha game drive to the western gate (Galton Gate) then proceed to Grootberg Lodge for overnight stay. · Day 8 & 9 - From Grootberg, head north to Khowarib Lodge, just south of Sesfontein for two nights. On one day I wanted to visit a Himba settlement and on another full day I wanted to look for desert elephants along the Hoanib River. · Day 10 - On the last morning, we would drive back south to Otjiwarongo for a night · Day 11 - The next morning, drive to Windhoek to fly out that afternoon to Jo’berg and back to the States That’s a pretty grueling week and a half with 2000 miles of driving including 1500 miles of driving on gravel and dirt. I would never do that schedule with a tour group, but this was a scouting trip and I was taking along some seasoned travelers/photographers. Now, let the story begin! Okay, I have to throw in at least one photo to start things off.
  11. 1) Name of property and country: Grootberg Lodge, Namibia 2) Website address if known: 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Green season, February, 2015 4) Length of stay: 2 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I read fantastic reports on TA about this property, their amazing view and their Himba tour. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? I did the initial research an then contacted Discover Namibia. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 4 times 8) To which countries? South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Namibia. 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? None 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No, we were warned to be careful 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 16 cabins 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? We had a triple room with a breathtaking view over the valley. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? The rooms were comfortable and simply furnished. We enjoyed our time mainly at the communal area enjoying the views, drinks and snacks. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was fantastic and we left we recipes. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes there were different things on offer. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Single tables, no hosting. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Very good and sufficient. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Open 4WD. 19) How many guests per row? Up to 3 in each row. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Game drives were varied and depended on where we wanted to visit. We only went on a Himba tour which was approximately 5/6 hours. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Drives were concentrated mainly in the early mornings but they could be all day affairs if trekking rhino or elephants. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Very little activity in the area 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? 24) Are you able to off-road? yes 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. N/A 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings. Excellent desert adapted elephants and rhino. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Excellent 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Friendly, helpful, informative. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? The staff were extremely helpful and happy during our stay. They genuinely seemed happy to assist, were proactive in their duties and enjoyed the guests company. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes, it is run by the conservancy and all money raised goes back to the people. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Grootberg Lodge offers by far the best and most professional service of any of the lodges that I visited in Namibia (and I visited 15!). This is evident as soon as you enter the property. The view is to die for and makes you easily forget the "interesting" drive up to the camp. The food/service/staff/rooms are fantastic. We loved our tour to the Himba Village and would thoroughly recommend this, our guides were brilliant too! The views from the communal area were the highlight of our stay and just sitting down with a sundowner makes you question why Namibia is not busier with so many brilliant places/experiences/animals. Thank you to all the staff who assisted us during our stay. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
  12. I spent a few days sailing down the Chobe as part of my birthday trip to Africa in August/September of 2016. This experience was completely different to Kruger. The safaris were on the water as opposed to a vehicle and this provided fascinating viewing opportunities on both the Botswana and Namibian sides of the river. I entered in .Botswana, got my passport stamped and then had to cross the Namibian border. That was a bit of an experience. The officer was as sick as a dog, dehydrated and stuck in a tiny windowless room with no electricity. I asked about it later and was told no one else wants to work the job so this officer has to work even when he shouldn't. On the Chobe you see vast open spaces and herds of animals as opposed to one or two. Also, there are lots of animal combos to be seen and oh the birds.......
  13. Well, our trip to Namibia is over, and we had the time of our lives, thanks in large part to the suggestions and experience of the posters here. Originally we planned to do a small group tour of Namibia. However, the ones that interested me were all booked until the end of October at the earliest. So, I posted in these forums and got the suggestion of a private guide another poster has toured with. So, we had a privately guided, 12-day, 11-night tour of central Namibia. We let our guide know what sights and areas interested us, and he booked our lodges and activities, after okaying his selections with us. We were in Namibia from June 11-June 22--midsummer at home; midwinter there. June 11 John and I arrived in Windhoek a few minutes early at 10:15 a.m., after our overnight flight from Frankfurt to Johannesburg, from where we caught the short flight to Windhoek. Fortunately, we had both slept several hours on the overnight flight and were ready to go and beyond excited to finally be in Africa. We travelled with carryon luggage only, so it didn’t take long for us to leave the secure area and meet our guide, Francois, who was waiting for us. We went straight out to the vehicle and Francois drove us out of Windhoek by a back road, avoiding driving through the city. We stopped at one of the “tree” rest stops, and Francois gave us sandwiches, fruit, and personalized water bottles that he filled for us. He showed us the map, and we discussed the itinerary and our travel style. Coming from the Canadian foothills, we are used to long drives, so our guide knew we would be all right with taking the “scenic route” when the opportunity presented itself. (We learned from our guide that the sign is shaped to point to the side of the road where the rest stop will be. In this case, the rest stop will be on the right.) There was a huge corn cricket at the rest stop. This was my first "wildlife" sighting in Africa. I am insect phobic, so I was thinking, "Uh, oh. What have I let myself in for?" Fortunately, that was the worst thing I saw the whole trip. Our first night was booked at Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch. On the way, we stopped at a sociable weavers’ nest. We couldn't believe how busy and noisy it was, with all the birds and the bees. On the way, we also saw mongoose, steenbok, springbok, kudu, giraffe, a crimson-breasted shrike (aka “executioner bird”), a kori bustard, ostrich, elands, and termite mounds. We didn’t take many pictures, as most of the animals were a bit too far away for good shots, and our guide said we would have better opportunities later on. We also saw some people driving a “Kalahari Ferrari." At Bagatelle, we had a dune chalet, and it was gorgeous. It was spacious, beautifully decorated, and had a lovely view of the dunes and a small waterhole with springbok, donkeys, and an eland. There were ostrich on the property, as well. The chalet, the lodge, and the scenery were all so lovely that this is among the top 5 places I’ve every stayed, and I wish we’d had more than one night there. We got settled and then left the chalet. On our deck was a shovelnose lizard. Beside our deck, munching on a bush, was the lodge’s tame springbok, Skunky. We met the lodge’s guide and driver for the cheetah feeding. Bagatelle is part of the cheetah conservation effort, and they are host to two 14-year-old male cheetah that were “problem” animals and cannot be released into the wild for that reason. We went in an open-sided vehicle with a group, and once at the cheetah feeding site, we were allowed to get out of the vehicle once the cats were feeding. One of the cats does not do well with humans, but the other is approachable while he is eating. I got to go close to him and touch him. After the cheetah feeding, we went for a sundowner on top of a dune. John had a Meerkat Sauvingnon Blanc. I had water, as I don’t care for wine, and I was too busy taking pictures of the sunset, anyway. Afterwards, we had dinner at the lodge. Dinner was indoors, as it was too “cold.” (Note: winter in Namibia is warmer than summer where we live. Ha. Ha.) We had our first taste of African game: oryx and kudu, and it was delicious. Skunky, the springbok, kept trying to come into the dining room, and peered at us pleadingly through the window after he was banished. By this time, travelling and not quite enough sleep was catching up with us. We went to our chalet to sleep. I had one of the best sleeps of my entire life; it was so quiet and cool, and the bed was cozy. We slept almost 11 hours. June 12 We were up early for 7am breakfast, followed by our scheduled walk to a demonstration village with a San Bushman. On the way, we saw an eland who had a thin rope tied to his horns. We asked about that and were told he is sometimes "naughty" with the tourists. He certainly seemed to give us a mischievous grin. We were the only two who had booked the Bushman walk, so it was just us, Erastus (Black Mamba) the interpreter, and the San (!Koon (Tall Tree)). !Koon acted out some of the traditional ways that the San people survived in the Kalahari. He told us (using gestures and click language) about termite hills and anteater hunting, about snaring small birds, about the uses of the blackthorn tree (e.g. for stomach ailments), about caching water in ostrich eggs, and about trapping ostriches. He showed us how they started fire, and then we walked to the demonstration village. The women were sitting around a fire making beads from ostrich shell. There were children sitting with the woman and then playing. Then, Erastus brought us to meet the “chief.” He told us about foraging for caterpillars, making rattles, and the mini bow and arrow used for courting (still used today). There were three huts, and there was some ostrich shell jewellery on display. We bought an ostrich and porcupine quill bracelet. Then Erastus and !Koon walked us back to the lodge, and !Koon’s cute little daughter insisted on coming along. On the way back, we chatted a bit about our own heritage (Cree), and the commonalities among Indigenous people in Namibia and Canada. We really felt we had made a connection in our short time together, and it seemed that !Koon and Erastus felt the same. We had heartfelt goodbyes with both !Koon and Erastus, who both told us that they had sincerely enjoyed their time with us, and we said the same. We freshened up at the lodge, and then we were on our way to Sesriem. To be continued.
  14. Sunbird from one of the camps in Etosha, but wich one of the sunbirds is it? Thank you for any help :-)
  15. Hi ST! I have just seen the following trip from a Spanish TO. I am very impressed by the prices they offer. This includes short safari in Kalahari, Torra conservancy safari, Etosha, Okavango safaris in canoa and Chobe in 4x4. It is also included flights of the Namib in aircraft, Damaraland rhino safari with Wilderness in Torra Conservancy, Visit of Fish Canyon, A flight over the Okavango Delta, and a helicopter flight over the Victoria falls. The price is around 4000 euros with the international flights. As a photographer I would obviously prefer a 4x4, but the point is that this includes a guide which would not be the case if I travel in self drive, excellent Wilderness lodges in many places. Also I see that the safaris in the parks are shorter than usual, but this seems logical if considered that it is a 28 days trip from Cap Town to Victorial Falls. I don't know if they consider 4x4 in Etosha which would be much better fro photography because these trucks are clearly not appropriate for photographic safaris...
  16. Our trip to Namibia is in a month, and we're nearly ready, but I have a few questions. 1. During our time in Namibia, we are staying in lodges where breakfast and dinner are usually provided. As these lodges tend to be fairly remote, and as I have read advice not to keep food in our room (makes sense), what would we do about lunches? Do the lodges usually have lunches/snacks available for purchase? 2. While we're on the topic of food, I have been advised, both by the travel clinic nurse and by my cousins who spent 3 months in Kenya and Tanzania, to avoid eating salads or fresh fruit or vegetables unless I can wash something myself in bleach diluted in bottled water. They said to buy a small bottle of bleach when we arrive. Is this prudent or overkill? I have trouble digesting fat, so I do much better on a diet that has lots of fruits and vegetables. I've travelled in Europe and Asia, and while in Hong Kong ate from street stalls often, and had a problem only once (in Madrid, after eating snails in a restaurant). 3. I understand that some lodges won't launder underwear, and my pants and some shirts are SPF, moisture-wicking, quick-drying fabric, so I don't mind laundering them myself, and I might prefer it if they could be ruined by too much heat in the process. I am used to hand washing some stuff when I travel. However, I have heard/read that putsi/tumbu/bot flies can be an issue in Africa (which is one reason why clothes are ironed by the staff when they do the laundry). So, if I have to hand wash my undies, do I need to worry about these flies? Or is this not an issue inside a lodge room? Or not an issue in Namibia, since it's so dry? (We won't be in the Caprivi area.) 4. Since we have already paid for our accommodation, meals, and transportation, how much cash per day are we likely to need? I guess our main expenses will be tips and lunches, if applicable. Thanks.
  17. As our landscape photography workshop group was leaving Luderitz, Namibia, I noticed these railroad tracks disappearing into a sand dune. Naturally, I yelled “stop”—the image was just too full of irony to pass by, but only one other participant thought it was worth photographing—and ran the several hundred feet from the road to take the photograph. (I may have a Wanted poster hanging in Namibia, since I don’t know how far off the road the Diamond Exclusion Zone starts!) Relentless winds off the Atlantic Ocean during the previous several weeks had caused this Namib Desert sand dune to travel across the tracks; these narrow gauge tracks are not used regularly, so I don’t know when last they were cleaned. The track cleaning crew was probably a kilometer away, clearing sand off the tracks with heavy equipment; this prompted our driver to say “they must be expecting a train today”…
  18. From Windhoek to Walvis Bay … with a lunch This was our first trip to "black Africa". Namibia seemed to be a perfect destination as we love to do things on our own, driving et all. Easy driving and taking a lot of photos was our main goal of this trip. Therefore it will be more photos than words in this trip report; most of the sites and lodges are well known to readers here so I will spare you with too many details. Hopefully photos will be able to tell the story better than me. That is me, driver and second shooter/assistant: And here is the photographer: Arrived in the afternoon at WDH airport where a driver from ACR was waiting for us. Our first night we slept at Villa Violet. A small, 5 room, very nice b&b with great hosts. Early to bed early out of it. That will be the standard of this trip. Cloudless morning, great breakfast and off to Advanced Rental Car to pick up our car for next 2 weeks. A new Toyota Hilux Double cab with diesel engine. So new it still has only its original fuel tank, 80 litres. The procedure was meticuluose, every aspect of the car showed, and it lasted 60 minutes. Next stop petrol station. We filled the tank with 57,50 litres for 750,00 N$, withdraw some more cash from the ATM, and filled the Engel fridge with water bottles and juices. It was 10:00 am when we left the gas station (Shell, if anybody interested; and 1 l of regular diesel cost 13,50 N$). ​C26, first of many gravel roads, just out of Windhoek We took C26 out of the city and towards Gamsberg pass. The road turned gravel soon after the police check point (just waved through) and the scenery started to attract our attention. The speed was kept around 60 km/h as advised by Allison from Advanced. Soon we started to climb and then to drive downhill. But where was the Gamsberg Pass?! We might have overlooked the sign for it, yet I somehow doubt it. This must have been Gamsberg Pass We travelled about 160 km in 3 hours, and it was time for our lunch stop. Back home my quick research of option pointed me to Corona Guest Farm, and it was excellent decision. From C26 it is 18 km on a scenic D road. The guest farm lies inside a natural amphitheatre; there are walking trails and we saw also the modified Landy for transporting persons. On site manager Janus greeted us and invited us to nice outside patio. The lunch itself, a gourmet delight. Main course was kudu steak local style; and we were told that it cannot get more local then this steak. Not only Janus is a great cook, he is also a great host, sharing many useful informations with us. The hour past fast and we have to say hello and to continue our drive towards Walvis Bay. The road offers some great scenery all the way to Kuiseb Pass and also an hour after it, then it is a flat monotonous drive. Bridge over Kuiseb River We reached Walvis Bay in time to see the sun sinking into the Atlantic Ocean, and parked our car at Spindrift B&B at 18:00 sharp. We were on road for 8 hours, out of which 1hr 45 min was used for detour and lunch stop. We maintained a steady speed of 60 km/h until after Kuiseb Pass, then the road allowed us to drive up to 80 km/h (all based on speedometer in the car). What we appreciate on this drive is the car. Yes it is big. And more expensive than a regular car. And one can do the drive in a regular sedan. But we have just loved to be in Hilda (yes, you need to give a name if you want it will serve you well). Its robust tyres were just “eating” all the gravel and corrugation and stones. We came to Walvis Bay not tired, no back problems, just normal wear and tear after 6 hours on the road.
  19. Ever fancied a safari holiday ? Like so many I have done so for a long time but always been frightened by the cost. My only experience of an African safari was a three night trip to Tsavo East and West in Kenya and that cost £765 6 years ago. Prices have risen considerably in many places since. Why are safaris so expensive? Good question and one I can't answer but they do have to reflect the cost of park entry fees and they alone are now $75 US pp per day in places such as Kenya. Add in accommodation, transport , guides, food and drink and you can soon be looking at a re-mortgage or in my case selling off the family silver by dipping in to the pension pot again. Fancy Gorilla trekking ? You need to be minted! The licence to enter the park costs $750 US pp . Yes, that's right no decimal points missing. For that you get an allowance of 1.5 hours in which to see the Gorillas. Tough luck if it's a no show I suppose. I can understand the need to restrict numbers and it's good news that the money raised helps to protect the wildlife but it's a bit sad that safari trips can be very much for the rich ( but there again I suppose it always was). I made some enquiries about a guided Botswana trip and was quoted £8k for a 7 night tented trip for Claire and myself. The cost would reduce if we increased numbers to 4. You still had flights to add as well as any extended stay costs. Out of my league I decided. Then I discovered Namibia! Actually I was recommended by a friend who has worked out there as a geologist and he had nothing but good to say about the country. The decision was sealed when I spotted an advert by Qatar Airways offering discounted prices for the next 5 days to celebrate their new direct route to the capital city , Windhoek. £480pp economy. Only slightly dearer than travelling from the UK to The Gambia, an African favourite of mine. It was a no brainer. On impulse the tickets booked for a 25 night trip. I had been told self drive was the best option, the roads were good and it was safe. Car booked via Pick up at the airport from Avis, an Hyundai Tucson or similar was a reasonable £880 including the extra insurance to reduce the excess from sky high to nothing. All I had left to do was decide were to go when I got there! I did a fair bit of research online... discovered it was the rainy season and the pitfalls...hey ho, too late now ! The good news was it was peak season for birds so I was fine with that. Besides, Namibia is a desert country and the rains are not very heavy anyway. My plan put together I published it on Trip Advisor asked for advice on anything that was missing. Most of my accommodation was sorted. I use for most as you can check availability and reserve rooms without paying a deposit for most places so you can tweek your plans later if need be. Accommodation which is run by the National Parks isn't as flexible. You pay up front and loose a fair chunk if you cancel so the 4 nights I had booked were now tablets of stone. I got some good feedback, some a bit negative, some positive ideas though. I was missing out on Damaraland were Rhino and desert adapted Elephant tracking are specialities so I added a two night stay at Grootberg Lodge. This made my journey plan a little odd as it didn't quite run in the order that you'd expect but I wasn't too bothered about the criticism. I couldn't afford to cancel. My final plan including some idea of estimated mileage and travel time looked like this. If you don't have any knowledge of Namibia it won't mean too much but there again, much of my blog is aimed at those who have never been to help them decide if this is the trip for them. From previous experience we have learnt that trying to take in too much of a country in too little time is a big mistake. We had three and a half weeks but we decided to skip on all of the southern half of the country as well as the major tourist destinations of Sossusvlei ( big sand dunes and dead trees) and Caprivi ( leading in to a visit to the Victoria Falls). No Namibia is nearly as big as Germany and France put together and you wouldn't contemplate trying to see everything there in one go would you? We were still looking at driving 3500 kilometres and moving to new accommodation 11 times. I was already concerned that we were not making enough longer stay stop overs. Too much packing and unpacking, checking in, checking out. Living out of a suitcase. I suppose a camper van might be an alternative but I didn't even consider that. A tent was out of the question. How would it pan out ? Only time would tell and you are about to find out! I had 6 months to contemplate and savour the prospects. I bought "The Photographers Guide to Etosha National Park" and took in all the details of each waterhole and what I might see. Took note of equipment used etc , read every blog I could find. As a passionate and avid wildlife photographer I had some big decisions on what gear to take. The more you have the worse it makes it. Decisions made, guide books bought, plans printed we were ready for the off. February 6th 2017. T.B.C
  20. Edited to say that, of course, that should read "Are We SOL". Can't see a way to edit the subject line. After spending some time researching, browsing these forums, looking at travel books, reading reviews, etc., my husband and I (well, mostly I, as I'm the trip planner in the family) made a decision for our first (and probably only) trip to Africa. (Yes, I know some of you will say we will want to return, and that may be true, but given our age and stage of life, it's not likely.) We decided to do a 10-12 day tour of Namibia, including Soussusvlei, Damaraland, Swapkomund, and Etosha. We don't want to do self-drive, and I decided I would be most comfortable with lodges or permanent tented camps (but preferably lodges). I made a spreadsheet comparing a few small-group safaris (8 ppl or less), finally narrowing it down to a couple of top choices. Well, it turns out that these choices are fully booked until late October. We wanted to travel sometime between the beginning of May and the end of September. So, it seems as if we may be out of luck for Namibia, and we are again considering other options. Wildlife viewing and scenery are our top priorities. I love taking pictures. We may also be interested in indigenous culture. We aren't particularly interested in cities or beaches for this trip. We would like to stay under $4200 Canadian (3200 US or 300 Euro) per person, excluding flights to Africa. Our top choice is Namibia, but we would also be interested in Botswana and would consider Tanzania or South Africa. Our time is fairly flexible, but we'd prefer to travel during dry season/winter, and if we can manage a somewhat less busy time (i.e. just before or just after peak season), so much the better. As mentioned, I prefer lodges but would not completely rule out camps (the kind with real beds, though). I'm kind of a baby when it comes to camping, insects, etc., but I realize that in Africa, I might have to pull up my big girl pants. We aren't really fussy about luxury. (We like it, and that would be nice, but we don't necessarily expect it or want to pay through the nose for it.) We laugh at reviews where people complain about not having the right brand of tea or lack of wifi in the room or post a picture of a little hole in a sofa, when they are in the middle of the bush. We aren't that unrealistic. However, I don't want to sleep on the ground, and I probably wouldn't sleep well if there were, say, scorpions or venomous snakes in the room (as in a couple of reviews I've read). Part of the appeal of Namibia is that it is supposedly less buggy in dry season than some more tropical locations. My brother went there in September a few years ago and loved it, and said he was surprised by the lack of bugs at that time. Our ideal itinerary would have us staying at least two nights in most places. Some Namibia itineraries I've seen change accommodations every night, and while these cover a lot of ground, I think that would wear rather thin. Living in Western Canada, it is nothing to us to drive for hours to get someplace, but I don't want to travel for hours every single day, unless it is on game or sightseeing drives. I also have zero interest in visiting wine country in South Africa. (I don't like wine, and, anyway, we often holiday in the Okanagan in Canada, which is a wine producing region.) I mention this, because many of the tours I've seen in South Africa include two or three days in the winelands. If you have experience or ideas regarding a trip that you think might appeal to me, based on what I've told you, I am interested in your suggestions. Thanks!
  21. We are planning to spend several days in the north of Namibia, to be followed by 2 nights Sossusvlei. I've come up with 3 options. Option 1. WDH-fly to Hoanib Skeleton Coast for 3 nights - fly to Kulala Desert Lodget - fly to WDH. Hoanib Camp looks spectacular, but it is incredibly expensive for 4 people. We have a very generous budget, but $30K for 5 nights is definitely a deterrent. Option 2. WDH-Fly to Okahirongo Elephant lodge for 1 or 2 nights - drive to Okahirongo River Lodge for 1 or 2 nights - fly to Sossusvlei for 2 nights at Kulala - fly to WDH. Not sure how much that would be (waiting to hear back from TA and the lodges), but probably a lot less. Judging from their 6 night package, significantly less. But I am not sure if there is a visit to the coast itself. Option 3. WDH-Fly to Khowarib Lodge - Kunene Safaris to drive around the north, with camping accommodations- Khowarib - fly to Sossuslve-WDH. The least expensive option (no actual costs yet, waiting to hear from the co...tough to connect with time differences and no weekend hours)....however, I have not broken the great news about camping to my wife and 2 teenage daughters...who are decidedly NOT campers at heart. I can probably convince them to do 1 night for contrast though. Again, not sure if the visit to the coast can be arranged...very likely not. Any input on these options would be greatly appreciated.
  22. I'm heading for Namibia in a few weeks and can't make up my mind. So if any of you can help me out, that would be much appreciated! The itinerary will ofcourse include Etosha. It's the national park which gives me headaches. I have max 4 nights to spend. But where? At first I thought of Okaukuejo and Halali. But I've been reading these camps are quite large and can get crowded by overlanders. Then I switched to Onkoshi, as it's much smaller, but from there it's too far to Swakopmund. I've also been reading wildlife at Okaukuejo is great and that this makes up for the size of the camp. If the latter is true, should I spend all 4 of my nights at Okaukuejo? Or should I go for 2 nights at Okaukuejo and 2 nights at Halali? Or are there private concessions at the south(west) of Etosha I could consider? In the end, I'm there for the animals, but usually I like smaller camps... If you're interested, I'll also be going to see the seals near Swakopmond and visit Sossusvlei. Some other activities (sandboarding, balloon flight) in that area, but will decide when I'm there. TR will follow afterwards.
  23. I have an upcoming trip to northern Namibia. It will be four of us, all serious photographers. It is a short trip. I originally planned 1 night Windhoek, 2 nights in Erindi and then 2 nights Halali and 2 nights in Okaukuejo I added time 3 nights in Kunene (1 night Grootberg and 2 nights in Khowarib) and in doing so I'v eaccientally decreased my stay in Okaukuejo to one night. Flights are booked so we can't change duration. My question: - should I keep my two nights at Erindi and accept I lost one night at Okaukuejo? - should I adjust reservations to one night at Erinidi and reschedule to 2 nights Halali and 2 nights Okaukuejo? Remember photography (and waterhole night photography as well) is the purpose of this short trip. Thanks for the advice.
  24. Hi everybody, I just did a short introduction in the newbie part of this forum and there I mentioned that we have been to Namibia in 2014. So this is an "old" trip report. I just translated my Dutch trip report into English. This means that some info might not be interesting at all to some of you because it is not only focussed on the animals but on the total trip. This was our first trip to Southern Africa and we booked this trip through a Dutch agent who worked together with an Namibian agent. Just a little bit of background on how we came to do this trip. We had been in Asia a few times and my husband said that he wanted something different this time, so why don't we go to Africa. Africa for me has always been Namibia because I used to work in travel industry and heard that this was one of the best parts of Africa for wildlife and scenary. So Namibia it was. We found out that my favorite animal, the hippo, only lives in the Caprivi area so that area had to be included. This meant that because we only had 3 weeks, we could not travel more South than the Sossusvlei. We are both not into the culture things, such as visiting tribes so that was kept out as well. With this info we headed to the agent and they came back with the following route: 31/08/14 Amsterdam Johannesburg (overnight in a hotel at the airport) 01/09/14 Johannesburg - Windhoek - Sossusvlei (2 nights Desert Camp) 03/09/14 Sossusvlei - Swakopmund (2 nights Cornerstone Guesthouse) 05/09/14 Swakopmund - Vingerklip (1 night Vingerklip Lodge) 06/09/14 Vingerklip - Etosha (1 night Okaukuejo, 2 nights Halali) 09/09/14 Etosha - Grootfontein (1 night Seidarap guesthouse) 10/09/14 Grootfontein - Mahungo (2 nights Mahangu Safari Lodge) 12/09/14 Mahangu - Kwando (2 nights Camp Kwando) 14/09/14 Kwando - Kasane (3 nights Chobe Bakwena Lodge) 17/09/14 Kasane - Vic Falls (2 nights Ilala Lodge) 19/09/14 Victoria Falls - Livingstone - Johannesburg - Amsterdam Monday 18 August 2014 Final preparations It is starting to itch. 12 More days and then we get on the plane to Johannesburg. Last Friday we bought the international driving licenses. Another thing taken of the list after the malaria tablets, the hiking pants, beautiful hats and telephoto lenses for cameras. The crate with things which we certainly must take with us is getting fuller. Sunday 31 August 2014 The African adventure begins At Schiphol, 45 minutes and then our flight back to Johannesburg will leave. The first part of the trip to Windhoek. Tonight at 21:15 we land and then after a short night in a hotel at the airport, we fly at 06.00 to Windhoek. Monday 1 September 2014 An exciting day Where do I start. The flight from Amsterdam to Johannesburg was fine. Upon arrival in Johannesburg we checked where our luggage was because in Amsterdam it already got the label to Windhoek. The lady we asked this told us that we could pick up our suitcases in Windhoek. So we went directly to the hotel (City Lodge) which was fine, and here we had a good sleep for a few hours. At 4:15 the alarm went off already and at 6.00 we were in a cute small aircraft (50 passengers) of SA Express. Croissant and coffee on board is all a person needs. And off course it is nice if your suitcases are on the same plane. On arrival in Windhoek our suitcases did not arrive at the luggage belt. After a lap at the airport we were able to draw up a report and now we hope that the suitcases are quickly found and delivered. At this moment we have not heard anything and it looks as though tomorrow we walk around in the same clothes for the 3rd day in a row. It's now 30 degrees in the afternoon and then a swimsuit is nicer than long trousers. Anyway, we did not let our first day in beautiful Namibia spoil with this hassle. At Europcar we collected our 4WD which will be our car for the next 2 weeks. A very clean white Toyota Hilux Double cab which now is no longer white but a kind of dull gray. Then on the road. First to Windhoek. Some shopping at the Spar. Water, soft drinks and sandwiches for the road. The first part of the route was one of the few paved roads in the country. There was also a fair amount of traffic. Then we went over on gravel and that will remain the next days. Gravel in several variations. Pretty smooth gravel, soft gravel in heaps and gravel with boulders. The first animals we've seen were monkeys. Lots of monkeys. Not wild were the cows, goats, a dog, horses and donkeys. Fortunately, we also saw a kudu, oryx and a few springbok. After a beautiful drive we now sit on the terrace with a drink at our lodge. Tonight we go to bed early and tomorrow morning at sunrise to the red dunes of the Sossusvlei. Tuesday 2 September 2014 What a joy How happy can you be with 2 suitcases? Very happy! This morning, the bags arrived and we could finally change clothes. Our plan today to get out of bed early and visit the red dunes (Sossusvlei) was killed this morning at 5:00. It was pretty cold last night (extra blanket was really needed) and it was nice and warm in bed. So instead of 5.00 am it was 8:00 and we went for breakfast in the Sossusvlei Lodge. Here we had a delicious dinner last night. Kudu, impala, hartebeest and wildebeest from the bbq after starters from an extensive hot and cold buffet. Dessert was also a sumptuous buffet of different types of cake, pudding and pie. The breakfast was quite extensive and the freshly made omelet was more than enough. After breakfast back to the Desert Camp where we were staying and it turned out that our bags were there. Changing into charming safari / hiking clothes and off we went to the Sesriem Canyon. Meanwhile, the temperature had risen to 30 C, but that did not spoil the fun. At the entrance of the National Park we bought a permit for two days so that tomorrow we can directly drive to the Sossusvlei. On to the Canyon and looking for the entrance, which we could not find. After having seen quite a lot from the top we have to be like klimbokkies and climbed down. In the Canyon it was also very hot but also very nice. We had to walk back the part which we had done at the top of the Canyon. And hope that we could get up again somewhere. Tim has seen a snake and there were also some large spiders around so I was really enjoying myself. After some time we suddenly had some oncoming traffic and yes there appeared a kind of staircase just across the parking lot. Which was hard to see from above if you did not know it was there. Now we were in the smallest and perhaps most beautiful part of the canyon. But also the busiest part. After the canyon we eventually did drive towards the red dunes. What an incredibly beautiful landscape. I cannot describe how beautiful. After a brief stop at Dune 45 where arrived in the middle of a sandstorm. We continued the road to the Sossusvlei so that tomorrow we know where to go. On the way back we came in the same sandstorm and in the center of the storm we could not see a hand before our eyes. Luckily our car was faster than the storm, and did we have good visibility again on the last part of the road. For the first time we filled up our car with diesel. Bought some sandwiches for breakfast and back to the Desert Camp. At the bar I started this travel report, but we were approached by a Dutch man who lives in South Africa since the fifties. Though this was not to hear, he still spoke Dutch without an accent. We had a nice conversation with him, his girlfriend was also born Dutch but at the age of two already moved to South Africa and they did not speak Dutch but African. Nice to hear but sometimes difficult to understand. They sought (Desert Camp was fully booked) a place to sleep and we had reservations for a Sundowner Nature drive so after half an hour we had to get back on the road. The Sundowner tour was great fun. Together with two elderly German women we went with our guide Gabriel to see some animals, plants and watch the sunset. And enjoying a drink and some snacks. The ride was around the premises of the lodge and we can add some animals to our list. Ground squirrels, p, an ostrich and a bunch Namibian mice. We were also told a few things about different trees and rock formations. The ride was fun and the food and drinks made it complete. Little mouse waiting for some leftover food during the Sundowner Weavers nest Upon returning we could immediately sit down for dinner and this time it was again delicious. One last drink at the bar and then straight to bed. Tomorrow the alarm goes off really early and after our visit to the Sossusvlei we move on to our next stop, Swakopmund, on the coast. Unfortunately a bit colder as we just saw on the news, only 18 C.
  25. I am traveling with a group of 4 to Namibia in Oct. 2016. We are all photographers with significant past experience in Botswana and South Africa. The initial plan was to use two 4-door Hilux vehicles (person front seat, person back), have 1 arrival night in Windhoek, then 2 nights in Erindi and then 6 nights in Etosha. In discussions with my fellow travelers, several would like to add days/nights and photograph indigenous people. Probably just the Himba, but possibly also the Bushmen. As I noted, the group is photographers, so focus is on candid portraits and 'sense of place' shots of villages and daily life activity. The group is not particularly interested in tours. The goal is quality photos to show the pride and dignity of villagers, etc. As it's mid-August, we need to book the extra nights as soon as possible. First plans were to add time driving from Etosha west entrance over to Grootberg/Palmwag and visit the Himba there. We recently learned that the Himba village that Grootberg Lodge once organized trips to is being evicted and those tours have ceased. We need suggestions on alternate Himba villages that will allow a small group to visit and photograph. We would also like ideas on what gifts would be appropriate for the village to show gratitude for the visit. As an alternate or addition, there is interest in traveling further east and visiting a bushman village. In visiting website that discuss the 'Living Museum' concept (for example Ju/'Hoansi-San Living Museum), these trips seem extremely structured. As I noted, our focus is respectful portraits and shots of everyday life, dwellings, etc. Can anyone suggest options to allow this activity. Thanks in advance for the advice.

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