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Found 20 results

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. Why call this report “Marrick and much, much more”….well I’m trying not to bury the lead and I think that of all the places we went to, Marrick was the most unique wildlife location. But Marrick wasn’t the only place we went to, in fact it was just one of 22 different places that we visited in a two month road trip around South Africa, covering over 8000KM. I hear you asking, how did I get so much time off work…am I retired?…did I take a sabbatical? Neither, I took shared parental leave. The UK has recently changed it’s parental leave laws, adopting a Scandinavian type model which allows the father to share the maternity leave. Having recently been blessed with our first child, my wife and I really wanted to take advantaged of this time to be a family and to travel. So off we went - us, our then 5 month old daughter and a Toyata Fortuner 4x4. The itinerary was: Cape Town - 5 nights Franschhoek - 2 nights Knysna - 4 nights Jeffrey’s Bay - 2 nights Prince Albert - 3 nights Montagu - 2 nights Cape Point NP - 3 nights Clanwilliam - 3 nights Augrabies - 2 nights Kgalagadi NP - 6 nights Witsand Reserve - 1 night Marrick - 3 nights Mokala NP - 1 night Beaufort West - 1 night Wolseley - 3 nights Durban - 5 nights Mtunzini - 2 nights Rocktail Bay Mapatuland - 7 nights Dundee - 1 night Thendele Drakensberg - 3 nights J’burg - 4 nights Our itinerary was built around seeing some great places, seeing some great wildlife, enjoying some good wine and seeing my family (I’m a saffer by birth). This trip wasn’t all wildlife centric so I won’t cover all our locations but instead will pick on a few key ones that I think may be of interest. I think these are: Intaka Island - Cape Town Wild Coast Parks - Goukamma, Robberg and Wilderness Cape Point National Park Lambert’s Bay Kgalagadi NP Witsand Marrick Mokala Mtunzini Maputaland Thendele I won’t cover these all in detail (I don’t have enough good photos) but I’ll try cover some highlights. What were some of the wildlife highlights? 1. On one night drive at Marrick we saw 15 Bat-eared Foxes, 2 Porcupines, 40+ Springhares, 20+ Scrub Hare, 6 High Veld Gerbil, 2 Spotted Eagle Owl, 3 Blue Cranes, Banded-Courser, 2 adult African Wild Cat, 1 Hybrid Wild / Domestic Cat, 2 Aardwolf, 1 Aardvark and 4 Black-footed cats - a mother feeding her three kittens. 2. In the Kgalagadi seeing a mother African Wild Cat and her two kittens one which had clearly never seen a game vehicle before and actually came up to sniff the tyres 3. Again in the Kgalagadi a group of five Cheetah at a kill 4. Seeing Green Barbets and the Spotted Ground Thrush, two rare range restricted birds, at KZN’s Ongoye and Dlinza Forest As a taster this is an image of the mother black-footed cat and her three kittens
  4. What a change our 2017 trip would turn out be, when compared to the parched, drought-affected trip of last year We were too late to arrange a GTG in 2016, when several of us Safaritalkers were in RSA at the same time. So as soon as we were back and the flights were booked, I arranged to meet @@Peter Connan who offered to drive us around Rietvlei Dam Nature Reserve to try and get some shots of widowbirds in flight. I think he would have preferred to take us to Marievale, but given that it was in the opposite direction to where we would be going later in the day, we opted for Rietvlei instead. As we like to spend a few days with friends at their country place, I couldn't squeeze in any extra nights in KNP, but I think 10 is a good total. We tried a different wilderness camp as we had liked them last year, but also as Skukuza was booked out, presumably for a conference and by the time I booked, Lower Sabie only had very basic accommodation available. Itinterary 13/1 Friday the 13th! Arrive Johannesburg 14/1 Rietvlei day trip and then drive to Ditholo 3 nights 17/1 Drive to KNP via Phaloborwa gate, Letaba 2 nights 19/1 Satara 3 nights 22/1 Biyamiti 3 nights 25/1 Berg-en-Dal 2 nights 27/1 Drive back to Johannesburg 28/1 Return to UK We had upgraded with miles, so the journey was fine. Arrivals into OR Tambo was slightly better than last time and we were in our rental car and off by an hour or so after we landed. The downside of landing on Friday rather than Saturday, is that the traffic is busier, especially with the roadworks, but it still better to get an extra day in Africa!
  5. 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.
  6. Self-driving through Northern TZ parks Trip Report Of Mara crossings and lions in camp, Of camping trials and tribulations Hello all, I'm posting this report in the hopes that it may provide some assistance, guidance, and ideas to people who are thinking about going on a self-drive safari in the Northern parks of Tanzania. We have previously done self-drive safaris in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa and absolutely love camping out and enjoy the freedom of being in nature among the wild things. So it was a logical extension to see some of the famous Tanzanian parks, by camping and driving ourselves, especially in the Serengeti, that holds such allure and mystery. Just saying " camping and game driving in the Serengeti" gave me goose bumps, wow, is that even possible? Has anyone even done that? Answer: yes and yes. I was especially taken with two trip reports posted by a courageous Canadian couple who seemed to fully relish the experience of driving around the various parks, camping out, and taking exquisite photographs. I was also inspired by a German friend and avid poster who had done two successful Tanzanian self-drive Safaris with the same provider we ended up choosing. Ok, so we decided in the spring of 2014 that Tanzania would be our next Africa self-drive destination. And so the planning began. Planning: See the photos below Of the resources I have used in planning this trip: At home, we spent a few hours plotting our route and marking waypoints on Tracks4Africa. We recorded many more waypoints than where we planned on being. It is also advisable to enter all public and special camping spots, as there may arise occasions when you need to deviate from your plan and go camp at another spot. During the trip, we wished that we had bought a paper map for overviews of each park from a determined but pesky street vendor in Arusha. We did print out maps of each park at home with all the way points we had entered into Tracks4Africa and then uploaded this to our Garmin GPS. This proved to be a good substitute for a store-bought map. Do not expect each park to give you a map like it is common for US National Parks. You may get a general brochure with some photos and a teeny map, however, that is not suitable for driving and does not show game driving tracks. We were happy with the guidance by T4A on our Garmin and I think the only point not marked was our special campsite Lobo 1. Our Safari Operators: My main criteria in renting a 4x4 vehicle was that, besides being a reliable vehicle, its cool box needed to run on a separate battery, so that's why I eliminated Fortes rent a car. Their price per day per vehicle was $240, which was more than we were willing to pay. Another choice, Shaw Safaris, offered dual battery system, but were eliminated because they wanted $280 per day per vehicle and would not offer any discounts for renting two vehicles for three weeks. My sister, located in Switzerland, then found a representative partnering with Serengeti Select Safaris. The price per vehicle per day was a minimum of $100, or $1 per each km, the cool box had a dual battery system, and the camping equipment was $6 per person per day. It sounded almost too good to be true. Was it? More about that later. The rep's name is Daniel Staub and his business and website is Tanzania Pioneers, located in Germany. He caters mainly to German speaking clients and works for commission with SSS. He agreed to correspond in English with me, so that my husband could understand our mails as well. He was polite and answered my questions promptly, asking Nathan at SSS when he did not know himself. We eventually settled on self-driving around the Northern Circuit and he proposed an itinerary which I researched, made many changes, before Daniel arranged and completed all the bookings, including dealing with TANAPA. The problem was that Daniel was not very business-like and I had to press him to send me an itemized spreadsheet with all the costs and his services. After most of the bookings were done in November 2014, we sent $2000 as a down payment to cover the booking costs. Here is the itinerary we eventually followed, but in practice, there were some changes. I will talk more about those changes as I go on. August 1-2: Planet Lodge Arusha August 3: Arusha NP Public CS August 4-5 Tarangire NP, Mbweha special CS August 6: Tarangire NP, Public CS August 7: Moivaro Tented Camp, Lake Natron August 8: Serengeti, Lobo Public CS August 9-10: Serengeti, Lobo 1 special CS August 11: Serengeti, Lobo Public CS August 12-13 Serengeti, Seronera, Sero 6 special CS aka Kubu Kubu August 14: Serengeti, Twiga Guesthouse, Seronera August 15-16: Serengeti, Moru 4, special CS August 17: NCA, Rhino Lodge room 14 August 18: Mtowambu: Panorama CS August 19: Lake Manyara NP, Public CS August 20: Lake Manyara NP, Bagayo A special CS August 21-23 Tarangire NP, Public CS August 24: Arusha NP, Ngongare special CS August 25: Fly home Some of you may notice that there are quite a few one-night stops. True, but when you travel with a RT, you have to pack up everything anyway, and we are using our table and chairs for eating BF and lunch, therefore our campsite will look empty anyway. So it's no big deal to sleep at a different location. One of our goal was to see the most wild life in different areas, therefore the different locations on the Serengeti. The Route: After visiting Kruger Park in SA for two week, we flew from Johannesburg to Nairobi and on to Kilimanjaro airport, where we arrived on 1st of August. We had a full three weeks to see all the Northern Circuit parks and for that reason included Lake Manyara and Arusha NP, two parks that could be eliminated during a shorter trip. My German friend wisely advised to go east to Arusha NP first in case we needed to stop back at Nathan' depot for any reason. That was a good call! Also, we chose the Lake Natron route in order to make a loop route and to avoid having to cross the NCA twice and pay the fee twice. In retrospect, I would probably leave out Lake Natron, as the roads were beyond horrible and dusty and the landscape, while stark and dramatic at places, did not compensate enough for the rough driving conditions. There were fees to pay on this route as well, so no significant savings. More about that later. Another reason for choosing the Lake Natron road was to enter the northern Serengeti at the earliest possible time as we were keen to see at least part of the migration around the Mara river. Did we catch the migration? More about that later. In the Serengeti, we wanted to see the Lobo area with its rock outcroppings amidst the savannah, the Central Serengeti where game was said to be most plentiful, and the Moru area, where our Canadian mentors had many memorable sightings. The Grumeti area was on the itinerary, but got dropped as we heard there was not much game around other than fat crocs. The Ngorongoro Carter is always advertised as a must-see, one of a kind destination, so we were really looking forward to this and hoped it would be the highlight of our trip. Was it? More about that later. Tarangire NP was included because of the different river environment and because we wanted to see ellies by the hundreds. Did we? More about that later. Lake Manyara was included because we had enough time and we just could not resist to maybe see lions in trees and flamingos by the thousands. Did we see lions in a tree? More about that later. Accommodations: I have posted reviews of the lodges we stayed in on Other than that, we used Public Campsites and Special campsites. An explanation: on a Public CS, you will have toilets and hopefully cold water showers, a water source to fill washing water, (no drinking water!) but no trash bin and you will share space with others campers, many maybe be overland trippers who may want to party all night. This pleasure will cost $30 per person per night. A Special CS will cost $50 per person per night and you will have NO facilities and need to be fully self-sufficient, including digging a hole for your toilet, or use the Pubic CS toilets. The advantage? You are by yourself on a beautiful location (special!) and will have peace and quiet, unless hyena or lion come to visit. Did they? More about that later.
  7. Hi All, I self-drived this route with my wife and 3 kids in a Prado last October. We camped for 4 nights in Serengeti. 1in Kogatende, then 2 in Lobo and 1 in Seronera, then back to Musoma / lake Victoria through the western corridor. Please see the attached map for the route from Masai Mara to Serengeti via Tarime and lamai gate. A very unused route for those who lokk for quietness in the Serengeti. IN addition, we had plenty of wildebeasts in the Lamai wedge, and lions hunting with a rainbow in the background. . As the copy-paste function doesn't work well here, I include a short description, but the attached map is very detailed. day 1 : from Nairobi or from Masai Mara to Tarime, via Isebania border. 1 full day. Day 2 : from Tarime, join Nyamwaga, turn right to go down the escarpment to the mara gold mine. There, stick to the main roads towards Mugumu, and after around 20 km south, find a clear T junction and turn let, heading east to a village called Gisondo. from this village turn right and reach lamai gate. 2,5 hrs from Tarime on good dirt road in great landscape. The road from the mara gold mine to lamai is not on any map that I found, but you can spot it on google earth (not on google maps). From lamai gate to kogatende, 2hrs of Superb game drive, all alone. Make sure the bridge on Mara river is not overflooded to reach Kogatende. There, you will always find a place to camp, even if the special campsites are reportedly booked, the rangers will find a place for you around their place. Day 3 : full day to Lobo Day 4 : lobo only Day 5 : Lobo to Seronera Day 6 : Seronera to Musoma, via grumeti corridor. + a flat tire in front of 2 lions... day 7 : lake Victoria on boat Day 8 : back to Nairobi. 1full day. Map - Mara to Serengeti by road.pdf
  8. Hi All, I've read so many great trip reports on this site that I thought I should share my rather modest effort. Hopefully this will be of interest to anyone planning a Kruger Park trip in the near future or suffering from the post-safari blues. My report covers a trip I did last year over two weeks and covering the entire park from Malelane gate at the Southern border up to Punda Maria in the North along with a selection of photos from our various sightings. Our route saw us staying at the following camps: Berg-en-Dal, Lower Sabie (3 nights), Satara (3 nights), Mopani (3 nights), Punda Maria (2 nights) and finally Letaba. Hope you find it interesting, feel free to ask any questions! Cheers, Rob
  9. I am planning a mid-October trip to northern Namibia driving a double cab 4wd Hilux. On my way to Etosha, I plan to stay 2 nights at Erindi's Old Trader Lodge. I note that Erindi has 3 self drive trails: Eland, Zebra and Canyon drives. The two of us are avid photographers. I'd like advice on whether self drive is advised for seeing good game viewing or whether the lodge's guided game drives are significantly superior. Also, on the self drive routes, which of these self-drive routes most typically yield the best sightings?
  10. This trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) was longer in the contemplation than the planning. We had been put off by the need to self-cater and hence shop for every meal of the trip. It is supposed to be a holiday after all! Last year we had considered going to the newly opened private lodge, Ta Shebube, on the Botswana side, but were put off by their lack of engagement with inquiries and a bizarre change of pricing structure, so we went to the Kruger instead. Whilst we were there and having been forced to self-cater for 3 days after an abrupt cessation of the restaurant service in Satara, earlier than advertised, we felt that cooking could be part of the holiday vibe and decided that the next January trip could be to the KTP. After our September trip, we finally decided to bite the bullet and make pans. The long drive was not so much an issue, as we often drive about 3-4000km in a two week trip to RSA, although going to KTP does really require an overnight rest stop en route (most people stop in Upington) and therefore eats into the actual game viewing days (10 days rather than 12 from a 14 day trip). Although it is possible to fly to Upington and hire a car from there, this is really just an additional expense and does not really buy much time. As we have friends in Joburg, it made sense to see them first and borrow their coolboxes, solar lights, GPS, mobile phone etc. Therefore we did all of our supplies shopping in Joburg and froze things down in their freezer before setting off on the 9 hour drive to Upington. The shopping itself was like a minor military operation. A comprehensive list is vital as you need to buy everything, including lots of bottled water. We had been warned that the park shops were not well stocked. If you arrived in the park with nothing, you wouldn't starve, but most of what was available was tinned food and drinks as well as braai supplies. We had booked Riverplace guest house in Upington for the first night, on the recommendation of fellow STers, but despite taking full payment 3 months in advance, they moved us at short notice to a different B&B down the road, presumably to accommodate a large group. I was not happy about this as I had spent a long time deciding where to stay to make it an integral part of the trip, rather than just a room to sleep in. Also, we had the issue of frozen and chilled food to be stored, which Riverplace are well used to doing. Our alternative accommodation (Sun River Kalahari Lodge) was OK, just not really our taste. It was in a lovely setting on the Orange River. However, it was cheaper than Riverplace and it took a further month to obtain a refund from them I had managed to book our flights using miles (a first for me) but as I was not aware of the intricacies of this booking system , which opens 355 days in advance (and having flu at the time), we ended up going a week later than we would normally. However, we flew out premium economy on the A380 (lovely plane - really quiet) and came back business (another first for us), on the top deck of a jumbo - fabulous!! And all for the not insignificant cost of various airline taxes (about £580 each) So the itinerary was: 24th Jan Joburg 25th Upington 26-28th Twee Rivieren 2 nights 28-30th Kieliekrankie wilderness camp 2 nights 30th-2nd Feb Nossob 3 nights 2-5th Mata Mata river front chalet 3 nights 5th Upington 6th Joburg 7th Fly home Although it was not peak season so I was able to book only 3 months in advance, this meant that we only got one wilderness camp and this was a different one to what I was initially planning after looking at availability! Having never been before, I took longer than usual, double checking that there was enough time to transfer between camps, especially as we had been looking at going north of Nossob. During this time, the other wilderness camp got booked up. This turned out to be a perfect itinerary though, as it allowed us to see the different areas of the park. Although most KTP aficionados prefer the wilderness camps, they are very small and so get booked up well in advance. The main camps are still small (compared to the Kruger) and are well positioned for the different areas of the park. The main camps are run on generators, which are switched off overnight, so no electricity between about 10pm and 5am, depending on the time of year, whereas the wilderness camps are on solar, so they have 24 hour light (but no sockets for charging). I wouldn't have thought this significant, but we did end up washing up after a braai in the dark on more than one occasion! We had a high clearance car - looks like a 4x4, but was only 2WD, which we usually have for summer game viewing in the Kruger, affording better views over long grass. This was useful as often the sandy roads were at a lower level than the surrounding ground. We spent most of the journey to Upington listening to the South Africa vs. West Indies test match on the radio, until the final few deciding minutes where the station cut to the news and did not return, meaning we missed the conclusion There seems to be only one restaurant recommended to tourists in Upington, which is a casual bar-style place, which also serves sushi (about 800km from the sea)!! We had a good meal and an early night to recover from the long drive.
  11. Hi all, I am looking for some information on a self-drive trip to Mozambique. More specifically to areas like Niassa and the Zambezi Delta. I see that a lot of the areas are hunting concessions but was wondering if there were any good camping spots/self drive routes to do. What the game viewing is like in August/September time in comparison with other areas. What the conditions are like to get to these places and what the costs are like? Your help is much appreciated!
  12. My first attempt at a trip report, so feel free to ask any questions on anything I do not cover, or alternatively feel free to point out if I am too detailed. This took place in November 2012, but I have only just got around to writing it up. My girlfriend wanted to go to Mozambique to swim with whale sharks (which we sucesfully did) and so I saw an opportunity to spend three and half days first in the Kruger, for what would be our third visit. We had spent two full weeks in the Kruger in November 2011 (which I might write up at some point) and a month back in June 2009 doing a guiding course. Given the briefness of this trip we were not expecting to see too much, but I couldn’t wait nonetheless. However, the reality far exceeded our expectations – seeing the big five and others. So, back to the beginning. We left work Friday afternoon and took an overnight flight from Europe to Johannesburg, landing mid-morning, picked up a hire car and drove straight to Phalaborwa, arriving there six hours later. I barely slept on the 14 hour overnight flight from the UK via Germany but the excitement of being back in Africa and on the way to my beloved Kruger was more than enough to keep me alert on the 6hr drive. We got here just as the sun was setting and stayed the night in a nice, friendly, inexpensive lodge in Phalaborwa, just five minutes from the gate; stocking up with supplies at the nearby big supermarket. Up at 5am to the sound of the Red-eyed Dove singing his own name over and over (I am the red, eye dove; I am the red, eye dove – which incidentally means that someone who has a pretty poor ear for sounds and rubbish memory like myself can easily remember its song). We then drove the five mins into the park at 6am through a light drizzle. On entering it was clear that the heavy early season rain of the previous few weeks had really got the Kruger turning green (compared to the trip I had made through a far more arid Kruger the previous year at the same time). Onto the H-9 (a road I have never driven before) and then a small detour to Sable Dam for a look. The drizzle had stopped but it remained cool and very overcast. We watched for about an hour as a small group of impala had their breakfast a few metres from the hide, a lone elephant at the far end of the dam came down for a drink, and a marabou stork stood near the waters edge looking slightly depressed. We continued along the S51 and just before rejoining the H-9 we saw our first ever Kruger rock dassies. Stopped at the Masorini archaeology site for breakfast (the sun was trying to make an appearance by now and it was warming up nicely) before continuing – seeing a nice leopard tortoise by the side of the road and then a great spotted cuckoo flew into a nearby tree. Almost no other cars around, one of the reasons I like the northern half of the Kruger. Took a left onto the S132 where we soon saw a few big male elephants very close to the road and walking our way. A quick scan to see if any were in musth and then turned the car off and let them walk towards us. We then spent a lovely 15 minutes or so as they slowly came closer and then crossed the road only a few metres away and then one came around the back of a bush to sniff us, his trunk barely three metres away (see photo below). It is experiences like this, on our own with no other cars nearby, that make the Kruger for me in many ways. We then followed them up the dirt track (including an impressive five legged adult) for 50 metres to a waterhole where we continued watching them as they washed. We then continued through the mopaneveld along the S131, seeing very little and into Letaba for lunch – which was where we were staying the night in a safari tent. Letaba is one of my favourite Kruger camps, with its lovely river views and abundant birdlife. We booked an afternoon walk and then killed some time in the lovely pool (it being hot and sunny by now). As luck would have it, it was just the two of us plus two armed guides on the walk. Didn’t see a huge amount, but very nice to be on foot in the Kruger, some of it along a nice sandy dry riverbed – a booted eagle, white backed and hooded vultures, some skittish impala, a grey duiker and some even more skittish giraffes. We then got back in time for a quick 30 min sunset drive north on the H1-6 alongside the Letaba river before the gates closed. Saw a spotted hyena, hippos, lots of vultures (must have been a kill around), waterbucks, and distant eles. One of the things I love about sleeping in a tent is that it is much easier to hear the wildlife at night and sure enough I heard a hyena whooping in the night. Day 1 had been better than I expected even though we had driven through the relatively empty mopaneveld, yet day 2 proved better still. To follow.
  13. I am off to the Kgalagadi and Namibia with my girlfriend in mid-March for a self-drive holiday that I have wanted to do for years. My 40th seemed like the perfect excuse. We passed through Namibia on an overland truck tour some years ago and loved it and always wanted to go back, but have never been to the Kgalagadi. We fly into Windhoek and rent a car before going to a nearby wildlife camp to do a two day photography course to learn how to use our camera. Not had an SLR for long and just bought a new Canon 100-400mm IS II, which we want to make the most of over the rest of our trip. We then most likely drive to Sossusvlei (not booked yet) and from there to the Kgaalgadi for five nights – staying in Urikaruus and Kieliekrankie, then Nossob for a couple of nights, followed by a night in Bitterpan (had to book these 10 months ago). Anyone got any tips on the Kgalagadi? Good waterholes etc? After leaving the park we drive back north, to Etosha, staying a night in one of the premier waterhole chalets in Okaukuejo before driving west, staying in the new Dolomite camp in the relatively newly opened western part of Etosha for two nights. From there back to Windhoek. Anyone been to the western part of the park? Just over three weeks altogether. I appreciate we are covering a lot of ground, but hey ho. Any general Namibia self-drive tips or must see things on our route gratefully received.
  14. Hello, Even though we have driven plenty of km around Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa, I have only come across one case of corruption in SA. I was actually speeding, I admit it, going 70 in a 60 zone, but when stopped, it only cost me two cans of tuna fish and a can of baked beans! So this year we will self-drive in Tanzania and next year in Zamiba and Zimbabwe for the first time. From what information I have gathered, people and even police are generally friendly to tourists, but there are cases when tourists felt harassed, bribe attempts were made,, and some were unnecessaryly stopped for tumped up missing somethings. That reminds me of another encounter last year. A Botswana border official insisted on selling us a NAM sticker for $4, and he had a stack right next to his phone! Because if we drove around without this sticker, police may fine us, he volunteered. Well, how would we know if this is true, so we bought the sticker, he slapped it on our rental car, and he was $4 richer! Or did he help us out of the goodness of his heart? Never did find out the truth. What general advice can you give me regarding how to behave in sticky situations in those countries? Of course, being polite is a given). Thanks, KaliCA
  15. I'm heading out for a four night camping trip to Tsavo West and Amboseli in a couple of weeks time. There are plenty of special campsites in Tsavo West, but in Amboseli there is only one public campsite which is not that nice. Does anyone know of any good community campsites just outside the park? I hear there used to be one on the Southern border but I can't find any information online and it's not marked on my map. Many thanks in advance.
  16. Thanks to the kind help of several safari-talkers we have chosen a destination and itinerary for our African trip in 2015 - Southern Namibia and Kgalagadi TP at the end of April / beginning of May. Airfare and accommodation in Khalagadi TP is already paid for. Since we have never rented a vehicle and have never done a self-drive trip in this part of the world, I could use some advice and tips on both. Starting with the vehicle rental. Last year we were hesitating between S. Africa + Botswana or S. Africa + Namibia trip and I wrote to a well known agency in Namibia with strong presence on (I would not mention the name for now) with questions about prices for a set itinerary. They were very quick with their reply and sent me pricing for two different options - guided tour (like @Atravelynn) and a self-drive tour (like @xelas). Eventually we decided to go for the Botswana option, I sent an email to the agency in Namibia thanking them for the response and mentioning that we will contact them again if we decide to do a trip to Namibia in the future. After we decided that we would like to visit Namibia and KTP in 2015, I contacted the same agency and they were very quick with the response again. I did not ask for details about the rented vehicle insurance, just mentioned that I've heard pretty scary stories about rental conditions (the post of @@Bush dog about smashed car window and several other reports on the Internet). The agent replied that they are working with reputable companies and this will not happen. She sent me a price which included r zero excess + tyre and windscreen insurance. I also declined her offer to book the Kgalagadi accommodation for us, because I'd rather do it myself on the SANparks website and be able to amend the reservation should a better accommodation becomes available. The agent sent me credit card authorization form (she mentioned the full amount, not the 25% deposit + 4% credit card surcharge fee), and terms and conditions that I need to sign, nothing unusual. In the meantime I started researching about rental car insurance options in Namibia and found many different things I was not aware about. I knew that there wasn't such a thing like "full casco" insurance in Europe, but still didn't know about the different additional types of insurance, fees and refundable deposits. I replied to the agent and wrote that I will sign the credit card authorization form, but for the amount for the deposit only and will send another authorization form for the balance or will wire the money to their bank account a month before the trip. I also asked about clarification about the various types of insurance, fees and deposits such as: - Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW). - Super Theft Loss Waiver (STLW). - Water and Undercarriage damage insurance. - Radiator insurance (it sounds absurd to me, but I read that these are separate and additional options). - One vehicle damage insurance (when there is no other vehicle involved in an accident). Asked if the Tyre & Windscreen insurance covers the side and rear windows of the car, as well. I also asked about additional charges and refundable deposits, such as: - Contract fee - Valet fee - Traffic fine administration fee - Additional driver fee - Claim administration fee - Re-fueling charge - Camping equipment deposit - The amount of funds, that will be blocked from my credit card if I prepay all insurances with zero excess I also asked I she could sent me a example of rental agreement and insurance policy, so I can review them. I sent the email to the agent and have not received any reply for 7 days now. Do you think that I asked for too much information and I've been kind of pain in the butt customer? Is it normal to discuss all these details before paying a deposit? Is it the agent's duty to educate me on the various type of car rental insurance, so I can make an informed choice about what type of insurance I would like to buy? Perhaps I got spoiled with Safari Specialists in Maun regarding the preparation of our Botswana safari (I realize that their marge of profit is a lot higher than organizing a self-drive mostly camping tour in Namibia)... I guess I have the option to either contact another local agent in Namibia and ask about all the above in the first email or to contact a car rental company directly and then all lodges and camps for the accommodation bookings. Do you believe that it is a good idea to get all of the above mentioned types of insurance? I am sorry for the very long post, just wanted to make sure that I am presenting the situation in the most clear fashion. Thanks in advance for your input!
  17. Hello, I have finally finished my Kgalagadi & Mabuasehube trip report - you can find it here: It was a self-drive over 2 very cold weeks in July & August 2013 visiting Rooiputs, Kalahari Tented Camp, Nossob, Polentswa, Motopi, Mpaya & Khiding. Read about leopards on termite mounds, cheetahs in trees & lions in the shower! But first have a look at the teaser video, all the trip compressed in 100 1-second clips:
  18. Hello, this is a work in progress for August 2015. It will be our first time visiting TZ, but have done self-drives in Nam, Bots, Kruger. Would be interested in your view on route, sequence, campsites etc. Day 0 .Arrive in Arusha hand over Land Rover overnight Outpost Hotel Day 1 . Drive to Arusha Park overnight Public Camp Site Day 2 Game drive Arusha Park then Drive to Manyara Overnight Migunga Tented Camp Site or camp site outside the Park Day 3. Manyara Park overnight Public Camp Site in the Park . Day 4. Drive to Lake Natron Overnight Lake Natron Tented Camp the facilities of the Lodge can be used by campers . Day 5. Lake Natron Overnight Lake Natron Tented Camp Day 6. Drive to Serengeti Overnight Lobo Public Camp Site Day 7. Lobo Public Camp or special camp site closer to Mara river if available. Day 8. Lobo Public Camp site Day 9-11 Seronera Public Camp site Day 12. Game Drive in the Morning then Leave the Serengeti in the Late afternoon for NCA Overnight Rhino Lodge Day 13.Early morning drive in the Crater, after a full day leave the NCA drive to Karatu. Day to Lake Eyasi Kisima Ngeda Camp Site Day 15. Lake Eyasi Kisima Ngeda Camp Site, visit tribes Day 16. Drive to Tarangiere Overnight Special Camp Site Mbweha Day 17. Tarangiere Overnight Special Camp Mbweha Day 18. Tarangiere in the Afternoon drive to Arusha Overnight Out Post Day 19. Flight back Please let me know what you think of this plan for a self-drive tour, camping in roof tent and self-catering. 1. I am debating whether to go to Lake Natron at all. Main reason to go would be avoid traffic And fees for just driving through NCA to reach Serengeti, also is supposed to be scenic and have flamingos? My husband thinks it is worth driving in and out the same way ( entering and leaving Serengeti via Naabi Hill Gate, because we will be inside the park and see more wildlife. 2. Is Mbweha campsite location in Tarangire worth paying more for? Is it close to the river? 3. Please make any other comments and suggestions. Any help is greatly appreciated.
  19. Hey all! This is the first trip report I have posted on SafariTalk. I always enjoy reading other people's reports so try to return the favour when I can. This trip was in December 2012 and followed an 8 day photographic safari we had done with Andy Biggs in Botswana. I haven't written a trip report for that safari as yet but can do if/when I get some time! Summary = fabulous, and highly recommended. I organised this trip from Australia via The Cardboard Box Travel Shop in Namibia and all went very smoothly and without any hitches or unexpected surprises. So travelling were myself and my husband. After our 8 days in Botswana we were looking forward to forging out on our own, without being in a tour group situation ( we aren't really tour group kind of people!). Our introduction to Namibia was a little unfortunate - customs took forever and when we finally got through to collect our bags we found them on the floor having been opened. Fortunately nothing had been taken, so I'm not sure what they were looking for as there were certainly items in there worth stealing! Air Namibia staff weren't interested or concerned, however, as nothing had been taken. It left us a little shaken, and it took us a while to relax and "trust" the place. We were met at the airport by the representative from Namibia Car Rental and also by the representative from the satellite phone rental company, which I had organised. We never used the phone, but knowing that we had it gave us good peace of mind. We were driven to the car rental agency in Windhoek where we collected our Toyota Landcruiser, with two spare tyres, a fridge and dual fuel tanks. Now, you're probably starting to understand that I am a little risk-averse by nature, so I had all bases covered!! Again, we didn't needed the spare tyres but we were glad we had them, and we never came close to running out of fuel. Our first night was at the Olive Grove Guest House, which we enjoyed. The manager Kobbus was very friendly and helpful and we can recommend it as a place to stay. We didn't venture into Windhoek - we were bushed from our travels to date, so we just had dinner in house and had an early night. We set off quite early next morning, heading to Etosha. The trip was uneventful and the roads good. We checked in to Okaukeujo resort, in one of their waterfront chalets. The service was everything we had read about - unmotivated and unfriendly - but as we were expecting it, we weren't too concerned. In fact when someone did smile we were excited!! We had planned to just sit at the waterhole watching, but curiosity got the better of us so we headed out into Etosha in the last part of the afternoon. We didn't spot too much game, but enjoyed watching a jackal with her puppies playing around their den near the road. Dinner was okay - again, rather as expected. We then definitely planned to stay on the balcony watching the waterhole, but unfortunately we fell asleep! I was woken by some bird calls around 4am, raised my head off the pillow to see a rhino at the waterhole. How lucky was I!! He was gone before I could take a picture of him though. The next morning we headed out into the park nice and early, and meandered our way towards Halali, spotting a large number of giraffe at one of the waterholes as well as the "usual suspects" (eg zebra, impala, oryx). We came across a large flock of quellias - the little birds who fly in a large pack. It was incredible and I got some lovely video footage of them flying, which unfortunately somehow didn't download to my computer - grrr! It was quite a sight! By early afternoon we headed to our next stop which was the Ongava Tented Camp, where we had three nights booked. I'll just say at the outset, that this place was the highlight of our trip. It is a small lodge just outside of Etosha, with only 8 tents and a floodlit waterhole out the front of the dining area. The management couple had just started there and were very friendly and enthusiastic. Rio the guide has been there for 8 years, and knew the place like the back of his hand! He could spot wildlife from miles away - hubby reckons he could spot a freckle on a fly! Our first night there was one other couple there, but for the next two nights we were their only guests and we felt like royalty!! We did a game drive around Ongava on the first afternoon, and for both drives the next day and saw lots of lions, including the pride that live close to the camp, lots of rhinos with babies, as well as waterbuck, kudus, zebra and impala. The sundowners in the golden light were gorgeous! Our last full day there we asked to go into Etosha for the day. We left at 6am, and didn't get back until 5pm and were on the go the whole time. The truck broke down quite early in the day, but the rescue vehicle was there very quickly, and we even got to see a cheetah with 4 cubs while we were waiting!! Rio was able to chat with other guides in the area and we saw two different prides of lions, as well as a large breeding elephant herd who were having a mud bath - gorgeous! We covered most of the park from Okaukeujo to Halali, and I feel we saw more with Rio than we would have on our own. After a quick stop for a shower, we were then taken back out into the Ongava reserve, where the whole staff and management had prepared a bush dinner for us, just us two. They set it all up with a laid table, camp fire and candles all around. After dinner the staff sang for us. It was fantastic, and probably the highlight, of the highlight! I can thoroughly recommend a stay at Ongava, complete with the roars of the lions waking you at night and the armed escort to your room! Being close to Etosha means you can do drives in there, with assistance from a guide, yet have fantastic service and food. So we left Ongava Tented Camp (reluctantly!) and headed towards Grootberg Lodge. The team at Ongava recommended a shortcut to take, rather than having to drive back to Outjo. We needed petrol and cash, but they assured us we could get both at Kamanjab. Unfortunately the ATM there is Visa only and we only had Mastercards! Fortunately we had enough cash for fuel, but we were then stuck without cash for the next 3 nights!! We were able to convince the lodge at Grootberg to forward us a small sum off our credit cards (they were happy to forward us N$1000) but Cape Cross Lodge were only happy to forward us N$100. It was quite stressful not having cash, but we managed to get by! We would have tipped more had we had more though... Grootberg Lodge has a lovely setting, on top of the plateau and with a lovely view over the valley. The road up is certainly challenging, but it wasn't a problem in our big Landcruiser so we were able to drive ourselves up. We were there in the early afternoon, giving us time to settle in before the afternoon drive along the top of the plateau. There is some game up there - mainly impala and oryx but we did see some of the rarer mountain zebras as well. The scenery is certainly interesting - a bit stark but definitely unique. The food at the Lodge was tasty, and the staff friendly. It was nice to know we were helping out the local conservancy by staying there too. The next day we took the trip to visit the Himba people. There were 4 of us, with the guide who was well known to the tribe. They had moved since he had last been there due to a lack of food for their animals and they were staying in a temporary village. The Grootberg lodge is the only group that visit this particular group of Himba and they did seem happy to see us. I found the visit quite challenging in a lot of ways. Firstly there is the whole "is it the right thing to do to even visit them" question - am I being voyeuristic, or just interested in how other people live?? Then I had trouble with the obvious poverty and health issues I could see. I work in primary health care, and could see evidence of malnutrition in some of the children, as well as a few other health issues. Part of the arrangement with the lodge is that we take in some food supplies for them, which made me feel a little better for going along. It looked like they needed it. The people set up a small market for us to purchase items - there were so many people selling the same type of things - a lot of which we couldn't take back to Australia with it's strict quarantine laws - and we only had that small amount of cash, so that was a challenge too. I think though, between us and the other couple we spread the cash around as much as we could. Overall a challenging day, and I'm sure others will have their thoughts around the ethics of these visits. After another nice night's sleep, we headed for our next destination - the Cape Cross Lodge on the Skeleton Coast. Our travel agent had advised us that the road was bad, and recommended quite a long drive to avoid C43 but we asked the locals who felt the road was okay and took the chance. I had wanted to see the Skeleton Coast, so we drove to Palmwag where we were able to top up our petrol and then took the C39 towards Torra Bay and the coast. The road was fine - it must have recently been graded. The changing scenery along that route was worth the drive - from the mountains, to the desert and then finally to the stark sand of the Skeleton Coast. Along the way, just after having stopped behind a bush for a "bush wee", we spotted something on the road. Initially we thought it was an impala, then maybe a dog, before finally realising it was a lion! As we got closer, another lion, and then another and another crossed the road in front of us and then we saw what they were doing there. A giraffe had become entangled in the wire fence by the side of the road (probably having been chased there by the lions) and they had killed it and were eating it! There were 9 lions in total. Our approach caused them to hide in the bushes on the other side of the road (making us re-think the whole "let's find a bush to pee behind" idea!!) but as we just sat with the motor off a few of them returned to their meal. It was quite an amazing sight and quite a thrill to be so close to these predators without the guides we were used to!! We probably watched them for about 45minutes before moving on and leaving them to it. We arrived at Cape Cross Lodge mid-afternoon, and soon headed out to see the seal colony - the reason I had wanted to stay there. We had to beg the cash out of the lodge as we didn't have enough to pay the park fees! Fortunately they let us have the N$100 to cover the fees. Now we had read about and we prepared for the noise and the smell of the colony but what we witnessed we had not prepared for! It is the time of the year when the seal pups are born and there were 1000s of them, only about 50% of which survive. Our first seal sighting was a dead pup in the carpark. There were a lot of dead bodies. The sound of the pups calling for their mothers sounded like a lamb crying, and over the top of that is the sound of their mothers calling back. Mix that mournful crying, with the sight and smell of the dead bodies and I reckon that's what hell is like!! The experience was a mix of fascination and horror and it was quite overwhelming! Add to that the male seals who were busily trying to mate with the females who had given birth a few days prior, and fight off their rivals. Amazing. We only lasted around an hour before having to move on to quieter surrounds! Dinner was nice at the lodge and again the staff were friendly and helpful. The room was huge - especially after the bush tents and we enjoyed our sleep after a long day. We left Cape Cross very early as we knew we had a big driving day ahead of us. The scenery from Cape Cross through to Swakopmund was quite bizarre. It was cloudy, bleak and a little chilly and the vista is flat land, mostly sand with scattered rocks throughout. Add to that a more "industrialised" and inhabited part of Namibia and it felt like we had landed on the moon! Interesting to have seen, but not what I would call attractive! We stopped in at Swakopmund to collect the much needed cash and to fill up the petrol tank again. What a relief to finally have sufficient cash!! In planning the trip I deliberately avoided staying in Swakopmund. We were in Africa for wildlife and scenery, not for townships and the "adventure" activities didn't appeal either. Our short stop in the town didn't make me regret my decision. We did a little bit of shopping, had morning tea and then carried on. It is amazing how quickly the scenery and the weather changed as soon as we started heading inland again. The clouds cleared, the sun was shining and we were back on our now familiar gravel roads all by ourselves! We had been warned that the Kuisess Pass was a high accident zone so we drove particularly carefully but it really didn't seem to be a problem. Heading towards Solitaire I was looking forward to the famous apple pie, but I'm sorry to buck the trend but it really wasn't that fabulous. Tasty enough, but my mum makes better! (Don't we all say that??!). We finally made it to the Sossus Dune Lodge at around 3pm. It was quite a long drive, but being from Australia it really wasn't that far and we enjoyed it. Staying at Sossus Dune Lodge was a deliberate decision as I am a keen amateur photographer and I wanted the ability to go to the dunes early in the morning and to stay after sunset. If you are also a keen photographer, this lodge or the campsite within the park is really the only place to go. The lodge's tour leaves at 4.30am, but as guests you are free to leave whenever you like, and nobody blinked when we returned close to 9pm after sunset. The lodge provides breakfast packs for you to take with you too which, while not exactly gourmet, filled the hole! Despite our long drive, after settling in we took the drive down to the end of the road for sunset (it's 60km and takes about 45mins). We had been advised not to drive the sand road right down Sossusvlei and Deadvlei so we decided to check it out and ask people who were emerging from the road to see what they say. We had the big Landcruiser so we were confident in the car, and when we were told the road was in good condition, and what pressures to drop the tyres to, we decided to go in the next morning. We headed back for a nice dinner on the balcony of the lodge and then had an early night ready for our 4am wakeup. For our first sunrise we chose Big Mamma as the place to photograph first. The road in was fine and we didn't have any trouble getting through. I was lining up a great shot, waiting for the sun, when some campers arrived to climb on "my" pristine dune. Thankfully they let me fire off a few shots before choosing a viewpoint and then they became my "people in the landscape" for perspective. Got some quite nice shots. Then we went over the Deadvlei but the sun was already down the dunes making for quite harsh light and difficult photography. We spent the next few hours cruising up the highway towards the lodge, stopping whenever the photographic urge hit and we were back at the lodge around 10.30am. It was hot, damn hot, so we lay on our beds with the pedestal fan running and slept for around 2 hours. A lazy afternoon downloading images and reading books was a welcome rest, before we headed out for another sunset photography session. That was the pattern for the next day as well but we chose to head into Deadvlei first thing the next morning to try to catch the nice light. I suffered "photographic stage fright" - a self-created term for the feeling I get when standing in a famous landscape knowing that I wasn't going to get "the shot"! And, I didn't really get the shot I was after as I chose the "wrong tree" to try to get a particular shot. Never mind - I'm sure there's something okay in there (and yes I am a perfectionist and way too hard on myself!). We had three nights at the dunes, which if you aren't photographers is probably a night longer than you would need, but if you are then it's the minimum to work out the light. If I had had another day I would have nailed that shot!! The lodge was very nice but larger than others we had stayed in so lacking that "intimacy" that other smaller lodges had. The food was nice, the staff friendly and the rooms were lovely. Our final night was to be at Amani Lodge, just 18km out of Windhoek. We completely over-estimated the time it would take meaning we left quite early and were at the lodge way too soon 3 1/2 hours later. We took the C19 back to Solitaire then took the D1275 over the Spreetshoogte Pass. It was a lovely drive with again the ever-changing scenery but it really is quite a short-cut. The lodge accommodated us despite our arrival at around midday. The lodge is involved in big cat rehabilitation and they have a program to release orphaned cheetahs back to the wild. They currently have two "tame" cheetahs (who had been inappropriately hand-raised by humans as cubs and therefore unable to be released) and another 9 (I think) cheetahs in two groups who they are planning to release when they can find suitable territory for them. Olivier, one of the owners, took us out for a drive in the late afternoon and we visited the tame cheetahs, saw him feeding four of the other cheetahs, and then we saw their two lions being fed. Olivier is very passionate about his work and we really really enjoyed our experience. Again we were the only guests so felt very lucky. After the drive we had sparkling wine watching the sun go down on our last day in Africa. The lodge is the highest inhabited area in Namibia so we were literally at the top of the country for our last drink! Awesome, and a highly recommended lodge to stay in. The next day saw our return home. The drive to Windhoek was only 1/2 an hour, we dropped the car back to Namibia car rental without any problem, were driven back to the airport, returned the unused satellite phone and then flew to Johannesburg. We flew Qantas back to Sydney, and I'm sure other Australians would agree that no matter how great the holiday, it is nice to hear the Australian accent on the flight back! So, in summary, a great trip that was very well organised for us, that went down with only the minor hitch (being the cash situation). We feel we saw a good amount of Namibia and we don't think we would have changed any of our arrangements. With Africa being so far away for us, we most likely won't visit Namibia again, but that doesn't mean we didn't think it is a great destination - a place has to be super-superb for us to return, when there is so much of the world still left to visit!! We will definitely be back in Africa one day (hopefully 2014 to the Masai Mara region). Things to pass on: - always have cash (!!) - always fill the car with petrol when you see a petrol station because sometimes it's a long drive between drinks - while a 4x4 wasn't entirely necessary for our trip we were very happy we had it as it enabled us to drive ourselves everywhere including down to Sossusvlei, and we were very comfortable perched up so high - I was glad I knew about the roadblocks before hand as I might have felt a bit intimidated if I wasn't expecting them! - the "car guards" are really quite useful (especially when you have a car full of camera equipment!) and are obviously dressed in high-vis vests, or other identifiable uniforms. We paid a $5 tip which was what was recommended for us - always stop to enjoy the sunset (preferably with a suitable beverage) as that will be one of your lasting memories of Africa. Below is a link to my photos from the trip - I hope you have enjoyed the trip report and will enjoy the photos. Cheers! Julie
  20. It has all been going on at our Self Drive Safari Experience in Malawi. The reserve is a up and coming conservation area. They have recently seen the arrival of two leopards and completed a vulture count. There has also been excitment with the resident hyeana clan chasing and making an impala kill next to the tented chalets at the lodge! Book your trip today to get in on this action! http://www.bluelizar...experience.html Help to protect and conserve Malawi’s wildlife resource and local communities by visiting and staying at Malawi’s only protected area operated by African Parks! This wildlife reserve is situated in the lower Shire valley in the South West of Malawi, approximately 70kms (one and a half hour’s drive) from Blantyre’s Chileka international airport and three hours from Lake Malawi. The Malawi wildlife reserve is a unique conservation and tourist destination for all visitors. The amazing success story of recovery and restoration and the continued protection of endangered species has led this wildlife reserve in Malawi to become one of the most popular reserves in Malawi. The wildlife reserve was once a prolific wildlife refuge, however, by the late 1990’s most species of large game, including elephant, had been eradicated. The restoration of this wildlife reserve in Malawi has been a long and hard process. Restoration has included; significant infrastructure development wildlife restocking and a complete overhaul of the law enforcement and scientific monitoring function. The Malawi wildlife reserve now boosts many of the African bush species and is fast becoming a balanced ecosystem, but there is still a long way to go. The Malawi wildlife reserve offers a fantastic self-drive conservation safari experience. Blue Lizard Adventures is proud to offer clients this wonderful opportunity to visit and stay on a stunning area of conservation importance in Malawi. There are two self-drive conservation safari experiences: 1) The self-drive lodge experience: The lodge accommodation is situated within the wildlife reserve around a serene floodlit waterhole that attracts a variety of wildlife; Thawale Lodge is a peaceful haven from which to experience the majestic wildlife reserve. Completely unfenced, the camp is regularly visited by wildlife. Thawale Lodge offers six double and twin tented chalets all en-suite and each with its own private veranda overlooking the waterhole. The more luxurious chalet has a unique open air bathroom built among the rocks with a shower and a sunken bath and views of the floodlit waterhole. The chalets are spaced out to offer visitors privacy and an individual bush experience. A communal lapa (traditional lounge area) with a fully staffed kitchen is available in the centre of the camp. Fresh meals are served in the beautiful thatched bamboo restaurant and bar and there is a birding veranda looking out over the combretum forest and waterhole. Thawale is fully electrified. 2) The self-drive camping experience: This self-drive experience caters for the more budget of traveler or back to nature adventure seeker. By staying at the community campsite you are directly contributing to the improvement of livelihoods of the surrounding communities. Close to the entrance of the wildlife reserve there is a self-catering campsite which was built in 2007. It is fully equipped with a thatched bar providing cold drinks, meal and snacks, barbeque area, tent hire, toilets and hot showers. Power is provided through a solar system and two beautifully thatched hideouts offer a comfortable place to spend the night. The campsite is owned and managed by a Committee of local people from villages surrounding wildlife reserve, with assistance from the extension team of African Parks and the profits go directly to them. This experience is a self-drive conservation safari and therefore you are able to drive around the reserve in your own vehicle on your own safari. However, you must abide by the reserve rules at all times. However, there are also a number of activities which are available for clients to pre-book before they embark on the self-drive conservation safari experience: Bush and bird walk (No children less than 12 years old allowed. Minimum of 2 people required) Game Drive (Children under 5 years are free. Minimum of 2 people required) Night Drive (Minimum of 2 people required) Community Visit Hike Majete Hill (No children under 12 years old allowed) Bush Breakfast Boat Ride on the River (No children under 12 years old allowed. Minimum of 2 people required) Your own scout in your car! Please see the Blue Lizard Adventures price guide for more details.

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